Gems from Justin

While reading around Justin Martyr’s First Apology this morning, I came across a few interesting points.

Historical
In discussing the injustice of Christians’ condemnation, Justin says,

By the mere application of a name, nothing is decided, either good or evil, apart from the actions implied in the name; and indeed, so far at least as one may judge from the name we are accused of, we are most excellent people. But as we do not think it just to beg to be acquitted on account of the name, if we be convicted as evil-doers, so, on the other hand, if we be found to have committed no offence, either in the matter of thus naming ourselves, or of our conduct as citizens, it is your part very earnestly to guard against incurring just punishment, by unjustly punishing those who are not convicted. For from a name neither praise nor punishment could reasonably spring, unless something excellent or base in action be proved. And those among yourselves who are accused you do not punish before they are convicted; but in our case you receive the name as proof against us, and this although, so far as the name goes, you ought rather to punish our accusers. For we are accused of being Christians, and to hate what is excellent (Chrestian) is unjust (Justin, 1 Apol. 4; emphasis added).

In this section, Justin makes rhetorical use of the identification of Christians as followers of Chrestus (see Suetonius, Claud. 25; χρήστος ≈ “excellent, worthy, good”) in order to establish his two-fold claim that: (1) Christians should be judged by their works rather than by their name and (2) even if they are judged by their name, they should receive approval.

Lexical
Justin reports that, when a congregation gathered to share the Eucharist, the “president of the brethren” would offer “prayers and thanksgivings,”

And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the pople present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γένοιτο” (Justin, 1 Apol. 65; emphasis added).

BDAG, of course, already contains this reference in the entry for ἀμήν, yet another anecdotal reason to read whole lexical entries.

Theological
Continuing in his description of the Eucharist, Justin explains that

And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, “This do ye in remembrance of Me, this is My body;” and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, “This is My blood;” and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn (Justin, 1 Apol. 66).

To these remarks, the Ante-Nicene Fathers edition subjoins the intriguing comment from Gelasius, the fifth-century, Roman bishop, that “[b]y the sacraments we are made partakers of the divine nature, and yet the substance and nature of the bread and wine do not cease to be in them” (Justin, 1 Apol. 66 n. 6). Others may have more astute perspectives, but surprisingly, to my perception, given Gelasius’s Roman ties, Gelasius’s seems to favor something more akin to consubstantiation (or something like it) than transubstantiatition. Of course, even on this reading, the extent to which Gelasius reflects well what Justin was intending to communicate remains debatable (see Justin, 1 Apol. 66 n. 6; Joseph Pohle, “The Real Presence of Christ”).


In this post:

Walter Bauer, Frederick Danker, William Arndt, and Wilbur Gingrich
Walter Bauer, Frederick Danker, William Arndt, and Wilbur Gingrich
Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox
Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Cox
Suetonius
Suetonius

Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic Reader’s Bible

John Dyer has developed an online reader’s Bible, primarily as a pedagogical tool, that will allow customized output of text, vocabulary, and morphology.

For instance, with just a few clicks and keystrokes, here’s a version of Gal 3:15–16 showing vocabulary that occurs 50 or fewer times in the New Testament.

gal-315-16

Kudos to John for creating such a wonderful tool, and thanks to Tommy Keene for his post on this resource.

Articles and Adjectives and Substantives: Oh, My!

Keeping the New Testament Greek, attributive adjective “position” classifications straight in one’s head can be challenging, but here is a short summary (see Porter 117):

  1. Article-adjective-substantive (e.g., ὁ ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος),
  2. Article-substantive-article-adjective (e.g., ὁ ἄνθρωπος ὁ ἀγαθὸς),
  3. Substantive-article-adjective (e.g., ἄνθρωπος ὁ ἀγαθὸς),
  4. Adjective-substantive or substantive-adjective (e.g., ἀγαθὸς ἄνθρωπος or ἄνθρωπος ἀγαθὸς).

In contrast to these four basic patterns, the potentially legitimate structure article-adjective-article-substantive (e.g., ὁ ἀγαθὸς ὁ ἄνθρωπος) is not used (Mounce §9.12).


In this post:

William Mounce
William Mounce
Stanley Porter
Stanley Porter

All Grown Up

A third instance of ‘gospel’ language in the wider Greco-Roman context is the Gaius inscription (ca. 5 BC):

On the motion of the strategi Metrodorus son of Conon, Clinius, Musaeus, and Dionysius—

Whereas Gaius Julius Caesar, the eldest of the sons of Augustus has—as has been fervently prayed for—assumed in all its splendor the pure-white toga [of manhood] in place of the purple-bordered toga [of youth], and all men rejoice to see the prayers for his sons rising together to Augustus;

And whereas our city in view of so happy an event has decided to keep the day which raised him from a boy to a man as a holy day, on which annually all shall wear wreaths and festal garb, and the annual strategi shall offer sacrifices to the gods and render prayers through the sacred heralds for his preservation; to unite in consecrating an image of him set up in his father’s temple; also on which the city received the good news and the decree was ratified, to wear wreaths and perform most sumptuous sacrifices to the gods; and to send an embassy concerning these matters to go to Rome to congratulate him and Augustus;

Therefore it was resolved by the council and the people to dispatch envoys chosen from the most distinguished men for the purpose of bringing greetings from the city, of delivering to him the copy of this decree sealed with a public seal, and of discussing with Augustus the common interests of the province of Asia and of the city. . . (translated by Lewis and Reinhold 635; insertions and italics original).

When Gaius came of age, he had not performed such deeds as those that are recorded of Augustus at Priene. Yet, his inherent magnificence was in full view, and his person was a sufficient object for such praise upon this occasion because of his own connection to Augustus and quite probably also in view of the exploits that he was expected successfully to achieve.


In this post:

Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold
Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold

Happy Birthday

Another example of ‘gospel’ language in the Greco-Roman environment is the inscription found at Priene (ca. 9 BC) about Augustus:

It seemed good to the Greeks of Asia, in the opinion of the high priest Apollonius of Menophilus Azanitus: “Since Providence, which has ordered all things and is deeply interested in our life, has set in most perfect order by giving us Augustus, whom she filled with virtue that he might benefit humankind, sending him as a savior [σωτήρ], both for us and for our descendants, that he might end war [= ποιῇ εἰρήνην] and arrange all things, and since he, Caesar, by his appearance [ἐπιφανεῖν] (excelled even our anticipations), surpassing all previous benefactors, and not even leaving to posterity any hope of surpassing what he has done, and since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good tidings for the world that came by reason of him [ἦρξεν δὲ τῷ κόσμῳ τῶν δἰ αὐτὸν εὐαγγελίων ἡ γενέθλιος τοῦ θεοῦ],” which Asia resolved in Smyrna (text and translation cited from Evans 2–3).

The ‘gospel’ of Caesar from Priene is then that: (1) he splendidly brought salvation by ending war, and (2) he acted in such a way that all subsequent generations will look back at him in awe. Particularly during Augustus’s reign, the Roman military established pax et securitas (peace and security) through its various exploits (see Harrison 87; Horsley 30–31; Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 7.245, 11.65). Quite naturally, therefore, as the ultimate head of the Roman military, the emperor, was eventually credited with these achievements (e.g., Josephus, Jewish Wars 3.143, 3.503, 4.656; cf. Friedrich, “εὐαγγελίζομαι, εὐαγγέλιον, κτλ” 722), and his birthday was celebrated as the first day of the life that brought these things.


In this post:

Flavius Josephus
Flavius Josephus
Gerhard Kittel
Gerhard Kittel

SBL Greek Font

The Greek font that the Society of Biblical Literature has been developing is now complete and available for download.
sbl-greekDownloading and usage are free for non-commercial projects, but the font itself is not open-source. A list of open-source Greek fonts is available, however, as well as instructions for installing and using any of these unicode fonts under Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu.

For assistance with the SBL Greek and Hebrew fonts, you can also check the SBL font forum or email font support.

Good News . . . for Whom?

First century Christians were not unique in their use of ‘gospel’ language. In fact, this word group (which exhibits the εὐαγγελι- stem in Greek) actually comes into several connections in ancient literature. For instance, in his Jewish Wars, Josephus records the following:

So the men of power, perceiving that the sedition was too hard for them to subdue, and that the danger which would arise from the Romans would come upon them first of all, endeavored to save themselves, and sent ambassadors; some to Florus, the chief of whom was Simon the son of Ananias; and others to Agrippa, among whom the most eminent were Saul, and Antipas, and Costobarus, who were of the king’s kindred; and they desired of them both that they would come with an army to the city and cut off the sedition before it should be too hard to be subdued. Now this terrible message was good news [εὐαγγέλιον] to Florus; and because his design was to have a war kindled, he gave the ambassadors no answer at all (Josephus, Jewish Wars 2.418–20).

This ‘good news’ was actually only ‘good’ for Florus. The emissaries and those who sent them would have had, to say the least, quite a different perspective on the matter. This usage, consequently, highlights a very general application of ‘gospel’ language to something with which someone happens to be pleased, irrespective of what other people’s assessments might be.


In this post:

Flavius Josephus
Flavius Josephus

New Testament Greek Resources

A new page is now available that will eventually house several resources for learning New Testament Greek. Currently, the page features MP3 audio recordings of the basic verb and noun paradigms as well as some songs that have been translated into Greek. Repeatedly hearing these paradigms and the songs in which they are used can provide one more way of cementing New Testament Greek in memory.

Right now, the Greek resources page basically reflects my old faculty page at Faulkner University, but expect more material to become available and a more friendly organization to develop over the coming weeks.