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3. The doctrines of Christianity as the revealed and rational religion.
The Apologists frequently spoke of the doctrines or “dogmas” of Christianity; and the whole content of this religion as philosophy is included in these dogmas.418418In the New Testament the content of the Christian faith is nowhere designated as dogma. In Clement (I. II.), Hermas, and Polycarp the word is not found at all; yet Clement (I. 20. 4, 27. 5) called the divine order of nature τά δεδογματισμένα ὑπὸ Θεοῦ. In Ignatius (ad Magn. XIII. 1) we read: σπουδάζετε οὖν βεβαιωθῆ̃ναι ἐν τοῖς δόγμασιν τοῦ κυρίου καὶ τῶν ἀποστόλων, but δόγματα here exclusively mean the rules of life (see Zahn on this passage), and this is also their signification in Διδαχή XI. 3. In the Epistle of Barnabas we read in several passages (I. 6: IX. 7: X. 1, 9 f.) of “dogmas of the Lord”; but by these he means partly particular mysteries, partly divine dispensations. Hence the Apologists are the first to apply the word. to the Christian faith, in accordance with the language of philosophy. They are also the first who employed the ideas θεολογεῖν and θελογία. The latter word is twice found in Justin (Dial. 56) in the sense of “aliquem nominare deum”. In Dial. 113, however, it has the more comprehensive sense of “to make religio-scientific investigations”. Tatian (10) also used the word in the first sense; on the contrary he entitled a book of which he was the author “πρὸς τοὺς ἀποφηναμένους τὰ περὶ Θεοῦ” and not “πρὸς τοὺς θεολογοῦντας”. In Athenagoras (Suppl. 10) theology is the doctrine of God and of all beings to whom the predicate “Deity” belongs (see also 20, 22). That is the old usage of the word. It was thus employed by Tertullian in ad nat. II. 1 (the threefold division of theology; in II. 2, 3 the expression “theologia physica, mythica” refers to this); Cohort, ad Gr. 3, 22. The anonymous writer in Eusebius (H. E. V. 28. 4, 5) is instructive on the point. Brilliant demonstrations of the ancient use of the word “theology” are found in Natorp, Thema und Disposition der aristotelischen Metaphysik (Philosophische Monatshefte, 1887, Parts 1 and 2, pp. 55-64). The title “theology”, as applied to a philosophic discipline, was first used by the Stoics; the old poets were previously called “theologians”, and the “theological” stage was the prescientific one which is even earlier than the “childhood” of “physicists” (so Aristotle speaks throughout). To the Fathers of the Church also the old poets are still οἱ παγαιοὶ θεολόγοι. But side by side with this we have an adoption of the Stoic view that there is also a philosophical theology, because the teaching of the old poets concerning the gods conceals under the veil of myth a treasure of philosophical truth. In the Stoa arose the “impossible idea of a ‘theology’ which is to be philosophy, that is, knowledge based on reason, and yet to have positive religion as the foundation of its certainty.” The Apologists accepted this, but added to it the distinction of a κοσμικὴ and θεολογικὴ σοφία. According to what we have already set forth there can be no doubt about the character of 203Christian dogmas. They are the rational truths, revealed by the prophets in the Holy Scriptures, and summarised in Christ (Χριστὸς λόγος καὶ νόμος), which in their unity represent the divine wisdom, and the recognition of which leads to virtue and eternal life. The Apologists considered it their chief task to set forth these doctrines, and hence they can be reproduced with all desirable clearness. The dogmatic scheme of the Apologists may therefore be divided into three component parts. These are: (A) Christianity viewed as monotheistic cosmology (God as the Father of the world); (B) Christianity as the highest morality and righteousness (God as the judge who rewards goodness and punishes wickedness); (C) Christianity regarded as redemption (God as the Good One who assists man and rescues him from the power of the demons).419419Christ has a relation to all three parts of the scheme, (1) as λόγος: (2) as νόμος, νομοθέτης and κριτής; (3) as διδάσκαλος and σωτήρ. Whilst the first two ideas are expressed in a clear and precise manner, it is equally true that the third is not worked out in a lucid fashion. This, as will afterwards be seen, is, on the one hand, the result of the Apologists’ doctrine of freedom, and, on the other, of their inability to discover a specific significance for the person of Christ within the sphere of revelation. Both facts again are ultimately to be explained from their moralism.
The essential content of revealed philosophy is viewed by the Apologists (see A, B) as comprised in three doctrines.420420In the reproduction of the apologetical theology historians of dogma have preferred to follow Justin; but here they have constantly overlooked the fact that Justin was the most Christian among the Apologists, and that the features of his teaching to which particular value is rightly attached, are either not found in the others at all (with the exception of Tertullian), or else in quite rudimentary form. It is therefore proper to put the doctrines common to all the Apologists in the foreground, and to describe what is peculiar to Justin as such, so far as it agrees with New Testament teachings or contains an anticipation of the future tenor of dogma. First, there is one spiritual and inexpressibly exalted God, who is Lord and Father of the world. Secondly, he requires a holy life. Thirdly, he will at last sit in judgment, and will reward the good with immortality and punish the wicked with death. The teaching concerning God, virtue, and eternal reward is traced to the prophets and Christ; but the bringing about of a virtuous 204life (of righteousness) has been necessarily left by God to men themselves; for God has created man free, and virtue can only be acquired by man’s own efforts. The prophets and Christ are therefore a source of righteousness in so far as they are teachers. But as God, that is, the divine Word (which we need not here discuss) has spoken in them, Christianity is to be defined as the Knowledge of God, mediated by the Deity himself, and as a virtuous walk in the longing after eternal and perfect life with God, as well as in the sure hope of this imperishable reward. By knowing what is true and doing what is good man becomes righteous and a partaker of the highest bliss. This knowledge, which has the character of divine instruction,421421Cicero’s proposition (de nat. deor. II. 66. 167): “nemo vir magnus sine aliquo afflatu divino unquam fuit,” which was the property of all the idealistic philosophers of the age, is found in the Apologists reproduced in the most various forms (see, e.g., Tatian 29). That all knowledge of the truth, both among the prophets and those who follow their teaching, is derived from inspiration was in their eyes a matter of certainty. But here they were only able to frame a theory in the case of the prophets; for such a theory strictly applied to all would have threatened the spontaneous character of the knowledge of the truth. rests on faith in the divine revelation. This revelation has the nature and power of redemption in so far as the fact is undoubted that without it men cannot free themselves from the tyranny of the demons, whilst believers in revelation are enabled by the Spirit of God to put them to flight. Accordingly, the dogmas of Christian philosophy theoretically contain the monotheistic cosmology, and practically the rules for a holy life, which appears as a renunciation of the world and as a new order of society.422422Justin, Apol. I. 3: Ἡμέτερον οὖν ἔργον καὶ βίου καὶ μαθημάτων τὴν ἐπίσκεψιν πᾶσι παρέχειν. The goal is immortal life, which consists in the full knowledge and contemplation of God. The dogmas of revelation lie between the cosmology and ethics; they are indefinitely expressed so far as they contain the idea of salvation; but they are very precisely worded in so far as they guarantee the truth of the cosmology and ethics.
I. The dogmas which express the knowledge of God and the world are dominated by the fundamental idea that the world as the created, conditioned, and transient is contrasted with something 205self-existing, unchangeable and eternal, which is the first cause of the world. This self-existing Being has none of the attributes which belong to the world; hence he is exalted above every name and has in himself no distinctions. This implies, first, the unity and uniqueness of this eternal Being; secondly, his spiritual nature, for everything bodily is subject to change; and, finally, his perfection, for the self-existent and eternal requires nothing. Since, however, he is the cause of all being, himself being unconditioned, he is the fulness of all being or true being itself (Tatian 5: καθὸ πᾶσα δύναμις ὁρατῶν τε καὶ αὀράτων αὐτὸς ὑπόστασις ἦν, σὺν αὐτῲ τὰ πάντα). As the living and spiritual Being he reveals himself in free creations, which make known his omnipotence and wisdom, i.e., his operative reason. These creations are, moreover, a proof of the goodness of the Deity, for they can be no result of necessities, in so far as God is in himself perfect. Just because he is perfect, the Eternal Essence is also the Father of all virtues, in so far as he contains no admixture of what is defective. These virtues include both the goodness which manifests itself in his creations, and the righteousness which gives to the creature what belongs to him, in accordance with the position he has received. On the basis of this train of thought the Apologists lay down the dogmas of the monarchy of God (τῶν ὅλων τὸ μοναρχικόν); his supramundaneness (τὸ ἄρρητον, τὸ ἀνέκφραστον, τὸ ἀχώριτον, τὸ ἀκατάληπτον, τὸ ἀπερινόητον, τὸ ἀσύγκριτον, τὸ ἀσυμβίβαστον, τὸ ἀνεκδιηγητόν; see Justin, Apol, II. 6; Theoph. I. 3); his unity (εἷς Θεός); his having no beginning (ἄναρχος, ὅτι ἀγένητος); his eternity and unchangeableness (ἀναλλοίωτος καθότι ἀθάνατος); his perfection (τέλειος); his need of nothing (ἀπροσδεής); his spiritual nature (πνεῦμα ὁ Θεός); his absolute causality (αὐτὸς ὑπάρχων τοῦ παντὸς ἡ ὑπόστασις, the motionless mover, see Aristides c. 1); his creative activity (κτίστης τῶν πάντων); his sovereignty (δεσπότης τῶν ὅλων); his fatherhood (πατὴρ διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρὸ τῶν ὅλων) his reason-power (God as λόγος, νοῦς, πνεῦμα, σοφία); his omnipotence (παντοκράτωρ ὅτι αὐτὸς τὰ πάντα κρατεῖ καὶ ἐμπεριέχει); his righteousness and goodness (πατὴρ τῆς δικαιοσύνης καὶ πασῶν τῶν ἀρετῶν χρηστότης). These dogmas are set forth by one Apologist in a more detailed, and by another in a more concise form, 206but three points are emphasised by all. First, God is primarily to be conceived as the First Cause. Secondly, the principle of moral good is also the principle of the world. Thirdly, the principle of the world, that is, the Deity, as being the immortal and eternal, forms the contrast to the world which is the transient. In the cosmology of the Apologists the two fundamental ideas are that God is the Father and Creator of the world, but that, as uncreated and eternal, he is also the complete contrast to it.423423See the exposition of the doctrine of God in Aristides with the conclusion found in all the Apologists, that God requires no offerings and presents.
These dogmas about God were not determined by the Apologists from the standpoint of the Christian Church which is awaiting an introduction into the Kingdom of God; but were deduced from a contemplation of the world on the one hand (see particularly Tatian, 4; Theophilus, I. 5, 6), and of the moral nature of man on the other. But, in so far as the latter itself belongs to the sphere of created things, the cosmos is the starting-point of their speculations. This is everywhere dominated by reason and order;424424Even Tatian says in c. 19: Κόσμου μὲν γὰρ ἡ κατασκευὴ καλή, τὸ δὲ ἐν ἀυτῷ πολίτευμα φαῦλον. it bears the impress of the divine Logos, and that in a double sense. On the one hand it appears as the copy of a higher, eternal world, for if we imagine transient and changeable matter removed, it is a wonderful complex of spiritual forces; on the other it presents itself as the finite product of a rational will. Moreover, the matter which lies at its basis is nothing bad, but an indifferent substance created by God,425425Tatian 5: Οὔτε ἄναρχος ἡ ὕλη καθάπερ ὁ Θεός, οὐδὲ διὰ τὸ ἄναρχον καὶ αὐτὴ ἰσοδύναμος τῷ Θεῷ· γεννητὴ δὲ καὶ οὐχ ὑπό τοῦ ἄλλου γεγονυῖα· μόνον δε ὑπὸ τοῦ πάντων δημιουργοῦ προβεβλημένη. 12. Even Justin does not seem to have taught otherwise, though that is not quite certain; see Apol. I. 10, 59, 64, 67: II. 6. Theophilus I. 4: II. 4, 10, 13 says very plainly: ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων τὰ πάντα ἐποίησεν . . . . τί δὲ μέγα, εἰ ὁ θεὸς ἐξ ὑποκειμένης ὕλης ἐποίει τὸν κόσμον. though indeed perishable. In its constitution the world is in every respect a structure worthy of God.426426Hence the knowledge of God and the right knowledge of the world are most closely connected; see Tatian 27: ἡ Θεοῦ κατάληψις ἥν ἔχω περὶ τῶν ὅλων. Nevertheless, according to the Apologists, the direct author of the world was not God, but the personified power of reason which they perceived 207 in the cosmos and represented as the immediate source of the universe. The motive for this dogma and the interest in it would be wrongly determined by alleging that the Apologists purposely introduced the Logos in order to separate God from matter, because they regarded this as something bad. This idea of Philo’s cannot at least have been adopted by them as the result of conscious reflection, for it does not agree with their conception of matter; nor is it compatible with their idea of God and their belief in Providence, which is everywhere firmly maintained. Still less indeed can it be shown that they were all impelled to this dogma from their view of Jesus Christ, since in this connection, with the exception of Justin and Tertullian, they manifested no specific interest in the incarnation of the Logos in Jesus. The adoption of the dogma of the Logos is rather to be explained thus: (1) The idea of God, derived by abstraction from the cosmos, did indeed, like that of the idealistic philosophy, involve the element of unity and spirituality, which implied a sort of personality; but the fulness of all spiritual forces, the essence of everything imperishable were quite as essential features of the conception; for in spite of the transcendence inseparable from the notion of God, this idea was neverthless meant to explain the world.427427The beginning of the fifth chapter of Tatian’s Oration is specially instructive here. Accordingly, they required a formula capable of expressing the transcendent and unchangeable nature of God on the one hand, and his fulness of creative and spiritual powers on the other. But the latter attributes themselves had again to be comprehended in a unity, because the law of the cosmos bore the appearance of a harmonious one. From this arose the idea of the Logos, and indeed the latter was necessarily distinguished from God as a separate existence, as soon as the realisation of the powers residing in God was represented as beginning. The Logos is the hypostasis of the operative power of reason, which at once preserves the unity and unchangeableness of God in spite of the exercise of the powers residing in him, and renders this very exercise possible. (2) Though the Apologists believed in the divine origin of the revelation given to the prophets, on which 208all knowledge of truth is based, they could nevertheless not be induced by this idea to represent God himself as a direct actor. For that revelation presupposes a speaker and a spoken word; but it would be an impossible thought to make the fulness of all essence and the first cause of all things speak. The Deity cannot be a speaking and still less a visible person, yet according to the testimony of the prophets, a Divine Person was seen by them. The Divine Being who makes himself known on earth in audible and visible fashion can only be the Divine Word. As, however, according to the fundamental view of the Apologists the principle of religion, i.e., of the knowledge of the truth, is also the principle of the world, so that Divine Word, which imparts the right knowledge of the world, must be identical with the Divine Reason which produced the world itself. In other words, the Logos is not only the creative Reason of God, but also his revealing Word. This explains the motive and aim of the dogma of the Logos. We need not specially point out that nothing more than the precision and certainty of the Apologists’ manner of statement is peculiar here; the train of thought itself belongs to Greek philosophy. But that very confidence is the most essential feature of the case; for in fact the firm belief that the principle of the world is also that of revelation represents an important early-Christian idea, though indeed in the form of philosophical reflection. To the majority of the Apologists the theoretical content of the Christian faith is completely exhausted in this proposition. They required no particular Christology, for in every revelation of God by his Word they already recognised a proof of his existence not to be surpassed, and consequently regarded it as Christianity in nuce.428428According to what has been set forth in the text it is incorrect to assert that the Apologists adopted the Logos doctrine in order to reconcile monotheism with the divine honours paid to the crucified Christ. The truth rather is that the Logos doctrine was already part of their creed before they gave any consideration to the person of the historical Christ, and vice versâ Christ’s right to divine honours was to them a matter of certainty independently of the Logos doctrine. But the fact that the Apologists made a distinction in thesi between the prophetic Spirit of God and the Logos, without being able to make any use of this distinction, 209is a very clear instance of their dependence on the formulæ of the Church’s faith. Indeed their conception of the Logos continually compelled them to identify the Logos and the Spirit, just as they not unfrequently define Christianity as the belief in the true God and in his Son, without mentioning the Spirit.429429We find the distinction of Logos (Son) and Spirit in Justin, Apol. I. 5, and in every case where he quotes formulæ (if we are not to assume the existence of interpolation in the text, which seems to me not improbable; see now also Cramer in the Theologische Studien, 1893. pp. 17 ff., 138 ff.). In Tatian 13 fin. the Spirit is represented as ὁ διάκονος τοῦ πεπονθότος Θεοῦ. The conception in Justin, Dial. 116, is similar. Father, Word, and prophetic Spirit are spoken of in Athenag. 10. The express designation τρίας is first found in. Theophilus (but see the Excerpta ex Theodoto); see II. 15: αἰ τρεῖς ἡμέραι τύποι ἑισὶν τῆς τριάδος, τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ λόγου ἀυτοῦ καὶ τῆς σοφίας ἀυτοῦ; see II. 10, 18. But it is just in Theophilus that the difficulty of deciding between Logos and Wisdom appears with special plainness (II. 10). The interposition of the host of good angels between Son and Spirit found in Justin, Apol. I. 5 (see Athenag.), is exceedingly striking. We have, however, to notice, provided the text is right, (1) that this interposition is only found in a single passage, (2) that Justin wished to refute the reproach of ἀθεότης, (3) that the placing of the Spirit after the angels does not necessarily imply a position inferior to theirs, but merely a subordination to the Son and the Father common to the Spirit and the angels, (4) that the good angels were also invoked by the Christians, because they were conceived as mediators of prayer (see my remark on I. Clem. ad Corinth. LVI. 1); they might have found a place here just for this latter reason. On the significance of the Holy Spirit in the theology of Justin, see Zahn Marcellus of Ancyra, p. 228: “If there be any one theologian of the early Church who might be regarded as depriving the Holy Spirit of all scientific raison d’être at least on the ground of having no distinctive(?) activity, and the Father of all share in revelation, it is Justin.” We cannot at bottom say that the Apologists possessed a doctrine of the Trinity. Further their dependence on the Christian tradition is shown in the fact that the most of them expressly designated the Logos as the Son of God.430430To Justin the name of the Son is the most important; see also Athenag. 10. The Logos had indeed been already called the Son of God by Philo, and Celsus expressly says (Orig., c. Cels. II. 31); “If according to your doctrine the Word is really the Son of God then we agree with you;” but the Apologists are the first to attach the name of Son to the Logos as a proper designation. If, however, the Logos is intrinsically the Son of God, then Christ is the Son of God, not because he is the begotten of God in the flesh (early Christian), but because the spiritual being existing in him is the antemundane reproduction of God (see Justin, Apol. II. 6: ὁ ὑιὸς τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ Θεοῦ, ὁ μόνος λεγόμενος κυριώς ὑιός) — a momentous expression.
The Logos doctrine of the Apologists is an essentially unanimous 210one. Since God cannot be conceived as without reason, ἄλογος, but as the fulness of all reason,431431Athenag., l0; Tatian, Orat. 5. he has always Logos in himself. This Logos is on the one hand the divine consciousness itself, and on the other the power (idea and energy) to which the world is due; he is not separate from God, but is contained in his essence.432432The clearest expression of this is in Tatian 5, which passage is also to be compared with the following: Θεὸς ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ, τὴν δὲ ἀρχὴν λόγου δύναμιν παρειλήφαμεν. Ὁ γὰρ δεσπότης τῶν ὅλων, αὐτὸς ὑπάρχων τοῦ παντὸς ἡ ὑπόστασις, κατὰ μὲν τὴν μηδέπω γεγενημένην ποίησιν μόνος ἦν· καθὸ δὲ πᾶσα δύναμις, ὁρατῶν τε καὶ ἀοράτων ἀοράτων ἀυτὸς ὑπόστασις ἦν, σὺν αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα· σὺν αὐτῷ διὰ λογικῆς δυνάμεως αὐτὸς καὶ ὁ λόγος, ὅς ἦν ἐν αὐτῷ, ὑπέστησε. Θελήματι δέ τῆς ἁπλότητος αὐτοῦ προπηδᾷ λόγος· ὁ δὲ λόγος, ὀυ κατὰ κενοῦ χωρήσας, ἔργον πρωτότοκον τοῦ πατρὸς γίνεται. Τοῦτον ἴσμεν τοῦ κόσμου τὴν ἀρχήν. Γέγονε δὲ κατὰ μερισμόν, ο̦ κατὰ ἀποκοπήν· τὸ γὰρ ἀποτμηθὲν τοῦ πρώτου κεχώρισται, τὸ δὲ μερισθὲν οἰκονομίας τὴν αἵρεσιν προσλαβὸν οὐκ ἐνδεᾶ τὸν ὅθεν εἴληπται πεπόιηκεν. Ὥστερ γὰρ ἀπὸ μιᾶς δᾳδὸς ἀνάπτεται μὲν πυρὰ πολλὰ, τῆς δὲ πρώτης δᾳδὸς διὰ τὴν ἔξαψιν τῶν πολλῶν δᾳδῶν οὐκ ἐλαττοῦται τὸ φῶς, οὕτω καὶ ὁ λόγος προελθὼν ἐκ τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς δυνάμεως οὐκ ἄλογον πεποίηκε τὸν γεγεννηκότα. In the identification of the divine consciousness, that is, the power of God, with the force to which the world is clue the naturalistic basis of the apologetic speculations is most clearly shown. Cf. Justin, Dial. 128, 129. For the sake of the creation God produced (sent forth, projected) the Logos from himself, that is, he engendered433433The word “beget” (γεννᾶν) is used by the Apologists, especially Justin, because the name “Son” was the recognised expression for the Logos. No doubt the words ἐξερέυγεσθαι, προβάλλεσθαι, προέρχεσθαι, προπηδᾶν and the like express the physical process more exactly in the sense of the Apologists. On the other hand, however, γεννᾶν appears the more appropriate word in so far as the relation of the essence of the Logos to the essence of God is most clearly shown by the name “Son”. him from his essence by a free and simple act of will (Θεὸς ἐκ Θεοῦ πεφυκώς εξ ἑαυτοῦ. Dial. 61). Then for the first time the Logos became a hypostasis separate from God, or, in other words, he first came into existence; and, in virtue of his origin, he possesses the following distinctive features:434434None of the Apologists has precisely defined the Logos idea. Zahn, 1.c., p. 233, correctly remarks: “Whilst the distinction drawn between the hitherto unspoken and the spoken word of the Creator makes Christ appear as the thought of the world within the mind of God, yet he is also to be something real which only requires to enter into a new relation to God to become an active force. Then again this Word is not to be the thought that God thinks, but the thought that thinks in God. And again it is to be a something, or an Ego, in God’s thinking essence, which enters into reciprocal intercourse with something else in God; occasionally also the reason of God which is in a state of active exercise and without which he would not be rational.” Considering this evident uncertainty it appears to me a very dubious proceeding to differentiate the conceptions of the Logos in Justin, Athenagoras, Tatian, and Theophilus, as is usually done. If we consider that no Apologist wrote a special treatise on the Logos, that Tatian (c. 5) is really the only one from whom we have any precise statements, and that the elements of the conception are the same in all, it appears inadvisable to lay so great stress on the difference as Zahn, for instance, has done in the book already referred to, p. 232, f. Hardly any real difference can have. existed between Justin, Tatian, and Theophilus in the Logos doctrine proper. On the other hand Athenagoras certainly seems to have tried to eliminate the appearance of the Logos in time, and to emphasise the eternal nature of the divine relationships, without, however, reaching the position which Irenæus took up here. 211(1) The inner essence of the Logos is identical with the essence of God himself; for it is the product of self-separation in God, willed and brought about by himself. Further, the Logos is not cut off and separated from God, nor is he a mere modality in him. He is rather the independent product of the self-unfolding of God (οἰκονομία), which product, though it is the epitome of divine reason, has nevertheless not stripped the Father of this attribute. The Logos is the revelation of God, and the visible God. Consequently the Logos is really God and Lord, i.e., he possesses the divine nature in virtue of his essence. The Apologists, however, only know of one kind of divine nature and this is that which belongs to the Logos. (2) From the moment when he was begotten the Logos is a being distinct from the Father; he is ἀριθμῷ ἐτερόν τι, Θεὸς ἕτερος, Θεὸς δεύτερος (“something different in number, another God, a second God.”) But his personality only dates from that moment. “Fuit tempus, cum patri filius non fuit,” (“there was a time when the Father had no Son”, so Tertullian, adv. Hermog. 3).The λόγος προφορικός is for the first time a hypostasis distinct from the Father, the λόγος ἐνδιάθετος is not.435435This distinction is only found in Theophilus (II. 10); but the idea exists in Tatian and probably also in Justin, though it is uncertain whether Justin regarded the Logos as having any sort of being before the moment of his begetting. (3) The Logos has an origin, the Father has not; hence it follows that in relation to God the Logos is a creature; he is the begotten, that is, the created God, the God who has a beginning. Wherefore in rank he is below God (ἐν δευτέρᾳ χώρᾳ — δεύτερος Θεός, “in the second place, 212and a second God”), the messenger and servant of God. The subordination of the Logos is not founded on the content of his essence, but on his origin. In relation to the creatures, however, the Logos is the ἀρχή, i.e., not only the beginning but the principle of the vitality and form of everything that is to receive being. As an emanation (the begotten) he is distinguished from all creatures, for he alone is the Son;436436Justin, Apol. II. 6., Dial. 61. The Logos is not produced out of nothing, like the rest of the creatures. Yet it is evident that the Apologists did not yet sharply and precisely distinguish between begetting and creating, as the later theologians did; though some of them certainly felt the necessity for a distinction. but, as having a beginning, he again stands on a level with them. Hence the paradoxical expression, ἔργον πρωτότοκον τοῦ πατρός (“first begotten work of the Father”), is here the most appropriate designation. (4) In virtue of his finite origin, it is possible and proper for the Logos to enter into the finite, to act, to speak. and to appear. As he arose for the sake of the creation of the world, he has the capacity of personal and direct revelation which does not belong to the infinite God; nay, his whole essence consists in the very fact that he is thought, word, and deed. Behind this active substitute and vicegerent, the Father stands in the darkness of the incomprehensible, and in the incomprehensible light of perfection as the hidden, unchangeable God.437437All the Apologists tacitly assume that the Logos in virtue of his origin has the capacity of entering the finite. The distinction which here exists between Father and Son is very pregnantly expressed by Tertullian (adv. Marc. II. 27): “Igitur quæcumque exigitis deo digna, habebuntur in patre invisibili incongressibilique et placido et, ut ita dixerim, philosophorum deo. Quæcumque autem ut indigna reprehenditis deputabuntur in filio et viso et audito et congresso, arbitro patris et ministro.” But we ought not to charge the Apologists with the theologoumenon that it was an inward necessity for the Logos to become man. Their Logos hovers, as it were, between God and the world, so that he appears as the highest creature, in so far as he is conceived as the production of God; and again seems to be merged in God, in so far as he is looked upon as the consciousness and spiritual force of God. To Justin, however, the incarnation is irrational, and the rest of the Greek Apologists are silent about it.
With the issuing forth of the Logos from God began the realisation of the idea of the world. The world as κόσμος νοητός is contained in the Logos. But the world is material and manifold, the Logos is spiritual and one. Therefore the 213Logos is not himself the world, but he is its creator and in a certain fashion its archetype. Justin and Tatian used the expression “beget” (γεννᾶν) for the creation of the world, but in connections which do not admit of any importance being attached to this use. The world was created out of nothing after a host of spirits, as is assumed by most Apologists, had been created along with heaven, which is a higher, glorious world. The purpose of the creation of the world was and is the production of men, i.e., beings possessed of soul and body, endowed with reason and freedom, and therefore made in the image of God; beings who are to partake of the blessedness and perfection of God. Everything is created for man’s sake, and his own creation is a proof of the goodness of God. As beings possessed of soul and body, men are neither mortal nor immortal, but capable either of death or immortality.438438The most of the Apologists argue against the conception of the natural immortality of the human soul; see Tatian 13; Justin, Dial.5; Theoph. II. 27. The condition on which men can attain the latter introduces us to ethics. The doctrines, that God is also the absolute Lord of matter; that evil cannot be a quality of matter, but rather arose in time and from the free decision of the spirits or angels; and finally that the world will have an end, but God can call the destroyed material into existence, just as he once created it out of nothing, appear in principle to reconcile the dualism in the cosmology. We have the less occasion to give the details here, because they are known from the philosophical systems of the period, especially Philo’s, and vary in manifold ways. All the Apologists, however, are imbued with the idea that this knowledge of God and the world, the genesis of the Logos and cosmos, are the most essential part of Christianity itself.439439The first chapter of Genesis represented to them the sum of all wisdom, and therefore of all Christianity. Perhaps Justin had already written a commentary to the Hexaëmeron (see my Texte und Untersuchungen I. 1, 2, p. 169 f.). It is certain that in the second century Rhodon (Euseb., H. E. V. 13. 8), Theophilus (see his 2nd Book ad Autol.), Candidus, and Apion (Euseb., H. E. V. 27) composed such. The Gnostics also occupied themselves a great deal with Gen. I.-III.; see, e.g., Marcus in Iren. I. 18. This conception is really not peculiar to the Apologists: in the second century the great majority of Christians, in so far as they reflected at all, regarded 214 the monotheistic explanation of the world as a main part of the Christian religion. The theoretical view of the world as a harmonious whole, of its order, regularity and beauty; the certainty that all this had been called into existence by an Almighty Spirit; the sure hope that heaven and earth will pass away, but will give place to a still more glorious structure, were always present, and put an end to the bright and gorgeously coloured, but phantastic and vague, cosmogonies and theogonies of antiquity.
2. Their clear system of morality is in keeping with their relatively simple cosmology. In giving man reason and freedom as an inalienable possession God destined him for incorruptibility (ἀθανασία, ἀφθαρσία), by the attainment of which he was to become a being similar to God.440440See Theophilus ad Aut. II. 27: Εἰ γὰρ ὁ Θεὸς ἀθάνατον τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς πεποιήκει, Θεὸν αὐτὸν πεποιήκει· πάλιν εἰ θνητὸν ἀυτὸν πεποιήκει ἐδόκει ἄν ὁ Θεὸς αἴτιος εἶναι τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦ. Οὔτε οὖν ἀθάνατον ἀυτὸν ἐποίησεν οὔτε μὴν θνητόν, ἀλλὰ δεκτικὸν ἀμφοτέρων; ἵνα, εἰ ῥέψῃ ἐπὶ τὰ τῆς ἀθανασίας τηρήσας τὴν ἑντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ, μισθὸν κομίσηται παῤ αὐτοῦ τὴν ἀθανασίαν καὶ γένηται Θεός, εἰ δ᾽ αὖ τραπῇ ἐπὶ τὰ τοῦ θανάτου πράγματα παρακούσας τοῦ Θεοῦ, αὐτὸς ἐαυτῷ αἴτιος ᾖ τοῦ θανάτου. To the gift of imperishability God, however, attached the condition of man’s preserving τὰ τῆς ἀθανασίας (“the things of immortality”), i.e., preserving the knowledge of God and maintaining a holy walk in imitation of the divine perfection. This demand is as natural as it is just; moreover, nobody can fulfil it in man’s stead, for an essential feature of virtue is its being free, independent action. Man must therefore determine himself to virtue by the knowledge that he is only in this way obedient to the Father of the world and able to reckon on the gift of immortality. The conception of the content of virtue, however, contains an element which cannot be clearly apprehended from the cosmology; moral goodness consists in letting oneself be influenced in no way by the sensuous, but in living solely, after the Spirit, and imitating the perfection and purity of God. Moral badness is giving way to any affection resulting from the natural basis of man. The Apologists undoubtedly believe that virtue consists negatively in man’s renunciation of what his natural constitution of soul and body demands or impels him to. Some express this thought 215in a more pregnant and unvarnished fashion, others in a milder way. Tatian, for instance, says that we must divest ourselves of the human nature within us; but in truth the idea is the same in all. The moral law of nature of which the Apologists speak, and which they find reproduced in the clearest and most beautiful way in the sayings of Jesus,441441See Justin, Apol. I. 14 ff. and the parallel passages in the other Apologists. calls upon man to raise himself above his nature and to enter into a corresponding union with his fellow-man which is something higher than natural connections. It is not so much the law of love that is to rule everything, for love itself is only a phase of a higher law; it is the law governing the perfect and sublime Spirit, who, as being the most exalted existence on this earth, is too noble for the world. Raised already in this knowledge beyond time and space, beyond the partial and the finite, the man of God, even while upon the earth, is to hasten to the Father of Light. By equanimity, absence of desires, purity, and goodness, which are the necessary results of clear knowledge, he is to show that he has already risen above the transient through gazing on the imperishable and through the enjoyment of knowledge, imperfect though the latter still be. If thus, a suffering hero, he has stood the test on earth, if he has become dead to the world,442442See Tatian, Orat.11. and many other passages. he may be sure that in the life to come God will bestow on him the gift of immortality, which includes the direct contemplation of God together with the perfect knowledge that flows from it.443443 Along with this the Apologists emphasise the resurrection of the flesh in the strongest way as the specific article of Christian anticipation, and prove the possibility of realising this irrational hope. Yet to the Apologists the ultimate ground of their trust in this early-Christian idea is their reliance on the unlimited omnipotence of God and this confidence is a proof of the vividness of their idea of him. Nevertheless this conception assumes that in the other world there will be a return of the flesh, which on this side the grave had to be overcome and regarded as non-existent. A clearly chiliastic element is found only in Justin. Conversely, the vicious man is given over to eternal death, and in this punishment the righteousness of God is quite as plainly manifested, as in the reward of everlasting life.
3. While it is certain that virtue is a matter of freedom, it 216is just as sure that no soul is virtuous unless it follows the will of God, i.e., knows and judges of God and all things as they must be known and judged of; and fulfils the commandments of God. This presupposes a revelation of God through the Logos. A revelation of God, complete in itself and mediated by the Logos, is found in the cosmos and in the constitution of man, he being created in his Maker’s image.444444No uniform conception of this is found in the Apologists; see Wendt, Die Christliche Lehre von der menschlichen Vollkommenheit 1882, pp. 8-20. Justin speaks only of a heavenly destination for which man is naturally adapted. With Tatian and Theophilus it is different. But experience has shown that this revelation is insufficient to enable men to retain clear knowledge. They yielded to the seduction of evil demons, who, by God’s sufferance, took possession of the world, and availed themselves of man’s sensuous side to draw him away from the contemplation of the divine and lead him to the earthly.445445The idea that the demon sovereignty has led to some change in the psychological condition and capacities of man is absolutely unknown to Justin (see Wendt, l. c., p. 11 f., who has successfully defended the correct view in Engelhardt’s “Das Christenthum Justin’s des Märtyrers” pp. 92 f. 151. f. 266 f., against Stählin, “Justin der Märtyrer und sein neuester Beurtheiler” 1880, p. 16 f.). Tatian expressed a different opinion, which, however, involved him in evident contradictions (see above, p. 191 ff.). The apologetic theology necessarily adhered to the two following propositions: (1) The freedom to do what is good is not lost and cannot be. This doctrine was opposed to philosophic determinism and popular fatalism. (2) The desires of the flesh resulting from the constitution of man only become evil when they destroy or endanger the sovereignty of reason. The formal liberum arbitrium explains the possibility of sin, whilst its actual existence is accounted for by the desire that is excited by the demons. The Apologists acknowledge the universality of sin and death, but refused to admit the necessity of the former in order not to call its guilty character in question. On the other hand they are deeply imbued with the idea that the sovereignty of death is the most powerful factor in the perpetuation of sin. Their believing conviction of the omnipotence of God, as well as their moral conviction of the responsibility of man, protected them in theory from a strictly dualistic conception of the world. At the same time, like all who separate nature and morality in their ethical system, though in other respects they do not do so, the Apologists were obliged in practice to be dualists. The results of this temptation appeared in the facts that humanity as a whole fell a prey to error, was subjected to the bonds of the sensuous and of the demons, and therefore became doomed to death, which is at once a punishment and the natural consequence of want of knowledge of 217God.446446Death is accounted the worst evil. When Theophilus (II. 26) represents it as a blessing, we must consider that he is arguing against Marcion. Polytheism is traced to the demons; they are accounted the authors of the fables about the gods; the shameful actions of the latter are partly the deeds of demons and partly lies. Hence it required fresh efforts of the Logos to free men from a state which is indeed in no instance an unavoidable necessity, though a sad fact in the case of almost all. For very few are now able to recognise the one true God from the order of the universe and from the moral law implanted in themselves; nor can they withstand the power of the demons ruling in the world and use their freedom to imitate the virtues of God. Therefore the Almighty in his goodness employed new means through the Logos to call men back from the error of their ways, to overthrow the sovereignty of the demons upon earth, and to correct the disturbed course of the world before the end has yet come. From the earliest times the Logos (the Spirit) has descended on such men as preserved their souls pure, and bestowed on them, through inspiration, knowledge of the truth (with reference to God, freedom, virtue, the demons, the origin of polytheism, the judgment) to be imparted by them to others. These are his “prophets”. Such men are rare among the Greeks (and according to some not found at all), but numerous among the barbarians, i.e., among the Jewish people. Taught by God, they announced the truth about him, and under the promptings of the Logos they also committed the revelations to writings, which therefore, as being inspired, are an authentic record of the whole truth.447447The Old Testament therefore is not primarily viewed as the book of prophecy or of preparation for Christ, but as the book of the full revelation which cannot be surpassed. In point of content the teaching of the prophets and of Christ is completely identical. The prophetical details in the Old Testament serve only to attest the one truth. The Apologists confess that they were converted to Christianity by reading the Old Testament. Cf. Justin’s and Tatian’s confessions. Perhaps Commodian (Instruct. I. 1) is also be understood thus. To some of the most virtuous among them he himself even appeared in human form and gave directions. He then is a Christian, who receives and follows these prophetic teachings, that have ever been proclaimed afresh from the beginning of the world down to the present time, and are summed up in the Old Testament, Such a one 218is enabled even now to rescue his soul from the rule of the demons, and may confidently expect the gift of immortality.
With the majority of the Apologists “Christianity” seems to be exhausted in these doctrines; in fact, they do not even consider it necessary to mention ex professo the appearance of the Logos in Christ (see above, p. 189 ff.). But, while it is certain that they all recognised that the teachings of the prophets contained the full revelation of the truth, we would be quite wrong in assuming that they view the appearance and history of Christ as of no significance. In their presentations some of them no doubt contented themselves with setting forth the most rational and simple elements, and therefore took almost no notice of the historical; but even in their case certain indications show that they regarded the manifestation of the Logos in Christ as of special moment.448448The Oratio of Tatian is very instructive in this respect. In this book he has nowhere spoken ex professo of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ; but in c. 13 fin. he calls the Holy Spirit “the servant of God who has suffered”, and in c. 21 init. he says: “we are not fools and do not adduce anything stupid, when we proclaim that God has appeared in human form.” Similar expressions are found in Minucius Felix. In no part of Aristides’ Apology is there any mention of the pre-Christian appearance of the Logos. The writer merely speaks of the revelation of the Son of God in Jesus Christ. For the prophetic utterances, as found from the beginning, require an attestation, the prophetic teaching requires a guarantee, so that misguided humanity may accept them and no longer take error for truth and truth for error. The strongest guarantee imaginable is found in the fulfilment of prophecy. Since no man is able to foretell what is to come, the prediction of the future accompanying a doctrine proves its divine origin. God, in his extraordinary goodness, not only inspired the prophets, through the Logos, with the doctrines of truth, but has from the beginning put numerous predictions in their mouth. These predictions were detailed and manifold; the great majority of them referred to a more prolonged appearance of the Logos in human form at the end of history, and to a future judgment. Now, so long as the predictions had not yet come to pass, the teachings of the prophets were not sufficiently impressive, for the only sure witness of the truth is its outward attestation. In the history of Christ, 219however, the majority of these prophecies were fulfilled in the most striking fashion, and this not only guarantees the fulfilment of the relatively small remainder not yet come to pass (judgment, resurrection), but also settles beyond all doubt the truth of the prophetic teachings about God, freedom, virtue, immortality, etc. In the scheme of fulfilment and prophecy even the irrational becomes rational; for the fulfilment of a prediction is not a proof of its divine origin unless it refers to something extraordinary. Any one can predict regular occurrences which always take place, Accordingly, a part of what was predicted had to be irrational. Every particular in the history of Christ has therefore a significance, not as regards the future, but as regards the past. Here everything happened that the word of the prophet might be fulfilled.” Because the prophet had said so, it had to happen. Christ’s destiny attests the ancient teachings of the prophets. Everything, however, depends on this attestation, for it was no longer the full truth that was wanting, but a convincing proof that the truth was a reality and not a fancy.449449We seldom receive an answer to the question as to why this or that particular occurrence should have been prophesied. According to the ideas of the Apologists, however, we have hardly a right to put that question; for, since the value of the historical consists in its having been predicted, its content is of no importance. The fact that Jesus finds the she-ass bound to a vine (Justin, Apol. 1. 32) is virtually quite as important as his being born of a virgin. Both occurrences attest the prophetic teachings of God, freedom, etc. But prophecy testifies that Christ is the ambassador of God, the Logos that has appeared in human form, and the Son of God. If the future destiny of Jesus is recorded in the Old Testament down to the smallest particular, and the book at the same time declares that this predicted One is the Son of God and will be crucified, then the paying of divine honours to this crucified man, to whom all the features of prophecy apply, is completely justified. The stage marked by Christ in the history of God’s revelation, the content of which is always the same, is therefore the highest and last, because in it the “truth along with the proof” has appeared. This circumstance explains why the truth is so much more impressive and convinces more men than formerly, especially since Christ has also made special provision for the spread of the 220truth and is himself an unequalled exemplification of a virtuous life, the principles of which have now become known in the whole world through the spread of his precepts.
These statements exhaust the arguments in most of the Apologies; and they accordingly seem neither to have contemplated a redemption by Christ in the stricter sense of the word, nor to have assumed the unique nature of the appearance of the Logos in Jesus. Christ accomplished salvation as a divine teacher, that is to say, his teaching brings about the ἀλλαγή and ἐπαναγωγή of the human race, its restoration to its original destination. This also seems to suffice as regards demon rule. Logically considered, the individual portions of the history of Jesus (of the baptismal Confession) have no direct significance in respect to salvation. Hence the teachings of the Christians seem to fall into two groups having no inward connection, i.e., the propositions treating of the rational knowledge of God, and the predicted and fulfilled historical facts which prove those doctrines and the believing hopes they include.
But Justin at least gave token of a manifest effort to combine the historical statements regarding Christ with the philosophical and moral doctrines of salvation and to conceive Jesus as the Redeemer.450450In Justin’s polemical works this must have appeared in a still more striking way. Thus we find in a fragment of the treatise πρὸς Μαρκίωνα, quoted by Irenæus (IV. 6. 2), the sentence “unigenitus filius venit ad nos, suum plasma in semetipsum recapitulans.” So the theologoumenon of the recapitulatio per Christum already appeared in Justin. (Vide also Dial. c. Tryph. 100.) If we compare Tertullian’s Apologeticum with his Antignostic writings we easily see how impossible it is to determine from that work the extent of his Christian faith and knowledge. The same is probably the case, though to a less extent, with Justin’s apologetic writings. Accordingly, if the Christian dogmatic of succeeding times is found in the connection of philosophical theology with the baptismal confession, that is, in the “scientific theology of facts”, Justin is, in a certain fashion, the first framer of Church dogma, though no doubt in a very tentative way. (1) He tried to distinguish between the appearance of the Logos in pre-Christian times and in Christ; he emphasised the fact that the whole Logos appeared only in Christ, and that the manner of this appearance has no counterpart in the past. (2) 221Justin showed in the Dialogue that, independently of the theologoumenon of the Logos, he was firmly convinced of the divinity of Christ on the ground of predictions and of the impression made by his personality.451451Christians do not place a man alongside of God, for Christ is God, though indeed a second God. There is no question of two natures. It is not the divine nature that Justin has insufficiently emphasised — or at least this is only the case in so far as it is a second Godhead — but the human nature; see Schultz, Gottheit Christi, p. 39 ff. (3) In addition to the story of the exaltation of Christ, Justin also emphasised other portions of his history, especially the death on the cross (together with baptism and the Lord’s Supper) and tried to give them a positive significance.452452 We find allusions in Justin where the various incidents in the history of the incarnate Logos are conceived as a series of arrangements meant to form part of the history of salvation, to paralyse mankind’s sinful history, and to regenerate humanity. He is thus a forerunner of Irenæus and Melito. He adopted the common Christian saying that the blood of Christ cleanses believers and men are healed through his wounds; and he tried to give a mystic significance to the cross. (4) He accordingly spoke of the forgiveness of sins through Christ and confessed that men are changed, through the new birth in baptism, from children of necessity and ignorance into children of purpose and understanding and forgiveness of sins.453453Even the theologoumenon of the definite number of the elect, which must be fulfilled, is found in Justin (Apol. I. 28, 45). For that reason the judgment is put off by God (II. 7). The Apology of Aristides contains a short account of the history of Jesus; his conception, birth, preaching, choice of the 12 Apostles, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, sending out of the 12 Apostles are mentioned. Von Engelhardt has, however, quite rightly noticed that these are mere words which have nothing at all corresponding to them in the general system of thought, because Justin remains convinced that the knowledge of the true God, of his will, and of his promises, or the certainty that God will always grant forgiveness to the repentant and eternal life to the righteous, is sufficient to convert the man who is master of himself. Owing to the fundamental conviction which is expressed in the formulæ, “perfect philosophy”, “divine teacher”, “new law”, “freedom”, “repentance”, “sinless life”, “sure hope”, “reward”, “immortality”, the ideas, “forgiveness of sins”, “redemption”, “reconciliation”, “new birth”, “faith” (in the Pauline sense) must remain 222words,454454“To Justin faith is only an acknowledgment of the mission and Sonship of Christ and a conviction of the truth of his teaching. Faith does not justify, but is merely a presupposition of the justification which is effected through repentance, change of mind, and sinless life. Only in so far as faith itself is already a free. decision to serve God has it the value of a saving act, which is indeed of such significance that one can say, ‘Abraham was justified by faith.’ In reality, however, this took place through μετάνοια.” The idea of the new birth is exhausted in the thought: Θεὸς καλεῖ εἰς μετάνοιαν, that of the forgiveness of sins in the idea: “God is so good that he overlooks sins committed in a state of ignorance, if man has changed his mind.” Accordingly, Christ is the Redeemer in so far as he has brought about all the conditions which make for repentance. or be relegated to the sphere of magic and mystery.455455 This is in fact already the case in Justin here and there, but in the main there are as yet mere traces of it: the Apologists are no mystics. Nevertheless we must not on that account overlook the intention. Justin tried to see the divine revelation not only in the sayings of the prophets, but in unique fashion in the person of Christ, and to conceive Christ not only as the divine teacher, but also as the “Lord and Redeemer”. In two points he actually succeeded in this. By the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Justin proved that Christ, the divine teacher, is also the future judge and bestower of reward. Christ himself is able to give what he has promised — a life after death free from sufferings and sins, that is the first point. The other thing, however, which Justin very strongly emphasised is that Jesus is even now reigning in heaven, and shows his future visible sovereignty of the world by giving his own people the power to cast out and vanquish the demons in and by his name. Even at the present time the latter are put to flight by believers in Christ.456456If we consider how largely the demons bulked in the ideas of the Apologists, we must rate very highly their conviction of the redeeming power of Christ and of his name, a power continuously shown in the victories over the demons. See Justin Apol. II. 6, 8; Dial. 11, 30, 35, 39, 76, 85, 111, 121; Tertull., Apol. 23, 27, 32, 37 etc. Tatian also (16 fin.) confirms it, and c. 12, p. 56, line 7 if. (ed. Otto) does not contradict this. So the redemption is no mere future one; it is even now taking place, and the revelation of the Logos in Jesus Christ is not merely intended to prove the doctrines of the rational religion, but denotes a real redemption, that is, a new beginning, in so far as the power of the demons on earth is overthrown through Christ and in his strength. Jesus Christ, the teacher of the whole 223truth and of a new law, which is the rational, the oldest, and the divine, the only being who has understood how to call men from all the different nations and in all stages of culture into a union of holy life, the inspiring One, for whom his disciples go to death, the mighty One, through whose name the demons are cast out, the risen One, who will one day reward and punish as judge, must be identical with the Son of God, who is the divine reason and the divine power. In this belief which accompanies the confession of the one God, creator of heaven and earth, Justin finds the special content of Christianity, which the later Apologists, with the probable exception of Melito, reproduced in a much more imperfect and meagre form. One thing, however, Justin in all probability did not formulate with precision, viz., the proposition that the special result of salvation, i.e., immortality, was involved in the incarnation of the Logos, in so far as that act brought about a real secret transformation of the whole mortal nature of man. With Justin, indeed, as with the other Apologists, the “salvation” (σωτηρία) consists essentially in the apportioning of eternal life to the world, which has been created mortal and in consequence of sin has fallen a prey to the natural destiny of “death”; and Christ is regarded as the bestower of incorruptibility who thus brings the creation to its goal; but as a rule Justin does not go beyond this thought. Yet we certainly find hints pointing to the notion of a physical and magical redemption accomplished at the moment of the incarnation. See particularly the fragment in Irenæus (already quoted on page 220), which may be thus interpreted, and Apol. I. 66. This conception, in its most complete shape, would have to be attributed to Justin if the fragment V. (Otto, Corp. Apol. III. p. 256) were genuine.457457 Von Engelhardt, Christenthum Justin’s, p. 432 f., has pronounced against its genuineness; see also my Texte und Untersuchungen I. 1, 2, p. 158. In favour of its genuineness see Hilgenfeld, Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, 1883, p. 26 f. The fragments is worded as follows: Πλάσας ὁ Θεὸς κατ᾽ ἀρχὰς τὸν ἄνθρωπον τῆς γνώμης αὐτοῦ τὰ τῆς φύσεως ἀπῃώρησεν ἐντολῇ μιᾷ ποιησάμενος τὴν διάπειραν. Φυλάξαντα μὲν γὰρ ταύτην τῆς ἀθανάτου λήξεως πεποίηκεν ἔσεσθαι, παραβάντα δὲ τῆς ἐναντίας. Οὕτω γεγονὼς ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ πρὸς τὴν παράβασιν εὐθὺς ἐλθὼν τὴν φθορὰν φυσικῶς εἰσεδέξατο. Φύσει δὲ τῆς φθορᾶς προσγενομένης ἀναγκαῖον ἦν ὅτι σῶσαι βουλόμενος ἦν τὴν φθοροποιὸν οὐσίαν ἀφανίσας. Τοῦτο δὲ οὐκ ἦν ἑτέρως γενέσθαι, εἰ μήπερ ἡ κατὰ φύσιν ζωὴ προσεπλάκη τῷ τὴν φθορὰν δεξαμένῳ ἀφανιζουσα μὲν τὴν φθοράν, ἀθάνατον δὲ τοῦ λοιποῦ τὸ δεξάμενον διατηροῦσα. Διὰ τοῦτο τὸν λόγον ἐδέησεν ἐν σώματι γενέσθαι, ἵνα (τοῦ θανάτου) τῆς κατὰ φύσιν ἡμᾶς φθορᾶς ἐλευθερώσῃ. Εἰ γὰρ, ὥς φατε, νεύματι μόνον τὸν θάνατον ἡμῶν ἀπεκώλυσεν, οὐ προσῄει μὲν διὰ τὴν βούλησιν ὁ θάνατος, οὐδὲν δὲ ἧττον φθαρτοὶ πάλιν ἦμεν, φυσικὴν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς τὴν φθορὰν περιφέροντες. But the precise form of the presentation 224makes this very improbable. The question as to how, i.e., in what conceivable way, immortality can be imparted to the mortal nature as yet received little attention from Justin and the Apologists: it is the necessary result of knowledge and virtue. Their great object was to assure the belief in immortality. “Religion and morality depend on the belief in immortality or the resurrection from the dead. The fact that the Christian religion, as faith in the incarnate Son of God the creator, leads to the assurance that the maker of all things will reward piety and righteousness with the bestowal of eternal and immortal life, is the essential advantage possessed by the Christian religion over all others. The righteousness of the heathen was imperfect in spite of all their knowledge of good and evil, because they lacked the certain knowledge that the creator makes the just immortal and will consign the unjust to eternal torment.”! — placement of this note is uncertain — !458458 Schultz (Gottheit Christi, p. 41) very rightly points out that all the systems of the post-Socratic schools, so far as they practically spread among the people, invariably assume that knowledge, as such, leads to salvation, so that the bestowal of the ἀφθαρσία need not necessarily be thought so naturalistic and mystic a process as we are apt to imagine. The philosophical doctrines of God, virtue, and immortality became through the Apologists the certain content of a world-wide religion, which is Christian because Christ guarantees its certainty. They made Christianity a deistical religion for the whole world without abandoning in word at least the old “teachings and knowledge” (διδάγματα καὶ μαθήματα καὶ μαθήματα) of the Christians. They thus marked out the task of “dogmatic” and, so to speak, wrote the prolegomena for every future theological system in the Church (see Von Engelhardt’s concluding observations in his “Christenthum Justin’s” pp. 447-490, also Overbeck in the Historische Zeitschrift, 1880, pp. 499-505.) At the same time, however, they adhered to the early-Christian eschatology (see Justin, Melito, and, with reference to the resurrection of the flesh, the Apologists 225generally), and thus did not belie their connection with early Christianity.459459 Weizsäcker, Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie, 1867, p. 119, has with good reason strongly emphasised this element. See also Stählin, Justin der Märtyrer, 188, p. 63 f., whose criticism of Von Engelhardt’s book contains much that is worthy of note, though it appears to me inappropriate in the main.
Interpretation and Criticism, especially of Justin’s Doctrines.
1. The fundamental assumption of all the Apologists is that there can only be one and the same relation on earth between God and free man, and that it has been conditioned by the creation. This thought, which presupposes the idea of God’s unchangeableness, at bottom neutralises every quasi-historical and mythological consideration. According to it grace can be nothing else than the stimulation of the powers of reason existent in man; revelation is supernatural only in respect of its form, and the redemption merely enables us to redeem ourselves, just as this possibility was given at the creation. Sin, which arose through temptation, appears on the one hand as error which must almost of necessity have arisen so long as man only possessed the “germs of the Logos” (σπέρματα τοῦ λόγου), and on the other as the dominion of sensuousness, which was nearly unavoidable since earthly material clothes the soul and mighty demons have possession of the world. The mythological idea of the invading sway of the demons is really the only interruption of the rationalistic scheme. So far as Christianity is something different from morality, it is the antithesis of the service and sovereignty of the demons. Hence the idea that the course of the world and mankind require in some measure to be helped is the narrow foundation of the thought of revelation or redemption. The necessity of revelation and redemption was expressed in a much stronger and more decisive way by many heathen philosophers of the same period. Accordingly, not only did these long for a revelation which would give a fresh attestation to old truth, but they yearned for a force, a real redemption, a præsens numen, and some new thing. Still more powerful was this longing in the case of the 226Gnostics and Marcion; compare the latter’s idea of revelation with that of the Apologists. It is probable indeed that the thought of redemption would have found stronger expression among them also, had not the task of proof, which could be best discharged by the aid of the Stoic philosophy, demanded religious rationalism. But, admitting this, the determination of the highest good itself involved rationalism and moralism. For immortality is the highest good, in so far as it is perfect knowledge — which is, moreover, conceived as being of a rational kind, — that necessarily leads to immortality. We can only find traces of the converse idea, according to which the change into the immortal condition is the prius and the knowledge the posterius. But, where this conception is the prevailing one, moralistic intellectualism is broken through, and we can now point to a specific, supernatural blessing of salvation, produced by revelation and redemption. Corresponding to the general development of religious philosophy from moralism into mysticism (transition from the second to the third century), a displacement in this direction can also be noticed in the history of Greek apologetics (in the West it was different); but this displacemcnt was never considerable and therefore cannot be clearly traced. Even later on under altered circumstances, apologetic science adhered in every respect to its old method, as being the most suitable (monotheism, morality, proof from prophecy), a circumstance which is evident, for example, from the almost complete disregard of the New Testament canon of Scripture and from other considerations besides.
2. In so far as the possibility of virtue and righteousness has been implanted by God in men, and in so far as — apart from trifling exceptions — they can actually succeed in doing what is good only through prophetic, i.e., divine, revelations and exhortations, some Apologists, following the early Christian tradition, here and there designate the transformation of the sinner into a righteous man as a work of God, and speak of renewal and regeneration. The latter, however, as a real fact, is identical with the repentance which, as a turning from sin and turning to God, is a matter of free will. As in Justin, so also in Tatian, the idea of regeneration is exhausted in the 227divine call to repentance. The conception of the forgiveness of sins is also determined in accordance with this. Only those sins can be forgiven, i.e., overlooked, which are really none, i.e., which were committed in a state of error and bondage to the demons, and were well-nigh unavoidable. The blotting out of these sins is effected in baptism, “which is the bath of regeneration in so far as it is the voluntary consecration of one’s own person. The cleansing which takes place is God’s work in so far as baptism was instituted by him, but it is effected by the man who in his change of mind lays aside his sins. The name of God is pronounced above him who repents of his transgressions, that he may receive freedom, knowledge, and forgiveness of his previous sins, but this effects a change only denoting the new knowledge to which the baptised person has attained.” If, as all this seems to show, the thought of a specific grace of God in Christ appears virtually neutralised, the adherence to the language of the cultus (Justin and Tatian) and Justin’s conception of the Lord’s Supper show that the Apologists strove to get beyond moralism, that is, they tried to supplement it through the mysteries. Augustine’s assertion (de predest. sanct. 27) that the faith of the old Church in the efficacy of divine grace was not so much expressed in the opuscula as in the prayers, shows correct insight.
3. All the demands, the fulfilment of which constitutes the virtue and righteousness of men, are summed up under the title of the new law. In virtue of its eternally valid content this new law is in reality the oldest; but it is new because Christ and the prophets were preceded by Moses, who inculcated on the Jews in a transient form that which was eternally valid. It is also new because, being proclaimed by the Logos that appeared in Christ, it announced its presence with the utmost impressiveness and undoubted authority, and contains the promise of reward in terms guaranteed by the strongest proof — the proof from prophecy. The old law is consequently a new one because it appears now for the first time as purely spiritual, perfect, and final. The commandment of love to one’s neighbour also belongs to the law; but it does not form its essence (still less love to God, the place of which is taken by faith, obedience, and imitation). The content of all moral demands is comprehended 228 in the commandment of perfect, active holiness, which is fulfilled by the complete renunciation of all earthly blessings, even of life itself. Tatian preached this renunciation in a specially powerful manner. There is no need to prove that no remains of Judæo-Christianity are to be recognised in these ideas about the new law. It is not Judæo-Christianity that lies behind the Christianity and doctrines of the Apologists, but Greek philosophy (Platonic metaphysics, Logos doctrine of the Stoics, Platonic and Stoic ethics), the Alexandrine-Jewish apologetics, the maxims of Jesus, and the religious speech of the Christian Churches. Justin is distinguished from Philo by the sure conviction of the living power of God, the Creator and Lord of the world, and the steadfast confidence in the reality of all the ideals which is derived from the person of Christ. We ought not, however, to blame the Apologists because to them nearly everything historical was at bottom only a guarantee of thoughts and hopes. As a matter of fact, the assurance is not less important than the content. By dint of thinking one can conceive the highest truth, but one cannot in this way make out the certainty of its reality. No positive religion can do more for its followers than faith in the revelation through Christ and the prophets did for the Apologists. Although it chiefly proved to them the truth of that which we call natural theology and which was the idealistic philosophy of the age, so that the Church appears as the great insurance society for the ideas of Plato and Zeno, we ought not at the same time to forget that their idea of a divine spirit working upon earth was a far more lively and worthy one than in the case of the Greek philosophers.
4. By their intellectualism and exclusive theories the Apologists founded philosophic and dogmatic Christianity (Loofs: “they laid the foundation for the conversion of Christianity into a revealed doctrine.”460460Loofs continues: “The Apologists, viewing the transference of the concept ‘Son’ to the preëxistent Christ as a matter of course, enabled the Christological problem of the 4th century to be started. They removed the point of departure of the Christological speculation from the historical Christ back into the preëxistence and depreciated the importance of Jesus’ life as compared with the incarnation They connected the Christology with the cosmology, but were not able to combine it with the scheme of salvation. Their Logos doctrine is not a ‘higher’ Christology than the prevailing form; it rather lags behind the genuine Christian estimate of Christ. It is not God who reveals himself in Christ, but the Logos, the depotentiated God, who as God is subordinate to the supreme Deity.” If about the middle of the second century 229the short confession of the Lord Jesus Christ was regarded as a watchword, passport, and tessera hospitalitas (signum et vinculum), and if even in lay and uneducated circles it was conceived as “doctrine” in contradistinction to heresy, this transformation must have been accelerated through men, who essentially conceived Christianity as the “divine doctrine”, and by whom all its distinctive features were subordinated to this conception or neutralised. As the philosophic schools are held together by their “laws “ (νόμοι) as the “dogmas “ form the real bond between the “friends”, and as, in addition to this, they are united by veneration for the founder, so also the Christian Church appeared to the Apologists as a universal league established by a divine founder and resting on the dogmas of the perfectly known truth, a league the members of which possess definite laws, viz., the eternal laws of nature for everything moral, and unite in common veneration for the Divine Master. In the “dogmas” of the Apologists, however, we find nothing more than traces of the fusion of the philosophical and historical elements; in the main both exist separately side by side. It was not till long after this that intellectualism gained the victory in a Christianity represented by the clergy. What we here chiefly understand by “intellectualism” is the placing of the scientific conception of the world behind the commandments of Christian morality and behind the hopes and faith of the Christian religion, and the connecting of the two things in such a way that this conception appeared as the foundation of these commandments and hopes. Thus was created the future dogmatic in the form which still prevails in the Churches and which presupposes the Platonic and Stoic conception of the world long ago overthrown by science. The attempt made at the beginning of the Reformation to free the Christian faith from this amalgamation remained at first without success.230
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