Scripture among the Apologists: Justin’s Christian Sources

JesusFor Justin, the most important source of authority resided in the words and actions of the Incarnate Logos, Jesus Christ.[i] Christ’s teaching revealed most fully what his action as the Logos had set in motion before time, and his authority reigned supreme over any claim made by Greek philosophy or the Jewish Scriptures.[ii] Among scholars, the question of Justin’s use of Christian sources concerns not so much which writings had authority but how the authority of Jesus was mediated. There are effectively two possible options, either catechetical sources or Gospel accounts.[iii] The two major realms of debate on this issue are the contents of Apology 15-17 and Justin’s description of the “memoirs of the apostles” (απομνημονεθματα ) in Apology 66.3 and 67.3. Continue reading

Scripture among the Apologists: Justin’s Jewish Sources

hebrew-bibleAs important as Greek philosophy was for Justin, the Jewish mind may have been even more influential. Broadly speaking, Justin was indebted to the Philonic interpretive tradition,[i] Jewish haggadah,[ii] and Hebraic monotheism.[iii] More specifically, though, Justin relied upon the Jewish Scriptures as an important foundation for his theology and exegesis.[iv] Continue reading

Scripture among the Apologists: Justin’s Greco-Roman Sources

Socrates and Plato

Socrates and Plato

Greek philosophy plays an unquestionably important role in the thought of Justin Martyr and in the presentation of his Apology. While some scholars have suggested that Justin merely styled himself as a philosopher and was not seriously involved in that enterprise, the number and quality of the Greco-Roman sources employed in the Apology suggests Justin’s intimate knowledge of philosophical thought.[i] Though he rejected certain features of contemporary philosophical thought, such as imperial ascension and creation myths,[ii] Justin was deeply influenced by Platonism.[iii] His contrast between Socrates and Christ,[iv] allegorical interpretation,[v] and the philosophy of the logos[vi] demonstrate the value which Justin saw in the Greek philosophical tradition. Continue reading

Scripture among the Apologists: Justin Martyr

justin-martyr1Justin Martyr is sometimes called the most important Christian of the second century. Born to a man named Priscus in a pagan family between 100 and 110 CE in Flavia Neapolis in Syrian Palestine, Justin eventually became one of the most prominent and influential early Christian writers and defenders of the faith.[i] Justin’s family moved from Palestine to Ephesus early in his life, and it was at Ephesus that he became acquainted with the philosophy of Stoics, Peripatetics, Pythagoreans, and Platonists.[ii] However, he was unsatisfied with this learning until he encountered the Hebrew prophets and converted to Christianity around 130 CE.[iii] He then opened a school in Rome, as a philosopher teaching Christianity as the only true and pure philosophy.[iv] His engagement with the life of the mind exhibited significant influence on subsequent Christian apologists and theologians, as did the sources and rhetoric he employed in his writings.[v] For unknown reasons, Justin was arrested along with six others (presumably his students) by the urban prefect Quintus Junius Rusticus and sentenced to death by the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, around 165 CE.[vi] Continue reading

Scripture among the Apologists: Method II

apostle-paul-preaching-on-mars-hillSimplicity of Attribution: The criteria of attribution simplicity states that when the wording of any reference may be explained on the basis of a known source, attribution to that source remains preferable to claiming oral tradition or unknown sources.[i] This does not mean a rejection of the possibility of attributing a citation to oral tradition or lost sources, but rather that the possibility of literary sources—those extant or known but lost—should be exhausted before attribution to non-extant traditions.[ii] In the words of Bruce Metzger, “It is generally preferable, in estimating doubtful cases, to regard variation from a canonical text as a free quotation from a document known to us than to suppose it to be a quotation from a hitherto unknown document, or the persistence of primitive tradition.”[iii] Continue reading

A Thanksgiving Prayer


Lord, so often times, as any other day
When we sit down to our meal and pray

We hurry along and make fast the blessing
Thanks, amen. Now please pass the dressing

We’re slaves to the olfactory overload
We must rush our prayer before the food gets cold

But Lord, we’d like to take a few minute more
To really give thanks to what we’re thankful for

For our family, our health, a nice soft bed
Our friends, our freedom, a roof over our head

We’re thankful now to be surrounded by those
Whose lives touch me more than they’ll ever possibly know

Thankful Lord, that You’ve blessed us beyond measure
Thankful that in our heart lives life’s greatest treasure

That You, dear Jesus, reside in that place
And we’re ever so grateful for Your unending grace

So please, heavenly Father, bless this food You’ve provided
And bless each and every person invited


Adapted from a prayer by Scott Wesemann