Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. David Olster


Only recently have scholars given particular attention to the development of the racial discourse present in early Christian apologetics. This study is aimed at understanding the Latin and Greek literary antecedents to the development of a Christian discourse on race and identity and examining in detail the apex of this discourse in the work of third century apologist Origen of Alexandria. Origen’s work represented the apex of an evolving discourse that, while continuing to use traditional vocabulary, became increasingly universalizing with the growth of the Roman Empire. By understanding how Christians in the first three centuries shaped their attitudes on race and identity, scholars can better comprehend the place of Christianity within the cultural framework of the Roman Empire.