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Tatian the ‘Assyrian’, student of Justin Martyr and teacher in Rome in the latter half of the second century, was recognized by later Christians such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Eusebius as one of the most educated Christian thinkers of his day. However, a survey of ancient sources and modern scholarship on this figure reveals a number of competing ‘Tatians’ who are not easily reconcilable with one another: Tatian the Marcionite, the Valentinian, the Encratite, the proto-Monarchian, the rhetorician, the gospel editor, and the founder of a school that decisively shaped Syriac Christianity and later Antiochene theology. The present article examines each of these representations in turn in order to highlight a series of unsolved problems related to Tatian and his legacy which require further research, while also suggesting that the inconsistencies in our sources might be the result of Tatian’s own failure to formulate a coherent and compelling intellectual system that could command the allegiance of many followers.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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