Freethought Archives > Walter R. Cassels > Supernatural Religion 




WE shall now consider the evidence furnished by the works of Justin Martyr regarding the existence of our Synoptic Gospels at the middle of the second century, and we may remark, in anticipation, that, whatever differences of opinion may finally exist regarding the solution of the problem which we have to examine, at least it is clear that the testimony of Justin Martyr is not of a nature to establish the date, authenticity, and character of Gospels professing to communicate such momentous and astounding doctrines. The determination of the source from which Justin derived his facts of Christian history has for a century attracted more attention, and excited more controversy, than almost any other similar question in connection with patristic literature, and upon none have more divergent opinions been expressed.

Justin, who suffered martyrdom about A.D. 166-167 [181:1] under Marcus Aurelius, probably at the instigation of the cynical philosopher, Crescens, was born in the Greek-Roman colony, Flavia Nebulas, [181:2] established during the reign of Vespasian, near the ancient Sichem in Samaria. By descent he was a Greek, and during the earlier part of his life a heathen; but, after long and disappointed study of Greek philosophy, he became a convert to Christianity [181:3] strongly tinged with Judaism. It is not necessary to enter into any discussion as to the authenticity of the writings which have come down to us bearing Justin's name, many of which are undoubtedly spurious, for the two Apologies and the Dialogue with Trypho, with which we have almost exclusively to do, are generally admitted to be genuine. It is true that there has been a singular controversy regarding the precise relation to each other of the two Apologies now extant, the following contradictory views having been maintained: that they are the two Apologies mentioned by Eusebius, and in their original order; that they are Justin's two Apologies, but that Eusebius was wrong in affirming that the second was addressed to Marcus Aurelius; that our second Apology was the preface or appendix to the first, and that the original second is lost. The shorter Apology contains nothing of interest connected with our inquiry.

There has been much controversy as to the date of the two Apologies, and much difference of opinion still exists on the point. Many critics assign the larger to about A.D. 138-140, and the shorter to A.D. 160-161. A passage, however, occurs in the longer Apology, which indicates that it must have been written about a century and a half after the commencement of the Christian era, or, according to accurate reckoning, about A.D. 147. Justin speaks, in one part of it, of perverted deductions being drawn from his teaching "that Christ was born 150 years ago under Cyrenius." [182:1] Those who contend for the earlier date have no stronger argument against this statement than the unsupported assertion, that in this passage Justin merely speaks "in round numbers"; but many important circumstances confirm the date which Justin thus gives us. In the superscription of the Apology, Antoninus is called "Pius," a title which was first bestowed upon him in the year 139. Moreover, Justin directly refers to Marcion, as a man "now living and teaching his disciples and who has, by the aid of demons, caused many of all nations to utter blasphemies," etc. [182:2] Now the fact has been established that Marcion did not come to Rome, where Justin himself was, until A.D. 139-142, when his prominent public career commenced, and it is apparent that the words of Justin indicate a period when his doctrines had already become widely diffused. For these and many other strong reasons, which need not here be detailed, the majority of competent critics agree in more correctly assigning the first Apology to about A.D. 147. The Dialogue with Trypho, as internal evidence shows, [182:3] was written after the longer Apology, and it is therefore generally dated some time within the first decade of the second half of the second century.

In these writings Justin quotes very copiously from the Old Testament, and he also very frequently refers to facts of Christian history and to sayings of Jesus. Of these references, for instance, some fifty occur in the first Apology, and upwards of seventy in the Dialogue with Trypho, a goodly number, it will be admitted, by means of which to identify the source from which he quotes. Justin himself frequently and distinctly says that his information and quotations are derived from the Memoirs of the Apostles (Apomnêmoneumata tôn apostolôn), but except upon one occasion, which we shall hereafter consider, when he indicates Peter, he never mentions an author's name. Upon examination it is found that, with only one or two brief exceptions, the numerous quotations from these Memoirs differ more or less widely from parallel passages in our Synoptic Gospels, and in many cases differ in the same respects as similar quotations found in other writings of the second century, the writers of which are known to have made use of uncanonical Gospels; and, further, that these passages are quoted several times, at intervals, by Justin with the same variations. Moreover, sayings of Jesus are quoted from these Memoirs which are not found in our Gospels at all, and facts in the life of Jesus and circumstances of Christian history derived from the same source, not only are not found in our Gospels, but are in contradiction with them.

These peculiarities have, as might have been expected, created much diversity of opinion regarding the nature of the Memoirs of the Apostles. In the earlier days of New Testament criticism more especially, many of course at once identified the Memoirs with our Gospels exclusively, and the variations were explained by conveniently elastic theories of free quotation from memory, imperfect and varying MSS., combination, condensation, and transposition of passages, with slight additions from tradition, or even from some other written source, and so on. Others endeavoured to explain away difficulties by the supposition that they were a simple harmony of our Gospels, or a harmony of the Gospels, with passages added from some apocryphal work. A much greater number of critics, however, adopt the conclusion that, along with our Gospels, Justin made use of one or more apocryphal Gospels, and more especially of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, or according to Peter, and also perhaps of tradition. Others assert that he made use of a special unknown Gospel, or of the Gospel according to the Hebrews or according to Peter, with the subsidiary use of a version of one or two of our Gospels, to which, however, he did not attach much importance, preferring the apocryphal work; whilst others have concluded that Justin did not make use of our Gospels at all, and that his quotations are either from the Gospel according to the Hebrews, or according to Peter, or from some other special apocryphal Gospel now no longer extant.

Evidence permitting of such wide diversity of results to serious and laborious investigation of the identity of Justin's Memoirs of the Apostles cannot be of much value towards establishing the authenticity of our Gospels, and, in the absence of any specific mention of our Synoptics, any very elaborate examination of the Memoirs might be considered unnecessary, more especially as it is admitted almost universally by competent critics that Justin did not himself consider the Memoirs of the Apostles inspired, or of any dogmatic authority, and had no idea of attributing canonical rank to them. In pursuance of the system which we desire invariably to adopt of enabling every reader to form his own opinion, we shall, as briefly as possible, state the facts of the case, and furnish materials for a full comprehension of the subject. 

Justin himself, as we have already mentioned, frequently and distinctly states that his information regarding Christian history and his quotations are derived from the Memoirs of the Apostles (Apomnêmoneumata tôn apostolôn), to adopt the usual translation, although the word might more correctly be rendered "Recollections," or "Memorabilia." It has frequently been surmised that this name was suggested by the Apomnêmoneumata Sôkratous of Xenophon, but, as Credner has pointed out, the similarity is purely accidental, and, to constitute a parallel, the title should have been Memoirs of Jesus[184:1] The word is here evidently used merely in the sense of records written from memory, and it is so employed by Papias in the passage preserved by Eusebius regarding Mark, who, although he had not himself followed the Lord, yet recorded his words from what he heard from Peter, and who, having done so without order, is still defended for "thus writing some things as he remembered them" (outôs enia graphas hôs apomnêmoneusen). [184:2] In the same way Irenaeus refers to the "Memoirs of a certain Presbyter of apostolic times" (apomnêmoneumata apostolikou tinos presbyterou), [184:3] whose name he does not mention; and Origen still more closely approximates to Justin's use of the word when, expressing his theory regarding the Epistle to the Hebrews, he says that the thoughts are the Apostle's, but the phraseology and the composition are of one recording from memory what the Apostle said (apomnêmoneusantos tinos ta apostolika), and as of one writing at leisure the dictation of his master. [184:4] Justin himself speaks of the authors of the Memoirs as oi apomnêmoneusantes[184:5] and the expression was then and afterwards constantly in use amongst ecclesiastical and other writers. [184:6]

This title, Memoirs of the Apostles, however, although the most appropriate to mere recollections of the life and teaching of Jesus, evidently could not be applied to works ranking as canonical Gospels, but, in fact, excludes such an idea; and the whole of Justin's views regarding Holy Scripture prove that he saw in the Memoirs merely records from memory to assist memory. He does not call them graphai, but adheres always to the familiar name of apomnêmoneumata and whilst his constant appeals to a written source show very clearly his abandonment of oral tradition, there is nothing in the name of his records which can identify them with our Gospels. 

Justin designates the source of his quotations ten times, the Memoirs of the Apostles[185:1] and five times he calls it simply the "Memoirs." [185:2] He says, upon one occasion, that these Memoirs were composed "by his Apostles and their followers," [185:3] but except in one place to which we have already referred, and which we shall hereafter fully examine, he never mentions the author's name, nor does he ever give any more precise information regarding their composition. It has been argued that, in saying that these Memoirs were recorded by the Apostles and their followers, Justin intentionally and literally described the four canonical Gospels, the first and fourth of which are ascribed to Apostles and the other two to Mark and Luke, the followers of Apostles; but such an inference is equally forced and unfounded. The language itself forbids this explanation, for Justin does not speak indefinitely of Memoirs of Apostles and their followers, but of Memoirs of the Apostles, invariably using the article which refers the Memoirs to the collective body of the Apostles. Moreover, the incorrectness of such an inference is manifest from the fact that circumstances are stated by Justin as derived from these Memoirs, which do not exist in our Gospels at all, and which, indeed, are contradictory to them. Vast numbers of spurious writings, moreover, bearing the names of Apostles and their followers, and claiming more or less direct apostolic authority, were in circulation in the early Church -- Gospels according to Peter, [185:4] to Thomas, [185:5] to James, [185:6] to Judas, [185:7] according to the Apostles, or according to the Twelve, [185:8] to Barnabas, [185:9] to Matthias, [185:10] to Nicodemus, [185:11] etc., and ecclesiastical writers bear abundant testimony to the early and rapid growth of apocryphal literature.[186:1] The very names of most of such apocryphal Gospels are lost, whilst of others we possess considerable information; but nothing is more certain than the fact that there existed many works bearing names which render the attempt to interpret the title of Justin's Gospel as a description of the four in our canon quite unwarrantable. The words of Justin evidently imply simply that the source of his quotations is the collective recollections of the Apostles, and those who followed them, regarding the life and teaching of Jesus.

The title, Memoirs of the Apostles, by no means indicates a plurality of Gospels. A single passage has been pointed out in which the Memoirs are said to have been called euangelia in the plural: "For the Apostles in the Memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels," [186:2] etc. The last expression, ha kaleitai euangelia, as many scholars have declared, is probably an interpolation. It is, in all likelihood, a gloss on the margin of some old MS. which some copyist afterwards inserted in the text. [186:3] If Justin really stated that the Memoirs were called Gospels, it seems incomprehensible that he should never call them so himself. In no other place in his writings does he apply the plural to them, but, on the contrary, we find Trypho referring to the "so-called Gospel," which he states that he has carefully read, [186:4] and which, of course, can only be Justin's "Memoirs"; and, again, in another part of the same dialogue, Justin quotes passages which are written "in the Gospel" [186:5] (en tô euangeliô gegraptai). The term "Gospel" is nowhere else used by Justin in reference to a written record. [186:6] In no case, however, considering the numerous Gospels then in circulation, and the fact that many of these, different from the canonical Gospels, are known to have been exclusively used by distinguished contemporaries of Justin, and by various communities of Christians in that day, could such an expression be taken as a special indication of the canonical Gospels. [187:1]

Describing the religious practices amongst Christians in another place, Justin states that, at their assemblies on Sundays, "the Memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits." [187:2] This, however, by no means identifies the Memoirs with the canonical Gospels, for it is well known that many writings which have been excluded from the canon were publicly read in the churches until very long after Justin's day. We have already met with several instances of this. Eusebius mentions that the Epistle of the Roman Clement was publicly read in churches in his time, [187:3] and he quotes an Epistle of Dionysius of Corinth to Soter, the Bishop of Rome, which states that fact for the purpose of "showing that it was the custom to read it in the churches, even from the earliest times." [187:4] Dionysius likewise mentions the public reading of the Epistle of Soter to the Corinthians. Epiphanius refers to the reading in the churches of the Epistle of Clement, [187:5] and it continued to be so read in Jerome's day. [187:6] In like manner the Shepherd of Hermas, [187:7] the "Apocalypse of Peter," [187:8] and other works excluded from the canon, were publicly read in the church in early days. [187:9] It is certain that Gospels which did not permanently secure a place in the canon, such as the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Gospel according to Peter, the Gospel of the Ebionites, and many kindred Gospels, which in early times were exclusively used by various communities, [188:1] must have been read at their public assemblies. The public reading of Justin's Memoirs, therefore, does not prove anything, for this practice was by no means limited to the works now in our canon.

The idea of attributing inspiration to the Memoirs, or to any other work of the Apostles, with the single exception, as we shall presently see, of the Apocalypse of John, [188:2] which, as prophecy, entered within his limits, was quite foreign to Justin, who recognised the Old Testament alone as the inspired Word of God. Indeed, as we have already said, the very name "Memoirs" in itself excludes the thought of inspiration, which Justin attributed only to prophetic writings; and he could not in any way regard as inspired the written tradition of the Apostles and their followers, or a mere record of the words of Jesus. On the contrary, he held the accounts of the Apostles to be credible solely from their being authenticated by the Old Testament, and he clearly states that he believes the facts recorded in the Memoirs because the spirit of prophecy had already foretold them. [188:3] According to Justin, the Old Testament contained all that was necessary for salvation, and its prophecies are the sole criterion of truth -- the Memoirs, and even Christ himself, being merely its interpreters. [188:4] He says that Christ commanded us not to put faith in human doctrines, but in those proclaimed by the holy prophets, and taught by himself. [188:5] Prophecy and the words of Christ himself are alone of dogmatic value; all else is human teaching. Indeed, from a passage quoted with approval by Irenaeus, Justin, in his lost work against Marcion, said: "I would not have believed the Lord himself if he had proclaimed any other God than the Creator -- that is to say, the God of the Old Testament. [188:6]

That Justin does not mention the name of the author of the Memoirs would, in any case, render any argument as to their identity with our canonical Gospels inconclusive; but the total omission to do so is the more remarkable from the circumstance that the names of Old Testament writers constantly occur in his writings. Semisch counts 197 quotations of the Old Testament, in which Justin refers to the author by name, or to the book, and only 117 in which he omits to do so [189:1] and the latter number might be reduced by considering the nature of the passages cited, and the inutility of repeating the reference. [189:2] When it is considered, therefore, that notwithstanding the numerous quotations and references to facts of Christian history, all purporting to be derived from the Memoirs, he absolutely never, except in the one instance referred to, mentions an author's name, or specifies more clearly the nature of the source, the inference must not only be that he attached small importance to the Memoirs, but also that he was actually ignorant of the author's name, and that his Gospel had no more definite superscription. Upon the theory that the Memoirs of the Apostles were simply our four canonical Gospels, the singularity of the omission is increased by the diversity of contents and of authors, and the consequently greater necessity and probability that he should, upon certain occasions, distinguish between them. The fact is that the only writing of the New Testament to which Justin refers by name is, as we have already mentioned, the Apocalypse, which he attributes to "a certain man whose name was John, one of the Apostles of Christ, who prophesied by a revelation made to him," etc. [189:3] The manner in which John is here mentioned, after the Memoirs had been so constantly indefinitely referred to, clearly shows that Justin did not possess any Gospel also attributed to John. That he does name John, however, as author of the Apocalypse, and so frequently refers to Old Testament writers by name, yet never identifies the author of the Memoirs, is quite irreconcilable with the idea that they were the canonical Gospels.

It is perfectly clear, however -- and this is a point of very great importance, upon which critics of otherwise widely diverging views are agreed -- that Justin quotes from a written source, and that oral tradition is excluded from his system.  He not only does not, like Papias, attach value to tradition, but, on the contrary, he affirms that in the Memoirs is recorded "everything that concerns our Saviour Jesus Christ." [190:1] He constantly refers to them, directly, as the source of his information regarding the history of Jesus, and distinctly states that he has derived his quotations from them. There is no reasonable ground for affirming that Justin supplemented or modified the contents of the Memoirs by oral tradition. It must, therefore, be remembered, in considering the nature of these Memoirs, that the facts of Christian history and the sayings of Jesus are derived from a determinate written source, and are quoted as Justin found them there. Those who attempt to explain the divergences of Justin's quotations from the canonical Gospels, which they still maintain to have been his Memoirs, on the plea of oral tradition, defend the identity at the expense of the authority of the Gospels; for nothing could more forcibly show Justin's disregard and disrespect for the Gospels than would the fact that, possessing them, he not only never names their authors, but considers himself at liberty continually to contradict, modify, and revise their statements.

As we have already remarked, when we examine the contents of the Memoirs of the Apostles through Justin's numerous quotations, we find that many parts of the Gospel narratives are apparently quite unknown, whilst, on the other hand, we meet with facts of evangelical history which are foreign to the canonical Gospels, and others which are contradictory of Gospel statements. Justin's quotations, almost without exception, vary more or less from the parallels in the canonical text, and often these variations are consistently repeated by himself, and are found in other works about his time. Moreover, Justin quotes expressions of Jesus which are not found in our Gospels at all. The omissions, though often very singular, supposing the canonical Gospels before him, and almost inexplicable when it is considered how important they would often have been to his argument, need not, as merely negative evidence, be dwelt on here; but we shall briefly illustrate the other peculiarities of Justin's quotations.

The only genealogy of Jesus which is recognised by Justin is traced through the Virgin Mary. She it is who is descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and from the house of David, and Joseph is completely set aside. [190:2] Jesus "was born of a virgin of the lineage of Abraham and tribe of Judah and of David, Christ, the Son of God." [190:3] "Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the lineage of Abraham." [191:1] "For of the virgin of the seed of Jacob, who was the father of Judah, who, as we have shown, was the father of the Jews, by the power of God was he conceived; and Jesse was his forefather according to the prophecy, and he (Jesus) was the son of Jacob and Judah, according to successive descent." [191:2] The genealogy of Jesus in the canonical Gospels, on the contrary, is traced solely through Joseph, who alone is stated to be of the lineage of David. [191:3] The genealogies of Matthew and Luke, though differing in several important points, at least agree in excluding Mary. That of the third Gospel commences with Joseph, and that of the first ends with him: "And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." [191:4] The angel who warns Joseph, not to put away his wife addresses him as "Joseph, thou son of David"; [191:5] and the angel Gabriel, who, according to the third Gospel, announces to Mary the supernatural conception, is sent "to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David." [191:6] So persistent, however, is Justin in ignoring this Davidic descent through Joseph, that not only does he at least eleven times trace it through Mary, but his Gospel materially differs from the canonical, where the descent of Joseph, from David is mentioned by the latter. In the third Gospel Joseph, goes to Judaea, "unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David." [191:7] Justin, however, simply states that he went "to Bethlehem … for his descent was from the tribe of Judah, which inhabited that region. [191:8] There can be no doubt that Justin not only did not derive his genealogies from the canonical Gospels, but that, on the contrary, the Memoirs, from which he did learn the Davidic descent through Mary only, differed persistently and materially from them.

Many traces still exist to show that the view of Justin's Memoirs of the Apostles of the Davidic descent of Jesus through Mary instead of through Joseph, as the canonical Gospels represent it, was anciently held in the Church. Apocryphal Gospels of early date, based without doubt upon more ancient evangelical works, are still extant, in which the genealogy of Jesus is traced, as in Justin's Memoirs, through Mary. One of these is the Gospel of James, commonly called the Protevangelium, a work referred to by ecclesiastical writers of the third and fourth centuries, [191:9] and which Tischendorf even ascribes to the first threedecades of the second century, [192:1] in which Mary is stated to be of the lineage of David. [192:2] She is also described as of the royal race and family of David in the Gospel of the Nativity of Mary; [192:3] and in the Gospel of pseudo-Matthew her Davidic descent is prominently mentioned. [192:4] There can be no doubt that all of these works are based upon earlier originals, [192:5] and there is no reason why they may not have been drawn from the same source from which Justin derived his version of the genealogy in contradiction to the Synoptics. [192:6]

In the narrative of the events which preceded the birth of Jesus, the first Gospel describes the angel as appearing only to Joseph and explaining the supernatural conception, [192:7] and the author seems to know nothing of any announcement to Mary. [192:8] The third Gospel, on the contrary, does not mention any such angelic appearance to Joseph, but represents the angel as announcing the conception to Mary herself alone. [192:9] Justin's Memoirs know of the appearances, both to Joseph and to Mary; but the words spoken by the angel on each occasion differ materially from those of both Gospels. [192:10] In this place only one point, however, can be noticed. Justin describes the angel as saying to Mary, "'Behold, thou shalt conceive of the Holy Ghost, and shalt bear a son, and he shall be called the Son of the Highest, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins,' as they taught who recorded everything that concerns our Saviour Jesus Christ." [193:1] Now, this is a clear and direct quotation, but, besides distinctly differing in form from our Gospels, it presents the important peculiarity that the words, "for he shall save his people from their sins," are not, in Luke, addressed to Mary at all, but that they occur in the first Gospel in the address of the angel to Joseph. [193:2]

These words, however, are not accidentally inserted in this place, for we find that they are joined in the same manner to the address of the angel to Mary in the Protevangelium of James: "For the power of the Lord will overshadow thee; wherefore also that holy thing which is born of thee shall be called the Son of the Highest, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." [193:3] Tischendorf states his own opinion that this passage is a recollection of the Protevangelium unconsciously added by Justin to the account in Luke, [193:4] but the arbitrary nature of the limitation "unconsciously" (ohne dass er sich dessen bewusst war) here is evident. There is a point in connection with this which merits a moment's attention. In the text of the Protevangelium, edited by Tischendorf, the angel commences his address to Mary by saying, "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour before the Lord, and thou shalt conceive of His Word" (kai syllêpsê ek logou autou). [193:5] Now, Justin, after quoting the passage above, continues to argue that the Spirit and the power of God must not be misunderstood to mean anything else than the Word, who is also the first-born of God, as the prophet Moses declared; and it was this which, when it came upon the Virgin and overshadowed her, caused her to conceive. [193:6] The occurrence of the singular expression in the Protevangelium and the similar explanation of Justin immediately accompanying a variation from our Gospels, which is equally shared by the apocryphal work, strengthens the suspicion of a similarity of origin. Justin's divergences from the Protevangelium prevent our supposing that, in its present state, it could have been the actual source of his quotations; but the wide differences which exist between the extant MSS. of the Protevangelium show that even the most ancient does not present it in its original form. It is much more probable that Justin had before him a still older work, to which both the Protevangelium and the third Gospel were indebted.

Justin's account of the removal of Joseph to Bethlehem is peculiar, and evidently, is derived from a distinct uncanonical source. It may be well to present his account and that of Luke side by side:

JUSTIN. DIAL. c. TR. 78.

LUKE 2:1-5.

On the occasion of the first census which was taken in Judaea (en tê Ioudaia)

1.... there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world (pasan tên oikoumenên) should be enrolled.


And this census was first made

under Cyrenius (first Procurator [epitropos] of Judaea. Apol. 1:34), Joseph had gone up from Nazareth, where he dwelt, to Bethlehem, from whence he was, to enrol himself.

when Cyrenius was Governor (hêgemôn) of Syria.
4. And Joseph went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judaea, unto the City of David, which is called Bethlehem;

For his descent was from the Tribe of Judah, which inhabited that region.

Because he was of the house and lineage of David;
5. to enrol himself.

Attention has already been drawn to the systematic manner in which the Davidic descent of Jesus is traced by Justin through Mary, and to the suppression in this passage of all that might seem to indicate a claim of descent through Joseph. As the continuation of a peculiar representation of the history of the infancy of Jesus, differing materially from that of the Synoptics, it is impossible to regard this, with its remarkable variations, as an arbitrary correction by Justin of the canonical text, and we must hold it to be derived from a different source -- perhaps, indeed, one of those from which Luke's Gospel itself first drew the elements of the narrative; and this persuasion increases as further variations in the earlier history, presently to be considered, are taken into account. It is not necessary to enter into the question of the correctness of the date of this census, but it is evident that Justin's Memoirs clearly and deliberately modify the canonical narrative. The limitation of the census to Judea, instead of extending it to the whole Roman Empire; the designation of Cyrenius as epitropos of Judaea instead of hêgemôn of Syria; and the careful suppression of the Davidic element in connection with Joseph, indicate a peculiar written source different from the Synoptics. 

Had Justin departed from the account in Luke with the view of correcting inaccurate statements, the matter might have seemed more consistent with the use of the third Gospel, although, at the same time, it might have evinced but little reverence for it as a canonical work. On the contrary, however, the statements of Justin are still more inconsistent with history than those in Luke, inasmuch as, so far from being the first Procurator of Judea, as Justin's narrative states in opposition to the third Gospel, Cyrenius never held that office, but was really, later, the imperial proconsul over Syria, and, as such, when Judaea became a Roman province after the banishment of Archelaus, had the power to enrol the inhabitants, and instituted Caponius as first Procurator of Judaea. Justin's statement involves the position that at one and the same time Herod was the King, and Cyrenius the Roman Procurator of Judaea. [195:1] In the same spirit, and departing from the usual narrative of the Synoptics, which couples the birth of Jesus with "the days of Herod the King," Justin, in another place, states that Christ was born "under Cyrenius." [195:2] Justin evidently adopts, without criticism, a narrative which he found in his Memoirs, and does not merely correct and remodel a passage of the third Gospel, but, on the contrary, seems altogether ignorant of it.

The genealogies of Jesus in the first and third Gospels differ irreconcilably from each other. Justin differs from both. In this passage another discrepancy arises. While Luke seems to represent Nazareth as the dwelling-place of Joseph and Mary, and Bethlehem as the city to which they went solely on account of the census, [195:3] Matthew, who appears to know nothing of the census, makes Bethlehem, on the contrary, the place of residence of Joseph; [195:4] and, on coming back from Egypt, with the evident intention of returning to Bethlehem, Joseph is warned by a dream to turn aside into Galilee, and he goes and dwells -- apparently for the first time -- "in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets: He shall be called a Nazarene." [195:5] Justin, however, goes still further than the third Gospel in his departure from the data of Matthew, and where Luke merely infers, Justin distinctly asserts Nazareth to have been the dwelling-place of Joseph (entha ôkei), and Bethlehem, in contradistinction, the place from which he derived his origin (hothen ên).

The same view is to be found in several apocryphal Gospels still extant. In the Protevangelium of James, again, we find Joseph journeying to Bethlehem with Mary before the birth of Jesus. [196:1] The census here is ordered by Augustus, who commands: "That all who were in Bethlehem of Judaea should be enrolled," [196:2] a limitation worthy of notice in comparison with that of Justin. In like manner the Gospel of the Nativity. This Gospel represents the parents of Mary as living in Nazareth, in which place she was born, [196:3] and it is here that the angel Gabriel announces to her the supernatural conception. [196:4] Joseph goes to Bethlehem to set his house in order and prepare what is necessary for the marriage, but then returns to Nazareth, where he remains with Mary until her time was nearly accomplished, [196:5] "when Joseph, having taken his wife, with whatever else was necessary, went to the city of Bethlehem, whence he was." [196:6] The phrase "unde ipse erat" recalls the hothen ên of Justin. [196:7]

As we continue the narrative of the birth and infancy of Jesus we meet with further variations from the account in the canonical Gospels for which the preceding have prepared us, and which indicate that Justin's Memoirs certainly differed from them.

But the child having been born in Bethlehem -- for Joseph, not being able to find a lodging in the village, lodged in a certain cave near the village, and then while they were there Mary had brought forth the Christ and had placed him in a manger, etc. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger; because there was no room in the inn.

At least it is clear that these particulars of the birth of Jesus -- not taking place in Bethlehem itself, but in a cave (en spêlaiô) near the village, because Joseph could not find a lodging there -- are not derived from our Gospels; and here even Semisch [197:1] is forced to abandon his theory that Justin's variations arise merely from imperfectly quoting from memory, and to conjecture that he must have adopted tradition. It has, however, been shown that Justin himself distinctly excludes tradition, and in this case, moreover, there are many special reasons for believing that he quotes from a written source. Ewald rightly points out that here, and in other passages where, in common with ancient ecclesiastical writers, Justin departs from our Gospels, the variation can in no way be referred to oral tradition; [197:2] and, moreover, that when Justin proves [197:3] from Isaiah 33:16 that Christ must be born in a cave, he thereby shows how certainly he found the fact of the cave in his written Gospel. [197:4] The whole argument of Justin excludes the idea that he could avail himself of mere tradition. He maintains that everything which the prophets had foretold of Christ had actually been fulfilled, and he perpetually refers to the Memoirs and other written documents for the verification of his assertions. He either refers to the prophets for the confirmation of the Memoirs or shows in the Memoirs the narrative of facts which are the accomplishment of prophecies; but in both cases it is manifest that there must have been a record of the facts which he mentions. There can be no doubt that the circumstances we have just quoted, and which are not found in the canonical Gospels, must have been narrated in Justin's Memoirs.

We find, again, the same variations as in Justin in several extant apocryphal Gospels. The Protevangelium of James represents the birth of Jesus as taking place in a cave; [197:5] so, also, the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, [197:6] and several others. [197:7] This uncanonical detail is also mentioned by several of the Fathers, Origen and Eusebius both stating that the cave and the manger were still shown in their day. [197:8] Tischendorf does not hesitate to affirm that Justin derived this circumstance from the Protevangelium[198:1] Justin, however, does not distinguish such a source; and the mere fact that we have still extant a form of that Gospel in which it occurs by no means justifies such a specific conclusion, when so many other works, now lost, may equally have contained it. If the fact be derived from theProtevangelium, that work, or whatever other apocryphal Gospel may have supplied it, must be admitted to have at least formed part of the Memoirs of the Apostles, and with that necessary admission ends all special identification of the Memoirs with our canonical Gospels. Much more probably, however, Justin quotes from the more ancient source from which the Protevangelium and, perhaps, Luke drew their narrative. There can be very little doubt that the Gospel according to the Hebrews contained an account of the birth in Bethlehem, and, as it is at least certain that Justin quotes other particulars known to have been in it, there is fair reason to suppose that he likewise found this fact in that work. In any case, it is indisputable that he derived it from a source different from our canonical Gospels.

Justin does not apparently know anything of the episode of the shepherds of the plain, and the angelic appearance to them, narrated in the third Gospel. [198:2]

To the cave in which the infant Jesus is born came the Magi; but, instead of employing the phrase used by the first Gospel, "Magi from the East" [198:3] (magoi apo anatolôn), Justin always describes them as "Magi from Arabia" (magoi apo Arabias). Justin is so punctilious that he never speaks of these Magi without adding "from Arabia," except twice, where, however, he immediately mentions Arabia as the point of the argument for which they are introduced; and in the same chapter in which this occurs he four times calls them directly Magi from Arabia. [198:4] He uses this expression not less than nine times. [198:5] That he had no objection to the term "the East," and that with a different context it was common to his vocabulary, is proved by his use of it elsewhere. [198:6] It is impossible to resist the conviction that Justin's Memoirs contained the phrase, "Magi from Arabia," which is foreign to our Gospels. 

Again, according to Justin, the Magi see the star "in the heaven" (en tô ouranô), [199:1] and not "in the East" (en tê anatolê), as the first Gospel has it: [199:2] "When a star rose in heaven (en ouranô) at the time of his birth, as is recorded in the Memoirs of the Apostles ." [199:3] He apparently knows nothing of the star guiding them to the place where the young child was. [199:4] Herod, moreover, questions the elders (presbyteroi[199:5] as to the place where the Christ should be born, and not the "chief priests and scribes of the people" (archiereis kai grammateis tou laou). [199:6] These divergences, taken in connection with those which are interwoven with the whole narrative of the birth, can only proceed from the fact that Justin quotes from a source different from ours.

Justin relates that when Jesus came to Jordan he was believed to be the son of Joseph, the carpenter, and he appeared without comeliness, as the Scriptures announced; "and being considered a carpenter -- for, when he was amongst men, he made carpenter's works, ploughs, and yokes (arotra kai zyga); by these both teaching the symbols of righteousness and an active life." [199:7] These details are foreign to the canonical Gospels. Mark has the expression, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" [199:8] but Luke omits it altogether. [199:9] The idea that the Son of God should do carpenter's work on earth was very displeasing to many Christians, and attempts to get rid of the obnoxious phrase are evident in Mark. Apparently the copy which Origen used had omitted even the modified phrase, for he declares that Jesus himself is nowhere called a carpenter in the Gospels current in the Church. [199:10] A few MSS. are still extant without it, although it is found in all the more ancient Codices.

Traces of these details are found in several apocryphal works; especially in the Gospel of Thomas, where it is said: "Now, his father was a carpenter, and made at that time ploughs and yokes" (arotra kai zygous[199:11] -- an account which, from the similarity of language, was in all probability derived from the same source as that of Justin. The explanation which Justin adds, "by which he taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life," seems to indicate that he refers to a written narrative containing the detail, already, perhaps, falling into sufficient disfavour to require the aid of symbolical interpretation.

In the narrative of the baptism there are many peculiarities which prove that Justin did not derive it from our Gospels. Thrice he speaks of John sitting by the river Jordan: "He cried as he sat by the river Jordan;" [200:1] "While he still sat by the river Jordan"; [200:2] and "For when John sat by the Jordan." [200:3] This peculiar expression, so frequently repeated, must have been derived from a written Gospel. Then Justin, in proving that Jesus predicted his second coming, and the reappearance of Elijah, states: "And therefore our Lord, in his teaching, announced that this should take place, saying Elias also should come" (eipôn kai Êlian eleusesthai). A little lower down he again expressly quotes the words of Jesus: "For which reason our Christ declared on earth to those who asserted that Elias must come before Christ: Elias, indeed, shall come," etc. (Êlias men eleusetai, k.t.l.). [200:4] Matthew, however, reads: "Elias indeed cometh," (Êlias men erchetai, k.t.l.[200:5] Now, there is no version in which eleusetai is substituted for erchetai as Justin does; but, as Credner has pointed out, [200:6] the whole weight of Justin's argument lies in the use of the future tense. As there are so many other variations in Justin's context, this likewise appears to be derived from a source different from our Gospels.

When Jesus goes to be baptised by John many striking peculiarities occur in Justin's narrative: "As Jesus went down to the water a fire also was kindled in the Jordan; and when he came up from the water the Holy Spirit, like a dove, fell upon him, as the apostles of this very Christ of ours wrote … and at the same time a voice came from the heavens … Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee." [200:7]

The incident of the fire in Jordan is, of course, quite foreign to our Gospels; and, further, the words spoken by the heavenly voice differ from those reported by them, for, instead of the passage from Psalm 2:7, the Gospels have: "Thou art my beloved son; in thee I am well pleased." [201:1] Justin repeats his version a second time in the same chapter, and again elsewhere he says, regarding the temptation: "For this devil also, at the time when he (Jesus) went up from the river Jordan, when the voice declared to him: 'Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee,' it is written in the Memoirs of the Apostles, came to him and tempted him," etc. [201:2]

In both of these passages it will be perceived that Justin directly refers to the Memoirs of the Apostles, as the source of his statements. Some have argued that Justin only appeals to them for the fact of the descent of the Holy Ghost, and not for the rest of the narrative. It has of course been felt that, if it can be shown that Justin quotes from the Memoirs words and circumstances which are not to be found in our canonical Gospels, the identity of the two can no longer be maintained. It is, however, in the highest degree arbitrary to affirm that Justin intends to limit his appeal to the testimony of the apostles to one-half of his sentence. To quote authority for one assertion, and to leave another in the same sentence, closely connected with it and part indeed of the very same narrative, not only unsupported, but weakened by direct exclusion, would indeed be singular, for Justin affirms with equal directness and confidence the fact of the fire in Jordan, the descent of the Holy Ghost, and the words spoken by the heavenly voice. If, in the strictest grammatical accuracy, there be no absolute necessity to include in the quotation more than the phrase immediately preceding, there is not, on the other hand, anything which requires or warrants the exclusion of the former part of the sentence. The matter must therefore be decided according to fair inference and reasonable probability; and these, as well as all the evidence concerning Justin's use of the Memoirs, irresistibly point to the conclusion that the whole passage is derived from one source. In the second extract given above it is perfectly clear that the words spoken by the heavenly voice, which Justin again quotes, and which are not in our Gospels, were recorded in the Memoirs, for Justin could not have referred to them for an account of the temptation at the time when Jesus went up from Jordan and the voice said to him, "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee," if these facts and words were not recorded in them at all. [201:3] It is impossible to doubt, after impartial consideration, that the incident of the fire in Jordan, the words spoken by the voice from heaven, and the temptation were taken from the same source: they must collectively be referred to the Memoirs.

Of one thing we may be sure: had Justin known the form of words used by the voice from heaven according to our Gospels, he would certainly have made use of it in preference to that which he actually found in his Memoirs. He is arguing that Christ is pre-existing God, become incarnate by God's will through the Virgin Mary, and Trypho demands how he can be demonstrated to have been pre-existent, who is said to be filled with the power of the Holy Ghost as though he had required this. Justin replies that these powers of the Spirit have come upon him, not because he had need of them, but because they would accomplish Scripture, which declared that after him there should be no prophet. [202:1] The proof of this, he continues, is that, as soon as the child was born, the Magi from Arabia came to worship him, because even at his birth he was in possession of his power, [202:2] and after he had grown up like other men by the use of suitable means, he came to the river Jordan, where John was baptising, and as he went into the water a fire was kindled in the Jordan, and the Holy Ghost descended like a dove. He did not go to the river because he had any need of baptism or of the descent of the Spirit, but because of the human race which had fallen under the power of death. Now if, instead of the passage actually cited, Justin could have quoted the words addressed to Jesus by the voice from heaven according to the Gospels: "Thou art my beloved son; in thee I am well pleased," his argument would have been greatly strengthened by such direct recognition of an already existing, and, as he affirmed, pre-existent, divinity in Jesus. Not having these words in his Memoirs of the Apostles, however, he was obliged to be content with those which he found there: "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee" -- words which, in fact, destroyed the argument for pre-existence, and dated the divine begetting of Jesus as the son of God that very day. The passage, indeed, supported those who actually asserted that the Holy Ghost first entered into Jesus at his baptism. These considerations, and the repeated quotation of the same words in the same form, make it clear that Justin quotes from a source different from our Gospel.

In the scanty fragments of the "Gospel according to the Hebrews" which have been preserved, we find both the incident of the fire kindled in Jordan and the words of the heavenly voice as quoted by Justin. "And as he went up from the water the heavens were opened, and he saw the Holy Spirit of God in the form of a dove which came down and entered into him.And a voice came from heaven saying: 'Thou art my beloved son; in thee I am well pleased'; and again: 'This day have I begotten thee.' And immediately a great light shone round about the place." [203:1] Epiphanius extracts this passage from the version in use among the Ebionites, but it is well known that there were many other varying forms of the same Gospel; and Hilgenfeld, [203:2] with all probability, conjectures that the version known to Epiphanius was no longer in the same purity as that used by Justin, but represents the transition stage to the canonical Gospels -- adopting the words of the voice which they give without yet discarding the older form. Jerome gives another form of the words from the version in use amongst the Nazarenes: "Factum est autem cum ascendisset Dominus de aqua, descendit fons omnis Spiritus Sancti et requievit super eum, et dixit illi: Fili mi, in omnibus Prophetis expectabam te ut venires et requiescerem in te, tu es enim requies mea, tu es filius meus primogenitus qui regnas in sempiternum." [203:3] This supports Justin's reading. Regarding the Gospel according to the Hebrews more must be said hereafter, but when it is remembered that Justin, a native of Samaria, probably first knew Christianity through believers in Syria, to whose Jewish view of Christianity he all his life adhered, and that these Christians almost exclusively used this Gospel [203:4] under various forms and names, it is reasonable to suppose that he also, like them, knew and made use of it -- a supposition increased almost to certainty when it is found that Justin quotes words and facts foreign to the canonical Gospels which are known to have been contained in it. The argument of Justin, that Jesus did not need baptism, may also be compared to another passage of the Gospel according to the Hebrews preserved by Jerome, and which preceded the circumstances narrated above, in which the mother and brethren of Jesus say to him that John the Baptist is baptising for the remission of sins, and propose that they should go to be baptised by him. Jesus replies: "In what way have I sinned that I should go and be baptised by him?" [203:5] The most competent critics agree that Justin derived the incidents of the fire in Jordan and the words spoken by the heavenly voice from the Gospel according to the Hebrews or some kindred work, and there is every probability that the numerous other quotations in his works differing from our Gospels are taken from the same source.

The incident of the fire in Jordan likewise occurs in the ancient work, Praedicatio Pauli[204:1] coupled with a context which forcibly recalls the passage of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which has just been quoted, and apparent allusions to it are found in the Sibylline Books and early Christian literature. [204:2] Credner has pointed out that the marked use which was made of fire or lights at Baptism by the Church, during early times, probably rose out of this tradition regarding the fire which appeared in Jordan at the baptism of Jesus. [204:3] The peculiar form of words used by the heavenly voice according to Justin and to the Gospel according to the Hebrews was also known to several of the Fathers. [204:4] Augustine mentions that some MSS. in his time contained that reading in Luke 3:22, although without the confirmation of more ancient Greek codices. [204:5] It is still extant in the Codex Bezae (D). The Itala version adds to Matt. 3:15: "and when he was baptised a great light shone round from the water, so that all who had come were afraid" (et cum baptizaretur, lumen ingens circumfulsit de aqua, ita ut timerent omnes qui advenerant); and again at Luke 3:22 it gives the words of the voice in a form agreeing, at least, in sense with those which Justin found in his Memoirs of the Apostles.

These circumstances point with certainty to an earlier original corresponding with Justin, in all probability the Gospel according to the Hebrews, and to the subsequent gradual elimination of the passage from the Gospels finally adopted by the Church for dogmatic reasons, as various sects based on it doctrines which were at variance with the ever-enlarging belief of the majority. 

Then Justin states that the men of his time asserted that the miracles of Jesus were performed by magical art (magikê phantasia), "for they ventured to call him a magician and deceiver of the people." [205:1] This cannot be accepted as a mere version of the charge that Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebub, but must have been found by Justin in his Memoirs. In the Gospel of Nicodemus or Acta Pilati the Jews accuse Jesus before Pilate of being a magician, [205:2] coupled with the assertion that he casts out demons through Beelzebub, the prince of the demons; and again they simply say: "Did we not tell thee that he is a magician?" [205:3] We shall presently see that Justin actually refers to certain acts of Pontius Pilate in justification of other assertions regarding the trial of Jesus. [205:4] In the Clementine Recognitions, moreover, the same charge is made by one of the Scribes, who says that Jesus did not perform his miracles as a prophet, but as a magician. [205:5] Celsus makes a similar charge, [205:6] and Lactantius refers to such an opinion as prevalent amongst the Jews at the time of Jesus, [205:7] which we find confirmed by many passages in Talmudic literature. [205:8] There was, indeed, a book called Magia Jesu Christi, of which Jesus himself, it was pretended, was the author. [205:9]

In speaking of the trial of Jesus, Justin says: "For also as the prophet saith, reviling him (diasyrontes auton), they set him (ekathisan) upon a judgment seat (epi bêmatos), and said: 'Judge for us' (Krinon hêmin[205:10] a peculiarity which is not found in the canonical Gospels. Justin had just quoted the words of Isaiah (45:2, 58:2): "…They now ask of me judgment, and dare to draw nigh to God"; and then he cites Psalm 22:16, 22: "They pierced my hands and my feet, and upon my vesture they cast lots." He says that this did not happen to David, but was fulfilled in Christ, and the expression regarding the piercing the hands and feet referred to the nails of the cross which were driven through his hands and feet. And after he was crucified they cast lots upon his vesture. "And that these things occurred," he continues, "you may learn from the Acts drawn up under Pontius Pilate." [205:11] He likewise upon another occasion refers to the same Acta for confirmation of statements. [206:1] The Gospel of Nicodemus or Gesta Pilati, now extant, does not contain the circumstance to which we are referring, but, in contradiction to the statement in the fourth Gospel (18:28-29), the Jews in this apocryphal work freely go in to the very judgment seat of Pilate. [206:2] Tischendorf maintains that the first part of the Gospel of Nicodemus, or Acta Pilati, still extant, is the work, with more or less of interpolation, which, existing in the second century, is referred to by Justin. [206:3] A few reasons may here be given against such a conclusion. The fact of Jesus being set upon the judgment seat is not contained in the extant Acta Pilati at all, and therefore this work does not correspond with Justin's statement. It seems most unreasonable to suppose that Justin should seriously refer Roman Emperors to a work of this description, so manifestly composed by a Christian, and the Acta to which he directs them must have been a presumed official document, to which they had access, as, of course, no other evidence could be of any weight with them. The extant work neither pretends to be, nor has in the slightest degree the form of, an official report. Moreover, the prologue attached to it distinctly states that Ananias, a provincial warden in the reign of Flavius Theodosius (towards the middle of the fifth century), found these Acts written in Hebrew by Nicodemus, and that he translated them into Greek. [206:4] The work itself, therefore, only pretends to be a private composition in Hebrew, and does not claim any relation to Pontius Pilate. The Greek is very corrupt and degraded, and considerations of style alone would assign it to the fifth century, as would still more imperatively the anachronisms with which it abounds. Tischendorf considers that Tertullian refers to the same work as Justin; but it is evident that he implies an official report, for he says distinctly, after narrating the circumstances of the crucifixion and resurrection: "All these facts regarding Christ, Pilate ... reported to the reigning Emperor Tiberius." [206:5] It is extremely probable that in saying this Tertullian merely extended the statement of Justin. He nowhere states that he himself had seen this report, nor does Justin, and, as is the case with the latter, some of the facts which Tertullian supposes to be reported by Pilate are not contained in the apocryphal work. There are still extant some apocryphal writings in the form of official reports made by Pilate of the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, [207:1] but none are of very ancient date. It is certain that, on the supposition that Pilate may have made an official report of events so important in their estimation, Christian writers, with greater zeal than conscience, composed fictitious reports in his name, in the supposed interest of their religion; and there was in that day little or no critical sense to detect and discredit such forgeries. There is absolutely no evidence to show that Justin was acquainted with any official report of Pilate to the Roman Emperor, nor, indeed, is it easy to understand how he could possibly have been, even if such a document existed; and it is most probable, as Scholten conjectures, that Justin merely referred to documents which tradition supposed to have been written, but of which he himself had no personal knowledge. [207:2] Be this as it may, as he considered the incident of the judgment seat a fulfilment of prophecy, there can be little or no doubt that it was narrated in the Memoirs which contained "everything relating to Jesus Christ," and, finding it there, he all the more naturally assumed that it must have been mentioned in some official report.

In the Akhmîm fragment of the Gospel of Peter, published in 1893, we have a similar passage to that quoted by Justin. The fragment states: "They said: 'Let us drag along (surômen) the son of God and they sat him (ekathisan auton) upon a seat of judgment (kathedran kriseôs), saying: 'judge justly (Dikaiôs krine), King of Israel.'" This is not in our Gospels, but it has singular points of agreement with the passage in Justin. The Septuagint version of Isaiah, which Justin had previously cited, reads: "They ask me for just judgment" (aitousin me nun krisin dikaian), and doubtless the narrative, like that of all the Gospels regarding the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, was compiled to show the fulfilment of supposed prophecies like this.

We may here go on to quote more fully Justin's allusions to the parting of the garments, which are also in close agreement with the fragment of the Gospel of Peter. Justin says: "And those who were crucifying him parted his garments (emerisan ta imatia autou) amongst themselves, casting lots (lachmon ballontes), each taking what pleased him, according to the cast of the lot" (tou klêrou). [207:3] This account, which differs materially from that of our Gospels, may be compared with the words in the fragment. "And they laid the clothes (ta endymata) before him, and distributed them (diemerisanto), and cast lots (lachmon ebalonThe use of the peculiar expression, "lachmon ballein," both in the fragment and by Justin, is most striking, for its employment in this connection is limited, so far as we know, to the Gospel of Peter, Justin, and Cyril. [208:1] Justin, here, is not making an exact quotation, but merely giving an account of what he believes to have occurred, yet the peculiar words of his text remained in his mind and confirm the idea that it was the Gospel of Peter.

In narrating the agony in the Garden, there are further variations. Justin says: "And the passage, 'All my bones are poured out and dispersed like water, my heart has become like wax melting in the midst of my belly,' was a prediction of that which occurred to him that night when they came out against him to the Mount of Olives to seize him. For in the Memoirs, composed, I say, by his Apostles and their followers, it is recorded that his sweat fell down like drops while he prayed, saying: ' If possible, let this cup pass.'" [208:2] It will be observed that this is a direct quotation from the Memoirs, but there is a material difference from our Gospels. Luke is the only Gospel which mentions the bloody sweat, and there the account reads (22:44), "as it were drops of blood falling down to the ground."

LUKE. hôsei thromboi aimatos katabainontes epi tên gên.
JUSTIN. hôsei thromboi katecheito.

In addition to the other linguistic differences Justin omits the emphatic aimatos which gives the whole point to Luke's account, and which evidently could not have been in the text of the Memoirs.Semisch argues that thromboi alone, especially in medical phraseology, meant "drops of blood," without the addition of aimatos[208:3] but the author of the third Gospel did not think so, and undeniably makes use of both, and Justin does not. Moreover, Luke introduces the expressionthromboi aimatos to show the intensity of the agony, whereas Justin evidently did not mean to express "drops of blood" at all, his intention in referring to the sweat being to show that the prophecy, "All my bones are poured out, etc., like water," had been fulfilled, with which the reading in his Memoirs more closely corresponded. The prayer also so directly quoted decidedly varies from Luke 22:42, which reads: "Father, if thou be willing to remove this cup from me":

LUKE. Pater, ei boulei parenenkein touto to potêrion ap' emou.
JUSTIN.   Parelthetô, ei dynaton, to potêrion touto.

In Matt. 26:39 this part of the prayer is more like the reading of Justin: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Pater, ei dynaton estin, parelthatô ap' emou to potêrion touto); but that Gospel has nothing of the sweat of agony, which excludes it from consideration. In another place Justin also quotes the prayer in the Garden as follows: "He prayed, saying: 'Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me'; and besides this, praying, he said: 'Not as I wish, but as thou willest.'" The first phrase, [209:1] apart from some transposition of words, agrees with Matthew; but even if this reading be preferred, the absence of the incident of the sweat of agony from the first Gospel renders it impossible to regard it as the source; and, further, the second part of the prayer which is here given differs materially both from the first and third Gospels.

MATT. Nevertheless not as I will but as thou.
LUKE. Nevertheless not my will but thine be done.
JUSTIN.   Not as I wish but as thou willest
MATT.  Plên ouch hôs egô thelô all' hôs su
LUKE. Plên mê to thelêma mou alla to son ginesthô.
JUSTIN.   Mê ôs egô boulomai, all' hôs su theleis.

The two parts of this prayer, moreover, seem to have been separate in the Memoirs, for not only does Justin not quote the latter portion at all in Dial. 103, but here he markedly divides it from the former. Justin knows nothing of the episode of the Angel who strengthens Jesus, which is related in Luke 22:43. There is, however, a still more important point to mention -- that although verses 43, 44, with the incidents of the angel and the bloody sweat, are certainly in a great number of MSS., they are omitted by some of the oldest codices, as, for instance, by the Alexandrian and Vatican MSS. [209:2] It is evident that in this part Justin's Memoirs differed from our first and third Gospels much in the same way that they do from each other.

In the same chapter Justin states that, when the Jews went out to the Mount of Olives to take Jesus, "there was not even a single man to run to his help as a guiltless person." [209:3] This is in direct contradiction to all the Gospels, [209:4] and Justin not only completely ignores the episode of the ear of Malchus, but in this passage excludes it, and his Gospel could not have contained it. Luke is specially marked in generalising the resistance of those about Jesus to his capture: "When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him: 'Lord, shall we smite with the sword?' And a certain one of them smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear." [210:1] As this episode follows immediately after the incident of the bloody sweat and prayer in the Garden, and the statement of Justin occurs in the very same chapter in which he refers to them, this contradiction further tends to confirm the conclusion that Justin employed a different Gospel.

It is quite in harmony with the same peculiar account that Justin states that, "after he (Jesus) was crucified, all his friends (the Apostles) stood aloof from him, having denied him [210:2] ... (who, after he rose from the dead, and after they were convinced by himself that before his passion he had told them that he must suffer these things, and that they were foretold by the prophets, repented of their flight from him when he was crucified), and while remaining among them he sang praises to God, as is made evident in the Memoirs of the Apostles ." [210:3] Justin, therefore, repeatedly asserts that after the crucifixion all the Apostles forsook him, and he extends the denial of Peter to the whole of the twelve. It is impossible to consider this distinct and reiterated affirmation a mere extension of the passage, "they all forsook him and fled" (pantes aphentes auton ephygon), [210:4] when Jesus was arrested, which proceeded mainly from momentary fear. Justin seems to indicate that the disciples withdrew from and denied Jesus when they saw him crucified, from doubts which consequently arose as to his Messianic character. Now, on the contrary, the canonical Gospels represent the disciples as being together after the crucifixion. [210:5] Justin does not exhibit any knowledge of the explanation given by the angels at the sepulchre as to Christ having foretold all that had happened, [210:6] but makes this proceed from Jesus himself. Indeed, he makes no mention of these angels at all.

There are some traces elsewhere of the view that the disciples were offended after the Crucifixion. [210:7] Hilgenfeld points out the appearance of special Petrine tendency in this passage, in the fact that it is not Peter alone, but all the Apostles, who are said to deny their master; and he suggests that an indication of the source from which Justin quoted may be obtained from the kindred quotation in the Epistle to the Smyrnaeans (iii) by pseudo-Ignatius: "For I know that also after his resurrection he was in the flesh, and I believe that he is so now. And when he came to those that were with Peter he said to them: Lay hold, handle me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit. And immediately they touched him and believed, being convinced by his flesh and spirit." Jerome, it will be remembered, found this in the Gospel according to the Hebrews used by the Nazarenes, which he translated, [211:1] from which we have seen that Justin in all probability derived other particulars differing from the canonical Gospels, and with which we shall constantly meet, in a similar way, in examining Justin's quotations. Origen also found it in a work called the "Teaching of Peter" (Didachê Petrou), [211:2] which must have been akin to the "Preaching of Peter" (Kêrygma Petrou). [211:3] Hilgenfeld suggests that, in the absence of more certain information, there is no more probable source from which Justin may have derived his statement than the Gospel according to Peter, or the Gospel according to the Hebrews, which is known to have contained so much in the same spirit. [211:4]

< Previous section      Contents      Home      Top of Page      Next section >
HTML © 2002 -