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Critique and Apologetics

Jews, Christians and Pagans in Antiquity


Edited By Jörg Ulrich, David Brakke and Anders-Christian Jacobsen

This book contains 13 contributions from an international conference held in 2007. The idea of the conference was to investigate the confrontations and the cultural, philosophical and religious exchange between different religious groups in antiquity and to establish a more comprehensive theory about what apologetics was considered to be both in the context of antiquity and from the perspective of modern scholarship: is it possible to define a literary genre called apologetics? Is it possible to talk about apologetics as a certain kind of discourse which is not limited to a special kind of texts? Which argumentative strategies are implied in apologetic discourses? The essays in this volume present a new approach to these questions.


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Main Topics in Early Christian Apologetics 85


Main Topics in Early Christian Apologetics Anders-Christian Jacobsen 1. Introduction Based on a selection of apologetic texts I will give examples of 'main topics in early Christian apologetics'. I define 'main topics' as topics that are discussed several times in early Christian apologetic texts. I will deal with topics such as accusations of atheism, accusations of not taking part in the cult of the emperor; accusations against Chris- tianity for being a new religion without tradition, critique of the Christian's ethical standard - and the Christian's defence against such accusations. From there I will go on to discus the argumentative strategies employed by the apologists themselves in the apologetic texts. These can teil us something important about the aims and the audi- ences of the apologists and their treatises. I will, however, neither try to define who we can call apologists, nor what kind of texts we can classify as apologies. I merely note that there were probably quite a few apologists, and there were cer- tainly more than those who have written so called 'apologies'. The question of genre is a main issue in Anders Klostergaard Petersen's essay in this volume. I will restrict myself to examples from those writings which - since Eusebius (Eus., h.e. 4.8,13; 17.1; 26.1) - have been included in the 'canon' of apologies; that is for example Anis- tides; Athenagoras; Justin; Origen; Tatian and Tertullian - all except Origen' from the second century. ' Celsus' treatise against the Christians, Alethes logos, which Origen...

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