Friday, 1 May 2015

C. Hoogerwerf: Pseudo-Justin on Truth and Belief: The First Christian Prolegomena

Pseudo-Justin's De Resurrectione is not only the first writing dedicated to the defence of the resurrection of the flesh, but also contains the first Christian methodological reflection about the nature of the truth and the appropriate method to arrive at the truth. Written ca. 178 CE, Pseudo-Justin's treatise is one voice in an inner-Christian debate about the resurrection. His position will be brought into relation with another Christian viewpoint as expressed in the Epistle to Rheginus and with the criticisms of Celsus, who wrote his True Doctrine around the same time. While Celsus reproaches Christians for renouncing demonstration of the truth and the author of the Epistle to Rheginus rejects entirely the philosophical approach to the truth, Pseudo-Justin argues for an authority-based epistemology: the Truth is inherently worthy of belief and therefore immune to demonstration and refutation. These prefatory considerations are the first step in the author's apologetic strategy to underpin his position regarding the resurrection. The next step is to show that the resurrection of the flesh is possible even on the basis of secular reasoning. The methodological ideas and the argumentative structure in De Resurrectione are a distinctive step in the development of Christianity and show how Christian thinkers carved out a place for theology in the intellectual world of antiquity.

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