Wednesday, March 29, 2023

But without faith, if's just nonsense

Were Justin to have worried that he missed the chance to hear the prophets, the old man would have assuaged his worry immediately: “Their writings are still extant," he tells Justin. And “whoever reads them will profit greatly in his knowledge of the beginning and end, provided that he has believed in them” (Dial. 7.2, emphasis added). With this last phrase, the old man complicates the kind of reading Justin must do if he is to know the truth of which the prophets speak. While the prophets did provide a particular kind of testimony to the truth of their words—the events of which they foretold are happening even now, says the old man, and they performed miracles—more fundamentally their reliability is “beyond proof” (Dial. 7.2). The reader must not look to the prophets to provide knockdown arguments to win his trust, the old man implies, but must instead trust them ahead of time, as it were, have a basic faith in their reception and communication of the truth. Only in this way will Justin understand the writings. “Above all,” says the Christian to Justin, teaching him how to read, “beseech God to open to you the gates of light, for no one can perceive or understand these truths unless he has been enlightened by God and his Christ” (Dial. 7.3).—One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions, 157

<idle musing>
Indeed! And nothing has changed in the last two thousand years. We still need to come in faith in order to understand. If not, then it all appears as foolishness, just as it did back in the first and second centuries.
</idle musing>

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