Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 13. Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers.” sec. 159-204.
§ 173. Justin the Philosopher and Martyr.
Schaff provides a comprehensive bibliography for the authentic and spurious works of Justin Martyr. He then introduces him as “the most eminent among the Greek apologists of the second century” (Schaff 2014, loc. 21508). Born in the late first or early second century, Justin seems to have been of Greek and Roman ancestry, born in the area of Samaria, and converted to Christianity as a young adult. As Justin explored philosophy, and particularly Platonic thought, he had an interaction with a Christian who shook his dependence on human wisdom, pointing him instead to the reliability of the Hebrew prophets (Schaff 2014, loc. 21527). Justin was also persuaded by the way Christians would face persecution and death fearlessly.
Justin, after conversion, spent his life spreading and arguing for Christianity. He is not known to have been ordained into the priesthood (Schaff 2014, loc. 21535) but he was recognized as doing good for the church by his faithful witness to the truth. About the year 166, Justin was executed along with six other Christians (Schaff 2014, loc. 21544).
Justin wrote extensively The chief works are two Apologies and a Dialogue with the Jew Trypho (Schaff 2014, loc. 21563). The Apologies mount a defense for Christianity and call for fair trials for those accused of being Christians. The Dialogue makes an Old Testament argument for Christianity, answering specific objections held by Jews. (Schaff 2014, loc. 21573). Schaff notes other works, Against all Heresies and Against Marcion which are lost but are referred to and quoted briefly in Irenaeus. Eusebius also mentions a Psalter and another book, On the Soul (Schaff 2014, loc. 21580). Schaff lists a number of other works he considers doubtful or spurious. Justin’s writings give us a vivid description of actual Christian worship at an early date.
Justin’s theology, according to Schaff, is based on the Scriptures and current church tradition. He cites the Old Testament and the Gospels, apparently from memory (Schaff 2014, loc. 21590). He makes allusions to Paul’s Epistles. However, Schaff observes that he does not refer to the prophets or apostles by name (Schaff 2014, loc. 21599). Justin’s interpretation of Scripture is allegorical and typological in nature. Though Justin’s interpretive methods may strike us as unortodox, Schaff recognizes them asbeing within the bounds of normal interpretation (Schaff 2014, loc. 21608). Justin’s overall philosophical theology bears some resemblance to Platonic thought. Yet Schaff finds Justin to be focused on Christ, the Logos as described in John (Schaff 2014, loc. 21626). However, Schaff does recognize that Justin considered some, such as Socrates, to be Christians, though they didn’t know it (Schaff 2014, loc. 21635). In Justin, a new ethical law, revealed in Christ, points people to God. This law is for the whole world, not only for Jews (Schaff 2014, loc. 21652).
Justin’s Platonism continued to influence theology. Schaff traces it for several hundred years, though he observes that “in the scholastic period it gave way to the Aristotelian philosophy, which was better adapted to clear, logical statements” (Schaff 2014, loc. 21653).