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Kirchengeschichte: Alte Kirche, Christliche Archäologie


Sanchez, Sylvain Jean Gabriel


Justin Apologiste Chrétien. Travaux. Sur le Dialogue avec Tryphon de Justin Martyr.


Paris: Gabalda 2000. 301 S. gr.8 = Cahiers de la Revue Biblique, 50. Kart. Euro 43,00. ISBN 2-85021-128-1.


Oskar Skarsaune

The theme of this book is clearly stated in its main title, while the subtitle is somewhat misleading. The book does not contain studies on Justin's Dialogue with Trypho, but, apart from the first one, studies on Justin the Apologist, mainly based on texts in Justin's Apologies and Dialogue chs. 1-9.

The first study, chapter 1, is according to its title a historiographic review of studies on the relation between Christianity and Judaism in Justin's Dialogue. In reality, it is something different. It contains a broad review of the origins and early flourishing of Jewish studies in France, inspired by the early Wissenschaft des Judentums in Germany. As such, this review is useful and of considerable interest, but not as an introduction to recent studies on Justin's Dialogue. Only cursory mention is made of some older studies and a single recent one, as far as Judaism and Christianity in Justin's Dialogue are concerned. Brief mention is made of Goldfahn's classic study (1873) of parallels between Justin's reports on Jewish exegesis of Scripture and rabbinic exegesis of the same passages. Moritz Friedländer's important study from 1878 (Patristische und Talmudische Studien, Wien: Alfred Hölder) is overlooked. Even more glaring is the lack of any treatment of Erwin R. Goodenough's classic on Early Christianity and Jewish influences in Justin from 1923. The simple explanation seems to be that S. works on the assumption that everything important in this field happened in Germany or France (Goodenough's study was published in Jena, by the way, and should have been included in any case). Next, S. devotes some pages to reviews of general studies of the relationship between Judasim and Christianity in antiquity, and what these studies might happen to say concerning Justin's Dialogue: Marcel Simon's Verus Israel (1948), Robert Wilde's dissertation from 1949, Gregory Dix' Jew and Greek (1953), and Leonhardt (sic! - should be Leonhard) Goppelt's Christentum und Judentum (1954). All these are interesting studies, but their significance as studies on Justin's Dialogue is limited. The same is true concerning Heinz Schreckenberg's Adversus-Judaeos-Texte vol. 1 (1982), and R. S. MacLennan's Early Christian Texts on Jews and Judaism (1990). The great number of recent studies explicitly devoted to Justin's Dialogue are mostly lacking or mentioned only by their titles. It is as if S. is largely unaware of how much has been done in this field during the last forty or so years.

Chapters 2-4 all treat a common theme: Justin as an apologist. Chapter 2 works through this theme by studying Justin's own conversion. S. here approaches his theme the same way as in the following chapters: He reviews earlier scholarship, and makes the different scholars dialogue with each other. He sides with those whom he finds most convincing, and sometimes adds viewpoints or nuances of his own, based on close reading of some of the most frequently discussed passages in Justin. In this way, S.'s study is mostly based on reviews of and discussion with secondary literature, rarely on new and independent readings of the primary sources. As a rule, I find S.'s judgements to be reasonable and judicious, but I somehow miss a more solid foundation for them in intensive work with Justin's own texts.

Chapter 3, "L'apologetique justinienne", is in many ways an excellent review of its theme. Sub-chapter III,2, "Justin et la Bible" (157-63), once more demonstrates that S. has not worked intensively with chapters 10-141 of Justin's Dialogue, nor with most of the relevant secondary literature.

Chapter 4, "Philosophie et christianisme", covers much the same ground as chapter 3, which results in some unnecessary overlaps between these two chapters. S. here also forms his own conclusions in a reasoned dialogue with previous scholarship rather than in new readings of Justin's texts. Those familiar with the seminal studies of Holte, Hyldahl, van Winden, Joly, Daniélou, Chadwick, and others, will not find much absolutely new here, but much reasoned and well balanced weighing of different points of view.

The last part of the book is a bibliography 32 pages long. Such are always welcome, given the enormous amount of studies that keep being published on Justin. The usefulness of this bibliography is somewhat diminished, however, by some curious errors and by the all too detailed categorization employed. The entries are listed under 24 different headings and subheadings, and entries are often misplaced under the wrong heading. One sometimes suspects the author of only listing by title, and not by knowledge of the contents of the different studies. To give just one example: the last category listed is "Les travaux de la critique". Here one finds: "Moritz Friedländer, Justins Dialog mit Trypho, being the third study, Patristische und talmudische Studien, Vienne, 1878, p. 136-152". S. probably took this from Goodenough's extensive bibliography, which also has "being the third study". Had he got hold of a copy of Friedländer's study and looked into it, he would have realized that the book should be classified as belonging to his category "2 - influence juive (rabbinique)", and given the correct reference, which is: "Moritz Friedländer, Justins Dialog mit dem Juden Tryphon, in idem, Patristische und talmudische Studien, Wien: Alfred Hölder, 1878; repr. Westmead: Gregg International Publishers, 1972, pp. 80-137".

In any case 24 different categories are far too much; many titles are bound to belong to more than one category, and it is only by accident one chances upon the right one, when looking for a certain title or author.

Having said this by way of criticism, it should be added that as an introduction to old and new scholarship on Justin the Apologist, this is a handy volume.