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The only two surviving works from Tatian are his Oration to the Greeks and the so-called Diatessaron. Previous scholars have examined the Oration in search of clues that might shed light on the origins of his gospel, and have highlighted his adherence to divine “unity” and insistence on historical “accuracy.” In this article it is argued that a more fundamental theme in the Oration is Tatian’s concern for proper “order,” a rhetorical category that he filled out with theological and philosophical content, and that it was this which served as the primary impetus for his creation of his gospel edition. Furthermore, if rhetoric gave him the motivation, it was his grammatical training that gave him the tools for this enterprise, since in composing his work he must have relied upon the kind of close literary analysis learned under the grammarian. Viewing the matter from this perspective allows one to place Tatian more clearly into the second-century context of the Second Sophistic and also allows one to situate him within an ongoing conversation among Christian authors in the second century over the order, or lack thereof, evident in the church’s authoritative texts.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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