False quotes in Catholic Answers articles ? What did Saint Justin Martyr really say?

Hello everyone. I’m having a huge problem with a quotation that appears here and there on the Internet, in defense of the salvation outside the Church doctrine.

It’s from Saint Justin Martyr’s First Apology, chapter 46. The text, as quoted by several sources, including an article on Catholic Answers ( see here catholic.com/tracts/salvation-outside-the-church ), reads like this:*

If some should accuse us as if we held that people born before the time of Christ were not accountable to God for their actions, we shall anticipate and answer such a difficulty. We have been taught that Christ is the first-begotten of God, and we have declared him to be the Logos of which all mankind partakes. Those, therefore, who lived according to reason (logos) were really Christians, even though they were thought to be atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus and other like them… So also, those who lived before Christ but did not live according to reason were wicked men, and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who did live according to reason. **Whereas those who lived then, or who live now, according to reason are Christians. Such as these can be confident and unafraid. **… Christ… was and is the Logos who is in everyone and foretold through the prophets the things that were to come, and taught these things in person after becoming like to us in feeling. *

The problem is that none of the sources where the full text of the First Apology is presented have the highlighted text from the above. Every source, including newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm, reads like this:*

But lest some should, without reason, and for the perversion of what we teach, maintain that we say that Christ was born one hundred and fifty years ago under Cyrenius, and subsequently, in the time of Pontius Pilate, taught what we say He taught; and should cry out against us as though all men who were born before Him were irresponsible — let us anticipate and solve the difficulty. We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them; and among the barbarians, Abraham, and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others whose actions and names we now decline to recount, because we know it would be tedious. So that even they who lived before Christ, and lived without reason, were wicked and hostile to Christ, and slew those who lived reasonably. But who, through the power of the Word, according to the will of God the Father and Lord of all, He was born of a virgin as a man, and was named Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, an intelligent man will be able to comprehend from what has been already so largely said. And we, since the proof of this subject is less needful now, will pass for the present to the proof of those things which are urgent.*

So, which version is correct ?

Its quite hard to say really. Because some sites do have that sentence such as the following:

staycatholic.com/ecf_salvation_outside_the_church.htm

catholicbasictraining.com/apologetics/coursetexts/cf4l.htm

Some sites do not have it such as:

ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.ii.xlvi.html

Now lets suppose that for once the sentence was “added”.
If you read Justin’s Apology you will come out with the conclusion that indeed those who lived according to reason (logos) were just men and therefore of Christ.

I’m not an expert in patristics, so I cannot really comment on the accuracy of the texts in question. I would just say that, generally speaking, there can be several different explanations for such discrepancies.

For many of these ancient texts, we do not have the original copies. Sometimes we just have fragments and some fragments may have things that other fragments do not. So it may be a matter of the opinion of whatever scholar was putting together a particular book for publication as to which ancient copy is the more reliable one.

There are also translation issues where different people translate the same original words in different ways.

Of course, in the age of the internet, some people embellish and make stuff up, too. I would be extremely skeptical that Catholic Answers or New Advent would engage in such willful deception.

I’ve never really come across a situation where a particular Christian doctrine rises or falls based on some textual gloss – even in Scripture. So I never get too worked up over these things. :o

Here is chapter 46 of the First Apology from the series, Ancient Christian Writers. The translator is Leslie William Barnard, published by Paulist Press, New York, 1997.

QUOTE

But lest some, reasoning absurdly, with a view to refuting what we teach, should maintain that we say that Christ was born a hundred and fifty years ago under Cyrenius, and somewhat later, under Pontius Pilate, taught what we say He taught, and should object as through all people who were born before Him were not accountable – let us anticipate and solve the difficulty. We have been taught that Christ is the First-born of God, and we have suggested above that He is the logos of whom every race of men and women were partakers. And they who lived with the logos are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and people like them; and among the barbarians, Abraham, and Ananias, and Asarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others whose actions and names we now decline to recount, because we know it would be tedious. So that even they who lived before Christ, and lived without logos, were wicked and hostile to Christ, and slew those who lived with the logos. But for what reason He, through the power of logos and according to the will of God the Father and Lord of All, was born a virgin as a man, and was named Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, an intelligent person will be able to coprehend from what has been already so largely said. And we, since the argument concerned with this point is less needful now, will pass for the present to the demonstration of those things which are urgent.
END QUOTE

The Introduction states: “In a remarkable passage (46), Justin replies to the objection that since Christ came so late in time, those who lived before His coming were not accountable. Quite the oposite – the divine logos had been in the world since the beginning and those who lived according to reason, whatever their race, were really Christians though they have been thought atheists, so among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and among the barbarians and many others. On the other hand, those who lived irrationally were the enemies of Christ and so wicked. From all these ‘fulfilled’ predictions, the Christian belief in Christ as the First-born of God and the universal Judge of humankind is totally justified.”

I don’t understand what 46 has to do with Nulla Salus Extra Ecclesiam.

Perhaps the variation is due to differences in ancient manuscripts? Or translators? We have only to look at the many translations of the Scriptures to recognize that there are variations in the text. We may ask, what did Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John really say?

I can only give a general and quick response, but in some patristic works we have more than one version which may include or omit sentences found in other versions. Which version is authentic is a matter of scholarly debate. This is also the case with biblical manuscripts.

That quote is not in the link you supplied. Can you please provide a link to the source of your quote " *If some should accuse us as if we held that people born before the time of Christ were not accountable to God for their actions, we shall anticipate and answer such a difficulty. We have been taught that Christ is the first-begotten of God, and we have declared him to be the Logos of which all mankind partakes. Those, therefore, who lived according to reason (logos) were really Christians, even though they were thought to be atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus and other like them… So also, those who lived before Christ but did not live according to reason were wicked men, and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who did live according to reason. **Whereas those who lived then, or who live now, according to reason are Christians. Such as these can be confident and unafraid. *… Christ… was and is the Logos who is in everyone and foretold through the prophets the things that were to come, and taught these things in person after becoming like to us in feeling." ? Thank you.

*That quote is not in the link you supplied. Can you please provide a link to the source of your quote *

Here is the original source:

dailycatholic.org/issue/08Nov/nov1str.htm

In the meantime, I have found other sources that seem to verify that the text quoted in the above link is correct:

archive.org/stream/firstapologyofju00just/firstapologyofju00just_djvu.txt

LXI. But lest men of perverse minds for the staggering of
Christian converts should object, that we ourselves allow Christ
not to have been born above an hundred and fifty years, in the
time of Cyrenius, and that He broached His doctrine under
Pontius Pilate ; and from hence cry out that all mankind
before the birth of Christ must consequently have been inno-
cent, I shall by way of prevention solve this doubt. One
article of our faith then is, that Christ is the First-begotten of
God, and we have already proved Him to be the very Logos,
or universal Reason, of Which mankind are all partakers ; and
therefore those who live by reason are in some sort Christians, notwithstanding they may pass with you for atheists. Such
among the Greeks were Socrates and Heraclitus, and the like ;
and such among the barbarians were Abraham, and Ananias,
and Azarias, and Misael, and Ehas, and many others, whose
actions, nay, whose very names, I know, would be tedious to
relate, and therefore shall pass them over ; so, on the other
side, those who have lived in defiance of reason, were un-
christian, and enemies to the Logos, and such as lived
according to Him; but they who make reason the rule of
their actions are Christians, men of undaunted courage and
untroubled consciences, for whose sake the Logos, by the will
of God, the Father and Lord of all, was by the very power of
Himself made man in the womb of a virgin, and was named Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose again from the
dead, and went again into heaven ; all which I have proved at
large, and is very intelligible to any person of honest under-
standing. And because enough has been said upon this
head, I shall proceed to others, which at present seem more
necessary.

I also checked an edition in my own tongue, translated from Greek, and it supports the same conclusion, that the version on newadvent.org is missing a full sentence.

I know that the Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent was transcribed from the original source material. Perhaps the writings of the Church Fathers were done the same way. If that’s the case, it’s certainly possible that a sentence was omitted inadvertently. The OP could always try contacting their webmaster (Kevin Knight) and asking him about it.

What has this paragraph to do with Nulla Solus Extra Ecclesiam, as indicated in the OP? Thanks.

Ok thanks. I’m having a little trouble following your logic. Can you please restate your case in hypothesis, evidence and conclusion form to help us who are a little slow of understanding. Thanks.

You are missing the bigger picture of going out and doing good work then nitpicking on research and learning. If you were out doing good in the world you wouldn’t be worried about a little thing like this.

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