In the 2nd century being a Christian meant something different for each person. Those who claimed to be Christians had the real risk of being accused, tried and punished for calling themselves Christians. These two articles show examples of how some chose to deal with this issue of Christianity. Christianity for Perpetua and Justin differ in several ways, Perpetua uses her understanding of martyrdom as an example of Christian discipleship, while Justin uses reason to explain Christian discipleship. Perpetua and Justin are influenced by the context of their situations.
Each article has its own context for Perpetua is prison after already being sentenced for the claim of being Christian. She has been sentenced to die by wild beast and she is content with that, because as she put it “whatever God wills shall happen.” In communication with her brother tells him that they have no “hope in this world.” She believes that her experience is to become a passion. At the time of her writings she would have had no way to bring a rational argument about being a Christian to anyone with the authority to change the outcome. Being a woman and not part of a royal family, the only voice she would have had access to would have been the ability to be martyred for her beliefs. Leaders putting Christians into battle with wild beasts would have been a form of punishment and entertainment at the same time. Perpetua was formally educated, but did not have chance to use a logical argument to persuade her captors to reverse their decision.
Justin on the other hand, had a context that allowed him to use reason to reach a highly educated group of people who could affect change. Justin’s First Apology was addressed to the “Emperor, Lucius the Philosopher, the sacred Senate and the whole People of the Romans.” This group of people would have been ruled by reason and philosophy, not by emotion and raw passion as Perpetua. Justin’s arguments are not based around martyrdom but rather on the fact that to be a Christian is not a crime, it is actually a type of lifestyle that is in line with the rule of Rome. Justin appeals to the understanding of justice, “justice requires that you inquire into the life of both” the accused and the accuser. He believes that if a person is accused of being a Christian but has done no wrong that person needs to be acquitted. He does not ask for an immediate release but for the court to investigate if the person needs to actually stand trial for a legitimate reason. Justin’s and Perpetua’s context require their actions to be different from one another. They also show two different focuses on the Christian life.
Heaven is the end goal for Perpetua. In her writings there are several references to dreams she had about being in heaven. She sees in one dream a “golden ladder of marvelous height, reaching up to heaven.” Another dream of Dinocrates at a pool of water being healed, indicates that Perpetua was someone whose...