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date: 28 June 2022

Arnobiuslocked

Arnobiuslocked

  • William Hugh Clifford Frend
  •  and M. J. Edwards

Extract

Arnobius, a teacher of rhetoric at *Sicca Veneria in Proconsular Numidia, said by *Jerome to have taught *Lactantius and to have suddenly become a Christian (c.295); see christianity. A year or two later, at his bishop's instance, he wrote seven books, Adversus nationes, as a proof of full conversion. He attacked those who argued, like the later opponents of Augustine, that ‘ever since the Christians have been on earth, the world has gone to ruin’ (Adv. nat. 1. 1), and that Christ was a mortal magician, not superior to *Apollonius (12) of Tyana or *Zoroaster (1. 52–3). His answer, although conventional in tenor, is not so in content, since he amasses much valuable antiquarian learning, designed to prove that Roman institutions were subject to change, and that therefore Christianity was not bad because it was new. Incidentally he reveals something of pagan beliefs current in Africa. He does not look for prefigurement of the Gospel even in the Old Testament. His attack on the viri novi in book 2 shows him abreast of recent developments in Platonism (see neoplatonism); but, while he cites several dialogues and applauds *Plato (1)'s notion of God, he (characteristically) rejects the hypothesis of innate ideas.

Subjects

  • Christianity

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