There has always been a tendency in Christian thought which is suspicious of philosophy and human reasoning. Paul (1 Cor. 1: 16 ff.) denigrated wisdom: it had no power to save, compared with the ‘foolishness of the cross’. In modern times the classical expression of the view that God is known only by his self‐revelation in Christ and not as a concept demonstrable by philosophical argument was in Karl Barth's commentary on Paul's epistle to the Romans (1919; ET 1933).

However, a more conciliatory exegesis of the Bible took contemporary philosophy seriously at Alexandria. Clement and Origen admitted crudity and lack of credibility in biblical narratives, though they were opposed by those like Tertullian who could see only a literal meaning in the texts and asked ‘What has Jerusalem in common with Athens?’