“There is little or no certainty how far into the second century its composition may not reasonably be advanced. Critics are divided upon the point, a few are disposed to date the epistle about the end of the first century; others at the beginning of the second century; while a still greater number assign it to the reign of Adrian (A.D. 117-130); and others, not without reason, consider that it exhibits marks of a still later period.” (Vol. i. p. 235.)
The way, then, is so far cleared that I can confine my remarks to the investigation of the supposed citations from the Canonical Gospels, to be found in the works of Justin Martyr. Before beginning this, it may be well to direct the reader’s attention to the real point at issue; and this I shall have to do continually throughout my examination. The work is entitled “Supernatural Religion,” and is an attack upon what the author calls “Ecclesiastical Christianity,” because such Christianity sets forth the Founder of our Religion as conceived and born in a supernatural way; as doing throughout His life supernatural acts; as dying for a supernatural purpose; and as raised from the dead by a miracle, which was the sign and seal of the truth of all His supernatural claims. The attack in the book in question takes the form of a continuous effort to show that all our four Gospels are unauthentic, by showing, or attempting to show, that they were never quoted before the latter part of the second century: but the real point of attack is the supernatural in the records of Christ’s Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection.
The principal witness.—His religious views.
The examination of the quotations in Justin Martyr of the Synoptic Gospels occupies nearly one hundred and fifty pages; and deservedly so, for the acknowledged writings of this Father are, if we except the Clementine forgeries and the wild vision of Hermas, more in length than those of all the other twenty-three witnesses put together. They are also valuable because no doubts can be thrown upon their date, and because they take up, or advert to, so many subjects of interest to Christians in all ages.
The universally acknowledged writings of Justin Martyr are three:—Two Apologies addressed to the Heathen, and a Dialogue with Trypho a Jew.
The first Apology is addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and was written before the year 150 A.D. The second Apology is by some supposed to be the first in point of publication, and is addressed to the Roman people.
The contents of the two Apologies are remarkable in this respect, that Justin scruples not to bring before the heathen the very arcana of Christianity. No apologist shows so little “reserve” in stating to the heathen the mysteries of the faith. At the very outset he enunciates the doctrine of the Incarnate Logos:—