Posts Tagged Justin Martyr

The Christ of His Christ

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, "Anna Presenting Her Son Samuel to the Priest Eli"

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, “Anna Presenting Her Son Samuel to the Priest Eli” (c. 1665; photo credit: Wikipedia)

In due order within The City of God’s longer discussion of Hannah’s prayer at Samuel’s dedication,1 Augustine arrives at the clause, “[a]nd [he] shall exalt the horn of His Christ” (1 Sam 2:10). Here, Augustine ponders:

How shall Christ exalt the horn of His Christ? For He of whom it was said above, “The Lord hath ascended into the heavens,” [1 Sam 2:10 LXX; 4QSama col. 2, line 33] meaning the Lord Christ, Himself, as it is said here, “shall exalt the horn of His Christ.” Who, therefore, is the Christ of His Christ? Does it mean that He shall exalt the horn of each one of His believing people, as [Hannah] says in the beginning of this hymn, “Mine horn is exalted in my God?” [1 Sam 2:1 LXX, Vg.] For we can rightly call all those christs who are anointed with His chrism, forasmuch as the whole body with its head is one Christ.2

Although Augustine does not appear to cite 1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17 in developing his interpretation of Hannah’s prayer, these texts may well be reading 1 Sam 2:10 [LXX; 4QSama col. 2, line 33] along a similar, Christological trajectory.3 Boasting is to be in Jesus alone, who has ascended into heaven and with whom the church is united as a “collective person[—as] ‘Christ existing as church-community.’”4


1. Augustine, Civ., 17.4 (NPNF1, 2:339–43).

2. Augustine, Civ., 17.4 (NPNF1, 2:343); cf., e.g., 1 Cor 6:14–17; 12:27; 1 John 2:20, 27; Justin, Dial., 86.

3. See J. David Stark, “Rewriting Prophets in the Corinthian Correspondence: A Window on Paul’s Hermeneutic,” BBR 22, no. 2 (2012): 236–38; J. Ross Wagner, “‘Not Beyond the Things Which Are Written’: A Call to Boast Only in the Lord (1 Cor 4.6),” NTS 44, no. 2 (1998): 283–86, for discussion.

4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church (ed. Clifford J. Green and Joachim von Soosten; trans. Reinhard Kraus and Nancy Lukens; Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works 1; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009), 141; cf. Eph 1:15–23; 2:4–7; N. T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1991), 41–55.

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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The Anointed One

von Carolsfeld, Jésus est oint à Béthanie

Julius von Carolsfeld, Jésus est oint à Béthanie¤

In his Dialog with Trypho, 86, Justin Martyr suggests that οἱ βασελεῖς πάντες καὶ οἱ χριστοὶ ἀπὸ τούτου μετέσχον καὶ βασιλεῖς καλεῖσθαι καὶ χριστοί (all the kings and messiahs had, by this one [= Messiah Jesus], a share in being called both kings and messiahs [i.e., anointed ones]). Yet, Matt 26:6–13 (cf. Mark 14:3–9; Lk 7:37–39John 12:1–8) seems to ask its readers to connect Jesus to messiahship via a rather surprising route—namely, by an unnamed female character (France, Matthew, 361; Keener, Matthew, 618; Thiemann, “The Unnamed Woman,” ThTo 44.2 [1987]: 183–86; cf. John 12:1–8; Barrett, John, 2nd ed., 409; Gundry, Matthew, 522; Kõstenberger, Theology, 232–32; Lightfoot, Commentary, 2:341; Platt, “Ministry,” ThTo 32.1 [1977]: 30–32). Irrespective of whether this unnamed woman understands the full significance of her action, including how Jesus connects it to his upcoming burial (Matt 26:12),* Jesus’ response to the disciples’ objection (Matt 26:8–13) clearly vindicates the woman’s actions also in connection with the proclamation of τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦτο ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ (Matt 26:13; this gospel in the whole world; Coakley, “The Anointing at Bethany,” JBL 107.2 [1988]: 243, 249, 255; Ford, “Matthew 26:6–13,” Int 59.4 [2005]: 401; Thiemann, “The Unnamed Woman,” ThTo 44.2 [1987]: 183–86; cf. Matt 24:14; 28:18–20). Jesus thus sets the woman’s memorial in the context of her fitting, if perhaps dimly anticipatory, recognition of his soon-coming death and all of the messianic significance with which he himself viewed that sacrifice (Matt 16:13–28; Ephraim, On Our Lord, 47 [NPNF2 13:326–27]; Keener, Matthew, 618).


* I.e., even in the event that, from the woman’s perspective, πρὸς τὸ ἐνταφιάσαι με (Matt 26:12; toward my preparation for burial) indicates only the result of her action as Jesus interprets it and not also her purpose, to whatever extent, in the action when she performed it (BDF, §402.5; Wallace, Greek Grammar, 611).

¤ In relation to Matthew’s description of the scene, von Carolsfeld’s woodcut contains at least the adaptation from Jesus’ reclining at table (Matt 26:7; cf. Mark 14:3) to his sitting on a stool.

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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My Angel Joshua

Gustave Dore, "The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan"

Gustave Dore, "The Children of Israel Crossing the Jordan" (Image via Wikipedia)

Within the narrative of Exodus, identifying the referent of the term מלאך (angel, messenger) in Exod 23:20 is somewhat nettlesome (Ausloos, “The ‘Angel of YHWH,'” VT 58, no. 1 [2008]: 7–10; Enns, Exodus, 473–74), but one reasonable reading is to understand this term as a reference to Joshua (Augustine, Faust., 16.19 [NPNF1 4:226]; Justin, Dial., 75 [ANF 1:236]; Tertullian, Adv. Jud., 9 [ANF 3:163]; Tertullian, Marc., 3.16 [ANF 3:335]; see also Ausloos, “The ‘Angel of YHWH,'” 9n43; cf. Gowan, Theology in Exodus, 227–28; Stuart, Exodus, 542–43). Yet, this Joshua does not pardon sins because the name of the God of Abraham is only in him (Exod 23:21; i.e., he acknowledges this God’s renown; cf. 1 Kgs 5:11 [Eng.: 4:31]; see also Mal 1:11Ps 8:2 [Eng.: v. 1]1 Chron 14:17; 2 Chron 20:9). Rather, such forgiveness comes by him who has received this God’s name as his own (Mark 2:1–12; Luke 5:17–26; John 17:11–12; Phil 2:9–11; cf. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 272–74, 631–45) and in whom Abraham’s offspring inherit not one region only by conquest (Exod 23:24, 31) but the whole world by meekness and rest (Matt 5:5; Rom 4:13; Heb 4:8–10; see also Pao and Schnabel, “Luke,” 300–3).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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