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Old Society, New BeliefReligious transformation of China and Rome, ca. 1st-6th Centuries$
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Mu-chou Poo, H. A. Drake, and Lisa Raphals

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190278359

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190278359.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 20 January 2021

Justin Martyr and Tatian

Justin Martyr and Tatian

Christian Reactions to Encounters with Greco-Roman Culture and Imperial Persecution

(p.69) 4 Justin Martyr and Tatian
Old Society, New Belief

Hyun Jin Kim

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the mid-second century AD Christian reactions to Roman persecution and Greek cultural chauvinism. Early Christians were exposed to two different types of pressure: first, the Roman state brutally oppressed their faith and subjected them to physical violence of which Justin Martyr, the earliest Christian apologetic writer, was a victim. Second, dominant Greek culture of the Mediterranean dismissed Christian beliefs as crude, “barbarian” superstition, indulging in cultural imperialism toward the nascent religion. Christian reaction to these pressures was to adopt the barbarians’ position, i.e. of non-Greeks, and to identify themselves with a cultural tradition they claimed was superior and more ancient than the Greeks’: that of the Hebrews. Early Christian apologetic writers such as Justin and Tatian challenged the orthodoxy and anteriority of Greek culture and began the process of Christianizing the Roman intellectual elite, which would culminate in the Christianization of the Roman empire itself in the fourth century.

Keywords:   Greek culture chauvinism, Christian reaction, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Christainization

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