June 1, 2007

Justin Martyr

Today is the feast of St. Justin, patron of philosophers, and one of my favorites. Perhaps it's one of those assertions that make teachers write "strained" on your papers, but I love his claim that it was Moses who taught Plato:
And that you may learn that it was from our teachers—we mean the account given through the prophets— that Plato borrowed his statement that God, having altered matter which was shapeless, made the world, hear the very words spoken through Moses, who, as above shown, was the first prophet, and of greater antiquity than the Greek writers; and through whom the Spirit of prophecy, signifying how and from what materials God at first formed the world, spake thus: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was invisible and unfurnished, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said, Let there be light; and it was so.” So that both Plato and they who agree with him, and we ourselves, have learned, and you also can be convinced, that by the word of God the whole world was made out of the substance spoken of before by Moses. (Justin Martyr, First Apology, LIX)

Certainly it's quite a far-fetched thing to say. But it does raise the question for us: Do we read history in terms of the Scriptures? Do we allow Revelation to be the interpretive key for all of human experience?

5 comments:

bluepanjeet said...

sometimes my entire human life experiences can also be traced in the truth that the scripture speaks whether it is on my own folly or my triumphs amidst temptation.

john said...

Does anyone know how Justin Martyr's bones wound up in the Capuchin church on Via Veneto?

Charles of New Haven said...

John: I had never heard that he was there, but I'll look into it!

fmn said...

Maybe because he was killed in Tivoli in 166 AD? It's not far from Rome.

fmn said...

Pope Benedict had a catechesis on him last March. You can find the text here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070321_en.html