Justin Martyr and the “Western” Text

As the 2015 SBL Annual Meeting approaches, I wanted to post a slightly revised version of the paper I presented at the 2014 meeting, “Justin Martyr: An Early ‘Western’ Witness to the Synoptic Gospels?” The topic was inspired by my attempt to validate the claim that Justin’s biblical citations represent the so-called “Western” text (see the paper for citations). It is well-known that Justin’s biblical citations tend to be highly adapted, at least in relation to our canonical texts. It turns out that some of the more frequently-cited “Western” readings in Justin occur in these highly-adapted texts, three of which are examined in the paper. My observation in the present paper is that, when Justin’s form of citation is compared with the presumed “Western” form as found in D and the Old Latin Gospels, Justin’s form appears to be the more primitive on internal grounds. Justin’s form also tends to appear in the African Old Latin tradition, often presumed to be earlier than the European tradition, which attests the form found in D (however, this historical aspect requires further research). It seems we must allow for greater ambiguity in the direction of influence than is usually acknowledged in assertions that Justin used a “Western” text.

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