Vridar

2013/04/02

Final of “Letters Supposedly Written by Ignatius”: Tackling New Questions

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This post continues from The (Apellean) Gospel of Peregrinus and concludes the series.

TDOP = The Death of Peregrinus by Lucian. Harmon’s translation here.

Links to all posts in this series are collated at: Roger Parvus: Letters Supposedly Written by Ignatius

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In posts two through six I showed why Peregrinus should be regarded as the author of the so-called Ignatian letters. In posts seven through eleven I argued that he was an Apellean Christian.

In this post I will tie up some loose ends, adding some thoughts regarding the date of his letters, and taking a somewhat speculative last look at his community, the Apelleans.

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Apelles

Apelles: Canvas Poster Print

Contents of this post

WHEN WERE THE ORIGINAL LETTERS WRITTEN?

  • Terminus ante quem
  • Terminus post quem
  • ca 145 CE?
  • Or late 130s?

MODIFYING THE LETTERS: WHEN? WHY? WHO?

  • Between Irenaeus and Origen
  • How did he come by the letters?
  •  The evidence pointing to Theophilus of Antioch

WHAT BECAME OF THE APELLEAN GOSPEL?

  •  Basis of the Gospel of John?
  •  Gnostic threads in the Gospel of John
  •  Opposing views of the world in the Fourth Gospel
  •  Why the Gospel’s hostility to the Jews and Judaism
  •  Why no Passover or Baptism in John’s Gospel
  •  The missing Ascension in the Fourth Gospel
  •  Identifying the Paraclete (the mysterious witness to Jesus) : The Holy Spirit or Paul?
  •  Identifying the Beloved Disciple: Paul?
  •  Paul not a persecutor
  •  Paul (“little one”) the boy disciple?
  •  Paul or John?
  •  Affairs at Ephesus and Smyrna

AND WHAT BECAME OF THE APELLEANS?

  •  Identifying the woman taken in adultery?
  •  Returning to the fold

CONCLUSION

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WHEN WERE THE ORIGINAL LETTERS WRITTEN?

Using the chronological indications that Lucian provides in his sketch of Peregrinus, the year of the would-be martyr’s arrest can only be very roughly pegged to have occurred sometime between 130 and 150 CE. (more…)

2012/09/10

How Might Marcionite Questions Affect Mythicism? (Bob Price in “Is This Not the Carpenter?”)

This post concludes my treatment of chapter 6 of ‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’, “Does the Christ Myth Theory Require an Early Date for the Pauline Epistles?” by Robert M. Price.

Price concludes his article with a discussion of the place Marcion might have had in the history of gospel origins. Specifically, what if Marcion was responsible for much of the Pauline corpus or even wrote the letters himself? Would not this mean that the Gospels preceded Paul’s letters and would not one of the “pillars of the Christ Myth hypothesis” fall?

What follows is my outline of Price’s argument.

The conventional view of Marcion is that he appears controversially armed with a number of letters of Paul and a single Gospel. This Gospel, we are usually informed, was a shorter version of what we know as the Gospel of Luke, Marcion having deleted from the original Gospel all the passages he believed were falsely interpolated contrary to the original faith taught by Paul.

There have been other opinions. Some have argued that Marcion’s gospel was for most part an original and early version of what became our Gospel of Luke, an Ur-Lukas. Paul-Louis Couchoud argued this. More recently, Matthias Klinghardt argued a similar case. (Hence my previous post.) Price does not mention Joseph Tyson here, but he also argued much the same, and I linked to that series of posts on his book in my post on Klinghardt’s argument. The idea of a Proto-Luke stands independently of any Marcionite association, however. It has been argued by B. F. Streeter (link is to the full text online) and Vincent Taylor. G. R. S. Mead suggested Marcion had no Gospel but but only a collection of sayings, not unlike Q.

So what to make of this diversity of opinion over what Marcion actually possessed? Price has a suggestion: (more…)

2012/03/12

Jesus Formed (Couchoud)

Filed under: Couchoud: Creation of Christ — Neil Godfrey @ 1:00 am
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This post contains the final chapter of Couchoud’s The Creation of Christ.

I began this series with a post designating Paul-Louis Couchoud as Earl Doherty’s forerunner. There are notable differences between the two as anyone who has read Doherty and this series of posts will quickly see. I think those differences are worth serious discussion.

Scholarship has moved on since Couchoud and there are a number of areas where refinements are necessary; I and others have pointed to shortcomings in Couchoud’s arguments. But there remains much that is thought-provoking nearly a century after his works were first published.

When I began posting on Couchoud’s book I intended only to address the few chapters on his views of Gospel origins. Given the interest generated I decided to continue posting to cover the whole book even though that meant the chapters would be out of sequence. So my next post will be links to the complete contents in their correct order.

Here is the final chapter. I have included the page references in square brackets.

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JESUS FORMED

JESUS has been definitely formed. His features have been determined and composed. He is still the great heavenly Judge of the Day of Doom; that he has been from the beginning; it was his first function and for long his only function. His Judgment will be preceded by the Resurrection of the Body; on this point the doctrine of the Roman Church has overcome that of St. Paul. It will be followed by eternal life. His Kingdom on Earth will last a thousand years, and in the eyes of God a thousand years are as a single day. His true Kingdom is not of this world, and the expectations founded upon it are not material. The oppressed may not dream of an earthly recompense from him, but after the Judgment is over they will put on as a garment their heavenly glory. The Advent withdraws to a remote future, and the dead will find paradise or hell till the coming of the awaited Day. In the meantime the Church makes its plans for its earthly continuation. The grand descent in glory will be Jesus’s second visit to earth; the first, in humiliation and sacrifice, is henceforth to be the subject of the Christian’s meditation. (more…)

2012/03/11

Christ Descends to Earth: Marcion’s contributions to Christianity (Couchoud continued)

Filed under: Couchoud: Creation of Christ,Marcion — Neil Godfrey @ 8:40 am
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This continues my series on Paul-Louis Couchoud‘s The Creation of Christ. Full set of posts are archived at Couchoud: Creation of Christ.

The previous post was Couchoud’s discussion of view of Christ as a mystical and heavenly being according to early Christian literature, and how in the Epistle of the Hebrews we encounter the first sign of a belief that Jesus took on a flesh and blood body while still operating entirely in the heavens, offering himself as a heavenly sacrifice, and in acting as our celestial high priest. From here it was but a small step to imagining Jesus visiting humankind on earth. In Couchoud’s view it was Marcion who took this critical step with his composition of the earliest form of the Gospel of Luke.

Much has been written about Marcion since Couchoud wrote. Here, however, I will present Couchoud’s argument with very little reference to more recent works on Marcion and Marcionism. The sharing of ideas is not for the sake of others embracing them whole, but in order to stimulate new thoughts by mixing what we know today with what others have thought before us.

Marcion the person and his contribution to Christianity

Couchoud introduces the person of Marcion in much the same colours as another scholar of his day, von Harnack, had done: as a revolutionary or reforming and noble spiritual figure who takes his place among other greats in the history of Christianity.

Marcion was one of the world’s great religious geniuses, and takes his place between St. Paul and St. Francis of Assisi. (p. 124) (more…)

2012/02/04

Marcion’s authorship of his Gospel – an overlooked question

Professor Markus Vinzent has posted on his blog  Marcion’s authorship of his Gospel – an overlooked question, an article that directs readers to a re-consideration of the ideas of Paul Louis Couchoud that I have recently been outlining here. Past scholarship has always taken for granted the claim of Irenaeus that Marcion found and edited an existing Gospel. Professor Vinzent finds only two exceptions in the literature to this view and one of them is Couchoud.

And there is the poet Paul-Louis Couchoud (1879-1959), professor of philosophy and scholar at the Ecole Normale, Paris who, very different from Vogels’ Germanic cautious suggestion, developed a full ‘outline of the beginnings of Christianity’ in his The Creation of Christ (excerpts, a good summary and comments can be found here), based on the idea of a Christ-myth which was turned into a historical Gospel-narrative by Marcion in the years 128-129. And although scholars may rightly reject most of the wild speculations of Couchoud, a critical reading of him is extremely rewarding. He knew his sources and he was prepared to unearth and make fresh and unorthodox connections which even today can inspire serious scholarship. Why has scholarship not picked up the question of Marcion’s authorship – irrespective of whether one agrees or disagrees on it?

Couchoud’s view is debatable (see, for example Roger Parvus’s remarks at https://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/pre-christian-beginnings-of-christianity-couchoud/#comment-22543) but I fully concur with Markus Vinzent’s observation:

And although scholars may rightly reject most of the wild speculations of Couchoud, a critical reading of him is extremely rewarding. He knew his sources and he was prepared to unearth and make fresh and unorthodox connections which even today can inspire serious scholarship.

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2012/01/28

2 Peters, 1 Jude and 2 Revelations: the first New Testament (Couchoud)

Apocalypse of Peter

Continuing the series archived at Couchoud: The Creation of Christ – – – (Couchoud argues that our “editor” – Clement? – compiled 28 books, one more than our current 27 that make up our New Testament and this post concludes the section where Couchoud discusses the origin of our New Testament books.)

The perfect balance of the New Testament still stood in need of a counterweight. Just as the tale of Peter counter-balanced that of Paul in Acts, so the letters of Paul required as counterpoise letters from the Twelve.  There were already in existence a letter by James and three by John.  To make up seven, our editor produced two letters by Peter and one by Jude, John’s brother. (p. 305)

I don’t know if Couchoud here means to suggest “the editor” wrote these epistles himself. I find it difficult to accept the two letters attributed to Peter are by the same hand given what I have come to understand of their strikingly different styles, but let’s leave that question aside for now and cover what Couchoud’s views were as published in English 1939.

1 Peter

This epistle is said to have been a warrant for the Gospel of Mark. (Maybe, but some have suggested the name of Mark for the gospel was taken from this epistle. If it were a warrant for Mark one might be led to call to mind the unusual character of that Gospel. Its reputation had been tinged with “heretical” associations.) In the epistle Peter calls Mark “my son” and is supposed to be in his company in Rome, biblically called “Babylon”. The inference this leads to is that Mark wrote of the life and death of Jesus as learned from the eyewitness Peter. This coheres with Justin’s own naming of the Gospel “Recollections of Peter” in his Dialogue, section 106.

The letter is “a homily addressed to baptized heathen of Asia Minor at the time of a persecution.” Its teachings can be seen to be of the same category as those addressed in the earlier discussions by Couchoud – typical of Clement and anti-Marcionite . . . (more…)

2012/01/23

Was Marcion right about Paul’s letters?

I have copied Roger Parvus's recent comment here as a post in its own right.  (Neil)

Couchoud’s books contain many valuable insights. He was rightly dissatisfied with the mainstream scenario of Christian origins, and he rearranged the pieces of the puzzle together in a new way that provides a fresh perspective on them. There is much that he says that I agree with. I would not be surprised, for instance, if he is right about the role played by Clement of Rome. But I am disappointed that Couchoud—like practically everyone else—still does not take seriously Marcion’s claim that the original author of the Gospel and Pauline letter collection was someone who professed allegiance to a God higher than the Creator of this world, to a God higher than the God of the Jews.

The automatic assumption on the part of confessional scholars

The automatic assumption on the part of confessional scholars is that Marcion must have been mistaken in his views regarding the origin of the Gospel and Pauline letters. I cannot recall ever having come across a single mainstream Christian book that even considered for a moment that Marcion may have been right. Their attitude is understandable since, if Marcion was right, it would mean that the original Gospel and the Pauline letters were written by someone who was basically a gnostic, by someone who sounds very much like Simon of Samaria or one of his followers. Perish the heretical thought! But even non-confessional admirers of Marcion like Couchoud seem likewise unable to take seriously Marcion’s claim. Instead they make Marcion himself the creator of the Gospel and say that he either created the Pauline letters or imposed his own religious ideas on letters that did not originally contain them. For some reason this solution is thought to be preferable to taking Marcion at his word. As far as we know Marcion never claimed to be the author of those writings. He claimed that when he came across them they were in a contaminated state. They had been interpolated by people who Judaized them, who turned their original author into someone who believed in a single highest God who was the God of the Old Testament and the Creator of the world. Is Marcion’s claim so unbelievable? Is it really out of the question that the original Gospel and Pauline letters were Simonian and that it was their opponents who Judaized those writings? (I say “Simonian” because the early record does not contain the name of any other first century Christians who held the belief that the creators of this world were inferior to the supreme God, and that those creators tried to hold men in bondage by means of the Law.) (more…)

The Pastorals, a remedy for a grave defect in Paul’s epistles (Couchoud)

My Couchoud series posts (outlines of his work discussing the beginnings of Christianity, The Creation of Christ) are archived here. This post continues the series.

The churches in Clement’s day, and in particular the Church of Rome, were governed by Elders. Paul, of course, knew of no such institution. The heads of the various churches in his day were the Prophets.

This grave defect had to be remedied, so our editor manufactured three new Epistles. For that he made use of another remnant — a letter of simple news addressed to Timothy by Paul from Nicopolis to Epirus. Out of this little thing he made three: two letters to Timothy and one to Titus; and the second letter to Timothy was Paul’s testament written at Rome. (p. 304)

He took a single letter and broke it into three parts that became the Pastorals, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Note the repetitions. Paul has forgotten a cloke at Troas on his way from Miletus to Nicopolis. He has escaped his enemies at Ephesus and thanks his friends by Timothy. (more…)

2012/01/21

Paul’s Letter to the Romans – the creation of the canonical edition according to Couchoud

English: page with text of Epistle to the Roma...

Page with text of Epistle to the Romans 1:1-7: Image via Wikipedia

I continue here the series covering Paul Louis Couchoud’s argument for the creation of the canonical New Testament literature from the 1939 English translation of his The Creation of Christ: An Outline of the Beginnings of Christianity. The series is archived here — scroll to the bottom for the first posts where the overall purpose for which the literature is covered, along with when and why and why Couchoud suspects Clement of Rome as the editor (and author) responsible.

The guiding principle for the structure was Marcion’s “canon” that began with a Gospel and included ten letters of Paul.

Background: In brief, Marcion was a prominent leader of a form of Christianity that (at least until recently) has been generally believed to have rejected totally the Old Testament and taught that Jesus came down from heaven to preach about an Alien (unknown) God who was all love and higher than the Jewish God of the law and judgment. Marcion claimed Paul as his sole apostolic authority in opposition to the other apostles who never understood Christ’s message. Couchoud argues that a Roman church elder (he suspects Clement) attempted to unite the diverse Christianities represented by competing Gospels (such as Marcion’s Gospel, Matthew, John, Mark) bringing them all together through the themes expressed in Luke and Acts (his own creations, though Luke was largely a re-write of Marcion’s Gospel) except for the intolerable Marcionite views that had to be countered.

Couchoud has covered the creations and compilation of the Gospels and Acts, and now comes to the orthodox versions of the Pauline letters. Marcion had selected Galatians as the most appropriate for the introduction of Paul’s thought; “Clement”(?) preferred Romans as the one most potentially adaptable as a frame of reference for the “correct” reading of Paul’s corpus. (Marcion had placed it fourth.) This would leave nothing more to do than revise a few details here and there in the other letters.

This editor enlarged Romans to twice its original size. (Couchoud mainly follows Harnack’s reconstruction of Marcion’s thought, Gospel and epistles. I have begun posting elsewhere Sebastian Moll’s revision of Harnack’s basic premis in his 2010 work and must post more on that in the future. I keep with Couchoud’s thoughts here.) Massive additions were: (more…)

2012/01/03

The earliest gospels 6(c) – Luke’s Gospel (Couchoud)

Filed under: Couchoud: Creation of Christ,Josephus,Luke-Acts,Marcion — Neil Godfrey @ 9:14 pm
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Continuing the series archived here: (I have also marked the name Josephus in bold for easy reference for any interested in the study of Luke’s use of Josephus.)

Irenaeus is the first to speak of Luke as the author of our Gospel and Acts dedicated to Theophilus (Haer. iii.1,2). Before Irenaeus we read in Colossians 4:14 of a Luke with the epithet “the beloved physician” having been interpolated into the original; and in the fictitious 2 Timothy 4:11 we read “Only Luke is with me.” Following

is an outline explication of the Gospel of Luke from Couchoud’s perspective of it having been composed around 142 c.e. by Clement of Rome.

The prologue refers to a number of Gospels and Acts already in existence and leads readers to infer that the author is collating his information from these earlier sources while also being in a unique position to offer more authoritative insights and a more coherent narrative of the whole.

With an acrobatic leap he passes from the fine style of a Greek rhetor to that of Biblical narrative. (p. 275)

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea,
A certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abijah:
And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

And they were both righteous, walking before God
In all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
And they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren;
Both were well stricken in years.

Couchoud then outlines the narrative we know from Luke 1:8-38 and that I won’t repeat here. (more…)

2011/12/31

The earliest gospels 5 – Gospel of John (according to P L Couchoud)

Continuing here with Couchoud’s views of second century gospel origins. Earlier posts, including explanations for the reasons etc  for these posts, are archived here.

C’s story of John’s gospel begins with a setting in Ephesus, two generations after the feverish hopes for the coming of the Lord that produced the Book of Revelation. The church at Ephesus “preserved the tradition of the pillar apostle who had seen the Lord, for in this lay its claim to fame and to authority.” (p. 223) Apocalyptic enthusiasm had dwindled away and been replaced by a mysticism that experienced Christ as having come in the “here and now” in spirit and in their own flesh. Paul’s teachings about a mystical union with Christ also primary, according ot the evidence of “Ignatius” in his letter to the Ephesians, so much so that Paul’s concept of baptism as symbolic of death and burial had been superseded by the idea of baptism as a principle of a new life in Christ, with eternal life being granted at the moment of emerging from the real “water of life”.

These Christians were “born again” here and now and forever. They lived here and now in Light and Life. They could see and touch here and now the miracles of that divine life in full joy and love. The love was, however, a cultic love for their own brethren and worshiped spirits and not for the world. The prophets were revered, but also tested to see that they were not false and that they carried the same teaching of Christ having come now in the flesh.

They rejected the Marcionites and original teaching of Paul that Jesus had come only in the form of a man. Christ’s body was mystically both heavenly and human flesh and blood. Being heavenly Jesus was not, as Matthew said, born through a woman. The logical impossibility of being both spirit and flesh at one time in one body was resolved by mystic illumination that passes rational understanding. (more…)

2011/12/28

The earliest gospels 3 — Gospel of Mark (according to P.L. Couchoud)

Couchoud’s take on the Gospel of Mark follows. This post should be seen as a continuation of the previous three. (That is, it’s take on the Gospel of Mark is entirely my understanding of Paul Louis Couchoud’s analysis of this gospel as a reaction to what he believes to have been the original Gospel produced by Marcion. Quotation page references are from Couchoud’s “The Creation of Christ”.)

Like Marcion’s gospel there is no mention of an author — “unless ‘the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ’ is intended to give the author” (p. 170). Couchoud earlier made the point that Marcion’s gospel was likewise anonymous and if pushed his followers would say it was “Christ’s” gospel.

It is possible that this gospel was written in Latin (Ephrem’s note), or was composed with a Latin and a Greek version. The surviving manuscripts are in poor condition with the original ending lost. (I do not believe the original ending was ever lost, but I am keeping my own views quiet while I focus on staging those of Couchoud for now.) (more…)

2011/12/27

The earliest gospels 1 — Marcion’s gospel (according to P.L. Couchoud)

Filed under: Couchoud: Creation of Christ,Marcion — Neil Godfrey @ 5:27 pm
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This post follows on from the previous one outlining Couchoud’s thoughts on Gospel origins. It starts with highlights from what he believes (generally following Harnack) Marcion‘s Gospel contained; looks at the next Gospel written apparently by Basilides; then at the way our canonical Gospel of Mark took shape and why, followed by the Gospels of Matthew, John and Luke.

The Gospel of Marcion

The authorship was anonymous. (p. 138)

It was placed with the letters of Paul and a commentary, the Antithesis, as a replacement for the Jewish scriptures.

There is nothing of a connected narrative in it. (p. 139)

It was composed of some sixty anecdotes, or pericopes, detached fragments without any connection between them. (p. 139)

Jesus was not born but descended from heaven and the gospel begins: (more…)

2011/11/07

Marcion’s date

Filed under: Marcion — Neil Godfrey @ 5:54 am
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For all the shortcomings of R. Joseph Hoffmann’s work on Marcion, Marcion, On the Restitution of Christianity, the one point he stressed and that was central to persuading me of the strong possibility that Marcion should be dated much earlier than is traditionally done, even as early as the opening decades of the second century, was a comment in the writings of Justin Martyr. Justin, writing in the middle of the second century, expressed some dismay that Marcion was “even now still” active and influential in the world. The clear implication is that it was surprising to see Marcion still preaching even at that late date.

Sebastion Moll in his 2010 book The Arch-Heretic Marcion knocks out that argument for an early date.

Finally, there is one passage in the work of Justin which has made some scholars believe that Marcion must already have been active before 144/145. In his Apology (ca. 153 – 154), Justin states that Marcion “has made many people in the whole world speak blasphemies” [Adv. haer. I.13,3] and that he is “even now still teaching”. . . .

Justin’s statement that Marcion is “even now still” teaching becomes understandable if we take a look at the preceding sections of the Apology. According to Justin, all heretics were put forward by the demons after Christ’s ascension to heaven. He then mentions Simon, Menander and Marcion, of whom the first two are of course long dead already. The reason for Justins’ surprise that Marcion is still teaching  is not his impressively long heretical career, but the fact that he is still active so long after the demons had put forward the other heretics. (p. 39)

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2008/01/28

Dating the Book of Acts: Marcionite Context 2 — and beyond

Continued from Dating Acts: Marcionite context . . . (see also Tyson and Marcion archives)

After attempting a form of controlled analysis for determining the main themes and their supporting literary patterns in Acts, and arguing that the results are best explained as a response to the Marcionite challenge, Tyson examines the characterizations of Peter and Paul in Acts to see if they also are best explained the same way.

Tyson leaves what I think is a major gap in his discussion of how the author presented Peter in Acts but I’ll leave that discussion till after outlining Tyson’s argument.

Characterization of Peter

There is no subtlety in how the author of Acts portrays this leading apostle. We all know Peter is the leader — (Tyson specifies that he is depicted as the leader of the church at Jerusalem), miracle-worker, bold and convincing speaker before rulers and converting crowds of thousands (2:41), taking the initiative in reconstituting the Twelve in the wake of the demise of Judas, interpreter of divinely sent visions (10:28 ) and miracles (2:14-16). Sinners drop dead (5:1-11) or beg for mercy (8:20-24) at his word and his mere shadow heals the cripples (5:20). Not even prison chains and guards can hold him (12:8-10).

But Tyson asks, if the author knew the epistles of Paul, why did he portray Peter this way? In Galatians Paul portrays a Peter who is unstable, very much “unleaderlike” — I would add, as much more akin to the Peter of the synoptic gospels. There Jesus had to regularly correct him; in Galatians Paul assumes that role.

Tyson asks if it is possible the author of Acts derived his alternative image of Peter from 1 Clement, thought to be written near the end of the first century. (Tyson, of course, is arguing for a second century date for canonical Luke-Acts.) That document elevates both Paul and Peter to leadership status, and speaks of Peter’s sufferings. But there is no indication of his relationship to the Jerusalem church or of his role as a prominent preacher and witness there.

Tyson believes that the best explanation for the way Peter is drawn in Acts is the Marcionite context. Marcion relied exclusively on the letters of Paul, and declared the other apostles, including Peter, to be false apostles. Paul seems to be referring to the Jerusalem apostles in 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 when he criticizes those known as “super apostles”, whom he calls “false apostles”, implying they were preaching a “different gospel” (cf Gal.1:6-7).

Tyson argues that a Marcionite challenge would have provided the perfect foil for the way the author of Acts accounted for Peter.

He was answering the charge that Peter

  • was an unreliable and false apostle
  • was not a dependable witness to the faith — nor even the resurrection (Marcion’s gospel apparently disputed Peter’s witness of this)

and, it should be added, also answering the charge that Jerusalem was the birth place and base of this false witness and gospel.

A question — the limits of the anti-Marcion hypothesis?

While I like the idea of canonical Luke-Acts being a response to Marcionism, I cannot avoid a problem when it comes to Tyson’s discussion of Peter in support of this. If Acts was composed so late, then surely the author knew of the gospel of Matthew. And if, as Tyson’s argument goes, the same author heavily redacted Luke to become a companion volume to Acts, then why would he have omitted any reference in his gospel to Jesus’ promise to give the keys of heaven to Peter and use him as a foundation stone for his church (Matt.16:18)?

This passage in Matthew would surely have served as the most direct challenge conceivable to Marcionism.

If Matthew was written as a response to the “Paulinism” many see in Mark (compare Matthew’s heavy emphasis on obedience to a law more binding than that of Moses in the Sermon on the Mount, Matt 23, etc.) one might easily see Matthew’s depiction of Peter’s confession as a direct rebuff to the name and authority of Paul.

If the author of Acts intended to show that Paul stood subordinate to the Twelve then surely this claim about the leader of the Twelve would have found a prominent place in the debate.

The broader catholicizing agenda of Acts — embracing James, and group work, too?

To me the best explanation is that while Marcionism might have been a/the prime challenge that its author was addressing, it was not the only one. Marcionites looked to Paul as The (Sole) Apostle. But there were others who looked to James. Indeed, Paul’s letter to the Galatians appears to acknowledge James as the leader of the Jerusalem community by naming him first among the pillars there.

The Gospel of Thomas informs believers that James is the primary focal point of the church on earth. It was even believed among some Christian quarters that God willed the destruction of Jerusalem because of the martyrdom of James. And James was undeniably a representative of a form of Jewish Christianity.

The author of Acts obviously had no problem with allowing James to assume the leadership of the Jerusalem church. Presumably this was because James represented the same Jewish flavoured Christianity as Peter also represented and that stood in opposition to Marcionism .

But there was more than the inclusion of those Christians who looked to James at work here.

Peter does not wield Matthew’s keys to the kingdom of heaven willy nilly — or ever at all, really, in Acts.

  • In the appointment of Matthias to fill the twelfth position Peter may initiate the action, but the action is carried out by the collective as they roll the dice while praying to God. Matthias is not added by Peter, but by God, through the acceptance of “the Twelve”.
  • Peter’s first dramatic miracles are performed in partnership with John (3:1, 12).
  • Similarly in the appointment of the Seven. Peter is not seen there. It is the Twelve who summon the community and give directions for how they were to appoint the new leaders.
  • Philip and others are used to first push the ethnic boundaries of the church by evangelizing among the Samaritans and to an Ethiopian.
  • And in the conversion of the Centurion, Peter is confused at first, not knowing what the vision he has just seen means. He has to explain both to the centurion’s household that he is letting God decide how things turn out and what they mean.
  • And after that moment, he is summoned to give an account of his actions to those “of the circumcision”, presumably among both the apostles and brethren (Acts 11:1-3).

Peter is a leader — even THE leader in the early chapters of Acts. But he is not the sole leader of the Jerusalem community. The author of Acts is stressing the significance of not only Peter, but of the authority of the Twelve with Peter, and even of James eventually.

Justin Martyr is witness, in Trypho, that at the time of Marcion, other well entrenched traditions throughout the Christian “philosophy” included the belief that its beginnings could be traced to The Twelve at Jerusalem, and that among those Christians were those who followed Jewish customs, and that these were to be accepted as brethren, too.

Canonical Luke-Acts comfortably fits in such an environment.

Matthew 16:18 could well have been a response too much in the faces of those the author of canonical Luke-Acts wanted to embrace. It could serve well in a power conflict between West and East. But it risked supplanting the idea of the Twelve as an authoritative foundation from Jerusalem. Note that Matthew even concluded his gospel with some of the Twelve (or Eleven) doubting the resurrection.

To continue with the characterization of Paul . . . .

2008/01/25

Marcion – Synoptic Problem (4): birth narratives

Filed under: Gospel of Matthew,Luke-Acts,Marcion,New Testament,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 8:27 am
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Continuing from Marcion and the Synoptic Problem (3)

The argument for Q rests on the understanding that Luke did not know the gospel of Matthew. One of the reasons for this view is Luke’s “otherwise inexplicable” failure to draw on some of the most memorable of material unique to Matthew, such as Joseph planning to divorce Mary until the angel came to him in a dream, the story of the Magi following the star to visit Jesus at his birth, Herod’s massacre of the innocents and Jesus’ and his parents’ flight to Egypt.

Kloppenborg argues that much of the material special to Matthew, such as the focus on the gentile theme (e.g. the Magi) was begging for Luke to pick up had he known it. Others have responded that Luke was reserving the gentile mission of the time after Jesus (e.g. Luke edited Matthew’s story of the healing of the Roman centurion’s servant so that Jesus never made direct contact with the gentile (cf. Matt 8 and Luke 7). Goodacre adds that Luke had a dim view of the Magi class (cf. Acts 8).

I would add that we know from the book of Acts that for “Luke” the Jerusalem Temple was a central pillar in his narrative (see my earlier post looking at Tyson’s methodical analysis of Luke’s themes in Acts), and other posts I have put out recently look at reasons for seeing this as an anti-Marcionite motif (see my Tyson and Marcion archives). But I’m following Tyson here, in assuming our canonical Luke is a redaction of the earlier “Luke” that Marcion knew. If so, then we can understand Luke intended from the start to link Jesus with the Temple — right from his very birth and entrance into the world. Hence his dedication at the Temple at the time of his circumcision, and his follow-up as a boy a few years later.

Embedding Jesus in the Temple motif from the first made Matthew’s nativity story impossible. Matthew’s required Jerusalem to be the centre of the evil Herod who caused the exile of Jesus into Egypt. There was no room in the logic of Matthew’s narrative for Herod, the massacre of the infants, nor even the Magi. The Magi were in fact the narrative means by which Herod caused the exile of Jesus from the Temple area altogether. If Luke brought them into his narrative at all it would have been clear that his audience would be unable to free themselves of their Matthean role and make a mockery of any alternative theological spin Luke was trying to introduce. Best he replace these wealthy eastern aristocrats with a completely new vision of lowly local shepherds being visited not by an astrological sign but by an angelic choir. It was important for Luke to keep Jesus in the area so the Jewish Temple tradition could be shown to be integral to the coming of Jesus. To have him exiled from the area altogether by the king of Jerusalem would surely only play into the hands of those (such as Marcionites) who argued Jesus came quite apart from any special Jewish heritage of promise.

But it has also been pointed out (Farrer, Goulder, Goodacre) that points of contact between Luke’s and Matthew’s nativities do suggest some form of dependence despite the differences.

  • The idea of a nativity introduction to the gospel was not something an author took for granted as a natural enough place to start. Neither Mark nor John, nor Marcion, saw this as a fit beginning. So the question whether Luke picked up the idea from Matthew presents itself. And if so, one would presume some inkling of the nature of Matthew’s account.
  • Both speak of a virginal conception by the holy spirit
  • Both have the birth take place at Bethlehem
  • Both hit on the name of Joseph for Jesus’ father
  • Both share the same Greek words for “will give birth to a son and you (singular) shall call him Jesus.” (Matt. 1:21 and Luke 1:31). Matthew’s use of this sentence is addressed to Joseph, who as father does name his son Jesus. Luke uses it — inappropriately in the same singular form — as an address to Mary who will not be solely responsible for naming her son (compare Luke 1:13).

Klinghardt suggests that Luke did know Matthew, but chose to follow and modify Marcion’s gospel rather than Matthew’s at this point. I doubt that argument will satisfy those who argue for Q since clearly, given Marcion’s lack of a nativity scene, it is hard to imagine Luke’s mind not turning to Matthew’s. But I have given my reasons above for believing an anti-Marcionite redactor (Luke) would see Matthew’s story playing right into the hands of Marcionites.

But Klinghardt strengthens his case that Luke knew Matthew by elaborating on the logic of the Bethlehem setting in the two gospels. The Bethlehem setting makes perfect sense in Matthew’s gospel, especially since to Matthew it was the inevitable sign and proof of Jesus’ Davidic kingship. Although Matthew knows from Mark of Jesus’ association with Nazareth, he begins the gospel with Jesus’ parents living in Bethlehem. They are forced to flee and when it comes time to return the political situation is such that it is safest for them to settle in Nazareth. This all has a cogent narrative flow. Klinghardt sees Luke as being more “universalist” in his concept of Jesus (cf Luke 2:1-2; 3:1a), hence his downplaying of Matthew’s significance for Bethlehem.

K does not elaborate, but Luke’s forced and unnatural embrace of the Bethlehem scene might also be seen as evidence of Luke’s dependence on Matthew. Luke, attempting to adapt Matthew’s Bethlehem as the place of birth of Jesus to his more universalist theme, feels obliged to concoct a silly story of everyone being required by imperial edict to return to their places of birth for a special tax registration. Not to mention the necessary anachronism of his Quirinius timing, too. It is not hard to see that Luke is struggling to incorporate Matthew’s Bethlehem setting into his own tendentious narrative.

But back to Klinghardt’s point:

But, again, Goodacre’s explanation why Luke did not take over this material, is as hypothetical as Kloppenborg’s reply why Luke would have liked it, provided he had read Matthew. Both argue e silentio from Luke’s omissions and try to explain something which is not there.

For most of this material the answer might be much simpler: if Luke followed [Marcion], he did not find any of the [special Matthew] material . . . Since Luke did not “omit” it from his source, there is no need for a hypothetical explanation of his reasons for doing it this way: he simply followed the narrative frame of [Marcion]. (p.14)

But Klinghardt himself appears to be aware of the weakness of this argument — there was no Marcionite nativity “narrative frame” for Luke to “simply follow” in the first place. Hence he, too, must side with Goodacre and add his own arguments why Luke did indeed use and change Matthew at this point — to which I have added my own here.

2008/01/23

Marcion and the Synoptic Problem (3)

Filed under: Gospel of Matthew,Luke-Acts,Marcion,New Testament,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 10:17 pm
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Continuing from Marcion enters the synoptic problem and Marcion and the synoptic problem 2. — notes from Klinghardt’s recent article. K often refers to Mark Goodacre’s The Case Against Q.

A question that keeps hanging over my mind as I read and think about Klinghardt’s article is: Just how reliable is Tertullian’s witness of Marcion’s gospel anyway? How can we be sure Tertullian is not really relying more on Luke and recalling what differences he thinks there were from an earlier reading of Marcion’s gospel? Tertullian does concede that his earlier notes went missing, and one is left wondering how much that survives was from his memory and without immediate reference to Marcion’s gospel.

If that was the case, then is not there a risk of Klinghardt’s argument lacking a stable support — in effect being circular?

But the fact that Epiphanius can be called on to support Tertullian’s testimony from time to time does appear to lessen the risk that this is the case.

Some years ago when first studying what we know about Marcion I had an ambition of sifting through Tertullian et al to see if the Marcionite gospel might indeed cross reference to the synoptic gospels and suggest an alternative to Q. I’m thrilled to see that Klinghardt appears to have done something like that here.

I know the whole notion of this discussion will be nonsense to anyone who cannot admit even the possibility of a second century, let alone post Marcion, date for the synoptics. But the more I read around the issues the more I can’t help thinking that such a late date resolves so many other questions, too, which I discuss here from time to time.

Notes from Klinghardt’s article:

Alternating primitivity in the Double Tradition (Mt & Lk) material

Matthew and Luke alone include “the beatitude” sayings of Jesus. Luke writes: Blessed are the poor; Matthew writes: Blessed are the poor in spirit. Luke’s version here is regarded as the original or more primitive version of the two. Matthew’s defining the poor in spiritual terms is regarded as a subsequent evolution of the saying as it appears in Luke. Sometimes, however, it is Luke who will use what is considered the more mature form of a saying and Matthew the more primitive. The most widely accepted explanation for this alternating primitivity in the double tradition material (that shared exclusively by Matthew and Luke) has been the hypothesis that both Matthew and Luke were using another common source, Q.

Klinghardt however writes: “On the assumption of [Marcion] being prior to Luke the observation of alternating primitivity finds a completely different and rather simple solution.” (p.15)

Tertullian informs us that Marcion’s text matches Luke’s (contra Matthew’s) in the following instances:

  1. Blessed are the poor (Luke 6:20b) — Tert. 4.1.41
  2. Blessed are the persecuted on behalf of the Son of Man (Luke 6:22) — Tert. 41.14.14
  3. The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4, contra Matt. 6:9-13) — Tert. 4.26.3-4 (Tert does not quote the Marcionite Lord’s Prayer but K comments that it is clear he does not know of Matthew’s second and seventh prayer requests in Marcion’s version. Some manuscript evidence also points to the possibility that Luke’s original Lord’s prayer called on the spirit in place of the kingdom and was later changed to “kingdom” — which would also be more consistent with a Marcionite theology.)
  4. Exorcism is performed by the finger of God (Luke 11:20, contra Matt. 12:28 ) — Tert. 4.26.11

Luke’s “re-ordering” of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount

Matthew’s multi-page Sermon on the Mount is not repeated as a solitary block in Luke. Rather, Luke does use a number of the sayings from that sermon but in small snatches scattered throughout the narrative. To those who support Luke’s knowledge of and borrowing from Matthew, this is evidence of Luke’s greater narrative skill; to most, however, it is inconceivable that any author would have broken up a such a “masterpiece” had he known it.

Tertullian in particular informs us that Marcion’s gospel contained the bulk of the broken up “sermon” sayings of Matthew in the same narrative order as found in Luke. In other words, given Macionite priority it appears most likely that Luke followed Marcion’s text rather than another otherwise unattested document, Q.

Klinghardt provides the following table:

  1. Matt. 5:13 // Luke 14:34-35 (parable of salt): —
  2. Matt. 5:15 // Luke 11:33 (parable of light): Tert. 4.27.1
  3. Matt. 5:18 // Luke 16:17 (imperishability of the law): Tert. 4.33.9
  4. Matt. 5:25 // Luke 12:57-59 (reconciling with enemy): Tert. 4.29.15
  5. Matt. 5:32 // Luke 16:18 (divorce and remarriage): Tert. 4.34.1, 4
  6. Matt. 6:9-13 // Luke 11:2-4 (Lord’s Prayer): Tert. 4.26.3-5
  7. Matt. 6:19-21 // Luke 12: 33-34 (on collecting treasures): —
  8. Matt. 6:22-23 // Luke 11:34-36 (parable of the eye): —
  9. Matt. 6:24 // Luke 16:13 (serving 2 masters): Tert. 4.33.1-2; Adam., Dial. 1.26
  10. Matt. 6:25-34 // Luke 12:22-31 (on anxiety): Tert. 4.29.1-5
  11. Matt. 7:7-11 // Luke 11:9-13 (answered prayer): Tert. 4.26.5-10; Epiph. 42.11.6
  12. Matt. 7:13-14 // Luke 13:23-24 (narrow gate): —
  13. Matt. 7:22-23 // Luke 13:26-27 (warning against self-deception): Tert. 4.30.4

On the Minor Agreements in the Triple Tradition (Mt, Mk, Lk) material

These are so, well, “minor” that there is no way to test many of them against Marcion’s gospel without that gospel’s actual text. In some of the minor agreements between Luke and Matthew against Mark there is no Marcionite attestation and it seems logical to think Luke has copied Matthew in such cases.

But a few points are worth noting in relation to the possibility of Marcionite influence:

– the sabbath was not made for man . . .
Both Luke 9:5 and Matthew 12:7-8 omit Mark 2:27 (the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath). There is no attestation that this and other “omission agreements” were in Marcion’s text.

Who hit you?
A more significant and testable agreement is in the depiction of Christ’s beating. Matthew and Luke both add the “Tell us who hit you” taunt to Mark’s account. (cf. Mark 14:65; Luke 22:64; Matt. 26:68 )

This agreement is prima facie evidence that Luke did know and use Matthew. Arguments against this have centred on postulating faulty manuscript transmission or that Luke sometimes occasionally used Matthew as well as Q. The former sounds ad hoc and the latter contradicts the very premise for the Q hypothesis (that Matthean material is not found in Luke.)

But Epiphanius (Panar. 42.11.6) informs us that these words were in Marcion’s gospel. The simplest explanation therefore, given Marcion priority, would be that both Luke and Matthew copied Marcion’s text here.

standing outside (minus the sisters)
Mark 3:31-5 narrates Jesus’ family, including his sisters, are waiting for him outside a house. Luke 8:20 and Matthew 12:47 narrate the same incident from Mark, but without mentioning the sisters and with both describing the family as “standing” outside.

Tertullian read the same (Lukan and Matthean) words in Marcion’s text. 4.19.7

the mustard seed
Mark’s parable of the mustard seed (4:30-32) is told in the passive voice and without naming the subject (sower). Both Matthew and Luke use the active voice and do name the subject (sower). Matthew, however, speaks of a garden, Luke of a field.
Tertullian tells us, 4.30.1, that Marcion had the same version we find in Matthew and Luke. Tertullian also read Luke’s “field” in the Macionite text.

after three days
In Mark 8:31 we read the resurrection was to be “after three days”. In Matthew 16:21 and Luke 9:22 we read it was to be “on the third day”.

Marcion also used “on the third day” — Tertullian 4.21.7

The nativity stories

Klinghardt discusses these as well. But my note-taking time is up for now so that’s another post.

Marcion and the Synoptic Problem (2)

Filed under: Luke-Acts,Marcion,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 8:35 am
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Continuing from previous post on Klinghardt’s recent article:

(this post will read like nonsense if we assume Marcion’s gospel was mutilation of Luke’s as asserted by Tertullian, but that assumption is addressed in other posts in my Marcion archive, including in part the previous post on Klinghardt’s article)

Marcion and the Matthean additions to the Triple Tradition not found in Luke

If Luke is dependent on Matthew (without Q) one must explain why Luke omitted

Kloppenborg rightly says that some of these would have fit well Luke’s editorial purposes.

Klinghardt notes the negative framing of this objection, resting at it does on the assumption of Q, which is also a constructed from another negative set of arguments – and argues that the inclusion of Marcion’s gospel into the equation “allows for a positive and convincing argument”.

Is there support for the hypothesis that Luke followed Marcion’s gospel in the places where we find the above Matthean additions to Mark missing? Klinghardt writes: “All but one of these examples are reported to be part of Mcn [Marcion’s gospel], which allows for a positive check:”

Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees (Matt. 12.5-7)

Matthew’s material is missing from Luke, but Luke’s version is said to be found in Marcion’s text.

Tertullian (AM 4.12.5, 4.12.9-10) tells us that parts of our Luke 6:4 and Luke 6:6-7 are in Marcion’s text.

Epiphanius (Panar. 42.11.6) also read our Luke 6:3-4 in Marcion.

The full quotation of Isaiah 6:9-10 (Matt. 13.14-17)

Tertullian’s quotes from Marcion’s equivalent of Luke 8:2-4, 8 (4.19.1-2) and 8:16-17, 18 (4.19.3-4, 5) are enough for us to reasonably infer that Marcion also quoted Isaiah as it appears in our Luke.

Peter walking on water (Matt. 14.28-31)

This scene of Matthew’s belongs to that non-section of Luke known as the Great Omission — where Luke omits all material from Mark 6:45-8:26. This same section was also “omitted” from Marcion’s gospel. But more pertinently for Klinghardt’s case, the Lukan verses “bracketing” this Great Omission, Luke 9:17 and 9:18, also appear in succession in Marcion’s gospel:

Tertullian, 4.21.4, 6

Thus K concludes that Luke followed Marcion’s text here.

Peter’s confession and beatitude (Matt. 16.16-19)

Luke skips Matthew’s narrative with his briefer outline in Luke 9:20 and 9:21.

Again Tertullian tells us that Marcion also contained these two verses together. (4.21.6)

Tertullian says that in Marcion’s gospel Peter merely said, “You are Christ” (also Adamantius, Dial. 2.13: the Christ). Luke 9:20 says “Christ of God”, which is much closer to Marcion’s form than Matthew’s “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”

The exception clause for divorce (Matt. 19:9b)

Tertullian needs this exception clause to make his argument but cannot find it in neither Marcion nor Luke (16:18), and must resort to Matthew for it. Tertullian gives special attention to this section of Marcion (4.33.7, 9; 4.34.1-2) and complains that Marcion did not hand down the truth of this doctrine.

Love command in reply to rich young man (Matt. 19. 19b)

The episode of Jesus’ exchange is one of the best attested texts in Marcion’s gospel since it contains Jesus’ explicit statement about God the father. Adamantius (Dial. 2:17) quotes Jesus’ answer in Marcion extensively. Marcion, like Luke, has only the list of commandments that must be obeyed. Only Matthew adds the love command.

Pilate’s wife’s dream and washing hands (Matt. 27.19, 24)

There is no information that Marcion included these scenes.

John’s objection to Jesus (Matt 3.15)

Marcion’s gospel began at our Luke 3:1a and continued with our Luke 4:31-37, 16-30.

Marcion therefore did not include a baptism scene at all. Luke therefore copied Matthew here. But Matthew’s interpretation of fulfilling all righteousness in the act was far from Luke’s theological bent, so this passage would have been omitted. (Klinghardt, p.13)

K’s conclusion:

No need for Q to explain these Lukan omissions. They create no problem if Luke was following Marcion.

Hope to cover K’s treatment of the special Matthew material etc in future post . . . .

2008/01/22

Marcion enters the Synoptic Problem

Filed under: Luke-Acts,Marcion,New Testament,Religion — Neil Godfrey @ 10:00 pm
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Matthias Klinghardt in a recent article, The Marcionite Gospel and the Synoptic Problem: A New Suggestion, attempts to break through the deadlock between the Two-Source-Hypothesis and the Farrer-Goodacre-Theory by introducing into the debate a Gospel of Marcion that predates the gospels of Matthew and Luke. “The resulting model avoids the weaknesses of the previous theories and provides compelling and obvious solutions to the notoriously difficult problems.” (Klinghardt, p.1)

Here I share Klinghardt’s opening general arguments justifying the plausibility that Marcion’s gospel preceded canonical Luke.

1. “If Marcion altered Luke for theological reasons, he must have done so very poorly.” (p.7)

Tertullian scoffed at what he claimed was Marcion’s ineptitude for retaining in his “edited” gospel passages that refuted Marcion’s own teachings.

Now Marcion was unwilling to expunge from his Gospel some statements which even made against him–I suspect, on purpose, to have it in his power from the passages which he did not suppress, when he could have done so, either to deny that he had expunged anything, or else to justify his suppressions, if he made any. (Tert. AM 4.43.9)

Tertullian is not alone in quoting from Marcion’s text in order to refute him (also Epiphanius and Irenaeus). As a consequence we can to some extent make a reasonable attempt to construct the gist of Marcion’s gospel. (See )

Tertullian concluded that Marcion had failed to edit out so much material from his gospel that his gospel indeed supported his own anti-Marcionite teachings:

Marcion, I pity you; your labour has been in vain. For the Jesus Christ who appears in your Gospel is mine. (Tert. AM 4.43.9)

2. Tertullian accused Marcion edited canonical Luke, not pre-canonical Luke

Marcion claimed to have arrived at “his gospel” by studiously editing a corrupted original Pauline gospel. Tertullian, however, went on to claim that Marcion accused the catholics of corrupting “his gospel” in order to fit it in to the context of the Jewish Bible:

For if the Gospel, said to be Luke’s which is current amongst us (we shall see whether it be also current with Marcion), is the very one which, as Marcion argues in his Antitheses, was interpolated by the defenders of Judaism, for the purpose of such a conglomeration with it of the law and the prophets . . . . (Tert. AM 4.4.4)

Marcion is not here addressing Marcion’s assumed restoration of the original gospel but the editorial corruption of “his gospel” into the canon of the Old and New Testaments.

For it is certain that the whole aim at which he has strenuously laboured even in the drawing up of his Antitheses, centres in this, that he may establish a diversity between the Old and the New Testaments . . . . (Tert. AM 4.6.1)

Marcionites had claimed to be originally working from a Pauline gospel that needed editing, but that their gospel had then been taken over by their opponents and, with editorial additions, incorporated into the catholic canon.

In other words, Tertullian appears to be tacitly accepting (without wanting to agree with) Marcion’s charge that the catholics were indeed editing the “purified” Marcion gospel.

3. Was Marcion the unique exception in the way he edited texts?

“There is not a single example of a contemporary re-edition of an older text that did not support its editorial concept by including additional material. The supporters of the traditional view [that Marcion’s editing consisted only of deleting passages] have duly with great surprise noted the uniqueness of Marcion’s assumed redactoin but did not take this hint seriously enough to rethink their presuppositions.” (Klinghardt, p.9)

There is no evidence that Marcion at any time extended any passage or inserted any substantial additions to his gospel.

“With respect to what we know about editing older texts within the New Testament and its literary environment this procedure would be unique.” (Klinghardt, pp.8-9)

4. Significance of the anonymous prologue

If Marcion knew and edited canonical Luke, then it is reasonable to expect he knew other canonical gospels as well, and especially the Book of Acts.

So either

Marcion knew Luke-Acts but deleted the prologues and separated Acts from Luke, and rejected Acts completely. — This assumes that Luke-Acts was part of some early form of canon that preceded the Marcionite canon (unlikely in light of Harnack and Campenhausen),

Or

Marcion knew Luke-Acts as a 2 volume work but not as part of the New Testament, and chose only the gospel. — But this is unlikely since Luke and Acts are never found together in any of the manuscripts

The unity of Luke and Acts is thus indicated solely by the prologues which do not contain the author’s name,

“although this would be a nearly necessary genre requirement, at least for the first volume, in particular with respect to the pronounced historiographical “I” of Luke 1:1-4.” (Footnote to L. Alexander, SNTS.MS 78; 1993)

Thus for readers of an isolated 2 volume work Luke-Acts the identity of the author would remain a mystery.

Readers of the canonical edition would recognize Luke as the author of both because of the superscription of Luke (“Gospel According to Luke”) and — only if the prologue provided the link — Acts.

The assumption of Marcion priority offers an easy solution to the question: Marcionites were correct in their claim that their gospel had been incorporated into the catholic canon of Old and New Testaments by the interpolation of the superscription, with other editorial additions, and a feigned Luke-Acts unity.

5. The demonstrated editorial process

The differences between the texts of Marcion’s and Luke’s gospels are in many instances best explained as editorial additions by Luke rather than as abridgments by Marcion.

The most obvious cases are Luke’s re-editing and adding to the beginning of Marcion’s gospel (at Luke 3:1a), and the change of sequence of 4:31-37 and 4:16-30.

Most of Luke’s changes “add up to an integral and consistent concept”.

“The editorial concept that could not be detected in Marcion’s assumed editorial changes is apparent in Luke, thus confirming the view of Marcion being prior to Luke.” (p.10)

The bulk of Klinghardt’s article follows. This consists of a lengthy testing of the above leads with examinations of the Matthearn additions to the Triple Tradition not found in Luke; the special Matthew material not found in Luke; the alternating primitivity in double tradition material; Luke’s presumed reordering of Matthean material; the Minor agreements between Matthew and Luke within the triple tradition material. Kinghardt’s article concludes with a discussion of a new model to address the Synoptic Problem.

2008/01/21

Dating the Book of Acts: the Marcionite Context (1)

This post continues notes from Tyson’s Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle. Previous posts reconsidering the date of the composition of Acts and the Marcionite challenge can be found in my Tyson and Marcion archives.

Tyson begins with Haenchen. (more…)

2008/01/20

The anti-Marcionite character of the Pastoral epistles?

Since Marcion is assumed to be “anti-Jewish” it seems nonsense at first blush to associate his “heresy” with the “Jewish error” in the Pastorals. But in fact what Marcion rejected was the typographical or allegorical reading of the Jewish scriptures. He read them literally and was accused of believing a form of Jewish error. See my previous post on Literal and allegorical scriptures in orthodoxy and heresy. But to start from the beginning . . . .

(more…)

2008/01/14

Marcion’s challenge

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Luke-Acts,Religion,Tyson: Marcion & Luke-Acts — Neil Godfrey @ 11:14 pm
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Marcion presented a formidable challenge to those who opposed his theology and practices. Indeed his opponents spent extraordinary energy in combating his influence, attacking his theology, and constructing alternatives to his practices. It was a massive effort, not only because many people found Marcionite Christianity attractive, but also because his was a complex challenge that, if met at all, had to be engaged on several fronts at once. Marcion’s opponents rightly saw that the very definition of the Chris­tian movement was at stake in the outcome. (Tyson, Marcion and Luke-Acts, p.48 ) (more…)

2008/01/13

Marcion’s Gospel, its character and contents

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Luke-Acts,Marcion,Religion,Tyson: Marcion & Luke-Acts — Neil Godfrey @ 11:10 pm
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Continuing my notes from Tyson’s Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle . . . .

Tertullian’s entire fourth book attacking Marcion is a comparison of Marcion’s gospel with canonical Luke.

Marcion’s opponents never accused Marcion of adding to the Gospel of Luke, but only of omitting sections and changing the wording in places.

Knox compared the pericopes that Harnack believed were found, or possibly found, in common in Marcion’s gospel and canonical Luke and concluded there was a 60 to 75 percent overlap between the two. The wording within the common pericopes may well have varied, sometimes significantly, however.

Harnack‘s reconstruction (not included in the English translation of his book) is the most frequently cited for Marcion’s gospel. The most obvious differences from canonical Luke:

  • Luke 1-2 (birth narrative) has no counterpart in Marcion’s gospel,
  • Luke 3:1a is the beginning of Marcion’s gospel but there is very little from Luke 3:1-4:15 in Marcion,
  • The parable of the prodigal son is not found in Marcion
  • Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is missing from Marcion
  • Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem is not in Marcion’s gospel
  • Nor is the cleansing of the temple scene in Marcion

These, especially the opening omissions, make a significant difference to how the gospel of Marcion would have been read compared with the gospel of Luke.

Tyson discusses the criticism by David S. Williams of Harnack’s reconstruction, but concludes that his points affect the confidence we can have in the specific wording of Marcion’s gospel as opposed to its general content.

Tyson argues that

  • Marcion’s gospel resembled the canonical gospels, hence contained discourse and narrative:
    • — since its opponents were convinced it was indeed “a gospel”
    • — and since its opponents said to resembled Luke

Tyson further argues that the differences between Luke’s and Marcion’s gospels that offended Marcion’s critics consisted of the wording found within common pericopes. When asked by the young man what must be done to have eternal life Marcion’s Jesus does not respond, as per Luke, “Don’t call me good. One is good, God”, but says, “One is good, God, the Father” — thus pointing to the God above the Creator God; and instead of Christ saying “You know the commandments”, Marcion has him say, “I know the commandments”. So we can think of a scene in common between Marcion’s and the canonical gospel, but with different wordings and messages.

Tyson’s impression of the contents of Marcion’s gospel

“Impression” is the best that can be done. We can’t know the finer details. Much of this is what Marcion’s gospel was “not”. The “nots” are of course as important as the “is’s” in order to appreciate its broader place in the history of early church literature, doctrines and practices. Tyson does not claim his description is the last word, and admits to many problem areas, but does present it as a plausible reading based on the studies of previous “specialists” and what we know of Marcion’s teachings.

  • no predictions of Jesus or John,
  • no reference to their parents, or relationship with John,
  • no birth or infancy narratives
  • no circumcision or presentation at the Temple,
  • and nothing of Jesus appearing in the Temple at 12 years
  • No account of the preaching of John the Baptist,
  • nor John’s imprisonment,
  • and no mention of Jesus’ baptism by John,
  • no temptation in the wilderness,
  • no genealogies
  • begins with the time setting — the 15th year of Tiberius (Luke 3:1a) —
  • but jumps immediately to the exorcism of Luke 4:31.

Thus Jesus appears suddenly and without prior notice, “without human connection or local habitation.” Marcion does not associate Jesus in any way with a Christ who was expected by the Jews or the subject of prophecies in scripture. Other examples of Marcion distancing Jesus from the Jewish scriptures:

  • What then was the role of John the Baptist in Marcion’s gospel? John asks Jesus if he is “the coming one”, implying the one expected according to Jewish scriptures. Marcion’s gospel has Jesus reply indirectly — “Whoever is not repelled by me is blessed” — indicating that he is not that Christ. (cf Luke 7:18-23)
  • While Luke 20:41-44 includes a quotation from Psalm 110, this is reference to the Psalms is absent from Marcion’s gospel. The resulting exchange is accordingly a clearer denial that Jesus is not the Son of David Messiah who was the expectation of the Jewish scriptures.
  • In Luke 16:17 Jesus says it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one part of the Law to fail, but in Marcion’s gospel Jesus speaks of “his words” in place of “the Law”.
  • Marcion appears to have seen some, if not permanent, value in the Jewish Torah, however. His gospel’s Jesus tells the healed leper to offer a Mosaic sacrifice as a testimony to him, the leper. (cf Luke 5:14)

Marcion also stressed the distance between Jesus and the original disciples:

  • Jesus does not accept Peter’s confession that he is the Messiah, presumably because his understanding related to Jewish expectations. (cf Luke 9:20)
  • Peter ignorantly wanted to build tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, thus demonstrating again the misunderstanding that Jesus was closely related to the Law (cf. Luke 9:33)
  • Jesus predicted Peter’s denial, but Tyson notes that “it is curiously unclear whether or not Marcion’s gospel included the story of Peter’s denial that appears in Luke 22:55-62.”

Marcion’s take on the resurrection narrative (Luke 24) — this is the most difficult section of Marcion’s gospel to reconstruct from the sources but Tyson draws on Williams and Harnack to suggest the following:

  • Jesus reminded his witnesses that he had predicted his suffering
  • Jesus rebuked those who had not heeding his words (contrast Luke where Jesus rebukes them for not heeding the words of the prophets of Scripture)
  • Jesus invites witnesses to see his hands and feet

Not included in Marcion’s gospel:

  • No reference to the stone that had been rolled away from the tomb
  • No names are given for the women who first discovered the tomb to be empty
  • No mention of Peter visiting the tomb and then leaving perplexed (the disciples remain blind and do not discover the empty tomb nor believe the women who do)
  • Jesus does not discuss the Hebrew prophets nor claim the prophets foretold him
  • No hint of an ascension

Fragmentary allusions in Marcion’s gospel to the Emmaus road incident also clearly distances Jesus from the Jewish scriptures in Marcion’s gospel:

  • Jesus scolds Cleopas when he expresses disappointment that Jesus had not fulfilled the Jewish Messianic expectations
  • Jesus scolds the two disciples for not believing his words, not the words of the prophets
  • Marcion’s gospel may have included these allusions to Luke’s “Emmaus episode” as part of a single appearance to followers at Jerusalem. Problematic reconstruction here.

The resurrection appearance in Marcion’s gospel is the most problematic:

  • There may have been only one appearance
  • The names of those Jesus appeared to are not given
  • The remaining eleven disciples are mentioned as unbelievers (cf Luke 24:9, 11)
  • There are other unnamed disciples who finally recognize the risen Jesus in what appears to have been a Eucharistic meal of bread and fish
    • (Vridar note: compare Justin Martyr’s account — only one resurrection appearance at which the eucharist was instituted. — The linked page is in need of revision on some significant points but the section on the post-resurrection narrative is still fine.)
  • No appearance to Peter — Peter is not even named in the resurrection narrative. Marcion appears to have excluded him along with the rest of the disciples from a resurrection appearance.
  • No appearances to any of the disciples and they disbelieve the reports that come to them. The apostles are thus left on the outer as disbelieving false apostles.
  • Marcion’s Jesus does say: “Look at my hands and my feet . . . a spirit does not have bones as you see I have”. Tertullian claimed that Marcion interepreted “as you see me having” to refer to “a spirit”, not to “bones”, so that it meant to say that he did not have flesh and bones, but was spirit.
    • (Vridar note: If I recall correctly Gregory Riley in Resurrection Reconsidered argues that this statement of Jesus does not deny what moderns would still call the spirit essence or composition of Jesus. He discusses the various ancient usages of “flesh” when used in relation to both here and now as well as departed persons. Unfortunately I cannot comment off hand on the argument — will have to have another look at the book to refresh my memory re the details.) — Added June 13 2008, See more notes on Riley’s discussion here.

(See also Center for Marcionite Research)

2008/01/12

Did Marcion mutilate the Gospel of Luke?

Filed under: Luke-Acts,Marcion,Religion,Tyson: Marcion & Luke-Acts — Neil Godfrey @ 9:48 pm
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This was the claim of Irenaeus, Tertullian and Epiphanaeus.

Besides this, he mutilates the Gospel which is according to Luke, removing all that is written respecting the generation of the Lord, and setting aside a great deal of the teaching of the Lord, in which the Lord is recorded as most dearly confessing that the Maker of this universe is His Father. Irenaeus AH 1:27.2

Now, of the authors whom we possess, Marcion seems to have singled out Luke for his mutilating process. Tetullian, AM 4:2

But these claims are questionable when we think about the times in which they were recorded. Irenaeus was writing in the late second century, Tertullian in the early third, and Epiphanaeus much later still. “The ecclesiastical situation for all these writers was very different from that in Marcion’s time.” (Tyson, p.39 — This blog post is mostly derived from Tyson’s book)

Contrast the date of Marcion, especially as revised by Hoffmann to the early part of the second century: — See previous posts beginning with Dating Marcion Early (2). (This revised earlier date for Marcion is based primarily on a rejection of the the ideologically tendentious date assigned by Irenaeus and an assigning greater weight to the contrasting contemporaneous observations of Justin Martyr.)

Irenaeus saw the need for authority to redress the “riotous diversity” that characterized Christianity till his time. That meant an authoritative canon and a clear genealogy of bishops from the apostles to his own day. And that canon of four gospels had to be four because the world — throughout which the church was scattered — had four corners and four winds. (Irenaeus AH 3:11.8)

Tyson refers to Bauer’s conclusion:

Walter Bauer has convincingly shown that the early part of the second century was a time of great diversity in terms of Christian thought and practice. He observed that heterodoxy probably preceded orthodoxy in many locations and that, particularly in the East, Marcionism, or something closely resembling it, was the original form of Christianity. (Tyson, p.39)

Bauer’s work is online. Tyson refers particularly to his discussion from p.194, his chapter 8. To cite one section from Bauer’s chapter 8:

One final point. The reckless speed with which, from the very beginning, the doctrine and ideology of Marcion spread can only be explained if it had found the ground already prepared. Apparently a great number of the baptized, especially in the East, inclined toward this view of Christianity and joined Marcion without hesitation as soon as he appeared, finding in him the classic embodiment of their own belief. What had dwelt in their inner consciousness in a more or less undefined form until then, acquired through Marcion the definite form that satisfied head and heart. No one can call that a falling away from orthodoxy to heresy.

Tyson discusses the implausibility of Marcion, living at a time when there was no gospel canon as called for by Irenaeus, being faced with an authoritative list of 4 gospels, selecting one of those four, excising large chunks from it, and then elevating it to a level above the others, “in full consciousness of having chosen a practice opposed to the worldwide church”. Such a notion is what Irenaeus suggests, but it is anachronistic.

If the scenario of Marcion knowingly mutilating one of the gospels upheld by his peers to be of the sacred four is implausible, what did Marcion do?

If he did select a gospel from among many known to him, then we must think of unstable texts with various editions, certainly not formal or even quasi-canonical collections.

It may be objected that Marcion would naturally select the text written by the companion of Paul, Luke. However, there is no evidence that the gospels were assigned author names until the time of Irenaeus. The first evidence we have that a gospel was authored by Luke, a companion of Paul, is from Irenaeus. (In a future post I hope to discuss Hoffmann’s suggestion for how Luke came to be assigned the authorship of the gospel and Acts.)

Tyson asserts the most likely scenario is that Marcion worked with a gospel that was originally a text known to his locality (the Pontus).

The evidence for local texts at this time is strong, and the use of one gospel in a specific church is manifest. (Tyson, p.40)

Tyson’s footnoted support for this assertion:

B. H. Streeter, “The Four Gospel: A Study of Origins” (1924), 27-50.

Harnack, “Marcion: The Gospel” (1921), 29. Harnack accepted the idea that Marcion did use the Gospel of Luke, but believed that this gospel may have been the only one known in the Pontus region.

Yet clearly there was significant overlap between Marcion’s gospel and the canonical Luke. For this reason the opponents of Marcion, writing from a very different time and context, accused him of mutilating the canonical gospel.

A follow-up post will outline what Marcion’s gospel must have looked like, with an evaluation of Harnack’s reconstruction of Marcion’s text.

2008/01/07

Dating Marcion early (2)

Filed under: Book Reviews & Notes,Marcion,Religion,Tyson: Marcion & Luke-Acts — Neil Godfrey @ 7:27 am
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Following from previous post re Hoffmann’s arguments for an early date for Marcion:

Marcion is generally said to have launched his heresy from the mid-second century — that is, long after the completion of our New Testament writings. Some of the Pastoral epistles are said to have been completed as late as the early second century. Some arguments exist that Acts itself, and even possibly some of the gospels, were also completed after the first century.

Hoffmann challenges this late date, and Tyson picks up Hoffmann’s arguments. Tyson in fact argues that Marcion was influential, if not always directly, in the shaping of what became our canonical Gospel of Luke as well as the book of The Acts of the Apostles.

It is not difficult to challenge the generally assumed (late) dates for Marcion. They are based on a face-value reading of Irenaeus (ca 180 c.e.) in particular. Yet the earlier author, Justin Martyr (ca. 150 c.e.) gives a very different account of the time of Marcion’s activity. (more…)

2008/01/05

Tradition and Invention: & the date of Marcion

The “heretic” Marcion is a significant figure in the history of early Christianity but the sources for our dates for his activity are contradictory. It is quite possible that if we attempt to understand the reasons for these contradictions in the sources we will see that Marcion’s influence on our canonical New Testament texts as far more influential than it is generally portrayed today in histories of early Christianity. (For more background on Marcion see the Center for Marcionite Research and at Early Christian Writings.)

One recent fresh look at the date — and influence on the New Testament writings — of Marcion is found in Tyson‘s Marcion and Luke-Acts. (See the left column category “Tyson” under “Book reviews/notes”). Tyson argues that Acts was composed in the second century as a response to Marcionite Christianity, which was possibly the largest brand of Christianity at the time and which claimed Paul as its sole apostle.

The ideological bias for dating Marcion late

Part of Tyson’s argument is the possibility that Marcion himself began his work considerably earlier than is often assumed. The generally accepted dates for Marcion are based on a face-value reading of Church Fathers’ polemics against his doctrines. Tyson and others remind us that these authors had an ideological reason for placing Marcion as late as possible: their theological constructs dictated that Christianity heresy infected Christianity late, sometimes as late as 117 c.e. (the accession of emperor Hadrian). The idea was to keep false teaching far removed from what they believed was the “original purity” of the Church and the time of the twelve apostles.

Hoffman’s reasons for dating Marcion earlier

Tyson draws in part on R. Joseph Hoffmann’s argument in his discussion of the possibility of a much earlier date for Marcion.

Following is a dot-point outline from R. Joseph Hoffman’s Marcion, on the restitution of Christianity. It’s all from Hoffmann’s second chapter and my numbering matches the original chapter sections.

(more…)

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