Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

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The word “atheist” comes from the Greek adjective ἄθεος/atheos which originally meant “godless.” This meaning of the word persisted, but in the 4th century BCE it also took on the additional sense of disbelief in the existence of the gods. Atheism of this sort is hard to detect in antiquity, with limited evidence for anyone voicing openly atheistic statements. Atheism nonetheless played a role in philos…

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Secord, Jared, “Atheism/Atheist”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 03 October 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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