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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol I:
JUSTIN MARTYR: Chapter V.—Christians charged with...

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.—Christians charged with atheism.

Why, then, should this be? In our case, who pledge ourselves to do no wickedness, nor to hold these atheistic opinions, you do not examine the charges made against us; but, yielding to unreasoning passion, and to the instigation of evil demons, you punish us without consideration or judgment. For the truth shall be spoken; since of old these evil demons, effecting apparitions of themselves, both defiled women and corrupted boys, and showed such fearful sights to men, that those who did not use their reason in judging of the actions that were done, were struck with terror; and being carried away by fear, and not knowing that these were demons, they called them gods, and gave to each the name which each of the demons chose for himself. 1773 And when Socrates endeavoured, by true reason and examination, to bring these things to light, and deliver men from the demons, then the demons themselves, by means of men who rejoiced in iniquity, compassed his death, as an atheist and a profane person, on the charge that “he was introducing new divinities;” and in our case they display a similar activity. For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ; and in obedience to Him, we not only deny that they who did such things as these are gods, 1774 but assert that they are wicked and impious demons, 1775 whose actions will not bear comparison with those even of men desirous of virtue.


Footnotes

164:1773

[1 Cor. x. 20. Milton’s admirable economy in working this truth into his great poem (i. 378) affords a sublime exposition of the mind of the Fathers on the origin of mythologies.]

164:1774

The word δαίμων means in Greek a god, but the Christians used the word to signify an evil spirit. Justin uses the same word here for god and demon. The connection which Justin and other Christian writers supposed to exist between evil spirits and the gods of the heathens will be apparent from Justin’s own statements. The word διάβολος, devil, is not applied to these demons. There is but one devil, but many demons.

164:1775

The word δαίμων means in Greek a god, but the Christians used the word to signify an evil spirit. Justin uses the same word here for god and demon. The connection which Justin and other Christian writers supposed to exist between evil spirits and the gods of the heathens will be apparent from Justin’s own statements. The word διάβολος, devil, is not applied to these demons. There is but one devil, but many demons.


Next: Chapter VI.—Charge of atheism...

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