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6 - The Earliest Alexandrian Theologians

Basilides, Carpocrates, and Prodicus

from Part II - Early Christian Teachers and Movements in Alexandria

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 December 2023

M. David Litwa
Affiliation:
Boston College, Massachusetts
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Summary

This chapter surveys the thought and practice of the earliest known Alexandrian theologians, namely Basilides, Carpocrates, and Prodicus. These theologians gave no indication that they were Jews. They showed no interest in practicing distinctively Jewish customs. They were not politically disenfranchised or, generally speaking, opposed to the wider society. In many ways, they were well accommodated culturally. They had access to the educational resources of Alexandria, as is indicated by their rhetorical proficiency and exegetical skill. They were sophisticated thinkers who wrote didactic letters, commentaries, sermons, and songs. Their rhetorical and linguistic attainments indicate at least a middling measure of wealth and social status. Their distinct rites and religious practices indicate that they belonged to independent Christian movements that had institutionally separated from local synagogues. An important sidelight on Celsus argues for his Alexandrian provenance.

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Early Christianity in Alexandria
From its Beginnings to the Late Second Century
, pp. 91 - 106
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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