SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XVI. JUSTIN, Apol. i, 46.


Christianity before Christ


[46.1] Ἵνα δὲ μή τινες ἀλογισταίνοντες εἰς ἀποτροπὴν τῶν δεδιδαγμένων ὑφ’ ἡμῶν εἴπωσι πρὸ ἐτῶν ἑκατὸν πεντήκοντα γεγεννῆσθαι τὸν Χριστὸν λέγειν ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ Κυρηνίου, δεδιδαχέναι δὲ ἅ φαμεν διδάξαι αὐτὸν ὕστερον χρόνοις ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, καὶ ἐπικαλῶσιν ὡς ἀνευθύνων ὄντων τῶν προγεγενημένων πάντων ἀνθρώπων, φθάσαντες τὴν ἀπορίαν λυσόμεθα. [2] τὸν Χριστὸν πρωτότοκον τοῦ θεοῦ εἶναι ἐδιδάχθημεν καὶ προεμηνύσαμεν λόγον ὄντα, οὗ πᾶν γένος ἀνθρώπων μετέσχε. [3] καὶ οἱ μετὰ λόγου βιώσαντες Χριστιανοί εἰσι, κἂν ἄθεοι ἐνομίσθησαν, οἷον ἐν Ἕλλησι μὲν Σωκράτης καὶ Ἡράκλειτος καὶ οἱ ὅμοιοι αὐτοῖς, ἐν βαρβάροις δὲ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ Ἀνανίας καὶ Ἀζαρίας καὶ Μισαὴλ καὶ Ἠλίας καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοί, ὧν τὰς πράξεις ἢ τὰ ὀνόματα καταλέγειν μακρὸν εἶναι ἐπιστάμενοι τανῦν παραιτούμεθα.

But that some may not in reply to our teachings unreasonably say that according to us Christ was born 150 years ago in the time of Cyrenius, and taught what we assert Him to have taught at a later time under Pontius Pilate, and so object that all men who lived before Him were irresponsible, let us solve the difficulty in advance. We were taught that Christ is the firstborn of God, and we have already signified that He is the reason, in which every race of men did share. Thus those who lived with reason are Christians even if they were counted godless, as of the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus and others like them, and of the barbarians Abraham, Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, Elijah, and many others, whose names and acts we decline to set down here, knowing that they would be long to tell.


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