Theophilus of Antioch is a second-century Syrian bishop,
who sought to promote in three documents, collectively know as Ad Autolycum,
a religion that is essentially a form of Jewish Christianity. My book defines
Theophilus' rhetoric and identifies the focus of his theological system
as it is exhibited in Ad Autolycum.
First, regarding Theophilus' rhetoric, his extant corpus
suggests a Christianity without a need for a savior figure. Furthermore,
while it may be presumed that the person of Christ is indispensable to
even the earliest varieties of Christianity, there is no evidence in Ad
Autolycum that either Jesus' incarnation or passion are of any importance
to this bishop. While this feature makes Theophilus initially difficult
to contextualize, a systemic-descriptive analysis of his rhetoric in Ad
Autolycum has led me to the conclusion that this difficulty can be
accounted for against the background of what I call his "protreptic theology."
Second, regarding Theophilus' focus, there is an inextricable
correlation between moral law and salvation, which is unparalleled in early
Christian thought. In other words, at the center of Ad Autolycum
is a morality-based soteriology. Further, this bishop, unlike his predecessor,
Ignatius, and contemporary, Irenaeus, does not engage in anti-Jewish polemic.
Actually, his soteriology appears to justify comparison with that of Hellenistic
Judaism. My book recommends that Theophilus' religion in Ad Autolycum
be identified as Nomistic Christianity.
Bishop Theophilus of Antioch is an important figure not
only for scholars of early church history, but for modern pluralistic religionists
who seek an historical precedent in the early church to promote the work
of interfaith trialogue, that is, the dialogue of Christians, Jews and
Muslims. Theophilus' theology does not appear to circumvent nascent Jewish
soteriological thought, and perhaps even lays an early foundation for the
development of an Islamic Christology.
My book can be purchased at Lexington