Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Justin Martyr – “one of the most enigmatic passages in 1 Apol.”

My last thread focused on Justin Martyr’s Christological passages that emphasized the Son's causality and numerical distinction from the Father. This post will delve into a single chapter from Justin’s extant writings that has been termed by Leslie William Barnard as, “one of the most enigmatic passages in 1 Apol.(The First and Second ApologiesAncient Christian Writers, 56.110). Barnard’s English translation of the entire chapter is reproduced below, followed by Blunt’s Greek text:

Hence we are called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists with reference to gods such as these [i.e. the demons worshipped by the Greeks], but not with reference to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is unmixed with evil. But we worship and adore both Him and the Son who came from Him, and taught us these things, and the army of the other good angels,[36] who follow Him and are made like Him, and the prophetic Spirit, giving honor [to Him] in reason and truth; and to everyone who wishes to learn handing over without grudging, what we have been taught. (Leslie William Barnard, The First Apology, ch. 6 – Ancient Christian Writers, 56.26)

6. 1. Ἔνθεν δὲ καὶ ἄθεοι κεκλήμεθα· καὶ ὁμολογοῦμεν τῶν τοιούτων νομιζομένων θεῶν ἄθεοι εἶναι, ἀλλ' οὐχὶ τοῦ ἀληθεστάτου καὶ πατρὸς δικαιοσύνης καὶ σωφροσύνης καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἀρετῶν ἀνεπιμίκτου τε κακίας θεοῦ· 2. ἀλλ' ἐκεῖνόν τε καὶ τὸν παρ' αὐτοῦ υἱὸν ἐλθόντα καὶ διδάξαντα ἡμᾶς ταῦτα, καὶ τὸν τῶν ἄλλων ἑπομένων καὶ ἐξομοιουμένων ἀγαθῶν ἀγγέλων στρατόν, πνεῦμά τε τὸ προφητικὸν σεβόμεθα καὶ προ σκυνοῦμεν, λόγῳ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ τιμῶντες, καὶ παντὶ βουλομένῳ μαθεῖν, ὡς ἐδιδάχθημεν, ἀφθόνως παραδιδόντες. (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, pp. 9, 10)

From Barnard’s note #36 on chapter 6, we read:

This is one of the most enigmatic passages in 1 Apol. Attempts have been made to avoid the sudden and embarrassing introduction of angels before the prophetic Spirit. Thus straton has been taken as the object of didaxanta, either parallel to hēmas, i.e., “and taught us and taught the army of the good angels,” or parallel to tauta, i.e., “and taught us these things and [belief in] the army of good angels.” Both of these are unconvincing and are strained interpretations of the text. Straton has also been emended to stratēgon, so as to refer to Christ as the Head of the angels. See Otto’s note (Otto, 21-23). If, however, the text is taken as stands, worship and adoration, in a liturgical context, are addressed to God the Father of Righteousness, the Son who came from Him, the army of the good angels, and the prophetic Spirit. Justin closely connects the good angels with Jesus as the messengers of God who would accompany Him in His glory at the last day. In a remarkable passage in Dial. 128 he states that, as the logos has a separate, permanent existence from the Father, so there are angels who have a permanent existence…So here Justin does not withhold worship and adoration from the good angels who, like Jesus, have a permanent existence. (Ibid. p. 110)

Enigmatic indeed! Now, Barnard is not the only scholar to point out the attempts by a number of interpreters/translators “to avoid the sudden and embarrassing introduction of angels before the prophetic Spirit.” Back in 1831, the Anglican patristic scholar Edward Burton, devoted eight pages of his Testimonies of the Ante-Nicene Fathers to the Doctrine of the Trinity (pp. 15-23 – link to PDF) to the enigmatic chapter 6. He begins this section of the book with:

I must depart from my usual plan of giving a translation of the passage, and adding the original in a note: for the Greek words have been cited with such opposite views, and translated in so many different ways, that it is absolutely necessary to lay them in the first instance before the reader.

He then goes on to mention the interpretations of Bellermin, Prudentius Maranus, Scultetus, Bull, Stephen Le Moyne, Le Nourry, Grabe, Cave, Langus, Dr. Ashton, Lowe, Dr. Milner, and ‘the bishop of Lincoln’ [John Kaye].

Interestingly enough, some of interpretations proposed by a number of the Protestant authors included in Burton’s list had a clear apologetic bias behind them. It seems they wanted to avoid any notion of honor/worship being given to the ‘good angels’ because, “Roman catholic writers have quoted them as supporting the worship of angels” (p. 16). As for Burton’s own interpretation, given the length, I think it is best that one read it for themselves.

In ending, the passage remains an enigma to me, requiring a good deal more study on my part before I attempt to adopt an interpretation. With that said, I would appreciate to hear from any folk who may have reached some sort of conclusion concerning what Justin was trying to convey.

Grace and peace,


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Justin Martyr – on the causality and numerical distinction of the Son of God from the Father

It has been well over a year since I have utilized Greek—in a comprehensive sense—during my studies. To rectify this hiatus, I have been examining a number of Christological passages found in the writings of Justin Martyr, comparing English translations with the Greek texts. I chose Justin because he “developed the first Christology" (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 2.549). An important theme that emerges from Justin’s Christological passages is the causality of the Son of God from the Father. From Justin’s Apologies and Dialogue With Trypho we read:

1st Apology, ch. 21

And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth[1] of God... (The First Apology, 21 - ANF 1.170)

And when we say also that the Word, who is the First-begotten[1] of God… (Leslie William Barnard, The First Apology, 21 – Ancient Christian Writers, 56.37)

[1] πρῶτον γέννημα (prōton gennēma)

Τῷ δὲ καὶ τὸν λόγον, ὅ ἐστι πρῶτον γέννημα τοῦ θεοῦ (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, p. 34)

1st Apology, ch. 23

Jesus Christ is the only proper Son who has been begotten[1] by God, being His Word and first-begotten[2], and power… (The First Apology, 23 - ANF 1.170)

Jesus Christ alone was really begotten[1] as Son of God, being His Word and First-begotten[2] and Power; (Leslie William Barnard, The First Apology, 23 – Ancient Christian Writers, 56.39)

[1] γεγέννηται (gegennētai)

[2] πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos)

Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς μόνος ἰδίως υἱὸς τῷ θεῷ γεγέννηται, λόγος αὐτοῦ ὑπάρχων καὶ πρωτότοκος καὶ δύναμις (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, p. 38)

1st Apology, ch. 33

It is wrong, therefore, to understand the Spirit and the power of God as anything else than the Word, who is also the first-born[1] of God, as the foresaid prophet Moses declared; (The First Apology, 33 - ANF 1.174)

The Spirit and Power from God cannot therefore be understood as anything else than the Word, who is also the First-begotten[1] of God, as Moses the above-mentioned prophet testified; (Leslie William Barnard, The First Apology, 33 – Ancient Christian Writers, 56.46)

[1] πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos)

τὸ πνεῦμα  οὖν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τὴν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐδὲν ἄλλο νοῆσαι θέμις ἢ τὸν λόγον, ὃς καὶ πρωτότοκος τῷ θεῷ ἐστι Μωυσῆς (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, p. 53)

1st Apology, ch. 46

We have been taught that Christ is the first-born[1] of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; (The First Apology, 46 - ANF 1.178)

We have been taught that Christ is the First-born[1] of God, and we have suggested above that He is the logos of whom every race of men and women were partakers. (Leslie William Barnard, The First Apology, 46 – Ancient Christian Writers, 56.55)

[1] πρωτότοκον (prōtotokon)

τὸν Χριστὸν πρωτότοκον τοῦ θεοῦ εἶναι ἐδι δάχθημεν καὶ προεμηνύσαμεν λόγον ὄντα, οὗ πᾶν γένος ἀν θρώπων μετέσχε. (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, p. 70)

1st Apology, ch. 53

we believe of a crucified man that He is the first-born[1] of the unbegotten[2] God(The First Apology, 53 - ANF 1.180)

we believe of a crucified man that He is the First-begotten[1] of the Unbegotten[2] God(Leslie William Barnard, The First Apology, 53 – Ancient Christian Writers, 56.60)

[1] πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos)

[2] ἀγεννήτῳ (agennētō)

γὰρ ἂν λόγῳ ἀν θρώπῳ σταυρωθέντι ἐπειθόμεθα, ὅτι πρωτότοκος τῷ ἀγεννήτῳ θεῷ ἐστι (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, p. 78)

1st Apology, ch. 58

For they who are called devils attempt nothing else than to seduce men from God who made them, and from Christ His first-begotten[1]; (The First Apology, 53 - ANF 1.182)

[1] πρωτογόνου (prōtogonou)

οὐ γὰρ ἄλλο τι ἀγωνίζονται οἱ λεγόμενοι δαίμονες, ἢ ἀπάγειν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἀπὸ τοῦ ποιήσαντος θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ πρωτογόνου αὐτοῦ Χριστοῦ· (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, p. 86)

1st Apology, ch. 63

For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son ; who also, being the first-begotten[1] Word of God, is even God. (The First Apology, 63 - ANF 1.184)

For they who affirm that the Son is the Father are shown neither to have known the Father, nor to know that the Father of the Universe has a Son;  who being the logos and First-begotten[1] is also God. (Leslie William Barnard, The First Apology, 63 – Ancient Christian Writers, 56.69)

[1] πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos)

οἱ γὰρ τὸν υἱὸν πατέρα φάσκοντες εἶναι ἐλέγχονται μήτε τὸν πατέρα ἐπιστάμενοι, μηθ' ὅτι ἐστὶν υἱὸς  τῷ πατρὶ τῶν ὅλων γινώσκοντες· ὃς καὶ λόγος πρωτότοκος ὢν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ θεὸς ὑπάρχει. (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, pp. 95, 96)

2nd Apology, ch. 6

But to the Father of all, who is unbegotten[1], there is no name given. For by whatever name He be called, He has as His elder the person who gives Him the name. But these words. Father, and God, and Creator, and Lord, and Master, are not names, but appellations derived from His good deeds and functions. And His Son, who alone is properly called Son, the Word, who also was with Him and was begotten[2] before the works, when at first He created and arranged all things by Him, is called Christ, in reference to His being anointed and God's ordering all things through Him; (The Second Apology, 6 - ANF 1.190)

[1]  γεννήτ(agennētō)

[2] γεννώμενος (gennōmenos)

Ὄνομα δὲ τῷ πάντων πατρὶ θετόν, ἀγεννήτῳ ὄντι, οὐκ ἔστιν· ᾧ γὰρ ἂν καὶ ὄνομά τι προσαγορεύηται, πρεσβύ τερον ἔχει τὸν θέμενον τὸ ὄνομα. τὸ δὲ πατὴρ καὶ θεὸς καὶ κτίστης καὶ κύριος καὶ δεσπότης οὐκ ὀνόματά ἐστιν, ἀλλ' ἐκ τῶν εὐποιϊῶν καὶ τῶν ἔργων προσρήσεις. ὁ δὲ υἱὸς ἐκεί νου, ὁ μόνος λεγόμενος κυρίως υἱός, ὁ λόγος πρὸ τῶν ποιη μάτων καὶ συνὼν καὶ γεννώμενος, ὅτε τὴν ἀρχὴν δι' αὐτοῦ πάντα ἔκτισε καὶ ἐκόσμησε, Χριστὸς μὲν κατὰ τὸ κεχρῖσθαι καὶ κοσ μῆσαι τὰ πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ τὸν θεὸν λέγεται … (A.W.F. Blunt, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, pp. 112, 113)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch, 61

 "I shall give you another testimony, my friends," said I, "from the Scriptures, that God begat[1] before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos ; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father's will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will ; just as we see happening among ourselves : for when we give out some word, we beget the word ; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word  [which remains] in us, when we give it out : and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another] , but remains the same ; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled. The Word of Wisdom, who is Himself this God begotten[2] of the Father of all things, and Word, and Wisdom, and Power, and the Glory of the Begetter, will bear evidence to me, when He speaks by Solomon the following : 'If I shall declare to you what happens daily, I shall call to mind events from everlasting, and review them. The Lord made me the beginning of His ways for His works[3]. From everlasting He established me in the beginning, before He formed the earth, and before He made the depths, and before the springs of waters came forth, before the mountains were settled ; He begets me[4]. (Dialogue with Trypho, 61 - ANF 1.227, 228.)

[1] γεγέννηκε - Migne PG, 6.616

[2] γεννηθείς -  Migne PG, 6.616

[3] Prov. 8.22 (LXX): Κύριος ἔκτισέ με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ - Migne PG, 6.616

[4] Prov. 8.25b (LXX): γεννᾷ με - Migne PG, 6.616

Μαρτύριον δὲ καὶ ἄλλο ὑμῖν, ὦ φίλοι, ἔφην, ἀπὸ τῶν γραφῶν δώσω, ὅτι ἀρχὴν πρὸ πάντων τῶν κτισμάτων ὁ  θεὸς γεγέννηκε δύναμίν τινα ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ λογικήν, ἥτις καὶ δόξα  κυρίου ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου καλεῖται, ποτὲ δὲ υἱός,  ποτὲ δὲ σοφία, ποτὲ δὲ ἄγγελος, ποτὲ δὲ θεός, ποτὲ δὲ κύριος  καὶ λόγος, ποτὲ δὲ ἀρχιστράτηγον ἑαυτὸν λέγει, ἐν ἀνθρώπου  μορφῇ φανέντα τῷ τοῦ Ναυῆ Ἰησοῦ· ἔχει γὰρ πάντα προσονο  μάζεσθαι ἔκ τε τοῦ ὑπηρετεῖν τῷ πατρικῷ βουλήματι καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς θελήσει γεγεννῆσθαι.  ἀλλ' οὐ τοιοῦτον  ὁποῖον καὶ ἐφ' ἡμῶν γινόμενον ὁρῶμεν; λόγον γάρ τινα προ  βάλλοντες, λόγον γεννῶμεν, οὐ κατὰ ἀποτομήν, ὡς ἐλαττωθῆ  ναι τὸν ἐν ἡμῖν λόγον, προβαλλόμενοι. καὶ ὁποῖον  ἐπὶ πυρὸς ὁρῶμεν ἄλλο γινόμενον, οὐκ ἐλαττουμένου ἐκείνου  ἐξ οὗ ἡ ἄναψις γέγονεν, ἀλλὰ τοῦ αὐτοῦ μένοντος, καὶ τὸ ἐξ  αὐτοῦ ἀναφθὲν καὶ αὐτὸ ὂν φαίνεται, οὐκ ἐλαττῶσαν ἐκεῖνο ἐξ  οὗ ἀνήφθη. μαρτυρήσει δέ μοι ὁ λόγος τῆς σοφίας, αὐτὸς  ὢν οὗτος ὁ θεὸς ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς τῶν ὅλων γεννηθείς, καὶ λόγος  καὶ σοφία καὶ δύναμις καὶ δόξα τοῦ γεννήσαντος ὑπάρχων, καὶ  διὰ Σολομῶνος φήσαντος ταῦτα· Ἐὰν ἀναγγείλω ὑμῖν τὰ καθ' ἡμέραν γινόμενα, μνημονεύσω τὰ ἐξ αἰῶνος ἀριθμῆσαι. κύριος  ἔκτισέ με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ. πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος  ἐθεμελίωσέ με ἐν ἀρχῇ, πρὸ τοῦ τὴν γῆν ποιῆσαι καὶ πρὸ τοῦ  τὰς ἀβύσσους ποιῆσαι, πρὸ τοῦ τὰς πηγὰς προελθεῖν τῶν ὑδά  των, πρὸ τοῦ τὰ ὄρη ἑδρασθῆναι· πρὸ δὲ πάντων τῶν βουνῶν  γεννᾷ με. (Migne PG, vol. 6.616)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 62

But this Offspring, which was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with Him ; even as the Scripture by Solomon has made clear, that He  whom Solomon calls Wisdom, was begotten as a Beginning before all His creatures and as Offspring by God(Dialogue with Trypho, 62 - ANF 1.228.)

ἀλλὰ τοῦτο τὸ τῷ ὄντι ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς προβληθὲν  γέννημα πρὸπάντων τῶν ποιημάτων συνῆν τῷ πατρί, καὶ τούτῳ  ὁ πατὴρ προσομιλεῖ, ὡς ὁ λόγος διὰ τοῦ Σολομῶνος ἐδήλωσεν,  ὅτι καὶ ἀρχὴ πρὸ πάντων τῶν ποιημάτων τοῦτ' αὐτὸ καὶ γέννημα  ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐγεγέννητο … (Migne PG, vol. 6.617, 620)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 84

the first-begotten[1] of all creation (Dialogue with Trypho, 84 - ANF 1.241.)

[1] πρωτότοκον (prōtotokos)

τὸν πρωτότοκον τῶν πάντων ποιημάτων (Migne PG, vol. 6.673)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 85

 ...this very Son of God—who is the Firstborn[1] of every creature(Dialogue with Trypho, 85 - ANF 1.241.)

κατὰ γὰρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ τούτου τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πρωτοτόκου πάσης κτίσεως  (Migne PG, vol. 6.676)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 100

we know Him to be the first-begotten[1] of God, and to be before all creatures(Dialogue with Trypho, 100 - ANF 1.249.)

[1] πρωτότοκον (prōtotokon)

γνόντες αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον μὲν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πρὸ πάντων τῶν κτισμάτων (Migne PG, vol. 6.709)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 105

For I have already proved that He was the only-begotten[1] of the Father of all things, being begotten[2] in a peculiar manner Word and Power by Him, and having afterwards become man through the Virgin, as we have learned from the memoirs. (Dialogue with Trypho, 105 - ANF 1.251.)

[1] Μονογενὴς (Monogenēs)

[2] γεγεννημένος (gegennēmenos)

Μονογενὴς γὰρ ὅτι ἦν τῷ πατρὶ τῶν ὅλων οὗτος, ἰδίως ἐξ αὐτοῦ λόγος καὶ δύναμις γεγεννημένος, καὶ ὕστερον ἄνθρωπος διὰ τῆς παρθένου γενόμενος, ὡς ἀπὸ τῶν ἀπομνη μονευμάτων ἐμάθομεν, προεδήλωσα. (Migne PG, vol. 6.720, 721)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 125

 yet nevertheless is God, in that He is the first-begotten[1] of all creatures. (Dialogue with Trypho, 125 - ANF 1.262.)

 [1] πρωτότοκον (prōtotokon)

θεοῦ δὲ ἐκ τοῦ εἶναι τέκνον πρωτότοκον τῶν ὅλων κτισμάτων (Migne PG, vol. 6.768)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 128

And that this power which the prophetic word calls God, as has been also amply demonstrated, and Angel, is not numbered [as different] in name only like the light of the sun, but is indeed something numerically distinct[1], I have discussed briefly in what has gone before ; when I asserted that this power was begotten from the Father[2], by His power and will, but not by abscission, as if the essence of the Father were divided ; as all other things partitioned and divided are not the same after as before they were divided : and, for the sake of example, I took the case of fires kindled from a fire, which we see to be distinct from it, and yet that from which many can be kindled is by no means made less, but remains the same. (Dialogue with Trypho, 128 - ANF 1.264.)

[1] ἀριθμῷ ἕτερόν (arithmō eteron)

[2] γεγεννῆσθαι ἀπὸ τοῦ Πατρός (gegennēsthai apo tou Patros)

καὶ ὅτι δύναμις αὕτη, ἣν καὶ θεὸν καλεῖ  ὁ προφητικὸς λόγος, διὰ πολλῶν ὡσαύτως ἀποδέδεικται, καὶ  ἄγγελον, οὐχ ὡς τὸ τοῦ ἡλίου φῶς ὀνόματι μόνον ἀριθμεῖται,  ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀριθμῷ ἕτερόν τί ἐστι, καὶ ἐν τοῖς προειρημένοις διὰ  βραχέων τὸν λόγον ἐξήτασα, εἰπὼν τὴν δύναμιν ταύτην γεγεν  νῆσθαι ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρός, δυνάμει καὶ βουλῇ αὐτοῦ, ἀλλ' οὐ κατὰ  ἀποτομήν, ὡς ἀπομεριζομένης τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς οὐσίας, ὁποῖα τὰ ἄλλα πάντα μεριζόμενα καὶ τεμνόμενα οὐ τὰ αὐτά ἐστιν ἃ καὶ πρὶν τμηθῆναι· καὶ παραδείγματος χάριν παρειλήφειν ὡς τὰ ἀπὸ πυρὸς ἀναπτόμενα πυρὰ ἕτερα ὁρῶμεν, οὐδὲν ἐλαττουμένου ἐκείνου, ἐξ οὗ ἀναφθῆναι πολλὰ δύνανται, ἀλλὰ ταὐτοῦ μένοντος. (Migne PG, vol. 6.776)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 129

The Lord created me[1] the beginning of His ways for His works. From everlasting He established me in the beginning, before He formed the earth, and before He made the depths, and before the springs of waters came forth, before the mountains were settled ; He begets[2] me before all the hillsthat the Scripture has declared that this Offspring[3] was begotten[4] by the Father before all things created ; and that that which is begotten[5] is numerically distinct[6] from that which begets[7], any one will admit. (Dialogue with Trypho, 129 - ANF 1.264.)

[1] Prov. 8.22 (LXX): Κύριος ἔκτισέ με (Kurios ektise me)

[2] Prov. 8.25b (LXX): γεννᾷ (genna)

[3] γεγεννῆσθαι (gegennēsthai)

[4] γέννημα (gennēma)

[5] γεννώμενον (gennōmenon)

[6] ἀριθμῷ ἕτερόν (arithmō eteron)

[7] γεννῶντος (gennōntos)

Κύριος ἔκτισέ με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ. πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐθεμελίωσέ με, ἐν ἀρχῇ, πρὸ τοῦ τὴν γῆν ποιῆσαι καὶ πρὸ τοῦ τὰς ἀβύσσους ποιῆσαι καὶ πρὸ τοῦ προελθεῖν τὰς πηγὰς τῶν ὑδάτων, πρὸ τοῦ ὄρη ἑδρασθῆ ναι· πρὸ δὲ πάντων βουνῶν γεννᾷ με…καὶ ὅτι γεγεννῆσθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦτο τὸ γέννημα πρὸ πάντων ἁπλῶς τῶν κτισμάτων ὁ λόγος ἐδήλου, καὶ τὸ γεννώμενον τοῦ γεννῶντος ἀριθμῷ ἕτερόν ἐστι, πᾶς ὁστισοῦν ὁμολογήσειε. (Migne PG, vol. 6.777)

As already mentioned, there is an emphasis on the causality of the Son of God from the Father in the above referenced passages. In the last two, Justin also makes mention of a ‘numerical’ distinction between the Father and the Son. Those two passages are not the only instances he does so—note the following:

1st Apology, ch. 13

Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second Place[1], and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove. (First Apology, 13 – ANF 1.166, 167.)

[1] δευτέρᾳ χώρᾳ (deutera chōra) - Migne, PG vol. 6.348

1st Apology, ch. 6o

For he gives the second place[1] to the Logos which is with God(First Apology, 60 – ANF 1.183.)

[1] Δευτέραν μὲν γὰρ χώραν (Deuteran men gar chōran) - (Migne, PG vol. 6.420)

Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 56

I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures, [of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord[1] subject to the Maker of all things ; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all thingsabove whom there is no other God—wishes to announce to them. (Dialogue With Trypho, 56 – ANF 1.223.)

[1] Θεὸς καὶ Κύριος ἔτερος (theos kai kurios eteros) - (Migne, PG vol. 6.597)

It is now time to bring up a question that I suspect is on the minds of some of folk who have taken the time to read the above selections from the writings of Justin: was Justin a Trinitarian?

Ultimately, the answer depends on how one defines the doctrine of the Trinity. One ‘popular’ definition of the Trinity is provided by the Reformed Baptist apologist James R. White in his book The Forgotten Trinity:

Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Page 26)

Mr. White in his above book makes no mention of Justin at all. However, another Reformed Baptist (and former frequent poster here at AF), Ken Temple, published a post back on March 7, 2017 that directly answers our question: Justin Martyr was Trinitarian

Unfortunately for Ken, Justin did not adhere to at least one key component of White’s definition: the coequality of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Justin held to what patristic scholars have termed ‘subordinationism’—i.e. the Son is not coequal to the Father.

Note the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The Word is numerically distinct from the Father (Dial., cxxviii, cxxix; cf. lvi, lxii). He was born of the very substance of the Father, not that this substance was divided, but He proceeds from it as one fire does from another at which it is lit (cxxviii, lxi); this form of production (procession) is compared also with that of human speech (lxi). The Word (Logos) is therefore the Son: much more, He alone may properly be called Son (II Apol., vi, 3); He is the monogenes, the unigenitus (Dial., cv). Elsewhere, however, Justin, like St. Paul, calls Him the eldest Son, prototokos (I Apol., xxxiii; xlvi; lxiii; Dial., lxxxiv, lxxxv, cxxv). The Word is God (I Apol., lxiii; Dial., xxxiv, xxxvi, xxxvii, lvi, lxiii, lxxvi, lxxxvi, lxxxvii, cxiii, cxv, cxxv, cxxvi, cxviii). His Divinity, however, seems subordinate, as does the worship which is rendered to Him (I Apol., vi; cf. lxi, 13; Teder, "Justinsdes Märtyrers Lehre von Jesus Christus", Freiburg imBr., 1906, 103-19). (The Catholic Encyclopedia – 1910, VIII.585 – bold emphasis mine.)

And from John Behr’s, Formation of Christian Theology-Volume One: The Way to Nicaea, we read:

Although Justin speaks in the traditional manner of Jesus Christ, as the Word, revealing God, he shares the common philosophical presupposition of his day that as God is so totally transcendent to created reality he needs an intermediary, his Word, to act for him and to mediate between himself and creation. (p. 103)

As it is not God himself who thus appeared and spoke with man, the Word of God who did all of these things is, for Justin, “another God and Lord besides (ἔτερος παρὰ) the Maker of all," who is also called his "Angel," as he brings messages from the Maker of all, "above whom there is no other God" (Dial. 56.4)….The divinity of Jesus Christ, an “other God,” is no longer that of the Father himself, but subordinate to it, a lesser divinity(p.104 – bold emphasis mine.)

But then, if one begins their definition of the Trinity with the Monarchy of God the Father—which includes a strong emphasis on the causality of the Son from the Father and the teaching that the Father alone is autotheos—I would argue that the term ‘Trinitarian’ could legitimately be applied to Justin’s theology.

[Migne PG = Jacques-Paul Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus Series Graeca – vol. 6 PDF HERE; ANF = The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Roberts and Donaldson – vol. 1 PDF HERE; PDF of Blunt’s, The Apologies of Justin Martyr, HERE; for an excellent bibliography of works on and/or by Justin see the Early Church.org.uk entry HERE.]


Grace and peace,