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 Post subject: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 3:17 pm 
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Master
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I came across some interesting titles by him (first I heard of him).

"The First Thousand Years" and "The Spirit of Early Christian Thought".

Anyone read these or familiar with Wilken?

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 Post subject: Re: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 3:56 pm 
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No, but I am familiar with his books 'The Christians as the Romans Saw Them' and 'The Jews as the Christians Saw Them' and they are both excellent books which I fully recommend.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:04 pm 
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Thanks for recommendation, Doom.
I'm going to pick one of those up.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:14 pm 
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Go with 'The Christians as the Romans Saw Them'

It is a book about a topic that it is difficult to find information on, namely, when the Romans, before Constantine, attacked Christianity or responded to Christian missionary efforts, what were their counterarguments? It is difficult to find information about this because, after Christianity became the official religion of the empire in the late 4th century, all the books written by Christian opponents were destroyed. The only thing we have of their writings are quotations from Christian writers who were responding to them.

Wilken considers several prominent opponents of Christianity including Celsus, Porphyry, and the emperor Julian (called 'the apostate') and others and tries to reconstruct the anti-Christian arguments they made by looking at the counterarguments made by Christians responding to their writings.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:53 pm 
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Quote:
all the books written by Christian opponents were destroyed
Not quite correct. Their anti-Christian works were, but Porphyry's purely philosophical works were preserved and seem to have been a strong influence on the young Augustine.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:10 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Quote:
all the books written by Christian opponents were destroyed
Not quite correct. Their anti-Christian works were, but Porphyry's purely philosophical works were preserved and seem to have been a strong influence on the young Augustine.


Now you're being nitpicky, it is clear from context that I mean their anti-Christian writings. We do not own a single copy of any book called 'Against the Christians' by any author. Plotinus also wrote against Christianity, and we still have several of his works, but none of his anti-Christian ones. And Plotinus is one of the most influential philosophers of all time.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:19 pm 
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Quote:
Now you're being nitpicky

:swoon




:P

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 Post subject: Re: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:35 am 
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If you are wondering what the anti-Christian arguments were, most of them boil down to ''there was this aspect of Judaism and it wasn't carried over into Christianity, this is inconsistent." For example, 'the Jews circumcise, Christians don't' or 'the Jews celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, but Christians changed it to Sunday.' That sort of thing. Pagan opponents seemed to be getting a lot of their arguments from Jewish sources.

The other big argument that opponents made was that Christianity was 'novel' it was of too recent origin. This was a bad thing in Roman eyes because only ancient religions were respected. Christians responded by arguing that Christianity came from Judaism, which was older than any pagan religion.

It is important for modern debates to note that no opponents of Christianity in the early centuries ever tried to argue either that Jesus never existed or that Christian doctrines were copied from paganism, which are two of the most popular arguments today. The pagans of the time apparently did not regard either argument as plausible. Indeed, the very fact that Julian (the Apostate) declared war on Christianity and tried to replace it with paganism would seem to indicate that the pagans saw Christianity as something foreign and different from paganism.

They also never tried to deny that Jesus performed miracles, they simply argued that he used magic or they argued that Jesus' miracles were no big deal because there were pagans who performed equally impressive miracles. Christians responded not by denying that pagans ever performed miracles, but by attributing pagan miracles to demons or arguing that the pre-Christian pagan miracles were actually performed by the Christian God and that they were a sign that pagans should convert.

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 Post subject: Re: Robert Louis Wilken?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2018 1:44 pm 
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I read Wilken's The Spirit of Early Christian Thought years ago but I just don't recall much from it whereas Henry Chadwick's The Early Church left a lasting and very positive impression on me. Both books cover the early church broadly.

I read Wilken's John Chrysostom and the Jews and think he rescued the great eastern saint from charges of anti-Semitism.

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