The Apologists

100- 165 Justin Martyr, born a pagan at Naples, is the first to use Scripture methodically in his writings.

Late 2nd century Theophilus of Antioch is the first to quote primarily from the New Testament as "divine Word."

The Gnostic Crisis

Ca. 135 The Gnostic Epistle of Barnabas offers a completely spiritualized, figurative interpretation of Old Testament passages. Such Gnostic writings—some of which were discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945— pushed the church to refine its own understanding of the Old Testament.

144 Marcion of Sinope is excommunicated from his church and founds his own. He rejected the Old Testament, creating his own collection of New Testament books with Old Testament references cut out. This pushed the church to re-emphasize the Old Testament and to establish its own canon of New Testament writings.

185 In his detailed attack on the Gnostics, Against Heresies, Irenaeus of Lyons appeals to the apostolic writings to show that the God of Moses is the same as the God and Father of Jesus Christ— thus the Old Testament must be taken as sacred Scripture.

The Alexandrian Tradition

Seeking the deep meanings

Ca. 20 B.C. - A.D. 50 Lifetime of Philo of Alexandria, the Jewish thinker and exegete who pioneered the allegorical method of interpretation to link the Hebrew Scriptures to Greek philosophy. His goal: an effective apologetic for Judaism in the Hellenistic world, with a success not lost on Clement and Origen of Alexandria. Those two Christian teachers picked up the method for the church and passed it on to Ambrose and others.

Late 2nd century Clement of Alexandria (ca. 60-215) responds to Gnostic teachings with a thorough, detailed exegesis of all of Scripture, combining allegorical ...

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