(110-165AD) While the authorship of this work on the resurrection has not been conclusively established, its probable author is Justin Martyr (Catholic Encyclopedia). Regardless of its author’s identity, it is certain that its composition date lies within the Ante-Nicene period (no later than the third century A.D. [ANF Vol 1]). And whether or not Justin is its proper author, this work remains an authentic example of Ante-Nicene, Christian literature.

In this work, the author argues his case for the resurrection of the flesh by emphasizing the unity of the body and soul. Man cannot be understood as a complete man apart from his body, or his soul; “only that which is made up of the two together is called man” (Chapter 8). If, then, man is called to eternal life, it is the complete man, not a part, that is called.

This unity is established by two main arguments: one based on the design and purpose of man, the other on the co-operative nature of his actions.

First, since man was created in God’s image with flesh, he would be an incomplete image of God without this flesh. It is on account of the body that the material world was made, and as such, this body is valuable in God’s sight, and cannot be simply discarded or considered disposable (Chapter 7). Indeed, God would be negligent and unjust if he showed preference to the soul and judged the flesh (which he himself created) to be insignificant (Chapter 8).

Second, the body and soul of man act together like a yoke of oxen, “if one or [the] other is loosed from the yoke, neither of them can plough alone; so neither can soul or body alone effect anything, if they be unyoked from their communion” (Chapter 8). Thus, whenever the body and soul act, they act together, and, “would it not be unquestionably absurd, if, while these two are in the same being and according to the same law, the one were saved and the other not?” (Chapter 8). This unity of body and soul brought about in the actions of man, calls therefore, for an equivalent unity to be expressed in the rewards for and consequences of those actions.

Although the doctrine of reincarnation is not explicitly denied in the above arguments, its denial follows as a logical consequence of their acceptance. A further, more direct rejection of the doctrine can be found later on in the work, where he writes,

… why do we any longer endure those unbelieving and dangerous arguments, and fail to see that we are retrograding when we listen to such an argument as this: that the soul is immortal, but the body mortal, and incapable of being revived? For this we used to hear from Pythagoras and Plato, even before we learned the truth. (Chapter 10).

Here, the false doctrines of the Greek philosophers Pythagoras and Plato are placed in sharp contrast to the true doctrines of Christianity. The doctrines of the transmigration of the soul and the worthlessness of the mortal flesh are replaced by the superior doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh, one that proclaims a “new and strange hope” (Chapter 10) to man as he truly exists in soul and body. The author, therefore, rejects the primary doctrines of the soul held by Pythagoras and Plato, including their doctrines on its transmigration. To have accepted these doctrines would have negated the author’s arguments for the necessity of the resurrection. Indeed, if the body and soul of man are bound together in such an intimate union, their separation would necessarily destroy the man as he is known; and thus, even if a reasonable purpose could be found for reincarnation, it could not be held due to this separation.

The following extracts demonstrate the arguments that have been presented above. Many of these arguments are used by the other Church fathers to support these and similar conclusions regarding the inimitable truth of the resurrection.

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