Tampering with Justin Martyr on the Trinity
Study Notes on Justin Martyr: First Apology
An interesting insight into the early church views on any Deity for Jesus in a Godhead comes from reading Justin Martyr ca. 165 AD in First Apology who starts by saying Jesus "is the son of the True God, and therefore hold Him second in order, and the Prophetic Spirit the third." (See archives.org link at 17; see page below and press forward button to see page 17.) This begins clearly by distinguishing Jesus from the True God, and holds Him in second honor or rank.
However, the editor's footnote on page 17 says this is the "sacred Trinity in their order," but the editor is wrong. It shows instead a belief in (a) inequality of Jesus to the Father; (b) Justin distinguishes Jesus from the True God; and (c) comparable to Jewish beliefs, regards the Holy Spirit as a weaker manifestation of God and not His full presence ... an influence from Gid which spoke to the prophets, unlike the voice that spoke aloud to all at Mt. Sinai.
This is clear on page 18, as Justin speaks of the "only UNbegotten God" operating through "his Son, Jesus Christ." We now commit our lives to the "unbegotten God." (page 19). Christ is the "Power of God, and the Wisdom of God." (Page 19.) Later, Justin speaks of the "Logos, first-begotten of God, our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Page 29.) In First Apology XXX, he writes: "As to the Son of God called Jesus, should we allow him to be nothing more than a man, yet the title Son of God is justifiable upon the account of His wisdom; for is not God styled by your own writers Father of gods and men?" (Page 30.)
From that point onward, until a suspicious 'two-word' insert (I contend), Justin always appears to be insisting Jesus is the begotten Son of God, distinct from the eternal God and Father -- the only true God -- and that God is known by no other name than the Father.
Justin begins: "Jesus is properly the Son of God, as being the Logos, and First-begotten and Power of God, and by his counsel was made man...." (Page 31.) In XXXIII, Justin says we are "dedicated to the service of the unbegotten impassible God...." (Page 32.) Later, Justin defends Jesus' "divinity" as do I when properly understood. See XXXVI (page 38.) Later Justin defines "the spirit and power of God" as the Logos, and depicts it as "the first-begotten of God." (Page 43.) Jesus is the "first-begotten of God...Logos or universal reason." (LXI at Page 56.) The "Logos was Himself made man...." Id., at 57. "The Logos of God is His Son, and is also called Angel and Apostle." Id. at 79, LXXXII. Jesus is the "pre-existing Logos." Id., LXXXIII, at page 80. Justin says that when the "Angel of the Lord spoke to Moses from the flame and said I am that I am, the self-existent, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob," that the Jews claim this was "God the Father, the Maker of all things" speaking, but Justin says it was "the very Son of God" who had the meeting. Id., at 80-81. But they who "affirm the Son to be the Father are guilty of not knowing the Father, and are likewise ignorant that the Father of the Universe has a Son, who being the Logos and first-begotten of God is God." LXXXIII at 81.[COMMENT: Either someone altered Justin here, or Justin engages in self-contradiction.]
The proof of tampering is that previously Justin said that in baptism the penitent calls on "God the Father and Lord of all things...we call God by no other name because we have not any appellation for the ineffable majesty of God that can explain His nature." Id., at LXXX on page 76. Why would Justin say God the Father is uniquely God, and we can call Him by no other name than Father, and then say the Son is God. Two words ("is God") are all that modify this line to fit 381AD-Trinitarian concepts which came 2 centuries later, causing a mismatch to Justin's otherwise non-Trinitarian and anti-381AD-Trinitarian analysis. How did this happen?
From letters of Jerome, we now know that Jerome deliberately felt free to change earlier commentaries from the early church to insert the 381AD version of trinitarian doctrine so as to make it appear to have a longer history than it did -- its recentness in the 400s proving always to be an embarrassment. Also, Jerome excoriated Rufus when he did not correct Origen's errors on the Trinity when Rufus was copying them. From this accusation, it is clear that by the 400s a copyist could no longer copy Word for Word, but had to correct any view that Jesus was a human being indwelled by God, and had to rework it until it said Jesus was God the son. Otherwise the copyist was a heretic, subject to banishment and execution. Hence, there is no early church quote that you can rely upon as a trinitarian as this systematic rewrite impedes the ability to take any of these early records as valid whenever they discuss the nature of Christ, and affirm a deity of Christ.