first half of the fifth.116 From the middle of the fifth century the triumph of Christianity meant that there was no live need for Christians to write new anti-pagan apologetical treatises.
The earlier apologetic, by highlighting the fundamental intellectual points at issue between Christians and pagans, set the conceptual parameters within which Christian intellectual engagement with paganism would take place during this era. Pagan critiques of Christian narratives as absurd were to be rejected.117 The Hellenic myths were dismissed as untenable.118 The ontology of the ancients that the ancients sought was said to be in reality the wisdom of the Hebrews.119 Against mythological polytheism, the divine monarchy of the one God the Father was to be upheld.120 In opposition to Platonic ontology, the soul was not to be considered immortal.121 Creation was not to be understood as the formation of pre-existing matter, but was to be recognised rather as occurring ex nihilo by the will of God.122 Time was not to be thought of as cyclical but linear.123 The cosmos was to be seen as ordered providentially by God himself.124 And the triumph of the Roman empire was to be supported by Christians as according to the divine oikonomia.125
While such points continued to be made in Christian controversial literature of the fourth and fifth centuries, they were not new to the period of imperial Christianity. Rather, they were principally re-statements of points made in earlier apologetic. Accordingly, they do not characterise what is distinctive about Christian intellectual engagement with paganism in the period of the fourth to seventh centuries. This distinctiveness lies not in apologetical confrontation, but rather in the formation by Christians of ontologies which showed, against the pagan detractors, that Christianity was not alogon but in fact could be expressed coherently as manifesting the true logos of being.
116 Additionally, for the centuries with which we are concerned, we may note Arnobius, Adversus nationes; Lactantius, Divinaeinstitutiones, Prudentius, Contra Symmachum; Eusebius, Theophania; Athanasius, Contra gentes; John Chrysostom, Demonstration to Jews and Greeks that Christ is God; Gregory of Nazianzus, Orationes contraJulianum Imperatorem; Macarius Magnes, Apocriticus; Cyril of Alexandria, Contra Julianum Imperatorem; Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Graecarum affectionem curatio.
117 Cf.e.g. Theophilus, Autol. 2.22; Lactantius, Inst. 4.8.3.
118 E.g. Athenagoras, Leg. 21.3; Theophilus, Autol. 1.9; Clement, Prot. 2.39.1; Tertullian, Nat. 2.12.17; Cyprian, Donat. 8.
119 E.g. Justin, 1 Apol. 59-60; Origen, Contr. Cels. 6.19; Theophilus, Autol. 1.14; Augustine, Doct. Chr. 2.28.43; Clement, Prot. 6.70.1.
121 Tatian, Orat. i3.
122 Theophilus, Autol. 2.4; 2.10; Tertullian, Hermog. 21.2; Clement, Prot. 4.63.3.
123 Origen, Contr. Cels. 4.67.
124 Tertullian,Jejun. 4.1; Origen, Orat. 6.3.
125 Tertullian, Nat. 2.17.19; Eusebius, De laud. Const., passim.
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