St. Justin Martyr
LifeAmong the Fathers of the second century his life is the best known, and from the most authentic documents. In both "Apologies" and in his "Dialogue" he gives many personal details, e.g. about his studies in philosophy and his conversion; they are not, however, an autobiography, but are partly idealized, and it is necessary to distinguish in them between poetry and truth; they furnish us however with several precious and reliable clues. For his martyrdom we have documents of undisputed authority. In the first line of his "Apology" he calls himself "Justin, the son of Priscos, son of Baccheios, of Flavia Neapolis, in Palestinian Syria". Flavia Neapolis, his native town, founded by Vespasian (A.D. 72), was built on the site of a place called Mabortha, or Mamortha, quite near Sichem (Guérin, "Samarie", I, Paris, 1874, 390-423; Schürer, "History of the Jewish People", tr., I, Edinburgh, 1885). Its inhabitants were all, or for the most part, pagans. The names of the father and grandfather of Justin suggest a pagan origin, and he speaks of himself as uncircumcised (Dialogue, xxviii). The date of his birth is uncertain, but would seem to fall in the first years of the second century. He received a good education in philosophy, an account of which he gives us at the beginning of his "Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon"; he placed himself first under a Stoic, but after some time found that he had learned nothing about God and that in fact his master had nothing to teach him on the subject. A Peripatetic whom he then found welcomed him at first but afterwards demanded a fee from him; this proved that he was not a philosopher. A Pythagorean refused to teach him anything until he should have learned music, astronomy, and geometry. Finally a Platonist arrived on the scene and for some time delighted Justin. This account cannot be taken too literally; the facts seem to be arranged with a view to showing the weakness of the pagan philosophies and of contrasting them with the teachings of the Prophets and of Christ. The main facts, however, may be accepted; the works of Justin seem to show just such a philosophic development as is here described, Eclectic, but owing much to Stoicism and more to Platonism. He was still under the charm of the Platonistic philosophy when, as he walked one day along the seashore, he met a mysterious old man; the conclusion of their long discussion was that he soul could not arrive through human knowledge at the idea of God, but that it needed to be instructed by the Prophets who, inspired by the Holy Ghost, had known God and could make Him known ("Dialogue", iii, vii; cf. Zahm, "Dichtung and Wahrheit in Justins Dialog mit dem Jeden Trypho" in "Zeitschr. für Kirchengesch.", VIII, 1885-1886, 37-66).
In his second "Apology" (iii) Justin says: "I, too, expect to be persecuted and to be crucified by some of those whom I have named, or by Crescens, that friend of noise and of ostentation." Indeed Tatian relates (Discourse, xix) that the Cynic philosopher Crescens did pursue him and Justin; he does not tell us the result and, moreover, it is not certain that the "Discourse" of Tatian was written after the death of Justin. Eusebius (Hist. eccl., IV, xvi, 7, 8) says that it was the intrigues of Crescens which brought about the death of Justin; this is credible, but not certain; Eusebius has apparently no other reason for affirming it than the two passages cited above from Justin and Tatian. St. Justin was condemned to death by the prefect, Rusticus, towards A.D. 165, with six companions, Chariton, Charito, Evelpostos, Pćon, Hierax, and Liberianos. We still have the authentic account of their martyrdom ("Acta SS.", April, II, 104-19; Otto, "Corpus Apologetarum", III, Jena, 1879, 266-78; P. G., VI, 1565-72). The examination ends as follows:
WorksJustin was a voluminous and important writer. He himself mentions a "Treatise against Heresy" (I Apology, xxvi, 8); St. Irenćus (Adv. Hćr., IV, vi, 2) quotes a "Treatise against Marcion" which may have been only a part of the preceding work. Eusebius mentions both (Hist. eccl., IV, xi, 8-10), but does not seem to have read them himself; a little further on (IV, xviii) he gives the following list of Justin's works: "Discourse in favour of our Faith to Antoninus Pius, to his sons, and to the Roman Senate"; an "Apology" addressed to Marcus Aurelius; "Discourse to the Greeks"; another discourse called "A Refutation"; "Treatise on the Divine Monarchy"; a book called "The Psalmist"; "Treatise on the soul"; "Dialogue against the Jews", which he had in the city of Ephesus with Tryphon, the most celebrated Israelite of that time. Eusebius adds that many more of his books are to be found in the hands of the brethren. Later writers add nothing certain to this list, itself possibly not altogether reliable. There are extant but three works of Justin, of which the authenticity is assured: the two "Apologies" and the "Dialogue". They are to be found in two manuscripts: Paris gr. 450, finished on 11 September, 1364; and Claromont. 82, written in 1571, actually at Cheltenham, in the possession of M.T.F. Fenwick. The second is only a copy of the first, which is therefore our sole authority; unfortunately this manuscript is very imperfect (Harnack, "Die Ueberlieferung der griech. Apologeten" in "Texte and Untersuchungen", I, Leipzig, 1883, i, 73-89; Archambault, "Justin, Dialogue a vec Tryphon", Paris, 1909, p. xii-xxxviii). There are many large gaps in this manuscript, thus II Apol., ii, is almost entirely wanting, but it has been found possible to restore the manuscript text from a quotation of Eusebius (Hist. eccl., IV, xvii). The "Dialogue" was dedicated to a certain Marcus Pompeius (exli, viii); it must therefore have been preceded by a dedicatory epistle and probably by an introduction or preface; both are lacking. In the seventy-fourth chapter a large part must also be missing, comprising the end of the first book and the beginning of the second (Zahn, "Zeitschr. f. Kirchengesch.", VIII, 1885, 37 sq., Bardenhewer, "Gesch. der altkirchl. Litter.", I, Freiburg im Br., 1902, 210). There are other less important gaps and many faulty transcriptions. There being no other manuscript, the correction of this one is very difficult; conjectures have been often quite unhappy, and Krüger, the latest editor of the "Apology", has scarsely done more than return to the text of the manuscript.
- i-iii: exordium to the emperors: Justin is about to enlighten them and free himself of responsibility, which will now be wholly theirs.
- iv-xii: first part or introduction:
- the anti-Christian procedure is iniquitous: they persecute in the Christians a name only (iv, v);
- Christians are neither Atheists nor criminals (vi, vii);
- they allow themselves to be killed rather than deny their God (viii);
- they refuse to adore idols (ix, xii);
- conclusion (xii).
- xiii-lxvii: Second part (exposition and demonstration of Christianity):
- Christians adore the crucified Christ, as well as God (xiii);
- Christ is their Master; moral precepts (xiv-xvii);
- the future life, judgement, etc. (xviii-xx).
- Christ is the Incarnate Word (xxi-lx);
- comparison with pagan heroes, Hermes, Ćsculapius, etc. (xxi-xxii);
- superiority of Christ and of Christianity before Christ (xlvi).
- The similarities that we find in the pagan worship and philosophy come from the devils (liv-lx).
- Description of Christian worship: baptism (lxi);
- the Eucharist (lxv-lxvi);
- Sunday-observance (lxvii).
- Recent injustice of the Prefect Urbinus towards the Christians (i-iii).
- Why it is that God permits these evils: Providence, human liberty, last judgement (iv-xii).
- i-ix. Introduction: Justin gives the story of his philosophic education and of this conversion. One may know God only through the Holy Ghost; the soul is not immortal by its nature; to know truth it is necessary to study the Prophets.
- x-xxx: On the law. Tryphon reproaches the Christians for not observing the law. Justin replies that according to the Prophets themselves the law should be abrogated, it had only been given to the Jews on account of their hardness. Superiority of the Christian circumcision, necessary even for the Jews. The eternal law laid down by Christ.
- xxxi-cviii: On Christ: His two comings (xxxi sqq.); the law a figure of Christ (xl-xlv); the Divinity and the pre-existence of Christ proved above all by the Old Testament apparitions (theophanies) (lvi-lxii); incarnation and virginal conception (lxv sqq.); the death of Christ foretold (lxxxvi sqq.); His resurrection (cvi sqq.).
- viii to the end: On the Christians. The conversion of the nations foretold by the Prophets (cix sqq.); Christians are a holier people than the Jews (cxix sqq.); the promises were made to them (cxxi); they were prefigured in the Old Testament (cxxxiv sqq.). The "Dialogue" concludes with wishes for the conversion of the Jews.
- "On the Resurrection" (for its numerous fragments see Otto, "Corpus Apolog.", 2nd ed., III, 210-48 and the "Sacra Parallela", Holl, "Fragmente vornicänischer Kirchenväter aus den Sacra Parallela" in "Texte und Untersuchungen", new series, V, 2, Leipzig, 1899, 36-49). The treatise from which these fragments are taken was attributed to St. Justin by St. Methodius (early fourth century) and was quoted by St. Irenćus and Tertullian, who do not, however, name the author. The attribution of the fragments to Justin is therefore probable (Harnack, "Chronologie", 508; Bousset, "Die Evangeliencitaten Justins", Göttingen, 1891, 123sq.; archambault, "Le témoignage de l'ancienne littérature Chrétienne sur l'authenticité d'un traité sur la resurrection attribué ŕ Justin l'Apologiste" in "Revue de Philologie", XXIX, 1905, 73-93). The chief interest of these fragments consists in the introduction, where is explained with much force the transcendent nature of faith and the proper nature of its motives.
- "A Discourse to the Greeks" (Otto, op. cit., III, 1, 2, 18), an apocryphal tract, dated by Harnack (Sitzungsberichte der k. preuss. Akad. d. Wiss. zu Berlin, 1896, 627-46), about A.D. 180-240. Later it was altered and enlarged in Syriac: text and English translation by Cureton, "Spicileg. Syr.", London, 1855, 38-42, 61-69.
- "Exhortation to the Greeks" (Otto, op. cit., 18-126). The authenticity of this has been defended without success by Widman ("Die Echtheit der Mahnrede Justins an die Heiden", Mainz, 1902); Puech, "Sur lelogos parainetikos attribué ŕ Justin" in "Mélanges Weil", Paris, 1898, 395-406, dates it about 260-300, but most critics say, with more probability, A.D. 180-240 (Gaul, "Die Abfassungsverhältnisse der pseudojustinischen Cohortatio ad Grćcos", Potsdam, 1902).
- "On Monarchy" (Otto, op. cit., 126-158), tract of uncertain date, in which are freely quoted Greek poets altered by some Jew.
- "Exposition of the Faith" (Otto, op. cit., IV, 2-66), a dogmatic treatise on the Trinity and the Incarnation preserved in two copies the longer of which seems the more ancient. It is quoted for the first time by Leontius of Byzantium (d. 543) and refers to the Christological discussions of the fifth century; it seems, therefore, to date from the second half of that century.
- "Letter to Zenas and Serenus" (Otto, op. cit., 66-98), attributed by Batiffol in "Revue Biblique", VI, 1896, 114-22, to Sisinnios, the Novatian Bishop of Constantinople about A.D. 400.
- "Answers to the Orthodox."
- "The Christian's Questions to the Greeks."
- "The Greek's Questions to the Christians."
- "Refutation of certain Aristotelean theses" (Otto, op. cit., IV, 100-222; V, 4-366).
DoctrineThe only pagan quotations to be found in Justin's works are from Homer, Euripides, Xenophon, Menander, and especially Plato (Otto, II, 593 sq.). His philosophic development has been well estimated by Purves ("The Testimony of Justin Martyr to early Christianity", London, 1882, 132): "He appears to have been a man of moderate culture. He was certainly not a genius nor an original thinker." A true eclectic, he draws inspiration from different systems, especially from Stoicism and Platonism. Weizsäcker (Jahrbücher f. Protest. Theol., XII, 1867, 75) thought he recognized a Peripatetic idea, or inspiration, in his conception of God as immovable above the heavens (Dial., cxxvii); it is much more likely an idea borrowed from Alexandrian Judaism, and one which furnished a very efficacious argument to Justin in his anti-Jewish polemic. In the Stoics Justin admires especially their ethics (II Apol., viii, 1); he willingly adopts their theory of a universal conflagration (ekpyrosis). In I Apol., xx, lx; II, vii, he adopts, but at the same time transforms, their concept of the seminal Word (logos spermatikos). However, he condemns their Fatalism (II Apol., vii) and their Atheism (Dial., ii). His sympathies are above all with Platonism. He likes to compare it with Christanity; apropos of the last judgment, he remarks, however (I Apol., viii, 4), that according to Plato the punishment will last a thousand years, whereas according to the Christians it will be eternal; speaking of creation (I Apol., xx, 4; lix), he says that Plato borrowed from Moses his theory of formless matter; similarly he compares Plato and Christianity apropos of human responsibility (I Apol., xliv, 8) and the Word and the Spirit (I Apol., lx). However, his acquaintance with Plato was superficial; like his contemporaries (Philo, Plutarch, St. Hippolytus), he found his chief inspiration in the Timćus. Some historians have pretended that pagan philosophy entirely dominated Justin's Christianity (Aubé, "S. Justin", Paris, 1861), or at least weakened it (Engelhardt, "Das Christentum Justins des Märtyrers", Erlangen, 1878). To appreciate fairly this influence it is necessary to remember that in his "Apology" Justin is seeking above all the points of contact between Hellenism and Christianity. It would certainly be wrong to conclude from the first "Apology" (xxii) that Justin actually likens Christ to the pagan heroes of semi-heroes, Hermes, Perseus, or Ćsculapius; neither can we conclude from his first "Apology" (iv, 8 or vii, 3, 4) that philosophy played among the Greeks the same role that Christianity did among the barbarians, but only that their position and their reputation were analogous.
In many passages, however, Justin tries to trace a real bond between philosophy and Christianity: according to him both the one and the other have a part in the Logos, partially disseminated among men and wholly manifest in Jesus Christ (I, v, 4; I, xlvi; II, viii; II, xiii, 5, 6). The idea developed in all these passages is given in the Stoic form, but this gives to its expression a greater worth. For the Stoics the seminal Word (logos spermatikos) is the form of every being; here it is the reason inasmuch as it partakes of God. This theory of the full participation in the Divine Word (Logos) by the sage has its full value only in Stoicism (see LOGOS). In Justin thought and expression are antithetic, and this lends a certain incoherence to the theory; the relation established between the integral Word, i.e. Jesus Christ, and the partial Word disseminated in the world, is more specious than profound. Side by side with this theory, and quite different in its origin and scope, we find in Justin, as in most of his contemporaries, the conviction that Greek philosophy borrowed from the Bible: it was by stealing from Moses and the Prophets that Plato and the other philosophers developed their doctrines (I, xliv, lix, ls). Despite the obscurities and incoherences of this thought, he affirms clearly and positively the transcendent character of Christianity: "Our doctrine surpasses all human doctrine because the real Word became Christ who manifested himself for us, body, word and soul." (II, Apol., x, 1.) This Divine origin assures Christianity an absolute truth (II, xiii, 2) and gives to the Christians complete confidence; they die for Christ's doctrine; no one died for that of Socrates (II, x, 8). The first chapters of the "Dialogue" complete and correct these ideas. In them the rather complaisant syncretism of the "Apology" disappears, and the Christian thought is stronger.
Justin's chief reproach to the philosophers is their mutual divisions; he attributes this to the pride of the heads of sects and the servile acquiesence of their adherents; he also says a little later on (vi): "I care neither for Plato nor for Pythagoras." From it all he concludes that for the pagans philosophy is not a serious or profound thing; life does not depend on it, nor action: "Thou art a friend of discourse", says the old man to him before his conversion, "but not of action nor of truth" (iv). For Platonism he retained a kindly feeling as for a study dear in childhood or in youth. Yet he attacks it on two essential points: the relation between God and man, and the nature of the soul (Dial., iii, vi). Nevertheless he still seems influenced by it in his conception of the Divine transcendency and the interpretation that he gives to the aforesaid theophanies.
That which Justin despairs of attaining through philosophy he is now sure of possessing through Jewish and Christian revelation. He admits that the soul can naturally comprehend that God is, just as it understands that virtue is beautiful (Dial., iv) but he denies that the soul without the assistance of the Holy Ghost can see God or contemplate Him directly through ecstasy, as the Platonic philosophers contended. And yet this knowledge of God is necessary for us: "We cannot know God as we know music, arithmetic or astronomy" (iii); it is necessary for us to know God not with an abstract knowledge but as we know any person with whom we have relations. Thr problem which it seems impossible to solve is settled by revelation; God has spoken directly to the Prophets, who in their turn have made Him known to us (viii). It is the first time in Christian theology that we find so concise an explanation of the difference which separates Christian revelation from human speculation. It does away with the confusion that might arise from the theory, taken from the "Apology", of the partial Logos and the Logos absolute or entire.
A. The Old TestamentFor Philo the Bible is bery particularly the Pentateuch (Ryle, "Philo and Holy Scripture", XVII, London, 1895, 1-282). In keeping with the difference of his purpose, Justin has other preferences. He quotes the Pentateuch often and liberally, especially Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy; but he quotes still more frequently and at greater length the Psalms and the Books of Prophecy -- above all, Isaias. The Books of Wisdom are seldom quoted, the historical books still less. The books that we never find in his works are Judges, Esdras (except one passage which is attributed to him by mistake-Dial., lxxii), Tobias, Judith, Ester, Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Abdias, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggeus. It has been noticed, too (St. John Thackeray in "Journ. of Theol. Study", IV, 1903, 265, n.3), that he never cites the last chapters of Jeremias (apropos of the first "Apology", xlvii, Otto is wrong in his reference to Jer., 1, 3). Of these omissions the most noteworthy is that of Wisdom, precisely on account of the similarity of ideas. It is to be noted, moreover, that this book, surely used in the New Testament, cited by St. Clement of Rome (xxvii, 5) and later by St. Irenćus (Eusebius, Hist. eccl., V, xxvi), is never met with in the works of the apologists (the reference of Otto to Tatian, vii, is inexact). On the other hand one finds in Justin some apocryphal texts: pseudo-Esdras (Dial., lxxii), pseudo-Jeremias (ibid.), Ps. xevi (xcv), 10 (Dial., lxxii; I Apol., xli); sometimes also errors in ascribing quotations: Zacharias for Malachias (Dial., xlix), Osee for Zacharias for Malachias (Dial., xiv). For the Biblical text of Justin, see Swete, "Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek", Cambridge, 1902, 417-24.
B. The New TestamentThe testimony of Justin is here of still greater importance, especially for the Gospels, and has been more often discussed. The historical side of the question is given by W. Bousset, "Die Evangeliencitaten Justins" (Göttingen, 1891), 1-12, and since then, by Baldus, "Das Verhältniss Justins der Märt. zu unseren synopt. Evangelien" (Münster, 1895); Lippelt, "Quć fuerint Justini mart. apomnemoneumata quaque ratione cum forma Evangeliorum syro-latina cohćserint" (Halle, 1901). The books quoted by Justin are called by him "Memoirs of the Apostles". This term, otherwise very rare, appears in Justin quite probably as an analogy with the "Memorabilia" of Xenophon (quoted in "II Apol.", xi, 3) and from a desire to accommodate his language to the habits of mind of his readers. At any rate it seems that henceforth the word "gospels" was in current usage; it is in Justin that we find it for the first time used in the plural, "the Apostles in their memoirs that are called gospels" (I Apol., lxvi, 3). These memoirs have authority, not only because they relate the words of Our Lord (as Bossuet contends, op. cit., 16 seq.), but because, even in their narrative parts, they are considered as Scripture (Dial., xlix, citing Matt., xvii, 13). This opinion of Justin is upheld, moreover, by the Church who, in her public service reads the memoirs of the Apostles as well as the writings of the prophets (I Apol., lxvii, 3). These memoirs were composed by the Apostles and by those who followed them (Dial., ciii); he refers in all probability to the four Evangelists, i.e. to two Apostles and two disciples of Christ (Stanton, "New Testament Canon" in Hastings, "Dictionary of the Bible", III, 535). The authors, however, are not named: once (Dial., ciii) he mentions the "memoirs of Peter", but the text is very obscure and uncertain (Bousset, op. cit., 18).
All facts of the life of Christ that Justin takes from these memoirs are found indeed in our Gospels (Baldus, op. cit., 13 sqq.); he adds to them a few other and less important facts (I Apol., xxxii; xxxv; Dial., xxxv, xlvii, li, lxxviii), but he does not assert that he found them in the memoirs. It is quite probable that Justin used a concordance, or harmony, in which were united the three synoptic Gospels (Lippelt, op. cit., 14, 94) and it seems that the text of this concordance resembled in more than one point the so-called Western text of the Gospels (cf. ibid., 97). Justin's dependence on St. John is indisputably established by the facts which he takes from Him (I Apol., lxi, 4, 5; Dial., lxix, lxxxviii), still more by the very striking similarity in vocabulary and doctrine. It is certain, however, that Justin does not use the fourth Gospel as abundantly as he does the others (Purves, op. cit., 233); this may be owing to the aforesaid concordance, or harmony, of the synoptic Gospels. He seems to use the apocryphal Gospel of Peter (I Apol., xxxv, 6; cf. Dial., ciii; Revue Biblique, III, 1894, 531 sqq.; Harnack, "Bruchstücke des Evang. des Petrus", Leipzig, 1893, 37). His dependence on the Protevangelium of James (Dial., lxxviii) doubtful.
Apologetical methodJustin's attitude towards philosophy, described above, reveals at once the tendency of his polemics; he never exibits the indignation of a Tatian or even of a Tertullian. To the hideous calumnies spread abroad against the Christians he sometimes answers, as do the other apologists, by taking the offensive and attacking pagan morality (I Apol., xxvii; II, xii, 4, 5), but he dislikes to insist on these calumnies: the interlocutor in the "Dialogue" (ix) he is careful to ignore those who would trouble him with their loud laughter. He has not the eloquence of Tertullian, and can obtain a hearing only in a small circle of men capable of understanding reason and of being moved by an idea. His chief argument, and one calculated to convert this hearers as it had converted him (II Apol., xii), is the great new fact of Christian morality. He speaks of men and women who have no fear of death (I Apol., ii, xi, xlv; II, ii; Dial., xxx), who prefer truth to life (I Apol., ii; II, iv) and are yet ready to await the time allotted by God (II, iv1); he makes known their devotion to their children (I, xxvii), their charity even towards their enemies, and their desire to save them (I Apol., lvii; Dial., cxxxiii), their patience and their prayers in persecution (Dial., xviii), their love of mankind (Dial., xciii, cx). When he contrasts the life that they led in paganism with their Christian life (I Apol., xiv), he expresses the same feeling of deliverance and exaltation as did St. Paul (I Cor., vi, II). He is careful, moreover, to emphasize, especially from the Sermon on the Mount, the moral teaching of Christ so as to show in it the real source of these new virtues (I Apol., xv-xviii). Throughout his exposé of the new religion it is Christian chastity and the courage of the martyrs that he most insists upon.
The rational evidences of Christianity Justin finds especially in the prophecies; he gives to this argument more than a third of his "Apology" (xxx-liii) and almost the entire "Dialogue". When he is disputing with the pagans he is satisfied with drawing attention to the fact that the books of the Prophets were long anterior to Christ, guaranteed as to their authenticity by the Jews themselves, and says that they contain prophecies concerning the life of Christ and the spread of the Church that can only be explained by a Divine revelation (I Apol., xxxi). In the "Dialogue", arguing with Jews, he can assume this revelation which they also recognize, and he can invoke the Scriptures as sacred oracles. These evidences of the prophecies are for him absolutely certain. "Listen to the texts which I am about to cite; it is not necessary for me to comment upon them, but only for you to hear them" (Dial., liii; cf. I Apol., xxx, liii). Nevertheless he recognizes that Christ alone could have given the explanation of them (I Apol., xxxii; Dial., lxxvi; cv); to understand them the men and women of his time must have the interior dispositions that make the true Christian (Dial., cxii), i.e., Divine grace is necessary (Dial., vii, lviii, xcii, cxix). He also appeals to miracles (Dial., vii; xxxv; lxix; cf. II Apol., vi), but with less insistence than to the prophecies.