Early on (3.47 in):
Louis Feldman and Van Vorst are mentioned, but where their commentaries are is not. Van Vorst is likely to be Robert Van Vorst in Jesus Outside the New Testament, p.15 [search for Justin: a snippet of p. 15 is provided but the whole of the page is not. p.51 is (for me; on a first attempt)].
... Dialogue with Trypho is a rhetorical text.
It’s organized according to the principles of ancient rhetoric. It has a structure. And, in fact, it has the first section that includes the part that we're talking about. Sets up the whole structure for the entire rest of the book. Which is massive. It's a huge, long tirade. But what it does: it sets up the structure. And then the rest of the book addresses; basically, what you have is: you have Trypho: makes a bunch of accusations and then Justin addresses each of those accusations in turn in sections of the book later on.
and, and Justin does it backwards. He stops at the last accusation, which is also the first, because [Dialogue with] Trypho has organized it in a chiasma. See, Trypho starts with one accusation, builds a few others, and then ends with the same accusation that you started with.
So, that's the main accusation. And, so, Justin starts with that one and, then, Justin works his way through the other accusations, So, ah, one of those is Elijah has to anoint the, the: Elijah has to grant the power to the Messiah, and so on.
That's just one argument. that's not the argument. That's one argument.
And you can see that, when you look at the structure of the rest of the Dialogue with Trypho.
Because there's a whole section just on Elijah and it's deep, deep, deep in the book, right? You have to go through a lot of the book to get there.
So, you have to really look at the first section: the first part of the argument after this, which is setting the foundations.
Because Justin relies on the foundations that he establishes in each subsequent section.
So, he 'proves'' one thing; and then he counts on that having been 'proved' in the rest of the sections, right?
So, this is how rhetoric works, right? This is how you build an argument ...
And, what happens is in the first section, ah, Trypho – this is this made-up Jew – probably meant to be a typical Jewish arguer with Christians – ah, Trypho comes up to Justin and says, ah, ‘prove me your religion is true, I, I don't, I'm, explain to me what your religion is. I don't know why you believe it.’
And, then, Justin tells this little story about how he met this anonymous random old man who convinced him to be a Christian: um, how the old man convinced him to be a Christian is wackadoo. So, Justin is not an evidence-based reasoner: you prove, you see that right away. um, But one of the things he says, it's, like, you know, ‘oh, well, these Christians have these power; these words are emotionally powerful. They have to be true because it's affecting me in this emotional way.' And, 'oh, and the Christians can perform miracles: well, they couldn't perform miracles unless Jesus was real and all the stories were true,' right?
This is the, This argument, by the way, is repeated by Justin multiple times in the text ... This is rhetoric and this is very emotional fallacious religious reasoning, right?
So, anyway, so this, So Trypho says, 'explain to me your religion.'
Justin says, ‘well, this old man convinced me.’ And then this is, and then this is where we get to, Trypho says, ‘hold on, like, you just told me this wackadoo story, ah, and, and it relates to the gospel.' It says the gospels affected him and so, 'they must be true’ kind of thing. References that. And, so, what Trypho says is hold on, ‘you should not be deceived’ - and this is word for word – ‘you should not be deceived by false words nor follow the opinions of men of no reputation.’
Ah, and he says, so basically saying, so you, you've been conned, like, you've been sold a bill of goods; ah, you should just be Jewish; and he goes on; he says, you castrate, err, not castrate yourself, you should circumcise yourself, follow the dietary [laws], you should follow the rules and so on and be a Jewish. That's how you get saved.
ah, And then aft, so, when he starts with accusing him of believing false things, that he's been tricked by a false story. And then he says, ‘you should be Jewish instead,’ and then he says, after that, then he says, 'but Christ' – now, now he's talking about the Jewish belief, ‘our Christ, if he has indeed been born and exists anywhere, is unknown; and does not even know himself, and has no power until Elijah comes to anoint him and make him manifest to all.’
So, that's the Jewish belief. He ends with that. And then, what does he do? His immediate next sentence recapitulates his first sentence, the whole chiasmus of this argument, ‘but you, having accepted a groundless report, invent a Christ for yourselves’ and for his sake; or inconsiderably perishing, so, ‘you've, you've bought a false story,’ right?
So, that's what he's saying. He's this, so this, this last sentence is not talking about Elijah, that's a previous sentence making a separate argument, right?
um, So, these are different arguments. These are not the same argument.
And, you can see this in the rest of the Justin's defence against Trypho is he takes each of these separate accusations, treats them as separate accusations, and deals with them that way.
And the first accusation he deals with is this, ‘you've been sold a bill of goods. These are false stories. None of this is true,’ right?
ah, and Justin says, ‘well, I'm gonna prove to you, as I stand here, that we have not believed empty fables.’ The word is actually myth, right?
So he's, ‘we've not believed empty myth, vain myths or words without any foundation,’ meaning ‘with no evidence to back them up as being true.’
So, ‘we have not believed empty fables or words without any foundation, but words filled with the spirit of God and big with power and flourishing with Grace.’
Now, notice his response is not, ‘oh, we got all this great historical evidence.’
No, his response is, ‘they're so powerful they have to be true.’
And he actually makes this argument. He actually points out several times to, he repeats this argument over and over.
He says, ‘our people can perform miracles. Your people can't. Therefore our guy must be true, otherwise our things wouldn't work.’
And he says, like, ah, ‘we can cast out demons in the name of Jesus’ and not just the name of Jesus but ‘in the name of Jesus who was crucified by Pilate, whereas your guys can't expel demons except maybe sometimes you can, if you invoke Yahweh.’
And, you know, it says ‘but you can't invoke David,’ ‘Like, ‘that doesn't work, the demons don't respond to David but they respond to Jesus crucified by Pilate,’ right?
And so this is literally his [Justin’s] argument that Jesus was crucified by Pilate: that this is a real story because the demons* respond to it, right?
* [the initial theology may have been about daemones ie. a message about and to other lower-level rulers]
Now that he's established that it's ‘true’ - that the gospels are true and you should believe them - then he moves into the other accusations that Trypho made. Like, there has to be an Elijah; there has, has to be known to everybody. um We, we think he's unknown, and so on.
So, he goes through all of those. And then, of course, they, they go back and forth about, ‘do the scriptures actually predict any of this,’ ah, and so on.
So there's a lot of theological argument. There's a lot of scriptural argument.
But they never go back to, ah, the evidence for any of these stories even being true in the first place. Except, whenever Justin does go back to that, he always goes back to, ‘we perform miracles now; we can expel demons; therefore it's true.’
ah, that's the only, that's his foundation for the whole rest of the book.
But the point is that this shows that, yes, Justin understood Trypho to be accusing him of believing completely false stories. So, Justin has to defend himself against that accusation before he can get to arguing about, ‘oh yeah, and we believe that John the Baptist was Elijah; oh yeah, and also we believe that, ah, he will be made known to everyone in the second coming,’ right?
And so he has all these responses to Trypho’s other arguments.
And there's a point like way, way, way, way later in the argument, deep in the book, where, when, ah, Justin says, ‘oh, and John the Baptist was Elijah so that fulfils the scriptures, so that satisfies your requirement,’ right?
ah, and, and Trypho says, ‘yeah, but you know’ - I'm paraphrasing here – but, he says, ‘yeah, but how do we know your Jesus ever interacted with John the Baptist?’ Right? ‘I don't even know. How do we know that?’
Do you know what Justin's response is? ‘Scripture!’