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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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Apologetic Motives in Gnostic Texts 137


Apologetic Motives in Gnostic Texts Barbara Aland Apologetic and gnostic texts seem to be very different - so much that we may ask, if there is any important relationship between them at all. From the different addressees and to the various characteristics and aims of the prevailing texts to the theological and philosophi- cal reasons given for them, we become first aware of differences only, even if it would be possible to define a literary genre of apolo- gists (and gnostics as well) at all. Can it truly be said that there are apologetic motives in Gnostic texts? Nonetheless, despite all of the differences we could not achieve a full understanding of the texts without taking into account their apologetic elements. Therefore the question about apologetic motives in gnostic texts is justified, as we will see. In the following discussion, I will proceed in stages. First, I shall raise the question in detail, why both 'genres' seem to be so very different, to the point that we often do not feel compelled even to ask why there should be gnostic motives in apologetic texts. Second, I shall examine the question how much would be gained by searching for apologetic motives, and obversely how much would be lost if we were to abandon the search for apologetic motives in gnostic texts.1 1. Apologists and Gnostics as Different Genres I restrict both groups of writings, with which I have to deal here, in the following way: as apologists I confine myself to...

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