Justin & Justin: Dialogue with Trypho I – X
Justin’s longest work was the account of a conversation he had with a Jewish man named Trypho. Trypho had fled Israel shortly before the Roman occupation and war. He was currently living in Corinth and approached Justin because of his clothes. In the ancient Greek culture it was customary for a philosopher to wear a certain gown. Justin, in the First Apology, explained how he continued to wear this garb after his conversion. It appeared to be just the conversation starter that Trypho needed.
Justin begins to answer Trypho’s question about God by describing his training. Justin had studied under a Stoic, a Peripatetic (the walking philosophers), interviewed with a Pythagorean (who rejected him for not having a broad enough knowledge of music, astronomy, and geometry), and finally a Platonist.
He then tells Trypho a story of a time he was spending some time alone in a field near the see. As he sat there alone, he was approached by an old man. He and the old man got into a conversation, which Justin recounts to Trypho. The man spends a great deal of time politely poking wholes in Justin’s philosophy. Eventually Justin gets to the point that he says, “what, should no man ever employ a teacher?”. The old man had him. He responded to Justin’s despair by pointing to something greater. The old man goes on to explain that the prophets of old spoke by the Holy Spirit to point to Christ and his coming. The old man leaves Justin to ponder these things and left. Justin said he never saw the man again.
Justin goes on to explain to Trypho how something changed in him as the Old man spoke to him. He felt like there was a fire in his chest. He briefly tells of his conversion, which causes Trypho and his friends to laugh. They mock Justin’s belief in the Messiah of God.
Justin and Trypho dismiss the rowdy friends and Justin lays out many, if not all of the objections to Christianity and asks Trypho which of them he agrees with. Trypho tells Justin that he has read the Gospels and that He has two problems with Christians: they do not keep the Law of the Old Testament and they don’t live up to the lofty expectations of the Gospels.
I will have to say, that of all of Justin’s writings so far, this has been the most engaging and easiest to understand. I think that the most significant thing is the way the old man dealt with Justin. He simply backed Justin into a corner where he was forced to admit that he didn’t know everything. Then he pointed to the scriptures. This seems like a much more sensible apologetic than many Christians employ today.
If you have the time, I would love for you to read Justin’s dialogue with Trypho (the first 4 chapters) and answer this question: Was Justin a proto-presuppositionalist?