f The Wittenberg Door: Justin Martyr: Defender of the "True Philosophy

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Justin Martyr: Defender of the "True Philosophy

I fell in love with the prophets and these men who had loved Christ; I reflected on all their words and found that this philosophy alone was true and profitable.

The Christian History & Biography Web site has a brief but fascinating biography of Justin Martyr. One of the most interesting parts of the article is the first-hand description of a second-century church service:

On the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a given city or rural district. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits. Then when the reader ceases, the president in a discourse admonishes and urges the imitation of these good things. Next we all rise together and send up prayers.

When we cease from our prayer, bread is presented and wine and water. The president in the same manner sends up prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people sing out their assent, saying the 'Amen.' A distribution and participation of the elements for which thanks have been given is made to each person, and to those who are not present they are sent by the deacons.

Those who have means and are willing, each according to his own choice, gives what he wills, and what is collected is deposited with the president. He provides for the orphans and widows, those who are in need on account of sickness or some other cause, those who are in bonds, strangers who are sojourning, and in a word he becomes the protector of all who are in need.

You can read the entire article here.

Oldest Church Discovered

And speaking of the early church, archaeologists believe they’ve found the site of a church dating back to between 33 to 70 AD, which would make it the oldest yet discovered:

If tests confirm that it dates back to between 33 AD to 70 AD, as the archaeologists claim, it would make it the earliest known place of Christian worship by around two hundred years.

According to a report in the Jordan Times newspaper, a very early underground church was found beneath the ancient Saint Georgeous Church, which itself dates back to 230 AD, in Rihab, northern Jordan near the Syrian border.

"We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD," Abdul Qader al-Husan, head of Jordan's Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, said.

"We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians – the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ."

A mosaic found in the church describes these Christians as "the 70 beloved by God and Divine". Mr Husan said they believed to have fled persecution in Jerusalem and founded churches in northern Jordan.

He cited historical sources which suggest they both lived and practised religious rituals in the underground church and only left it after Christianity was embraced by Roman rulers in the fourth century AD.

You can read the entire article here.

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