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In Defence of Christianity

Early Christian Apologists

Series:

Edited By Jakob Engberg, Anders-Christian Jacobsen and Jörg Ulrich

In Defence of Christianity examines the early Christian apologists in their context in thirteen articles divided in four parts. Part I provides an introduction to apology and apologetics in antiquity, an overview of the early Christian apologists, and an outline of their argumentation. The nine articles of Part II each cover one of the early apologists: Aristides, Justin, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, the author of the Letter to Diognetus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Minucius Felix. Part III contextualises the apologists by providing an English translation of contemporary pagan criticism of Christianity and by discussing this critique. Part IV consists of a single article discussing how Eusebius depicted and used the apologists in his Ecclesiastical History.
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Theophilus

Extract



Jakob Engberg

And I pray for favour from the only God, that I may accurately speak the whole truth according to His will, that you and every one who reads this work may be guided by His truth and favour.1

Thus wrote Christian convert and apologist, Theophilus, shortly after 180 AD, in the last of the three books he addressed to his pagan friend Autolycos.

1. Aim of the article and previous scholarship

1.1. Previous scholarship – is the silence of the hound the key?

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s novel, the Hound of the Baskervilles, Dartmoor in Devonshire is visited by a mysterious howling dog. It is believed that the hound haunts the area because there is a curse on the Baskervilles. The main character of the novel, Detective Sherlock Holmes, undertakes to solve the mystery of the death of Sir Charles Baskerville, the latest victim of the curse. Holmes‘ breakthrough comes when he focuses his investigation on the times when the hound is not howling.

In the novel, the mysterious dog causes much agitation in and around the fictional village of Grimpen. In contrast, Theophilus‘ three apologetic books have not given rise to extensive scholarly debate, and when they have been analysed, the approach followed has often been reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes: Several scholars have been more interested in discussing what Theophilus did not write and why he did not write this or that,...

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