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§ 173. Justin the Philosopher and Martyr.

Editions of Justin Martyr.

*Justini Philosophi et Martyris Opera omnia, in the Corpus Apologetarum Christianorum saeculi secundi, ed. Jo. Car. Th. de Otto, Jen. 1847, 3d ed. 1876–’81. 5 vols. 8vo. Contains the genuine, the doubtful, and the spurious works of Justin Martyr with commentary, and Maran’s Latin Version.

Older ed. (mostly incomplete) by Robt. Stephanus, Par., 1551; Sylburg, Heidelb., 1593; Grabe, Oxon., 1700 (only the Apol. I.); Prudent. Maranus, Par., 1742 (the Bened. ed.), republ. at Venice, 1747, and in Migne’s Patrol. Gr. Tom. VI. (Paris, 1857), c. 10–800 and 1102–1680, with additions from Otto. The Apologies were also often published separately, e.g. by Prof B. L. Gildersleeve, N. Y. 1877, with introduction and notes.

On the MSS. of Justin see Otto’s Proleg., p. xx. sqq., and Harnack, Texte. Of the genuine works we have only two, and they are corrupt, one in Paris, the other in Cheltenham, in possession of Rev. F. A. Fenwick (see Otto, p. xxiv.).

English translation in the Oxford "Library of the Fathers," Lond., 1861, and another by G. J. Davie in the "Ante-Nicene Library," Edinb. Vol. II., 1867 (465 pages), containing the Apologies, the Address to the Greeks, the Exhortation, and the Martyrium, translated by M. Dods; the Dialogue with Trypho, and On the Sole Government of God, trsl. by G. Reith; and also the writings of Athenagoras, trsl. by B. P. Pratten. Older translations by Wm. Reeves, 1709, Henry Brown, 1755, and J. Chevallier, 1833 (ed. II., 1851). On German and other versions see Otto, Prol. LX. sqq.

Works on Justin Martyr.

Bp. Kaye: Some Account of the Writings and Opinions of Justin Martyr. Cambr., 1829, 3d ed., 1853.

C. A. Credner: Beiträge zur Einleitung in die bibl. Schriften. Halle, vol. I., 1832 (92–267); also in Vol. II., 1838 (on the quotations from the O. T., p. 17–98; 104–133; 157–311). Credner discusses with exhaustive learning Justin’s relation to the Gospels and the Canon of the N. T., and his quotations from the Septuagint. Comp. also his Geschichte des N. T Canon, ed. by Volkmar, 1860.

*C. Semisch: Justin der Märtyrer. Breslau, 1840 and 1842, 2 vols. Very thorough and complete up to date of publication. English translation by Ryland, Edinb., 1844, 2 vols. Comp. Semisch: Die apostol. Denkwürdigkeiten des Just. M. (Hamb. and Gotha, 1848), and his article Justin in the first ed. of Herzog, VII. (1857), 179–186.

Fr. Böhringer: Die Kirchengesch. in Biographien. Vol. I. Zürich, 1842, ed. II., 1861, p. 97–270.

Ad. Hilgenfeld: Krit. Untersuchungen ueber die Evangelien Justin’s. Halle, 1850. Also: Die Ap. Gesch. u. der M. Just. in his "Zeitschr. f. wiss. Theol.," 1872, p. 495–509, and Ketzergesch., 1884, pp. 21 sqq.

*J. C. Th. Otto: Zur Characteristik des heil. Justinus. Wien, 1852. His art. Justinus der Apologete, in "Ersch and Gruber’s Encyklop." Second Section, 30th part (1853), pp. 39–76. Comp. also his Prolegomena in the third ed. of Justin’s works. He agrees with Semisch in his general estimate of Justin.

C. G. Seibert: Justinus, der Vertheidiger des Christenthums vor dem Thron der Caesaren. Elberf., 1859.

Ch. E. Freppel (R.C. Bp.): Les Apologistes Chrétiens du II.esiècle. Par., 1860.

L. Schaller: Les deux Apologies de Justin M. au point de vie dogmatique. Strasb., 1861.

B. Aubé: De l’apologetique Chrétienne au II.e siècle. Par., 1861; and S. Justin philosophe et martyr, 1875.

E. de Pressensé, in the third vol. of his Histoire des trois premiers siècles, or second vol. of the English version (1870), which treats of Martyrs and Apologists, and his art. in Lichtenberger VII. (1880) 576–583.

Em. Ruggieri: Vita e dottrina di S. Giustino. Rom., 1862.

*J. Donaldson: Hist. of Ante-Nicene Christian Literature. Lond., vol. II. (1866), which treats of Justin M., pp. 62–344.

*C. Weizsäcker: Die Theologie des Märtyrers Justinus in the "Jahrbücher fur Deutsche Theologie. Gotha, 1867 (vol. XII., I. pp. 60–120).

Renan: L’église chrétienne (Par., 1879), ch. XIX., pp. 364–389, and ch. XXV. 480 sqq.

*Moritz von Engelhardt (d. 1881): Das Christenthum Justins des Märtyrers. Erlangen, 1878. (490 pages, no index.) With an instructive critical review of the various treatments of Irenaeus and his place in history (p. 1–70). See also his art. Justin in Herzog2, VII.

G. F. Purves: The Testimony of Justin M. to Early Christianity. New York. 1888.

Adolf Stähelin: Justin der Märtyrer und sein neuster Beurtheiler. Leipzig, 1880 (67 pages). A careful review of Engelhardt’s monograph.

Henry Scott Holland: Art. Justinus Martyr, in Smith and Wace III. (1880), 560–587.

Ad. Harnack: Die Werke des Justin, in "Texte und Untersuchungen," etc. Leipz., 1882. I. 130–195.

The relation of Justin to the Gospels is discussed by Credner, Semisch, Hilgenfeld, Norton, Sanday, Westcott, Abbot; his relation to the Acts by Overbeck (1872) and Hilgenfeld; his relation to the Pauline Epistles by H. D. Tjeenk Willink (1868), Alb. Thoma (1875), and v. Engelhardt (1878).

The most eminent among the Greek Apologists of the second century is Flavius Justinus, surnamed "Philosopher and Martyr."13331333    Tertullian (Adv. Valent. 5) first calls him philosophus et martyr, Hippolytus (Philos. VIII. 16), "Just. Martyr;" Eusebius (H. E. IV. 12), "a genuine lover of the true philosophy, " who "in the garb of a philosopher proclaimed the divine word and defended the faith by writings" (IV. 17).333 He is the typical apologist, who devoted his whole life to the defense of Christianity at a time when it was most assailed, and he sealed his testimony with his blood. He is also the first Christian philosopher or the first philosophic theologian. His writings were well known to Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Eusebius, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Photius, and the most important of them have been preserved to this day.

I. His Life. Justin was born towards the close of the first century, or in the beginning of the second, in the Graeco-Roman colony of Flavia Neapolis, so called after the emperor Flavius Vespasian, and built near the ruins of Sychem in Samaria (now Nablous). He calls himself a Samaritan, but was of heathen descent, uncircumcised, and ignorant of Moses and the prophets before his conversion. Perhaps he belonged to the Roman colony which Vespasian planted in Samaria after the destruction of Jerusalem. His grandfather’s name was Greek (Bacchius), his father’s (Priscus) and his own, Latin. His education was Hellenic. To judge from his employment of several teachers and his many journeys, he must have had some means, though he no doubt lived in great simplicity and may have been aided by his brethren.

His conversion occurred in his early manhood. He himself tells us the interesting story.13341334    Dial.c. Tryph. Jud. c. 2-8. The conversion occurred before the Bar-Cochba war, from which Tryphon was flying when Justin met him. Archbishop Trench has reproduced the story in thoughtful poetry (Poems, Lond. 1865, p. 1-10).334 Thirsting for truth as the greatest possession, he made the round of the systems of philosophy and knocked at every gate of ancient wisdom, except the Epicurean which he despised. He first went to a Stoic, but found him a sort of agnostic who considered the knowledge of God impossible or unnecessary; then to a Peripatetic, but he was more anxious for a good fee than for imparting instruction; next to a celebrated Pythagorean, who seemed to know something, but demanded too much preliminary knowledge of music, astronomy and geometry before giving him an insight into the highest truths. At last he threw himself with great zeal into the arms of Platonism under the guidance of a distinguished teacher who had recently come to his city.13351335    This city may be Flavia Neapolis, or more probably Ephesus, where the conversation with Trypho took place, according to Eusebius (IV. 18). Some have located the scene at Corinth, others at Alexandria. Mere conjectures.335 He was overpowered by the perception of immaterial things and the contemplation of eternal ideas of truth, beauty, and goodness. He thought that he was already near the promised goal of this philosophy—the vision of God—when, in a solitary walk not far from the sea-shore, a venerable old Christian of pleasant countenance and gentle dignity, entered into a conversation with him, which changed the course of his life. The unknown friend shook his confidence in all human wisdom, and pointed him to the writings of the Hebrew prophets who were older than the philosophers and had seen and spoken the truth, not as reasoners, but as witnesses. More than this: they had foretold the coming of Christ, and their prophecies were fulfilled in his life and work. The old man departed, and Justin saw him no more, but he took his advice and soon found in the prophets of the Old Testament as illuminated and confirmed by the Gospels, the true and infallible philosophy which rests upon the firm ground of revelation. Thus the enthusiastic Platonist became a believing Christian.

To Tatian also, and Theophilus at Antioch, and Hilary, the Jewish prophets were in like manner the bridge to the Christian faith. We must not suppose, however, that the Old Testament alone effected his conversion; for in the Second Apology, Justin distinctly mentions as a means the practical working of Christianity. While he was yet a Platonist, and listened to the calumnies against the Christians, he was struck with admiration for their fearless courage and steadfastness in the face of death.13361336    Apol. II. 12, 13.336

After his conversion Justin sought the society of Christians, and received from them instruction in the history and doctrine of the gospel. He now devoted himself wholly to the spread and vindication of the Christian religion. He was an itinerant evangelist or teaching missionary, with no fixed abode and no regular office in the church.13371337    Tillemont and Maran (in Migne’s ed. Col. 114) infer from his mode of describing baptism (Apol. I. 65) that he baptized himself, and consequently was a priest. But Justin speaks in the name of the Christians in that passage ("We after we have thus washed him, " etc.) and throughout the Apology; besides baptism was no exclusively clerical act, and could be performed by laymen. Equally inconclusive is the inference of Maran from the question of the prefect to the associates of Justin (in the Acts of his martyrdom): "Christianos vos ferit Justinus?"337 There is no trace of his ordination; he was as far as we know a lay-preacher, with a commission from the Holy Spirit; yet he accomplished far more for the good of the church than any known bishop or presbyter of his day. "Every one," says he, "who can preach the truth and does not preach it, incurs the judgment of God." Like Paul, he felt himself a debtor to all men, Jew and Gentile, that he might show them the way of salvation. And, like Aristides, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Heraclas, Gregory Thaumaturgus, he retained his philosopher’s cloak,13381338    τρίβων, τριβώνιον, pallium, a threadbare cloak, adopted by philosophers and afterwards by monks (the cowl) as an emblem of severe study or austere life, or both.338 that he might the more readily discourse on the highest themes of thought; and when he appeared in early morning (as he himself tells us), upon a public walk, many came to him with a "Welcome, philosopher!"13391339    θιλόσοφε, Χαῖρε !339 He spent some time in Rome where he met and combated Marcion. In Ephesus he made an effort to gain the Jew Trypho and his friends to the Christian faith.

He labored last, for the second time, in Rome. Here, at the instigation of a Cynic philosopher, Crescens, whom he had convicted of ignorance about Christianity, Justin, with six other Christians, about the year 166, was scourged and beheaded. Fearlessly and joyfully, as in life, so also in the face of death, he bore witness to the truth before the tribunal of Rusticus, the prefect of the city, refused to sacrifice, and proved by his own example the steadfastness of which he had so often boasted as a characteristic trait of his believing brethren. When asked to explain the mystery of Christ, he replied: "I am too little to say something great of him." His last words were: "We desire nothing more than to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ; for this gives us salvation and joyfulness before his dreadful judgment seat, at which all the world must appear."

Justin is the first among the fathers who may be called a learned theologian and Christian thinker. He had acquired considerable classical and philosophical culture before his conversion, and then made it subservient to the defense of faith. He was not a man of genius and accurate scholarship, but of respectable talent, extensive reading, and enormous memory. He had some original and profound ideas, as that of the spermatic Logos, and was remarkably liberal in his judgment of the noble heathen and the milder section of the Jewish Christians. He lived in times when the profession of Christ was a crime under the Roman law against secret societies and prohibited religious. He had the courage of a confessor in life and of a martyr in death. It is impossible not to admire his fearless devotion to the cause of truth and the defense of his persecuted brethren. If not a great man, he was (what is better) an eminently good and useful man, and worthy of an honored place in "the noble army of martyrs."13401340    I add the estimate of Pressensé (Martyrs and Apologists, p. 251): "The truth never had a witness more disinterested, more courageous, more worthy of the hatred of a godless age and of the approval of Heaven. The largeness of his heart and mind equalled the fervor of his zeal, and both were based on his Christian charity. Justin derived all his eloquence from his heart; his natural genius was not of rare order, but the experiences of his early life, illumined by revelation, became the source of much fruitful suggestion for himself, and gave to the Church a heritage of thought which, ripened and developed at Alexandria, was to become the basis of the great apology of Christianity. If we except the beautiful doctrine of the Word germinally present in every man, there was little originality in Justin’s theological ideas. In exegesis he is subtle, and sometimes puerile; in argument he flags, but where his heart speaks, he stands forth in all his moral greatness, and his earnest, generous words are ever quick and telling. Had he remained a pagan he would have lived unnoted in erudite mediocrity . Christianity fired and fertilized his genius, and it is the glowing soul which we chiefly love to trace in all his writings."340

II. Writings. To his oral testimony Justin added extensive literary labors in the field of apologetics and polemics. His pen was incessantly active against all the enemies of Christian truth, Jews, Gentiles, and heretics.

(1) His chief works are apologetic, and still remain, namely, his two Apologies against the heathen, and his Dialogue with the Jew Trypho The First or larger Apology (68 chapters) is addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius (137–161) and his adopted sons, and was probably written about a.d. 147, if not earlier; the Second or smaller Apology (25 chapters) is a supplement to the, former, perhaps its conclusion, and belongs to the same reign (not to that of Marcus Aurelius).13411341    The year of composition cannot be fixed with absolute certainty. The First Apology is addressed "To the Emperor (αὐτοκράτορι)Titus Aelius Adrianus Antoninus, Pius, Augustus Caesar; and to Verissimus, his son, philosopher [i.e. Marcus Aurelius]; and to Lucius, the philosopher [?]—son by nature of a Caesar [i.e. Caesar Aelius Verus] and of Pius by adoption and to the sacred Senate;-and to the whole Roman people, " etc. The address violates the curial style, and is perhaps (as Mommsen and Volkmar suspect) a later addition, but no one doubts its general correctness. From the title "Verissimus, " which Marcus Aurelius ceased to bear after his adoption by Antonine in 138, and from the absence of the title "Caesar" which he received in 139, the older critics have inferred that it must have been written shortly after the death of Hadrian (137), and Eusebius, in the Chronicon, assigns it to 141. The early date is strengthened by the fact that in the Dialogue, which was written after the Apologies, the Bar-Cochba war (132-135) is represented as still going on, or at all events as recent (φυγὼν τὸν νῦν γενόμενον πόλεμον, ex bello nostra aetate profugus, ch. I; Comp. ch. 9). But, on the other hand, Marcus Aurelius was not really associated as co-regent with Antonine till 147, and in the book itself Tustin seems to imply two regents. Lucius Verus, moreover, was born 130, and could not well be addressed in his eighth year as "philosopher; " Eusebius, however, reads "Son of the philosopher Caesar; " and the term φιλόσοφος was used in a very wide sense. Of more weight is the fact that the first Apology was written after the Syntagma against Marcion, who flourished in Rome between 139-145, though this chronology, too, is not quite certain. Justin says that he was writing 150 years after the birth of the Saviour; if this is not simply a round number, it helps to fix the date. For these reasons modern critics decide for 147-150 (Volkmar, Baur, Von Engelhardt, Hort, Donaldson, Holland), or 150 (Lipsius and Renan), or 160 (Keim and Aubé). The smaller Apology was written likewise under Antoninus Pius (so Neander, Otto, Volkmar, Hort, contrary to Eusebius, iv. 15, 18, and the two rulers, but only one autocrat, while after his death there were two older view, which puts it in the reign of Marcus Aurelius; for it presupposes " Augusti" or autocrats. See on the chronology Volkmar, Die Zeit Just. des M., in the " Theol. Jahrb."of Tübingen, 1855 (Nos. 2 and 4); Hort On the Date of Justin M., in the " Journal of Classic and Sacred Philology, " June 1856; Donaldson, II. 73 sqq.; Engelhardt, l.c. 71-80; Keim, Rom. u. d. Christenth., p. 425; Renan, l.c. p. 367, note, and Harnack, Texte und Unters., etc. 1. 172 sq.341 Both are a defense of the Christians and their religion against heathen calumnies and persecutions. He demands nothing but justice for his brethren, who were condemned without trial simply as Christians and suspected criminals. He appeals from the, lower courts and the violence of the mob to the highest tribunal of law, and feels confident that such wise and philosophic rulers as he addresses would acquit them after a fair hearing. He ascribes the persecutions to the instigation of the demons who tremble for their power and will soon be dethroned.

The Dialogue (142 chapters) is more than twice as large as the two Apologies, and is a vindication of Christianity from Moses and the prophets against the objections of the Jews. It was written after the former (which are referred to in ch. 120), but also in the reign of Antoninus Pius, i.e., before a.d. 161 probably about a.d. 148.13421342    Hort puts the Dial. between 142 and 148; Volkmar in 155; Keim between 160-164; Englehardt in 148 or after.342 In the Apologies he speaks like a philosopher to philosophers; in the Dialogue as a believer in the Old Testament with a son of Abraham. The disputation lasted two days, in the gymnasium just before a voyage of Justin, and turned chiefly on two questions, how the Christians could profess to serve God, and yet break his law, and how they could believe in a human Saviour who suffered and died. Trypho, whom Eusebius calls "the most distinguished among the Hebrews of his day," was not a fanatical Pharisee, but a tolerant and courteous Jew, who evasively confessed at last to have been much instructed, and asked Justin to come again, and to remember him as a friend. The book is a storehouse of early interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures.

The polemic works, Against all Heresies, and Against Marcion, are lost. The first is mentioned in the First Apology; of the second, Irenaeus has preserved some fragments; perhaps it was only a part of the former.13431343    On these anti-heretical works see Harnack, Zur Quellenkritik des Gnosticismus (1873), Lipsius, Die Quellen der ältesten Letzergeschichte (1875), and Hilgenfeld, D. Ketzergesch. des Urchristenthums (1884, p. 21 sqq.).343 Eusebius mentions also a Psalter of Justin, and a book On the Soul, which have wholly disappeared.

(2) Doubtful works which bear Justin’s name, and may have been written by him: An address To the Greeks; 13441344    Oratio ad Graecos λόγος πρὸσ Ἕλληνας.344 a treatise On the Unity of God; another On the Resurrection.

(3) Spurious works attributed to him: The Epistle to Diognetus probably of the same date, but by a superior writer, 13451345    See above, § 170, p. 702.345 the Exhortation to the Greeks,13461346    Cohortatio ad Graecos, λόγος παραινετικὸς πρὸσ Ἕλληνας . Based on Julius Africanus, as proved by Donaldson, and independently by Schürer in the Zeitschrift für Kirchengesch."Bd. II. p. 319.346 the Deposition of the True Faith, the epistle To Zenas and Serenus, the Refutation of some Theses of Aristotle, the Questions to the Orthodox, the Questions of the Christians to the Heathens, and the Questions of the Heathens to the Christians. Some of these belong to the third or later centuries.13471347    On these doubtful and spurious writings see Maranus, Otto, Semisch, Donaldson, and Harnack (l. c. 190-193).347

The genuine works of Justin are of unusual importance and interest. They bring vividly before us the time when the church was still a small sect, despised and persecuted, but bold in faith and joyful in death. They everywhere attest his honesty and earnestness, his enthusiastic love for Christianity, and his fearlessness in its defense against all assaults from without and perversions from within. He gives us the first reliable account of the public worship and the celebration of the sacraments. His reasoning is often ingenious and convincing but sometimes rambling and fanciful, though not more so than that of other writers of those times. His style is fluent and lively, but diffuse and careless. He writes under a strong impulse of duty and fresh impression without strict method or aim at rhetorical finish and artistic effect. He thinks pen in hand, without looking backward or forward, and uses his memory more than books. Only occasionally, as in the opening of the Dialogue, there is a touch of the literary art of Plato, his old master.13481348    On these doubtful and spurious writings see Maranus, Otto, Semisch, Donaldson, and Harnack (l. c. 190-193).348 But the lack of careful elaboration is made up by freshness and truthfulness. If the emperors of Rome had read the books addressed to them they must have been strongly impressed, at least with the honesty of the writer and the innocence of the Christians.13491349    Comp, Otto De Justiniana dictione, in the Proleg. LXIII-LXXVI. Renan’s judgment is interesting, but hardly Just. He says (p. 365): "Justin n’était un grand esprit; il manquait à la, fois de philosophie et de critique; son exégèse surtout passerait aujour d’ hui pour très défectueuse; mais il fait preuve dun sens général assez droit; it avait cette espèce, de crédulité médiocre qui permet de raissonner sensément sur des prémisses puériles et de s’arrêter à temps de façon à n’être qu’à moitié absurde." On the next page he says: "Justin était un esprit faible; mais c’était un noble et bon coeur." Donaldson justly remarks (II. 15 sq.) that the faults of style and reasoning attributed to Justin and other Apologists may be paralleled in Plutarch and all other contemporaries, and that more learned and able writers could not have done better than present the same arguments in a more elaborate and polished form.349

III. Theology. As to the sources of his religious knowledge, Justin derived it partly from the Holy Scriptures, partly from the living church tradition. He cites, most frequently, and generally from memory, hence often inaccurately, the Old Testament prophets (in the Septuagint), and the "Memoirs" of Christ, or "Memoirs by the Apostles," as he calls the canonical Gospels, without naming the authors.13501350    ἀπομνημονεύματα τῶν ἀποστόλων, a designation peculiar to Justin, and occurring in the Apologies and the Dialogue, but nowhere else, borrowed, no doubt, from Xenophon’s Memorabilia of Socrates. Four times he calls them simply "Memoirs," four times "Memoirs of (or by) the Apostles;" once "Memoirs made by the Apostles, " which constitute the one Gospel (τὸ εὐαγγελιον, Dial. c. 10), and which "are called Gospels" (ἅ καλεῖται εὐαγγέλια, Apol. I.66, a decisive passage), once, quoting from Mark. "Peter’s Memoirs." After long and thorough discussion the identity of these Memoirs with our canonical Gospels is settled notwithstanding the doubts of the author of Supernatural Religion. It is possible, however, that Justin may have used also some kind of gospel harmony such as his pupil Tatian actually prepared.350 He says that they were publicly read in the churches with the prophets of the Old Testament. He only quotes the words and acts of the Lord. He makes most use of Matthew and Luke, but very freely, and from John’s Prologue (with the aid of Philo whom he never names) he derived the inspiration of the Logos-doctrine, which is the heart of his theology.13511351    One unquestionable quotation from John (3:3-5) is discussed in vol. I. 703 sq. If he did not cite the words of John, he evidently moved in his thoughts.351 He expressly mentions the Revelation of John. He knew no fixed canon of the New Testament, and, like Hernias and Papias, he nowhere notices Paul; but several allusions to passages of his Epistles (Romans, First Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, etc.), can hardly be mistaken, and his controversy with Marcion must have implied a full knowledge of the ten Epistles which that heretic included in his canon. Any dogmatical inference from this silence is the less admissible, since, in the genuine writings of Justin, not one of the apostles or evangelists is expressly named except John once, and Simon Peter twice, and "the sons of Zebedee whom Christ called Boanerges," but reference is always made directly to Christ and to the prophets and apostles in general.13521352    See the list of Justin’s Scripture quotations or allusions in Otto’s edition, 579-592. The most numerous are from the Pentateuch, Isaiah, Matthew, and Luke. Of profane authors he quotes Plato, Homer, Euripides, Xenophon, and Menander.352 The last are to him typified in the twelve bells on the border of the high priest’s garment which sound through the whole world. But this no more excludes Paul from apostolic dignity than the names of the twelve apostles on the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:14). They represent the twelve tribes of Israel, Paul the independent apostolate of the Gentiles.

Justin’s exegesis of the Old Testament is apologetic, typological and allegorical throughout. He finds everywhere references to Christ, and turned it into a text book of Christian theology. He carried the whole New Testament into the Old without discrimination, and thus obliterated the difference. He had no knowledge of Hebrew,13531353    Donaldson (II. 148) infers from his Samaritan origin, and his attempts in one or two cases to give the etymology of Hebrew words (Apol. I. 33), that he, must have known a little Hebrew, but it must have been a very little indeed; at all events he never appeals to the Hebrew text.353 and freely copied the blunders and interpolations of the Septuagint. He had no idea of grammatical or historical interpretation. He used also two or three times the Sibylline Oracles and Hystaspes for genuine prophecies, and appeals to the Apocryphal Acts of Pilate as an authority. We should remember, however, that he is no more credulous, inaccurate and uncritical than his contemporaries and the majority of the fathers.

Justin forms the transition from the apostolic fathers to the church fathers properly so called. He must not be judged by the standard of a later orthodoxy, whether Greek, Roman, or Evangelical, nor by the apostolic conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christianity, or Ebionism and Gnosticism, which at that time had already separated from the current of Catholic Christianity. It was a great mistake to charge him with Ebionism. He was a converted Gentile, and makes a sharp distinction between the church and the synagogue as two antagonistic organizations. He belongs to orthodox Catholicism as modified by Greek philosophy. The Christians to him are the true people of God and heirs of all the promises. He distinguishes between Jewish Christians who would impose the yoke of the Mosaic law (the Ebionites), and those who only observe it themselves, allowing freedom to the Gentiles (the Nazarenes); the former he does not acknowledge as Christians, the latter be treats charitably, like Paul in Romans ch. 14 and 15. The only difference among orthodox Christians which he mentions is the belief in the millennium which he held, like Barnabas, Irenaeus and Tertullian, but which many rejected. But, like all the ante-Nicene writers, be had no clear insight into the distinction between the Old Testament and the New, between the law and the gospel, nor any proper conception of the depth of sin and redeeming grace, and the justifying power of faith. His theology is legalistic and ascetic rather than evangelical and free. He retained some heathen notions from his former studies, though he honestly believed them to be in full harmony with revelation.

Christianity was to Justin, theoretically, the true philosophy,13541354    He calls the Christian religion (Dial. c. 8) μόνη φιλοσοφία ἀσφαλής τε καὶ σύμφορος–ϊ,–ͅϊsola philosophia tuta atque utilis.354 and, practically, a new law of holy living and dying.13551355    τελευταῖος νόμος καὶ διαθήκη κυριωτάτη πασῶν, novissima lex et foedus omnium firmissimum. Dial. c. II.355 The former is chiefly the position of the Apologies, the latter that of the Dialogue.

He was not an original philosopher, but a philosophizing eclectic, with a prevailing love for Plato, whom be quotes more frequently than any other classical author. He may be called, in a loose sense, a Christian Platonist. He was also influenced by Stoicism. He thought that the philosophers of Greece had borrowed their light from Moses and the prophets. But his relation to Plato after all is merely external, and based upon fancied resemblances. He illuminated and transformed his Platonic reminiscences by the prophetic Scriptures, and especially by the Johannean doctrine of the Logos and the incarnation. This is the central idea of his philosophical theology. Christianity is the highest reason. The Logos is the preexistent, absolute, personal Reason, and Christ is the embodiment of it, the Logos incarnate. Whatever is rational is Christian, and whatever is Christian is rational.13561356    Very different from the principle of Hegel: All that is rational is real, and all that is real is rational.356 The Logos endowed all men with reason and freedom, which are not lost by the fall. He scattered seeds ( ) of truth before his incarnation, not only among the Jews but also among the Greeks and barbarians, especially among philosophers and poets, who are the prophets of the heathen. Those who lived reasonably ( ) and virtuously in obedience to this preparatory light were Christians in fact, though not in name; while those who lived unreasonably ( ) were Christless and enemies of Christ.13571357    He calls them ἄχρηστοι (useless), Apol. I. 46; with reference to the frequent confusion of Χριστός with χρηστός, good. Comp. Apol. I. 4: Χριστιανοὶ εἷναι κατηγορούμεθα· τὸ δὲ χρηστὸν μισεῖσθαι οὐ δίκαιον. Justin knew, however, the true derivation of Χριστός see Apol. II. 6.357 Socrates was a Christian as well as Abraham, though he did not know it. None of the fathers or schoolmen has so widely thrown open the gates of salvation. He was the broadest of broad churchmen.

This extremely liberal view of heathenism, however, did not blind him to the prevailing corruption. The mass of the Gentiles are idolaters, and idolatry is under the control of the devil and the demons. The Jews are even worse than the heathen, because they sin against better knowledge. And worst of all are the heretics, because they corrupt the Christian truths. Nor did he overlook the difference between Socrates and Christ, and between the best of heathen and the humblest Christian. "No one trusted Socrates," he says, "so as to die for his doctrine but Christ, who was partially known by Socrates, was trusted not only by philosophers and scholars, but also by artizans and people altogether unlearned."

The Christian faith of Justin is faith in God the Creator, and in his Son Jesus Christ the Redeemer, and in the prophetic Spirit. All other doctrines which are revealed through the prophets and apostles, follow as a matter of course. Below the deity are good and bad angels; the former are messengers of God, the latter servants of Satan, who caricature Bible doctrines in heathen mythology, invent slanders, and stir up persecutions against Christians, but will be utterly overthrown at the second coming of Christ. The human soul is a creature, and hence perishable, but receives immortality from God, eternal happiness as a reward of piety, eternal fire as a punishment of wickedness. Man has reason and free will, and is hence responsible for all his actions; he sins by his own act, and hence deserves punishment. Christ came to break the power of sin, to secure forgiveness and regeneration to a new and holy life.

Here comes in the practical or ethical side of this Christian philosophy. It is wisdom which emanates from God and leads to God. It is a new law and a new covenant, promised by Isaiah and Jeremiah, and introduced by Christ. The old law was only for the Jews, the new is for the whole world; the old was temporary and is abolished, the new is eternal; the old commands circumcision of the flesh, the new, circumcision of the heart; the old enjoins the observance of one day, the new sanctifies all days; the old refers to outward performances, the new to spiritual repentance and faith, and demands entire consecration to God.

IV. From the time of Justin Martyr, the Platonic Philosophy continued to exercise a direct and indirect influence upon Christian theology, though not so unrestrainedly and naively as in his case.13581358    On the general subject of the relation of Platonism to Christianity, see Ackermann, Das Christliche im Plato (1835, Engl. transl. by Asburv, with preface by Shedd, 1861) Baur, Socrates und Christus (1837, and again ed. by Zeller, 1876); Tayler Lewis, Plato against the Atheists (1845); Hampden, The Fathers of the Greek Philosophy (1862); Cocker, Christianity and Greek Philosophy (1870), Ueberweg’s History of Philosophy (Engl. transl. 1872), and an excellent art. of Prof. W. S. Tyler, of Amherst College in the third vol. of Schaff-Herzog’s Rel. Encycl. (1883, p. 1850-’53). On the relation of Justin to Platonism and heathenism, see von Engelbardt, l. c. 447-484.358 We can trace it especially in Clement of Alexandria and Origen, and even in St. Augustin, who confessed that it kindled in him an incredible fire. In the scholastic period it gave way to the Aristotelian philosophy, which was better adapted to clear, logical statements. But Platonism maintained its influence over Maximus, John of Damascus, Thomas Aquinas, and other schoolmen, through the pseudo-Dionysian writings which first appear at Constantinople in 532, and were composed probably in the fifth century. They sent a whole system of the universe under the aspect of a double hierarchy, a heavenly and an earthly, each consisting of three triads.

The Platonic philosophy offered many points of resemblance to Christianity. It is spiritual and idealistic, maintaining the supremacy of the spirit over matter, of eternal ideas over all temporary phenomena, and the pre-existence and immortality of the soul; it is theistic, making the supreme God above all the secondary deities, the beginning, middle, and end of all things; it is ethical, looking towards present and future rewards and punishments; it is religious, basing ethics, politics, and physics upon the authority of the Lawgiver and Ruler of the universe; it leads thus to the very threshold of the revelation of God in Christ, though it knows not this blessed name nor his saying grace, and obscures its glimpses of truth by serious errors. Upon the whole the influence of Platonism, especially as represented in the moral essays of Plutarch, has been and is to this day elevating, stimulating, and healthy, calling the mind away from the vanities of earth to the contemplation of eternal truth, beauty, and goodness. To not a few of the noblest teachers of the church, from Justin the philosopher to Neander the historian, Plato has been a schoolmaster who led them to Christ.


The theology and philosophy of Justin are learnedly discussed by Maran, and recently by Möhler and Freppel in the Roman Catholic interest, and in favor of his full orthodoxy. Among Protestants his orthodoxy was first doubted by the authors of the "Magdeburg Centuries," who judged him from the Lutheran standpoint.

Modern Protestant historians viewed him chiefly with reference to the conflict between Jewish and Gentile Christianity. Credner first endeavored to prove, by an exhaustive investigation (1832), that Justin was a Jewish Christian of the Ebionitic type, with the Platonic Logos-doctrine attached to his low creed as an appendix. He was followed by the Tübingen critics, Schwegler (1846), Zeller, Hilgenfeld, and Baur himself (1853). Baur, however, moderated Credner’s view, and put, Justin rather between Jewish and Gentile Christianity, calling him a Pauline in fact, but not in name ("er ist der Sache nach Pauliner, aber dem Namen nach will er es nicht sein"). This shaky judgment shows the unsatisfactory character of the Tübingen construction of Catholic Christianity as the result of a conflux and compromise between Ebionism and Paulinism.

Ritschl (in the second ed. of his Entstehung der altkatholischen Kirche, 1857) broke loose from this scheme and represented ancient Catholicism as a development of Gentile Christianity, and Justin as the type of the "katholisch werde de Heidenchristenthum," who was influenced by Pauline ideas, but unable to comprehend them in their depth and fulness, and thus degraded the standpoint of freedom to a new form of legalism. This he calls a "herabgekommemer orabgeschwächter Paulinismus." Engelhardt goes a step further, and explains this degradation of Paulinism from the influences of Hellenic heathenism and the Platonic and Stoic modes of thought. He says (p. 485): "Justin was at once a Christian and a heathen. We must acknowledge his Christianity and his heathenism in order to understand him." Harnack (in a review of E., 1878) agrees with him, and lays even greater stress on the heathen element. Against this Stähelin (1880) justly protests, and vindicates his truly Christian character.

Among recent French writers, Aubé represents Justin’s theology superficially as nothing more than popularized heathen philosophy. Renan (p. 389) calls his philosophy "une sorte d’eclectisme fondé sur un rationalisme mystic " Freppel returns to Maran’s treatment, and tries to make the philosopher and martyr of the second century even a Vatican Romanist of the nineteenth.

For the best estimates of his character and merits see Neander, Semisch, Otto, von Engelhardt, Stähelin, Donaldson (II. 147 sqq.), and Holland (in Smith and Wace).

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