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The apostle Peter tells us always to be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks us to account for our hope as Christians (1 Peter 3:15). While the gospel message remains the same, such arguments look different from one age to another. Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader: Volume 1, To 1500 is an unprecedented anthology of apologetics texts with selections from the first century AD through the Middle Ages. This first of two volumes, edited by William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint, features primary source documents from the time of the early church (100–400) and the Middle Ages (400–1500). Featured apologists include Aristides, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Thomas Aquinas. The authors also provide a preface to each major historical section, with a timeline and a map, and an introduction to each apologist. Each primary source text is followed by questions for reflection or discussion purposes.

Author Bios

William Edgar

Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary.

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K. Scott Oliphint

K. Scott Oliphint

Dr. K. Scott Oliphint, PhD, is professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and the author of numerous articles and books, including Is There a Reformed Objection to Natural Theology?: A Review ArticleUsing Reason by FaithBavinck’s Realism, the Logos Principle and Sola ScripturaSomething Much Too Plain to SayEpistemology and Christian Belief, and Plantinga on Warrant. His books include The Battle Belongs to the LordReasons for FaithGod with Us, and his most recent book, Covenantal Apologetics. He’s also the coeditor of the two-volume Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader and Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics

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Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin the Philosopher (103–165), was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies, a dialogue, and a few other fragments survive. He is considered a Saint by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

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Irenaeus of Lyons

Saint Irenaeus, (2nd century AD – c. 202) was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire. He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology. He was a hearer of Polycarp, who in turn was a disciple of John the Evangelist. Irenaeus’ best-known book, Adversus Haereses or Against Heresies (c.

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Tertullian

Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian (c. 160–c. 220 AD), was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy. Tertullian has been called “the father of Latin Christianity” and “the founder of Western theology.

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Origen of Alexandria

Origen of Alexandria

Origen of Alexandria (ca. 182–ca. 251) was a Christian scholar and presbyter in the third century. He is thought to have been born at Alexandria, and died at Caesarea.

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Athanasius of Alexandria

Athanasius (298–373 AD) was the archbishop of Alexandria (Egypt) in the fourth century. He is revered as a Saint by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, and recognized as a great leader and doctor of the early church by Protestants.

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John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities. After his death (or, according to some sources, during his life) he was given the Greek surname chrysostomos, meaning “golden mouthed,” rendered in English as Chrysostom.

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Augustine of Hippo

Aurelius Augustinus (354–430) is often simply referred to as St. Augustine or Augustine Bishop of Hippo (the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba in Algeria). He is the preeminent Doctor of the Church according to Roman Catholicism, and is considered by Evangelical Protestants to be in the tradition of the Apostle Paul as the theological fountainhead of the Reformation teaching on salvation and grace.

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Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard (1079 – April 21, 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. The story of his affair with and love for Héloïse has become legendary. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary describes him as “the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century”.

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Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) was a Scholastic philosopher and clergyman, born in Aosta, NW Italy. He left Italy in 1056 and settled at the Benedictine abbey of Bec in Normandy. He moved to England to succeed Lanfranc as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His strong principles brought him into conflict both with William II and Henry I in England, and he was temporarily exiled by each of them. Greatly influenced by Augustine, Anselm sought ˜necessary reasons’ for religious beliefs, notably the famous ontological argument for the existence of God.

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Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) entered the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino at the age of five to begin his studies. He was transferred to the University of Naples at age 16, where he became acquainted with the revival of Aristotle and the Order of the Dominicans. Aquinas went on to study in Cologne in 1244 and Paris in 1245. He then returned to Cologne in 1248, where he became a lecturer.

Aquinas’ career as a theologian took him all over Europe. In addition to regularly lecturing and teaching in cities throughout Europe, Aquinas participated regularly in public life and advised both kings and popes. Thomas Aquinas also profoundly influenced the history of Protestantism. He wrote prolifically on the relationship between faith and reason, as well as the theological and philosophical issues which defined the Reformation.

Thomas Aquinas is most well-known for his monumental works Summa Theologica and Summa contra Gentiles

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Girolamo Savonarola

Girolamo Savonarola (Ferrara, 21 September 1452 – 23 May 1498, Florence) was an Italian Dominican friar, Scholastic, and an influential contributor to the politics of Florence from 1494 until his execution in 1498. He was known for his book burning, destruction of what he considered immoral art, and his perception of what he thought the Renaissance—which began in his Florence and was at its beginning—ought to become.

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