“TRADITIONLESS SUPERSTITION”: HISTORICAL NOVELTY AND THE EARLY CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS
To be disinterested in any historically approved tradition while also promoting oneself as a new, exclusive religion in terms of soteriology was something quite unacceptable to the mindset of antiquity. Nevertheless, this is exactly how Christianity was perceived in the Imperium Romanum as a historical novelty, an anti-traditional, ethnically unrooted, overbearing, and in fact superstitious religious movement which, to say the least, was a disturbing and subversive social phenomenon. Given the seriousness of these perceptions and accusations made by both pagans and Jews, early Christian apologetics focused on several key topics that lie in the background of this issue. First of all, apologetics focused on relativizing an alleged contradiction between the historically new and the truth. Moreover, they worked on a reinterpretation of the term new in the context of the Christian relationship to the Old Testament tradition and especially to its prophecies. Also, early Christian theology made it clear that novelty actually represented the timeliness of the divine revelation, as implied by the term καιρός in relation to the incarnation of the Logos. Moreover, this should not be understood in terms of the protological, but rather in terms of an eschatological perspective. Interpreted in this way, Christianity manifests itself as simultaneously old and new, as a phenomenon that inevitably bases its existence on an appreciation of History, within which the successive divine epiphanies took place and tradition (old and new) formed in connection with these epiphanies.