Massaux, Éduard. "Chapter Five: Athenagoras." The Influence of the Gospel of Saint Matthew on Christian Literature before Saint Irenaeus: Book 3: The Apologists and the Didache. (Translated by Norman J. Belval and Suzanne Hecht. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1993, 120-133.
Athenagoras of Athens is author of two works which survive. First, about 177, he addressed A Plea on Behalf of the Christians, addressed to Marcus Aurelius, then, somewhat later, On the Resurrection of the Dead (Massaux 1993, 120). Massaux treats the works in order, and, according to his normal pattern, first evaluates passages which he thinks have ties to Matthew.
In his Plea (11.1), Athenagoras makes a relatively clear quotation of Matthew 5:44-45, mostly word for word (Massaux 1993, 121). Of the other three passages Massaux evaluates, one of them, from Plea 32.1-2 quotes Matthew 5:28, a clear reference to Matthew. The other passages re-work the ideas found in Matthew but don't show identity of language use (Massaux 1993, 122-124). Massaux concludes that in these passages Athenagoras shows he is familiar with the thought world of Matthew and Luke, adopting some of their ideas but using his own wording. At times he also tends to pick up a word which is peculiar either to Matthew or Luke and use it in the same context, suggesting solid knowledge of their accounts (Massaux 1993, 124).
Massaux continues by evaluating Plea 3.2, which shows familiarity with Mark 10:11, but which uses the same pattern of argument as Mark, based on Genesis 1:27. This suggests an understanding of Mark and his arguments (Massaux 1993, 125).
In Plea 4.2, 10.1-2, 30.4, 12.2, 24.4, and 31.3, Athenagoras makes reference to the Son of God as the divine logos and the light. Massaux finds these to be ideas strongly reminiscent of John's Gospel (Massaux 1993, 126).
A number of passages in Plea reflect particular ideas found in Paul's epistles. Massaux notes a reference to "poor and weak elements" as in alatians 4:9, a mention of praying for those in authority, and a reference to either Isaiah 22:13 or 1 Corinthians 15:32 (Massaux 1993, 127). Athenagoras also distances himself from pagan morality and sacrifice. This recalls Romans 12:1 and the second half of Romans 1 (Massaux 1993, 128). Again, however, Massaux observes that Athenagoras rarely makes a direct quotation, but rather prefers to re-work ideas in his own words (Massaux 1993, 129).
The work On the Resurrection of the Dead is similar, in that it does not show a clear instance of literary dependence on Matthew, though some ideas may provide evidence of familiarity with the text (Massaux 1993, 129). Most of the ideas used in Resurrection actually derive from the Pauline epistles. Massaux notes that in these passages, again, Athenagoras uses the ideas and works them out with his own vocabulary and useage (Massaux 1993, 130).