Christians as the Romans Saw Them – 5

This particular chapter deals with a Roman philosopher named Porphyry.  Wilken notes that Porphyry is probably the greatest anti-Christian philosopher, and is considered by scholars today to be the most ardent and most feared opponent of Christianity in antiquity.  Why was he so feared? First, he had an extensive knowledge of the scriptures.  Second, he tried to make a place for Christianity among the other religions of his day.  Wilken goes on to explain the three levels of Roman cosmology: (1) the one high god, the deities, and the heavenlies, (2) the daimones (lesser gods), and (3) the great heroes.  The great heroes were men of piety who revered the one high god and taught others to do the same.

Early apologists claimed that this “one high god” that the Romans worshipped is Yahweh, and Augustine cites Porphyry as praising the Hebrews because they also worship this one high god.  Porphyry, however, disagrees with Christians who venerate Jesus as if he himself is the one high god.  To Poryhyryr, Jesus is simply another philosopher/prophet in the tradition of the men of old who proclaimed that we should follow this one high God (whom Jesus calls the father).

Also intersting is that Porphyry spent a good deal of time attempting to discount the book of Daniel.


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