[B-Greek] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. XLVIII, §1

James Ernest j.d.ernest at bc.edu
Mon Aug 2 23:43:18 EDT 2010

Reference is Dialogue with Trypo 48, and Carl's translation ("Your assertion
that this Christ, since he is God, existed before all the ages ... " ) is
(for all who have been holding their breath for two days) . . . right.

Καὶ ὁ Τρύφων· Καὶ περὶ τούτων ὅσα φρονεῖς ἀκηκόαμεν͵ εἶπεν. ἀναλαβὼν οὖν τὸν
λόγον͵ ὅθεν ἐπαύσω͵ πέραινε· παράδοξός τις γάρ ποτε καὶ μὴ δυνάμενος ὅλως
ἀποδειχθῆναι δοκεῖ μοι εἶναι· τὸ γὰρ λέγειν σε προϋπάρχειν θεὸν ὄντα πρὸ
αἰώνων τοῦτον τὸν Χριστόν͵ εἶτα καὶ γεννηθῆναι ἄνθρωπον γενόμενον ὑπομεῖναι͵
καὶ ὅτι οὐκ ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἀνθρώπου͵ οὐ μόνον παράδοξον δοκεῖ μοι εἶναι ἀλλὰ
καὶ μωρόν.

What Trypho is finding moronic is the assertion that this "Christus"
preexisted eternally as god and then endured being born as a human.

Rodriguo suggests translating "a god," but I don't think so (unless we're
going to assume that Trypho had misunderstood Justin, but I see no reason in
the text to assume that). Of course Justin didn't have the math problem
fully sorted out at all, but he seems to have been quite clear both that
there is only one god (Dial. 11) and that there is another who is and is
called lord and god. (Another what? I don't think he says, Dial. 56--he only
notes that he is also called AGGELOS as a functional label.) In cases like
this (and of course John 1:1), resolving the anarthrous Greek QEOS into
English "a god" crashes out of the pregnant, ambiguous Greek into an
unambiguous English formulation that neither John or Justin would admit at
all. I'll paste in the context, which I think shows that it's misleading to
quote from Dial. 56 only the snippet ALLOS QEOS KAI KURIOS, which seems to
suggest that Justin speaks of "another lord and god."

Κἀγὼ πάλιν· Ἃ λέγω πειράσομαι ὑμᾶς πεῖσαι͵ νοήσαντας τὰς γραφάς͵ ὅτι ἐστὶ
καὶ λέγεται θεὸς καὶ κύριος ἕτερος ὑπὸ τὸν ποιητὴν τῶν ὅλων͵ ὃς καὶ ἄγγελος
καλεῖται͵ διὰ τὸ ἀγγέλλειν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ὅσαπερ βούλεται αὐτοῖς ἀγγεῖλαι ὁ
τῶν ὅλων ποιητής͵ ὑπὲρ ὃν ἄλλος θεὸς οὐκ ἔστι.

Note that the sentence closes with another plain statement that there is no
other god than the maker of the universe.  As Barry noted, context is king,
and in the context of John or Justin, saying there is another who is god is
simply not equivalent to saying there is "another god" in the way that most
speakers of English would understand that phrase.

James Ernest

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