THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH - Volume 2: by Philip Carrington, Archbishop of Quebec. Published by the syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1957. Katapi edition by Paul Ingram, 2013.


| HOME | |< | << | The Apology of Justin, c. A.D. 150 | The primacy of reason | The theology of reason | The daemons and the passions | Pagan parallels to the Gospel | Christian monotheism | The teachings of the Word | The sacramental order | The Sunday assembly | The liturgy in Justin | >> |


A great deal of interest attaches to what is called the First Apology of Justin Martyr; for here we have at last an objective picture of what is called primitive Christianity, with arguments in its favour, composed by a leading intellectual with excellent knowledge. It comes at the end of the third generation after the Crucifixion, allowing an average of forty years to a generation; but two long lives easily cover such a period of time; and Polycarp and Pius were both still living. The youth of one was passed under the influence of John in Asia Minor, the youth of the other under Clement in Rome. Justin belonged to the generation of new men; but the old had not yet passed away.

The Apology of Aristides was not a long book. It could have been read through at a single session, and may have been intended for this purpose. The Apology of Justin was a longer and more ambitious enterprise. It was designed for careful reading and study. It gave a much more complete picture of Christian faith and life; it met criticism on various points; it argued that the policy of persecution was wrong; it aimed at dispelling ignorance and prejudice; it produced logical and philosophical proofs of the truth of the new religion. It cannot really be said that Justin is a skilful writer; but he wins all hearts by his simplicity and candour, which is touched with moral fervour and accentuated by his indignation over the injustice of the persecutions and his admiration for the fortitude of the martyrs. It was indeed the faith of the martyrs that had predisposed him personally to accept the new religion, though he attributed his conversion in the main to the effect produced upon his mind by the books of the prophets and the words of the Saviour. While he does not hesitate to reinforce his arguments by references to a divine judgement both in this world and |108 that which is to come, his appeal is essentially a rational one. Christianity is put forward as the true philosophy, and he asks that it be understood. He does not argue the case like a lawyer, though he deals with the legal aspect of the matter briefly in his opening paragraphs; he argues like a philosopher, and his appeal is to the universal faculty of reason which the emperors honoured by their claim to piety and philosophy. His opening sentences emphasize this point of view.

It is reason itself which directs that those who are in very truth pious men and philosophers should honour and love the truth, and refuse to follow the doctrines of the ancients if they are worthless; for a sound reason is not content with forbidding us to follow those who acted or taught unjustly, but directs the lover of truth, even if he is threatened with death, that he must make up his mind to say and do what is just.

Now you are described as pious men and philosophers, and guardians of justice and lovers of education. Listen, therefore, and let it be proved whether you really are so.
(Justin, Apology, ii, 1.)



We are now in the same logical and terminological quandary that we found ourselves in when we studied the experiential theology of Hermas; for the word translated 'reason' is the word logos which can also be translated as 'word'. It has a long ancestry of usage in Jewish speculation, Stoic philosophy and Christian evangelism; and Justin heroically equates all three usages without really unifying his thinking. We must begin with the simple evangelical experience, which itself defies definition.

Justin accepts of course the Spirit theology of the old tradition which is represented by Hermas. He does not tell the emperors much about it; but the prophets and the virgins are there in the background. He speaks of the work of God in his soul by the name of the Word or Reason. Conviction of truth, especially of moral truth, is for him the voice of God, the primary inward revelation, for which he is prepared to die. This reason or word, that speaks in every human heart, is God in him, not merely he in converse with God: it is he, and it is not-he. The conception was familiar to the philosopher of the Stoic school; the element of reason in the being of man was a portion of the divine reason, a spark of the deity itself. The philosopher was a man set apart, |109 a man devoted to the truth, a man who must be prepared to die for the truth that was in him. There had been examples in recent history, from the time of Nero downward; and Justin is prepared to accept them as authentic witnesses to God's truth. He quotes Socrates, « Socrates had used the word 'daemon' for the inward voice or power in which he recognized the guidance of the deity. but he also quotes the quite recent Musonius, who had suffered under Domitian. The true philosopher, who suffered for the word of truth that was in him, was to some extent a Christian.

The breadth of this conception is astonishing. We need hardly say that it was not acceptable to everybody in the church. It looked as if Justin was taking into Christianity a quantity of Platonic and Stoic philosophy, just as Valentine and the gnostics were taking in a quantity of Hellenistic mythology and mystery lore. It raises the question to what extent the Christian church, in Justin and his successors, did affiliate itself to Greek learning and philosophy; and secondly to what extent this was a bad thing, or changed the character of the faith. We shall not attempt to answer these questions, which are beyond our scope or ability. What we must point out is the fundamental fact that in the Greek tradition everything had to justify itself at the bar of an impartial and universal reason, and Justin was sure that Christianity could do this. He had fallen in love with Christianity for two reasons; it was good, and it was rational. Aristides and his predecessors had insisted that it was good; it was Justin who first insisted that it was rational. From his time onward, Christians saw with increasing clarity that they must be able to make intelligent, logical and consistent statements about their religion.


There was an opinion current in the second century that Jewish monotheism and Greek monotheism could be identified, as they are in the words of the pagan philosopher Numenius: 'What is Plato but Moses talking in Greek.' When one looks into this equation, it seems to amount to this, that both believed in a sole deity who governed the world by his providence or reason. There were grave differences, of course, in their ideas about the deity; but the experiential fact remained that both confessed faith in a universal God to whom they owed a moral allegiance. |110 In accordance with the spirit of the age, both tended to conceive of God as remote or distinct from this world. Stoicism, indeed, approximated to pantheism and thought of God as the spirit of this world, animating it in the same way that the soul animates the body; but Platonists preferred to think of some divine medium or agency through which God worked on this world and in the heart of men. Justin interpreted the divine reason of the Stoics in this way; he rather Platonized the Stoic theology.

He has great difficulty in expressing this point of view. He had, it is true, the precedents of Philo, and even of St John; for in St John the logos or reason or word is the power by which God made the world, and also the light that illuminates every man who comes into the world, if that is the correct translation; but Justin attempted to define the matter more precisely. The divine reason is a second God. He is 'a second God in number, but not in mind'; that is to say, he is a second God and he is not a second God. Justin is not afraid to talk in paradoxes; but by doing so he falls into the same trap as Hermas. He commits himself to formulas that fall short of the standards of orthodoxy which were adopted at a later date. He imperils the fundamental doctrine of the 'monarchy' or sole sovereignty of God; a word which has a somewhat Aristotelian sound. But he wrote before the days of exact theology; he was a pioneer in the field of Christian philosophy, and uses many unguarded expressions; and he does not endear himself to us any the less by these signs of his primitive date.

Furthermore he had his other equations or identifications to consider. There was a Word of God in the Old Testament that came to the prophets. It came to Abraham; it came to Elijah; it came to Ananias, Azarias, and Misael in the burning fiery furnace. It was the authentic divine power which took hold upon the human heart in what is called evangelical or prophetic religion. And it was the same divine power which had come to Socrates and Heracleitus and Musonius Rufus. It had spoken with Moses out of the flame of fire, where Justin dares to speak of a fiery form. It had led the chosen people out of the land of Egypt. The Old Testament provided him with a personalized view of this mysterious divine power; but whereas in the older Hebrew tradition the Word was God himself in creation or revelation, mysteriously the same and mysteriously separate, in Justin he rather tends to become an agent; an angel or apostle, who speaks and acts on behalf of the High God, though indeed he is God. He is another and not another.

|111 Then there is the most audacious equation of all, which identifies the Logos or Word with the divine being who became man by being bom of the Virgin Mary, and taught his disciples personally, as a man, the truths of which the prophets and philosophers had only received a partial revelation.

This series of identifications establishes a system of a sort, though it does not resolve the intellectual difficulties which it creates. The fact is that it simply enables Justin to make use of his different categories by passing imperceptibly from one to the other. At one point he is speaking of the divine power by which the Hebrew God made the heaven and the earth; at another it is the divine agent in Hebrew history and revelation; at another it is the universal reason of the Stoic and Platonic philosophy; at another it is Jesus of Nazareth; and at another it is the truth which reveals itself in the heart of every man as absolute reality. The same divine power manifests itself in these different ways. It is a sketch for a philosophy; but not a philosophy.


Justin is thus enabled to speak in the name of the true and virtuous reason which is common to all men, and call for an impartial investigation into the persecution of men of every race who are suffering under unmerited hatred and slander. The only charge against them is that they are called Christians, and they are put to death simply on account of this name. If they were found guilty of some actual crime there would be no cause for complaint; but no serious investigation has ever been made. They confess the Name, and they are put to death; they deny the Name and they are acquitted. Some of them, no doubt, are evil-doers, but why should all suffer because of that? A wise discrimination is shown in the case of the philosophers, and why not in the case of the Christians too?

The persecution of Christians is not an act of reason, therefore; it is an act of passion. In Stoic ethics a passion or emotion is regarded as a minor form of madness. It is an irrational element in the soul, which wise men learn to control by means of reason. The persecution of Christians, not being an act of reason, must be an act of passion or temporary madness.

What, then, is the cause of the insane passions which inspire |112 persecution? Justin has no doubt about this. They are due to the influence of 'daemons'. In the Platonic schools, the 'daemons' were disembodied spirits, lower in degree than the gods. They were not regarded as evil; on the contrary they were, for the most part, good. Justin had believed in them before his conversion, and he continued to believe in them after his conversion; but he nowthought of them as evil. He does not precisely identify them with the pagan deities. Aristides had said that the gods were either deified men, or personifications of the physical elements, or myths which originated in ritual; eminently rational conclusions. There was another view, however. They were the false fronts behind which the evil' daemons' hid themselves in order to delude mankind and establish their tyranny over them. Christians who had been pagans only a year or two previously were only too well aware of the evil power and spirituality which existed in the cults which they had left, and were prepared to accept the theory of daemons as an adequate explanation of it. There was something, they felt, that haunted the temples, inspired the devotees, expressed itself in the myth and ritual, maddened the enthusiasts, sent the dreams, and worked the magic. It could well be personified and so given substantial existence under the name of daemons.

There was a myth at hand which gave a more dramatic expression to the belief. It was the old Hebrew myth of the fallen angels, which was cognate with the Greek myth of the Titans. It is excluded from the canonical books of the Old Testament, though it appears to have left a trace here and there; but it is fully told in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, which was very well known at that time in the Christian church, though it was not in any sense canonical. Hermas probably knew it; it is quoted in Jude and Barnabas; and it is discussed by Tertullian, who champions its claims. It tells the tale of the angels who fell from heaven, how they lusted after the daughters of men, how they begot giants, how they taught mankind charms and enchantments, how they fell to unnatural sin of all kinds, and how last of all they palmed themselves off as gods, or deluded mankind with temples and images, so that they might enjoy the rich offerings and sacrifices. It was these daemons who drove oh their devotees to attack and persecute the Christians.

A nexus is thus established between the daemons and the passions which is similar to the nexus between the Word of God and the Logos conceived as the reasoning power in man. The divine reason leads the |113 Christian philosopher to attack polytheism; the unholy daemons excite the passions of pagan society to attack the Christians. Passion fights reason; reason fights passion. The mythological dramatization of the facts of history corresponds exactly to the psychological dramatization of the conflict in the soul.


In the Dialogue at Ephesus, Trypho had asked Justin about the parallels which existed between the Christian gospel and the pagan myths; the 'virgin births', the violent deaths, the resurrections and the ascensions. Justin brings this question up for further consideration in his Apology. He refers to the stories of Hermes, Asclepius, Dionysus, Heracles, the Dioscuri, Perseus and Bellerophon. He has an interesting and original answer to the question. Everything in the life of Jesus had been predicted by the Hebrew prophets. As he turns the pages of his Septuagint or book of Testimonies, and reads the words of the Hebrew prophets he sees the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, with other Christian verities, prefigured by men who wrote long before; as much as five thousand years before, Justin thought, in some cases. It is his great 'argument from Prophecy', his favourite and probably his most effective argument. He favours the emperors with a great deal of it.

Now if the whole course of history and all the main points of the Christian gospel had been prefigured or predicted in the Hebrew prophets, it was perfectly possible for the daemons to obtain a preview of the plan of salvation and incorporate some of its features in the myths. Thus the god of the mysteries, Dionysus, riding on his ass, was an imitation of the expected ruler from Judah with his ass and his vine and his robes stained with blood. Similar Hebrew sources were found for Bellerophon riding his horse in heaven; Perseus, born of a virgin, and also ascending into heaven; Heracles like a giant running his course; and Asclepius healing the sick. But none of the sons of Zeus had been crucified. The daemons had missed this mighty symbol of strength and government, since the prophets had veiled it in baffling figures of speech. And yet it was everywhere visible in human affairs; in the mast of a ship, in the structure of a plough, and even in the upright figure of a man; even in the standards of the imperial army. The latter |114 remark explains, perhaps, how Christian soldiers in the Roman Army reconciled themselves to the adoration which they were obliged to give to the vexillum. They saw the cross in it.

Justin, therefore, looked upon the pagan myths and mysteries as daemonic imitations of the Gospel; and not content with these, the daemons had put out others since the coming of Christ. He is referring to the heresies. He mentions specifically Simon and Menander, and the image of Simon which had been set up in the days of Claudius. He refers also to Marcion of Pontus and his numerous followers, who regard him as the only one to understand the truth and laugh at us though they have no proof for what they say. Justin is thinking of his own system of theology, which was so securely guaranteed by the proof from prophecy.


Such is the system of theology which Justin worked out, with the help of the best science and learning of the day; in particular, the theory of the Logos, the theory of daemons, and the allegorical interpretation of holy texts. What interests us is that he thought it right to apply current philosophic concepts to his thinking about Christianity, and current methods of literary criticism to its holy books. If the results are sometimes rather fantastic, we may be sure that they did not seem fantastic at the time. Our own attempts at literary criticism may seem equally fantastic when they are reviewed a few centuries from now; if anyone troubles to do so.

He does not confine himself to argumentation, however. He gives an objective account of Christian faith and life which is of a totally different character from his argumentative passages, though it is interwoven with them. He has to meet the charge that Christians are 'atheists', that is to say, they fail to reverence the accepted deities by going through the customary rites and ceremonies. We refuse, says Justin, to honour with many sacrifices or with garlands of flowers the gods who are formed by men and set up in temples; they are lifeless and dead.

We are atheists [he says], so far as such supposed gods are concerned; but not in respect of the most true God, the Father of righteousness and chastity and similar virtues, unmixed with evil; he is the God we reverence and adore, and also the Son who came from him and taught us these things, and the |115 army of good angels who follow him and are being made like unto him; and the prophetic Spirit too; honouring them in Word and in truth, and handing on ungrudgingly the tradition as we were taught it to all who wish to learn.
(Justin, Apology, i, 6.)

Once again Justin has committed a theological blunder; he has combined an old apocalyptic formula about Jesus and the angels with an old Trinitarian formula, thereby putting the angels on a level with the Father and the Holy Spirit; but in any case the passage is liturgical, not dogmatic. It sets the tone for other passages which follow; for what he has to show is that Christians do have a rich tradition of worship, and are not 'atheists' who ignore the deity.

What sustains them in their devotion to truth is their longing for the eternal and pure life with that God who is the father and maker of the universe. He created all things in the beginning out of formless matter, for the sake of mankind; and all who prove themselves worthy by their works will have a part in his passionless and incorruptible 'kingdom'; a word which he has to explain, since it has been misunderstood. He refers it to the day of judgement when some will go to eternal punishment and some to salvation, in accordance with their deeds, which are not hid from God. He points out that this faith in God is a great assistance to the government, since it predisposes Christians to act virtuously. He discreetly says nothing about a millennial kingdom to be established on this earth, which was not accepted by all Christians.

The climax of his account of Christian monotheism is another passage on the worship of the Creator, who needs no blood-offerings or libations or clouds of incense; or so Christians were taught.

We speak to him with a word of prayer and thanksgiving (eucharistia) over everything that we offer; we praise him with all our power; for this is the only honour we can bring him that is worthy of him.

We do not waste in the fire the good things which he has given us for our food, but bring them for ourselves and those who are in need.

In thankfulness to him, therefore, we send up with a word our solemnities and chants, [praying] that we may have whatever is needful for our health, and various good things, and the changes of the seasons, and our return in incorruption through faith in him.
(Justin, Apology, i, 13.)

The picture is that of the eucharistic sacrifice. The meaning of the reference to the word is not perfectly clear. He means probably |116 in the first place that the offering of praise and thanksgiving was directed to God in spoken prayers, and not in sacrificial victims, libations, and garlands; but it can hardly be understood apart from his doctrine of the Logos. It is the service offered in words as an act of the divine reason.


Justin is not content, as Aristides was, merely to repeat clauses of the catechisms when he comes to describe the altruistic and other-worldly life of the Christians; he attempts it, but soon passes to the actual words of Jesus in whom the divine reason was incarnate. They are taken out of his own class-room practice, or possibly from the forms of teaching given in divine service. They are arranged in topics and have been selected from more than one Gospel, though the Sermon on the Mount of St Matthew predominates. Sayings from different Gospels have been combined, and even expanded under the influence of the catechisms. The topics are,

(1) Concerning chastity.
(2) Concerning loving one another.
(3) On communicating to the needy and not doing it for glory.
(4) Concerning unrevengefulness, and being of service to all, and not wrathful.
(5) Concerning not swearing at all, and always speaking truth.
(6) How one must worship one God only.
(7) Not only those who talk but those who do works will be saved.

The section on chastity is an important one because serious charges of sexual misconduct had been brought against Christians. No doubt the teaching about loving one another and the custom of the holy kiss were misunderstood. Justin explains that the standards are so high that only one marriage is permitted, and the desire for adultery is equally culpable with the act, the very thought which had so dismayed Hermas. Many Christians lived a chaste unmarried life; he knew of men and women of sixty or seventy years of age who had been made disciples in childhood and had never lost their chastity. The statement gives us a glimpse of a group of veteran Christians who had been baptized as children in the days of John and Clement, and had never declined from the lofty standards which had been impressed upon them then; but Justin does not deny that there were some who had.

|117 He concludes this section with an eighth topic on the payment of taxes to the imperial government. The emperors would hear for the first time the famous saying, 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.' They would learn that worship belonged to God alone, but that the Christians were prepared to serve their kings and rulers and to offer prayers on their behalf. They had nothing to fear from the Christians, therefore, but he reminds them that all kings had died the common death, and were liable like everyone else to the punishment of eternal fire.

He supports the doctrine of eternal fire from pagan sources. He quotes the Sibyl and an unknown Persian writer named Hystaspes. He also refers to the Stoic doctrine that the universe was periodically dissolved by fire.


We may omit from our survey the long series of extracts from the Old Testament and the inferences which Justin draws from them. It is interesting that they follow his extracts from the Gospels, just as he says they do in the liturgy itself. After these comes a plain straightforward account of the liturgy which is one of the most important of early Christian documents.

It is preceded by an almost incomprehensible piece of Christian gnosis, in which he links Plato with Moses, and then with the help of both imparts a mystic vision of creation which tells of the Word of God that called the primal light into existence, and of the Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters; it finds room for the sign of the cross, which was prefigured in the brazen serpent; and the hidden Name, which was communicated to Moses out of the flame of fire; for the mysteries of Genesis and Exodus formed the background of the baptismal ritual from the beginning. The Spirit moves again upon the waters, the threefold Name is solemnly uttered, and the new man is created. 'Egypt' is left behind and the land of promise entered.

He then describes objectively the actual rite and explains how we dedicate ourselves and are new-made in Christ. Those who are convinced, and believe in the truth of the Christian teachings, and undertake to live in accordance with them, go through a period of prayer and fasting in companionship with those who are already Christians, asking God for the forgiveness of their former sins. Then they are brought to some place where there is water and are born again by the new birth, in the name of the God who is Father and lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit; for Christ said, 'Unless you are born again, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven' – a loose quotation of John iii. 3. An explanation follows, in which he gives texts from the prophets and refers to what he regards as daemonic imitations of baptisms in the ceremonies of the pagan temples.

He now returns to the baptismal rite. The candidate who has received the 'illumination' is brought before the 'brothers', as they are called, who offer 'common prayers' for themselves, for him and for all men everywhere, praying earnestly that we, who are disciples of the Truth, may be found good members of the community in our works, and keepers of the commandments which we have received, so that we may be saved with an eternal salvation. « For 'disciples' and 'commandments' see Matthew xxviii. 19 f. and Ignatius to the Romans, iii, 1, where making disciples is equivalent to baptizing. Cf. Vol. I, p. 454. When the prayers are over we salute one another with a kiss. Then a loaf of bread with a cup of wine and water is brought forward to the president of the brethren, who takes it and sends up praise and glory to the Father of all things, through the name of his Son, and through the holy Spirit, and gives thanks (eucharistian) at great length for our being counted worthy to receive such things from him. At the conclusion of the prayers and eucharist the whole people that is present gives its assent by saying 'Amen', which is a Hebrew word which can be translated 'So be it'.

After the eucharistic prayer of the president and the assent of the people the deacons distribute to all who are present a portion of the eucharistic bread and of the wine and water. And they carry it away to those who are absent.

The general outline of procedure is much the same as what we found in the Didache, though different points are emphasized in the two documents. The Didache did not describe the introduction of the newly baptized into the prayer-life of the brethren and their first participation in the kiss and in the prayers. It is the moment which afterwards received the name of confirmation, but neither the Didache nor Justin says anything about the gift of the Holy Spirit; they are silent, too, about any laying on of hands or anointing, such as we find a generation later in the rites known to Tertullian and Hippolytus; but this does not prove that they were not in use. We have to remember that Justin was |119 not giving instructions for carrying out the rites, but composing a short account of them for the emperors with the object of showing that there was nothing unseemly about them, and that they constituted a real form of worship of the universal deity through Jesus Christ. He adds a short explanation, as he did in the case of baptism, explaining that the bread and wine which have been made into 'eucharist' by a word of prayer which comes from God (or Christ) are not received as if they were ordinary food, but are the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus Christ. He quotes from the' Records of the Apostles', which are called Gospels, the command of Jesus himself to make this act of memorial, and he does not fail to indicate that daemonic parodies of the rite are in existence, mentioning specifically the mysteries of Mithras.


Justin follows the same general plan as the author of the Didache by making a second reference to the eucharist in his account of the Sunday-morning assembly. After our baptism and first communion, he says, we continued to remind each other of them; we are constantly together; we bless the Father of all through his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, over everything we offer; and on the day called Sunday we assemble in the same place; we read the 'Records of the Apostles' or the writings of the prophets so long as time permits; and when the reading is over the president utters an admonition or invitation to imitate these excellent persons. Then everybody stands up together and offers prayers; after which the eucharist and communion follow as before. Those who are well off, and wish to do so, make a contribution which is entrusted to the president, who has the care of the widows and orphans, the sick and the needy, the prisoners and the strangers, and all who are in distress. He is their trustee or caretaker.

This general assembly was held on a Sunday because it was the 'first day', when God transformed the darkness and the matter and made an orderly world; and Jesus Christ rose from the dead on this same day. On the day previous to Saturn's day they crucified him, and on the sun's day, as it is called, he appeared to his disciples and taught them those things which we now submit for your perusal. Justin thinks that if his exposition of the Christian religion is in line with reason and truth, the emperors should honour it. If it seems to be the ravings of |120 lunacy, or 'mania', they are at liberty to despise it; but on no account should they treat it with hostility. They may be sure that they will not escape from the impending judgement of God if they continue in their course of injustice. He appends a copy of the epistle of the great and glorious Caesar, 'Hadrian your father', in which he forbade the hunting down of Christians; and this rather suggests that the similar directive of Antoninus himself to the cities of Greece had not yet been issued. Hadrian's rescript had been issued twenty-five years earlier, about the time of Justin's conversion.

And so the First Apology ends.


Four points may briefly be mentioned in connexion with this notable liturgical text. The first is that it is not necessarily Roman. For all we know Justin may have composed the greater part of his Apology before he came to Rome. When he got there, he may have attended the liturgy of the Asian community. Possibly the local variations in the liturgy were not of great importance; or his lack of detail on many points may be due to a desire to present a picture of the service as it was offered everywhere.

The second is that the expression 'President of the brethren' is a non-technical description of the local bishop, just as ' Records of the Apostles' is a non-technical description of the Gospels. It has been suggested that this president was a chairman who was chosen for the occasion; but it must be a permanent official who takes responsibility for the administration of the church funds and looks after widows, orphans, sick people, prisoners and strangers, and is in short the trustee or caretaker of all who are in need. The word 'caretaker' would be a good synonym for the word episcopos, which has a very similar meaning in its secular use. We have here a clear picture of the Christian bishop, who is the chief actor in the liturgy, the principal teacher in the church and the steward of the household of God. It helps us to visualize the position of such venerable and apostolic men as Pius of Rome or Polycarp of Smyrna, with their staff of deacons. It is the council of elders that fails to appear.

The third point is the reading of lections from the New Testament and the Old, which he refers to as apostles and prophets, putting them |121 in that order; but the only apostolic books which he actually mentions are the Gospels. He does not refer to other apostolic literature, but this would not be necessary in addressing the emperors.

The fourth point is that he makes no reference to psalms or hymns. We have various references to singing, and even (by way of symbolism or metaphor) to instrumental music, in Paul, John, Pliny and Ignatius; but it is a pity that none of our authorities give us clearer information on the use of the Psalms and other hymns or chants in the primitive church. Justin shows a great deal of interest in the Psalms as liturgical and devotional texts; and is said to have written a book called the Psaltes, or 'Performer on the Harp'. « But this might be a commentary on the Psalms of David; he comments on a number of Psalms in the Dialogue. It would seem that they had their place, but that is the most that can be said.
<< | top | >>