Justin Martyr

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The early church father Justin Martyr

Justin (Latin: Marcus Junianus Justinus Frontinus) was a second century author commonly known as Justin Martyr who converted to Christianity. He is best known for his apologies before he was later martyred for his faith from whence his common coloquial agnomen is derived. His works flourished during the 3rd centuary and remained vastly popular during the Medieval period providing us with over 200 source documents.


Justin's History of the World

Justin's History of the World otherwise known as Epitome is understood to be an abridgement of Pompey Trogue's work Historiae Philippicae et totius mundi origines et terrae situs (otherwise known as Philippic Histories) whose work compiled in the time of Augustus is now lost. But the work now preserved through Justin Martyr is considered important to students of the Hellenistic period due to its Macedonian and Parthian content. Some critics accuse the work of "colourless moralising"[1] While others suggest that the identities of Justin Martyr and the author of the histories may have been mistaken as the same.[2]

Dialogue with Trypho

Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho can be sumarised as a debate between Justin Martyr and a Jew arguing that Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism.


In his "apologies" (from the Greek plural apologia, singular apologion, "explanations") to the emperor Antoninus Pius and the Roman Senate, he argued that the truth found in Greek philosophy prefigured some of the teachings of Christ.


Very little is known about the life of Justin Martyr, with his name only ever appearing in the title of his work. But is generally accepted that he was born about 100 AD and became a philosopher who had experimented with Stoicism, Pythagoreanism and Platonism who later accepted Christianity around 132 AD; this event being the result of a challenge to the Jewish scriptures. It is also generally understood that Justin Martyr traveled extensively throughout the Roman Empire before was beheaded for his faith around 165 AD at the behest of the emperor Marcus Aurelius. But this narrative is questioned by Sir Ronald Syme as he argues for a date for Justin's History of the World being around AD 390 after the publication of Augustan History.


"No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false."

"To yield and give way to our passions is the lowest slavery, even as to rule over them is the only liberty." - Fragment 18

"Everyone who flees from what is superficially good and follows what is reckoned hard and foolish finds happiness awaiting him." - Second Apology

"Let it be understood that those who are not found living as He taught are not Christian - even though they profess with the lips the teaching of Christ."

"We will not require that you punish our accusers; they being sufficiently punished by their present wickedness and ignorance of what is right." - First Apology, Chapter 7

"When you hear that we look for a kingdom, you suppose, without making any inquiry, that we speak of a human kingdom; whereas we speak of that which is with God." - First Apology, Chapter 11

"For we ought not to strive; neither has He (Jesus) desired us to be imitators of wicked men, but He has exhorted us to lead all men, by patience and gentleness, from shame and the love of evil." - First Apology, Chapter 16

"And the perception of immaterial things quite overpowered me, and the contemplation of ideas furnished my mind with wings, so that in a little while I supposed that I had become wise; and such was my stupidity, I expected forthwith to look upon God, for this is the end of Plato's philosophy." - Dialogue with Trypho - Chapter 2

"Hence are we called atheists. And we confess that we are atheists, so far as gods of this sort are concerned, but not with respect to the most true God, the Father of righteousness and temperance and the other virtues, who is free from all impurity. But both Him, and the Son who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him, and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth, and declaring without grudging to every one who wishes to learn, as we have been taught." - First Apology - Chapter 6


McDowell, Josh. Evidence for Christianity. Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2006.
  1. Encyclopedia Britannica, retrieved 2024-01-26
  2. Chrisholm, Hugh, (ed. 1911) "Justin" Encyclopedia Britannica, (11th Edition) Cambridge University Press