Contexts of Emerging Christianity • Judaism • Greece • Diversity (heresy) in early community • Roman Empire Justin (100-165) Irenaeus (130-200) Tertullian (150-225) • Christian thought (theology) • life, death, resurrection of Jesus • What these mean, however, not readily clear. • A process (ongoing) to understand • Not strictly a historical problem, but a theological one
Justin Martyr • Justin was an important figure in the mid-second–century church of Rome. Born of pagan parents (c. 100 A.D.), evidently in Samaria, he undertook secular philosophical training before converting to Christianity when he was about 30. He began to teach the philosophical superiority of Christianity to secular learning, first in Ephesus, then in Rome, where he established a kind of Christian philosophical school in mid-century. • Justin is the first prominent Christian apologist, that is, one who defended the Christian faith against the charges of its cultured (pagan) despisers and strove to show its intellectual and moral superiority to anything that the pagan (or Jewish) world could offer. Three of his major works survive, usually known as his First Apology (a defense of Christianity addressed to Emperor Antoninus Pius and his sons, including Marcus Aurelius, around 155 A.D.), his Second Apology (addressed to the Roman Senate around 160 A.D.), and his Dialogue with Trypho, an account of his conversion and subsequent debate with a (possibly fictitious) Jewish rabbi, Trypho, over the superiority of Christianity to Judaism, based largely on an exposition of key passages in the Old Testament. • Justin’s defense of Christianity led to political opposition; he was martyred on charges of being a Christian around 165 C.E.