Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 13. Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers.” sec. 159-204.
§ 175. Athenagoras.
Schaff introduces Athenagoras as an Athenian Christian philosopher active in the second half of the second century. He was apparently obscure, “not even mentioned by Eusebius, Jerome, and Photius” (Schaff 2014, loc. 21754). Athenagoras, in an Apology addressed to Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, argued that Christians should have equal treatment under the law. He further refuted the charges of atheism, cannibalism, and incest commonly lodged against Christians. He pointed out that Christians pursued a life of virtue rather than vice, and that the accusations against them were typically examples of “wickedness fighting against virtue” (Schaff 2014, loc. 21762).
Schaff observes that Athenagoras’ writing has earned the respect of historians through its clarity and even-handed treatment of the facts of cases (Schaff 2014, loc. 21764). Though he occasionally lapses into a rigid asceticism and his Platonic tendencies show, he uses the tools at his disposal to effectively carry his point.