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Why Imitate Classical Texts?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter substantiates the embarrassment on behalf of the literary style of the Gospels. It argues that shortly after Juvencus wrote his Evangeliorum Libri Quattuor, Emperor Julian the Apostate promulgated a law that came to have a profound effect on how some Christians considered their own literature vis-à-vis the classical legacy. There are, therefore, both literary and historical reasons for the refashioning the stories of Jesus in the epic form. An important assumption of the investigation is that many cultivated persons found the literary style of the Gospels crude, and Christians of the same milieu found no reason for pride in their own literature. This assumption finds corroboration also in e.g. Jerome Ep. 53 and 70, both devoted to the question of the Scriptures, Christian faith, encyclical studies and classical literature.

Keywords: Apostate; Christians; classical literature; Gospels; Juvencus



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