|« Prev||The Text||Next »|
The First Apology of Justin, the Martyr
Plea for a Fair Hearing
1. To the Emperor Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus Caesar, and to Verissimus his son, the Philosopher, and to Lucius the Philosopher, son of Caesar by nature and of Augustus668668Lucius was the son of L. Aelius Verus, Caesar under Hadrian, and after his death was adopted by Antoninus Pius, later emperor. by adoption, a lover of culture, and to the Sacred Senate and the whole Roman people—on behalf of men of every nation who are unjustly hated and reviled, I, Justin, son of Priscus and grandson of Bacchius, of Flavia Neapolis in Syria Palestina, being myself one of them, have drawn up this plea and petition.
2. Reason requires that those who are truly pious and philosophers should honor and cherish the truth alone, scorning merely to follow the opinions of the ancients, if they are worthless. Nor does sound reason only require that one should not follow those who do or teach what is unjust; the lover of truth ought to choose in every way, even at the cost of his own life, to speak and do what is right, though death should take him away. So do you, since you are called pious and philosophers and guardians of justice and lovers of culture, at least give us a hearing—and it will appear if you are really such.669669In form at least this is the captatio benevolentiae, or appeal to the sympathy of the audience, with which a speech opens; the chapter plays on the emperor's surname Pius and the appellation of philosopher, loved by his family, not forgetting the etymology of the latter, "lover of wisdom." For in these pages we do not come before you with flattery, or as if making a speech to win your favor, but asking you to give judgment according to strict and exact inquiry—not, moved by prejudice or respect for superstitious men, or by irrational impulse and long-established evil rumor, giving a vote which would really be against yourselves. For we are firmly convinced that we can suffer no evil unless we are proved to be evildoers or shown to be criminals. You can kill us, but cannot do us any real harm.670670A popular Stoic thought, that no external evil can harm the virtuous man; cf. also Luke 12:4, 5.
3. But so that no one may think that this is an unreasonable and presumptuous utterance, we ask that the charges against us be investigated. If they are shown to be true, [let us] be punished as is proper.671671Omitting, with many editors, the confusing phrase mallon de kolazein ("but rather to punish") as gloss or mistaken correction. But if nobody has proofs against us, true reason does not allow [you] to wrong innocent men because of an evil rumor—or rather [to wrong] yourselves when you decide to pass sentence on the basis of passion rather than judgment. Every honorable man will recognize this as a fair challenge, and only just, that subjects should give a straightforward account of their life and thought, and that rulers similarly should give their decision as followers of piety and philosophy, not with tyrannical violence. From this both rulers and subjects would gain. As one of the ancients said somewhere, "Unless both rulers and those they rule become lovers of wisdom cities cannot prosper."672672A summary of Plato, Republic 473 D-E. It is for us, therefore, to offer to all the opportunity of inspecting our life and teachings, lest we ourselves should bear the blame for what those who do not really know about us do in their ignorance. But it is for you, as reason demands, to give [us] a hearing and show yourselves good judges. For if those who learn [the truth] do not do what is right, they have no defense before God.
4. The mere ascription of a name means nothing, good or bad, except for the actions connected with the name. Indeed as far as the name charged against us goes, we are very gracious people.673673The play between christos and chrēstos, "gentle" or "kind" (cf. Luke 6:35), a more familiar Greek word often confused with it, seems impossible to represent in English; Justin may have been the first to see the apologetic value of the confusion (cf. Tertullian, Apol. 3:5). But we do not think it right to ask for a pardon because of the name if we are proved to be criminals—and on the other hand, if neither the appellation of the name nor our conduct shows us to be wrongdoers, you must face the problem whether in punishing unjustly men against whom nothing is proved you will yourselves owe a penalty to justice. Neither reward nor punishment should follow from a name unless something admirable or evil can actually be shown about it. Among yourselves you do not penalize the accused before conviction; but with us you take the name as proof, although, as far as the name goes, you ought rather to punish our accusers. For we are accused of being Christians; and it is not right to hate graciousness. Again, if one of the accused denies the charge, saying he is not [a Christian], you dismiss him, as having no proof of misconduct against him; but if he confesses that he is one, you punish him because of his confession. You ought rather to investigate the life of the confessor and the renegade, so that it would appear from their actions what sort of person each is. There are those who, learning from Christ their teacher, when they are put to the test encourage others not to deny him—and similarly others whose bad conduct gives some excuse to those who like to accuse all Christians of godlessness and crime. This is entirely improper. There are those who assume the name and costume of philosophers, but do nothing worthy of their profession—as you know, men among the ancients who held and taught opposite views are included under the one name of philosophers. Some of them even taught godlessness, and those who became poets proclaim the impurity of Zeus, with his own children. And you do not restrain those among you who follow such teachings, but even offer prizes and honors to those who thus in beautiful words insult them [the gods].
5. What can all this mean? You do not make judicial inquiries in our case, though we are bound neither to commit crimes nor to hold such godless ideas. Instead, you punish us injudicially without deliberation, driven by unreasoning passion and the whips of evil demons. The truth must be told. In old times evil demons manifested themselves, seducing women, corrupting boys, and showing terrifying sights to men—so that those who did not judge these occurrences rationally were filled with awe. Taken capture by fear and not understanding that these were evil demons, they called them gods and gave each of them the name which each of the demons had chosen for himself. When Socrates tried by true reason and with due inquiry to make these things clear and to draw men away from the demons, they, working through men who delighted in wickedness, managed to have him put to death as godless and impious, saying that he was bringing in new divinities.674674Part of the formal charges against Socrates (Plato, Apol 24 B). And now they do the same kind of thing to us. For these errors were not only condemned among the Greeks by reason, through Socrates, but among the barbarians, by Reason himself, who took form and became man and was called Jesus Christ. In obedience to him we say that the demons who do such things are not only not rightly called gods,675675Or, as in the MS., "upright" (orthous); but the reading theous, first suggested by Thirlby in 1722, seems probable. but are in fact evil and unholy demons, whose actions are in no way like those of men who long after virtue.
6. So, then, we are called godless. We certainly confess that we are godless with reference to beings like these who are commonly thought of as gods, but not with reference to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is untouched by evil. Him, and the Son who came from him, and taught us these things, and the army of the other good angels who follow him and are made like him, and the prophetic Spirit we worship and adore,676676It is barely possible to construe the sentence so that the angels are listed as subjects or recipients of Christ's teaching, along with men, rather than as objects of veneration listed in this surprising position; but this seems unnecessary, especially since Justin is here concerned to contrast the good angels who fallow the Son with the evil demons who oppose him. giving honor in reason and truth, and to everyone who wishes to learn transmitting [the truth] ungrudgingly as we have been taught.
7. But someone will say, "Some [Christians], have been arrested and convicted as criminals." Many at various times, perhaps, if you examine in each case the conduct of those who are accused; but do not condemn [all] because of those previously convicted. We admit in general that just as among the Greeks those who teach what seems best to them are all listed under the name of philosophy, even though their teachings are contradictory, so the name which is now being attacked is common to those among the barbarians who are and those who appear to be wise. They are all listed as Christians. So we ask that the actions of those who are denounced to you be investigated, in order that whoever is convicted may be punished as a criminal, but not as a Christian, and that whoever is shown to be innocent may be freed, committing no crime by being a Christian. We shall not ask you, however, to punish our accusers, for they suffer enough from their own wickedness and their ignorance of the good.
8. Consider that we have said these things for your sake, since when put to trial we can deny [that we are Christians]—but we do not wish to live by telling a lie. For, longing for the life which is eternal and pure, we strive to dwell with God, the Father and Fashioner of all things. We are eager to confess, being convinced and believing that those who have shown to God by their actions that they follow him and long to dwell with him, where no evil can disturb, are able to obtain these things. It is this, in brief, that we look for, and have learned from Christ, and teach. Plato similarly said that Rhadamanthus and Minos would punish the wicked who came before them.677677Gorgias 523 E; Phaedrus 249 A. We say that this is what will happen, but at the hands of Christ—and to the same bodies, reunited with their souls, and destined for eternal punishment, not for a five-hundred-year period only, as he said. If anyone says that this is unbelievable or impossible—at least the mistake affects us and no one else, as long as we are not convicted of any actual crime.
The Faith and Life of Christians
9. Certainly we do not honor with many sacrifices and floral garlands the objects that men have fashioned, set up in temples, and called gods. We know that they are lifeless and dead and do not represent the form of God—for we do not think of God as having the kind of form which some claim that they imitate to be honored—but rather exhibit the names and shapes of the evil demons who have manifested themselves [to men]. You know well enough without our mentioning it how the craftsmen prepare their material, scraping and cutting and molding and beating. And often they make what they call gods out of vessels used for vile purposes, changing and transforming by art merely their appearance. We consider it not only irrational but an insult to God, whose glory and form are ineffable, to give his name to corruptible things which themselves need care. You are well aware that craftsmen in these [things] are impure and—not to go into details—given to all kinds of vice; they even corrupt their own slave girls who work along with them. What an absurdity, that dissolute men should be spoken of as fashioning or remaking gods for public veneration, and that you should appoint such people as guardians of the temples where they are set up—not considering that it is unlawful to think or speak of men as guardians of gods.
10. But we have learned678678"We have received"—the phrase proper to describe the acceptance of a sacred tradition, as in I Cor. 11:23 and 15:1. [from our tradition] that God has no need of material offerings from men, considering that he is the provider of all. We have been taught and firmly believe that he accepts only those who imitate the good things which are his—temperance and righteousness and love of mankind, and whatever else truly belongs to the God who is called by no given name. We have also been taught that in the beginning he in his goodness formed all things that are for the sake of men out of unformed matter, and if they show themselves by their actions worthy of his plan, we have learned that they will be counted worthy of dwelling with him, reigning together and made free from corruption and suffering. For as he made us in the beginning when we were not, so we hold that those who choose what is pleasing to him will, because of that choice, be counted worthy of incorruption and of fellowship [with him]. We did not bring ourselves into being—but as to following after the things that are dear to God, choosing, them by the rational powers which he has given us—this is a matter of conviction and leads us to faith. We hold it to be for the good of all men that they are not prevented from learning these things, but are even urged to [consider] them. For what human laws could not do, that the Word, being divine, would have brought about, if the evil demons had not scattered abroad many false and godless accusations, with the help of the evil desire that is in every man by nature [and expresses itself] in all kinds of ways.679679A reflection perhaps of the Jewish concept of the yetzer hara’ or evil desire in man which is the source of sin (Gen. 6:5). None of this, however, matters to us.
11. When you hear that we look for a kingdom, you rashly suppose that we mean something merely human. But we speak of a Kingdom with God, as is clear from our confessing Christ when you bring us to trial, though we know that death is the penalty for this confession. For if we looked for a human kingdom we would deny it in order to save our lives, and would try to remain in hiding in order to obtain the thing we look for. But since we do not place our hopes on the present [order], we are not troubled by being put to death, since we will have to die somehow in any case.
12. We are in fact of all men your best helpers and allies in securing good order,680680Eirēnē, but obviously with reference to internal peace. convinced as we are that no wicked man, no covetous man or conspirator, or virtuous man either, can be hidden from God, and that everyone goes to eternal punishment or salvation in accordance with the character of his actions. If all men knew this, nobody would choose vice even for a little time, knowing that he was on his way to eternal punishment by fire; every man would follow the self-restrained and orderly path of virtue, so as to receive the good things that come from God and avoid his punishments. There are some who merely try to conceal their wrongdoing because of the laws and punishments which you decree, knowing that since you are only men it is possible for wrongdoers to escape you; if they learned and were convinced that our thoughts as well as our actions cannot be hidden from God they would certainly lead orderly lives, if only because of the consequences; as you must agree. But it seems as if you were afraid of having all men well-behaved, and nobody left for you to punish; this would be the conduct of public executioners, not of good rulers. Such things, we are convinced, are brought about by the evil demons, the ones who demand sacrifices and service from men who live irrationally; but we have not learned [to expect] any unreasonable conduct from you, who aim at piety and philosophy. But if like thoughtless men you prefer custom to truth, then go ahead and do what you can. Rulers who respect reputation rather than truth have as much power as brigands in a desert. The Word himself has shown that you will not succeed, and after God who begat him we know of no ruler more royal or more just than he. For just as all men try to avoid inheriting the poverty or sufferings or disgrace of their ancestors, so the sensible man will not choose whatever the Word forbids to be chosen. He foretold that all these things would happen—our Teacher, I mean, who is the Son and Apostle of God the Father and Master of all, that is, Jesus Christ, from whom we have received the name of Christians. We are sure that all the things taught by him are so, since we see that what he predicted is actually coming to pass. This is God's work, to announce something before it happens and then to show it happening as predicted. I might stop here and add no more, having made clear that we ask for what is just and true. But though I know that it is not easy to change over at once a mind which is bound down by ignorance, I am encouraged to add somewhat to persuade the lover of truth, being sure that one can dispel ignorance by putting truth against it.
13. What sound-minded man will not admit that we are not godless, since we worship the Fashioner of the universe, declaring him, as we have been taught, to have no need of blood and libations and incense, but praising him by the word of prayer and thanksgiving for all that he has given us? We have learned that the only honor worthy of him is, not to consume by fire the things he has made for our nourishment, but to devote them to our use and those in need, in thankfulness to him sending up solemn prayers and hymns for our creation and all the means of health, for the variety of creatures and the changes of the seasons, and sending up our petitions that we may live again in incorruption through our faith in him.681681The reference is primarily if not exclusively to the Eucharist and the Eucharistic prayer. It is Jesus Christ who has taught us these things, having been born for this purpose and crucified under Pontius Pilate, who was procurator in Judea in the time of Tiberius Caesar. We will show that we honor him in accordance with reason, having learned that he is the Son of the true God himself, and holding him to be in the second place and the prophetic Spirit in the third rank. It is for this that they charge us with madness, saying that we give the second place after the unchanging and ever-existing God and begetter of all things to a crucified man, not knowing the mystery involved in this, to which we ask you to give your attention as we expound it.
14. We warn you in advance to be careful, lest the demons whom we have attacked should deceive you and prevent your completely grasping and understanding what we say. For they struggle to have you as their slaves and servants, and now by manifestations in dreams, now by magic tricks, they get hold of all who do not struggle to their utmost for their own salvation—as we do who, after being persuaded by the Word, renounced them682682Specifically in the baptismal renunciation of the devil and all his works. and now follow the only unbegotten God through his Son. Those who once rejoiced in fornication now delight in continence alone; those who made use of magic arts have dedicated themselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who once took most pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need; we who hated and killed one another and would not associate with men of different tribes because of [their different] customs, now after the manifestation of Christ live together and pray for our enemies and try to persuade those who unjustly hate us, so that they, living according to the fair commands of Christ, may share with us the good hope of receiving the same things [that we will] from God, the master of all. So that this may not seem to be sophistry, I think fit before giving our demonstration to recall a few of the teachings which have come from Christ himself. It is for you then, as mighty emperors, to examine whether we have been taught and do teach these things truly. His sayings were short and concise, for he was no sophist, but his word was the power of God.
15. About continence he said this: "Whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in his heart before God."683683Matt. 5:28; Justin's quotations from the Gospels are often somewhat free, and he summarizes or combines without hesitation; but nearly all can be referred primarily to a particular passage. And: "If your right eye offends you, cut it out; it is better for you to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with one eye than with two to be sent into eternal fire."684684Mark 9:47 (Matt. 5:29). And: "Whoever marries a woman who has been put away from another man commits adultery."685685Matt. 5:32 (Luke 16:18). And: "There are some who were made eunuchs by men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake; only not all [are able to] receive this."686686Matt. 19:11,12.
And so those who make second marriages according to human law are sinners in the sight of our Teacher,687687The reference is mainly to remarriage after divorce, though the phrase could cover remarriage of any kind, which many early Christians disliked and some actually condemned. and those who look on a woman to lust after her. For he condemns not only the man who commits the act of adultery, but the man who desires to commit adultery, since not only our actions but our thoughts are manifest to God. Many men and women now in their sixties and seventies who have been disciples of Christ from childhood have preserved their purity; and I am proud that I could point to such people in every nation. Then what shall we say of the uncounted multitude of those who have turned away from incontinence and learned these things? For Christ did not call the righteous or the temperate to repentance, but the ungodly and incontinent and unrighteous. So he said: "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."688688Luke 5:32 (Matt. 9:13; Mark 2:17). For the Heavenly Father wishes the repentance of a sinner rather than his punishment.
This is what he taught on affection for all men: "If you love those who love you, what new thing do you do? for even the harlots do this. But I say to you, Pray for your enemies and love those who hate you and bless those who curse you and pray for those who treat you despitefully."689689Matt. 5:46 (Luke 6:32; like many of us, Justin finds it easy to exchange one set of Gospel characters for another—here "harlots" for Matthew's "publicans" and Luke's "sinners"); Luke 6:27, 28.
That we should share with those in need and do nothing for [our] glory he said these things: "Give to everyone who asks and turn not away him who wishes to borrow. For if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what new thing do you do? Even the publicans do this.690690Matt. 5:42 (Luke 6:34). But as for you, do not lay up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break in, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts.691691Matt. 6:19, 20. For what will it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, but lose his own soul? Or what will he give in exchange for it?692692Matt. 16:26 (Luke 9:25). Lay up treasures therefore in the heavens, where neither moth nor rust corrupts." And: "Be kind and merciful, as your Father is kind and merciful, and makes his sun to rise on sinners and righteous and wicked.693693Luke 6:35, 36 (Matt. 5:45). Do not worry as to what you will eat or what you will wear. Are you not better than the birds and the beasts? and God feeds them. So do not worry as to what you will eat or what you will wear, for your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things. But seek the Kingdom of Heaven, and all these things will be added to you.694694Matt. 6:25, 26, 33 (Luke 12:22, 24, 31). For where his treasure is, there is the mind of man."695695Matt. 6:21 (Luke 12:34); Justin properly recognizes that the Greek nous is a fair equivalent for the Hebraic "heart." And: "Do not do these things to be seen of men, for otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven."696696Matt. 6:1.
16. About being long-suffering and servants to all and free from anger, this is what he said: "To him that smites you on one cheek turn the other also, and to him that takes away your cloak do not deny your tunic either.697697Luke 6:29 (Matt. 5:39, 40). Whoever is angry is worthy of the fire. And whoever compels you to go one mile, follow him for two. Let your good works shine before men, that they as they see may wonder at your Father who is in heaven."698698Matt. 5:22, 41, 16.
For we ought not to quarrel; he has not wished us to imitate the wicked, but rather by our patience and meekness to draw all men from shame and evil desires. This we can show in the case of many who were once on your side but have turned from the ways of violence and tyranny, overcome by observing the consistent lives of their neighbors, or noting the strange patience of their injured acquaintances, or experiencing the way they did business with them.
About not swearing at all, but always speaking the truth, this is what he commanded: "Swear not at all; but let your yea be yea and your nay nay. What is more than these is from the evil one."699699Matt. 5:34, 37.
That God only should be worshiped he showed us when he said: "The greatest commandment is: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve with all thy heart and all thy strength, the Lord who made thee."700700A surprising combination of Matt. 4:10 (Luke 4:8) and Mark 12:30 (Matt. 22:37). And: "When one came to him and said, Good Teacher, he answered and said, There is none good, except only God who made all things."701701Mark 10:17, 18 (Luke 18:18, 19).
Those who are found not living as he taught should know that they are not really Christians, even if his teachings are on their lips, for he said that not those who merely profess but those who also do the works will be saved. For he said this: "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. For whoever hears me and does what I say hears him who sent me. Many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not eat in your name and drink and do mighty works? And then I will say to them, Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.702702Matt. 7:21–23. Then there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when the righteous will shine as the sun, but the wicked will be sent into eternal fire. For many will come in my name clothed outwardly in sheep's clothing, but being inwardly ravening wolves; by their works you will know them. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."703703Matt. 13:42, 43; 7:15, 16, 19.
So we ask that you too should punish those who do not live in accordance with his teachings, but merely say that they are Christians.
17. More even than others we try to pay the taxes and assessments to those whom you appoint, as we have been taught by him. For once in his time some came to him and asked whether it were right to pay taxes to Caesar. And he answered, "Tell me, whose image is on the coin." They said, "Caesar's." And he answered them again, "Then give what is Caesar's to Caesar and what is God's to God."704704Matt. 22:20, 21 (Mark 12:14–17; Luke 20:22–35). So we worship God only, but in other matters we gladly serve you, recognizing you as emperors and rulers of men, and praying that along with your imperial power you may also be found to have a sound mind. If you pay no attention to our prayers and our frank statements about everything, it will not injure us, since we believe, or rather are firmly convinced, that every man will suffer in eternal fire in accordance with the quality of his actions, and similarly will be required to give account for the abilities which he has received from God, as Christ told us when he said, "To whom God has given more, from him more will be required."705705Luke 12:48.
18. Look at the end of each of the former emperors, how they died the common death of all; and if this were merely a departure into unconsciousness, that would be a piece of luck for the wicked. But since consciousness continues for all who have lived, and eternal punishment awaits, do not fail to be convinced and believe that these things are true. For the oracles of the dead and the revelations of innocent children, the invoking of [departed] human souls, the dream senders and guardians of the magi, and what is done by those who know about such things—all this should convince you that souls are still conscious after death. Then there are the men who are seized and torn by the spirits of the dead, whom everyone calls demon-possessed and maniacs, and the oracles so well-known among you, of Amphilochus and Dodona and Pytho, and any others of that kind, and the teaching of writers, Empedocles and Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates, and the ditch in Homer and the descent of Odysseus to visit the dead,706706Odyssey 11:25 ff:; this chapter is mainly an argumentum ad hominem—Justin's opponents ought not to object to the idea of survival after death, since they had much of the same in their own traditions. and other stories like this. Treat us at least like these; we believe in God not less than they do, but rather more, since we look forward to receiving again our own bodies, though they be dead and buried in the earth, declaring that nothing is impossible to God.
19. Indeed, what would seem more incredible to an observer than if we were not in the body and someone should say that from a single drop of human seed it were possible for the form that we see to come into being, with bones and nerves and flesh? Consider this hypothesis; if you were not such as you are, born of such parents, and someone were to show you the human seed and a picture of a man, and assure you that the one could grow into the other, would you believe it before you saw it happening? No one would dare to deny [that you wouldn't]. In the same way unbelief prevails about the resurrection of the dead because you have never seen an instance of it. But as you at first would not have believed that from a little drop such beings [as men] could develop, yet you see it happening, so consider that it is possible for human bodies, dissolved and scattered in the earth like seeds, to rise again in due time by God's decree and be clothed with incorruption.707707Cf. I Cor., ch. 15, especially vs. 35–50. I cannot imagine how any adequate concept of divine power can be held by those who say that everything returns into that from which it came and that not even God can do anything more than this. But I may remark that they would not have believed it possible for such creatures as they are to have come into being, yet they see themselves as they are, and indeed the whole world [as it is], and what they were made from. We have learned that it is better to believe things impossible to our own nature and to men than to disbelieve like others, since we know that our Teacher Jesus Christ said, "The things that are impossible with men are possible with God."708708Luke 18:27 (Matt. 19:26; Mark 10:27). And: "Fear not those who put you to death and after that can do no more, but fear him who after death is able to cast both body and soul into Gehenna."709709Luke 12:4, 5 (Matt. 10:28). Gehenna is the place where those who live unrighteously will be punished, and those who do not believe that these things will come to pass which God has taught through Christ.
20. Both Sybil and Hystaspes declared that there will be a destruction of corruptible things by fire.710710Teste David cum Sibylla; the reference is to the Sibylline Books (Jewish but thought to be Gentile), and the legendary Persian sage Hystaspes, of whom more may have been told in Mithraic circles than preserved records show. Those who are called Stoic philosophers teach that God himself will be resolved into fire, and the universe come into being again by return. We think that God, the Maker of all, is superior to changeable things. But if on some points we agree with the poets and philosophers whom you honor, and on others [teach] more completely and more worthily of God, and are the only ones who offer proof, why are we above all hated unjustly? When we say that all things have been ordered and made by God we appear to offer the teaching of Plato—in speaking of a coming destruction by fire, that of the Stoics; in declaring that the souls of the unrighteous will be punished after death, still remaining in conscious existence, and those of the virtuous, delivered from punishments, will enjoy happiness, we seem to agree with [various] poets and philosophers; in declaring that men ought not to worship the works of their hands we are saying the same things as the comedian Menander and others who have said this, for they declared that the Fashioner is greater than what he has formed.711711A fair statement of Platonic ideas, somewhat less so of Stoic; Menander is quoted somewhat to this effect in Pseudo Justin, De Monarchia 5.
Superiority of Christianity to Paganism
21. In saying that the Word, who is the first offspring of God, was born for us without sexual union, as Jesus Christ our Teacher, and that he was crucified and died and after rising again ascended into heaven we introduce nothing new beyond [what you say of] those whom you call sons of Zeus. You know how many sons of Zeus the writers whom you honor speak of—Hermes, the hermeneutic Word and teacher of all712712By allegorical interpretation of his mythological function as messenger of Zeus.; Asclepius, who was also a healer and after being struck by lightning ascended into heaven—as did Dionysus who was torn in pieces; Heracles, who to escape his torments threw himself into the fire; the Dioscuri born of Leda and Perseus of Danae; and Bellerophon who, though of human origin, rode on the [divine] horse Pegasus.713713Legends cited correctly except that Bellerophon's ride on Pegasus did not take him to heaven. Need I mention Ariadne and those who like her are said to have been placed among the stars? and what of your deceased emperors, whom you regularly think worthy of being raised to immortality, introducing a witness who swears that he saw the cremated Caesar ascending into heaven from the funeral pyre?714714As reported in the cases of Julius Caesar and Augustus (Suetonius, Augustus, ch. 100); it may have become a form on later occasions. Nor is it necessary to remind you what kind of actions are related of each of those who are called sots of Zeus, except [to point out] that they are recorded for the benefit and instruction of students—for all consider it a fine thing to be imitators of the gods.715715To be understood ironically, and so not requiring emendation. Far be it from every sound mind to entertain such a concept of the deities as that Zeus, whom they call the ruler and begetter of all, should have been a parricide and the son of a parricide, and that moved by desire of evil and shameful pleasures he descended on Ganymede and the many women whom he seduced, and that his sons after him were guilty of similar actions. But, as we said before, it was the wicked demons who did these things. We have been taught that only those who live close to God in holiness and virtue attain to immortality, and we believe that those who live unjustly and do not reform will be punished in eternal fire.
22. Now if God's Son, who is called Jesus, were only an ordinary man, he would be worthy because of his wisdom to be called Son of God, for all authors call God father of men and gods. When we say, as before, that he was begotten by God as the Word of God in a unique manner beyond ordinary birth, this should be no strange thing for you who speak of Hermes as the announcing word from God. If somebody objects that he was crucified, this is in common with the sons of Zeus, as you call them, who suffered, as previously listed. Since their fatal sufferings are narrated as not similar but different, so his unique passion should not seem to be any worse—indeed I will, as I have undertaken, show, as the argument proceeds, that he was better; for he is shown to be better by his actions. If we declare that he was born of a virgin, you should consider this something in common with Perseus. When we say that he healed the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind,716716Following the suggested reading pērous, "blind" (or "maimed") for ponērous, "wicked." and raised the dead, we seem to be talking about things like those said to have been done by Asclepius.
23. In order to make this clear to you I will present the evidence that the things we say, as disciples of Christ and of the prophets who came before him, are the only truths and older than all the writers who have lived, and we ask to be accepted, not because we say the same things as they do, but because we are speaking the truth—[second] that Jesus Christ alone was really begotten as Son of God, being his Word and First-begotten and Power, and becoming man by his will he taught us these things for the reconciliation and restoration of the human race—and [third] that before he came among men as man, there were some who, on account of the already mentioned wicked demons, told through the poets as already having occurred the myths they had invented, just as now they are responsible for the slanders and godless deeds alleged against us, of which there is neither witness nor demonstration.717717As this section stands, Justin distinguished between mythmakers and poets, which seems unduly complex, and several emendations have been suggested that would identify them; it may be that after referring to the demons Justin continues as if they were the subject of the sentence, which is in any case clumsily phrased.
24. The first point is that though we say the same as do the Greeks, we only are hated, because of the name of Christ. We do no wrong but are put to death as offenders [because of our worship, though] others everywhere worship trees and rivers, mice and cats and crocodiles and many kinds of irrational animals,718718A reference primarily to the animal deities of Egypt, which amused pagan as well as Jewish and Christian observers. and the same objects are not honored by all, but different ones in different places, so that all are impious to each other, because of not having the same objects of worship. Yet this is the one complaint you have against us, that we do not worship the same gods that you do, and do not bring libations and offerings of fat to the dead, crowns for their statues, and sacrifices. Yet, as you know well, the same beings are gods to some and wild animals to others, while still others think of them as sacred victims.
25. Secondly, out of every race of men we who once worshiped Dionysus the son of Semele and Apollo the son of Leto, who in their passion for men did things which it is disgraceful even to speak of, or who worshiped Persephone and Aphrodite, who were driven mad by [love of] Adonis and whose mysteries you celebrate, or Asclepius or some other of those who are called gods, now through Jesus Christ despise them, even at the cost of death, and have dedicated ourselves to the unbegotten and impassible God. We do not believe that he ever descended in mad passion on Antiope or others, nor on Ganymede, nor was he, receiving help through Thetis, delivered by that hundred-handed monster, nor was he, because of this, anxious that Thetis’ son Achilles should destroy so many Greeks for the sake of his concubine Briseis.719719Iliad 2:3, 4. We pity those who believe [such stories], for which we know that the demons are responsible.
26. A third point is that after Christ's ascent into heaven the demons put forward various men who said that they were gods, and you not only did not persecute them, but thought them worthy of honors. One was a certain Simon, a Samaritan from the village of Gitta, who in the time of Claudius Caesar, through the arts of the demons who worked in him, did mighty works of magic in your imperial city of Rome and was thought to be a god. He has been honored among you as a god by a statue, which was set up on the River Tiber, between the two bridges, with this inscription in Latin, SIMONI DEO SANCTO.720720"To Simon the holy god"; it is commonly assumed that Justin saw and misinterpreted the dedication to the Sabine god Semo Sancus, Semoni Sanco Deo, which was discovered on the island in the Tiber at Rome in 1574. Almost all the Samaritans, and a few in other nations, confess this man as their first god and worship him as such, and a woman named Helena, who traveled around with him in those days, and had formerly been a public prostitute, they say was the first Concept produced from him. Then we know of a certain Menander, who was also a Samaritan, from the village of Capparetaea, who had been a disciple of Simon's, and was also possessed by the demons. He deceived many at Antioch by magic arts, and even persuaded his followers that he would never die; there are still some who believe this [as they learned] from him. Then there is a certain Marcion of Pontus, who is still teaching his converts that there is another God greater than the Fashioner. By the help of the demons he has made many in every race of men to blaspheme and to deny God the Maker of the universe, professing that there is another who is greater and has done greater things than he. As we said, all who derive [their opinions] from these men are called Christians, just as men who do not share the same teachings with the philosophers still have in common with them the name of philosophy, thus brought into disrepute. Whether they commit the shameful deeds about which stories are told—the upsetting of the lamp, promiscuous intercourse, and the meals of human flesh,721721A reference to the charges of incest (facilitated by darkness) and cannibalism which other Apologists (Athenagoras, Tertullian, Minucius Felix) treat at length. we do not know; but we are sure that they are neither persecuted nor killed by you, on account of their teachings anyway. I have compiled and have on hand a treatise against all the heresies which have arisen, which I will give you if you would like to consult it.
27. That we may avoid all injustice722722Following the emendation mēden adikomen for mēdena diōkomen ("that we may persecute no one") proposed by Stephanus in 1551. and impiety, we have been taught that to expose the newly born is the work of wicked men—first of all because we observe that almost all [foundlings], boys as well as girls, are brought up for prostitution. As the ancients are said to have raised herds of oxen or goats or sheep or horses in their pastures, so now [you raise children] just for shameful purposes, and so in every nation a crowd of females and hermaphrodites and doers of unspeakable deeds are exposed as public prostitutes. You even collect pay and levies and taxes from these, whom you ought to exterminate from your civilized world.723723Oikoumenē, the inhabited or civilized world, assumed by Greeks and Romans to be identical with the Empire. And anyone who makes use of them may in addition to [the guilt of] godless, impious, and intemperate intercourse, by chance be consorting with his own child or relative or brother. Some even prostitute their own children and wives, and others are admittedly mutilated for purposes of sodomy, and treat this as part of the mysteries of the mother of the gods—while beside each of those whom you think of as gods a serpent is depicted as a great symbol and mystery. You charge against us the actions that you commit openly and treat with honor, as if the divine light were overthrown and withdrawn—which of course does no harm to us, who refuse to do any of these things, but rather injures those who do them and then bring false witness [against us].
28. Among us the chief of the evil demons is called the serpent and Satan and the devil, as you can learn by examining our writings. Christ has foretold that he will be cast into fire with his host and the men who follow him, [all] to be punished for endless ages. God delays doing this for the sake of the human race, for he foreknows that there are some yet to be saved by repentance, even perhaps some not yet born. In the beginning he made the race of men endowed with intelligence, able to choose the truth and do right, so that all men are without excuse before God, for they were made with the powers of reason and observation. Anyone who does not believe that God cares for these things either manages to profess that he does not exist, or makes out that he exists but approves of evil or remains [unaffected] like a stone, and that virtue and vice are not realities, but that men consider things good or bad by opinion alone; this is the height of impiety and injustice.
29. And again [we do not expose children] lest some of them, not being picked up, should die and we thus be murderers. But to begin with, we do not marry except in order to bring up children, or else, renouncing marriage, we live in perfect continence.724724And hence no unwanted children are born. To show you that promiscuous intercourse is not among our mysteries just recently one of us submitted a petition to the Prefect Felix in Alexandria, asking that a physician be allowed to make him a eunuch, for the physicians there said they were not allowed to do this without the permission of the Prefect. When Felix would by no means agree to endorse [the petition], the young man remained single, satisfied with [the approval of] his own conscience and that of his fellow believers.725725An overliteral following of Matt. 19:12, paralleled by "Origen's rash act" in the following century. I think it proper in this connection to remind you of the recent case of Antinous, whom everybody, through fear, hastened to worship as a god, though knowing perfectly well who he was and where he came from.726726Hadrian's favorite, drowned in the Nile in A.D. 130, who was made the presiding deity of the new city of Antinoopolis.
The Argument from Prophecy
30. But lest someone should argue against us, What excludes [the supposition] that this person whom you call Christ was a man, of human origin, and did these miracles you speak of by magic arts, and so appeared to be God's Son?—we will bring forward our demonstration. We do not trust in mere hearsay, but are forced to believe those who prophesied [these things] before they happened, because we actually see things that have happened and are happening as was predicted. This will, as we think, be the greatest and surest demonstration for you too.
31. There were among the Jews certain men who were prophets of God, through whom the prophetic Spirit announced in advance events that were to occur. The successive rulers of the Jews carefully preserved their prophecies, as they were spoken when they prophesied, in their own Hebrew language, [and] as arranged in books by the prophets themselves. When Ptolemy, king of Egypt, was founding a library, and set out to gather the writings of all mankind, he learned about these prophecies and sent to Herod, then king of the Jews, asking him to send him the prophetic books. King Herod sent them, written in the aforementioned Hebrew language. Since their contents were not intelligible to the Egyptians, he again sent and asked him to send men who could translate them into Greek.727727A brief summary of the legend of the origin of the Septuagint, with a surprising substitution of King Herod for the high priest contemporary with Ptolemy Philadelphus (285–247 B.C.). This was done, and the books remain in the hands of the Egyptians down to the present; the Jews everywhere have them too. But though they read them, they do not understand what they say, but consider us their enemies and opponents, putting us to death or punishing us, as you do, whenever they can, as you can realize—for in the Jewish War recently past Bar-Cochba, the leader of the revolt of the Jews, ordered Christians only to be subjected to terrible punishments, unless they would deny Jesus the Christ and blaspheme [him].728728The Second Jewish Revolt, A.D. 132–135. We find it predicted in the books of the prophets that Jesus our Christ would come, born of a virgin, grown to manhood, healing every sickness and every disease and raising the dead, hated and unacknowledged and crucified, dying and rising again and ascending into heaven, both really being and being called Son of God. [We find also that] men sent by him would proclaim these things to every race of mankind, and that men of the Gentiles especially would believe in him. This was prophesied over five thousand years before he appeared, then three thousand, and two thousand, and again one thousand, and once more eight hundred [years before].7297295000 B.C. may be intended for the promises in Gen., ch. 3; the other dates do not seem to refer to any particular prophets; in general Justin gives high figures for Old Testament chronology (1500 B.C. for David, ch. 42). For there were new prophets again and again as the generations passed.
32. Thus Moses, who was the first of the prophets, said in these very words: "The ruler shall not depart from Judah, nor the governor from his thighs, until he come for whom it is reserved; and he shall be the expectation of the nations, binding his colt to the vine, washing his robe in the blood of the grape."730730Gen. 49:10, 11. You can inquire precisely and learn up to whose time the Jews had their own ruler and king. [It was] until the manifestation of Jesus Christ, our teacher and the expounder of the unrecognized prophecies, as was predicted by the divine and holy prophetic Spirit through Moses, that a ruler would not depart from the Jews until he should come for whom the Kingdom is reserved. For Judah was the forefather of the Jews, after whom they are called Jews; and after his [Christ's] appearance you began to rule over the Jews and gained control of their whole land. The saying, He shall be the expectation of the nations, is a testimony that men of every nation will look forward to his coming again, as you can clearly see and be convinced by the fact, for men of every race are looking for him who was crucified in Judea, immediately after which the land of the Jews fell to you as spoil of war. Binding his foal to the vine and washing his robe in the blood of the grape is a symbolic exhibition of the things that would happen to Christ, and his actions. For an ass's foal was standing at the entrance of a village, bound to a vine,731731The prophecy has in this detail influenced Justin's version of the Gospel story (this is not followed in the treatment of the same passage in Dial., ch. 53). which he then ordered his companions to bring to him; when it was brought he mounted and sat on it and entered into Jerusalem, where was the great Temple of the Jews which you afterward overthrew. After this he was crucified, so as to fulfill the rest of the prophecy. For washing his robe in the blood of the grape was predictive of the Passion which he was to suffer, cleansing by his blood those who believe on him. For the men who believe on him in whom dwells the seed of God, the Word, are what the divine Spirit through the prophet calls a garment. The blood of the grape that was spoken of was a sign that he who was to appear would have blood, though not from human seed but by divine power. The first Power after God the Father and Master of all, even [his] Son, is the Word—how he was made flesh and became man we shall describe below. As the blood of the grape was not made by man, but by God, so it was testified, that [his] blood should not come from human seed, but from divine power, as we said before. Isaiah, another prophet, prophesying the same things in other words, said: "A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a flower will come forth from the root of Jesse, and upon his arm will the nations hope."732732Isa. 11:1 and 51:5, combined with Num. 24:17; Justin's Old Testament quotations combine the Prophets as freely as his Gospel quotations mingle the Evangelists. The shining star has risen and the flower has grown from the root of Jesse—this is Christ. For he was by the power of God conceived by a virgin of the seed of Jacob, who was the father of Judah, the father of the Jews, as has been explained; Jesse was his ancestor, according to the oracle, and he was the son of Jacob and Judah by lineal succession.
33. And again, hear how it was literally prophesied by Isaiah that he would be born of a virgin. He said, "Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they will call his name, God with us."733733Isa. 7:14 (Matt. 1:23). For God testified in advance through the prophetic Spirit that things which are unbelievable and thought impossible among men would happen, so that when this should occur it would not be disbelieved, but received with faith because it had been predicted. Lest some, not understanding the prophecy which has been referred to, should bring against us the reproach that we bring against the poets who say that Zeus came upon women for the sake of sexual pleasure, we will try to explain these words clearly. For "Behold, the Virgin shall conceive" means that the Virgin would conceive without intercourse. For if she had had intercourse with anyone, she would not have been a virgin; but God's power, coming upon the Virgin, overshadowed her, and caused her to conceive while still remaining a virgin. The angel of God who was sent to this Virgin at the time brought her this good news, saying, "Behold, you will conceive in the womb by a Holy Spirit and will bear a son; and he will be called Son of the Highest and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins,"734734Luke 1:31, 32; Matt. 1:21. as those who recorded everything about our Saviour Jesus Christ have taught us. We believe them, since the prophetic Spirit through the above-mentioned Isaiah said that this would happen, as we noted before. The Spirit and the Power from God cannot rightly be thought of as anything else than the Word, who is also the First-born of God, as Moses the above-mentioned prophet testified. So this [Spirit], coming upon the Virgin and overshadowing her, made her pregnant—not by intercourse, but by [divine] power.735735I.e., the Spirit here referred to is not the prophetic Spirit, but the Word, causing his own incarnation. The name Jesus in Hebrew means the same as Saviour in Greek, and so the angel said to the Virgin, "And you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Even you will agree, I think, that those who prophesied were inspired by none other than the divine Word.
34. Hear also in what part of the earth he was to be born, as another prophet, Micah, foretold. He said, "And you Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a Ruler who will shepherd my people."736736Micah 5:2 (Matt. 2:6). This is a village in the land of the Jews, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, in which Jesus Christ was born, as you can learn from the census which was taken under Quirinius, who was your first procurator in Judea.737737Luke 2:2, but with Quirinius thought of as a predecessor of Pontius Pilate.
35. How the Christ after his birth was to live hidden from other men until he grew to manhood, as also happened—hear the predictions that refer to this. There is this: "A child is born to us, and a young man is given to us, and the government will be upon his shoulders—"738738Isa. 9:6; with a more systematic writer one would assume that something was missing early in this chapter; but probably the reference to the cross leads Justin to that topic, and what might be expected here appears in ch. 48. testifying the power of the cross, which when crucified he took upon his shoulders, as will be shown more clearly as the argument proceeds. Again the same prophet Isaiah, inspired by the prophetic Spirit, said: "I have stretched out my hands over a disobedient and contradicting people, over those who walk in a way that is not good. They now ask judgment of me and dare to draw near to God."739739Isa. 65:2; 58:2. Again in other words he says through another prophet: "They pierced my hands and feet, and cast lots for my clothing."740740Ps. 22 (LXX, 21): 16, 18. Now David, the king and prophet, who said this, suffered none of these things. But Jesus Christ stretched out his hands when he was crucified by the Jews, who contradicted him and denied that he was Christ. As the prophet said, "They placed him in mockery on the judgment seat and said, judge us."741741Mark 15:18 and parallels; the apocryphal Gospel of Peter corresponds closely to Justin's wording. "They pierced my hands and feet," was an announcement of the nails that were fastened in his hands and feet on the cross. After fastening him to the cross, those who crucified him cast lots for his clothing and divided it among themselves. That these things really happened, you can learn from the Acts of what was done under Pontius Pilate. And that it was distinctly prophesied that he would take his seat on the foal of an ass and so enter Jerusalem, we will quote the words of the prophecy of another prophet, Zephaniah, as follows: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold your King comes to you, meek, and riding upon an ass and a colt the foal of a donkey."742742Zech. 9:9 (Matt. 21:5); the prophet is named correctly in Dial., ch. 53. Justin may refer to the Acta Pilati, which contain mainly the material indicated here and in ch. 48; on the other hand these references may be to the Gospels, or to a report of Pilate's assumed to exist, and have given the hint for the apocryphal Acta.
36. When you hear the words of the prophets spoken as in a particular character, do not think of them as spoken by the inspired men themselves, but by the divine Word that moved them. For sometimes he speaks as predicting the things that are to happen, sometimes he speaks as in the character of God the Master and Father of all, sometimes as in the character of Christ, sometimes in the character of the people answering the Lord or his Father. You can see the same thing in your own writers, where one man is the author of the whole work but introduces different characters in dialogue. Not understanding this, the Jews who are in possession of the books of the prophets did not recognize Christ even when he came, and they hate us who declare that he has come and show that he was crucified by them as had been predicted.
37. So that you may see this clearly, here is the kind of words spoken in the character of the Father through the above-mentioned prophet Isaiah: "The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib, but Israel knows me not and my people does not understand. Woe, sinful nation, people full of sins, wicked seed, lawless children, you have forsaken the Lord."743743Isa. 1:3, 4.
Again in another place, where the same prophet speaks similarly for the Father: "What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool."744744Isa. 66:1. And again elsewhere: "My soul hates your new moons and sabbaths, I cannot endure the great day of the fast, and [your] idleness; nor when you come to appear before me will I hear you. Your hands are full of blood, and if you bring offerings of fine flour, [and] incense, it is an abomination to me; the fat of lambs and blood of bulls I do not wish. For who demanded this at your hands? But loose every bond of iniquity, tear apart the knots of the contracts of violence, cover the homeless and naked, deal out your bread to the hungry."745745Isa. 1:11–15 (abridged and out of order); ch. 58:6, 7. You can now notice the kind of things that were taught by the prophets as from God.
38. When the prophetic Spirit speaks in the character of the Christ, he says, "I stretched out my hands over a disobedient and contradicting people, over those who walk in a way that is not good."746746Isa. 65:2. And again: "I have offered my back to scourges and my cheeks to blows, and I did not turn away my face from the shame of spittings. And the Lord became my helper, therefore I was not confounded, but set my face as a hard rock, and I knew that I would not be put to shame, for he who justifies me is at hand."747747Isa. 50:6–8. Again when he says: "They cast lots for my clothing, and pierced my feet and hands. I lay down and slept and rose up again, for the Lord supported me."748748Ps. 22 (21): 18, 16 and Ps. 3:5. Again when he says, "They spoke with their lips, they shook their heads, saying, Let him deliver himself."749749Ps. 22 (21): 7, 8. All these things were done by the Jews to Christ, as you can learn. For when he was crucified they stuck out their lips and shook their heads, saying, "He who raised the dead, let him now save himself."750750Cf. Mark 15:29–32.
39. When the prophetic Spirit speaks as prophesying things to come, he says: "For the law will go forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem, and he shall judge in the midst of the nations and rebuke much people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn to war any more."751751Micah 4:2, 3 (Isa. 2:3, 4). We can show you that this has really happened. For a band of twelve men went forth from Jerusalem, and they were common men, not trained in speaking, but by the power of God they testified to every race of mankind that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the Word of God; and [now] we who once killed each other not only do not make war on each other, but in order not to lie or deceive our inquisitors we gladly die for the confession of Christ. For it would be possible for us to follow the saying, "The tongue has sworn, the mind remains unsworn."752752A familiar quotation from Euripides, Hippolytus 612. But it would be ridiculous when the soldiers whom you have recruited and enrolled stick to their loyalty to you753753Literally "your confession," suggesting a parallel between military loyalty following on the soldier's oath (sacramentum) and Christian loyalty, following the baptismal promises. before their own life and parents and native land and all their families, though you have nothing incorruptible to offer them, for us, who desire incorruption, not to endure all things in order to receive what we long for from Him who is able to give it.
40. Hear now how predictions were made about those who were to proclaim his teaching and testify to his manifestation; for the above-mentioned prophet and king said this through the prophetic Spirit: "Day to day utters speech, and night to night shows forth knowledge. There is no language or speech where their words are not heard. Their sound went out into all the earth, and their words to the end of the inhabited world. He set his tabernacle in the sun, and he himself, as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, will rejoice like a giant to run his course."754754Ps. 19 (18):2–5 (cf. Rom. 10:18). In addition to these I have thought it good and appropriate to mention some other prophetic words spoken through the same David, from which you may learn how the prophetic Spirit exhorts men to live, and how he testifies of the conspiracy which was formed by Herod the king of the Jews and the Jews themselves and Pilate, who was your procurator among them, with his soldiers, against Christ. [He also testifies] that he would be believed in by men of every race, and that God calls him his Son and has declared that he will subject his enemies to him, and how the demons try as far as they can to escape the power of God the Father and Master of all and that of his Christ, and how God calls all men to repentance before the day of judgment comes. These words were as follows:755755Ps. 1; 2.
"Blessed is the man who has not walked in the council of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor taken his seat upon the seat of pestilence, but his will is in the law of the Lord, and in his law will he meditate day and night. And he shall be like the tree which is planted by the watercourses, which will give its fruit in its season, and his leaf will not wither, and whatever he does will be prospered. Not so are the ungodly, not so, but rather like the chaff which the wind blows away from the face of the earth. Therefore the ungodly will not arise in judgment, nor sinners in the council of the righteous, because the Lord knows the way of the righteous, and the way of the ungodly will be destroyed.
"Why have the nations raged and the peoples imagined new things?756756Several LXX MSS. read "kaina," "new," for "kena," "vain," as does Justin. The kings of the earth stood up, and their rulers assembled together against the Lord and against his Christ, saying, Let us break their bonds and let us cast away from us their yoke. He that dwells in heaven will laugh them to scorn, and the Lord will mock at them. Then will he speak to them in his wrath and vex them in his anger. I have been set up by him as king on Zion his holy mountain, proclaiming the Lord's decree. The Lord said to me, You are my Son, today have I begotten you; ask of me and I will give you nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession; you will shepherd them with a rod of iron, you will break them like potter's vessels. And now, O kings, understand; be instructed, all you who judge the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice before him with trembling. Accept discipline, lest the Lord should be angry, [and] wrathful, and you be destroyed from the right way when his anger is kindled in haste. Blessed are all those who have put their trust in him."
41. And again in another prophecy the prophetic Spirit, testifying through the same David that after being crucified Christ would reign, said: "O sing to the Lord, all the earth, and proclaim his salvation from day to day; for great is the Lord and highly to be praised, terrible beyond all the gods. For all the gods of the nations are images of demons, but God made the heavens. Glory and praise are before him, and strength and pride in the place of his sanctification. Give glory to the Lord, the Father of the ages. Receive favor and go in before his face and worship in his holy courts. Let all the earth fear before him, and be set upright and not shaken. Let them exult among the nations; the Lord has reigned from the tree."757757Ps. 96 (95): 1, 2, 4–10, also in I Chron. 16:23, 25–31. Justin's variations from the LXX include "images of demons" where LXX has "demons" in Ps. 95, "images" in I Chron.; "Father of the ages" for "families of the nations"; "receive favor" (charin) for "take offerings"; and the addition "from the tree," otherwise known only to Latin Christian writers whose acquaintance with it may derive from him; he defends this reading in Dial., ch. 73, arguing that the Jews have deliberately omitted it (although in the MS. the psalm is then quoted as in LXX, perhaps due to collation by a copyist; it seems that Justin knew an eccentric text, possibly from liturgical use.
42. Now when the prophetic Spirit speaks of things to come as already having happened, as is illustrated in the passages quoted—I will explain this too so that those who come on it will have no excuse [for not understanding]. Things he fully knows are to happen he speaks of in advance as if they had already occurred. Give careful attention to the passages quoted [and you will see] that this is the way they must be taken. David uttered the words quoted above fifteen hundred years before Christ, made man, was crucified, and none of those who were crucified before him gave joy to the nations, nor of those [crucified] after him either. But in our time Jesus Christ, who was crucified and died, rose again and, ascending into heaven, began to reign; and on account of what was proclaimed by the apostles in all nations as [coming] from him, there is joy for those who look forward to the incorruption which he has promised.
43. So that none may infer from what we have said that the events we speak of, because they were foreknown and predicted, took place according to inevitable destiny—I can explain this too. We have learned from the prophets, and declare as the truth, that penalties and punishments and good rewards are given according to the quality of each man's actions. If this were not so, but all things happened in accordance with destiny, nothing at all would be left up to us. For if it is destined that one man should be good and another wicked, then neither is the one acceptable nor the other blameworthy. And if the human race does not have the power by free choice to avoid what is shameful and to choose what is right, then there is no responsibility for actions of any kind. But that [man] walks upright or falls by free choice we may thus demonstrate. We [often] observe the same man in pursuit of opposite things. If he were destined to be either wicked or virtuous, he would not be thus capable of opposites, and often change his mind. Nor would some be virtuous and others wicked, for then we would have to declare fate to be the cause of evils and [at the same time] to act in opposition to itself758758I.e., by also being the cause of good—Otto conjectures "goods and" before evils, which is certainly the sense, though I doubt whether one can be sure that Justin was so clear.—or to accept as true the opinion referred to above, that there is no real virtue or vice, but only by opinion are things considered good or bad; which, as the true Reason shows us, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But we do say that deserved rewards are irrevocably destined for those who have chosen the good, and likewise their just deserts for those [who have chosen] the opposite. But God did not make man like other [beings], such as trees and animals, which have no power of choice. For he would not be worthy of rewards or praise if he did not choose the good of himself, but was so made, nor if he were evil would he justly deserve punishment, if he were not such of himself, but was unable to be anything different from that for which he was formed.
44. The holy prophetic Spirit taught us these things, saying through Moses that God said to the first-formed man, "Behold I have set before you good and evil, choose the good."759759Deut. 30:15—cf. Gen. 2:17 and Ecclus. 15:11–17. And again through Isaiah, another prophet, this was said to the same purpose, as from God the Father and Master of all things: "Wash yourselves, be clean, take away wickednesses from your souls, learn to do good, give judgment for the orphan and defend the cause of the widow, and come and let us reason together, says the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as wool, and though they be like crimson, I will make them as white as snow. And if you are willing and listen to me, you will eat the good of the land; but if you will not listen to me, the sword will devour you; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things."760760Isa. 1:16–20. The phrase, "The sword will devour you," does not mean that the disobedient will be slain by swords, but the sword of God is the fire, of which those who choose to do what is evil are made the fuel. Because of this he says, "A sword will devour you, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it." For if he were speaking of a sword that cuts and at once destroys, he would not have said, "Will devour."
So when Plato said, "The blame belongs to him who chooses, and God is free from blame,"761761Republic 617 E. he took this from the prophet Moses. For Moses was earlier than Plato and all the Greek writers. And everything that philosophers and poets said about the immortality of the soul, punishments after death, contemplation of heavenly things, and teachings of that kind—they took hints from the prophets and so were able to understand these things and expounded them. So it seems that there were indeed seeds of truth in all men, but they are proved not to have understood them properly since they contradict each other.
So when we say that things yet to happen have been prophesied, we do not say that they take place by inevitable destiny, but since God foreknows what all men are to do, and it is his decree that each will be rewarded according to the quality of his actions, he foretells by the prophetic Spirit what he will do in accordance with the quality of what they do. So he is ever leading the human race to reflection and remembrance, showing that he cares for it and provides for men. But by the working of the wicked demons death has been decreed against those who read the books of Hystaspes or Sybil or the prophets,762762A reference, somewhat exaggerated, to Roman law against divination of coming political events by private individuals, and the periodic restrictions on Jewish proselytism. so that they might frighten people away from receiving the knowledge of good things by consulting them, and keep them in slavery to themselves. But they did not succeed in this forever, for we not only boldly consult these books, but also as you see offer them for your inspection, being sure that what they declare will be welcome to all. Even if we only persuade a few, this will be a great gain for us; for as good husbandmen we will receive our reward from our Master.763763Apparently a confusion between the parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14–23) and that of the Wicked Husbandmen (Matt. 21:33–41).
45. Now hear how it was said through David the prophet, that God the Father of all would take up Christ into heaven after raising him from the dead, and then wait to smite the demons who are his enemies, until the number be completed of those whom he foreknows will be good and virtuous,764764Parallel clauses in Greek, but probably to be taken together. for whose sake he has not yet brought about the destruction of the world by fire. The words are these: "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool. The Lord will send forth the rod of power from Jerusalem; and dominate in the midst of your enemies. The beginning is with you in the day of your power, in the splendors of your holy ones; I have begotten you from the womb before the morning star."765765Ps. 110 (109):1–3. The phrase, "He will send forth the rod of power for you from Jerusalem," is a prediction of the mighty word which his apostles, going forth from Jerusalem, preached everywhere, and which, although death is decreed against those who teach or even confess the name of Christ, we everywhere both receive and teach. If you respond to these words with hostility, you can do no more, as we said before, than to kill us, which will not do harm to us, but will lead to eternal punishment through fire for you and all who unjustly are enemies [to the gospel] and do not repent.
46. Lest some should unreasonably object, in order to turn men away from what we teach, that we say that Christ was born a hundred and fifty years ago under Quirinius, and taught what we say he taught still later, under Pontius Pilate, and should accuse us [as supposing] that all men born before that time were irresponsible, I will solve this difficulty in advance. We have been taught that Christ is the First-begotten of God, and have previously testified that he is the Reason of which every race of man partakes. Those who lived in accordance with Reason are Christians, even though they were called godless, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus and others like them; among the barbarians, Abraham, Ananiah, Azariah, and Mishael,766766The original names of the "three holy children" (Dan. 1:7) are the ones commonly used in Greek. and Elijah, and many others, whose deeds and names I forbear to list, knowing that this would be lengthy. So also those who lived without Reason were ungracious and enemies to Christ, and murderers of those who lived by Reason. But those who lived by Reason, and those who so live now, are Christians, fearless and unperturbed. For what cause a man was conceived of a virgin by the power of the Word according to the will of God, the Father and Master of all, and was named Jesus, and after being crucified and dying rose again and ascended into heaven, an intelligent man will be able to comprehend from the words that were spoken in various ways. But since the further demonstration of this does not seem necessary at the moment, I will pass on to more needed demonstrations.
47. Hear how the prophetic Spirit said that the land of the Jews would be ravaged. The words are spoken as in the character of the people, wondering at what had happened, as follows: "Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem has become like a wilderness, the house of our sanctuary [is made] a curse, and the glory which our fathers praised is burned with fire, and all its glorious things are fallen. And you abide these things, and have kept silence, and have humbled us greatly."767767Isa. 64:10–12. You are well aware that Jerusalem was laid waste, as it was predicted would happen. That it would be laid waste, and no one permitted to dwell there, was said through Isaiah the prophet: "Their land is a desert, their enemies eat it up before them, and none of them will dwell in it."768768Isa. 1:7 and Jer. 50:3. You certainly know that under your guard there is no one in it, and that death has been decreed against any Jew caught entering.769769Judea was ravaged when the revolt of Bar-Cochba was suppressed under Hadrian, and Jews were excluded from the new city built on the site of Jerusalem (not, as Justin suggests, from the whole country.
48. How it was prophesied that our Christ would heal all diseases and raise the dead, hear what was spoken, as follows: "At his coming the lame will leap like a hart, and the stammering tongue will be clear; blind will see and lepers be cleansed, and the dead will arise and walk."770770Isa. 35:5, 6 (cf. Matt. 11:5, which adds the lepers). That he did these things, you can learn from the Acts of what took place under Pontius Pilate. How it was testified by the prophetic Spirit that he would be put to death, together with the men who hoped in him, hear what was said through Isaiah, as follows: "See how the just One perishes and no one takes it to heart, and just men are slain and none consider it. The Just One is taken away from the presence of wickedness, and his burial will be in peace; he is taken away from the midst [of us]."771771Isa. 57:1, 2.
49. Here again is how it was said through the same Isaiah, that the peoples of the Gentiles who were not looking for him would worship him, and the Jews who were constantly looking for him would not recognize him when he came. These words are spoken as in the character of the Christ himself, as follows: "I became manifest to those who asked not after me, I was found by those who sought me not. I said, Here am I, to a nation who did not call upon my name. I stretched out my hands over a disobedient and contradicting people, over those who walked in a way that was not good, but after their sins, a people who rouse me to anger."772772Isa. 65:1–3. For the Jews, having the prophecies, and constantly looking for the Christ, failed to recognize him when he came—more than that, they even mistreated him. But men of the Gentiles, who had never even heard about Christ until his apostles who came forth from Jerusalem testified to the things about him and gave them the prophecies, were filled with joy and faith, turned away from their idols, and dedicated themselves to the unbegotten God through Christ. That the slanders which would be spoken against those who confess Christ were foreknown, and how those would be afflicted who slander him and say that it is better to keep the ancient customs, hear what was briefly spoken through Isaiah as follows: "Woe to those who call sweet bitter and bitter sweet."773773Isa. 5:20.
50. How, being made man for us, he endured suffering and dishonor, and will come again with glory—hear the prophecies which were spoken to this effect, as follows:
"Because they delivered his soul to death, and he was counted with the wicked, he has borne the sins of many, and will make propitiation for the wicked.774774Isa. 53:12 (perhaps here from memory and in ch. 51 from the text). For behold, my servant will understand and be exalted and greatly glorified. As many will be astonished at you, so your form will be dishonored from [among] men and your glory from men, so that many nations will wonder, and kings will shut their mouths; because those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand. O Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? We have spoken before him as a child, as a root in thirsty ground. He has no form nor glory; and we saw him and he had no form nor beauty, but his form was dishonored and despised beyond [any of] mankind. He was a stricken man, knowing how to bear infirmity, because his face was turned away, and he was dishonored and not esteemed. It is he who bears our sins and undergoes travail for us, and we thought him to be in distress, smitten and afflicted. But he was wounded for our wickednesses and suffered infirmity for our sins; the chastisement of [our] peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. We have all as sheep gone astray, [every] man has gone astray in his own way. And he gave himself up for our sins, and did not open his mouth because of affliction. He was led as a sheep to slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away."775775Isa. 52:13 to 53:8a. For after he was crucified even all his acquaintances deserted him, denying him. But later, when he rose from the dead and appeared to them, and taught them to consult the prophecies, in which it was predicted that all these things would happen; and when they had seen him ascending into heaven, and believed on him, and received the power which he sent them from there, and went into every race of men, they taught these things and were known as apostles.
51. In order to testify to us that he who suffered these things is of ineffable origin and reigns over his enemies, the prophetic Spirit spoke thus:
"Who will declare his generation? For his life was taken away from the earth; on account of their wickednesses he goes to death. And I will give the wicked for his burial and the rich for his death, for he did no wickedness nor was guilt found in his mouth. And the Lord wills to cleanse him from the blow. If you give an offering for sin, your soul will see a long-lived seed. And the Lord wills to remove his soul from sorrow, to show him light and to form him with understanding, to justify the just One who is a good servant to many. And he shall bear away our sins. Because of this he will inherit many and divide the booty of the strong, for that his soul was delivered to death, and he was numbered among the wicked, and he himself bore the sins of many, and because of their wickednesses he was betrayed."776776Isa. 53:8b–12.
Hear how he was to go up to heaven, as it was prophesied. This was spoken: "Lift up the gates of heaven, be opened, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of might and the Lord of power."777777Ps. 24 (23):7, 8. And that he is to come from heaven with glory, hear what was spoken to this effect through Jeremiah the prophet, as follows: "Behold how the Son of Man comes on the clouds of heaven, and his angels with him."778778Dan. 7:13; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 14:62.
52. Since we have shown that all these things that have already happened were proclaimed in advance through the prophets before they happened, it must similarly be believed that those things which were similarly prophesied and are yet to happen will certainly take place. Just as these things which have already happened came true, proclaimed in advance and [yet] unrecognized, so in the same way the remainder, even if unacknowledged and disbelieved, will come to pass. For the prophets foretold two comings of Christ—one, which has already happened, as that of a dishonored and passible man, and the second, when as has been foretold he will come from heaven in glory with his angelic host, when he will raise the bodies of all the men who have ever lived, and will clothe the worthy with incorruption, but send those of the wicked, eternally conscious, into eternal fire with the evil demons. How it was predicted that these things will happen we will show. This was spoken through the prophet Ezekiel: "Joint will come together with joint and bone with bone, and flesh will grow again. And every knee will bow to the Lord and every tongue will confess him."779779Ezek., ch. 37; Isa. 45:23. That the wicked will be punished, still conscious, hear what was similarly spoken on this topic, as follows: "Their worm shall not rest, and their fire shall not be extinguished."780780Isa. 66:24. And then they will repent, when it will no longer do them any good. What the peoples of the Jews will say and do, when they see him coming in glory, was thus prophesied through the prophet Zechariah:
"I will command the four winds to bring together the scattered children; I will command the north wind to carry them, and the south wind not to keep them back.781781Isa. 43:5, 6 (the four winds in Zech. 2:6). And then there will be great lamentation in Jerusalem, not a lamentation of mouths or lips, but a lamentation of the heart, and they shall rend not their garments but their minds. Tribe after tribe will lament, and then they will see him whom they pierced,782782Zech. 12:10–12 (cf. John 19:37). and will say: Why, O Lord, did you make us wander astray from thy way? The glory which our fathers praised has become our disgrace."783783Isa. 63:17; 64:11.
53. I could cite many other prophecies too, but pause, thinking that these are sufficient to convince those who have ears to hear and understand, and considering that such people can understand that we do not, like those who tell the mythical stories about the so-called sons of Zeus, merely talk, without having proofs. For why should we believe a crucified man that he is First-begotten of the Unbegotten God, and that he will pass judgment on the whole human race, unless we found testimonies proclaimed about him before he came, and was made man, and see that things have thus happened? For we have seen the desolation of the land of the Jews, and the men of every nation who have been persuaded by the teaching that comes from his apostles, and have turned away from the old customs in which they lived, wandering astray—that is ourselves, since we know that the Gentile Christians are more numerous and truer than those from among the Jews and Samaritans. For all the other nations of mankind are called Gentiles by the prophetic Spirit, while the Jewish and Samaritan tribes are called Israel and House of Jacob. How it was prophesied that more of the Gentiles would be believers than of the Jews and Samaritans—I will cite what was prophesied. It was spoken thus: "Rejoice, O barren and bearing not, break forth and shout, you who did not travail, for the children of the desolate are more than those of her who had a husband."784784Isa. 54:1. For all the Gentiles were desolate of the true God, serving the works of [men's] hands. But Jews and Samaritans, having the word from God given them through the prophets and constantly looking for the Christ, did not recognize him when he came, except only for a few, whose salvation the holy prophetic Spirit predicted through Isaiah. For he said, speaking as in their character, "Except the Lord had left us a seed, we should have been as Sodom and Gomorrha."785785Isa. 1:9. Moses tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrha, cities of godless men which God overthrew, burning them with fire and brimstone, none of the people in them being saved except a certain stranger of Chaldaean race, Lot by name, with whom his daughters were saved also. Those who want to can see their whole countryside, desolate and burned and still unproductive. That it was foreknown that those of the Gentiles would be truer and more faithful, we will cite what was said through Isaiah the prophet. He spoke thus, "Israel is uncircumcised in heart, and the Gentiles are the uncircumcision,"786786Jer. 9:26, quoted more fully and expounded in Dial., ch. 28; a verse which has for Justin the associations of Rom., ch. 4, and suggests that those circumcised in the flesh are uncircumcised in heart, and vice versa (Jer. 4:4). seeing such things should reasonably bring conviction and faith to those who welcome the truth, and are not vainglorious or controlled by their passions.
Paganism an Imitation of Christianity
54. But those who hand on the myths invented by the poets offer no demonstration to the youngsters who learn them—indeed I [am prepared to] show that they were told at the instigation of the wicked demons to deceive and lead astray the human race. For when they heard it predicted through the prophets that Christ was to come, and that impious men would be punished by fire, they put forward a number of so-called sons of Zeus, thinking that they could thus make men suppose that what was said about Christ was a mere tale of wonders like the stories told by the poets. These stories were spread among the Greeks and all the Gentiles, where, as they heard the prophets proclaiming, Christ would especially be believed in. But, as I will make clear, though they heard the words of the prophets they did not understand them accurately, but made mistakes in imitating what was told about our Christ. The prophet Moses was, as I said before, older than all [Greek] writers, and this prophecy was made through him, as previously cited: "The ruler shall not depart from Judah, nor the governor from his thighs, until he come for whom it is reserved; and he shall be the expectation of the nations, binding his colt to the vine, washing his robe in the blood of the grape."787787Gen. 49:10, 11. So when the demons heard these prophetic words they made out that Dionysus had been a son of Zeus, and handed down that he was the discoverer of the vine (hence they introduce wine in his mysteries), and taught that after being torn in pieces he ascended into heaven. Now the prophecy given through Moses did not precisely indicate whether he who was to come would be the Son of God, and whether, mounted on a colt, he would remain on earth or ascend into heaven; and the word "colt" can indicate the colt of an ass or a horse. So not knowing whether the predicted one would bring the colt of an ass or of a horse as the symbol of his coming, and, as said above, whether he was the Son of God or of a man, they said that Bellerophon, a man and born of men, had gone up to heaven on the horse Pegasus. Then when they heard it said through that other prophet Isaiah that he was to be born of a virgin and would ascend into heaven by his own [power], they put forward what is told about Perseus. When they learned that it was said, as has been quoted, in the ancient prophecies, "Strong as a giant to run his course,"788788Ps. 19 (18):5. they said that Heracles was strong and had traveled over the whole earth. Again when they learned that it was prophesied that he would heal every disease and raise the dead, they brought forward Asclepius.789789Cf. ch. 21.
55. But never was the crucifixion imitated in the case of any of the so-called sons of Zeus; for they did not understand it since, as has been explained, everything said about it was expressed symbolically. Yet, as the prophet predicted, it [the cross] is the greatest symbol of his power and authority, as [can be] shown from things you can see. Reflect on all things in the universe [and consider] whether they could be governed or held together in fellowship without this figure. For the sea cannot be traversed unless the sign of victory, which is called a sail,790790Curiously phrased; is it possible that sailors in Justin's time called the mainmast the "trophy," which he takes as a tribute to its form suggestive of the cross, the trophy of the victory of Christ? remain fast in the ship; the land is not plowed without it; similarly diggers and mechanics do not do their work except with tools of this form. The human figure differs from the irrational animals precisely in this, that man stands erect and can stretch out his hands, and has on his face, stretched down from the forehead, what is called the nose, through which goes breath for the living creature—and this exhibits precisely the figure of the cross. So it was said through the prophet, "The breath before our face is Christ the Lord."791791Lam. 4:20. Even your own symbols display the power of this figure—on the standards and trophies, with which you make all your solemn processions, using these [cross-shaped objects] as signs of authority, even though without understanding what you're doing. Then you set up the images of your deceased emperors on this figure, and in the inscriptions call them gods. So now since I have done my best to persuade you, both by argument and by [appealing to] a visible figure, I am free from reproach even if you disbelieve; my part is done and finished.
56. The wicked demons were not satisfied with saying before the appearance of Christ that there had been the so-called sons of Zeus. After he had appeared and lived among men, when they learned how he had been predicted by the prophets, and saw how he was believed on and looked for in every race, they again, as we showed before, put forward others, Simon and Menander of Samaria, who by doing mighty works of magic deceived and are still deceiving many. For as I said before, Simon lived in your own imperial city of Rome under Claudius Caesar, and so impressed the Sacred Senate and the Roman people that he was thought to be a god and was honored with a statue like the other gods whom you honor. We ask you therefore to join the Sacred Senate and your people as joint judges of this petition of ours, so that if any are ensnared by his teachings they may be able to learn the truth and flee from this error. And, if you will, destroy the statue.
57. Nor can the wicked demons persuade men that there will be no burning for the punishment of the impious, just as they were not able to keep Christ hidden when he came. All they can do is to make men who live contrary to reason, having been brought up in bad habits of passion and prejudice, kill and hate us. Yet we do not hate them, but, as is evident, pity them and try to persuade them to reform. For we are not afraid of death, admitting that we are certainly going to die, and [since] there is nothing new [for unbelievers], but things continue the same in this dispensation—if boredom seizes those who share in such things even for a year,792792Here and in the following chapter, Justin indicates briefly, and somewhat obscurely, what he thought was the real spiritual condition of his pagan contemporaries—the reference here seems to be to the taedium vitae expressed in many funeral inscriptions. then in order to be free from suffering and want they should pay attention to our teachings. If they do not believe that there is anything after death, but declare that those who die pass into unconsciousness, then they are our benefactors in delivering us from the sufferings and needs [of life] here. But they still show themselves to be wicked, misanthropic, and prejudiced. For they do not kill us in order to set us free, but rather murder us in order to deprive us of life and its pleasures.
58. As I said before, the wicked demons have also put forward Marcion of Pontus, who is even now teaching men to deny that God is the Maker of all things in heaven and earth and that the Christ predicted by the prophets is his Son. He preaches another God besides the Fashioner of the universe, and likewise another Son. Many are persuaded by him, as if he alone knew the truth, and make fun of us, though they have no proof of the things they say, but are irrationally snatched away, like lambs by a wolf,793793Cf. John 10:12. and become the prey of godless teachings and of demons. For those who are called demons strive for nothing else than to draw men away from God who made [them] and from Christ his First-begotten. Those who cannot rise above the earth they have nailed down by [the worship of] earthly things and the works of men's hands. They even push back those who aim at the contemplation of things divine, unless their thinking is prudent and pure and their life free from passion, and drive them into ungodliness.
59. So that you may learn that Plato borrowed from our teachers, I mean from the Word [speaking] through the prophets, when he said that God made the universe by changing formless matter, hear the precise words of Moses, who as declared above was the first of the prophets and older than the Greek writers. The prophetic Spirit testified through him how in the beginning God fashioned the universe, and out of what, saying: "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. And the earth was invisible and unfurnished, and darkness [was] over the abyss; and the Spirit of God was borne over the waters. And God said, Let there be light. And it was so."794794Gen. 1:1–3. So by God's word the whole universe was made out of this substratum, as expounded by Moses, and Plato and those who agree with him, as well as we, have learned it [from him], and you can be sure of it too. We also know that Moses had already spoken of what the poets call Erebus.795795Commentators speculate inconclusively whether this suggestion, which Justin touches on lightly, was based on the "evening" (Hebrew 'ereu) of the days of creation.
60. In the discussion of the nature of the Son of God in Plato's Timaeus, when he says, "He placed him like an X in the universe,"796796Tim., 36 B–C, a reference to the soul of the universe which is as it were folded together; the Greek letter Chi has the form (not of course the sound) of X. this was similarly borrowed from Moses. For it is recorded in the writings of Moses that in his time, when the Israelites had gone out of Egypt and were in the wilderness, they encountered poisonous beasts, vipers and asps, and every kind of snake which were killing the people. By an inspiration and influence that came from God, Moses took brass and made the form of a cross, and placed it over the holy tent, saying to the people, "If you look on this form and believe on it, you will be saved." And he records that when this was done, the snakes died, and so, he tells us, the people escaped death.797797Num. 21:6–9 with some legendary additions; cf. John 3:14. Plato, reading this and not clearly understanding, nor realizing that it was the form of a cross, but thinking it was [the letter] Chi, said that the Power next to the first God was placed X-wise in the universe. And he spoke of a third, since he read what I have quoted from Moses, that the Spirit of God was borne over the waters. For he gives the second place to the Word who is with God, who, he says, was placed X-wise in the universe, and the third to the Spirit which was said to be borne over the water, saying, "The third [order of] beings around the third."798798Plato, 2 Epist. 312 E (with singular and plural reversed), an undeniably obscure passage, though scarcely meaning what Justin supposed. And hear how the prophetic Spirit has testified through Moses that there will be a destruction by fire. He said, "Everliving fire will descend and will devour even to the abyss below."799799Deut. 32:22; Justin here passes from Platonic to Stoic ideas, as in Ch. 20. it is not that we hold the same opinions as others, but that what all others say is an imitation of ours. Among us you can hear and learn these things from those who do not even know the letters of the alphabet—uneducated and barbarous in speech, but wise and faithful in mind—even from cripples and the blind. So you can see that these things are not the product of human wisdom, but are spoken by the power of God.
61. How we dedicated ourselves to God when we were made new through Christ I will explain, since it might seem to be unfair if I left this out from my exposition. Those who are persuaded and believe that the things we teach and say are true, and promise that they can live accordingly, are instructed to pray and beseech God with fasting for the remission of their past sins, while we pray and fast along with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are reborn by the same manner of rebirth by which we ourselves were reborn; for they are then washed in the water in the name of God the Father and Master of all, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ said, "Unless you are born again you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven."800800John 3:3, 4. Now it is clear to all that those who have once come into being cannot enter the wombs of those who bore them. But as I quoted before, it was said through the prophet Isaiah how those who have sinned and repent shall escape from their sins. He said this: "Wash yourselves, be clean, take away wickednesses from your souls, learn to do good, give judgment for the orphan and defend the cause of the widow, and come and let us reason together, says the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as wool, and though they be as crimson, I will make them as white as snow. If you will not listen to me, the sword will devour you; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things."801801Isa. 1:16–20. And we learned from the apostles this reason for this [rite]. At our first birth we were born of necessity without our knowledge, from moist seed, by the intercourse of our parents with each other, and grew up in bad habits and wicked behavior. So that we should not remain children of necessity and ignorance, but [become sons] of free choice and knowledge, and obtain remission of the sins we have already committed,802802The second birth is also connected with moisture, but is otherwise contrasted with the first in all respects. there is named at the water, over him who has chosen to be born again and has repented of his sinful acts, the name of God the Father and Master of all. Those who lead to the washing the one who is to be washed call on [God by] this term only.803803Thirlby and later editors emend the plurals in this sentence to the singular, unnecessarily—Justin is writing from the point of view of the individual convert, but slips into the plural here, either because the occasion was one regularly repeated, or (more likely) because he was accustomed to group baptisms with a number of officiants, and not to the medieval and modern custom of baptism of a single candidate by a single minister. For no one may give a proper name to the ineffable God, and if anyone should dare to say that there is one, he is hopelessly insane.804804Justin was aware that the Old Testament divine name was used for magical purposes (as Iao and the like), and hence his vigorous condemnation of a practice he considers not only wrong (as all Jews would) but impossible. This washing is called illumination, since those who learn these things are illumined within. The illuminand is also washed in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets foretold everything about Jesus.
62. When the demons heard this washing proclaimed through the prophets, they arranged that those who go into their temples and are about to approach them to offer libations and burnt offerings should sprinkle themselves—and further they have them wash themselves completely as they pass on into the sanctuaries where they are enshrined. The order given by the priests to devotees to remove their shoes as they enter the temples and approach them805805Accepting Gildersleeve's suggestion of prosiontas autois for tois autois; the general sense is clear but the text confused. [the demons] is an imitation devised by the demons when they learned what happened to Moses, the above-mentioned prophet. For at the time when Moses was ordered to go down to Egypt and bring out the people of the Israelites who were there, as he was pasturing in the land of Arabia the sheep of his maternal uncle, our Christ addressed him in the form of fire out of a bush, and said, "Unloose your sandals and come near and hear." When he had taken them and approached, he heard [that he was] to go down into Egypt, and lead out the people of the Israelites there, and received great power from Christ, who spoke to him in the form of fire.806806Ex., ch. 3; Justin calls Jethro Moses’ uncle instead of father-in-law, perhaps by confusion with Jacob and Laban. He went down and led out the people after he had done great miracles—if you want to learn about them, you may learn in detail from his writings.
63. Even now the Jews all teach that the unnamed God himself spoke to Moses. Wherefore the prophetic Spirit said in condemnation of them through Isaiah the above-mentioned prophet, as was quoted before: "The ox knows his owner and the ass his master's crib, but Israel does not know me and my people does not understand."807807Isa. 1:3. Likewise Jesus the Christ, because the Jews did not know what the Father is and what the Son, himself said in condemnation of them: "No one knows the Father except the Son, nor the Son except the Father and those to whom the Son will reveal it."808808Luke 10:22; Matt. 11:27; cf. John 8:19; 16:3. Now the Word of God is his Son, as I said before. He is also called "Angel" and "Apostle," for [as Angel] he announces what it is necessary to know, and [as Apostle] is sent forth to testify to what is announced,809809Angel, reference below—the angel in the bush, who said, "I am the God of Abraham," and Isa. 9:6; Apostle, Heb. 3:1. as our Lord himself said, "He that hears me hears him that sent me."810810Cf. Luke 10:16 (Matt. 10:40); cf. John 14:24. This can be made clear from the writings of Moses, in which this is to be found: "And the Angel of God spoke to Moses in a flame of fire out of the bush and said, I am he who is, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, the God of your fathers; go down to Egypt and bring out my people."811811Ex. 3:14, 15. Those who wish to can learn what followed from this; for it is not possible to put down everything in these [pages]. But these words were uttered to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Apostle, who was first the Word, and appeared, now in the form of fire, now in the image of the bodiless creatures. Now, however, having become man by the will of God for the sake of the human race, he has endured whatever sufferings the demons managed to have brought upon him by the senseless Jews. For they have it clearly said in the writings of Moses, "And the Angel of God spoke to Moses in a flame of fire in the bush and said, I am he who is, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,"812812Ex. 3:14, 15. yet they say that he who said these things was the Father and Fashioner of the universe. Jesus again, as we cited, when he was with them said, "No one knows the Father except the Son, nor the Son except the Father and those to whom the Son may reveal it."813813Luke 10:22; Matt. 11:27; cf. John 8:19; 16:3. So the Jews, continuing to think that the Father of the universe had spoken to Moses, when it was the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, who spoke to him, were rightly censured both by the prophetic Spirit and by Christ himself, since they knew neither the Father nor the Son. For those who identify the Son and the Father are condemned, as neither knowing the Father nor recognizing that the Father of the universe has a Son, who being the Word and First-begotten of God is also divine. Formerly he appeared in the form of fire and the image of a bodiless being to Moses and the other prophets. But now in the time of your dominion he was, as I have said, made man of a virgin according to the will of the Father for the salvation of those who believe in him, and endured contempt and suffering so that by dying and rising again he might conquer death. What was said out of the bush to Moses, "I am he who is, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob and the God of your fathers," was an indication that they though dead still existed and were Christ's own men. For they were the first of all men to devote themselves to seeking after God,814814Cf. Mark 12:26, 27 and parallels; Justin's comment is also suggestive of the Philonic allegorization of the journey to Canaan as the journey to the spiritual realm. Abraham being the father of Isaac, and Isaac of Jacob, as Moses also recorded.
64. From what has been said you can understand why the demons contrived to have the image of the so-called Kore erected at the springs of waters, saying that she was a daughter of Zeus, imitating what was said through Moses. For Moses said, as I have quoted: "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. And the earth was invisible and unfurnished, and the Spirit of God was borne over the waters."815815Gen. 1:1, 2; the suggestion that the pagan goddess of springs was in some way parallel to the Spirit brooding over the waters would seem to come from someone in Syria (probably not Justin originally) with a background of Semitic languages, in which the word "spirit" is feminine. In imitation of the Spirit of God, spoken of as borne over the water, they spoke of Kore, daughter of Zeus. With similar malice they spoke of Athena as a daughter of Zeus, but not as a result of intercourse—since they knew that God designed the creation of the world by the Word, they spoke of Athena as the first Concept. This we consider very ridiculous, to offer the female form as the image of an intellectual concept. And similarly the other so-called sons of Zeus are condemned by their actions.
65. We, however, after thus washing the one who has been convinced and signified his assent, lead him to those who are called brethren, where they are assembled. They then earnestly offer common prayers for themselves and the one who has been illuminated and all others everywhere, that we may be made worthy, having learned the truth, to be found in deed good citizens and keepers of what is commanded, so that we may be saved with eternal salvation. On finishing the prayers we greet each other with a kiss. Then bread and a cup of water and mixed wine are brought to the president of the brethren and he, taking them, sends up praise and glory to the Father of the universe through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and offers thanksgiving at some length that we have been deemed worthy to receive these things from him. When he has finished the prayers and the thanksgiving,816816Or, one could equally well say "the Eucharistic prayer." the whole congregation present817817Literally, "all the people present," i.e., those present as being a gathering of the people of God (laos), the laity in the positive sense; cf. Neh. 8:5, 6. assents, saying, "Amen." "Amen" in the Hebrew language means, "So be it." When the president has given thanks and the whole congregation has assented, those whom we call deacons give to each of those present a portion of the consecrated818818Literally, "eucharistized," i.e., blessed by the solemn prayer of thanksgiving, in accordance with the Jewish form of prayer, in which offering thanks to God for his gifts also blesses them for human use (cf. Mark 14:22, 23 and I Tim. 4:4, 5); but eucharisteo as a transitive verb in this connection seems to be Christian and Gentile. bread and wine and water, and they take it to the absent.
66. This food we call Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Saviour being incarnate by God's word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.819819"Eucharistized food," see note 84; "by the word of prayer which comes from him" (di’ euchēs logou tou par’ autou) refers to the pattern of the Eucharistic prayer as instituted by Christ—para for the source of a tradition also, e.g., in ch. 42, fin., and in ch. 61—the logos of baptism learned from the apostles, which probably means its rationale, but may mean the threefold formula. For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, thus handed down what was commanded them: that Jesus, taking bread and having given thanks, said, "Do this for my memorial, this is my body"; and likewise taking the cup and giving thanks he said, "This is my blood"; and gave it to them alone.820820Mark 14:22–24 and I Cor. 11:23–25; quoted as from the Gospels, but perhaps representing in brief what Justin was used to hearing recited at the celebration of the Eucharist. This also the wicked demons in imitation handed down as something to be done in the mysteries of Mithra; for bread and a cup of water are brought out in their secret rites of initiation, with certain invocations which you either know or can learn.
67. After these [services] we constantly remind each other of these things. Those who have more come to the aid of those who lack, and we are constantly together. Over all that we receive we bless the Maker of all things through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.821821Not merely a general statement, but a reference to the custom, binding on Christians as on Jews, of giving thanks to God before receiving his gifts, which makes every meal a sacred act; cf. Chapter 13. And on the day called Sunday there is a meeting in one place of those who live in cities or the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president in a discourse urges and invites [us] to the imitation of these noble things. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And, as said before, when we have finished the prayer, bread is brought, and wine and water, and the president similarly sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen; the distribution, and reception of the consecrated [elements] by each one, takes place and they are sent to the absent by the deacons. Those who prosper, and who so wish, contribute, each one as much as he chooses to.822822The emphasis on the purely voluntary character of these contributions may have a legal purpose, to stress that the unlicensed Christian societies did not profess to collect dues (cf. Tertullian, Apol. 39:5). What is collected is deposited with the president, and he takes care of orphans and widows, and those who are in want on account of sickness or any other cause, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourners among [us], and, briefly, he is the protector of all those in need. We all hold this common gathering on Sunday, since it is the first day, on which God transforming darkness and matter made the universe, and Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead on the same day. For they crucified him on the day before Saturday, and on the day after Saturday,823823Justin may be avoiding using the term "day of Aphrodite" for Friday, or referring to the Sabbath and its preparation-day (paraskeuē) without using Jewish technical terms; he certainly wishes to disclaim, without dignifying with formal mention, any idea that the Christians were worshipers of the sun, as Jews were sometimes supposed to be devotees of Saturn (Cronus). he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them these things which I have passed on to you also for your serious consideration.
68. If what we say seems to you reasonable and true, treat it with respect—if it seems foolish to you, then despise us as foolish creatures and do not decree the death penalty, as against enemies, for those who do no wrong. I have said before that you will not escape the future judgment of God if you continue unjust, while we will cry out, What God desires, let that be done.824824A familiar quotation from Plato, Crito 43 D—used probably with reference both to the Deo Gratias with which Christians accepted martyrdom and to their readiness for the final judgment. On the ground of a letter of your father, the great and illustrious Caesar Hadrian, we could demand that you order judgment to be given as we have asked. Yet we do not ask [for this] on the basis of Hadrian's judgment, but since we know that what we ask is just, we have made this petition and explanation. I have subjoined a copy of the letter of Hadrian, so that you may know that I speak the truth in this matter. Here is the copy:825825Translated from the Latin given by Rufinus in his translation of Eusebius, Hist. eccl., IV, ch. 8, which probably represents the Latin that Eusebius says was attached to his copy of Justin, but which is replaced by Eusebius’ Greek version in the MS. The rescript is probably genuine, and as such means no more than that proceedings against Christians must be taken by due process of law—and Christians could always be turned into criminals in Roman eyes by calling on them to perform any of the religious acts of loyalty which were civic duties to the Romans, but idolatry for Christians as for Jews. Minucius Fundanus was proconsul of Asia about A.D. 125.
Hadrian to Minucius Fundanus. I have received the letter addressed to me by your predecessor the Honorable Serenius Granianus, and it does not seem right to me to pass over this report in silence, lest innocent people should be molested and false accusers given the opportunity of doing harm. So if the people of your province can formally support their petition against the Christians by accusing them of something before [your] tribunal, I do not forbid their following this course; but I do not permit them to make use of mere requests and clamorous demands in this matter. It is much more proper, if anyone wishes to bring an accusation, for you to take cognizance of the matters brought forward. Therefore if anyone brings an accusation and proves that the men referred to have done anything contrary to the laws, you will assign penalties in accordance with the character of the offenses. But you must certainly826826Latin mehercule, which is the mildest form of oath, scarcely worth translation; the imperial rescript, though having the effect of law, was still in form a private letter. take the greatest care, that if anyone accuses any of these people merely for the sake of calumny, you will punish him with severe penalties for his offense.827827It does not seem proper to include the items which follow in the present MS.—a letter from Antoninus Pius (according to Eusebius, of Marcus Aurelius) to the provincial council of Asia, in which Hadrian's principle is carried farther in the sense Justin desired; and an alleged letter of Marcus Aurelius recounting the incident of the Thundering Legion, whose prayers brought down rain for the army in Germany and hail on their enemies. Neither can be part of Justin's work; the second is certainly fictitious, and the first, though perhaps based on an imperial letter, has at least been adapted and enlarged.
|« Prev||The Text||Next »|