Justin's debate with Crescens the Stoic

Runar M. Thorsteinsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Justin Martyr probably wrote his Second Apology as a private petition (libellus) to the Roman authorities, conveying his defence on behalf of oppressed Christians. But that does not explain the heavily theological/philosophical content of chapters 4-13, including Justin's detailed arguments against Stoic cosmo-theology in these chapters. The 2 Apology also contains a reference to a previous public debate between Justin himself and a philosopher called Crescens, whom Justin calls a "Cynic," and who has therefore been so identified ever since. The present essay argues that the content of Justin's philosophical/theological discourse in 2 Apology 4-13 is precisely based on his previous encounter with Crescens. Moreover, it is argued that Crescens was not a Cynic. Rather, he was a Stoic philosopher, thus belonging to one of the two most prominent philosophical schools of the time-the other being (Middle) Platonism. This conclusion places Justin, a former Platonist, at the heart of the ongoing debates among the philosophical schools, the foremost of which, according to Justin, was Christianity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-478
Number of pages28
JournalZeitschrift fur Antikes Christentum
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


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