Apologists & Heresy Hunters

By Sean Finnegan

Apologists (Defenders) of the 2nd C.

- Quadratus (130?)
- Aristo of Pella (c. 140?)
- Aristides (c. 145)
- Miltiades (c. 160-180?)
- Justin Martyr (d. 165)
- Athenagoras (c. 170-180)
- Melito of Sardis (c. 170-180?)
- Appolinaris of Hierapolis (170-180)
- Tatian (d. 180?)
- Theophilus of Antioch (c. 180-185)
- Epistle of Diognetus (150-225)

Quadratus of Athens (130)

- addressed book to Hadrian (r. 117-138)
- claimed to know people healed by Jesus

Epistle of Diognetus (150-225)

- author ideas: Hippolytus, Aristides, Pantaenus
- common criticisms are that Christians are incestuous b/c we call each other brother and sister, cannibals b/c we eat body and blood of Jesus, atheists b/c we didn’t believe in the gods, politically subversive b/c we didn’t honor the emperor by offering incense to his statue
- Diog. 5.1-17 provides an excellent example of an effective apologist

Justin Martyr (100-165)

- Stoic -> Peripatetic -> Pythagorean -> Platonist -> Christian
- founded a school in Rome
- claimed Greek philosophers accessed truth of the Logos, thus Christianity is not a novel religion
- Justin addressed his case to the Roman emperor and his sons and the senate and the Roman people (First Apology 1.1-2)
- Dialogue with Trypho employed the idea of heresy as defined by a key belief—resurrection (see chapter 80)

Heresy Hunters

- Justin (140-160)
- Irenaeus (180-199)
- Tertullian (200-213)
- Hippolytus (200-230)
- Eusebius (324)
- Epiphanius (374-377)
- Theodoret (452-453)

Standard Arguments

- too complicated
- trace beliefs to heresiarch
- unnatural interpretation of scripture
- can’t trace beliefs back to the apostles
- perverted truth leads to perverted morals
- new generations recycle old heresies Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202)
- Argued against Valentinus, Marcus, Ptolemaeus, Saturninus, Basilides, Carpocrates, Cerinthus, Ebionites, Nicolaitans, Cerdo, Marcion, Tatian, the Encratites, Orphites, Sethians, Cainites, and others
- Against Heresies (aka. The Refutation and Overthrow of Falsely Called Gnosis) intended to equip church leaders to protect their unsuspecting flock from getting tricked into believing any forms of Gnosticism


- Apologists focused on defending Christianity against outsiders by writing to the Roman authorities and laying out a case for toleration.
- Justin Martyr taught that Christianity had continuity with Greek philosophers who also accessed the Logos.
- Heresy hunters (heresiologists) defended Christianity against insiders who had differing beliefs from theirs.
- Christians fought heresy by using key beliefs they knew their opponents couldn’t affirm and by labelling them.
- Justin and Irenaeus emphasized resurrection and an ultimate kingdom on earth to exclude those who held varieties of Gnostic beliefs.

LHIM Weekly Bible Teachings
LHIM Weekly Bible Teachings
Apologists & Heresy Hunters

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