Most of what is known about the life of Justin Martyr comes from his own writings, yet they are filled with contradictions and distortions, giving pause to reflect that he might easily be like other early christian “saints”–such as Christopher, which the Roman Catholic church “took down” from its altars in the twentieth century. That he is not fully factual can be seen in his claims that he was a Samaritan, but his father and grandfather were probably Greek or Roman, and there is no record of his mother being from Samaria. Justin claims that he converted to Christianity, which denied all “pagan” philosophies, yet he devoted the rest of his life to teaching what he considered the true philosophy while wearing his philosopher’s gown to indicate that he had attained the truth–a custom that marked nonchristian teachers. It was not until 1882, when Pope Leo XIII had a Mass and an Office composed for his feast day, which he set at 14 April, that he was actually declared a saint in the western Church (although in the Greek Orthodox communion he does appear in the litany, but not before the ninth century). See: Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 94.
Roman Catholics, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Anglicans and many mainstream Protestant communions cite Justin’s declaration that Jesus allegedly died on a cross (crux)–but such a novel idea is found only in his writings. Tertullian (a sometime christian; in later life he became a Montanist–a neo-Pentecostal movement that the church later declared to be heresy), in his Adversus Valentinianos, calls Justin a philosopher and martyr, and the earliest antagonist of heretics.
Justin Martyr was unique–and among the first to attempt to declare the ancient philosophers were proto-Christians (christians before the Jesus of the New Testament was born): especially commenting that Socrates and Heraclitus were Christians (Apol., i. 46, ii. 10) and prophesied that Jesus would die on a cross. That would endear him to those who sought a special mark for the Galilean magician, but not to those who would think more carefully and who studied the original scriptures in the Greek (Attic and Koine [Greek: Ελληνιστική Κοινή, also known as “common Greek”; or ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος, “the common dialect”) reflecting Hellenic, Alexandrian, Macedonian, Macedonic, Hellenistic, Patristic, Common, Biblical, and New Testament Greek, that emerged in post-Classical antiquity (c.300 BCE – CE 300), being distinct from the Attic dialect of antiquity).
This variation of language and misuse of Greek was not lost on Origen the self-Castrated (Eusebius reported that Origen, following Matthew 19:12 literally, castrated himself); see: “Origen of Alexandria”. ReligionFacts. 2006-02-20. http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/people/origen.htm; it should be noted that self-castration was a capital crime in Roman law, but Origen claimed that “god’s law is greater than any man’s law”. Origen (Greek: Ὠριγένης Ōrigénēs, or Origen Adamantius, c. 185–254 CE; his name probably means the “child of Horus” [from Ὡρος, “Horus”, and γένος, “born”].) was an early Christian scholar and theologian. To many he was one of the most distinguished writers of the early christian community (the “Church” did not come into existence until the fourth century when the Emperor Constantine created it at a meeting with warring bishops at Nicaea). Because he castrated himself to “retain personal purity” Origen was not considered a Church father by some in his own time nor by theologians in the twenty-first century.
Being an Egyptian, he won the favor and support of the patriarch of Alexandria, but when he refused to pay a special fee to be ordained, the patriarch expelled him for being ordained without the patriarch’s permission. Using his knowledge of Hebrew, he produced the Hexapla (a comparative study of various translations of the Old Testament and is the precursor of the contemporary parallel bible) and a corrected Septuagint (bible), and wrote commentaries on nearly every book of what was then considered to be a part of the canon of the bible.
He refused to read the early writings of church fathers as being literal accounts of what happened, and questioned most of scripture, preferring to interpret scripture allegorically. This enabled him to develop certain doctrines with similarities to Neo-Pythagorean and Neo-Platonist thought, claiming (as had Plotinus earlier) that the soul passes through successive stages of incarnation before eventually reaching God who was the combination of all souls (good and bad–the latter he referred to as “demons”).
The role of Jesus of the New Testament has a special place in the writings of Origen. For Origen wrote passionately that the Jesus of the New Testament spoke from a “skolopos” which was Greek for an impaling stake (Origen, “Against Celsus,” Bk II, Chap 55, Pgh 68-69): σκόλοψ as in τίς έσθ ό μέλλων σκόλοπος ή λευσμου τύχειν or ανασκολόπιση του πασσάλου. Never once does Origen use “cross” save in its original context and meaning: σταυρός (an upright stake for impaling).
Origen was universally recognized as the leading scholar on biblical matters. He succeeded in converting Beryllus, bishop of Bostra, from his adoptionistic (the belief that Jesus was born human and only became divine after his baptism) views to the orthodox faith and was in correspondence with the bishop of Rome (Fabian) and most other bishops. According to Epiphanius, Origen wrote about 6,000 works (i.e., rolls or chapters). Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History 6.25.7 strongly implies Origen disputed the authenticity of the Letters of Paul when he wrote that Paul did not write to all the churches that he taught and even to the ones he wrote he only sent a few lines. However, Origen’s own writings refer often to the words of Paul, and argues that Paul also argued that Jesus of the New Testament was impaled on a stake. See: Trigg, Joseph Wilson (1985). Origen: the Bible and philosophy in the third-century church. London: SCM Press; and Sträuli, Robert (1987). Origenes der Diamantene. Zurich: ABZ Verlag. pp. 71, 355–357. Original texts in Greek and Latin are online at http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/30_20_0185-0254-_Origenes.html.
A thorough study of all ancient writings finds no reference to the contemporary cross as being the means of crucifixion, nor was the original church unanimous that the biblical Jesus suffered and died on a cross–or was even martyred. Those are far later inventions.