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Justin's Use of the Fourth Gospel


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Justin Martyr was the most influential apologist of the early church. His writings became the foundation for Christian thought until the time of Origen, and the terminology he employed became the standard language of literary church writers. He excelled in philosophy, and, after his conversion, maintained its language to describe Christianity. He seems to have made every attempt to protect the church from the deceptive appeal of paganism, and wrote works in opposition to the leading heretics of his day. One concept Justin developed is also found in the Gospel of John-the "Logos" as God's eternal revelation. For this notion he seems to have borrowed heavily from Stoicism, or written in response to it. In the Fourth Gospel, Christ is described as being with God from the beginning; it was through the Logos that the universe was created. The Logos is eternal in John; it is incarnate and personified in Jesus. This doctrine was the most important theological development of the second century, and it contributed to the christological debates.

The term "logos" was applied technically during the age of the apologists, beginning with the works of Justin. After the Johannine literature began to circulate, the most significant group to adapt the Logos doctrine was the Gnostics. In contrast, yet with a few similar overtones, Justin Martyr taught that Jesus was the preexistent Logos, whose role in creation the scriptures describe in detail. Whether or not the apologist considered the Gospel of John to be authoritative has been a matter under scrutiny for a number of years. Edwin A. Abbott takes up that question in a superb article he published entitled, "Justin's Use of the Fourth Gospel." His article opens with a discussion, which is carried throughout the study, on the literary relationship between Justin and John. He first evaluates the vocabulary common to them, and then shows their resemblances in thought regarding the Logos doctrine. Abbott provides an extensive list of comparisons between the two writers, as well as with their contemporaries, such as Philo.

 
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Paperback Editions

July 2001 : USA Paperback
Title: Justin's Use of the Fourth Gospel
Author(s): Edwin A Abbott
ISBN: 1-59026-067-8 / 978-1-59026-067-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Church History
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   



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