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In Defence of Christianity

Early Christian Apologists


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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Clement of Alexandria Paganism and its positive significance for Christianity


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Clement of Alexandria

Paganism and its positive significance for Christianity

Jesper Hyldahl

1. Clement of Alexandria and apology

1.1. Clement of Alexandria as an apologist

Clement of Alexandria is rarely included in modern studies of the early Christian apologists and Christian apologetics.1 This significant person in the early church is passed over due to the formal observation that no proper apology or apologetic work written by Clement has survived. Nor are there any ancient witnesses indicating that he has written such works. Having made this formal decision, one does not have to deal with the extensive, complex and difficult works of this author. Unfortunately this comes at a price. There is a risk that important aspects of early church apologetics will be left unnoticed. By avoiding Clement, early Christian apologetics is mostly presented as Christianity‘s defence against allegations and opposition from the pagan world around it – dominated by Greco-Roman culture. This defence was often turned into a severe critique against pagan customs and conceptions.

But this is too simple. Although these traditional apologetic themes are found in Clement‘s writings, he had a different general purpose. Clement fully implements a trend, the rudiments of which were already evident in Justin Martyr (cf. Jörg Ulrich‘s contribution). Clement‘s general apologetic aim was not a defence of Christianity, but a defence of paganism. On the following pages we will examine what this – at first...

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