As part of the introduction to each Church father’s writings concerning the belief in the transmigration of the soul, a brief biography will be provided. The majority of the biographical information will be taken directly from the “Catholic Encyclopedia”, with John J. Delaney’s “Dictionary of Saints”, and other sources employed where necessary.

The following is the biography of Justin Martyr:

(c.100-c.165). Born at Flavia Neapolis, of pagan Greco-Roman parents, he studied philosophy, rhetoric, history, and poetry, and was inspired by a meeting with an old man at Ephesus, where he taught for a time, to study Christian Scripture. When about thirty, Justin became a Christian an devoted himself to expounding his new faith to his fellow men. He traveled about debating with pagan philosophers and eventually he came to Rome, where he opened a school of philosophy.

He incurred the enmity of a Cynic named Crescens for besting him in debate and was denounced, probably at the instigation of the Crescens, to the authorities as a Christian. He was brought to trial with six companions, Charita, Chariton, Euelpistus, Hierax, Liberianus, and P�on, before the Roman prefect, Rusticus. When they refused to sacrifice to the gods, they were scoured and beheaded.

Dictionary of Saints, John J. Delaney – Justin Martyr.

We still have the authentic account of their martyrdom (“Acta SS.”, April, II, 104-19; Otto, “Corpus Apologetarum”, III, Jena, 1879, 266-78; P. G., VI, 1565-72). The examination ends 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 Saviour. 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.” …

The role of St. Justin may be summed up in one word: it is that of a witness. We behold in him one of the highest and purest pagan souls of his time in contact with Christianity, compelled to accept its irrefragable truth, its pure moral teaching, and to admire its superhuman constancy. He is also a witness of the second-century Church which he describes for us in its faith, its life, its worship, at a time when Christianity yet lacked the firm organization that it was soon to develop (see St. Irenaeus), but the larger outlines of whose constitution and doctrine are already luminously drawn by Justin. …

The Catholic Encyclopedia – Justin.

Justin is the first Christian apologist, and a layman, to have written on Christianity at any length, and in his writings he sought to reconcile the claims of faith and reason. Two of his most important works are still extant:

His Apologies, addressed to Emperor Antoninus and the first document addressed to the enemies of Christianity, defends the Christians, replies to charges of immorality leveled against them, explains how they are loyal subjects based on their beliefs in the teaching of Christ, and goes on to explain immortality, free will, and fasting; and Dialogue with Trypho, in which he debates the merits of Christianity over Judaism in a dialogue with Trypho, a Jew.

Dictionary of Saints, John J. Delaney – Justin Martyr.

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