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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

An apologist is one who speaks or writes in defense of a faith or cause. The term has come to be used to describe a group of second-century Church fathers who wrote letters defending the new faith of Christianity.

The earliest of them is unknown, although his apology, To Diognetus, still survives. Perhaps the most well known of the early apologists is Justin (c. 100-c. 165), whose death for the faith earned him the name Justin Martyr. Tertullian (c. 155 or 160-c. 225) is still remembered for his work, Apology.

The importance of these works is that historians, by studying them, can learn about the early objections to Christianity as well as the manner in which educated members of the church responded to them. This leads to an understanding of how Christian theology evolved through the very act of responding to early criticism.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a collective term for the early Christian writers, primarily of the second and third centuries (the period during which the Christians were persecuted by Roman authorities), who defended the principles of Christianity against the criticism of non-Christian philosophers (Jews and “pagans”).

The most important apologists included the Easterners (who wrote in Greek) Quadratus, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, Melito of Sar-dis, and Origen; and the Westerners (who wrote in Latin) Tertullian and Minucius Felix. The apologists laid the foundation for Christian theology, especially Theophilus and Tertullian, who introduced the term “trinity.”

With the transition of Christianity to the status of a state religion (fourth century), when it became unnecessary to defend Christianity against paganism, apologetic literature gradually disappeared and was replaced by polemical works directed against heresies. The last apologist was Theodoret of Cyrrhus, who wrote in the fifth century, a time when paganism was already practically powerless.

Sometimes the term apologists is also applied to the medieval polemicists against Islam and Judaism.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
He said "it would be a mistake if European Institutions and member states allow rump LTTE cadres and other LTTE apologists to dictate foreign policy towards Sri Lanka".
The Israel apologists rehashed the story to suit their prejudices and I condemn them and see their Big Lie as the blood libel revisited by its victims and used against others.
A: The call to be an apologist is from God, to God, and for God; it involves a focus on Bible study, prayer, and reading on issues relating to real life.
My claim is simply that everyone, whether he knows it or not, is a proponent of a world view; it follows that everyone will be an apologist (i.e., a defender) in that he will have a view of things to propagate and the means to justify it.
Apologists for the administration and the Congress have tried to portray the 2004 increase of 5 percent as a boon because other recent annual increases have been in the 6-8 percent range.
In doing so, Watts breaks through the ages-old propaganda and paints a picture of the Ford Motor Company that is less sanitary, but no less interesting, than the official telling approved by Henry Ford and his apologists. It is this texture, combined with Watt's easy-to-read style, which makes this a must-have book for anyone interested in the man that put the world on wheels and the dynasty he built.
Singleton's hamfisted movies have never been gayfriendly (or woman-friendly, for that matter), and apologists may point to his characters as the culprits and not him, but you get the idea watching Four Brothers that Singleton's never bothered to sit down and think it through.
Yet after Chernobyl, nuclear power apologists urged new and expensive fixes--just as many (including Gumbel) ignore VBM's benefits, and now endorse expensive, complicated changes to make the fundamentally flawed D RE "even better" by creating paper receipts.
The news (and bad news, I suppose, for the apologists of solipsistic pen-and-ink fantasies and School of Tuymans oils, or whatever other back-to-art-basics merchandise fills the stalls these days) is that Art Fair Art (and, more important, the post-Pop performative efforts of which it is a subset) evinces, contra the bad-boy bum rap, a measure of complexity and contradiction.
EVERY time there's a new `exposA' about corruption in racing (and don't think these exposAs don't matter because they too do drive down turnover) apologists point out that there's nothing specific in them, no names are named, we shouldn't take them seriously until they are.
White apologists, on the other hand, argued at the very start that whatever their status--even bondage!--blacks were better off in higher Christian civilizations.
They performed the normal functions of women but also hunted, served as interpreters, cared for the sick, became apologists for their husbands, and even became full members of the military.