Apologists, Greek

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Greek Apologists were Greek Christian writers of the 2nd century who presented an account of their faith for outsiders. The term is not ancient, for the Greek word apologia meant a speech from the dock made by one about to suffer martyrdom. justin martyr was an apologist who suffered martyrdom, but not all the apologists did. After the close of the apostolic age Christians became conscious that they were a third race, neither Jewish nor Hellene, and two kinds of apology began to appear, aimed at either of these groups. Justin's Dialogue with Trypho and the dialogues of Jason and Papiscus, of Timothy and Aquila, of Athanasius and Zacchaeus, or of Simon and Theophilus are specimens of the dialogue with Jews. The better-known works addressed to Greeks, and most educated Romans had some Greek, were prompted mainly by the desire to remove from Christianity what the Emperor trajan had called the flagitia cohaerentia nomini, i.e., crimes associated with the (Christian) name; these were cannibalism, promiscuity, and the worship of many gods, including animals (see athenagoras). The spur to the writing of apologies was the knowledge that it was imperial policy to give Christians a fair hearing. A rescript of hadrian, now generally accepted as genuine, to Minucius Fundanus in 124 and 125 had ordered governors not to listen to popular clamor against Christians but only to evidence of crimes. quadratus, the first apologist, was contemporary with this rescript, and he was soon followed by aristides, Aristo of Pella, and in mid-century by Justin. melito of sardes is credited with an apology (now lost) presented to Marcus Aurelius. The Embassy of Athenagoras to the same emperor (c. 176180) is fortunately preserved. clement of alexandria's Protrepticus and Origen's reply to Celsus are apologies; and the Logos alethes of Celsus (c. 178) and satire of Lucian on the Death of Peregrinus (c. 167) show that a pagan reaction was beginning. The only apology that is a speech from the dock is that of Apollonius, delivered c. 180185; it is extant in an Armenian version, having been recovered by F. C. Conybeare in 1894, and part of a Greek version has survived also. Attacks on Greek culture, such as those of tatian and hermias, cannot be considered apologies for Christianity. Knowledge of the apologies is in large part attributable to Bishop arethas, who in 914 had a copy made of many of them. It is from this codex that present texts are derived.

Bibliography: j. quasten, Patrology, 3 v. (Westminster, Md. 1950) 1:186252. m. pellegrino, Studi sul'antica apologetica (Rome 1947). p. c. de labriolle, La Réaction païenne: Étude sur la polémique antichrétienne du I er au VI e siècle (6th ed. Paris 1942). a. l. williams, Adversus Iudaeos (Cambridge, Eng. 1935). e. j. goodspeed, Die ältesten Apologeten (Leipzig 1914); Index Apologeticus (Leipzig 1912). f. c. conybeare, ed. and tr., The Apology and Acts of Apollonius (New York 1894). e. groag, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. 13.1 (1926) 461462, rescript of Hadrian. r. m. grant, Greek Apologists of the Second Century (London 1988). f. m. young, "Greek Apologists of the Second Century," in Apologwtics in the Roman Empire, ed. m. edwards et al. (Oxford 1999) 81104.

[j. h. crehan]