This post is part of an ongoing series on the history of communion.
Justin Martyr, writing around 150 CE in Rome, provides a unique perspective into the weekly practice of Communion among second century Christians. Toward the end of his First Apology he outlines the liturgy of the Roman Church: Scripture readings followed by a sermon, prayers of intercession and kiss of peace, a flexible Eucharistic prayer with congregational “Amen,” the distribution of the elements via deacons to those present and absent, and finally a collection for the poor.5 Particularly interesting is Justin’s description of Communion (the Eucharist) in some detail: Continue reading
This study has examined the manner in which two early Christian apologists, Justin Martyr in his Apology and Theophilus of Antioch in Ad Autolycum, employed written sources in their writings. This study argues that Justin and Theophilus both demonstrated the authority of specifically Christian writings, especially in their use of the Fourth Gospel and implementation of Johannine logos theology. This study also suggested that a contextualized methodology constitutes a necessary component for accurate study of early Christian literature; that Justin and Theophilus employed a wide matrix of scriptural authorities in their writings; and that comparison of Justin and Theophilus underline important similarities and differences between these writers which inform the understanding of second century Christianity. It is the hope of this study to have fulfilled Theophilus’ final dictum in Ad Autolycum, to have read “these books carefully in order that [we] may have a counselor and pledge of the truth.”[ii]
[i] Hagner, 233. [ii] Autolycum 3.30.
Yet there are also considerable differences in these apologists’ approaches to written sources as well. Concerning Greco-Roman sources, while Justin remained primarily Platonic, Theophilus was more influenced by the Sibylline Oracles, Homer, and Hesiod. Justin’s philosophical background and prowess were considerably superior to Theophilus’ training, and Justin’s innovate recasting of Greco-Roman philosophical motifs was more innovate than anything Theophilus had to offer. Continue reading
The argument of this paper, that Justin and Theophilus each view specifically Christian writings as useful authorities for the construction of their apologetic works, has already been demonstrated. To more fully engage the considerations of the authority with which these two second century apologists viewed Christian sources, this study now offers a comparative analysis of how these two writers conceived of and employed written sources in the construction of their apologetic theologies, paying special attention to the function of the Gospel of John and Logos for each. Continue reading
Theophilus of Antioch clearly found numerous sources valuable for the construction of his apologetic Ad Autolycum, drawing upon numerous Greek, Jewish, and Christian sources in this writing. Especially important for his conception of scripture was the doctrine of the Logos, formed in Hellenistic Judaism and applied by Justin Martyr to Christian apologetics, but in Theophilus developed most clearly from the Gospel of John. This doctrine allowed Theophilus to locate writings inspired by the Logos, whether they were composed by the Sibyl, Moses, Paul, or someone else. The Logos is that with whom Greek philosophy must accord, that who inspired the prophets of Israel, and he who continues to serve God’s salvific nomos.[i] In this sense, Theophilus did not explicitly locate the Logos with any one “person,” but instead focused on the literary personification and work of the Logos, an endeavor with which those seeking God had to bring themselves into accordance. This is an admittedly Jewish way of thinking, leading Grant to posit that Theophilus’ Jewish-Christian perspective ultimately stands behind the later excesses of Antiochene exegetical theology.[ii] Continue reading
Theophilus also made use of a number of Pauline writings.[i] Evidence is most convincing for reliance on Romans,[ii] 1 Corinthians,[iii] 2 Corinthians,[iv] Philippians,[v] Colossians,[vi] 1 Timothy,[vii] and 2 Timothy.[viii] In addition to these literary connections, Theophilus reflects a broad knowledge of Pauline phraseology, indicated most clearly in his discussion of resurrection in Autolycum 1.8 and critique of idolatry in Autolycum 2.2.[ix] Continue reading
Perhaps the most important Christian writing for Theophilus was the Gospel According to John. There are numerous passages which rely on the Fourth Gospel, including Autolycum 1.4’s reference to the words of Thomas recorded in John 20.27[i] and Autolycum 2.23’s parallelism to John 16.21.[ii] Continue reading
Theophilus’ Ad Autolycum has an interesting claim to fame in its use of Christian sources: nowhere do these treatises mention or name the Historical Jesus of Nazareth.[i] While apologetic purposes may help explain this, some have taken this neglect to indicate that Theophilus represented a “Jesus-less” form of heretical Christianity or viewed Jesus as merely a human prophet.[ii] These responses, especially in view of the praise accorded Theophilus by Eusebius and Jerome, likely overstate problems with Theophilus’ theology. With Grant, then, it seems best to think that, “apologetic convention is probably responsible for his failure even to mention the name of Jesus…. But just here we might have expected a successor of Ignatius to escape from convention into religious reality.”[iii] Continue reading
In the Antiochene context, Jews and Christians existed quite comfortably alongside each other until the seventh century.[i] It is not surprising, then, to see that Theophilus’ thought was indebted to Judaism.[ii] The influence of Jewish Sources on Ad Autolycum may be categorized into four classes: Hellenistic Judaistic Thought, Prophetic Materials, Wisdom Literature, and the Cosmogony of Genesis. While Theophilus may have been in contact with the exegetical work of rabbinic schools, it appears more likely that the Jewish elements of his exegesis arise from an encounter with an intellectual form of Hellenistic Judaism. [iii] Theophilus himself notes his reliance on Josephus and he also appears to employ the interpretive practices of Philo at times.[iv] Continue reading