Saint Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, was the most important of the second-century apologist Fathers. The word “apologist” designates those ancient Christian writers who set out to defend the new religion from the weighty accusations of both pagans and Jews and to spread the Christian doctrine in terms suited to the culture of their time. Thus, the apologists had a twofold concern: that most properly called “apologetic”, to defend the newborn Christianity (apologhia in Greek means, precisely, “defense”), and the pro-positive, “missionary” concern, to explain the content of the faith in a language and on a wavelength comprehensible to their contemporaries.
Justin was born in about the year 100 near ancient Shechem, Samaria, in the Holy Land; he spent a long time seeking the truth, moving through the various schools of the Greek philosophical tradition. Finally, as he himself recounts in the first chapters of his Dialogue with Tryphon, a mysterious figure, an old man he met on the seashore, initially led him into a crisis by showing him that it is impossible for the human being to satisfy his aspiration to the divine solely with his own forces. He then pointed out to him the ancient prophets as the people to whom to turn in order to find the way to God and “true philosophy”. In taking his leave, the old man urged him to pray that the gates of light would be opened to him. The story foretells the crucial episode in Justin’s life: at the end of a long philosophical journey, a quest for the truth, he arrived at the Christian faith. He founded a school in Rome where, free of charge, he initiated students into the new religion, considered as the true philosophy. Indeed, in it he had found the truth and, hence, the art of living virtuously. For this reason he was reported and beheaded in about 165 during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor to whom Justin had actually addressed one of his Apologia.
These—the two Apologies and the Dialogue with the Hebrew, Tryphon—are his only surviving works. In them, Justin intends above all to illustrate the divine project of creation and salvation, which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Logos (the "Word," see John 1:1), that is, the eternal Word, eternal Reason, creative Reason. Every person as a rational being shares in the Logos, carrying within himself a “seed”, and can perceive glimmers of the truth. Thus, the same Logos who revealed himself as a prophetic figure to the Hebrews of the ancient Law also manifested himself partially, in “seeds of truth”, in Greek philosophy. Now, Justin concludes, since Christianity is the historical and personal manifestation of the Logos in his totality, it follows that “whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians” (Second Apology of Saint Justin Martyr 13, 4). In this way, although Justin disputed Greek philosophy and its