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defend the one God, creator of all that is, was a key element in the second-century defence of Christianity mounted by the apologists, not least to deflect the charge of atheism, a charge based on their non-compliance with socio-religious conventions across the empire. Christians could not be involved in religious rites that honoured so-called gods who were either non-existent or mere 'daemons' (that is, supernatural beings who misled humans into providing sacrifices for them); but they did worship the one true God, and that God alone, just like the Jews, expecting to face God's ultimate judgement, and recognising that life had to be lived under divine scrutiny. From a Jewish point of view, their coupling of Jesus Christ with God in worship was blasphemy, as is already hinted at in the reports of debates with Jews in John's gospel (John 6:4159; 8:21-59), and from a philosophical point ofview, it was simply contradictory. How could they have it both ways? The apologists undoubtedly imagined they could, as they borrowed and developed an explanatory model in the notion of the logos,4 but their solution was challenged in the third century. The debate would continue into the fifth century and beyond, and out of it would be forged the characteristic doctrines of Christianity: the Trinitarian concept of God and the christological claim that two natures, human and divine, were present in the one Christ.

The second century

To a surprising extent, the second century was preoccupied with other issues. The account of Eusebius, the first church historian (HE, bks 4 and 5), is concerned with authors who wrote apologies, with the Bar Kochba revolt and the total destruction of Jerusalem, with notorious Gnostics and famous martyrs, miracles such as the occasion when the 'thundering legion' prayed for rain and the resulting thunderstorm both quenched their thirst and routed the enemy, with the writings of Melito of Sardis, Dionysius of Corinth, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, and others, with the prophecies of Montanus and the Quartodeciman controversy. Maybe his perspective is truer than the selectivity of those scholars who seek to trace the development of Christology!

Yet theological struggles concerning cosmological issues, which were certainly at stake in the second century,5 also impinged on the question who Jesus really was. At a remarkably early date we find opposition to the 'docetic' notion that the Christ was a supernatural being who was never fully enfleshed.6 The

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