This book is the first to tackle the origins and purpose of literary religious apologetic in the first centuries of the Christian era by discussing, on their own terms, texts composed by pagan and Jewish authors as well as Christians. Previous studies of apologetic have focused primarily on the Christian apologists of the second century. These, and other Christian authors, are represented also in this volume but, in addition, experts in the religious history of the pagan world, in Judaism, and in late antique philosophy examine very different literary traditions to see to what extent techniques and motifs were shared across the religious divide. Each contributor has investigated the probable audience, the literary milieu, and the specific social, political, and cultural circumstances which elicited each apologetic text. In many cases these questions lead on to the further issue of the relation between the readers addressed by the author and the actual readers, and the extent to which a defined literary genre of apologetic developed. These studies, ranging in time from the New Testament to the early fourth century, and including novel contributions by specialists in ancient history, Jewish history, ancient philosophy, the New Testament, and patristics, will put the study of ancient religious apologetic on to a new footing.