Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Justin Martyr and the Eternal Generation

(1) I do not understand Justin to say that the LOGOS
or SOPHIA is eternally generated by the Father.
Granted, the LOGOS [in Justin] is begotten
prior to and for the purpose of creatures. However,
that does not mean that Justin professes or affirms
the eternal generation of the Son-Logos. Edmund Fortman,
a scholar who argues that Justin believes the LOGOS is divine,
nonetheless writes:

"It is not clear whether the eternal Logos is
eternally a distinct divine person [in Justin], as
some scholars think, or originally a power in God that
only becomes a divine person shortly before creation
of the world when He emanates to create the world, as
others believe. Nor is it clear that Justin held an
eternal generation of the Son, as some maintain, or
merely an 'economic' emission of the Son in order to
be creator, as others hold" (The Triune God, page 46).

(2) I find it highly unlikely that Justin posited
an/the eternal generation doctrine. He explicitly states that
the LOGOS is begotten by the Father's will. This information
suggests that the Son's generation is a contingent act.
In other words, it is logically possible that the
Father might not have generated the Son. The Son is
not SEMPER NATUS for Justin. The logical implications of God
generating the Son by means of the divine will
motivated Athanasius to maintain that God generates
the Son by nature, not will (See Contra Arianos


Matt13weedhacker said...

How would you translate Edgar?

GREEK TEXT: “...Καὶ ὅτι κύριος ὢν ὁ Χριστός, καὶ θεὸς θεοῦ υἱὸς ὑπάρχων...” - (Dial. Chapter 128:1(A))

(JUSTIN MARTYR): “...I have taken great care to prove at length that Christ is the Lord and God the Son...” - (Dial. Chapter 128:1(A) Kevin Edgecomes Translation)

(JUSTIN MARTYR): “...And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God...” - (Dial. Chapter 128:1(A) Roberts & Donaldsons ANF)

(JUSTIN MARTYR): “...And that Christ being Lord, and being in His own nature God the Son of God...” - (Dial. Cahpter 128:1(A) The Works Now Extant Of Justin Martyr – A LIBRARY OF THE FATHERS OF THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH: Anterior To The Division Of The East & West – Translated By Members Of The English Church. [1800's])

(JUSTIN MARTYR): “...that Christ is the Lord, and God the Son...” - (Page 94. Dial. Chapter 128:1(A) Translated by THOMAS B. FALLS and Edited by Michael Slusser 2003.)

I don't agree with these renderings. They are certainly biased towards the Trinity doctrine.

Matt13weedhacker said...

My attempt:

GREEK TEXT: “...Καὶ ὅτι κύριος ὢν ὁ Χριστός, καὶ θεὸς θεοῦ υἱὸς ὑπάρχων...” - (Dial. Chapter 128:1(A))

(JUSTIN MARTYR): “...And because a lord being the Christ, and a god ( of ) God a son began-from-under-a-beginning...” - (Dial. Chapter 128:1(A) Literal Translation Matt13weedhacker 4/4/11)

(JUSTIN MARTYR): “...And because the Christ being a Lord, and a god, God's Son, began to exist from under a beginning...” - (Dial. Chapter 128:1(A) Matt13weedhacker 4/4/11)

Edgar Foster said...

I believe that at least some of these renderings are interpretive, to say the least. I would translate the Greek, "and that Christ is [being] Lord and God being Son of God"

Admittedly, one could render θεὸς as "a god" or divine being but I don't think it would fit the context. Justin believes that Christ is "God" but I don't think he affirms the full divinity of Christ. The question is, what does Justin mean by θεὸς? IMO he does not believe that Christ is fully God but nonetheless, he is somehow a lesser god than the Father.

Edgar Foster said...

There are a number of places in Dialogue with Trypho that suggests Justin would have no problem referring to Christ as "God." For instance, see Dialogue XXXVI:

"And I said, 'As you wish, Trypho, I shall come to these proofs which you seek in the fitting place; but now you will permit me first to recount the prophecies, which I wish to do in order to prove that Christ is called both God and Lord of hosts, and Jacob, in parable by the Holy Spirit; and your interpreters, as God says, are foolish, since they say that reference is made to Solomon and not to Christ, when he bore the ark of testimony into the temple which he built.'"

On the other hand, there are passages which suggest that Christ is not fully God in Justin's estimation.

Edgar Foster said...

I'll submit one other quote from Justin, Dialogue with Trypho LVI:

And they said they had understood them, but that the passages adduced brought forward no proof that there is any other God or Lord, or that the Holy Spirit says so, besides the Maker of all things.

Then I replied, "I shall attempt to persuade you, since you have understood the Scriptures,[of the truth] of what I say, that there is, and that there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things; who is also called an Angel, because He announces to men whatsoever the Maker of all things--above whom there is no other God--wishes to announce to them." And quoting once more the previous passage, I asked Trypho, "Do you think that God appeared to Abraham under the oak in Mature, as the Scripture asserts?"

Matt13weedhacker said...

The following qualifies all such cases of theos or even ho theos in Justin in regard to Jesus:

JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 110 to 165 C.E.): “...he says: “The former is the LORD of the Lord who was upon the earth, AS HIS FATHER AND GOD, THE (CAUSE-OF-HIS-EXISTENCE), AND OF HIS BEING POWERFUL, AND LORD AND GOD...” - (Dial. Try. p. 413. [As quoted in: “The theological and miscellaneous works of Joseph Priestley, Volume 6]Page 241.)

JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 110 to 165 C.E.): “..."To prove this point, I will now repeat some of the Scriptural passages I already quoted. When the word of the prophecy says, 'The Lord rained fire from the Lord out of heaven' [Gen 19.24], it indicates that they are two in number: One on earth, who came down to witness the cry of Sodom, and One in Heaven, who is the Lord of that Lord on earth, and AS ( HIS ) FATHER ( AND ) GOD WAS THE (αἴτιος) CAUSE ( OF ) HIS ( BEING ) THE MIGHTY ONE AND LORD AND GOD...” - (Dial. 129, Kevin Edgecome Translation)

Matt13weedhacker said...

Even Hyper Trinitarian George Bull had to concede the following:

JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 110 to 165 C.E.): “...The prophetic word intimates that there were ( Two ) in number ; One being on earth, who says that He had come down to see the cry of Sodom ; the Other being in the heavens, who is the Lord even ( of ) the Lord on earth, as being [His] Father ( and God ), and [as being] to Him the [Gk., aitiov tou eivai] ( cause – of His being – and of ) His being both mighty, and Lord, ( and ) God...” - (Page 557, Dial. DEFENSIO FIDEI NICAENAE Vol 4. By Bishop George Bull)
[FOOTNOTE 1]: Page 560 Gk., ( aitia ) “cause” or “origin” the equivalent in Latin is Ltn., ( causa ).

Bull immediately goes on to say after quoting the above:

“...In this short sentence, I say, we have presented to us a key, wherewith to open the meaning of Justin in those passages in which he seems to [Trinitarians] speak ( less ) honourably of the Son of God. He teaches here, that God the Father is the God and Lord ( of ) His Son...”

Bull next says:

“...But how? Even so far forth as He is the fountian-head of Godhead, and the ( cause of being ) to the Son...”

Then he goes on to struggle mightly to get some sort of Trinitarian explanation. But it is obvious to me what Justin really means.

Edgar Foster said...

I agree with your analysis of Justin's use of theos. Thomas Weinandy has also written some interesting things on this issue (from his book _Does God Suffer?_):

"Because Justin conceives the Logos as emanating out from the Father, he holds that the Logos is divine. However, since he does emanate out from the Father, as the spatial intermediary between the Father and the
created order, he is not as divine as the Father is divine. See Dialogus, 56 and Apologia 1,63" (_Does God
Suffer_, page 86, note 20).

"It would seem, for Justin, that the Logos must be less divine than the Father not only because he
emanates out from the Father, but also because he is 'in touch' with the created order" (Ibid., note 21).

Compare Dialogue 127

"Edwards argues that Justin's understanding of the Logos is primarily founded upon the scriptural
tradition and not upon Platonic thought. I believe Edwards is correct, but this does not seem to have
mitigated his subordinationism nor his understanding that the Logos acts as an intermediary who bridges the gap between God and the world" (Ibid., p. 87, note 21).

Matt13weedhacker said...

Refering to Jesus – Justin Martyr quoting Prov 8:21 LXX wrote:

GREEK TEXT: “...καὶ [3.] διὰ Σολομῶνος φήσαντος ταῦτα· Ἐὰν ἀναγγείλω ὑμῖν τὰ καθ' ἡμέραν γινόμενα, μνημονεύσω τὰ ἐξ αἰῶνος ἀριθμῆσαι. κύριος ἔκτισέ με ἀρχὴν ὁδῶν αὐτοῦ εἰς ἔργα αὐτοῦ. πρὸ τοῦ αἰῶνος ἐθεμελίωσέ με ἐν ἀρχῇ...” - (Dial. Chapter 61:3)

JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 110 to 165 C.E.): “...when He speaks by Solomon the following: 'If I shall declare to you what happens daily, I shall call to mind events from everlasting, and review them. THE LORD MADE ME the beginning of His ways for His works...” - (Dial. Chapter 61:3; Roberts & Donalson ANF)

Gk., ( ἔκτισέ ) more correctly translated: “...THE LORD ( CREATED ) ME...”

Which Trypho acknowledged as his understanding of what he said in the context:

GREEK TEXT: “...Καὶ [1.] ὁ Τρύφων· Ἔστω ὑμῶν, τῶν ἐξ ἐθνῶν, κύριος καὶ Χριστὸς καὶ θεὸς γνωριζόμενος, ὡς αἱ γραφαὶ σημαίνουσιν, οἵτινες καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ Χριστιανοὶ καλεῖσθαι πάντες ἐσχήκατε· ἡμεῖς δέ, τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καὶ αὐτὸν τοῦτον ποιήσαντος λατρευταὶ ὄντες, οὐ δεόμεθα τῆς ὁμολογίας αὐτοῦ οὐδὲ τῆς προσκυνήσεως...” - (Dial. LXIV:I)

JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 110 to 165 C.E.): “...Grant Him,” replied Trypho, “to be, as the Scriptures declare, [Gk., Kurios = anathorus] the Lord, and Christ, and [Gk., theos = anathorus] God, of you Gentiles, who also are, all of you, termed Christians from His name, yet His confesssion and worship are not incumbent on us, who are the servants of THE GOD WHO CREATED HIM...” - (Dial. Cahpter 64:1; The Works Now Extant Of Justin Martyr – A LIBRARY OF THE FATHERS OF THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH: Anterior To The Division Of The East & West – Translated By Members Of The English Church. [1800's])

JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 110 to 165 C.E.): “...You who come from the Gentiles," said Trypho, "who are all called Christians from His name, may profess Him to be [Gk., Kurios = anathorus] Lord and Christ and [Gk., theos = anathorus] God, as the Scriptures signify, but we Jews, who adore THE GOD WHO MADE HIM...” - (Dial. Chapter 64:1; Kevin Edgecomes Translation)

JUSTIN MARTYR (c. 110 to 165 C.E.): “...Here Trypho said, "Let Him be recognised as [Gk., Kurios = anathorus] Lord and Christ and [Gk., theos = anathorus] God, as the Scriptures declare, by you of the Gentiles, who have from His name been all called Christians; but we who are servants OF GOD THAT MADE THIS SAME [CHRIST]...” - (CHAPTER LXIV:I -- JUSTIN ADDUCES OTHER PROOFS TO THE JEW, WHO DENIES THAT HE NEEDS THIS CHRIST. Roberts & Donaldsons ANF)

BOTH Justin & Trypho show the Logos is a "CREATED" being regardless of what else they say about him.

Radz Matthew C Brown said...

The reading of the Septuagint for Proverbs 8:22 is explicit:

''The Lord created me as the first of his work before his works of old''

It is impossible for the Lord to be without wisdom at some point. Therefore, the Lord YHWH must be eternally wise and hence, he has an eternal wisdom. So how could we deal with this speech of Wisdom per se?

The answer depends on the immediate and greater context:

The immediate context speaks of Wisdom as having been '' birthed'' before Genesis creation. This would highly imply that the sort of creation spoken by Wisdom is a '' begetting''. Hence, Wisdom is not 'created ex nihilo' but rather, 'created ad intra' or within the being of [the Lord] as Proverbs also supports: '' Wisdom comes from the mouth of the Lord '' and not out from nothing. The reference of Wisdom's origin as from the Lord ad intra and being both eternally begotten and birthed antemundane plus with intertestamental Jewsih sophiology sources explains that it is also the Word of the Lord or the Logos in Psalms 33:6, 45:1, 110:3 LXX based on the greater context which is found in New Testament which is identified not as a personification but as a real subsisting personality, the Lord Jesus Christ himself ( John 1:1
, 14,18;3:16,18;1 John 4:9;1 Corinthians 1:24;Hebrews 1:3).