The Writings of Justin Martyr

The Writings of Justin MartyrA Rather Boring Note on the Edition The version of the Works of Justin Martyr I read is that found in the 19th century collection Ante Nicene Fathers 1 Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus recently reprinted by Hendrickson , except Dialogue with Trypho, which I read in this edition put out by Catholic University Press Consequently, my review of the Dialogue will be of the other edition, while my reviews of Justin s other works will be of the Ante Nicene Fathers edition A totally uninteresting note to any but the academics out there, no doubtThe edition of the works of Justin Martyr I read see above included the followingThe First Apology The Second Apology Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew The Discourse to the Greeks Hortatory Address to the Greeks On the Sole Government of God On the Resurrection, Fragments Other Fragments MartyrdomAs the editor points out, it is very likely that only the first three are genuinely the writings of Justin Martyr, so I ll keep the bulk of my reviews focused on those The First ApologyThere are really two streams of argument that run parallel and occasionally cross each other in this discourse The first is that Christians are not the lawbreaking atheists that they are often called by the government, and consequently they should not be executed Christians, after all, regularly encourage each other to obey the civil law whence to God alone we render worship, but in other things we gladly serve you, acknowledging you as kings and rulers of men , 168 and refuse kill children 172 In fact, if the Roman government was really honest, it would see that Christians in fact are quite law abiding and virtuous, and that their persecution is at heart deeply irrational This leads into the second point of the Apology that Christianity is the true religion because it alone embodies true Reason Justin defends this in two ways First, he points to Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy Thus, Jesus is the summation of the Jewish religion, the promised Messiah and Saviour Second, Jesus is the fulfillment of all that is true in Greek philosophy which was really lifted from the Jews in any case Justin ends with a description of the Christian worship service reading of Scripture, the sermon, prayer, the Lord s Supper, and the offering , including the sacraments baptism and the Lord s Supper.Justin s conclusion If these things seem to you to be reasonable and true, honour them but if they seem nonsensical, despise them as nonsense, and do not decree death against those who have done no wrong, as you would against enemies For we forewarn you, that you shall not escape the coming judgment of God, if you continue in your injustice and we ourselves will invite you to do that which is pleasing to God 186 The Second ApologyIn this Apology, Justin again notes the injustice of persecuting Christians, specifically the persecution in the city of Rome itself This time, he argues that it is wrong to persecute Christians not only because they are obedient to the law, but because they cling to Christ, who is Reason embodied.Our doctrines, then, appear to be greater than all human teaching because Christ, who appeared for our sakes, became the whole rational being, both body, and reason, and soul 191 Everyone agrees that it was wrong to kill Socrates who had a little bit of the truth , how wrong then must it have been to kill Jesus, who was Truth itself And further how wrong must it be to kill Christians, who bear the word of this Truth within themselves Not that Christians are afraid of death quite the contrary Christians are so unafraid of death that the threat of it cannot force them to give up their allegiance to the Word of God.Justin s conclusion Henceforth we shall be silent, having done as much as we could, and having added the prayer that all men everywhere may be counted worthy of the truth and would that you also, in a manner becoming piety and philosophy, would for your own sakes judge justly 193 Dialogue with Trypho, a JewThis work is written in the Platonic style which is appropriate, given that Justin started out as a Platonist as a letter to a friend of his relating a dialogue he had with a Jew named Trypho In the course of the dialogue, we see1 Justin s conversion narrative which is one of the best from the ancient world.2 Justin s thoughts on philosophy and the relationship between faith and reason.3 The early church s apologetic attempt to reach out to the Jews.4 The early church s doctrine of Scripture.5 The early church s Christology.6 And probably several other things that I m missing, since I read it fairly quickly.Most important, however, is the theme that runs through the dialogue Christianity is truth That is why philosophy provides the context for the dialogue, then, as well as now, philosophy has been the primary place of the search for truth As Justin says echoing Plato But what greater deed could one perform than to prove that reason rules all, and that one who rules reason and is sustained by it can look down upon the errors and undertakings of others, and see that they do nothing reasonable or pleasing to God Man cannot have prudence without philosophy and straight thinking Thus, every man should be devoted to philosophy and should consider it the greatest and most noble pursuit all other pursuits are only of second or third rate value, unless they are connected with philosophy Then they are of some value and should be approved if they are devoid of philosophy and not connected with it in any way, they then become base and coarse pursuits to those who practice them Dialogue with Trypho is Justin s attempt to prove to the Jews that Christ is the truth, just as his Apologies are his attempts to prove the same to the Greeks Thus, Justin concludes the dialogueI can wish you no greater blessing than this, gentlemen, that, realizing that wisdom is given to every man through this way the Gospel , you also may one day come to believe entirely as we do that Jesus is the Christ of GodThe Discourse to the Greeks Hortatory Address to the Greeks On the Sole Government of GodSince these three works are probably spurious maybe even post Nicene documents , I ll quickly summarize them and move on In the Discourse and Address, Justin highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the pagan writers Their strengths are that they have bits and pieces of the truth probably mostly stolen from Moses, when Homer and Plato visited Egypt and met with Jews living there In pagan writings, Justin argues, you can see shadows and glimmers of the truth of the coming Messiah.The weaknesses of pagan writings are that 1 they are contradictory and inconsistent, including by mixing monotheism and polytheism 2 they encourage wickedness and idolatry.So, the long and the short of it is that the pagan writers have some truth and some value, but only a limited amount of each They work best as signposts pointing to Jesus, which, once used, are left behind my example, not Justin s.In On the Sole Government of God, Justin argues that once all men were monotheists, until through forgetfulness and the trickery of the demons men have become polytheists The bulk of the short work is spent citing pagan writers as evidence that there are echos of monotheism in man s past Justin ends with a challenge to return to the worship of the one true God Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection Other FragmentsMost of these are probably not really by Justin, which is unfortunate since there s some good material here.On The Resurrection is especially interesting, as it hints that Justin included the following topics in the whole treatise 1 The power of Truth as its own evidence The word of truth is free, and carries its own authority it would be believed for its own nobility, and for the confidence due to Him who sends it 294 2 Challenges to the doctrine of resurrection 3 The nature of the resurrection body will it eat, sleep, have sex, etc 4 What about people with physical deformities To this challenge, Justin replies How truly blinded are they who deny the resurrection in the eyes of their hearts For they have not seen on the earth the blind men seeing again, and the lame walking by His word For if on earth He healed the sicknesses of the flesh, and made the body whole, much will He do this in the resurrection , 295 5 The value of the physical body to God 6 The physical flesh is not the source of sin 7 The resurrection of Christ is the evidence of the coming general resurrection.It s very sad that we ve missed the rest of this treatise.The Other Fragments are mostly bits and pieces drawn from either other ancient writers or marginalia notes by ancient editors left in the margins of editions of Justin s works They cover a variety of topics, and it s impossible to tell which is truly Justin s and which is spurious The best of them, in my opinion We shall not injure God by remaining ignorant of Him, but shall deprive ourselves of His friendship 300 Martyrdom of Justin MartyrThe selection of writings ends with an anonymous account of the execution of Justin Martyr following his besting of the Cynic philosopher Crescens in a public debate While some of the details are historically suspect, overall it s a wonderful and brief picture of both martyrdom in the ancient world and the legal process by which Christians were subjected to the law What we see in this document is the repeated offer of amnesty if only the Christians will renounce Christ and make a token sacrifice to the gods the Romans didn t really care which gods you sacrificed to, nor did they care if you actually believed when you did so The Christians refused and were put to death Left out of this account is the appendix that suggests that while the other Christians present were beheaded, Justin was forced to drink hemlock in the good philosophical tradition.Overall, these readings are a fascinating look at the early church, and how it really is a preview of the coming debates within Christianity What is the relationship between reason and conversion Can people be argued into faith What is the relationship between pagan today we d say secular thought and Christian thought Can we as Christians read Plato with good conscience, pulling what is good out of it and attributing it to common grace Or is this a spiritually fruitless endeavor Through all these questions, I was repeatedly impressed by the depth of Justin s faith He relentlessly pursued Christ in his scholarship, bending all the tools of his philosophical training for the service of God He had such a God entranced vision of the world to steal a Piper phrase that he saw the hand of Divinity at work in all things, and called on us all to see the world through Christ colored glasses Whether discussing nature, philosophy, or Scripture, Christ was the center of Justin s worldview Consequently, these writings are worth the effort and attention necessary to getting through the dense prose. St Justin Martyr was a Palestinian Greek philosopher who embraced Christianity in the 2nd Century and was martyred toward the end of the century He was one of the greatest of the post apostolic Christian writers and as such he is worth reading In his extant works, St Justin defends the Christian faith against the Romans, the Greek and the Jews.In his two apologies addressed to the Roman emperor himself, St Justin lays out the case for tolerating the Christian faith and ending the persecutions It is said that St Justin s writings actually stayed the persecutions until the emperor Decius renewed them in 250 AD St Justin reminds the Romans that they should value justice, and there is no justice in the persecution of the Christians They are not atheists, they do not practice human sacrifice and cannibalism and they are not secretly plotting the overthrow of Rome The Christians embrace virtues that make for better citizens, so that if Roman citizens were Christians then the Roman state would actually be stronger.In his works against the Greeks, St Justin addresses the two sources that Greek civilization valued most, the poets like Homer and Hesiod, and the philosophers like Plato and Aristotle He pointed out that, while the Greeks valued virtue, their religion glorified barbaric behavior He also made several interesting theories about how the Greek laws were actually derived from Moses through Egypt and how the most noble aspects of Greek civilization were actually owed to the Hebrews Those aspects of Greek civilization that do not derive from the Jews were actually self contradictory.In his most famous work, his Dialogue against Trypho, he narrates for the reader a dialogue that Justin had with a prominent Jewish Rabbi, presumably the Rabbi Typhon of Ephesus This dialogue is valuable because it show the objections that the Jews of Justin s day had to the Christian religion The most interesting part of this dialogue is that the objections related by Trypho are actually still held by the Jews against Christianity today Justin s responses to Trypho are an excellent apologetic of the Christian faith.I would highly recommend the works of St Justin Martyr for any Christian who wants to better understand how to defend the Christian faith against secular and cultural objections. Justin Martyr Was One Of The Fathers Of The Church, Born In Sichem, Samaria He Was Converted To Christianity, Studied Stoic And Platonic Philosophy, And Founded A School Of Christian Philosophy At Rome, Where He Wrote Two Apologies On Christian Belief He Is Said To Have Been Martyred At Rome Curiosity Is Baffled, But Faith And Love Are Fed By These Scanty Relics Of Primitive Antiquity Yet May We Well Be Grateful For What We Have These Writings Come Down To Us As The Earliest Response Of Converted Nations To The Testimony Of Jesus They Are Primary Evidences Of The Canon And The Credibility Of The New Testament From The Introductory Notice

Justin Martyr, also known as Saint Justin c 100 165 CE , was an early Christian apologist, and is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century He was martyred, alongside some of his students, and is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dia

[Ebook] ➨ The Writings of Justin Martyr Author Justin Martyr –
  • Paperback
  • 152 pages
  • The Writings of Justin Martyr
  • Justin Martyr
  • English
  • 21 April 2018
  • 9781933993461

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *