Ἀπομνημονεύματα – Justin Martyr, Xenophon, and the Evangelists

Sanzio 01 Socrates

Sanzio 01 Socrates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just putting some thoughts on paper here. The first recorded genre classification of the Gospels were by Justin Martyr. He writes,

All who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits (Apology I 67.3)

So, some have taken this to point to the ancient biographies although few knew the difference between ancient and modern biographies. But, I was thinking… Maybe Justin, the Platonist, used the word in a similar fashion to Xenophon who wrote some memoirs of Socrates (So-crates). These Memorabilia of Socrates presents the teacher as defending himself against the charges of the Athenians, but unlike Socrates’ Apology by the same author, this work is a running commentary on sayings and other things of Socrates meant to prove the innocence of the philosopher who died for his people. It is filled with dialogue, narrative, and other genres cobbled together by Xenophon, not as a matter of recording history but as a matter of preserving truth. Tons of stuff in there.

I’m not saying Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John were writing to in the style of Xenophon; however, their style may have allowed Justin to place the two together, especially if the early Church understand the Gospels as a defense of Jesus rather than a record of Jesus.

Thoughts?

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Post By Joel Watts (10,045 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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3 thoughts on Ἀπομνημονεύματα – Justin Martyr, Xenophon, and the Evangelists

    • You now, stuff like this happened with George Washington and the Founders… and still does. I mean, the Stuff they make up about them on Fox is K-razie

  1. Pingback Justin Martyr’s Memoirs of the Apostles | Euangelion Kata Markon

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