The Lost Gospel and Its Contents - Or, The Author of "Supernatural Religion" Refuted by Himself
by Michael F. Sadler
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[Transcriber's Note: Footnotes have been relocated to the end of the text. Footnote anchors have been labeled with the original page and footnote numbers.]







This book is entitled "The Lost Gospel" because the book to which it is an answer is an attempt to discredit the Supernatural element of Christianity by undermining the authority of our present Gospels in favour of an earlier form of the narrative which has perished.

It seemed to me that, if the author of "Supernatural Religion" proved his point, and demonstrated that the Fathers of the Second Century quoted Gospels earlier than those which we now possess, then the evidence for the Supernatural itself, considered as apart from the particular books in which the records of it are contained, would be strengthened; if, that is, it could be shown that this earlier form of the narrative contained the same Supernatural Story.

The author of "Supernatural Religion," whilst he has utterly failed to show that the Fathers in question have used earlier Gospels, has, to my mind, proved to demonstration that, if they have quoted earlier narratives, those accounts contain, not only substantially, but in detail, the same Gospel which we now possess, and in a form rather more suggestive of the Supernatural. So that, if he has been successful, the author has only succeeded in proving that the Gospel narrative itself, in a written form, is at least fifty or sixty years older than the books which he attempts to discredit.

With respect to Justin Martyr, to the bearing of whose writings on this subject I have devoted the greater part of my book, I can only say that, in my examination of his works, my bias was with the author of "Supernatural Religion." I had hitherto believed that this Father, being a native of Palestine, and living so near to the time of the Apostles, was acquainted with views of certain great truths which he had derived from traditions of the oral teaching of the Apostles, and the possession of which made him in some measure an independent witness for the views in question; but I confess that, on a closer examination of his writings, I was somewhat disappointed, for I found that he had no knowledge of our Lord and of His teaching worth speaking of, except what he might be fairly assumed to have derived from our present New Testament.

I have to acknowledge my obligations to Messrs. Clark, of Edinburgh, for allowing me to make somewhat copious extracts from the writings of Justin in their ante-Nicene Library. This has saved a Parish Priest like myself much time and trouble. I believe that in all cases of importance in which I have altered the translation, or felt that there was a doubt, I have given the original from Otto's edition (Jena, 1842).


PAGE SECTION I.—Introductory 1 SECTION II.—The Way Cleared 5 SECTION III.—The Principal Witness—His Religious Views 9 SECTION IV.—The Principal Witness—The Sources of his Knowledge respecting the Birth of Christ 19 SECTION V.—The Principal Witness—His Testimony respecting the Baptism of Christ 29 SECTION VI.—The Principal Witness—His Testimony respecting the Death of Christ 33 SECTION VII.—The Principal Witness—His Testimony respecting the Moral Teaching of our Lord 40 SECTION VIII.—The Principal Witness—His Testimony to St. John 45 SECTION IX.—The Principal Witness—His Further Testimony to St. John 53 SECTION X.—The Principal Witness—His Testimony summed up 60 SECTION XI.—The Principal Witness on our Lord's Godhead 65 SECTION XII.—The Principal Witness on the Doctrine of the Logos 73 SECTION XIII.—The Principal Witness on our Lord as King, Priest, and Angel 80 SECTION XIV.—The Principal Witness on the Doctrine of the Trinity 85 SECTION XV.—Justin and St. John on the Incarnation 88 SECTION XVI.—Justin and St. John on the Subordination of the Son 93 SECTION XVII.—Justin and Philo 98 SECTION XVIII.—Discrepancies between St. John and the Synoptics 104 SECTION XIX.—External Proofs of the Authenticity of our Four Gospels 118 Note on Section XIX.—Testimonies of Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian to the use of the Four Gospels in their day 136 SECTION XX.—The Evidence for Miracles 149 SECTION XXI.—Objections to Miracles 162 SECTION XXII.—Jewish Credulity 167 SECTION XXIII.—Demoniacal Possession 173 SECTION XXIV.—Competent Witnesses 179 SECTION XXV.—Date of Testimony 185




In the following pages I have examined the conclusions at which the author of a book entitled "Supernatural Religion" has assumed to have arrived.

The method and contents of the work in question may be thus described.

The work is entitled "Supernatural Religion, an Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation." Its contents occupy two volumes of about 500 pages each, so that we have in it an elaborate attack upon Christianity of very considerable length. The first 200 pages of the first volume are filled with arguments to prove that a Revelation, such as the one we profess to believe in, supernatural in its origin and nature and attested by miracles, is simply incredible, and so, on no account, no matter how evidenced, to be received.

But, inasmuch as the author has to face the fact, that the Christian Religion professes to be attested by miracles performed at a very late period in the history of the world, and said to have been witnessed by very large numbers of persons, and related very fully in certain books called the Canonical Gospels, which the whole body of Christians have, from a very early period indeed, received as written by eye-witnesses, or by the companions of eye-witnesses, the remaining 800 pages are occupied with attempts at disparaging the testimony of these writings. In order to this, the Christian Fathers and heretical writers of a certain period are examined, to ascertain whether they quoted the four Evangelists. The period from which the writer chooses his witnesses to the use of the four Evangelists, is most unwarrantably and arbitrarily restricted to the first ninety years of the second century (100-185 or so). We shall have ample means for showing that this limitation was for a purpose.

The array of witnesses examined runs thus: Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Hegesippus, Papias of Hierapolis, the Clementines, the Epistle to Diognetus, Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion, Tatian, Dionysius of Corinth, Melito of Sardis, Claudius Apollinaris, Athenagoras, Epistle of Vienne and Lyons, Ptolemaeus and Heracleon, Celsus and the Canon of Muratori.

The examination of references, or supposed references, in these books to the first three Gospels fills above 500 pages, and the remainder (about 220) is occupied with an examination of the claims of the fourth Gospel to be considered as canonical.

The writer conducts this examination with an avowed dogmatical bias; and this, as the reader will soon see, influences the manner of his examination throughout the whole book. For instance, he never fails to give to the anti-Christian side the benefit of every doubt, or even suspicion. This leads him to make the most of the smallest discrepancy between the words of any supposed quotation in any early writer from one of our Canonical Gospels, and the words as contained in our present Gospels. If the writer quotes the Evangelist freely, with some differences, however slight, in the words, he is assumed to quote from a lost Apocryphal Gospel. If the writer gives the words as we find them in our Gospels, he attempts to show that the father or heretic need not have even seen our present Gospels; for, inasmuch as our present Gospels have many things in common which are derived from an earlier source, the quoter may have derived the words he quotes from the earlier source. If the quoter actually mentions the name of the Evangelist whose Gospel he refers to (say St. Mark), it is roundly asserted that his St. Mark is not the same as ours. [Endnote 3:1]

The reader may ask, "How is it possible, against such a mode of argument, to prove the genuineness or authenticity of any book, sacred or profane?" And, of course, it is not. Such a way of conducting a controversy seems absurd, but on the author's premises it is a necessity. He asserts the dogma that the Governor of the world cannot interfere by way of miracle. He has to meet the fact that the foremost religion of the world appeals to miracles, especially the miracle of the Resurrection of the Founder. For the truth of this miraculous Resurrection there is at least a thousand times more evidence than there is for any historical fact which is recorded to have occurred 1,800 years ago. Of course, if the supernatural in Christianity is impossible, and so incredible, all the witnesses to it must be discredited; and their number, their age, and their unanimity upon the principal points are such that the mere attempt must tax the powers of human labour and ingenuity to the uttermost.

How, then, is such a book to be met? It would take a work of twice the size to rebut all the assertions of the author, for, naturally, an answer to any assertion must take up more space than the assertion. Fortunately, in this case, we are not driven to any such course; for, as I shall show over and over again, the author has furnished us with the most ample means for his own refutation. No book that I have over read or heard of contains so much which can be met by implication from the pages of the author himself, nor can I imagine any book of such pretensions pervaded with so entire a misconception of the conditions of the problem on which he is writing.

These assertions I shall now, God helping, proceed to make good.



The writers, whose testimonies to the existence or use of our present Gospels are examined by the author, are twenty-three in number. Five of these, namely, Hegesippus, Papias, Melito, Claudius Apollinaris, and Dionysius of Corinth are only known to us through fragments preserved as quotations in Eusebius and others. Six others—Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion, Ptolemaeus, Heracleon, and Celsus—are heretical or infidel writers whom we only know through notices or scraps of their works in the writings of the Christian Fathers who refuted them. The Epistle of the Martyrs of Vienne and Lyons is only in part preserved in the pages of Eusebius. The Canon of Muratori is a mutilated fragment of uncertain date. Athenagoras and Tatian are only known through Apologies written for the Heathen, the last of all Christian books in which to look for definite references to canonical writings. The Epistle to Diognetus is a small tract of uncertain date and authorship. The Clementine Homilies is an apocryphal work of very little value in the present discussion.

These are all the writings placed by the author as subsequent to Justin Martyr. The writers previous to Justin, of whom the author of "Supernatural Religion" makes use, are Clement of Rome (to whom we shall afterwards refer), the Epistle of Barnabas, the Pastor of Hermas, the Epistles of Ignatius, and that of Polycarp.

As I desire to take the author on his own ground whenever it is possible to do so, I shall, for argument's sake, take the author's account of the age and authority of these documents. I shall consequently assume with him that

"None of the epistles [of Ignatius] have any value as evidence for an earlier period than the end of the second or beginning of the third century [from about 190 to 210 or so], if indeed they possess any value at all." [6:1] (Vol. i. p. 274.)

With respect to the short Epistle of Polycarp, I shall be patient of his assumption that

"Instead of proving the existence of the epistles of Ignatius, with which it is intimately associated, it is itself discredited in proportion as they are shown to be inauthentic." (Vol. i. p. 274)

and so he

"assigns it to the latter half of the second century, in so far as any genuine part of it is concerned." (P. 275)

Similarly, I shall assume that the Pastor of Hermas "may have been written about the middle of the second century" (p. 256), and, with respect to the Epistle of Barnabas, I shall take the latest date mentioned by the author of "Supernatural Religion," where he writes respecting the epistle—

"There is little or no certainty how far into the second century its composition may not reasonably be advanced. Critics are divided upon the point, a few are disposed to date the epistle about the end of the first century; others at the beginning of the second century; while a still greater number assign it to the reign of Adrian (A.D. 117-130); and others, not without reason, consider that it exhibits marks of a still later period." (Vol. i. p. 235.)

The way, then, is so far cleared that I can confine my remarks to the investigation of the supposed citations from the Canonical Gospels, to be found in the works of Justin Martyr. Before beginning this, it may be well to direct the reader's attention to the real point at issue; and this I shall have to do continually throughout my examination. The work is entitled "Supernatural Religion," and is an attack upon what the author calls "Ecclesiastical Christianity," because such Christianity sets forth the Founder of our Religion as conceived and born in a supernatural way; as doing throughout His life supernatural acts; as dying for a supernatural purpose; and as raised from the dead by a miracle, which was the sign and seal of the truth of all His supernatural claims. The attack in the book in question takes the form of a continuous effort to show that all our four Gospels are unauthentic, by showing, or attempting to show, that they were never quoted before the latter part of the second century: but the real point of attack is the supernatural in the records of Christ's Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection.



The examination of the quotations in Justin Martyr of the Synoptic Gospels occupies nearly one hundred and fifty pages; and deservedly so, for the acknowledged writings of this Father are, if we except the Clementine forgeries and the wild vision of Hermas, more in length than those of all the other twenty-three witnesses put together. They are also valuable because no doubts can be thrown upon their date, and because they take up, or advert to, so many subjects of interest to Christians in all ages.

The universally acknowledged writings of Justin Martyr are three:—Two Apologies addressed to the Heathen, and a Dialogue with Trypho a Jew.

The first Apology is addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, and was written before the year 150 A.D. The second Apology is by some supposed to be the first in point of publication, and is addressed to the Roman people.

The contents of the two Apologies are remarkable in this respect, that Justin scruples not to bring before the heathen the very arcana of Christianity. No apologist shows so little "reserve" in stating to the heathen the mysteries of the faith. At the very outset he enunciates the doctrine of the Incarnate Logos:—

"For not only among the Greeks did Logos (or Reason) prevail to condemn these things by Socrates, but also among the barbarians were they condemned by the Logos himself, who took shape and became man, and was called Jesus Christ." [10:1] (Apol. I. 5.)

In the next chapter he sets forth the doctrine and worship of the Trinity:—

"But both Him [the Father] and the Son, Who came forth from Him and taught these things to us and the host of heaven, the other good angels who follow and are made like to Him, and the Prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, knowing them in reason and truth." [10:2]


"Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, Who was also born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the time of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the True God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the Prophetic Spirit in the third." (Apol. I. ch. x. 3.)

Again, a little further on, he claims for Christians a higher belief in the supernatural than the heathen had, for, whereas the heathen went no further than believing that souls after death are in a state of sensation, Christians believed in the resurrection of the body:—

"Such favour as you grant to these, grant also unto us, who not less but more firmly than they believe in God; since we expect to receive again our own bodies, though they be dead and cast into the earth, for we maintain that with God nothing is impossible." (Apol. I. ch. xviii.)

In the next chapter (xix.) he proceeds to prove the Resurrection possible. This he does from the analogy of human generation, and he concludes thus:—

"So also judge ye that it is not impossible that the bodies of men after they have been dissolved, and like seeds resolved into earth, should in God's appointed time rise again and put on incorruption."

In another place in the same Apology he asserts the personality of Satan:—

"For among us the prince of the wicked spirits is called the serpent, and Satan, and the devil, as you can learn by looking into our writings, and that he would be sent into the fire with his host, and the men who followed him, and would be punished for an endless duration, Christ foretold." (Apol. I. ch. xxviii.)

In the same short chapter he asserts in very weighty words his belief in the ever-watchful providence of God:—

"And if any one disbelieves that God cares for these things (the welfare of the human race), he will thereby either insinuate that God does not exist, or he will assert that though He exists He delights in vice, or exists like a stone, and that neither virtue nor vice are anything, but only in the opinion of men these things are reckoned good or evil, and this is the greatest profanity and wickedness." (Apol. I. ch. xxviii.)

Shortly after this he tells the heathen Emperor that the mission and work of Jesus Christ had been predicted:—

"There were amongst the Jews certain men who were prophets of God, through whom the Prophetic Spirit published beforehand things that were to come to pass, ere ever they happened. And their prophecies, as they were spoken and when they were uttered, the kings who happened to be reigning among the Jews at the several times carefully preserved in their possession, when they had been arranged in books by the prophets themselves in their own Hebrew language.... In these books, then, of the prophets, we found Jesus Christ foretold as coming, born of a virgin, growing up to man's estate, and healing every disease and every sickness, and raising the dead, and being hated, and unrecognized, and crucified, and dying and rising again, and ascending into heaven, and being, and being called, the Son of God. We find it also predicted that certain persons should be sent by Him into every nation to publish these things, and that rather among the Gentiles (than among the Jews) men should believe on Him. And He was predicted before He appeared, first 5,000 years before, and again 3,000, then 2,000, then 1,000, and yet again 800; for in the succession of generations prophets after prophets arose." (Apol. I. ch. xxxi.)

Then he proceeds to show how certain particular prophecies which he cites were fulfilled in the Jews having a lawgiver till the time of Christ, and not after; in Christ's entry into Jerusalem; in His Birth of a Virgin; in the place of His Birth; in His having His hands and feet pierced with the nails. (Ch. xxxiii., xxxiv., xxxv.)

Again, immediately afterwards, he endeavours to classify certain prophecies as peculiarly those of God the Father, certain others as peculiarly those of God the Son, and others as the special utterance of the Spirit. (Ch. xxxvi.-xl.)

Then he proceeds to specify certain particular prophecies as fulfilled in our Lord's Advent (ch. xl.); certain others in His Crucifixion (xli.); in His Session in heaven (xlv.); in the desolation of Judaea (xlvii.); in the miracles and Death of Christ (xlviii.); in His rejection by the Jews (xlix.); in His Humiliation (l.) He concludes with asserting the extreme importance of prophecy, as without it we should not be warranted in believing such things of any one of the human race:—

"For with what reason should we believe of a crucified Man that He is the first-born of the unbegotten God, and Himself will pass judgment on the whole human race, unless we have found testimonies concerning Him published before He came, and was born as man, and unless we saw that things had happened accordingly,—the devastation of the land of the Jews, and men of every race persuaded by His teaching through the Apostles, and rejecting their old habits, in which, being deceived, they had had their conversation." (Ch. liii.)

After this he speaks (ch. lxi.) of Christian Baptism, as being in some sense a conveyance of Regeneration, and of the Eucharist (ch. lxvi.), as being a mysterious communication of the Flesh and Blood of Christ, and at the conclusion he describes the worship of Christians, and tells the Emperor that in their assemblies the memoirs of the Apostles (by which name he designates the accounts of the Birth, Life, and Death of Christ), or the writings of the Prophets were read, as long as time permits, putting the former on a par with the latter, as equally necessary for the instruction of Christians.

Besides this, we find that Justin holds all these views of Scripture truths which are now called Evangelical. He speaks of men now being

"Purified no longer by the blood of goats and sheep, or by the ashes of an heifer, or by the offerings of fine flour, but by faith through the Blood of Christ, and through His Death, Who died for this very reason." (Dial.)

And again:

"So that it becomes you to eradicate this hope (i.e. of salvation by Jewish ordinances) from your souls, and hasten to know in what way forgiveness of sins, and a hope of inheriting the promised good things, shall be yours. But there is no other way than this to become acquainted with this Christ, to be washed in the fountain spoken of by Isaiah for the remission of sins, and for the rest to lead sinless lives." (Dial. xliv.)

So that from this Apology alone, though addressed to the heathen, we learn that Justin cordially accepted every supernatural element in Christianity. He thoroughly believed in the Trinity, the Incarnation of the Logos, the miraculous Conception, Birth, Life, Miracles, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. He firmly believed in the predictive element in prophecy, in the atoning virtue of the Death of Christ, in the mysterious inward grace or inward part in each Sacrament, in the heart-cleansing power of the Spirit of God, in the particular providence of God, in the resurrection of the body, in eternal reward and eternal punishment.

Whatever, then, was the source of his knowledge, that knowledge made him intensely dogmatic in his creed, and a firm believer in the supernatural nature of everything in his religion.

The Second Apology is of the same nature as the first. A single short extract or two from it will show how firmly the author held the supernatural:—

"Our doctrines, then, appear to be greater than all human teaching; because Christ, who appeared for our sakes, became the whole rational being, both body, and reason, and soul.... These things our Christ did through His own power. For no one trusted in Socrates so as to die for this doctrine; but in Christ, who was partially known even by Socrates (for He was and is the Word Who is in every man, and Who foretold the things that were to come to pass both through the prophets and in His own Person when He was made of like passions, and taught these things); not only philosophers and scholars believed, but also artizans and people entirely uneducated, despising both glory, and fear, and death; since He is a Power of the ineffable Father, and not the mere instrument of human reason." (Apol. II. ch. x.)

The dialogue with Trypho is the record of a lengthy discussion with a Jew for the purpose of converting him to the Christian faith. The assertion of the supernatural is here, if possible, more unreserved than in the First Apology. In order to convert Trypho, Justin cites every prophecy of the Old Testament that can, with the smallest show of reason, be referred to Christ.

Having, first of all, vindicated the Christians from the charge of setting aside the Jewish law or covenant, by an argument evidently derived from the Epistle to the Hebrews, [15:1] and vindicated for Christians the title of the true spiritual Israel, [15:2] he proceeds to the prophetical Scriptures, and transcribes the whole of the prophecy of Isaiah from the fifty-second chapter to the fifty-fourth, and applies it to Christ and His Kingdom. (Dial. ch. xiii.) Shortly after, he applies to the second Advent of Christ the prophecy of Daniel respecting the Son of Man, brought before the Ancient of Days. (Ch. xxxi.) Then he notices and refutes certain destructive interpretations of prophecies which have been derived from the unbelieving Jews by our modern rationalists, as that Psalm cx. is spoken of Hezekiah, and Psalm lxxii. of Solomon.

Then he proceeds to prove that Christ is both God and Lord of Hosts; and he first cites Psalm xxiv., and then Psalms xlvi., xcviii., and xlv. (Ch. xxxvi., xxxvii., xxxviii.)

Then, after returning to the Mosaic law, and proving that certain points in its ritual wore fulfilled in the Christian system (as the oblation of fine flour in the Eucharist—ch. xli.), he concludes this part of his argument with the assertion that the Mosaic law had an end in Christ:—

"In short, sirs," said I, "by enumerating all the other appointments of Moses, I can demonstrate that they were types, and symbols, and declarations of those things which would happen to Christ, of those who, it was foreknown, were to believe in Him, and of those things which would also be done by Christ Himself." (Ch. xlii.)

Then he again proves that this Christ was to be, and was, born of a virgin; and takes occasion to show that the virgin mentioned in Isaiah vii. was not a young married woman, as rationalists in Germany and among ourselves have learnt from the unbelieving Jews. (Ch. xliii.)

To go over more of Justin's argument would be beside my purpose, which is at present simply to show how very firmly his faith embraced the supernatural.

I shall mention one more application of prophecy. When Trypho asks that Justin should resume the discourse, and show that the Spirit of prophecy admits another God besides the Maker of all things, [17:1] Justin accepts his challenge, and commences with the appearance of the three angels to Abraham, and devotes much space and labour to a sifting discussion of the meaning of this place. The conclusion is thus expressed:—

"And now have you not perceived, my friends, that one of the three, Who is both God and Lord, and ministers to Him Who is [remains] in the heavens, is Lord of the two angels? For when [the angels] proceeded to Sodom He remained behind, and communed with Abraham in the words recorded by Moses; and when He departed after the conversation Abraham went back to his place. And when He came [to Sodom] the two angels no longer converse with Lot, but Himself, as the Scripture makes evident; and He is the Lord Who received commission from the Lord Who [remains] in the heavens, i.e. the Maker of all things, to inflict upon Sodom and Gomorrah the [judgments] which the Scripture describes in these terms: 'The Lord rained upon Sodom sulphur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.'" (Ch. lvi.)

It is clear from all this that Justin Martyr looked upon prophecy as a supernatural gift, bestowed upon men in order to prepare them to receive that Christ whom God would send. Instead of regarding it as the natural surmising of far-seeing men who, from their experience of the past, and from their knowledge of human nature, could in some sort guess what course events are likely to take, he regarded it as a Divine influence emanating from Him Who knows the future as perfectly as He knows the past, and for His own purposes revealing events, and in many cases what we should call trifling events, which would be wholly out of the power of man to guess or even to imagine.

I am not, of course, concerned to show that Justin was right in his views of prophecy; all I am concerned to show is, that Justin regarded prophecy as the highest of supernatural gifts.

Such, then, was the view of Justin respecting Christ and the Religion He established. Christ, the highest of supernatural beings, His Advent foretold by men with supernatural gifts to make known the future, coming to us in the highest of supernatural ways, and establishing a supernatural kingdom for bringing about such supernatural ends as the reconciliation of all men to God by His Sacrifice, the Resurrection of the body, and the subjugation of the wills of all men to the Will of God.



The question now arises, and I beg the reader to remember that it is the question on which the author of "Supernatural Religion" stakes all,—From what source did Justin derive this supernatural view of Christianity?

With respect to the Incarnation, Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, he evidently derives it from certain documents which he repeatedly cites, as "The Memoirs of the Apostles" ([Greek: Apomnemoneumata ton Apostolon]). These are the documents which he mentions as being read, along with the Prophets, at the meetings of Christians.

On one occasion, when he is seemingly referring to the [bloody] sweat of our Lord, which is mentioned only in St. Luke, who is not an Apostle, he designates these writings as the "Memoirs which were drawn up by the Apostles and those who followed them." [19:1] Again, on another occasion, he seems to indicate specially the Gospel of St. Mark as being the "Memoirs of Peter." It is a well-known fact that all ecclesiastical tradition, almost with one voice, has handed down that St. Mark wrote his Gospel under the superintendence, if not at the dictation, of St. Peter; and when Justin has occasion to mention that our Lord gave the name of Boanerges to the sons of Zebedee, an incident mentioned only by St. Mark, he seems at least to indicate the Gospel of St. Mark as being specially connected with St. Peter as his Memoirs when he writes: [20:1]—

"And when it is said that he changed the name of one of the Apostles to Peter; and when it is written in his Memoirs that this so happened, as well as that He changed the names of two other brothers, the sons of Zebedee, to Boanerges, which means 'sons of thunder;' this was an announcement," &c. (Ch. cvi.)

With the exception of these two apparent cases, Justin never distinguishes one Memoir from another. He never mentions the author or authors of the Memoirs by name, and for this reason—that the three undoubted treatises of his which have come down to us are all written for those outside the pale of the Christian Church. It would have been worse than useless, in writing for such persons, to distinguish between Evangelist and Evangelist. So far as "those without" were concerned, the Evangelists gave the same view of Christ and His work; and to have quoted first one and then another by name would have been mischievous, as indicating differences when the testimony of all that could be called memoirs was, in point of fact, one and the same.

According to the author of "Supernatural Religion" Justin ten times designates the source of his quotations as the "Memoirs of the Apostles," and five times as simply the "Memoirs."

Now the issue which the writer of "Supernatural Religion" raises is this: "Were these Memoirs our present four Gospels, or were they some older Gospel or Gospels?" to which we may add another: "Did Justin quote any other lost Gospel besides our four?"

* * * * *

I shall now give some instances of the use which Justin makes of the writings which he calls "Memoirs," and this will enable the reader in great measure to judge for himself.

First of all, then, I give one or two extracts from Justin's account of our Lord's Nativity. Let the reader remember that, with respect to the first of these, the account is not introduced in order to give Trypho an account of our Lord's Birth, but to assure him that a certain prophecy, as it is worded in the Septuagint translation of Isaiah—viz., "He shall take the powers of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria," was fulfilled in Christ. And indeed almost every incident which Justin takes notice of he relates as a fulfilment of some prophecy or other. Trifling or comparatively trifling incidents in our Lord's Life are noticed at great length, because they are supposed to be the fulfilment of some prophecy; and what we should consider more important events are passed over in silence, because they do not seem to fulfil any prediction.

The first extract from Justin, then, shall be the following:—

"Now this King Herod, at the time when the Magi came to him from Arabia, and said they knew from a star which appeared in the heavens that a King had been born in your country, and that they had come to worship Him, learned from the Elders of your people, that it was thus written regarding Bethlehem in the Prophet: 'And thou, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art by no means least among the princes of Judah; for out of thee shall go forth the leader, who shall feed my people.' Accordingly, the Magi from Arabia came to Bethlehem, and worshipped the child, and presented him with gifts, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh; but returned not to Herod, being warned in a revelation after worshipping the child in Bethlehem. And Joseph, the spouse of Mary, who wished at first to put away his betrothed Mary, supposing her to be pregnant by intercourse with a man, i.e. from fornication, was commanded in a vision not to put away his wife; and the angel who appeared to him told him that what is in her womb is of the Holy Ghost. Then he was afraid and did not put her away, but on the occasion of the first census which was taken in Judea under Cyrenius, he went up from Nazareth, where he lived, to Bethlehem, to which he belonged, to be enrolled; for his family was of the tribe of Judah, which then inhabited that region. Then, along with Mary, he is ordered to proceed into Egypt, and remain there with the Child, until another revelation warn them to return to Judea. But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and here the Magi who came from Arabia, found Him. 'I have repeated to you,' I continued, 'what Isaiah foretold about the sign which foreshadowed the cave; but, for the sake of those which have come with us to-day, I shall again remind you of the passage.' Then I repeated the passage from Isaiah which I have already written, adding that, by means of those words, those who presided over the mysteries of Mithras were stirred up by the devil to say that in a place, called among them a cave, they were initiated by him. 'So Herod, when the Magi from Arabia did not return to him, as he had asked them to do, but had departed by another way to their own country, according to the commands laid upon them; and when Joseph, with Mary and the Child, had now gone into Egypt, as it was revealed to them to do; as he did not know the Child whom the Magi had gone to worship, ordered simply the whole of the children then in Bethlehem to be massacred. And Jeremiah prophesied that this would happen, speaking by the Holy Ghost thus: 'A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and much wailing, Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted, because they are not.'" (Dial. ch. lxxviii.)

Now any unprejudiced reader, on examining this account, would instantly say that Justin had derived every word of it from the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, but that, instead of quoting the exact words of either Evangelist, he would say that he (Justin) "reproduced" them. He reproduced the narrative of the Nativity as it is found in each of these two Gospels. He first reproduces the narrative in St. Matthew in somewhat more colloquial phrase than the Evangelist used, interspersing with it remarks of his own; and in order to account for the Birth of Christ in Bethlehem he brings in from St. Luke the matter of the census, (not with historical accuracy but) sufficiently to show that he was acquainted with the beginning of Luke ii.; and in order to account for the fact that Christ was not born in the inn, but in a more sordid place (whether stable or cave matters not, for if it was a cave it was a cave used as a stable, for there was a "manger" in it), he reproduces Luke ii. 6-7.

Justin then, in a single consecutive narrative, expressed much in his own words, gives the whole account, so far as it was a fulfilment of prophecy, made up from two narratives which have come down to us in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke, and in these only. It would have been absurd for him to have done otherwise, as he might have done if he had anticipated the carpings of nineteenth century critics, and assumed that Trypho, an unconverted Jew, had a New Testament in his hand with which he was so familiar that he could be referred to first one narrative and then the other, in order to test the correctness of Justin's quotations.

Against all this the author of "Supernatural Religion" brings forward a number of trifling disagreements as proofs that Justin need not have quoted one of the Evangelists—probably did not—indeed, may not have ever seen our synoptics, or heard of their existence. But the reader will observe that he has given the same history as we find in the two synoptics which have given an account of the Nativity, and he apparently knew of no other account of the matter.

We are reminded that there were numerous apocryphal Gospels then in use in the Church, and that Justin might have derived his matter from these; but, if so, how is it that he discards all the lying legends with which those Gospels team, and, with the solitary exception of the mention of the cave, confines himself to the circumstances of the synoptic narrative.

The next place respecting the Nativity shall be one from ch. c.:—

"But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her; wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God: and she replied, 'Be it unto me according to Thy word.'"

Here both the words of the angel and the answer of the virgin are almost identical with the words in St. Luke's Gospel; Justin, however, putting his account into the oblique narrative.

We will put the two side by side that the reader may compare them.


Pistin de kai charan labousa Maria he parthenos euangelizomenou aute Gabriel angelou, hoti pneuma Pneuma hagion epeleusetai epi kyriou ep' auten epeleusetai, se, kai dynamis hypsistou kai dunamis hypsistou episkiasei episkiasei soi, dio kai to gennomenon auten, dio kai to gennomenon hagion klethesetai Hyios Theou. ex autes hagion estin Hyios Theou, * * * * * apekrinato, Genoito moi kata to Genoito moi kaia to rhema sou. rhema sou.

Now of these words, as existing in St. Luke, the author of "Supernatural Religion" takes no notice. Was he, then, acquainted with the fact that Justin's words in this place so closely correspond with St. Luke's? We cannot say. We only know that he calls his readers' particular attention to a supposed citation of the previous words of the angel Gabriel, cited in another place:—

"Behold thou shalt conceive of the Holy Ghost, and shalt bear a Son, and He shall be called the Son of the Highest, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." (Apol. I. ch. xxxiii.)

The ordinary unprejudiced reader would say that Justin here reproduces St. Matthew and St. Luke, weaving into St. Luke's narrative the words of the angel to St. Joseph; but our author will not allow this for a moment. He insists that Justin knew nothing, or need have known nothing, of St. Luke. He shows that the words of the angel, "He shall save his people," &c., which seem to be introduced from St. Matthew, "are not accidentally inserted in this place, for we find that they are joined in the same manner to the address of the angel to Mary in the Protevangelium of St. James."

But how about those words which succeed them in answer to the question of the Virgin, "How shall these things be?" I mean those quoted in the "Dialogue" beginning "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee," &c. If ever one author quotes another, Justin in this place quotes St. Luke. They cannot be taken from the Protevangelium, because the corresponding words in the Protevangelium are very different from those in St. Luke; and the only real difference between Justin's quotation and St. Luke is that St. Luke reads, "shall be called the Son of God;" whereas Justin has "is the Son of God." Now in this Justin differs from the Protevangelium, which reads, "Shall be called the Son of the Highest;" so the probability is still more increased that in the quotation from the "Dialogue" he did not quote the Protevangelium, and did quote St. Luke. However, we will make the author a present of these words, because we want to assume for a moment the truth of his conclusion, which he thus expresses:—

"Justin's divergencies from the Protevangelium prevent our supposing that, in its present form, it could have been the actual source of his quotations; but the wide differences which exist between the extant MSS. of the Protevangelium show that even the most ancient does not present it in its original form. It is much more probable that Justin had before him a still older work, to which both the Protevangelium and the third Gospel were indebted." ("Supernatural Religion," vol. i. p. 306.)

Assuming, then, the correctness of this, Justin had a still older Gospel than that of St. Luke; and we shall hereafter show that St. Luke's Gospel was used in all parts of the world in Justin's day, and long before it. Now Justin himself lived only 100 years after the Resurrection; and this is no very great age for the copy of a book, still less for the book itself, of which any one may convince himself by a glance around his library. We may depend upon it that Justin would have used the oldest sources of information. A book so old in Justin's days may have been published at the outset of Christianity. The author himself surmises that it may have been the work of one of St. Luke's [Greek: polloi]. Anyhow it is an older and therefore, according to the writer's own line of argument all through his book, a more reliable witness to the things of Christ, and its witness is to the supernatural in His Birth. Are we, then, able to form any conjecture as to the name of this most ancient Gospel? Yes. The author of "Supernatural Religion" identifies it with the lost Gospel to the Hebrews, in the words:—

"Much more probably, however, Justin quotes from the more ancient source from which the Protevangelium and perhaps St. Luke drew their narrative. There can be little doubt that the Gospel according to the Hebrews contained an account of the birth in Bethelehem, and as it is, at least, certain that Justin quotes other particulars from it, there is fair reason to believe that he likewise found this fact [28:1] in that work." (Vol. ii. p. 313.)

If, then, this be the Gospel from which Justin derived his account of the Nativity, it seems to have contained all the facts for which we have now to look into St. Matthew and St. Luke. It combined the testimonies of both Evangelists to the supernatural Birth of Jesus.



The next extract from Justin which I shall give is one describing our Lord's Baptism. This account, like almost every other given in the dialogue with Trypho, is mentioned by him, not so much for its own sake, but because it gave him opportunity to show the fulfilment, or supposed fulfilment, of a prophecy—in this case the prophecy of Isaiah that the "Spirit of the Lord should rest upon Him."

"Even at His birth He was in possession of His power; and as He grew up like all other men, by using the fitting means, He assigned its own [requirements] to each development, and was sustained by all kinds of nourishment, and waited for thirty years, more or less, until John appeared before Him as the herald of His approach, and preceded Him in the way of baptism, as I have already shown. And then, when Jesus had gone to the river Jordan, where John was baptizing, and when He had stepped into the water, a fire was kindled in the Jordan; and when He came out of the water, the Holy Ghost lighted on Him like a dove [as] the Apostles of this very Christ of ours wrote.... For when John remained (literally sat) [29:1] by the Jordan, and preached the baptism of repentance, wearing only a leathern girdle and a vesture made of camel's hair, eating nothing but locusts and wild honey, men supposed him to be Christ; but he cried to them—'I am not the Christ, but the voice of one crying; for He that is stronger than I shall come, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear....' The Holy Ghost, and for man's sake, as I formerly stated, lighted on Him in the form of a dove, and there came at the same instant from the heavens a voice, which was uttered also by David when he spoke, personating Christ, what the Father would say to Him, 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee;' [the Father] saying that His generation would take place for men, at the time when they would become acquainted with Him. 'Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee.'" (Ch. lxxxviii.)

The author of "Supernatural Religion" lays very great stress upon this passage, as indicating throughout sources of information different from our Gospels. He makes the most of the fact that John is said to have "sat" by the Jordan, not apparently remembering that sitting was the normal posture for preaching and teaching (Matthew v. 1; Luke iv. 20). He, of course, dwells much upon the circumstance that a fire was kindled in the Jordan at the time of our Lord's baptism, which additional instance of the supernatural Justin may have derived either from tradition or from the Gospel to the Hebrews. Above all, he dwells upon the fact—and a remarkable fact it is—that Justin supposes that the words of the Father wore not "Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased," but "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee."

Now I do not for a moment desire to lessen the importance of the difficulty involved in a man, living in the age of Justin, giving the words, of the Father so differently to what they appear in our Gospels. But what is the import of the discrepancy? It is simply a theological difficulty, the same in all respects with that which is involved in the application of these very words to the Resurrection of Christ by St. Paul, in Acts xiii. 33. It is in no sense a difficulty having the smallest bearing on the supernatural; for it is equally as supernatural for the Father to have said, with a voice audible to mortal ears, "This day have I begotten Thee," as it is for Him to have said, "In Thee I am well pleased."

What, then, is the inference which the author of "Supernatural Religion" draws from these discrepancies? This,—that Justin derived his information from the lost Gospel to the Hebrews.

"In the scanty fragments of the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews,' which have been preserved, we find both the incident of the fire kindled in Jordan, and the words of the heavenly voice, as quoted by Justin:—'And as He went out of the water, the heavens opened, and He saw the Holy Spirit of God in the form of a dove descend and enter into Him. And a voice was heard from heaven, saying, 'Thou art my beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased;' and again, 'This day have I begotten Thee.' And immediately a great light shone in that place.' Epiphanius extracts this passage from the version in use among the Ebionites, but it is well known that there were many other varying forms of the same Gospel; and Hilgenfeld, with all probability, conjectures that the version known to Epiphanius was no longer in the same purity as that used by Justin, but represents the transition stage to the Canonical Gospels, adopting the words of the voice which they give without yet discarding the older form." ("Supernatural Religion," vol. i. p. 320.)

Here, then, are the remains of an older Gospel used by Justin, taken from copies which rationalists assert to have been, when used by him, in a state of greater purity than a subsequent recension, which subsequent recension was anterior to our present Gospels, and being older was purer, because nearer to the fountain-head of knowledge: but this older and purer form is characterized by a more pronounced supernatural element—to wit, the 'fire' in Jordan and the 'light'—so that, the older and purer the tradition, the more supernatural is its teaching.



We have now to consider the various notices in Justin respecting our Lord's Crucifixion, and the events immediately preceding and following it. Justin notices our Lord's entry into Jerusalem:—

"And the prophecy, 'binding His foal to the vine and washing His robe in the blood of the grape,' was a significant symbol of the things which were to happen to Christ, and of what He was to do. For the foal of an ass stood bound to a vine at the entrance of a village, and He ordered His acquaintances to bring it to Him then; and when it was brought He mounted and sat upon it, and entered Jerusalem." (Apol. I. ch. xxxii.)

Justin in a subsequent place (Dial. ch. liii.) notices the fact only mentioned in St. Matthew, that Jesus commanded the disciples to bring both an ass and its foal:—

"And truly our Lord Jesus Christ, when He intended to go into Jerusalem, requested His disciples to bring Him a certain ass, along with its foal, which was bound in an entrance of a village called Bethphage; and, having seated Himself on it, He entered into Jerusalem."

Justin thus describes the institution of the Eucharist:—

"For the Apostles, in the Memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and, when He had given thanks, said, 'This do ye in remembrance of me, this is My body;' and that after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, 'This is My blood;' and gave it to them alone." (Apol. i. ch. lxvi.)

He thus adverts to the dispersion of the Apostles:—

"Moreover, the prophet Zechariah foretold that this same Christ would be smitten and His disciples scattered: which also took place. For after His Crucifixion the disciples that accompanied Him were dispersed." (Dial. ch. liii.)

He mentions our Lord's agony as the completion of a prophecy in Psalm xxii.:—

"For on the day on which He was to be crucified, having taken three of His disciples to the hill called Olivet, situated opposite to the temple at Jerusalem, He prayed in these words: 'Father, if it be possible, lot this cup pass from Me.' And again He prayed, 'Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.'" (Dial. xcix.)

His sweating great drops of blood (mentioned only in St. Luke), also in fulfilment of Psalm xxii.—

"For in the memoirs which I say were drawn up by His Apostles, and those who followed them [it is recorded] that His sweat fell down like drops of blood while He was praying, and saying, 'If it be possible, let this cup pass.'" [34:1] (Ch. ciii.)

His being sent to Herod (mentioned only in St. Luke):—

"And when Herod succeeded Archelaus, having received the authority which had been allotted to him, Pilate sent to him by way of compliment Jesus bound; and God, foreknowing that this would happen, had thus spoken, 'And they brought Him to the Assyrian a present to the king.'" (Ch. ciii.)

His silence before Pilate, also quoted by Justin, in fulfilment of Psalm xxii.:—

"And the statement, 'My strength is become dry like a potsherd, and my tongue has cleaved to my throat,' was also a prophecy of what would be done by Him according to the Father's will. For the power of His strong word, by which He always confuted the Pharisees and Scribes, and, in short, all your nation's teachers that questioned Him, had a cessation like a plentiful and strong spring, the waters of which have been turned off, when He kept silence, and chose to return no answer to any one in the presence of Pilate; as has been declared in the Memoirs of His Apostles." (Dial. ch. cii.)

His crucifixion:

"And again, in other words, David in the twenty-first Psalm thus refers to the suffering and to the cross in a parable of mystery: 'They pierced my hands and my feet; they counted all my bones; they considered and gazed upon me; they parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.' For when they crucified Him, driving in the nails, they pierced His hands and feet; and those who crucified Him parted His garments among themselves, each casting lots for what he chose to have, and receiving according to the decision of the lot." (Ch. xcvii.)

The mocking of Him by His enemies:—

"And the following: 'All they that see Me laughed Me to scorn; they spake with the lips; they shook the head: He trusted in the Lord, let Him deliver Him since He desires Him;' this likewise He foretold should happen to Him. For they that saw Him crucified shook their heads each one of them, and distorted their lips, and, twisting their noses to each other, they spake in mockery the words which are recorded in the Memoirs of His Apostles, 'He said He was the Son of God: let Him come down; let God save Him.'" (Ch. ci.)

His saying, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (reported only in SS. Matthew and Mark):—

"For, when crucified, He spake, 'O God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?'" (Ch. xcix.)

His saying, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit," reported only in St. Luke:—

"For, when Christ was giving up His spirit on the cross, He said, 'Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,' as I have learned also from the Memoirs." (Ch. cv.)

His Resurrection and appearance to His Apostles gathered together (found only in SS. Luke and John), and His reminding the same Apostles that before His Death He had foretold it (found only in St. Luke):—

"And that He stood in the midst of His brethren, the Apostles (who repented of their flight from Him when He was crucified, after He rose from the dead, and after they were persuaded by Him that before His Passion He had mentioned to them that He must suffer these things, and that they were announced beforehand by the prophets)." [37:1] (Ch. cvi.)

The Jews spreading the report that His disciples had stolen away His Body by night (recorded only by St. Matthew):—

"Yet you not only have not repented, after you learned that He rose from the dead, but, as I said before, you have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom we crucified, but His disciples stole Him by night from the tomb, where He was laid when unfastened from the cross." (Ch. cviii.)

The Apostles seeing the Ascension, and afterwards receiving power from Him in person, and going to every race of men:—

"And when they had seen Him ascending into heaven, and had believed, and had received power sent thence by Him upon them, and went to every race of men, they taught these things, and were called Apostles." (Apol. I. ch. l.)

From all this the reader will see at a glance that Justin's view of the Crucifixion and the events attending it was exactly the same as ours. He will notice that all the events related in Justin are the same as those recorded in the Evangelists Matthew and Luke; and that the circumstances related by Justin, and not to be found in the Synoptics, are of the most trifling character, as, for instance, that the blaspheming bystanders at the cross "screwed up their noses." I think this is the only additional circumstance to which the writer of "Supernatural Religion" draws attention. He will notice that Justin records some events only to be found in St. Matthew and some only in St. Luke. He will notice also how frequently Justin reproduces the narrative rather than quotes it.

The ordinary reader would account for all this by supposing that Justin had our Synoptics (at least the first and third) before him, and reproduced incidents first from one and then from the other as they suited his purpose, and his purpose was not to give an account of the Crucifixion, but to elucidate the prophecies respecting the Crucifixion.

The author of "Supernatural Religion," however, goes through those citations, or supposed citations, seriatim, and attempts to show that each one must have been taken from some lost Gospel, most probably the Gospel of the Hebrews.

Be it so. Here, then, was a Gospel which contained all the separate incidents recorded in SS. Matthew and Luke, and, of course, combined them in one narrative. How is it that so inestimably valuable a Christian document was irretrievably lost, and its place supplied by three others, each far its inferior, each picking and choosing separate parts from the original; and that, about 120 years after the original promulgation of the Gospel, these three forged narratives superseded a Gospel which would have been, in the matter of our Lord's Birth, Death, and Resurrection, a complete and perfect harmony? I leave the author of "Supernatural Religion" to explain so unlikely a fact. One explanation is, however, on our author's own showing, inadmissible, which is, that our present Synoptics were adopted because they pandered more than the superseded one to the growing taste for the supernatural, for the earlier Gospel or Gospels contained supernatural incidents which are wanting in our present Synoptics.



One more class of apparent quotations from our Synoptic Gospels must now be considered, viz., the citations in Justin of the moral teaching or precepts of Christ. Those are mostly to be found in one place, in one part of the First Apology (chapters xv.-xviii.), and they are introduced for the express purpose of convincing the Emperor of the high standard of Christ's moral teaching.

The author of "Supernatural Religion" gives very considerable extracts from these chapters, which I shall give in his own translation:—

"He (Jesus) spoke thus of chastity: 'Whosoever may have gazed on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in the heart before God.' And, 'If thy right eye offend thee cut it out, for it is profitable for thee to enter into the kingdom of heaven with one eye (rather) than having two to be thrust into the everlasting fire.' And, 'Whosoever marrieth a woman, divorced from another man, committeth adultery.'"

* * * * *

"And regarding our affection for all He thus taught: 'If ye love them which love you what new thing do ye? for even the fornicators do this; but I say unto you, pray for your enemies, and love them which hate you, and bless them which curse you, and offer prayer for them which despitefully use you.' And that we should communicate to the needy, and do nothing for praise, He said thus: 'Give ye to every one that asketh, and from him that desireth to borrow turn not ye away, for, if ye lend to them from whom ye hope to receive, what new thing do ye? for even the publicans do this. But ye, lay not up for yourselves upon the earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and robbers break through, but lay up for yourselves in the heavens, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt. For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world but destroy his soul? or what shall he give in exchange for it? Lay up, therefore, in the heavens, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt.' And, 'Be ye kind and merciful as your Father also is kind and merciful, and maketh His sun to rise on sinners, and just and evil. But be not careful what ye shall eat and what ye shall put on. Are ye not better than the birds and the beasts? and God feedeth them. Therefore be not careful what ye shall eat or what ye shall put on, for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things; but seek ye the kingdom of the heavens, and all these things shall be added unto you, for where the treasure is there is also the mind of the man. And 'Do not these things to be seen of men, otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.' And regarding our being patient under injuries, and ready to help all, and free from anger, this is what He said: 'Unto him striking thy cheek offer the other also; and him who carrieth off thy cloak, or thy coat, do not thou prevent. But whosoever shall be angry is in danger of the fire. But every one who compelleth thee to go a mile, follow twain. And let your good works shine before men, so that, perceiving, they may adore your Father, which is in heaven.' ... And regarding our not swearing at all, but ever speaking the truth, He thus taught: 'Ye may not swear at all, but let your yea be yea, and your nay nay, for what is more than these is of the evil one.'"

* * * * *

"'For not those who merely make profession, but those who do the work,' as He said, 'shall be saved.' For He spake thus: 'Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall (enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father, which is in heaven). For whosoever heareth me, and doeth what I say, heareth Him that sent me. But many will say to me, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Thy name, and done wonders? And then will I say unto them, 'Depart from me, workers of iniquity.' There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when indeed the righteous shall shine as the sun, but the wicked are sent into everlasting fire. For many shall arrive in My name, outwardly, indeed, clothed in sheep-skins, but inwardly being ravening wolves. Ye shall know them from their works, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire."

* * * * *

"As Christ declared, saying, 'To whom God has given more, of him shall more also be demanded again.'"

The ordinary reader, remembering that Justin was writing for the heathen, would suppose, after reading the above, that Justin reproduced from SS. Matthew and Luke the moral precepts of Christ, or rather those which suited his purpose, and his purpose was to show to the heathen Emperor that Christianity would make the best members of a community.

To this end he reproduces the precepts respecting chastity, respecting love to all, and communicating to the needy—being kind and merciful—not caring much for material things—being patient and truthful—and above all, being sincere.

He did not reproduce the precepts respecting prayer, simply because immoral men among the heathen worshipped their gods as devoutly as moral men did. He did not reproduce the Lord's prayer, because he would not consider that it belonged to the heathen, or the promises that God would hear prayer, simply because these would belong to Christians only.

Again, he evidently altered and curtailed what the heathen would not understand, as for instance, in quoting our Lord's saying respecting "anger," he quoted it very shortly, because to have quoted at length the gradations of punishment for being "angry without a cause," for "calling a brother Raca" and "fool," would have been almost unintelligible to those unacquainted with Jewish customs.

The author of "Supernatural Religion" repudiates the idea that Justin, in any of these quotations, makes use of our present Gospels. He examines these [so-called] quotations seriatim at considerable length, for the purpose of showing that Justin's variations from our present Gospels imply another source of information. He considers (and in this I cannot agree with him, though I shall, for argument's sake, yield the point) that—

"The hypothesis that these quotations are from the canonical gospels requires the acceptance of the fact that Justin, with singular care, collected from distant and scattered portions of these gospels a series of passages in close sequence to each other, forming a whole unknown to them, but complete in itself." ("Supernatural Religion," vol. i. p. 359)

I say I cannot agree with this, because I think that the extracts I have given have all the signs of a piece of patchwork by no means well put together, but I will assume that he is right in his view.

Here, then, we have, according to his hypothesis, another sermon of Christ's, which, owing to the "close sequence" of its various passages, and its completeness as a whole, must take its place alongside of the Sermon on the Mount. Where does it come from?—

"The simple and natural conclusion, supported by many strong reasons, is that Justin derived his quotations from a Gospel which was different from ours, though naturally by subject and design it must have been related to them." (Vol. i. p. 384.)

And in page 378 our author traces one of the passages of this "consecutive" discourse through an epistle ascribed to Clement of Rome to the "Gospel according to the Egyptians," which was in all probability a version of the "Gospel according to the Hebrews."

Here, then, is a Gospel, the Gospel to the Hebrews, which not only contained, as the author has shown, a harmony of the histories in SS. Matthew and Luke, so far, at least, as the Birth and Death of Christ are concerned, but also such a full and consecutive report of the moral teaching of Christ, that it may not unfitly be described as "a series of passages in close sequence to each other," collected "with singular care" "from distant and scattered portions of these Gospels." How, we ask, could such a Gospel have perished utterly? A Gospel, which, besides containing records of the historical and supernatural much fuller than any one of the surviving Gospels, contained also a sort of Sermon on the Mount, amalgamating in one whole the moral teaching of our Lord, ought surely (if it ever was in existence) to have won its place in the canon.



We have now to consider the citations (or supposed citations) of Justin from the fourth Gospel. These, as I have mentioned, are treated by the author of "Supernatural Religion" separately at the conclusion of his work.

Whatever internal coincidences there are between the contents of St. John and those of the Synoptics, the external differences are exceedingly striking, and it is not at all to my present purpose to keep this fact out of sight. The plan of St. John's Gospel is different, the style is different, the subjects of the discourses, the scene of action, the incidents, and (with one exception) the miracles, all are different.

Now this will greatly facilitate the investigation of the question as to whether any author had St. John before him when he wrote. There may be some uncertainty with respect to the quotations from the Synoptics, as to whether an early writer quotes one or other, or derives what he cites from some earlier source, as for instance from one of St. Luke's [Greek: polloi].

But it cannot be so with St. John. A quotation of, or reference to, any words of any discourse of our Lord, or an account of any transaction as reported by St. John, can be discerned in an instant. At least it can be at once seen that it cannot have been derived from the Synoptics, or from any supposed apocryphal or traditional sources from which the Synoptics derived their information.

The special object of this Gospel is the identification of the pre-existent nature of our Lord with the eternal Word, and following upon this, His relation to His Father on the one side, and to mankind on the other.

He is the only begotten of the Father, God being His own proper Father [Greek: idios], and so He is equal to the Father in nature (John v. 18), and yet, as being a Son, He is subordinate, so that He represents Himself throughout as sent by the Father to do His will and speak His words.

With reference to mankind He is, before His Incarnation, the "Light that lighteth every man." After and through His Incarnation He is to man all in all. He is even in death the object of their Faith. He is the Mediator through whose very person God sends the Spirit. He is the Life, the Light, the Living Water, the Spiritual Food.

Justin Martyr repeatedly reproduces in various forms of expression the truth that Christ is the eternal "Word made flesh" and revealed as the "Only-begotten Son of God," thus:—

"The first power after God the Father and Lord of all is the Word, Who is also the Son, and of Him we will, in what follows, relate how He took flesh and became man." (Apol. I. Ch. XXXII.)


"I have already proved that He was the only-begotten of the Father of all things, being begotten in a peculiar manner [Greek: idios], Word and Power by Him, and having afterwards become man through the Virgin." (Dial. ch. cv.)

Now, we have in these two passages four or five characteristic expressions of St. John relating to our Lord, not to be found in any other Scripture writer. I say "in any other," for I believe that not only the Epistles of St. John, but also the Apocalypse, notwithstanding certain differences in style, are to be ascribed to St. John.

We have the term "Word" united with "the Son," and with "Only begotten," and said to be "properly (proprie; [Greek: idios]) begotten;" a reminiscence of John v. 18, the only place in the New Testament where the adjective [Greek: idios] or its adverb [Greek: idios] is applied to the relations of the Father and the Son, and we have this Word becoming flesh and man.

Now Justin, in one of the places, writes to convince an heathen emperor; and, in the other, an unbelieving Jew; and so in each case he reproduces the sense of John i. 1 and 14, and not the exact words. It would have been an absurdity for him to have quoted St. John exactly, for, in such a case, he must have retained the words "we beheld his glory, the glory as," which would have simply detracted from the force of the passage, being unintelligible without some explanation.

Again, we have in the Dialogue (ch. lxi.) the words "The Word of Wisdom, Who is Himself this God begotten of the Father of all things." Now here there seems to be a reproduction of the old and very probably original reading of John i. 18, [48:1] "The only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father." Certainly this reading of John i. 18 is the only place where the idea of being begotten is associated with the term "God."

We next have to notice that Justin repeatedly uses the words "God" and "Lord" in collocation as applied to Jesus Christ; not "the Lord God," the usual Old Testament collocation, but God and Lord, thus:

"For Christ is King and Priest and God and Lord," &c. (Dial. ch. xxxiv.)


"There is, and there is said to be, another God and Lord subject to the Maker of all things." (Dial. lvi.)

Now the only Gospel in which these words are to be found together and applied to Christ is that according to St. John, where he records the confession of St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God" (John xx. 28).

Again: St. John alone of the Evangelists speaks of our Lord as He that cometh from above [Greek: ho anothen erchomenos], as coming from heaven, as "leaving the world and going to the Father" (John iii. 31; xvi. 28), and Justin reproduces this in the words:—

"It is declared [by David in Prophecy,] that He would come forth from the highest heavens, and again return to the same places, in order that you may recognize Him as God coming forth from above and man living among men." (Dial. ch. lxiv.)

Again: though St. John asserts by implication the equality in point of nature of the Father and the Son (John v. 18), yet he also very repeatedly records words of Christ which assert His subordination to the Father. Nowhere in the Synoptics do we read such words as "I can of mine own self do nothing." "I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John v. 30): "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work" (iv. 34; also John vi. 38): "I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." (xii. 49)

Now Justin Martyr reproduces these intimations of the subordination of the Son:—

"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." (Dial. ch. lvi.)


"I affirm that He has never at any time done anything which He Who made the world, above Whom there is no other God, has not wished Him both to do and to engage Himself with." (Dial. lvi.)


"Boasts not in accomplishing anything through His own will or might." (Ch. ci.)

Let the reader clearly understand that I do not lay any stress whatsoever on these passages taken by themselves or together; but taken in connection with the intimation of the Word and Sonship asserted in St. John, and reproduced by Justin, they are very significant indeed.

St. John asserts that Jesus is the Word and the Only Begotten—that He is "Lord" and "God," and equal with the Father as being His Son (v. 18); but, lest men conceive of the Word as an independent God, he asserts the subordination of the Son as consisting, not in inferiority of nature, but in submission of will.

Justin reproduces in the same terms the teaching of St. John respecting the Logos—that the Logos was the Only Begotten, God-begotten, Lord and God. And then, lest his adversaries should assume from this that Christ was an independent God, he guards it by the assertion of the same doctrine of subordination of will; neither the doctrine nor the safeguard being expressly stated in the Synoptics, but contained in them by that wondrous implication by which one part of Divine truth really presupposes and involves all truth.

We have now to consider St. John's teaching respecting the relation of the Logos to man. One aspect of this doctrine is peculiar to St. John, and is as mysterious and striking a truth as we have in the whole range of Christian dogma.

It is contained in certain words in the exordium of the Fourth Gospel: "That [Word] was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."

This passage embodies a truth which is unique in Scripture: that in the Word was Life, that the Life was the Light of men, and that that Light was (even before the Incarnation) the true Light which lighteth every man.

This, I say, is a truth which is not, that I am aware of, to be found, except by very remote implication, in the rest of Scripture. And yet it is continually reproduced by Justin in a way which shows that he had drunk it in, as it were, and he used it continually as the principle on which to explain the vestiges of truth which existed among the heathen.


"We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of Whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably (or with the Logos, [Greek: hoi meta logou biosantes]) are Christians, even though they have been thought Atheists; as among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them." (Apol. I. ch. xlvi.)


"No one trusted in Socrates so as to die for this doctrine, but in Christ, Who was partially known even by Socrates (for He was and is the Word Who is in every man)," &c. (Apol. II. ch. x.)

Again, in a noble passage:—

"For each man spoke well in proportion to the share he had of the spermatic Divine Word, [51:1] seeing what was related to it. But they who contradict themselves in the more important points appear not to have possessed the heavenly wisdom, and the knowledge which cannot be spoken against. Whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians." (Apol. II. xiii.)

There cannot, then, be the smallest doubt but that Justin's mind was permeated by a doctrine of the Logos exactly such as he would have derived from the diligent study of the fourth Gospel. But may he not have derived all this from Philo? No; because, if so, he would have referred Trypho, a Jew, to Philo, his brother Jew, which he never does. The speciality of St. John's teaching is not that he, like Plato or Philo, elaborates a Logos doctrine, but that once for all, with the authority of God, he identifies the Logos with the Divine Nature of our Lord. No other Evangelist or sacred writer does this, and he does.



We now come to Justin's account of Christian Baptism, which runs thus:—

"I will also relate the manner in which we dedicated ourselves to God when we had been made new through Christ, lest, if we omit this, we seem to be unfair in the explanation we are making. As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the Universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, 'Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.' Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers' wombs, is manifest to all." (Apol. I. ch. lxi.)

Now, taking into consideration the fact that St. John is the only writer who sets forth our Lord as connecting a birth with water [except a man be born of water and of the Spirit]; that when our Lord does this it is (according to St. John, and St. John only) following upon the assertion that he must be born again, and that St. John alone puts into the mouth of the objector the impossibility of a natural birth taking place twice, which Justin notices; taking these things into account, it does seem to me the most monstrous hardihood to deny that Justin was reproducing St. John's account.

To urge trifling differences is absurd, for Justin, if he desired to make himself understood, could not have quoted the passage verbatim, or anything like it. For, if he had, he must have prefaced it with some account of the interview with Nicodemus, and he would have to have referred to another Gospel to show that our Lord alluded to baptism; for, though our Lord mentions water, He does not here categorically mention baptism. So, consequently, Justin would have to have said, "If you refer to one of our Memoirs you will find certain words which lay down the necessity of being born again, and seem to connect this birth in some way with water, and if you look into another Memoir you will see how this can be, for you will find a direction to baptize with water in the name of the Godhead, and if you put these two passages together you will be able to understand something of the nature of our dedication, and of the way in which it is to be performed, and of the blessing which we have reason to expect in it if we repent of our sins."

Well, instead of such an absurd and indirect way of proceeding, which presupposes that Antoninus Pius was well acquainted with the Diatessaron, he simply reproduces the substance of the doctrine of St. John, and interweaves with it the words of institution as found in St. Matthew. I shall afterwards advert to the hypothesis that this account was taken from an apocryphal Gospel.

Again, St. John is the only Evangelist who, in apparent allusion to the devout and spiritual reception of the Inward Part of the Lord's Supper, speaks of it as eating the Flesh of Christ, and drinking His Blood; the Synoptics and St. Paul in I Cor. x. 11, always speaking of it as His Body and Blood. Now Justin, in describing the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, uses the language peculiar to St. John as well as that of the Synoptics:—

"So likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus Who was made flesh. For the Apostles, in the Memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, 'This do ye in remembrance of me. This is my body,'" &c. (Apol. I. ch. lxvi.)

This, of course, would be a small matter itself, but, taken in connection with the adoption of St. John's language in regard of the other sacrament a very short time before, it is exceedingly significant.

Again, St. John is the only Evangelist who records our Lord's reference to the brazen serpent as typical of Himself lifted up upon the Cross. Justin cites the same incident as typical of Christ's Death, and, moreover, cites our Lord's language as it is recorded in St. John, respecting His being lifted up that men might believe in Him and be saved:—

"For by this, as I previously remarked, He proclaimed the mystery, by which He declared that He would break the power of the serpent which occasioned the transgression of Adam, and [would bring] to them that believe on Him by this sign, i.e., Him Who was to be crucified, salvation from the fangs of the serpent, which are wicked deeds, idolatries, and other unrighteous acts. Unless the matter be so understood, give me a reason why Moses set up the brazen serpent for a sign, and bade those that were bitten gaze at it, and the wounded were healed." (Dial. ch. xciv.)

Again, St. John is the only Evangelist who records that the Baptist "confessed, and denied not, but confessed, 'I am not the Christ.'" Justin cites these very-words as said by the Baptist:—

"For when John remained (or sat) by the Jordan ... men supposed him to be Christ, but he cried to them, 'I am not the Christ, but the voice of one crying,'" &c. (Dial. ch. lxxxviii.)

Again, St. John is the only Evangelist who puts into the mouth of our Blessed Lord, when He was accused of breaking the Sabbath, the retort that the Jews on the Sabbath Day circumcise a man ... that the law of Moses should not be broken. (John vii. 22) And Justin also reproduces this in his Dialogue:—

"For, tell me, did God wish the priests to sin when they offer the sacrifices on the Sabbaths? or those to sin who are circumcised, or do circumcise, on the Sabbaths; since He commands that on the eighth day—even though it happen to be a Sabbath—those who are born shall be always circumcised?" (Dial. ch. xxvii.)

Again, St. John represents our Lord, when similarly harassed by the Jews, as appealing to the upholding of all things by God on the Sabbath as well as on any other day, in the words, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." (John v. 17.) And Justin very shortly after uses the same argument:—

"Think it not strange that we drink hot water on the Sabbath, since God directs the government of the universe on this day, equally as on all others; and the priests on other days, so on this, are ordered to offer sacrifices." (Dial. ch. xxix.)

It is very singular that Justin, whilst knowing nothing of St. John, should, on a subject like this, use two arguments peculiar to St. John, and not to be found in disputes on the very same subject in the Synoptics.

Again, St. John alone records that Jesus healed a man "blind from his birth," and notices that the Jews themselves were impressed with the greatness of the miracle. (John ix. 16, 32) Justin remarks, "In that we say that He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind." (Apol. I. ch. xxii.)

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