Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

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Ben C. Smith
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Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Sep 10, 2015 8:19 am

Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 66.3:

Greek
English
Οἱ γὰρ ἀπόστολοι ἐν τοῖς γενομένοις ὑπ' αὐτῶν ἀπομνημονεύμασιν, ἃ καλεῖται εὐαγγέλια, οὕτως παρέδωκαν ἐντετάλθαι αὐτοῖς· τὸν Ἰησοῦν λαβόντα ἄρτον εὐχαριστήσαντα εἰπεῖν· Τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἀνάμνησίν μου, τοῦτ' ἐστι τὸ σῶμά μου· καὶ τὸ ποτή- ριον ὁμοίως λαβόντα καὶ εὐχαριστήσαντα εἰπεῖν· Τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ αἷμά μου· καὶ μόνοις αὐτοῖς μεταδοῦναι.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.

Is the underlined phrase ("which are called gospels") from Justin? Or was it added for the sake of clarity at a later date?

On the one hand, this is the only time Justin uses the term gospel in the plural. However, he does not use the term very often anyway: Dialogue 10.2 and 100.2, and one instance of the verb, instead of the noun, in 12.2, which is from Isaiah 61.1 (Matthew 11.5 = Luke 7.22); he by far prefers the other term, memoirs, which he uses both above and at 1 Apology 67.3 in this present work, and elsewhere at Dialogue 100.4; 101.3b; 102.5; 103.6a, 8; 104.1b-2; 105.1, 5b, 6; 106.1, 3, 4; 107.1 (thirteen times over the course of these 8 chapter; the use of the verb instead of the noun also appears at 1 Apology 33.5). But when he quotes gospel texts, he seems to quote them in a harmonized way, implying to many that he is using what might be called a harmony of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and possibly some other text or two. Would his use of the plural, gospels, contradict his use of such a harmony?

On the other hand, this is an apology written purportedly for people who are not Christians, and what better time to explain terminology? In Dialogue 10.2 it is actually Trypho who uses the term gospel, perhaps a recognition on the part of Justin that other people use different terminology than he does ("memoirs" may be something of a personal affectation of his). Also, he sometimes calls these texts the memoirs "of the apostles" (plural), and while he is discussing them at Dialogue 103.8 he actually avers that they were written by apostles and by those who followed them (since both nouns are plural, it is understandable that some see Matthew and John as the apostles and Mark and Luke as the followers, though this cannot be proven). Unless he is describing a highly collaborative apostolic effort to pen a single gospel, he seems to be acknowledging that his memoirs are multiple texts.

So maybe, for Justin, memoirs are gospels, even if he himself may prefer to use a harmony, in which case the phrase "which are called gospels" could be genuine. Or maybe, for Justin, memoirs are plural but the gospel is singular, a harmony drawn from those memoirs, in which case the phrase "which are called gospels" would be a gloss.

What do you think? What other arguments are there pro or con?

Ben.
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John2
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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by John2 » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:03 am

Ben,

More new territory for me. It's interesting to watch you and others sort through all these Church fathers and find interesting things in them because I probably never would to this extent otherwise.

Anyway, just thinking out loud with only a basic understanding of the Diatessaron, I wonder if Justin's apparent gospel harmonization could be due to the way he is remembering these plural gospels (assuming that the phrase you cite is genuine). And in the big picture I'm just having a hard time seeing the NT gospels (whether of the synoptics or of all four) as being originally written as a harmony and then later separated. It just ... doesn't "seem" right. But I'm keeping an open mind and will see how the discussion goes.
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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:15 am

That's stupid. On the one hand you admit you haven't given the topic a lot of thought and then you say you can't agree with what Ben has asked. Why not give matters some more thought before making a comment. In my other thread on Irenaeus and the cento gospels there is at least some evidence to suggest that Luke was a centonized gospel. At the very least we have to concede that Justin did not think his 'harmony' was developed from earlier sources. He speaks of his text as coming directly from the apostles.
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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by Bernard Muller » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:16 am

I think the plural in "memoirs of the apostles" is more likely to refer to several books by different authors rather than one book (or even a series of books) by a same author (need to be check in ancient Greek literature).
he is discussing them at Dialogue 103.8 he actually avers that they were written by apostles and by those who followed them (since both nouns are plural, ...
It does looks here these memoirs refers to several books written by different authors (some apostles, some their followers).

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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by neilgodfrey » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:29 am

Some years ago when I was digging out everything I could find on Justin's writings in the main library at the University of Queensland I came across an argument that analysed the contents, structure, vocabulary of the First Apology in the context of other known debates and concluded that the passages referring to the Memoirs of the Apostles were all later interpolations.

I look forward to having the opportunity one day to return to a library rich in such resources in hopes to recover that article. I will be searching from scratch again because I can no longer recall author or source.

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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:50 am

neilgodfrey wrote:Some years ago when I was digging out everything I could find on Justin's writings in the main library at the University of Queensland I came across an argument that analysed the contents, structure, vocabulary of the First Apology in the context of other known debates and concluded that the passages referring to the Memoirs of the Apostles were all later interpolations.

I look forward to having the opportunity one day to return to a library rich in such resources in hopes to recover that article. I will be searching from scratch again because I can no longer recall author or source.
I would definitely be interested in seeing that argument mounted.

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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:52 am

Bernard Muller wrote:I think the plural in "memoirs of the apostles" is more likely to refer to several books by different authors rather than one book (or even a series of books) by a same author (need to be check in ancient Greek literature).
he is discussing them at Dialogue 103.8 he actually avers that they were written by apostles and by those who followed them (since both nouns are plural, ...
It does looks here these memoirs refers to several books written by different authors (some apostles, some their followers).
I agree that the memoirs look like they are multiple texts; what I am wondering is whether Justin thinks the same of the gospel(s). Does he think that multiple apostolic memoirs make one gospel? Or does he think that each separate memoir is a gospel unto itself, thus justifying the plural: gospels?

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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:56 am

John2 wrote:I wonder if Justin's apparent gospel harmonization could be due to the way he is remembering these plural gospels (assuming that the phrase you cite is genuine). And in the big picture I'm just having a hard time seeing the NT gospels (whether of the synoptics or of all four) as being originally written as a harmony and then later separated. It just ... doesn't "seem" right. But I'm keeping an open mind and will see how the discussion goes.
I, too, doubt that there was one single gospel text originally that was split up to (eventually) become the gospels that we are aware of today. I think there was more of a hodge podge.

Regardless of that, however, I am trying to pinpoint when and where singular references to a written gospel (as we find in the Didache and in various of the so-called Apostolic Fathers) became plural references to written gospels. There is only this one phrase in Justin that would suggest a plurality of gospels; so does he represent the "new wave" of gospel references? Or is (at least) that one reference an interpolation?

(I do not presume to know the answer yet.)

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andrewcriddle
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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by andrewcriddle » Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:12 pm

This may be of interest
Jesus and Gospel

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Re: Justin Martyr: is this phrase an interpolation?

Post by neilgodfrey » Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:12 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:Some years ago when I was digging out everything I could find on Justin's writings in the main library at the University of Queensland I came across an argument that analysed the contents, structure, vocabulary of the First Apology in the context of other known debates and concluded that the passages referring to the Memoirs of the Apostles were all later interpolations.

I look forward to having the opportunity one day to return to a library rich in such resources in hopes to recover that article. I will be searching from scratch again because I can no longer recall author or source.
I would definitely be interested in seeing that argument mounted.

Ben.
It's a reminder of just how fragile and uncertain are the materials we are working with, even if we are sceptical of specific arguments.

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