|Justin Martyr, First Apology 50.12, 51.4-5|
|W. B. Henry|
Justin is claimed to be: an early Christian apologist, and is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century.
He is still quoted frequently in theological scholarship. My doubting his historicity was a novel idea and worrisome to the apologists. Imagine their delight:
"In the latest issue of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri series (LXXVIII, Egyptian Exploration Society, 2012), W. B. Henry offers an edition of P.Oxy. 5129 (Justin Martyr's First Apology), which is the earliest Greek manuscript of any text of Justin Martyr. According to Henry, "[t]his is the first published ancient copy of a work of Justin Martyr. The text is otherwise known only from the unreliable manuscript A (Parisinus graecus 450, of 1364)." Henry dates the hand to the 4th century CE, citing P.Oxy. 2699 and P.Herm. 5 as comparanda. This is, therefore, an incredible discovery, since P.Oxy. 5129 predates the earliest manuscript of Justin by a millennium! There are a few variants in the fragment (e.g., omission of εντυχειν in 50.12, υμων instead of ημων in 51.4) that make the text important for text-critical study of Justin's First Apology.
"The manuscript is written on parchment in an elegant hand of the "Severe" type. Unfortunately, only six, partial lines have been preserved (3 lines on hair, 3 lines on flesh), and the flesh side is particularly sparse. Henry collates the text with the critical edition of D. Minns and P. Parvis (2009). For interested readers, I reproduce Henry's transcription of the text of P.Oxy. 5129 below, alongside my own translation (with brackets signifying reconstructions), which is followed by a snapshot of the hair side of the fragment."These are what the fragment contains (in English):
"...the prophecies in...foretold as coming to pass, having...and...power..."Enough for a scholar to identify it as the work of Justin, but even so, centuries late.
"...the...who kindly. And he...will...your sins.
On account of this, he..."
The dating is by palaeography, the half-baked, pseudo-science used for all manuscripts claimed as Christian.
To me, all this is mildly interesting, but advances the Christian cause not a jot. Maybe this is a copy of a work by Justin, but we know nothing to support that. Nothing, And is Justin a Christian? No, of course not: if he is historical - and that is doubtful - then he is something else. Christianity was not yet born in that period.