Justin Martyr often calls the Gospels the “memoirs of the apostles” (ἀπομνημονεύματα τῶν ἀποστόλων). In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 106.3, Justin refers to the “memoirs of him” (ἀπομνημονεύμασιν αὐτοῦ) which can either be translated “the memoirs about him” (referring to Jesus) or “his memoirs” (referring back to the one whose name was changed – Peter). Even if one adopts the latter reading, there is a debate about the reference behind “Peter’s memoirs.” Over at his blog Tim Henderson engages Bart Ehrman’s view that the Gospel of Peter was among Justin’s memoirs and persuasively argues for a reference to Mark instead here, here, here (if interested further, you can check out Tim Henderson’s book The Gospel of Peter and Early Christian Apologetic). As for the term “memoirs,” see other interesting posts from a few months ago by Joel Watts and Mike Bird. Both think the clearest parallel is to Xenophon’s Memorabilia of Socraties, though Mike also mentions Helmut Koester’s alternative view that Justin was rather echoing Papias’s remarks that Mark “remembered” the preaching of Peter or rival Gnostic claims of the disciples “remembering” the private teachings of Jesus (cf. Ancient Christian Gospels, pp 37-40). What do you think: how well known would the Greco-Roman genre of “memoirs” or the distinction between private notes (hypomnēmata) and published memoirs (apomnēmoneumata) have been known to the evangelists composing the Gospels or their earliest commentators (Papias, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement)? For a brief bibliography for those interested further:
- Abramowski, Luise. “The memoirs of the apostles in Justin.” Pages 323-35 in The Gospels and the Gospel. Edited by Peter Stuhlmacher; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991 (“Die ‘Erinnerungen der Apostel’ bei Justin” in Das Evangelium und die Evangelien. Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1983).
- Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.
- Foster, Paul. “The Relationship between the Writings of Justin Martyr and the So-Called Gospel of Peter.” Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.
- Heard, Richard. “APOMNĒMONEUMATA in Papias, Justin and Irenaeus.” New Testament Studies 1 (1954): 122-29.
- Hyldahl, Niels. “Hegesipps Hypomnemata.” Studia Theologica 14 (1960): 70-113.
- Kennedy, George. “Classical and Source Criticism.” Pages 125-55 in The Relationship among the Gospels: an Interdisciplinary Dialogue . Edited by William Walker. Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1978.
- Köster, Helmut. Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development. London: SCM; Philadelphia: Trinity International, 1990.
- Pilhofer, Peter. “Justin und das Petrusevangelium.” ZNW 81 (1990): 60-78
- Stanton, Graham. Jesus and Gospel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.