(Book: First Apology, by Justin Martyr, courtesy of The Christian Classics Ethereal Library.)
Justin Martyr is giving us a fascinating glimpse into the Christian church as it existed in the early second century, before there was any official dogma of the Trinity, or any official canon of Scripture. In this week’s installment, he shares with us (or rather, with Caesar) some of the sayings of Jesus. The text on the CCEL website includes a footnote warning us that “Justin quotes from memory, so that there are some slight discrepancies between the words of Jesus as here cited, and the same sayings as recorded in our Gospels.” What the editor overlooks, though, is the fact that Justin isn’t quoting the Gospels, he’s quoting Jesus. There is no canon of Scripture yet.
That said, there’s not a whole lot here that’s surprising, really. The wording is different here and there, but then again, there are discrepancies between the different gospel records of Jesus’ sayings too. The fact that Justin is quoting from memory is really no more significant than the fact that Matthewet al. were quoting from memory as well. What’s more interesting is the noticeable difference between Justin’s assumptions and attitudes, and those we find among modern-day Christians, particularly those of the Bible-believing variety.