This study advances a suggestive reading of Justin Martyr's Apologies as a subjective appropriation of the forms and practices of the Roman system of petition and response. It offers an historical contextualization of the Apologies within both contemporary administrative culture and the wider literary environment. It compares the Apologies with extant Roman-era petitions, using this comparison to shed light on Justin's transformations of the genre and their communicative significance. Using the heuristic metaphor of performance, it suggests that Justin performs in the Apologies the genre of the administrative petition, but he performs it multiply, as an integral part of a hybrid literary composition that weaves together apologetic and protreptic discourses in a way that finds precedent in the genre-bending literary strategies of the Second Sophistic. Justin's hybridization of the administrative petition is a uniquely stylized performance by a Christian philosopher and literary aspirant, one that both activates the form's potential for administrative redress and exploits it as a daring enactment of voiced injustice and Christian disclosure.
"...a major virtue of the book is the way that Cline builds his argument by constant and confident reference to other contemporary relevant sources. Footnotes and the detailed discussion further attest to Cline’s thorough engagement with the text and various issues in its interpretation...Petition and Performance is a welcome addition to the study of Justin Martyr and to the social and cultural context in which it emerged."
Excerpts from Judith M. Lieu, RBL 02/22
"What impresses the reader about this dissertation is the very extensive investigation of examples, parallels, and contrasts from Greek and Roman authors, as well as from documents, such as papyri, of unknown authorship. Cline’s diligence in searching the sources is remarkable, and, so far as I could see, he applies that material in a sound fashion..."
Excerpts from Michael Slusser, Emeritus, Duquesne University, Church History, December 2021.
Brandon Cline earned his PhD in New Testament and Early Christian Literature from the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago and an MDiv from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His research interests range widely in Greek, Roman, and early Christian studies. He teaches Latin at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, Texas.