Biography:Justin Martyr

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Short description: 2nd century Christian apologist and martyr

Justin Martyr
Saint Justin Martyr by Theophanes the Cretan.jpg
15th-century icon of Justin Martyr by Theophanes the Cretan
Theologian, Apologist, and Martyr
Bornc. AD 100[1]
Flavia Neapolis, Judaea, Roman Empire
Diedc. AD 165
Rome, Italia, Roman Empire
Venerated inCatholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodoxy
CanonizedPre-Congregation for the Causes of Saints
Feast1 June (Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Lutheranism, Anglicanism)
14 April (Roman Calendar, 1882–1969)
Philosophy career
Other namesJustin the Philosopher
Notable work
First Apology
EraAncient philosophy
SchoolMiddle Platonism
Main interests
Notable ideas

Justin Martyr (Greek: Ἰουστῖνος ὁ μάρτυς, romanized: Ioustinos ho martys; c. AD 100 – c. AD 165), also known as Justin the Philosopher, was an early Christian apologist and philosopher.

Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue did survive. The First Apology, his most well-known text, passionately defends the morality of the Christian life, and provides various ethical and philosophical arguments to convince the Roman emperor, Antoninus, to abandon the persecution of the Church. Further, he also indicates, as St. Augustine would later, regarding the "true religion" that predated Christianity,[5] that the "seeds of Christianity" (manifestations of the Logos acting in history) actually predated Christ's incarnation. This notion allows him to claim many historical Greek philosophers (including Socrates and Plato), in whose works he was well studied, as unknowing Christians.

Justin was martyred, along with some of his students, and is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church,[6] the Eastern Orthodox Church,[7] the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Lutheran Churches, and in Anglicanism.[8]


A bearded Justin Martyr presenting an open book to a Roman emperor. Engraving by Jacques Callot.

Justin Martyr was born around AD 90-100,[9][10] into a Greek family,[10][11] at Flavia Neapolis (today Nablus) near the ancient biblical city of Shechem, in Samaria, Palestine.[12] He knew little or no Hebrew and Aramaic, and had only a passing acquaintance with Judaism.[10] His family may have been pagan, since he was uncircumcised, and defined himself as a Gentile.[13] His grandfather, Bacchius, had a Greek name, while his father, Priscus, bore a Latin name,[14] which has led to speculations that his ancestors may have settled in Neapolis soon after its establishment or that they were descended from a Roman "diplomatic" community that had been sent there.[15]

In the opening of the Dialogue,[16] Justin describes his early education, stating that his initial studies left him unsatisfied due to their failure to provide a belief system that would afford theological and metaphysical inspiration to their young pupil. He says he tried first the school of a Stoic philosopher, who was unable to explain God's being to him. He then attended a Peripatetic philosopher but was put off because the philosopher was too eager for his fee. Then he went to hear a Pythagorean philosopher who demanded that he first learn music, astronomy, and geometry, which he did not wish to do. Subsequently, he adopted Platonism after encountering a Platonist thinker who had recently settled in his city.

And the perception of immaterial things quite overpowered me, and the contemplation of ideas furnished my mind with wings, so that in a little while I supposed that I had become wise; and such was my stupidity, I expected forthwith to look upon God, for this is the end of Plato's philosophy.[16]

Some time afterwards, he chanced upon an old man, possibly a Syrian Christian,[17] in the vicinity of the seashore, who engaged him in a dialogue about God and spoke of the testimony of the prophets as being more reliable than the reasoning of philosophers.

There existed, long before this time, certain men more ancient than all those who are esteemed philosophers, both righteous and beloved by God, who spoke by the Divine Spirit, and foretold events which would take place, and which are now taking place. They are called prophets. These alone both saw and announced the truth to men, neither reverencing nor fearing any man, not influenced by a desire for glory, but speaking those things alone which they saw and which they heard, being filled with the Holy Spirit. Their writings are still extant, and he who has read them is very much helped in his knowledge of the beginning and end of things, and of those matters which the philosopher ought to know, provided he has believed them. For they did not use demonstration in their treatises, seeing that they were witnesses to the truth above all demonstration, and worthy of belief; and those events which have happened, and those which are happening, compel you to assent to the utterances made by them, although, indeed, they were entitled to credit on account of the miracles which they performed, since they both glorified the Creator, the God and Father of all things, and proclaimed His Son, the Christ [sent] by Him: which, indeed, the false prophets, who are filled with the lying unclean spirit, neither have done nor do, but venture to work certain wonderful deeds for the purpose of astonishing men, and glorify the spirits and demons of error. But pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and His Christ have imparted wisdom.[16]

Moved by the aged man's argument, Justin renounced both his former religious faith and his philosophical background, choosing instead to re-dedicate his life to the service of the Divine. His newfound convictions were only bolstered by the ascetic lives of the early Christians and the heroic example of the martyrs, whose piety convinced him of the moral and spiritual superiority of Christian doctrine. As a result, he thenceforth decided that the only option for him was to travel throughout the land, spreading the knowledge of Christianity as the "true philosophy." His conversion is commonly assumed to have taken place at Ephesus[18][19] though it may have occurred anywhere on the road from Syria Palestina to Rome.[20]

Mosaic of the beheading of Justin Martyr

He then adopted the dress of a philosopher himself and traveled about teaching. During the reign of Antoninus Pius (138–161), he arrived in Rome and started his own school. Tatian was one of his pupils.[21] In the reign of Marcus Aurelius, after disputing with the cynic philosopher Crescens, he was denounced by the latter to the authorities, according to Tatian (Address to the Greeks 19) and Eusebius (HE IV 16.7–8). Justin was tried, together with six friends (two of them slaves educated by him; Euelpistus and Hierax), by the urban prefect Junius Rusticus, and was beheaded. Though the precise year of his death is uncertain, it can reasonably be dated by the prefectoral term of Rusticus (who governed from 162 and 168). The martyrdom of Justin preserves the court record of the trial.[18]

The Prefect Rusticus says: Approach and sacrifice, all of you, to the gods. Justin says: No one in his right mind gives up piety for impiety. The Prefect Rusticus says: If you do not obey, you will be tortured without mercy. Justin replies: That is our desire, to be tortured for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and so to be saved, for that will give us salvation and firm confidence at the more terrible universal tribunal of Our Lord and Saviour. And all the martyrs said: Do as you wish; for we are Christians, and we do not sacrifice to idols. The Prefect Rusticus read the sentence: Those who do not wish to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the emperor will be scourged and beheaded according to the laws. The holy martyrs glorifying God betook themselves to the customary place, where they were beheaded and consummated their martyrdom confessing their Saviour.[6]


The church of St. John the Baptist in Sacrofano, a few miles north of Rome, claims to have his relics.[22]

The Church of the Jesuits in Valletta, Malta, founded by papal decree in 1592 also boasts relics of this second century Saint.[23]

A case is also made that the relics of St. Justin are buried in Annapolis, Maryland. During a period of unrest in Italy, a noble family in possession of his remains sent them in 1873 to a priest in Baltimore for safekeeping. They were displayed in St. Mary's Church for a period of time before they were again locked away for safekeeping. The remains were rediscovered and given a proper burial at St. Mary's, with Vatican approval, in 1989.[24] It is now asserted that the bones were of St. Justin of the third century who was martyred during the persecution of Maximus.[25]

Relics of St. Justin and other early Church martyrs can be found in the lateral altar dedicated to St. Anne and St. Joachim at the Jesuit's Church in Valletta, Malta.


In 1882 Pope Leo XIII had a Mass and an Office composed for his feast day, which he set at 14 April,[6] one day after the date of his death as indicated in the Martyrology of Florus; but since this date quite often falls within the main Paschal celebrations, the feast was moved in 1968 to 1 June, the date on which he has been celebrated in the Byzantine Rite since at least the 9th century.[26]

Justin is remembered in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on 1 June.[27]


File:Iustini Philosophi et martyris Opera.tif The earliest mention of Justin is found in the Oratio ad Graecos by his student Tatian who, after calling him "the most admirable Justin", quotes a saying of his and says that the Cynic Crescens laid snares for him. Irenaeus[28] speaks of Justin's martyrdom and of Tatian as his disciple. Irenaeus quotes Justin twice[29] and shows his influence in other places. Tertullian, in his Adversus Valentinianos, calls Justin a philosopher and a martyr and the earliest antagonist of heretics. Hippolytus and Methodius of Olympus also mention or quote him. Eusebius of Caesarea deals with him at some length,[30] and names the following works:

  1. The First Apology addressed to Antoninus Pius, his sons, and the Roman Senate;[31]
  2. A Second Apology of Justin Martyr addressed to the Roman Senate;
  3. The Discourse to the Greeks,[lower-alpha 1] a discussion with Greek philosophers on the character of their gods;
  4. An Hortatory Address to the Greeks[lower-alpha 2] (known now not to have been written by Justin);[34]
  5. A treatise On the Sovereignty of God, in which he makes use of pagan authorities as well as Christian;
  6. A work entitled The Psalmist;
  7. A treatise in scholastic form On the Soul; and
  8. The Dialogue with Trypho.

Eusebius implies that other works were in circulation; from St Irenaeus he knows of the apology "Against Marcion," and from Justin's "Apology"[35] of a "Refutation of all Heresies".[36] St Epiphanius[37] and St Jerome[38] mention Justin.

Rufinus borrows from his Latin original of Hadrian's letter.

Spurious medieval works

After Rufinus, Justin was known mainly from St Irenaeus and Eusebius or from spurious works. A considerable number of other works are given as Justin's by Arethas of Caesarea, Photius of Constantinople, and other writers, but this attribution is now generally admitted to be spurious. The Expositio rectae fidei was assigned by Johann Dräseke to Apollinaris of Laodicea, but it is probably a work of as late as the 6th century. The Cohortatio ad Graecos has been attributed to Apollinaris of Laodicea, Apollinaris of Hierapolis, as well as others. The Epistola ad Zenam et Serenum, an exhortation to Christian living, is dependent upon Clement of Alexandria, and was assigned by Pierre Batiffol to the Novatian Bishop Sisinnius (c. 400). The extant work under the title "On the Sovereignty of God" does not correspond with Eusebius' description of it, though Adolf von Harnack regarded it as still possibly Justin's, and at least of the 2nd century. The author of the smaller treatise To the Greeks cannot be Justin, because he is dependent on Tatian; Von Harnack placed it between 180 and 240.

Parisinus graecus 450

After this medieval period in which no authentic works of Justin Martyr were in widespread circulation, a single codex containing the complete works of Justin Martyr was discovered and purchased by Guillaume Pellicier, around 1540 in Venice. Pellicier sent it to the Bibliothèque nationale de France where it remains today under the catalog number Parisinus graecus 450. This codex was completed on 11 September 1364 somewhere in the Byzantine Empire. The name of the scribe is unknown, although Manuel Kantakouzenos has been suggested as patron. Internal textual evidence shows that multiple older manuscripts were used to create this one, which strongly suggests that it must have originated in a major population center like Mistra, since libraries holding Justin Martyr were already rare by 1364. Other partial medieval manuscripts have been shown to be copies of this one.[39] The editio princeps was published by Robert Estienne in 1551.[40]

Dialogue with Trypho

The Dialogue is a later work than the First Apology; the date of composition of the latter, judging from the fact that it was addressed to Antoninus Pius and his adopted sons Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, must fall between 147 and 161. In the Dialogue with Trypho, after an introductory section, Justin undertakes to show that Christianity is the new law for all men.

Justin's dialogue with Trypho is unique in that he provides information on tensions between Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus of the second century (Dial. 47:2–3)[41] and in acknowledging the existence of a range, and a variety, of attitudes toward the beliefs and traditions of the Jewish believers in Jesus.[42]

On the Resurrection

The treatise On the Resurrection exists in extensive fragments that are preserved in the Sacra parallela. The fragments begin with the assertion that the truth, and God the author of truth, need no witness, but that as a concession to the weakness of men it is necessary to give arguments to convince those who gainsay it. It is then shown, after a denial of unfounded deductions, that the resurrection of the body is neither impossible nor unworthy of God, and that the evidence of prophecy is not lacking for it. Another fragment takes up the positive proof of the resurrection, adducing that of Christ and of those whom he recalled to life. In yet another fragment the resurrection is shown to be that of what has gone down, i.e., the body; the knowledge concerning it is the new doctrine, in contrast to that of the old philosophers. The doctrine follows from the command to keep the body in moral purity.

The authenticity of the treatise is not so generally accepted as are Justin's other works.[43] Even so, earlier than the Sacra parallela, it is referred to by Procopius of Gaza (c. 465–528). Methodius appeals to Justin in support of his interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:50 in a way that makes it natural to assume the existence of a treatise on the subject, to say nothing of other traces of a connection in thought both here in Irenaeus (V., ii.-xiii. 5) and in Tertullian, where it is too close to be anything but a conscious following of the Greek. The Against Marcion is lost, as is the Refutation of all Heresies to which Justin himself refers in Apology, i. 26; Hegesippus, besides perhaps Irenaeus and Tertullian, seems to have used it.

Role within the Church

Flacius discovered "blemishes" in Justin's theology, which he attributed to the influence of pagan philosophers; and in modern times Semler and S.G. Lange have made him out a thorough Hellene, while Semisch and Otto defend him from this charge.

In opposition to the school of Ferdinand Christian Baur, who considered him a Jewish Christian, Albrecht Ritschl has argued that it was precisely because he was a Gentile Christian that he did not fully understand the Old Testament foundation of Paul's teaching, and explained in this way the modified character of his Paulinism and his legal mode of thought.

Engelhardt has attempted to extend this line of treatment to Justin's entire theology, and to show that his conceptions of God, of free will and righteousness, of redemption, grace, and merit prove the influence of the cultivated Greek pagan world of the 2nd century, dominated by the Platonic and Stoic philosophy. But he admits that Justin is a Christian in his unquestioning adherence to the Church and its faith, his unqualified recognition of the Old Testament, and his faith in Christ as the Son of God the Creator, made manifest in the flesh, crucified, and risen, through which belief he succeeds in getting away from the dualism of both pagan and Gnostic philosophy.

Justin was confident that his teaching was that of the Church at large. He knows of a division among the orthodox only on the question of the millennium and on the attitude toward the milder Jewish Christianity, which he personally is willing to tolerate as long as its professors in their turn do not interfere with the liberty of the Gentile converts; his millenarianism seems to have no connection with Judaism, but he believes firmly in a millennium, and generally in the Christian eschatology.

Opposition to Judaism was common among church leaders in his day; however, Justin Martyr was hostile towards Jewry and regarded Jews as an accursed people. His anti-Judaic polemics have been cited as an origin of Christian antisemitism.[44] However his views elaborated in the Dialogue with Trypho were tame compared to those of John Chrysostom and others.[45]


Justin, like others, thought that the Greek philosophers had derived, if not borrowed, the most essential elements of truth found in their teaching from the Old Testament. But at the same time he adopted the Stoic doctrine of the "seminal word," and so philosophy was to him an operation of the Word—in fact, through his identification of the Word with Christ, it was brought into immediate connection with him.[46][47]

Thus he does not hesitate to declare that Socrates and Heraclitus were Christians (Apol., i. 46, ii. 10). His aim was to emphasize the absolute significance of Christ, so that all that ever existed of virtue and truth may be referred to him. The old philosophers and law-givers had only a part of the Logos, while the whole appears in Christ.[46]

While the gentile peoples, seduced by devils, had deserted the true God for idols, the Jews and Samaritans possessed the revelation given through the prophets and awaited the Messiah. However, the law, while containing commandments intended to promote the true fear of God, had other prescriptions of a purely pedagogic nature, which necessarily ceased when Christ, their end, appeared; of such temporary and merely relative regulations were circumcision, animal sacrifices, the Sabbath, and the laws as to food. Through Christ, the abiding law of God has been fully proclaimed.[48] In his character, as the teacher of the new doctrine and promulgator of the new law, lies the essential nature of his redeeming work.[46]

The idea of an economy of grace, of a restoration of the union with God which had been destroyed by sin, is not foreign to him. It is noteworthy that in the "Dialogue" he no longer speaks of a "seed of the Word" in every man, and in his non-apologetic works the emphasis is laid upon the redeeming acts of the life of Christ rather than upon the demonstration of the reasonableness and moral value of Christianity, though the fragmentary character of the latter works makes it difficult to determine exactly to what extent this is true and how far the teaching of Irenaeus on redemption is derived from him.[46]

The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia notes that scholars have differed on whether Justin's writings on the nature of God were meant to express his firm opinion on points of doctrine, or to speculate on these matters. Specific points Justin addressed include that the Logos is "numerically distinct from the Father" though "born of the very substance of the Father," and that "through the Word, God has made everything." Justin used the metaphor of fire to describe the Logos as spreading like a flame, rather than "dividing" the substance of the Father. He also defended the Holy Spirit as a member of the Trinity, as well as the virginal birth of Jesus Christ. The Encyclopedia states that Justin places the genesis of the Logos as a voluntary act of the Father at the beginning of creation, noting that this is an "unfortunate" conflict with later Christian teachings.[49]

Memoirs of the apostles

Justin Martyr, in his First Apology (c. 155) and Dialogue with Trypho (c. 160),[50] sometimes refers to written sources consisting of narratives of the life of Jesus and quotations of the sayings of Jesus as "memoirs of the apostles" (Greek: ἀπομνημονεύματα τῶν ἀποστόλων; transliteration: apomnêmoneúmata tôn apostólôn) and less frequently as gospels (Greek: εὐαγγέλιον; transliteration: euangélion) which, Justin says, were read every Sunday in the church at Rome (1 Apol. 67.3 – "and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are being read as long as it is allowable").[51]

The designation "memoirs of the apostles" occurs twice in Justin's First Apology (66.3, 67.3–4) and thirteen times in the Dialogue, mostly in his interpretation of Psalm 22, whereas the term "gospel" is used only three times, once in 1 Apol. 66.3 and twice in the Dialogue. The single passage where Justin uses both terms (1 Apol. 66.3) makes it clear that "memoirs of the apostles" and "gospels" are equivalent, and the use of the plural indicates Justin's awareness of more than one written gospel. ("The apostles in the memoirs which have come from them, which are also called gospels, have transmitted that the Lord had commanded...").[52] Justin may have preferred the designation "memoirs of the apostles" as a contrast to the "gospel" of his contemporary Marcion to emphasize the connections between the historical testimony of the gospels and the Old Testament prophecies which Marcion rejected.[53]

The origin of Justin's use of the name "memoirs of the apostles" as a synonym for the gospels is uncertain. Scholar David E. Aune has argued that the gospels were modeled after classical Greco-Roman biographies, and Justin's use of the term apomnemoneumata to mean all the Synoptic Gospels should be understood as referring to a written biography such as the Memorabilia of Xenophon because they preserve the authentic teachings of Jesus.[54] However, scholar Helmut Koester has pointed out the Latin title "Memorabilia" was not applied to Xenophon's work until the Middle Ages, and it is more likely apomnemoneumata was used to describe the oral transmission of the sayings of Jesus in early Christianity. Papias uses a similar term meaning "remembered" (apomnemoneusen) when describing how Mark accurately recorded the "recollections of Peter", and Justin also uses it in reference to Peter in Dial. 106.3, followed by a quotation found only in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 3:16–17). Therefore, according to Koester, it is likely that Justin applied the name "memoirs of the apostles" analogously to indicate the trustworthy recollections of the apostles found in the written record of the gospels.[55]

Justin expounded on the gospel texts as an accurate recording of the fulfillment of prophecy, which he combined with quotations of the prophets of Israel from the LXX to demonstrate a proof from prophecy of the Christian kerygma.[56] The importance which Justin attaches to the words of the prophets, which he regularly quotes with the formula "it is written", shows his estimate of the Old Testament Scriptures. However, the scriptural authority he attributes to the "memoirs of the apostles" is less certain. Koester articulates a majority view among scholars that Justin considered the "memoirs of the apostles" to be accurate historical records but not inspired writings,[57] whereas scholar Charles E. Hill, though acknowledging the position of mainstream scholarship, contends that Justin regarded the fulfillment quotations of the gospels to be equal in authority.[58]


Scriptural sources


Justin uses material from the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) in the composition of the First Apology and the Dialogue, either directly, as in the case of Matthew,[59] or indirectly through the use of a gospel harmony, which may have been composed by Justin or his school.[60] However, his use, or even knowledge, of the Gospel of John is uncertain. One possible reference to John is a saying that is quoted in the context of a description of Christian baptism (1 Apol. 61.4 – "Unless you are reborn, you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven."). However, Koester contends that Justin obtained this saying from a baptismal liturgy rather than a written gospel.[61] Justin's possible knowledge of John's gospel may be suggested by verbal similarities to John 3:4 directly after the discussion about the new birth ("Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter their mother's womb is manifest to all"). Justin also uses language very similar to that of John 1:20 and 1:28. Furthermore, by employing the term "memoirs of the apostles" and distinguishing them from the writings of their "followers", Justin must have been of the belief that at least two gospels were written by actual apostles.


Justin does not quote from the Book of Revelation directly, yet he clearly refers to it, naming John as its author (Dial. 81.4 "Moreover also among us a man named John, one of the apostles of Christ, prophesied in a revelation made to him that those who have believed on our Christ will spend a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that hereafter the general and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all will likewise take place"). Scholar Brooke Foss Westcott notes that this reference to the author of the single prophetic book of the New Testament illustrates the distinction Justin made between the role of prophecy and fulfillment quotations from the gospels, as Justin does not mention any of the individual canonical gospels by name.[62]


The apologetic character of Justin's habit of thought appears again in the Acts of his martyrdom, the genuineness of which is attested by internal evidence.[63]

Testimony sources

According to scholar Oskar Skarsaune, Justin relies on two main sources for his proofs from prophecy that probably circulated as collections of scriptural testimonies within his Christian school. He refers to Justin's primary source for demonstrating scriptural proofs in the First Apology and parallel passages in the Dialogue as a "kerygma source". A second source, which was used only in the Dialogue, may be identical to a lost dialogue attributed to Aristo of Pella on the divine nature of the Messiah, the Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus (c. 140). Justin brings in biblical quotes verbatim from these sources, and he often appears to be paraphrasing his sources very closely, even in his interpretive remarks.[64]

Justin occasionally uses the Gospel of Matthew directly as a source for Old Testament prophecies to supplement his testimony sources.[59][65] However, the fulfillment quotations from these sources most often appear to be harmonizations of the gospels of Matthew and Luke.[66] Koester suggests that Justin had composed an early harmony along the lines of his pupil Tatian's Diatesseron.[60] However, the existence of a harmony independent of a collection of sayings for exposition purposes has been disputed by scholar Arthur Bellinzoni.[67][68] The question of whether the harmonized gospel materials found in Justin's writings came from a preexisting gospel harmony or were assembled as part of an integral process of creating scriptural prooftexts is an ongoing subject of scholarly investigation.[69]

"Kerygma source"

The following excerpt from 1 Apol. 33:1,4–5 (partial parallel in Dial. 84) on the annunciation and virgin birth of Jesus shows how Justin used harmonized gospel verses from Matthew and Luke to provide a scriptural proof of the messiahship of Jesus based on fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 7.[70]

And hear again how Isaiah in express words foretold that He should be born of a virgin; for he spoke thus: 'Behold, the virgin will conceive in the womb and bear a son, and they will say in his name, God with us' (Mt 1:23).
1 Apol. 33:1[71][72]
...the power of God, coming down upon the virgin, overshadowed her and made her while yet a virgin to conceive (cf. Lk 1:35), and the angel of God proclaimed to her and said, 'Behold, you will conceive in the womb from the Holy Spirit and bear a son (Mt 1:20/Lk 1:31) and he will be called Son of the Most High (Lk 1:32). And you shall call his name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (Mt 1:21),' as those who have made memoirs of all things about our savior Jesus Christ taught...
1 Apol. 33:4–5[73]

According to Skarsaune, the harmonized gospel narratives of Matthew and Luke were part of a tradition already circulating within Justin's school that expounded on the life and work of Jesus as the Messiah and the apostolic mission. Justin then rearranged and expanded these testimonia to create his First Apology.[74][75] The "kerygma source" of prooftexts (contained within 1 Apol. 31–53) is believed to have had a Two Parousias Christology, characterized by the belief that Jesus first came in humility, in fulfillment of prophecy, and will return in glory as the Messiah to the Gentiles.[76] There are close literary parallels between the Christology of Justin's source and the Apocalypse of Peter.[77]

Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus

The following excerpts from the Dialogue with Trypho of the baptism (Dial. 88:3,8) and temptation (Dial. 103:5–6) of Jesus, which are believed to have originated from the Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus, illustrate the use of gospel narratives and sayings of Jesus in a testimony source and how Justin has adopted these "memoirs of the apostles" for his own purposes.

And then, when Jesus had come to the river Jordan where John was baptizing, and when Jesus came down into the water, a fire was even kindled in the Jordan, and when He was rising up from the water, the Holy Spirit fluttered down upon Him in the form of a dove, as the apostles have written about this very Christ of ours.
Dial. 88:3
And when Jesus came to the Jordan, and being supposed to be the son of Joseph the carpenter..., the Holy Spirit, and for man's sake, as I said before, fluttered down upon Him, and a voice came at the time out of the heavens – which was spoken also by David, when he said, impersonating Christ, what the Father was going to say to Him – 'You are My Son, this day I have begotten you'."
Dial. 88:8[78]
...the Devil himself,...[was] called serpent by Moses, the Devil by Job and Zachariah, and was addressed as Satanas by Jesus. This indicated that he had a compound name made up of the actions which he performed; for the word "Sata" in the Hebrew and Syrian tongue means "apostate", while "nas" is the word which means in translation "serpent", thus, from both parts is formed the one word "Sata-nas". It is narrated in the memoirs of the apostles that as soon as Jesus came up out of the river Jordan and a voice said to him: 'You are My Son, this day I have begotten you', this Devil came and tempted him, even so far as to exclaim: 'Worship me'; but Christ replied: 'Get behind me, Satanas, the Lord your God shall you worship, and Him only shall you serve'. For, since the Devil had deceived Adam, he fancied that he could in some way harm him also.
Dial. 103:5–6[79]

The quotations refer to the fulfillment of a prophecy of Psalm 2:7 found in the Western text-type of Luke 3:22.[80] Justin's mention of the fire on the Jordan without comment suggests that he was relying on an intermediate source for these gospel quotations,[81] and his literal interpretation of a pseudo-etymology of the Hebrew word Satan indicates a dependence on a testimony source with a knowledge of Hebrew, which was probably the Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus.[82]

The Dialogue attributed to Aristo of Pella is believed to have furnished Justin with scriptural prooftexts on the divinity of the Messiah by combining a Wisdom Christology – Christ as the incarnation of preexistent Wisdom – with a Second Adam Christology – the first Adam was conquered by Satan, but this Fall of Man is reversed by Christ as the Second Adam who conquers Satan. This is implied in the pseudo-etymology in Dial. 103:5–6 linking the name of Satan to the "apostate-serpent". The Christology of the source is close to that of the Ascension of Isaiah.[83]

Catechetical sources

Justin quotes many sayings of Jesus in 1 Apol. 15–17 and smaller sayings clusters in Dial. 17:3–4; 35:3; 51:2–3; and 76:4–7. The sayings are most often harmonizations of Matthew and Luke that appear to be grouped together topically and organized into sayings collections, including material that probably originated from an early Christian catechism.[84][85]

The following example of an ethical teaching On Swearing Oaths in 1 Apol. 16:5 shows a combination of sayings material found in Matthew and the Epistle of James:

Do not swear at all (Mt 5:34). Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No (Jas 5:12). Everything beyond these is from evil (Mt 5:37).

The saying "Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No" from James 5:12 is interpolated into a sayings complex from Matthew 5:34,37. The text appears in a large number of Patristic quotations and twice in the Clementine Homilies (Hom. 3:55, 19:2). Thus, it is likely that Justin was quoting this harmonized text from a catechism.[86][87]

The harmonization of Matthew and Luke is evident in the following quotations of Mt 7:22–23 and Lk 13:26–27, which are used by Justin twice, in 1 Apol. 16:11 and Dial. 76:5:

Many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not in your name eat and drink and do powerful deeds?' And then I shall say to them, 'go away from me, workers of lawlessness'.

Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not in your name eat and drink and prophecy and drive out demons?' And I shall say to them, 'go away from me'.

In both cases, Justin is using the same harmonized text of Matthew and Luke, although neither of the quotations includes the entire text of those gospel passages. The last phrase, "workers of lawlessness", has an exact parallel with 2 Clement 4:5. This harmonized text also appears in a large number of quotations by the Church Fathers.[88][89] 1 Apol. 16:11 is part of a larger unit of sayings material in 1 Apol 16:9–13 which combines a warning against being unprepared with a warning against false prophets. The entire unit is a carefully composed harmony of parallel texts from Matthew and Luke.[90][91] This unit is part of a larger collection of sayings found in 1 Apol. 15–17 that appear to have originated from a catechism used by Justin's school in Rome, which may have had a wide circulation. Justin excerpted and rearranged the catechetical sayings material to create Apol. 15–17 and parallel passages in the Dialogue.[92][93]

Other sources

Justin includes a tract on Greek mythology in 1 Apol. 54 and Dial. 69 which asserts that myths about various pagan deities are imitations of the prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament. There is also a small tract in 1 Apol. 59–60 on borrowings of the philosophers from Moses, particularly Plato. These two tracts may be from the same source, which may have been an early Christian Apology.[94]

Prophetic exegesis

Justin's writings constitute a storehouse of early interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures.[95]

Belief in prophecy

The truth of the prophets, he declares, compels assent. He considered the Old Testament an inspired guide and counselor. He was converted by a Christian philosopher whom he paraphrased as saying:

"There existed, long before this time, certain men more ancient than all those who are esteemed philosophers, both righteous and beloved by God, who spoke by the Divine Spirit, and foretold events which would take place, and which are now taking place. They are called prophets. These alone both saw and announced the truth to men, neither reverencing nor fearing any man, not influenced by a desire for glory, but speaking those things alone which they saw and which they heard, being filled with the Holy Spirit. Their writings are still extant, and he who has read them is very much helped in his knowledge of the beginning and end of things. . . And those events which have happened, and those which are happening, compel you to assent to the utterances made by them."[96]

Then Justin told his own experience:

"Straightway a flame was kindled in my soul; and a love of the prophets, and of those men who are friends of Christ, possessed me; and whilst revolving his words in my mind, I found this philosophy alone to be safe and profitable."[97]


Justin listed the following events as fulfillments of Bible prophecy:

  • The prophecies concerning the Messiah, and the particulars of His life.[98]
  • The destruction of Jerusalem.[99]
  • The Gentiles accepting Christianity.[100]
  • Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be born of a virgin.[101]
  • Micah mentions Bethlehem as the place of His birth.[102]
  • Zechariah forecasts His entry into Jerusalem on the foal of an ass (a donkey).[103]

Second Advent and Daniel 7

Justin connected the Second Advent with the climax of the prophecy of Daniel 7.

"But if so great a power is shown to have followed and to be still following the dispensation of His suffering, how great shall that be which shall follow His glorious advent! For He shall come on the clouds as the Son of man, so Daniel foretold, and His angels shall come with Him. [Then follows Dan. 7:9–28.]"[104]


The second advent Justin placed close upon the heels of the appearance of the "man of apostasy", i.e., the Antichrist.[105]

Time, times, and a half

Daniel's "time, times, and a half", Justin believed, was nearing its consummation, when the Antichrist would speak his blasphemies against the Most High.[106]


Justin's statements are some of the earliest Christian expressions on the Eucharist.

"And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist] ... For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."[107]


Greek texts:

  • P.Oxy.5129 (Egyptian Exploration Society, 4th century)
  • Thirlby, S., London, 1722.
  • Maran, P., Paris, 1742 (the Benedictine edition, reprinted in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. VI. Paris, 1857).
  • Otto, J. C., Jena, 1842 (3d ed., 1876–1881).
  • Krüger, G., Leipzig, 1896 (3d ed., Tübingen, 1915).
  • In Die ältesten Apologeten, ed. G.J. Goodspeed, (Göttingen, 1914; reprint 1984).[108]
  • Iustini Martyris Dialogus cum Tryphone, ed Miroslav Marcovich (Patristische Texte und Studien 47, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1997).
  • Minns, Denis, and Paul Parvis. Justin, Philosopher and Martyr: Apologies. Edited by Henry Chadwick, Oxford Early Christian Texts. Oxford: OUP, 2009. (In addition to translating into English has a critical Greek text).
  • Philippe Bobichon (ed.), Justin Martyr, Dialogue avec Tryphon, édition critique, introduction, texte grec, traduction, commentaires, appendices, indices, (Coll. Paradosis nos. 47, vol. I-II.) Editions Universitaires de Fribourg Suisse, (1125 pp.), 2003 online

English translations:

  • Halton, TP and M Slusser, eds, Dialogue with Trypho, trans TB Falls, Selections from the Fathers of the Church, 3, (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press)
  • Minns, Denis, & Paul Parvis. Justin, Philosopher and Martyr: Apologies. Edited by Henry Chadwick, Oxford Early Christian Texts. Oxford: OUP, 2009.

Georgian translation:

  • "Sulieri Venakhi", I, The First and Second Apology of Saint Justin Philosopher and Martyr, translated from Old Greek into Georgian, submitted with preface and comments by a monk Ekvtime Krupitski, Tbilisi Theological Academy, Tsalka, Sameba village, Cross Monastery, "Sulieri venakhi" Publishers, Tbilisi, 2022, ISBN 978-9941-9676-1-0
  • "Sulieri Venakhi", II, Saint Justin Martyr's dialogue with Trypho the Jew, translated from Old Greek into Georgian, submitted with preface and comments by a monk Ekvtime Krupitski, Tbilisi Theological Academy, Tsalka, Sameba village, Cross Monastery, "Sulieri venakhi" Publishers, Tbilisi, 2019, ISBN 978-9941-8-1570-6

Literary references

  • The Rector of Justin (1964), perhaps Louis Auchincloss's best-regarded novel, is the tale of a renowned headmaster of a New England prep school—similar to Groton—and how he came to found his institution. He chooses the name Justin Martyr for his Episcopal school. ("The school was named for the early martyr and scholar who tried to reconcile the thinking of the Greek philosophers with the doctrines of Christ. Not for Prescott [the headmaster] were the humble fishermen who had their faith and faith alone."[109])

See also


  1. Because of its dependence on the later work of Justin's pupil, Tatian, it is probably by another writer, dated towards the end of the second century or the beginning of the third century AD.[32]
  2. A pre-fourth-century anonymous work wrongly attributed to Justin Martyr.[33]


  1. Thomas Whitlaw, Commentary on John (1885), p. xl
  2. St. Justin Martyr, patron of philosophers, honored on June 1
  3. McNally, Terrence J. (2009). What Every Catholic Should Know about Mary. Xlibris Corporation. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-4415-1051-8. 
  4. Iliara LE Ramelli. (2016). Social Justice and the Legitimacy of Slavery: The Role of Philosophical Asceticism from Ancient Judaism to Late Antiquity. 53 pp.
  5. "The very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients also, nor was it wanting from the inception of the human race until the coming of Christ in the flesh, at which point the true religion which was already in existence began to be called Christian." – St. Augustine, Retractiones
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLebreton, Jules (1910). "St. Justin Martyr". in Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 7. New York: Robert Appleton. 
  7. "Justin the Philosopher & Martyr and his Companions". 
  8. "For All the Saints". 
  9. Hanegraaff, Wouter (2012). Esotericism and the Academy: Rejected Knowledge in Western Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 20. ISBN 9780521196215. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Wagner, Walter H. (1994) (in en). After the Apostles: Christianity in the Second Century. Fortress Press. pp. 158. ISBN 978-1-4514-1986-3. "Born around 90 C.e. to a Greek family settled in Flavia Neapolis (modern Nablus) , Justin knew little or no Hebrew and Aramaic and had only a passing acquaintance with Judaism." 
  11. Finegan, Jack (2014) (in en). The Archeology of the New Testament: The Life of Jesus and the Beginning of the Early Church. Princeton University Press. pp. 14. ISBN 978-1-4008-6318-1. "JUSTIN MARTYR (150) Born soon after 100 of a pagan Greek family at Flavia Neapolis (modern Nablus, cf. No. 62) in Palestine." 
  12. Masalha, Nur (2018). Palestine : a four thousand year history. London. pp. 85. ISBN 978-1-78699-272-7. OCLC 1046449706. 
  13. Craig D. Allert, Revelation, Truth, Canon, and Interpretation: Studies in Justin Martyr's Dialogue With Trypho Brill, 2002). ISBN 978-9-004-31329-3 p.28.
  14. Allert, ibid. p.28
  15. Reinhold Plummer,Early Christian authors on Samaritans and Samaritanism, Mohr Siebeck, 2002 p.14.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Justin Martyr. "2–8". Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho. 
  17. Oskar Skarsaune, The proof from prophecy: a study in Justin Martyr's proof-text tradition:text-type, provenance, theological profile, Brill, 1987 p.246.
  18. 18.0 18.1 J. Quasten, Patrology, Volume 1: The Beginnings of Patristic Literature (Allen, TX: Christian Classics, 1983), p.197.
  19. Plummer, 2002 p.15.
  20. Skarsaune, The proof from prophecy,pp.245–6 and notes 1 and 2.
  21. Marian Hillar, From Logos to Trinity: The Evolution of Religious Beliefs from Pythagoras to Tertullian, page 139 (Cambridge University Press, 2012). ISBN:978-1-107-01330-8
  22. Sacrofano – Church of Saint John the Baptist, "...the bones of St. Justin are preserved in a great urn under the coloured marble high altar, built in 1515." [1]
  23. Wikipedia article on Church of the Jesuits.
  24. "Italian Martyr's 1,600-Year-Old Remains Put to Rest". 
  25. [2], Saint in the Graveyard: How did the bones of St. Justin wind up in Annapolis?
  26. Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 94
  27. "The Calendar" (in en). 
  28. Haer. I., xxviii. 1.
  29. IV., vi. 2, V., xxvi. 2.
  30. Church History, iv. 18.
  31. David Rokéah, Justin Martyr and the Jews, page 2 (Leiden, Brill, 2002). ISBN:90-04-12310-5
  32. Jin Kim, Hyun, 'Justin Martyr and Tatian: Christian Reactions to Encounters with Greco-Roman Culture and Imperial Persecution', in Mu-chou Poo, H. A. Drake, and Lisa Raphals (eds), Old Society, New Belief: Religious transformation of China and Rome, ca. 1st-6th Centuries (New York, 2017; online edn, Oxford Academic, 22 June 2017),, accessed 16 October 2022.
  33. Buitenwerf, R. 2003. Book III of the Sibylline Oracles and Its Social Setting. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 78.
  34. Hardwick, Michael, "Contra Apionem and Antiquatates Judaicae: Points of Contact" in Feldman, Louis H. and Levison, John R. (eds.), Josephus' Contra Apionem (Brill Publishers, 1996), p. 379.
  35. i. 26
  36. Church History, IV., xi. 10.
  37. Haer., xlvi. 1.
  38. De vir. ill., ix.
  39. Philippe Bobichon, "Œuvres de Justin Martyr : Le manuscrit de Londres (Musei Britannici Loan 36/13) apographon du manuscrit de Paris (Parisinus Graecus 450)", Scriptorium 57/2 (2004), pp. 157-172
  40. Justin, Martyr, Saint (2009). Justin, philosopher and martyr : Apologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 3–13. ISBN 978-0199542505. 
  41. Bibliowicz, Abel M. (2019). Jewish-Christian Relations - The First Centuries (Mascarat, 2019). WA: Mascarat. p. 201-2. ISBN 978-1513616483. 
  42. Skarsaune, Oskar (2007). Evidence for Jewish Believers in Greek and Latin Patristic Literature in Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries. Peabody, Mass.: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 510-4. ISBN 978-0-664-25018-8. 
  43. Philippe Bobichon, "Justin Martyr : étude stylistique du Dialogue avec Tryphon suivie d’une comparaison avec l’Apologie et le De resurrectione", Recherches augustiniennes et patristiques 34 (2005), pp. 1-61.
  44. "The Early Church and the Beginnings of Anti-Semitism". 
  45. Philippe Bobichon, Dialogue avec Tryphon, édition critique. Vol. I: Introduction, Texte grec, Traduction, Fribourg, 2003, Introduction, pp. 73-108.
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge 3rd ed. 1914. Pg 284[Exact Quote]
  47. Philippe Bobichon, Filiation divine du Christ et filiation divine des chrétiens dans les écrits de Justin Martyr in P. de Navascués Benlloch, M. Crespo Losada and A. Sáez Gutiérrez (dir.), Filiación. Cultura pagana, religión de Israel, orígenes del cristianismo, vol. III, Madrid, 2011, pp. 337-378 online
  48. Philippe Bobichon, "Préceptes éternels et Loi mosaïque dans le Dialogue avec Tryphon de Justin Martyr", Revue Biblique 3/2 (2004), pp. 238-254 online
  49.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLebreton, Jules (1910). "St. Justin Martyr". in Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. 7. New York: Robert Appleton. 

    The Word is numerically distinct from the Father (Dial., cxxviii, cxxix; cf. lvi, lxii). He was born of the very substance of the Father, not that this substance was divided, but He proceeds from it as one fire does from another at which it is lit (cxxviii, lxi); this form of production (procession) is compared also with that of human speech (lxi). The Word (Logos) is therefore the Son: much more, He alone may properly be called Son (II Apol., vi, 3); He is the monogenes, the unigenitus (Dial., cv). Elsewhere, however, Justin, like St. Paul, calls Him the eldest Son, prototokos (I Apol., xxxiii; xlvi; lxiii; Dial., lxxxiv, lxxxv, cxxv). The Word is God (I Apol., lxiii; Dial., xxxiv, xxxvi, xxxvii, lvi, lxiii, lxxvi, lxxxvi, lxxxvii, cxiii, cxv, cxxv, cxxvi, cxviii). His Divinity, however, seems subordinate, as does the worship which is rendered to Him (I Apol., vi; cf. lxi, 13; Teder, "Justins des Märtyrers Lehre von Jesus Christus", Freiburg im Br., 1906, 103–19). The Father engendered Him by a free and voluntary act (Dial., lxi, c, cxxvii, cxxviii; cf. Teder, op. cit., 104), at the beginning of all His works (Dial., lxi, lxii, II Apol., vi, 3); in this last text certain authors thought they distinguished in the Word two states of being, one intimate, the other outspoken, but this distinction, though found in some other apologists, is in Justin very doubtful. Through the Word God has made everything (II Apol., vi; Dial., cxiv). The Word is diffused through all humanity (I Apol., vi; II, viii; xiii); it was He who appeared to the patriarchs (I Apol., lxii; lxiii; Dial., lvi, lix, lx etc.). Two influences are plainly discernible in the aforesaid body of doctrine. It is, of course, to Christian revelation that Justin owes his concept of the distinct personality of the Word, His Divinity and Incarnation; but philosophic speculation is responsible for his unfortunate concepts of the temporal and voluntary generation of the Word, and for the subordinationism of Justin's theology. It must be recognized, moreover, that the latter ideas stand out more boldly in the "Apology" than in the "Dialogue."

  50. Rokeah (2002) Justin Martyr and the Jews p. 2 – His First Apology dates from about 155 CE, for it mentions (chap. 29) the procurator of Egypt, Felix, who served in this capacity between 151 and 154. Grant (Greek Apologists pp. 53–54) links the First Apology to the martyrdom of Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, which occurred in 155 or 156; he finds allusions in the Apology to the description of Polycarp's death at the stake found in a letter sent by the Christian community of Smyrna to other Christian communities immediately after the event. ... The First Apology is mentioned in the Dialogue (end of chap. 120), and it is therefore likely that the latter was composed around 160 CE."
  51. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels p. 38 – "It is clear that these "memoirs" are indeed gospel writings and that they are used liturgically as instructions for the sacrament and as texts for homilies."
  52. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development pp. 38,40–41; p. 38 – Dial. 100.4; 101.3; 102.5; 103.6,8; 104.1; 105.1,5,6; 106.1,3,4; 107.1 "In each instance the materials quoted derive from written gospels, usually from Matthew and Luke, in one instance from Mark, and each time the term serves to quote, or to refer to, gospel materials which demonstrate that the prophecy of the Psalm has been fulfilled in the story of Jesus. The "memoirs of the apostles" are used as reliable historical records." p40 – "Justin uses the term gospel only three times 1 Apol. 66.3, Dial. 10.2; 100.1." p. 41 – "It is evident that "gospel" refers to the same literature that Justin otherwise calls "memoirs of the apostles". The use of the plural in 1 Apol. 66.3 indicates that Justin knew of more than one written gospel."
  53. Koester 1990 Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development pp. 36–37,43; pp. 36–37 – "...there is no evidence that anyone before Marcion had used the term "gospel" as a designation for a written document. ...those writings of Justin which are preserved, his two Apologies and his Dialogue with Trypho, clearly show the effects of Marcion's challenge." p. 43 – "In direct antithesis to Marcion's use of the written gospel, Justin binds these gospels to the prophetic revelation in the Old Testament scriptures."
  54. Aune (1987) The New Testament in its Literary Environment p. 67 – "Justin Martyr (writing ca. 155) described the Gospels as 'reminiscences [apomnemoneumata] of the apostles' (1 Apology 66.3; 67.3) and 'reminiscences of Peter' (Dialogue with Trypho 106.3). Thus Justin, like Matthew, Luke, and Papias, prefers to designate the Gospels by a recognized literary form. Though apomnemoneumata are not carefully defined in rhetorical handbooks, they are essentially expanded chreiai, i.e., sayings and/or actions of or about specific individuals, set in a narrative framework and transmitted by memory (hence "reliable"). ... His use of the term "reminiscences", therefore, suggests a connection to Xenophon's Memorabilia (in Greek apomnemoneumata), a "biography" of Socrates."
  55. Koester 1990 Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development pp. 33–34,38–40; pp. 33–34 – "What Papias says about Mark reflects the use of categories which are drawn from the oral tradition. ... The written gospels' authority is assured by the same technical terms which had been established for the oral tradition. ... The term "remember" (mnemoneuein/apomnemoneuein) was decisive for the trustworthiness of the oral tradition." pp. 39–40 – "The composite form of the verb "to remember" (apomnemoneuein) had been used by Papias of Hierapolis as a technical term for the transmission of oral materials about Jesus. If Justin's term "memoirs of the apostles" is derived from this usage, it designates the written gospels as the true recollections of the apostles, trustworthy and accurate, and more reliable than any oral tradition which they are destined to replace."
  56. Koester 1990 Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development p. 377 – "The Christian proclamation about Jesus as Son of God, however, is true (in contrast to pagan myths), because the Christians possess trustworthy historical documents – "remembrances of the apostles" – from which it can be shown that everything in Christ's appearance and work happened in complete agreement with prophecy. What is demonstrated to be true is the Christian kerygma, not the story of the gospels. The reports contained in the gospels are used to show that the facts about Christ which the kerygma proclaims happened in complete agreement with the prophecy that announced them."
  57. Koester 1990 Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development p. 41 – "These gospels for Justin possess the authority of written records. Although they are read in the service of the church, they are not "Holy Scripture" like the law and the prophets."
  58. Hill (2004) pp. 345–46; p. 345 – "It is commonly held that in Rome of Justin's day even the Memoirs themselves possessed only a quite limited authority."; p. 346 – He sees in Justin "a parity of authority between these two groups of writings".
  59. 59.0 59.1 Skarsaune, Oskar (1987). The Proof from Prophecy: A Study in Justin Martyr's Proof-text Tradition : Text-type, Provenance, Theological Profile. Novum Testamentum. Supplements. E.J. Brill. pp. 130, 163. ISBN 978-90-04-07468-2. Retrieved 10 October 2023. "Justin sometimes had direct access to Matthew and quotes OT texts directly from him. ... (The direct borrowings are most frequent in the Dialogue; in the Apology, Mic 5:1 in 1 Apol. 34:1 may be the only instance.) [130] Diagram of the internal structure of the putative "kerygma source", showing the insertion of scriptural quotation of Mic 5:1 from Mt. 2:6 [163]" 
  60. 60.0 60.1 Koester, (2000) Introduction to the New Testament: History and literature of Early Christianity. 2nd ed., 1982 1st ed., p. 344 – "On the basis of the gospel quotations of the First Apology and the Dialogue with Trypho, one can conclude with great certainty that Justin also had composed a harmony of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (he did not know the Gospel of John), which is lost but was used by his student Tatian for the composition of his famous and influential four-gospel harmony known as the Diatessaron."
  61. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels pp. 360–361; p. 360 – "He knew and quoted especially the Gospels of Matthew and Luke; he must have known the Gospel of Mark as well, though there is only one explicit reference to this Gospel (Dial. 106.3); he apparently had no knowledge of the Gospel of John." footnote #2: "The only possible reference to the Gospel of John is the quotation of a saying in 1 Apol. 61.4.."
  62. Westcott (1875) A general survey of the canon of the New Testament, p. 120 – "To quote prophecy habitually without mentioning the Prophet's name would be to deprive it of half its value; and if it seem strange that Justin does not quote the Evangelists like Prophets, it is no less worthy of notice that he does quote by name the single prophetic book of the New Testament. ... This reference to the Apocalypse appears to illustrate the difference which Justin makes between his quotations from the Prophecies and the Gospels."
  63. Bonwetsch (1914) New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, p. 284; Also see, Martyrdom of Justin Martyr at Wikisource
  64. Skarsaune (2007) Jewish Believers in Jesus pp. 380–81
  65. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels pp. 382–383 – "In the discussion of the prophecy for the place of Jesus' birth (1 Apology 34), Justin only quotes the prophecy of Micah 5:1 and then remarks that Jesus was born in this 'village in the land of Judah which is 35 stades from Jerusalem' (1 Apol. 34:2). No actual narrative material from a gospel is quoted. ... However, the quotation of the text of Micah 5:1 is not given in the text of the LXX; rather, Justin follows the form of the text quoted in Matt. 2:6. ... The form of the quotation that appears in Matt 2:6 departs considerably from both the LXX and the Hebrew text. It is, in fact, a combination of Micah 5:1 and 2 Sam 5:2; only the latter speaks of the prince's function as the Shepard of Israel. The conflated quotation was wholly the work of Matthew. There can be no question that Justin is quoting this Matthean text."
  66. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels p. 365 – "The vast majority of the sayings quoted in Justin's writings are harmonizations of the texts of Matthew and Luke. These harmonizations are not casual or accidental, but systematic and consistent, (this certainly excludes...careless quotation from memory as an explanation for Justin's harmonizations) and they involve the composition of longer sections of parallel sayings from both gospels."
  67. Bellinzoni (1967) Sayings of Jesus in Justin Martyr p. 141 – "It must, however, be emphasized that there is absolutely no evidence that Justin ever composed a complete harmony of the synoptic gospels; his harmonies were of limited scope and were apparently composed for didactic purposes. Whether the thought of a full gospel harmony ever occurred to Justin can only be conjectured, but he apparently never undertook to compose such a work."
  68. Koester (1990) The Ancient Christian Gospels p. 370 footnote 2: "Bellinzoni (Sayings of Jesus in Justin Martyr p. 100) collapses stage (1) [a systematic harmonization of the texts of Matthew and Luke] and (2) [the composition of a cluster of sayings that warn against false prophets] of this process. He assumes that the harmonizations were made specifically for the composition of a catechism. This assumption, however, cannot explain why also the narrative materials quoted by Justin were drawn from a harmonized gospel text."
  69. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels p. 378 – "The question is whether Justin composed these harmonizations and inserted additional phrases just for the purpose of his demonstration of scriptural proof or whether he drew on a written gospel text that was already harmonized and expanded. It seems to me that we are not witnessing the work of an apologist who randomly selects pieces of various gospels and invents additional phrases for the purpose of a tight argument of literal fulfillment of scripture; nor can one solve the complex problems of Justin's quotations of gospel narrative materials by the hypothesis of a ready-made, established text of a harmonized gospel as his source. Rather, his writings permit insights into a school of scriptural exegesis in which careful comparison of written gospels with the prophecies of scripture endeavored to produce an even more comprehensive new gospel text."
  70. Skarsaune (1987) The Proof From Prophecy p. 145 – "1 Apol. 33 contains an elaborate explanation of Is 7:14. ... One notices that the fulfillment report is stylized so as to match the prophecy perfectly. That Justin did not entirely formulate it ad hoc is demonstrated by the close parallel in the Proteuangelium Iakobi (PJ 11:3), where much of the same combination of Matthean and Lukan elements occurs. Probably all three elements (Prophecy – Exposition – Fulfillment report) were present in Justin's source. And – as pointed out by Koester [Koester (1956) p. 67] – it seems the same source is employed once more in Dial. 84."
  71. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels p. 379 – "1 Apol. 33 gives as proof concerning Jesus' birth the prophecy of Isa 7:14. The text of this scriptural passage is presented in a form that is influenced by its quotation in Matt 1:23."
  72. Skarsaune (1987) The Proof From Prophecy pp. 32–34; p. 32 – "It is obvious that Justin's quotation of IS 7:14 in 1 Apol. 33:1 has Mt 1:23 as its direct or indirect source. There are indications in the context which indicate that we should reckon with an intermediary source between Mt and Justin. This intermediary source may account for the deviations from Matthew's text." p. 33 – Diagram of Mt 1:23, Is 7:14 LXX, and 1 Apol. 33:1 p. 34 – "To conclude: Although Is 7:14 has its peculiar problems in Justin, ... we have found confirmation for our thesis concerning Justin and his 'testimony sources': Justin claims the text from Mt 1:23 – probably transmitted through an intermediary source – as the true LXX."
  73. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels pp. 380–81 – "The text of 1 Apol. 33:5 is a harmony of two angelic announcements, the one from Matthew in which the angel calls Joseph in a dream, the other from Luke's narrative of the annunciation. While the passage begins with a sentence from Luke, 'from the Holy Spirit' is interpolated from Matt 1:20. The naming of Jesus and the reason for this name is given according to Matt 1:21. ... But in order to argue for the fulfillment of Isa 7:14 in 1 Apol. 33:3–6, the report of the command to name the child 'Jesus' did not need to refer to the Matthean form. ... It is evident, therefore, that Justin is quoting from a harmonized gospel text... Justin's gospel text must have continued with the remainder of the Lukan pericope of the annunciation. In the introduction to the harmonization of Luke 1:31–32 and Matt 1:20–21, Justin had already alluded to the Lukan continuation of the story: 1 Apol. 33:4 ... recalls Luke 1:35 ("The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.")
  74. Skarsaune (1987) The Proof From Prophecy pp. 143,425; p. 143 – "Taking as a working hypothesis that Justin in 1 Apol. 32/35 and Dial. 52–54 is using a source containing OT prophecies, expositions and fulfillment reports, it is easy to recognize the different procedure in the Apology and the Dialogue. In the Apology, Justin reproduces the source rather faithfully, only rearranging the material... In the Dialogue Justin is much more independent in his handling of his (kerygma) source. He has turned to the primary sources behind the testimony source, that is, he has turned to the LXX and Matthew." p. 425 – "The prooftexts themselves were presented in a free, targumizing version of the standard LXX text, closely adapted to Christian exegesis and polemic concerns. ... Justin may have become heir to Schriftbeweistraktate which were part of a school tradition. These tracts probably also comprised brief fulfillment reports. We encounter this tradition of texts and exposition in its purest form in 1 Apol. 31–53. Here Justin is still almost entirely dependent on the received texts and the adjacent exegesis. ... Justin's main modification is a rearrangement within the series, motivated by Justin's fear that his readers might not recognize some of his prooftexts as real prophecies."
  75. Skarsaune (2007) Jewish Believers in Jesus pp. 381–85; p. 381 – "The reason I have called this hypothetical source the "kerygma source" is twofold. First, it share some striking parallels with the lost writing The Kerygma of Peter (ca. 125) of which a few fragments are quoted in Clement of Alexandria. Second, it seems to have had a creed-like enumeration of Jesus' messianic career, a christological "kerygma", as its basic structure."
  76. Skarsaune (1987) The Proof From Prophecy pp. 154–56; p. 156 – "In the Apology, the idea is the following: Since the prophecies covering the first coming of Christ can be shown to have been fulfilled in great detail, we may safely conclude that those prophecies which predict His glorious second coming will also be fulfilled."
  77. Skarsaune (2007) Jewish Believers in Jesus pp. 388–9 – "The Christology is clearly messianic in function: the 'Son of God' concept is demonstrated functionally as the Messiah being enthroned at God's right hand, ruling, and coming to judge the living and the dead, thus acting in a divine role. On the whole, this Christology is very close to that of Matthew, but also to the Christology of Justin's source in 1 Apol. 31–53."
  78. Skarsaune (1987) The Proof From Prophecy pp. 197–198,391–392; p. 197 – "Justin's narrative is a harmonization of the Synoptic accounts. There are other non-synoptic details in the context, however, which may indicate a non-synoptic source besides the Synoptic Gospels." pp. 391–392 – "I have argued above that the narrative of Jesus' baptism in Dial. 88:3 derives from the "recapitulation" source. ... Men believed that Jesus was the son of Joseph, but the heavenly voice proclaimed him as God's son. Perhaps the mention of the fire is related to this idea: It may have been conceived of as a purifying or testing fire. ... Jesus at his baptism was tested as God's son by the fire, but not made God's son at his baptism. This, I gather, is also the idea embodied in Justin's narrative: Jesus was not made or established as God's son in his baptism, but he was proved to be God's son – proved by testing, or by conquering the fire."
  79. Skarsaune (1987) The Proof From Prophecy pp. 222–23,238,383–84,393; p. 384 – "In the temptation story, Christ as the Son of God, the second Adam, is tested. The temptation follows immediately after the heavenly voice has proclaimed 'Thou art my son...'. This is especially clear in Dial. 103:5f. ... The special relevance of this passage is that it proves how deeply the recapitulation idea is integrated into Justin's inherited material. The etymology given for Satanas has a special function: It proves that the 'Satanas' encountered by Jesus in his temptation was the same as the 'serpent' encountered by Adam – Satanas means 'apostate serpent', i.e. the serpent of Gen. 3. In other words: Jesus met the same adversary as the first Adam." p. 393 – "It is interesting to notice that only two Semitic etymologies provided by Justin both refer to the temptation story: 'Satanas' and 'Israel' (Dial. 103:5 and Dial. 125:4) – and as we have seen already, they presuppose a harmonistic version of the temptation story which is not created ad hoc by Justin. The gist of the whole material is succinctly summarized in Dial. 103:6: As the devil led Adam astray, he thought he could seduce the second Adam also."
  80. Koester (1990) Ancients Christians Gospels pp. 394–395 – "In Dial. 88, Justin twice reports the coming of the holy spirit upon Jesus at his baptism. He gives this report in order to demonstrate the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isa 11:1–3 and Joel 2:28–29 about the coming of the spirit which he had quoted in Dial. 87:2 and 6. ... Finally, the heavenly voice is given by Justin in a citation of Ps. 2:7, while Mark and Matthew present a wording of the heavenly voice which is a conflation of Isa 42:1 and 44:2. Only the Western text of Luke 3:22 presents the heavenly voice in the form that must be presupposed for Justin's source. Justin cannot have been the author of this form of the heavenly voice; he had no special interest in proving the fulfillment of this scriptural text, although he is quite aware of its appearance in scripture as a word of David, i.e., a psalm that David wrote. That Justin's source already contained this form of the heavenly voice is confirmed in Dial. 103:6, where he refers to it once more in passing; introducing a remark about Jesus' temptation, he again quotes the exact text of Luke 3:22 D = Ps. 2:7."
  81. Koester (1990) Ancients Christians Gospels p. 395 – "In order to prove the fulfillment of the prophecies of Isa 11:1–3 and Joel 2:28–29, Justin only had to report the coming of the spirit upon Jesus. But not only does he add the report about the heavenly voice, he also mentions 'that a fire was lit in the Jordan'. Nothing in the context of Justin's discussion requires a mention of this phenomenon. It must have been part of the text Justin was quoting."
  82. Rokeah (2002) Justin Martyr and the Jews pp. 20–21 – "The accepted view is that Justin did not know Hebrew. There is clear-cut and overwhelming evidence for Justin's absolute reliance upon the Septuagint. The explanation for any apparent acquaintance or knowledge of Hebrew in Justin's writings should be sought elsewhere: in his sources. ... Dial. 103:5 contains the only two Hebrew–Aramaic etymologies in the entire work: of satan, and of yisrael. The source of these is apparently the work of Aristo of Pella, The Altercation of Jason and Papiscus."
  83. Skarsaune (2007) Jewish Believers in Jesus pp. 399–400; "In Justin's source, the Messiah is presented as God's preexistent Wisdom who has descended to earth, and ascended again to his heavenly glory. ... Here I add another aspect of great significance in Justin's source, namely that Jesus is portrayed as the second and anti-typical Adam. He reverses the fall of Adam by conquering where Adam was conquered. He "recapitulates" in his own story the story of Adam, but with the opposite point of departure, the opposite direction and the opposite result. ... The very point of the (pseudo-)etymology given for Satanas in this passage is to identify the Tempter addressed by Jesus in Matt 4:11 (conflated with Matt 16:23) with the serpent that tempted the first man. In this way the parallelism between the first and second Adam is made plain. Since Justin knew no Hebrew and probably no Aramaic, there is every reason to think he got this midrashic etymology from a source..."
  84. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels p. 361 – "The most striking feature is that these sayings exhibit many harmonizations of the text of Matthew and Luke. However, the simple assumption of a harmonized gospel cannot explain all the peculiarities of the quotations."
  85. Bellinzoni (1967) Sayings of Jesus in Justin Martyr pp. 99–100 – "It has already been argued above that the entire section Apol. 15–17 may have been based on a single source different from the sources underlying the rest of Justin's sayings of Jesus, and I have tried to indicate that this section has many features in common with primitive Christian catechisms."
  86. Bellinzoni (1967) Sayings of Jesus in Justin Martyr pp. 64–67; p. 66 – "the form of the saying in James is a more simple paranetic form than the text of Matthew, where each example is elaborated and where the command is not what one should do but what one should say. It, therefore, appears that the form of the saying in Jas. 5:12 is older than Matthew's version. ... This evidence would seem to indicate that Apol. 16:5 was here based on the text of Mt. 5:34,37 that had either been harmonized in part with Jas. 5:12 or with the parenetic tradition that underlies Jas. 5:12. The evidence of several of the fathers indicates a widespread knowledge of a text similar to Apol. 16:5." (Clem. of Alex. Strom. V 14,99; Clem. of Alex. Strom. VII 11,67; Cyril of Alex. De Ador. et Verit. VI; Eusebius Dem. Ev. III 3,13; Eusebius Comm. in Ps. 14 4; Epiphanius Adv. Her. XIX 6,21; Gregory of Nyssa In Cant. of Cant. Homily XIII)
  87. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels p. 363 – " is not likely that Justin is quoting from the text of Matthew but from a catechism, whose text was influenced by the formulation preserved in Jas 5:12 but not necessarily dependent upon the Epistle of James."
  88. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels pp. 356,365–67; p. 367 – "The method of harmonization includes two different procedures: (1) whenever the texts of Matthew and Luke are closely parallel, either the Matthean or the Lukan phrase or a conflation of both is chosen; (2) whenever the texts of Matthew and Luke differ considerably, as in Matt 7:22 and Luke 13:26, major portions of the two texts are combined; thus, one finds Luke's 'we were eating and drinking' as well as Matthew's 'we prophesied etc.'."
  89. Bellinzoni (1967) Sayings of Jesus in Justin Martyr pp. 22–25; pp. 24–25 – "These consistent features of harmonization found in Apol. 16:11 and Dial. 76:5 leave little doubt that Justin used as a source for these passages a written harmony of Mt. 7:22f and Lk. 13:26f, and this harmonization of Matthew and Luke is further evident in several of the early fathers quoted in the texts below. ... A comparison of this harmonization of Matthew and Luke in the patristic quotations leaves little doubt that Justin used a harmony of Mt. 7:22f and Lk. 13:26f and that this harmony was known to other fathers in substantially the same form as that used by Justin (Origen Contra Celsum II 49; Origen Ev. Jo. XXXII 8,11; Pamphilius Apol. pro Orig. V). Further, the witness of 2 Clement here proves the existence of this harmonization of Matthew and Luke previous to Justin."
  90. Bellinzoni (1967) Sayings of Jesus in Justin Martyr pp. 98–99; p. 99 – "Therefore we can conclude with certainty that these five verses are based on a source that was a carefully composed harmony of material from Matthew and Luke and that was based on the order of Matthew 7."
  91. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels pp. 367–370; p. 369 – "This section of Justin's quotation of Jesus' sayings rests on deliberate and careful composition of the parallel texts of Matthew and Luke, but is also disrupted by interpolations from different contexts." p. 370 – "Thus Justin himself did not compose this cluster of sayings for this particular context. He use an already existing collection."
  92. Bellinzoni (1967) Sayings of Jesus in Justin Martyr p. 100 – "It is, therefore, quite probable from the foregoing discussion that there is underlying Apol. 15–17 a primitive Christian catechism in use in Justin's school in Rome, a catechism that was known in similar form to Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and the author of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, a catechism based primarily on the text of the Sermon on the Mount but that harmonized related material from Mark, Luke, and from other parts of Matthew, and a catechism whose tradition was of great influence in later manuscript witnesses of the synoptic gospels."
  93. Koester (1990) Ancient Christian Gospels p. 375 – "The catechetical character of these clusters of sayings is evident in their usage by Justin ... It is difficult to determine in each instance the degree to which Justin has supplemented and rearranged these collections. But it appears that the catechetical collections already existed and that Justin himself did not compose them."
  94. Skarsaune (1987) The Proof From Prophecy pp. 52–53,148–150,431; p. 150 – "This tract must have had a somewhat other orientation than the source employed by Justin in 1 Apol. 32–35. It was not concerned with a prophecy–fulfillment scheme, but with correspondence between OT texts and Greek mythology." p. 53 – "It is unlikely that it (the text in 1 Apol. 60:9 introduced as a prophecy of Moses) ever occurred in a Bible is more likely that Justin took it from the source which also provided him with the (harmonistic) 'citations' from Plato in A 60. ... In this case we have reason to suspect a tractate of some kind, which included Plato quotations as well." p. 431 – "It remains to be remarked that Justin also has made other additions from sources containing OT material, but these are strictly speaking not parts of the scriptural proof. In 1 Apol. 54f and Dial. 69f Justin has added material from a source which was occupied with demonic imitations of OT Messianic prophecies, and in 1 Apol. 59f he has a little tract on philosophic borrowings from Moses. One should not exclude the possibility that these two blocks of material derive from the same source, which might well be an earlier Christian Apology."
  95. Philippe Bobichon, "Composite Citations and Textual Composition in Justin Martyr" in S. A. Adams and S. M. Ehorn (dir.), Composite Citations in Antiquity: Volume 1: Jewish, Graeco-Roman, and Early Christian Uses, [Library for New Testament Studies, 525], London, Bloomsbury, 2015, pp. 158-181.
  96. Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 7
  97. Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 8
  98. First Apology, Chapter 31
  99. First Apology, chapter 47
  100. First Apology, Chapter 49
  101. First Apology, Chapter 33
  102. First Apology, Chapter 34
  103. First Apology, Chapter 35
  104. Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 31
  105. Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 110
  106. Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 32
  107. First Apology, Chapter 66
  108. Early Christian Fathers | Christian Classics Ethereal Library
  109. Auchincloss, Louis (1964), The Rector of Justin; Houghton Mifflin Company, p. 163.


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