Apologetics take their place beside miracles of healing and courage in the face of persecution as an important means of furthering the early Christian mission. In the first two centuries AD, when the popular perception was that Christianity was closely allied to Judaism, the argument from Old Testament prophecy was important. In the third century, however, as the Church gained ground among the educated classes in east and west, the emphasis changed to an attempt to demonstrate the superiority of Christianity over its pagan rivals as a philosophy with a more convincing understanding of the role of providence. Apologists in the north African tradition, Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Arnobius and Lactantius, all played their part in this process. The prophecies of the Old Testament had to be confirmed by other prophecies, notably the Sibylline oracles and the sayings of Hermes Trismegistus. Finally, in the fourth century, many north Africans who, like Augustine for ten years, adhered to Manichaean Christianity relied wholly on these authorities, rejecting the Old Testament altogether.