APOLOGISTS – APOLOGETIC

APOLOGISTS APOLOGETIC general characteristics I. The Greek and Latin apologists – II. Common characteristics – III. The two tendencies. I. The Greek and Latin apologists. Name given to the writers who defended Christianity against accusations coming from various parts of nonChristian society, which at times erupted in persecution. Today their work would be considered fundamental theology. Similar Jewish writings Philo, Contra Apionem were models of the early Christian apologies, since up to a certain period pagan aversion to Christianity was simply part of their aversion to Judaism. The apologies in a certain sense substituted for the forensic defense that Roman authorities did not allow to confessors and martyrs; the literary model was often Plato’s Apology of Socrates. Apologetic literature in the territory of the Roman Empire flourished in the 2nd- 3rd c. but also continued after the Constantinian revolution. The apologists recalled the right of the philosopher to parresia with respect to the emperor and had in mind always not only the defense of the faith ad extra, i.e., the instruction of nonChristians in the case of a petition to the emperor, in the hope of its publication by the imperial chancellery in the portico of Trajan’s baths, but also catechesis ad intra, i.e., the encouragement of the faithful, such that many apologetic arguments are found in other genres of Christian literature: homilies, legends about the martyrs, etc. The first authors of apologies, from the 2nd c., are Quadratus 125-126; CPG 1060, Aristides between 124-140; CPG 1062 and Justin 153-155; CPG 1073, Miltiades under Marcus Aurelius: Eusebius, HE 5,17,5, Apollinaris of Hierapolis under Marcus Aurelius: ibid., 4,26,1, Melito of Sardis 171-172 or 176: CPG 1093,1-2 and Athenagoras Supplicatio pro Christianis, 177; CPG 1070. The philosophical backdrop of these authors was Middle Platonism. The proliferation of apologies under Marcus Aurelius is an indication of the increasingly hostile policy of the Roman authorities toward the new religion, which seemed to be causing the decline of the empire. This spawned a literary polemic Lucian of Samosata, De morte Peregrini; Fronto of Cirta ca. 162164; esp. the first systematic criticism of Celsus, Alethes Logos 176180 or early 3rd c.?, to which the Christians responded. They no longer addressed the emperors, but pagan society To the Greeks. The protagonists were Tatian, Justin’s disciple Oratio ad Graecos, held in Rome 165172 or in Athens 17677; CPG 1104, Theophilus of Antioch Ad Autolycum after 180; CPG 1107, the anonymous author of the Letter to Diognetus 200?; CPG 1112, Clement of Alexandria various writings late 2nd c.; CPG 1375-1377, ps.-Justin Oratio ad Graecos, first half 3rd c.; CPG 1082, Hermias Gentilium philosophorum irrisio, ca. 200; CPG 1113, Tertullian Ad nationesApologeticum, 197; CPL 2, 3, Minucius Felix Octavius after 197 depends on Tertullian’s Apologeticum; CPL 37, Cyprian of Carthage Ad Donatum, ca. 245; CPL 38; Ad Demetrianum, 253; CPL 46, ps.-Cyprian Quod idola dii non sint, ca. 350; CPL 57, Commodian Instructiones and Carmen apologeticum ca. 251-260 in N Africa or at Rome ?; CPL 1470-1471 and Origen Contra Celsum, 245-248; CPG 1476. Porphyry the Neoplatonist, who knew Origen of Caesarea Maritima, wrote antiquity’s most intense anti-Christian polemic, probably after 270 in Sicily Contra Christianos. Against him wrote the Greeks Methodius of Olympus CPG 1818, Eusebius of Caesarea, Apollinaris of Laodicea CPG 3672 and Diodore of Tarsus, and the Latins Arnobius of Sicca Adversus Nationes, ca. 302305; CPL 93, Lactantius Divinae Institutiones; CPL 85, Firmicus Maternus De errorum profanarum religionum; CPL 102, Augustine De Civitate Dei; CPL 313 and Pacatus 410 430; CPL 1152a. From the early 4th c. various propagandistic writings justify the anti-Christian measures of the emperors Fiedrowicz 79-81. A new type of apology appeared in this period, more systematic and complete: Lactantius Div. Inst., 304-311, Eusebius various writings, esp. Praeparatio Evangelica and Demonstratio Evangelica; CPG 3485-3488, Marcellus of Ancyra Cohortatio ad Graecos, ca. 312 322; CPG 1083, Athanasius of Alexandria Contra Gentes and De incarnatione Verbi, before or during his exile at Trier 335337; CPG 2090-2091 and Firmicus Maternus Err., 346 c. describe the truth of the Christian religion, which is no longer prohibited, in the context of the pluralism of the traditional religions. Julian the Apostate 361363, seeing in the Christians only a barbarous sect, tried to restore the traditional cults with Neoplatonic arguments, provoking with his Contra Galilaeos a new series of apologies written by Ephrem the Syrian Contra Iulianum 363; CSCO 174175, Gregory of Nazianzus Or. 4-5 contra Iulianum, 364365; CPG 3010, Theodore of Mopsuestia a reply, ca. 380, John Chrysostom De Babyla contra Iulianum et gentiles, 378379; CPG 4348 and Cyril of Alexandria Contra Iulianum between 423428; CPG 5233. Also noteworthy is Theodoret of Cyrrhus’s refutation of Hellenism Graecarum affectionum curatio, 420-423; CPG 6210. In the late 4th c. at Rome the pagan opposition was led by the aristocracy; well known are the interventions of Symmachus and Ambrose and later of Prudentius in the controversy over the Altar of Victory in the curia. The last phase of apologetics was fomented by the sack of Rome in 410 and the presumed failure of the Christian religion. Apologies then responded to the question, why couldn’t the Christian cult guarantee the well-being of the city? On the matter, Augustine De Civitate Dei, 413426; CPL 313 and Orosius Historiae adversum paganos, 416-417; CPL 571 developed a vast interpretation of world history on theological bases. II. Common characteristics. Apologetic literature documents the effort of a group of Christian intellectuals to defend their religion from attacks by cultured pagans, popular accusations and persecutions by imperial or local authorities. Their cultural level is generally that of their time. On the whole, these texts present to us a Christian community animated by sincere faith, whose best-educated elements enthusiastically and courageously take on the defense of calumniated and persecuted fellow believers, with the more or less clear intention of gaining those who are far off  from the gospel. The sincerity, morality, religiosity and political loyalty of the Christians are used as arguments, as well as the philosophical rationality, originality, antiquity and missionary success of Christianity, which are all based on the unique human-divine character of Jesus Christ. III. The two tendencies. The apologists are distinguished according to the different attitudes they assume vis- -vis the policies and culture of the pagan world they oppose by both defense and debate. Aristides, Melito, Justin and Athenagoras among the Greeks, and Minucius Felix among the Latins, seek to build a bridge with pagan institutions and culture, in which they acknowledge elements of truth which they attribute to the intervention of divine providence. Conversely Tatian, Hermias, Tertullian and Arnobius of Sicca are unsparing in their attack on every aspect of paganism. Lactantius, while consciously rejecting philosophy, takes another tone. Each author displays a different culture, interests and style while making use, with more or less success, of the means of expression of the classical tradition in which they were formed. RAC 19, 801-873; LACL 3, 50-51; M. Schanz – C. Hosius, Geschichte der rmischen Literatur, Munich 3 1922, 245-260; M. Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism 1-3, Jerusalem 1974-1984; W.J. Malley, Hellenism and Christianity, Rome 1978; G. Rinaldi, Biblia Gentium. Primo contributo per un indice delle citazioni, dei riferimenti e delle allusioni alla Bibbia negli autori pagani, greci e latini, di et  imperiale, Rome 1989; P. Pilhofer, Presbyteron kreitton. Der Altersbeweis der j¼dischen und christlichen Apologeten und seine Vorgeschichte, T¼bingen 1990; Quasten 1, 166-223; S. Krauss – W. Horbury, The JewishChristian Controversy 1, T¼bingen 1995; O. Limor – G.G. Stroumsa, Contra Iudaeos: Ancient and Medieval Polemics between Christians and Jews, T¼bingen 1996; H.R. Drobner, Patrologia, Casale Monferrato 1998, 123-147; K. Schneider, Studien zur Entfaltung der altkirchlichen Theologie der Auferstehung, Bonn 1999; Ph.F. Esler ed., The Early Christian World, 2, London-New York 2000, 840-889; J. Lehnen, Zwischen Abkehr und Hinwendung. „uŸerungen christlicher Autoren des 2. und 3. Jahrhunderts zu Staat und Herrscher, in R. von Haehling ed., Rom und das himmlische Jerusalem, Darmstadt 2000, 1-28; K. Rosen, Von der Torheit f¼r die Heiden zur wahren Philosophie. Soziale und geistige Voraussetzungen der christlichen Apologetik des 2. Jahrhunderts, ibid., 124-151; M. Fiedrowicz, Apologie im fr¼hen Christentum, Paderborn 2000; H.E. Lona, An Diognet, Freiburg 2001; L. Tanganagba, Miracle comme argumentum fidei chez saint Augustin, Bonn 2002. 

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