The Interpretation of the New Testament in Greco-Roman Paganism
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Because they were able to convert and radically influence so many, Christian writings were pilloried by pagan critics---from Celsus to Emperor Julian---who mustered an arsenal of rhetoric, philosophy, and literary criticism against them. With skillful commentary laced with cultural and political context, Cook offers a fascinating look through the eyes of the New Testament's earliest critics.
In the early centuries of what came to be called the Christian era, that new religion competed not only with Judaism but also with various traditional Greco-Roman religious beliefs and practices. "Pagan" intellectuals read the emerging Christian scriptures and responded with critiques that provoked lengthy and repeated rejoinders from contemporary Christian leaders. In some cases, these criticisms anticipated perspectives that re-emerged many centuries later in modern scholarship. John Granger Cook offers the first detailed description of the exegesis of five of the most important ancient pagan critics of the New Testament: Celsus, Porphyry, the anonymous pagan reported by Macarius Magnes, Hierocles, and the emperor Julian.
Cook is Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy at LaGrange College, Georgia.