The Dialogue with Trypho, along with the First and Second Apologies, is a second-century Christian apologetic text, usually agreed to be dated in between AD 155-160. It is seen as documenting the attempts by theologian Justin Martyr to show that Christianity is the new law for all men, and to prove from Scripture that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah.
The Dialogue utilizes the literary device of an intellectual conversation between Justin and Trypho, a Jew. The concluding section propounds that the Christians are the true people of God.
Identity of Trypho
The identity of Trypho as rabbi Tarfon - the Hebrew name 'Tarfon' itself is likely derived from Greek Trifon (Trypho) - has been proposed, but many Jewish scholars do not accept the notion that Justin Martyr's Trypho is Tarfon. They instead consider Trypho a fictional character invented by Justin for his literary goals.
Setting and structure
The setting is presented as a chance meeting between Justin and Trypho in Ephesus. Justin had just converted to Christianity from a philosophical background and Trypho had just fled the disturbances in Judea.
When Justin suggests to Trypho to convert to Christianity, the dialogue becomes animated. Trypho criticizes Christians on a number of grounds, and Justin provides answers to each criticism.
In the opening of the Dialogue, Justin relates his vain search among the Stoics, Peripatetics, and Pythagoreans for a satisfying knowledge of God; his finding in the ideas of Plato wings for his soul, by the aid of which he hoped to attain the contemplation of the God-head; and his meeting on the sea-shore with an aged man who told him that by no human endeavor but only by divine revelation could this blessedness be attained, that the prophets had conveyed this revelation to man, and that their words had been fulfilled. Of the truth of this he assured himself by his own investigation; and the daily life of the Christians and the courage of the martyrs convinced him that the charges against them were unfounded. So he sought to spread the knowledge of Christianity as the true philosophy.
In the Dialogue, Justin also wrote, "For I choose to follow not men or men's doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians."  This passage is sometimes cited as evidence that the early church subscribed to the doctrine of soul sleep, though some claim that Justin's emphasis is on saying that denial of the resurrection of the dead is what makes them non-Christian, especially considering that he claims that "even after death souls are in a state of sensation" in Chapter 18 of his First Apology.
In his critical edition (with French translation), Philippe Bobichon demonstrates the particular nature of this text, equally influenced by Greek and Rabbinic thought.
Because the text mentions Justin Martyr's First Apology, which was written sometime between AD 150-155, Dialogue with Trypho must have been written after it. The date of authorship has been suggested to have been written anywhere between 155-167, with some scholars favoring 155–160, or even a more specific date, c. 160.
This section does not cite any sources. (May 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The Dialogue with Trypho and the two Apologies are universally accepted by scholars as authentic works of Justin. Though they are preserved only in the Sacra parallela, they were known by Tatian, Methodius of Olympus, and Eusebius and their influence is traceable in Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, the Pseudo-Melito, and especially Tertullian. Eusebius speaks of two Apologies, but he quotes them both as one, which indeed they are in substance. The identity of authorship is backed up not only by the reference in chapter 120 of the Dialogue to the Apology, but by the unity of treatment. Zahn showed that the Dialogue was originally divided into two books, that there is a considerable lacuna in chapter 74, as well as at the beginning, and that it is probably based on an actual occurrence at Ephesus, the personality of the Rabbi Tarfon being employed, though in a Hellenized form.
- Justin Martyr (1885). . In Roberts, Alexander; Donaldson, James (eds.). Ante-Nicene Christian Library. II. Translated by Reith, George. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark..
- Justin Martyr (1995). Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew (PDF). Translated by Spade, Paul Vincent., from the Greek text in van Winden 1971.
- van Winden, J. C. M. (1971). An Early Christian Philosopher: Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho. Philosophia patrum. Volume 1. Leiden: E. J. Brill.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Bobichon, P. (2003). Dialogue avec Tryphon: édition critique (in French). Volume 1. University of Fribourg. ISBN 978-2-8271-0958-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Khazarzar, Ruslan (ed.). "Τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰουστίνου πρὸς Τρύφωνα Ἰουδαῖον Διάλογος". khazarzar.skeptik.net (in Ancient Greek).
- Reading the Old Testament with the Ancient Church: Exploring the Formation of Early Christian Thought; by Ronald E. Heine (Sep 1, 2007) pages 48-52
- Claudia Setzer, Jewish Responses to Early Christians (Nov 1, 1994) ISBN 080062680X, p. 215
- Larry R. Helyer, Exploring Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period (Jul 5, 2002) ISBN 0830826785, p. 493
- Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 80
- First Apology, Chapter 18
- Philippe Bobichon (ed.), Justin Martyr, Dialogue avec Tryphon, édition critique, introduction, texte grec, traduction, commentaires, appendices, indices, (Coll. Paradosis nos. 47, vol. I-II.) Editions Universitaires de Fribourg Suisse, (1125 pp.), 2003
- Allert, Craig D. (2002). Revelation, Truth, Canon and Interpretation: Studies in Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho. Brill. p. 34.
If 1 Apology lies between 151–154, and because the Dialogue mentions the Apology it is certain that the Dialogue was composed after that date. Any conjecture regarding a more exact date than 155–167 is only that. We must, therefore, be satisfied with an imprecise date for the Dialogue with Trypho.
- Wendel, Susan J (2011). Scriptural Interpretation and Community Self-Definition in Luke-Acts and the Writings of Justin Martyr. Brill. p. 11.
Scholars generally agree that Justin wrote the Apologies around 150–155 CE and produced the final form of the Dialogue with Trypho at a slightly later date (~155–160 CE).
- Osborn, Eric Francis (1973). Justin Martyr. Tübingen. p. 8.
The apologies were written shortly after 150 and the Dialogue was written between 155 and 160.
- Barnard, Leslie W. (December 4, 2008). Justin Martyr: His Life and Thought. Cambridge University Press. p. 23.
The date of the Dialogue cannot be determined with accuracy. It is certainly later than the First Apology, which we have dated c. A.D. 151-5, which it quotes. Many scholars are of the opinion that a date c. A.D. 160 best fits the background of the Dialogue.
- Bobichon, P. (2003). Dialogue avec Tryphon: Notes de la traduction, appendices, indices (in French). Volume 2. University of Fribourg.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)