Monday, April 14, 2008
April 14: Feast Day of Justin Martyr
I've read Justin quite a bit. His writing to me is intriguing simply because of his witness of Early Church practices. And as one of the martyrs of the Church, he has an interesting story for us as well as his historical perspective. Here's a better summary of his life than I could write -- from earlychristianwritings.com:
One of the earliest and most eminent of the Apologists of the second century is St. Justin. Born between 100 and 110 of heathen parents at Flavia Neapolis—the modern Nablus and the ancient Sichem — he felt at an early age a strong attraction for philosophy. He received lessons successively from a Stoic, a Peripatetic, and a Pythagorean, but none satisfied him. Platonism seemed to afford him some peace of mind; but a venerable old man, whose acquaintance he had made (probably at Ephesus), pointed out to him the insufficiency of philosophy and urged him to study the Scriptures and the teachings of Christ. Justin followed this advice and was converted about A. D., 130.
As a Christian, he continued to wear the philosopher's mantle, leading the life of a lay missionary, preaching the doctrine of Christ and defending it as the highest and safest philosophy. Twice he came to Rome, where he spent a considerable time and founded a school which was quite successful. In the same city, most probably, he held, with Crescens, the cynic, the disputations which he mentions in his Second Apology. It is supposed that Crescens denounced him and had him condemned, but there is nothing to prove this. Justin was beheaded in Rome with six other Christians, under Junius Rusticus, prefect of the city, between 163 and 167. We have the authentic acts of his martyrdom.
St. Justin was always admired for the earnestness of his convictions, the nobility of his character, and the perfect loyalty of his dealings. He was an apostle and a saint in the true sense of the words, filled with an ardent desire to do good to those whom he addressed. The earnestness of the writer and the warmth of the discussion alone at times impart to his style eclat and life. From a theological point of view, however, the writings of St. Justin are exceptionally valuable. Not only is he an undeniable witness of the important dogmas of the Incarnation and the Holy Eucharist, but he is the first who carefully studied the relations between faith and reason and who introduced the Greek categories and a philosophical terminology into his doctrinal expositions. In this he is a true pioneer.
We are acquainted with the titles of nine or ten of St. Justin's authentic works: Eusebius mentions the two Apologies, a Discourse against the Greeks, A Refutation against the Greeks, a writing known as De Monarchia Divina, another entitled The Psalter, a treatise On the Soul, written in the form of scholia, and the Dialogue with Trypho.