Wisdom and Justin Martyr

When I was young and innocent,
I sought wisdom.
She came in her beauty
and until the end I will cultivate her.
Sirach 51, 13-14

Philosophers are, etymologically, lovers of wisdom.

Saint Justin Martyr was a philosopher who searched for wisdom in the philosophies of his day. He found all philosophy, except Plato, inadequate. Since I wrote my dissertation on spiritedness in Plato’s Republic, I feel a certain connection with Justin.

But he did not stop with Plato, but, inspired by an old man he encountered, he embraced Christ and Christianity – the true philosophy.

However, he did not turn his back completely on Plato and other philosophers. He recognized that one can find the seeds of the Word of God even in pagans. God gives all the opportunity to recognize Wisdom, even if only partially.

He also saw that the life of the followers of Christ has to be different. As he wrote in his First Apology:

Those who once rejoiced in fornication now delight in continence alone; . . . we who once took pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need; we who hated and killed one another and would not associate with people of different tribes because of [their different] customs, now after the manifestation of Christ live together and pray for our enemies and try to persuade those who unjustly hate us, so that they, living according to the fair commands of Christ, may share with us the good hope of receiving the same things [that we will] from God, the master of all.

We are blessed with a deeper Wisdom that calls us to be different – because Christ Jesus offers us something different: a way of life and love that move us to open ourselves to all the world.

May we always seek and cultivate that Wisdom, so needed in our world today.


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