By the mid-second century Christian writers were engaging in debates with educated audiences from non-Jewish Graeco-Roman cultural backgrounds. A remarkable feature of some of the texts from this period is how extensively they refer to the Jewish scriptures, even though those scriptures were unfamiliar to non-Jewish Graeco-Romans. In Worshipping a Crucified Man, Jeremy Hudson explores for the first time why this should have been so by examining three works by Christian converts originally educated in Graeco-Roman traditions: Justin Martyr’s First Apology, Tatian’s Oratio and Theophilus of Antioch’s Ad Autolycum. Hudson considers their literary strategies, their use of quotations and allusions and how they present the Jewish scriptures; all against the background of the Graeco-Roman literary culture familiar to both authors and audiences. The scriptures are presented as a critically defining feature of Christianity, instrumental in shaping the way the new religion presented itself, as it strove to engage with, and challenge, the cultural traditions of the Graeco-Roman world.
2. The ‘Proof from Prophecy’ in Justin Martyr’s First Apology
3. Tatian’s Oratio and the ‘Barbarian Writings’
4. The Ad Autolycum of Theophilus of Antioch: History and Commentary
Endorsements and Reviews
It may seem irrational that, in their arguments for the superiority of their religion, Christian intellectuals would appeal to the writings of the oft-despised Jews rather than the agreed canonical authorities of the Greek philosophical tradition. Jeremy Hudson’s innovative and careful analysis of three such intellectuals and of their different strategies and reading methods offers important new insights into a significant moment in the development of early Christian thought and of the uses of Scripture – essential reading for all students of early Christianity.
Judith M. Lieu, Lady Margaret’s Professor Emerita, University of Cambridge
In this innovative book, Jeremy Hudson shows how some Christian apologists used the Jewish scriptures in such a way as to accommodate their ostensibly pagan audience, as well as presenting them as a rival body of texts, thought worthy of displacing pagan literary culture. The case is presented clearly, but in a nuanced manner, reflecting current scholarship on such subjects as biblical hermeneutics and ancient Christian identity.
Dr James Carleton Paget, Reader in Early Christianity and Ancient Judaism, University of Cambridge
Jeremy Hudson’s carefully crafted, highly detailed and well written study forces us to look anew at the texts and ideas of early Christian Apologists, with which we may have become all too familiar. He forcefully demonstrates that Christianity confronted Graeco-Roman society with a belief that seemed to lack any reason or sensibility. Once explained against the background of the tradition from which it emerged, however, it assumed a power that totally transformed that society.
Josef Lössl, Professor of Religious Studies and Theology, Cardiff University