Justin is the first Christian philosopher. He was born in 100 AD, and was beheaded for his faith in 165.
Truth Seeking Scholar
Justin was Greek, but he was raised in Samaria. He studied various secular philosophies, and had almost settled on following Plato when a mysterious old man convinced him Jesus was the divine incarnate using the Old Testament scriptures. Justin believed, but he refused baptism until he was thoroughly convinced the pagan criticisms of Christianity were false. While in Ephesus, he witnessed the execution of Christians, and this experience convinced him of the truth at last.
He moved to Rome to start his own school of Christian philosophy.
We know much about Justin because he wrote. A lot. He is known for many works, but only two have survived in entirety; two apologetic works defending the Christian faith to the Roman Emperor and the Senate. Justin’s volumes have shaped and inspired much of church doctrine. Particularly, his exploration of Jesus being the Logos has permeated Christian thought. He calls the first four books of our New Testament, the Memoirs of the Apostles, and is the first to pluralize the term gospel, by lumping the four together as “gospels.”
After being converted by the courage and piety of the Christians martyrs, Justin joined their rank himself. He was mayryted in Rome with six companions by the Prefect Rusticus. His death is documented as follows:
The Prefect Rusticus says: Approach and sacrifice, all of you, to the gods.
Justin says: No one in his right mind gives up piety for impiety.
The Prefect Rusticus says: If you do not obey, you will be tortured without mercy.
Justin replies: That is our desire, to be tortured for Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and so to be saved, for that will give us salvation and firm confidence at the more terrible universal tribunal of Our Lord and Savior.
And all the martyrs said: Do as you wish; for we are Christians, and we do not sacrifice to idols.
The Prefect Rusticus read the sentence: Those who do not wish to sacrifice to the gods and to obey the emperor will be scourged and beheaded according to the laws.
The holy martyrs glorifying God betook themselves to the customary place, where they were beheaded and consummated their martyrdom confessing their Saviour.”
I have been following the Catholic Saints calendar this year. Why? Because I’m interested in the stories of the early Christians in the first few centuries. You can too!