Christians vs. Pagans

The ancient debates between Christians and pagans (what is extant is mostly from the Christian side, but pagan voices exist) can be studied from a variety of angles, but I will focus on two topics: (a) the different conceptions of divinity, (b) the value of Christian sources for understanding paganism. In time, this might expand, but I should be transparent that the Christian side holds much less intrinsic interest for me.

For the purposes of this list, I am only considering texts in classical Christian languages (Greek, Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, etc.), but there is no clean separation between ancient, medieval and modern Christian anti-paganism. The choice of materials is somewhat unsystematic and open-ended.

For the Middle Platonist Celsus, see Origen of Alexandria. For Hierocles (probably not a philosopher at all), see Eusebius. For the Neoplatonist Julian (the emperor), see Cyril of Alexandria. The Neoplatonist Porphyry was an important target of many Christian polemics, so he is listed under his own heading; but the fictial pagan philosopher attacked Macarius Magnes is at most loosely inspired by him (and in no way represents Neoplatonic positions).

Also see Christian Philosophy for John Philoponus‘ criticisms of pagan philosophy, and Late Neoplatonism for Simplicius‘ counter-critique; and for some pieces of pagan apologetic by Libanius, Themistius, and Symmachus, see Orators.

Constantine the Deacon (date??): Laudatio omnium martyrum PG 88.500b-501d, 505b-508b
John Philoponus?
Sources in Syriac (including about Iran!)
Sources in Armenian
other languages like Ge’ez, Georgian, others?

Aristides of Athens (2nd cent.)

Athenagoras of Athens (2nd cent.)

Tatian of Adiabene (ca. 120–180)

Theophilus of Antioch (died ca. 184)

Justin Martyr (2nd cent.) and Pseudo-Justin (as late as 4th cent.)

Hermias (3rd cent.)

Tertullian (ca. 155–240) and Pseudo-Tertullian

Minucius Felix (died ca. 250)

Origen of Alexandria (ca. 184–253) VS. Celsus (2nd cent.)

(Pseudo-?)Cyprian (ca. 200–258)

First Council of Carthage (251)


Porphyry of Tyre (234–305)

Lactantius (ca. 250–325)

Lactantius‘ On the Deaths of the Persecutors
Lactantius‘ Divine Institutes

Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260–340)

Eusebius VS. Sossianus Hierocles

Macarius Magnes (early 4th cent.)

Athanasius of Alexandria (ca. 296–373)

Anonymous, Consultationes Zacchaei et Apollonii (4th cent.)

Prudentius (348–after 405)

Aurelius Prudentius Clemens

Anonymous, Carmen contra paganos (around 400)

Anonymous, Carmen ad senatorem quendam (around 400?)

Augustine of Hippo (354–430)

General posts
The pagan authorities in Augustine’s polemical works
Pluralism in the orbit of Augustine

The City of God (lat. De civitate Dei contra paganos)

Other works
Augustine’s De vera religione
The anti-pagan polemic of Augustine’s Harmony of the Gospels, Book I
The apologetics of Augustine’s Harmony of the Gospels, Book II–IV
Augustine’s De divinatione daemonum

The New Sermons discovered by Dolbeau
Augustine’s Sermon 23B
Augustine’s Sermon 198
Augustine’s Sermon 299A
Augustine’s Sermon 360A
Augustine’s Sermon 360B
Augustine’s Sermon 374

Augustine to Maximus of Madaura (cf. Maximus of Madaura)
Augustine to Longinianus (cf. Longinianus)
(For other letters Augustine exchanged with pagans, see Epistolographers)

Paulus Orosius (ca. 375–after 418)

The argument of Orosius‘ Seven Books of History Against the Pagans
Orosius‘ History XXX

Theodoret of Cyrrhus (ca. 393–458/466)

Commodian (5th cent.?)

Commodian’s Instructiones adversus gentium
Commodian’s Carmen apologeticum

Martin of Braga (ca. 520–580)