Mark Edwards

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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In Greek forensic usage, an ‘apology’ (apologia) is a formal speech on behalf of the defendant. The first surviving works to bear this title professed to be records of the speech delivered by Socrates in reply to a capital charge in 399 BCE. The autobiographical element dominates the apologies of Lucian, Apuleius, and Libanius, all conceived in imitation of Plato's Socrates, though none of these erudite sophists seems to have shared his desire to convert the audience to philosophy. Christians, on the other hand, being ambassadors for Christ in court, as elsewhere, could not fulfil the injunction to ‘give an apology for the hope that is in you’ without pronouncing judgement on their own judges. No distinction between polemic, protreptic, and apologetic appears to have been observed by the early Christians, least of all by those who consciously aped the rhetoric of the schools.

Keywords: apology; Paul; Socrates; Plato; Christ; rhetoric; polemic

Article.  7765 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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