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Abstract

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 generic codes 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 hybridized literary composition that weaves together apologetic and protreptic discourses in a way that finds resource and 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.

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