This work is a discussion of the African Latin apologists prior to St. Augustine. The time-frame ranges from the end of the second century into the opening of the fourth; one of the most important locations in the formative history of Christian doctrine and practice. In turn, the literary medium of the apology carries particular significance in this period. The apologetic writings of Minucius Felix, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius of Sicca and Lactantius are considered in chronological order, highlighting aspects of a collective tradition as well as more individual apologetic concerns. Common themes, shared arguments, and probable lines of influence all support a highly workable generic connection of African Latin apologetics, provided that the nuances of each text are taken into account. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the dialogue of a tradition of African Latin apologetics before Augustine of Hippo’s landmark De ciuitate dei.
Nicholas Thomas did his graduate studies in Theology and Patristics at the University of Wales Lampeter, and is currently engaged in research focused on the history of pre-Constantinian Latin Christianity through the documents of the Latin fathers.