The reader who knows anything about the history of Christian doctrine will see at a glance how impossible it would have been for a Gospel ascribing these expressions to Jesus to have been received by the Christian Church long before Justin’s time, except that Gospel had been fully authenticated as the work of the last surviving Apostle.
JUSTIN AND PHILO.
The writer of “Supernatural Religion” asserts that Justin derived his Logos doctrine from Philo, and also that his doctrine was identical with that of Philo and opposed to that of St. John.
But respecting this assertion two questions may be asked.
From whom did Philo derive his doctrine of the Logos? and
From whom did Justin derive his identification of the Logos with Jesus?
The Christian, all whose conceptions of salvation rest ultimately upon the truth that “The Word was God,” believes (if, that is, he has any knowledge of the history of human thought), that God prepared men for the reception of so momentous a truth long before that truth was fully revealed. He believes that God prepared the Gentiles for the reception of this truth by familiarizing them with some idea of the Logos through the speculations of Plato; and he also believes that God prepared His chosen people for receiving the same truth by such means as the personification of Wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and in the Apocryphal moral books, and, above all, by the identification of the active presence and power of God with the Meymera or Word, as set forth in the Chaldee paraphrases.
Both these lines of thought seem to have coalesced and to have reached their full development (so far as they could, at least, apart from Christianity) in Alexandrian Judaism, which is principally known to us in the pages of Philo; but how much of Philo’s own speculation is contained in the extracts from his writings given by the author of “Supernatural Religion” it is impossible to say, as we know very little of the Alexandrian Jewish literature except from him. He seems, however, to write as if what he enunciated was commonly known and accepted by those for whom he wrote.
There are two reasons which make me think that Justin, if he derived any part of his Logos doctrines from Alexandrian sources (which I much doubt), derived them from writings or traditions to which Philo, equally with himself, was indebted.
One is that, in his Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, he never mentions Philo, whose name would have been a tower of strength to him in disputing with a Jew, and convincing him that there might be another Person Who might be rightly called God besides the Father.
Surely if Justin had known that Philo had spoken of God
“Appointing His true
Logos, his first begotten Son, to have the care
of this sacred flock as the substitute of the great King” (quoted in