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.
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