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An apologist (from ancient Greek απολογητής "defender", απολογία "defense speech") is originally the legal magistrate in the Greek polis , in the early Christian period a representative of Christian apologetics , which shows Christianity in the Roman Empire as a reasonable religion and against attacks by other religions Defends philosophies .

Today the term is also used in a broader sense for a defender of a doctrine or ideology who argues at an elevated, intellectual or scientific level .

Concept history

The term “apologist” is used with reference to the texts defending Christianity, especially from the 2nd century, by Fédéric Morel in his basic text edition Corpus Apologetarum from 1616. Prudentius Maran's edition of 1742 builds on this, as do many other publishers.

Jewish apologetics

Before Christian apologetics, there had been Jewish "defense" of their religion, which is why one can speak of an independent Jewish apologetics .

Early Christian apologists

The beginnings of Christian apologetics can already be found in the New Testament, for example Acts 16: 16–34  EU . The Kerygma Petri should also be mentioned here.

Important representatives of ancient Christian apologetics in the 2nd century are:

In the 3rd century u. a. emerge:

Even authors of the 4th and 5th centuries are sometimes still referred to as apologists or at least functions of some of their works are emphasized as apologetic, including:

The Christian advertising and defense writings participate in an academic discourse and the attempt to relate the Greco-Roman educational tradition and the Christian way of life and tradition ( gospel ) in a qualified manner. The spectrum ranges from largely based on pagan popular philosophical and literary traditions to harsh polemics.

Important non-Christian participants in this dispute who defend the classical ancient educational tradition include: a .:

  • Middle Platonist Kelsos (Celsus), probably a teacher in Alexandria, with his advertising and anti-Christian pamphlet True Doctrine (177-180)
  • at the beginning of the 4th century Porphyry , the most educated of all ancient Christian critics, with his pamphlet Against the Christians
  • Emperor Julian with his writing against the Galileans .

Only fragments of these three works have survived. The true doctrine of Celsus and the polemic of Emperor Julian (r. 361-363) can be reconstructed from Christian replies to it (Origen, Contra Celsum ; Cyril of Alexandria, Against Julian) in the basics; around 80 fragments identified.

For medieval and modern apologetics and the corresponding or subsequent discipline of fundamental theology, see there.


  • Commentary on early Christian apologists (KfA), 12 volumes, edited by Norbert Brox , Kurt Niederwimmer, Horacio E. Lona , Ferdinand R. Prostmeier , Jörg Ulrich . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 2001ff:
    • Volume 1 Kerygma Petri / Quadratus fragment
    • Volume 2 Aristides, Apology
    • Volume 3 Melito, Fragments / Pseudo-Melito, Apology
    • Volume 4/5 Justin, Apologies
    • Volume 6 Tatian, Speech to the Hellenes
    • Volume 7 Athenagoras, Petition for Christians
    • Volume 8 To Diognet
    • Volume 9 Theophilos of Antioch, To Autolykos
    • Volume 10 of Clement of Alexandria, Protreptikos
    • Volume 11 Tertullian, Apologeticum
    • Volume 12 Minucius Felix, Octavius
    • Supplementary volume 1 The "True Doctrine" of the Celsus
    • Supplementary Volume 2 Early Christianity and Culture
  • Logos of Reason - Logos of Faith. Ceremony for the 80th birthday of Edgar Früchtel, ed. by Ferdinand R. Prostmeier and Horacio E. Lona . De Gruyter, Berlin, New York, 2010; ISBN 978-3-11-024726-8 (= Millennium Studies in the culture and history of the first millennium CE [MST], Volume 31 ISSN  1862-1139 ).
  • Adolf Jülicher : Apologists . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume II, 1, Stuttgart 1895, Col. 166 f.

Web links

Wiktionary: Apologist  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations