Monday, July 28, 2014

Could Irenaeus Have Really Liked Justin?

Irenaeus admired Justin Martyr and borrowed from his writings (AH 4.6.2, 5.26.2) but he could hardly deny to the heretics the right to distinguish between two gods and then approve of Justin's saying that there are two gods. [Denis Minns, Irenaeus: An Introduction p. 60]


But then we have to ask - why do we assume that the Marcionites (i.e. the one's whom Irenaeus and Tertullian spend the most time condemning for 'holding there are two gods') had the same system as Justin? Why couldn't Justin - i.e. the real Justin of history rather than the Church Father whose works were altered by Irenaeus - have been a Marcionite or a sect closely aligned with Marcion?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

From Eric W. Scherbenske's "Canonizing Paul"

Schmid has proven convincingly that Epiphanius used Marcion's texts (Marcion, 173), in contrast to Clabeaux, who thought that Epiphanius did not but rather used previous anti-Marcionite works (Lost Edition, 14).

I am not sure I remember this comprehensive argument.  I always hate it when scholars just say 'someone else proved it.'  I don't remember Schmid 'convincingly proving' this assertion.  Wishful thinking I suspect because I came to Clabeaux's conclusion a long time ago.  Do you ever get the feeling you are just too honest to be engaged in the business of scholarship?  What if the real bottom line is that we can't prove anything and our fate as a culture is just to move rocks from one pile to another all day, every day for the rest of time? 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Here's Why Scholarship Dates Marcion to the Middle of the Second Century (In Spite of the Fact that the Marcionites Themselves Probably Identified Marcion as Living in the First Century)

Why should anyone care when the heretic 'Marcion' lived?  I seem to care a lot about this problem.  Why am I so interested in Marcion?  I suppose the answer has something to with a fascination with ontology 'the study of the nature of being.'  Ever since I went through puberty I was fascinated with what happens after we die.  Not in the mystical 'spirit world' sense.  Just simply what happens to our legacy here on earth. 

I had no living 'heroes' growing up.  I always believed, perhaps naively, that the great artist has the ability to give meaning to existence - the product undoubtedly of being too deeply involved with one of those dead idols of my youth, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.

I can still remember my grade ten Italian-Canadian history teacher dismissing my interest in this philosopher.  'Give me a break,' he smirked, 'you're reading Nietzsche?'   No I didn't just read Nietzsche at that tender age.  I inhaled Nietzsche into my very soul.  Perhaps it had something to do with a lack of a real father figure in my life.  I don't know. 

In any event, in due course Nietzsche gave way to an equally impassioned interest in Patristic literature by way of the second century pagan critic of Christianity Celsus of who-knows-where.  Somewhere along the way I stumbled upon Marcion and the rest is history I suppose. 

I think I disliked organized Christianity for the same reasons as Nietzsche.  I don't think you can be good by merely following the rules.  But then again Kierkegaard noticed the same thing.  Gradually, little by little, by studying the Church Fathers I came to earn my intellectual independence from my German philosopher friend.  I became less and less impressed by his knowledge of early Christianity and in that way, I ceased to adore Nietzsche and eventually learned to forget him.  Nevertheless the influence would always be there.

I think subconsciously Marcion became for me the epitome of the Nietzschean artist who creates a new table of values.  Of course all of this is rather curious because one does not readily associate Christianity with Nietzsche.  Nevertheless there was something very Nietzschean about Marcion.  When I came to make the connection between Marcion and Mark the identification became strong still. 

For the moment at least let's go back to the problem we started working on in our last post - when can we say with any degree of certainty that Marcion lived?  We should start I believe with the arguments developed by a 'real scholar' for a moment, and those put forward in particular by Joseph Tyson, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.  In one part of his work on Marcion he asks whether Tertullian's dating of Marcion to 144 CE - should be accepted as historically accurate?  He writes:

Drawing on this reference in Tertullian, Harnack concludes that the year 144 C.E. must originally have referred to some important date in the history of the Marcionite church. He is precise in calculating the time period as extending to the second half of July 144, and he writes: "This can only be the year of Marcion's final break with the church and the founding of his own church on the basis of the new scriptural canon." But it does not seem legitimate to take Tertullian's comments as if they were meant to supply accurate biographical information about Marcion. In line with the concept of the late development of heresy, Tertullian's purpose was to show that Marcion's teachings did not come to light before the time of Antoninus Pius and that Marcion was "an Antoninian heretic, impious under Pius."

Hoffmann is correct in observing that "Tertullian's calculation is not offered, therefore, in the interest of supplying biographical information, but rather in order to prove that Marcion's teaching did not arise before the middle decades of the second century. Obviously, however, if the Marcionites had accepted this reckoning, as Tertullian claims, there would be no need for such proof. The only possible conclusion is that the Marcionites themselves posited a much earlier date for the founding of their church and, accordingly, for the teaching of Marcion." Unfortunately we have no way to document Hoffmann's claim that the Marcionites had an earlier date for the founding of their church.

There is, however, an intriguing reference just following the statement of Clement of Alexandria quoted above. Clement says that the heretics allege that "Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas. And he was the pupil of Paul. For Marcion, who arose in the same age with them, lived as an old man with the younger [heretics]." The statement about Marcion clearly does not represent Clement's views. The claim must, however, have been known in the third century as an allegation voiced by Marcion's supporters. It is likely that it represents a Marcionite reaction against the proto-orthodox conception about the late appearance of heresy, and heresy, and it inspires no greater confidence than do Tertullian's and Clement's calculations.

It is worth noting, however, that Clement's only means to refute the Marcionite claim is to reassert his views about the priority of truth to error. Even if it seems appropriate to be dubious about the claims of Marcion's followers, there are good reasons to believe that his dates were somewhat earlier than those posited by Irenaeus and Tertullian. References from the early Christian writers are inconsistent, confused, and biased.

Hoffmann's comments are apt at this point: "Tertullian's elaborate calculation like Irenaeus' genealogy and Clement's ambiguous chronology must be seen in this light. It is an attempt to counteract the effects of a tradition according to which Marcionism had developed much earlier than in the times of Antoninus. Certain they are that Marcion did not converse with apostles: but they are far from certain about the facts of his life. Did his heresy erupt under Hadrian (Clement) or under Antoninus (Tertullian)? Was he a member of the church at Rome under Telesforus and a heretic under Hyginus (Tertullian), or a follower of Cerdo under the reign of Anicetus (Irenaeus)?" [Joseph Tyson Marcion and Luke-Acts p. 28]

I think this is a very good introduction to the problem with relying on Tertullian for biographical information about Marcion.  But I have to admit, Tyson wimps out - perhaps deliberately - when it comes to the proper dates from Marcion.  Indeed he never really answers the question.

Now this is the most important part about being a respected academic I guess - stay away from strange opinions.  I know full well that many living scholars don't follow these rules.  Yet I think that each academic limits himself to only a handful of seriously weird opinions a year.  In this case Tyson just wasn't willing to stick his neck out on the line. 

With respect to the dating of Marcion while Tyson does mention the curious opinion of Clement of Alexandria he avoids mentioning completely that associated with Marutha of Meparkat, Mesopotamia who goes one step further - saying that Marcion not only lived in the apostolic age but was himself the head of the apostles.  I don't know why Tyson doesn't mention Marutha.  Perhaps he forgot his testimony or - as I just said - maybe he limited himself deliberately to only a handful of strange opinions and even fewer appeals to strange ancient texts. 

Whatever the case may be it might be worth taking a second look at Clement's testimony which Tyson mentioned.  We read Clement declare:

For that the human assemblies which they held were posterior to the Catholic Church requires not many words to show. For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius. And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero. It was later, in the times of Adrian the king, that those who invented the heresies arose; and they extended to the age of Antoninus the eider, as, for instance, Basilides, though he claims (as they boast) for his master, Glaucias, the interpreter of Peter. Likewise they allege that Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas. And he was the pupil of Paul. For Marcion, who arose in the same age with them, lived as an old man with the younger [heretics]. And after him Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter.

The subject of the section is not merely 'the heretics from the time of Hadrian' but in fact a discussion of two ages from which prominent Christians are known to have developed and thus it is extremely important for our present discussion. Clement's point is to demonstrate that merely 'human assemblies' (ἀνθρωπίνας συνηλύσεις) were posterior to the Catholic Church. This is underscored by the fact that "the [age of] apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero." This apostolic period is contrasted with the "time of Hadrian" when most - but not all - the heresies arose.

Thus we should understand Clement to be saying that these two periods act as bookends to the life of Marcion. Furthermore the statement "Marcion who arose in the same age with them" (Μαρκίων γὰρ κατὰ τὴν αὐτὴν αὐτοῖς ἡλικίαν) applies to the aforementioned age of the apostles just as the second clause in the sentence - "lived as an old man with the younger" (γενόμενος ὡς πρεσβύτης νεωτέροις συνεγένετο) connects us back to the "times of Hadrian" and the next sentence "After him Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter" (μεθ' ὃν Σίμων ἐπ' ὀλίγον κηρύσσοντος τοῦ Πέτρου ὑπήκουσεν).

There is no other way to read this material in my opinion. There are two ages delineated here - 'the apostolic age' and the 'times of Hadrian' associated with the 'Catholic Church' and the 'heresies.' The fact that Marcion is made to span the two ages is puzzling in the sense of it contradicts our assumptions regarding the unbridled hatred of the Church Fathers for Marcion. But the text says what it says.

Tyson acknowledges that Clement's report (a) derives from the Marcionites and (b) makes the sect much older. But again he doesn't seem to be aware of Marutha and doesn't cite him throughout his book. He also goes out of his way to avoid tackling the exact meaning of the text.  Nevertheless we can confirm our suspicions by citing a number of prominent authorities on Patristic literature to get our answer:

The words relating to Simon, Σίμων ἐπ' ὀλίγον κηρύσσοντος τοῦ Πέτρου ὑπήκουσεν, are evidently foreign from the purpose of Clement. He is insisting that the heretical teachers appeared after the apostolic age. But, according to the word in question, Simon is represented, not as a heretic who appeared after the apostolic age, but as contemporary with St Peter ; while, if their connection with what precedes by μεθ' ὃν be retained, he is at the same time affirmed to have succeeded Marcion. [Andrews Norton, The Evidences of the Genuineness of the Gospels Part 2 p. 50]

Similarly the great Morton Smith declares:

Trying to prove the Catholic Church older than the heresies, Clement says that, after Marcion, Simon Magus was for a short while an auditor of Peter's (III. 75. 18-76. 1). Since this is clearly false the passage has to be emended, and a number emended, and a number of scholars have conjectured that Μαρκίων should be corrected to Μάρκος; cf. Stahlin, ad loc, who rejects this emendation but marks the text as corrupt. [Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark p. 83]

another source notes:

Clement of Alexandria (Strum. vii. § 107) alone seems to have an inkling that there was something wrong. He puts Simon after Marcion, and yet refers in the same breath to his acceptance of Peter's preaching. [Hugh Chisholm, Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 entry Simon Magus]

similarly according to Smith and Wace:

It is more difficult to deal with a passage of Clemens Alex., which has much puzzled his commentators. Having stated that it had been alleged that Valentinus had been a hearer of Theodas. a disciple of Paul, he goes on to say that Marcion being of the same age lived with these as an elder with younger, after whom Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter. In all the early anti-heretical treatises Valentinus is placed before Marcion, who is here not only made his elder contemporary, but is even made to precede Simon Magus.

and again P C Sense notes:

I hardly think Clement of Alexandria could have been mistaken about the date of the latter. He tells us distinctly that he- was after Marcion, and that he heard the preaching of Peter (Strom., vii. 1 7).

Of course once the reader accepts that Clement learned from the Marcionites that their leader lived in the first century - a situation confirmed by Robert Eisler's reconstruction of a fourth or fifth century prologue to the gospel of John developed at length more recently by Professor Markus Vinzent of King's College London - how far are we from the conclusions of Marutha of Meparkat, Mesopotamia, that Marcion not only lived in the apostolic age (as per Clement) but was himself an apostle and more - the head of the apostles? 

Some might through up the objection that Marutha can't be taken seriously because he was only writing in the fifth century.  But as C K Barrett notes:

About AD 400 the Marcionite church was still active in Mesopotamia; it may be assumed that it was in possession of its sacred literature and that the Marcionite NT and the Antitheses were current and were read both by Marcionites and by and by those who entered into controversy with them. Among the latter was a local bishop, Marutha of Maipherkat (Maipheracti, Martyropolis, Tagsit). His work confirms what is otherwise known of Marcion's NT [Acts Volume 2 p. xlviii] 

Moreover Adolph von Harnack notes of the general milieu in the East was very closely related to Marcionitism generally:

The primitive Jewish Christian substratum of Syrian Christianity comes out even in Aphraates ; it confirms the opinion that during the brief initial epoch of Christianity in Eastern Syria (of which we know nothing), the converts were principally drawn from converted Jews. One very remarkable trait is that of sexual asceticism (derived from Tatian, of course, not from Judaism). Baptized persons are not to marry ; any one who desires to marry is to abstain from baptism, for baptism is a spiritual marriage with Christ. Burkitt (p. 126) rightly speaks of " a deliberate reservation of baptism for the spiritual aristocracy of Christendom " (cp. also his conclusions upon the b'nai Q'yama). This standpoint goes far beyond that of the Novatians, but it is quite in keeping with that of Eustathius of Sebaste ; it denotes a common Oriental type of primitive Christianity, which probably was focussed at Edessa (cp., however, the account of the preaching of repentance at Caesarea Cappadocia in Socrates v. 22). A doctrinal and practical position of this kind must have made it difficult to oppose the Marcionites, who were numerous in Eastern Syria, for they too refused to baptize any except unmarried persons. From the works of Ephraem and the heresy-catalogue of Maruta of Maipherkat (Texte .u. Unters., xix. I, 1899) we can judge how heresies swarmed in Eastern Syria and Persia even in the third century. — Monasticism entered Mesopotamia at latest under Constantine, thanks to Mar Awgin [Eugenius] ; cp. Butler's Lausiac History of Palladius (1898), p. 218, and Budge's Book of the Governors, p. xliv. Mar Awgin came from Egypt ; he was a pupil'of Pachomius and subsequently a friend of Jacob of Nisibis. He founded a monastery in the mountains near Nisibis. He died in 363, after living for more than thirty years in this monastery, which possibly was founded, as later Syrian witnesses assert, before 325 AD
And again as Ioan P. Culianu notes "from the IVth century Marcionism disappeared in the West and became the target of attacks by Eastern Christian apologists, mainly Syrians like Adamantius, Aphraates, Ephraem, Maruta, Isidore of Pelusium, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus, but also Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis on Cyprus, and the Armenian Eznik of Kolb. On Marutha providing information corroborated in other sources."

But perhaps the best reason we should take seriously the suggestion that Marcion was, as Marutha says, held to be 'head of the apostles' is as Robert Smith Wilson notes he consistently gives us good and reliable information about the sect:

Maruta also refers to Marcionite hymns or psalms : ' They have also composed hymns (or psalms) different from David's which they recite in their prayers.' With this we can compare the end of the Muratorian fragment : ' Arsinoi autem seu Valentini vel Miltiadis nihil in totum recipimus, qui etiam novum Psalmorum librum Marcioni conscripserunt.' According to Maruta this corpus of new psalms is of Marcionite origin ; according to the Muratorian fragment it is from Valentinus and the other Gnostics.

Could it be that the Marcionites not only held Marcion to have lived in the first century but was himself 'the head of the apostles'?  I certainly think so. 

Breakthrough: The Marcionites Understood Marcion to Have Been an Apostle - if not THE Apostle

No one wants to appear to be stupid - or at least, no one but me it seems.  One of the things I hate about academics is that - the fear of looking foolish tends to make them avoid certain opinions.  I don't know if the Marcionite understanding of Marcion is one such opinion.  I mean, the information is out there in the early sources which makes it almost certain they believed something absolutely incredible about their founder. 

I don't know why no one has ever brought it up before.  I assume at least a handful of people have made themselves acquainted with all of our earliest sources about this sect. I must assume that one of the reasons no one has ever published something on this, is that promoting the idea that the Marcionites thought Marcion was an apostle - if not the apostle - has the effect of making one look rather silly.  Whatever the case may be, here is the chief evidence:

1. Instead of Peter they (the Marcionites) set up for themselves Marcion as the head of the apostles [Marutha of Meparkat, Mesopotamia]

2. And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero. It was later, in the times of Adrian the king, that those who invented the heresies arose ... Marcion, who arose in the same age with them (the apostles), lived as an old man with the younger. After him Simon heard for a little the preaching of Peter. [Clement of Alexandria]

3. if Marcion be an apostle (as they claim), nevertheless as Paul says, "Whether it be I or they, so we preach" [Tertullian of Carthage]

We shall develop this understanding even further, but let us start with the jarring conclusion that the Marcionites are reported to have believed Marcion was an apostle - if not 'the apostle' - and move on from there in subsequent posts. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More on Jacob and Esau and the Myth of Zurvan

The son of Zurvan's desire is Ohrmazd, warm and moist, the god of goodness, light, and life. The son of his doubt is Ahri- man, cold and dry, lord of darkness and evil. To Ahriman Zurvan had planned to give nothing, for his intent was to bestow the rule of the world upon the son he loved. But Ahriman thrusts himself first out of the womb and claims the rule, to the horror of his father, who exclaims, "My son is light and fragrant, but thou art dark and stinking. And so for a time Ahriman obtains lordship in this world, though the moment of his destruction and the triumph of Ohrmazd is set. The story of Jacob and Esau comes quickly to mind, and indeed what we have here is another set of doublets." [Jeffery Burton Russell, The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity p. 111] 

 What does it tell us about the origins of the Pentateuch if Ezra (for lack of a better name) its author re-purposed Babylonian and Persian myths to construct its 'historical record'? I really don't know. My first sense is that Ezra really didn't know much abou the history of his people before Egypt. But why transform the story of two divine twins into that of two earthly ones? Yet Esau is at once Eeshu, the one who bears the face of Elohim. I think these words (Genesis 33:10) are a confession on the part of its author that something lies deeper under the surface, that the recurring pattern of rival twins goes back to a divine - and ultimately Persian - source.

 But what of the idea that the Persians venerated Ohrmazd and the Israelites extolled his wicked rival? I can't help but see something subversive in this - that from its very beginnings, the Pentateuch was rooted in a crypto-theology which kept the real meaning of the narrative away from outsiders.

Jacob and Esau and the Iranian Myth of Zurvan


I happened to have stumbled across an incredibly detailed study of the Iranian myth of Zurvan at the Encyclopaedia Iranica.  I had a vague recollection about the figure of Zurvan or 'Time' in Zoroastrianism.  I think I was first introduced to the concept in one of the books in the Eranos series when I was a kid.  Nevertheless when I became aware of the strange and twisted back story to the myth I found parallels between the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau quite astounding:

We are left, therefore, with a very specific and amply attested fact: the myth of Zurvan, which is an alternative version of the Zoroastrian myth of creation known from Greek, Syriac, Armenian, and Arabic sources (texts given synoptically in Zaehner, 1955 and Rezania, 2010). In this myth, which is surprisingly uniform in the various sources, the two spirits (Ohrmazd [see AHURA MAZDĀ] and Ahreman [see AHRIMAN]) are presented as the twin offspring of a pre-existing god Zurvan. The difference among versions of the myth is largely restricted to the origin of the two spirits: the myth presents Zurvan as sacrificing for a period of a thousand years, in order to beget a son. Zurvan experienced a moment of doubt; as a result, Ohrmazd came into being because of the sacrifices and Ahreman out of Zurvan’s doubt. When Zurvan realized that two children had been formed in his womb, he promised to give dominion to his first-born, intending it to be Ohrmazd, but Ahreman pierced the womb and presented himself as the first-born. It is here that the stories vary, but in general it is from the birth of the two spirits onwards that the narration of the cosmogony follows the customary lines known from “standard” Zoroastrianism. The myth of Zurvan is thus some sort of a “prequel” to the ordinary story of creation, and there are very few (if any) indications that this prequel was considered as imposing by any contemporary Zoroastrian, as it has seemed to modern Western scholars. 

I have grown more and more interested in the possibility that scholars haven't done enough to uncover the Persian influence on the development of the Torah.  One of the most obvious impediments is the silly tendency of researchers to assume that 'Judaism' came before 'Samaritanism.'  I see the actually historically inverted.  In other words, the reason we know so little about the original exegetical tradition associated with the Pentateuch is because (a) our understanding of the text is dominated by Jewish sources and (b) 'Judaism' only emerged as a separate tradition at the beginning of the Hellenistic period (cf. the fragments of Hecataeus).

Under these assumptions, I put forward that the Dustan were likely connected with the oldest exegetical traditions in Israel.  The name 'Dustan' is Persian as are a number of words in the Pentateuch and more important associated with surviving Samaritan sectarian groups in the first and second centuries of the Common Era.  I wonder then whether the Persian myth of Zurvan is the proper literary context for understanding the Jacob and Esau narrative.  Consider what we get from Eznik of Kolb in the 5th century:

When, they saw, there was nothing at all, neither heaven nor earth nor any creatures that are in heaven or earth, there was a certain one named Zruan, which is translated fate or glory. He performed sacrifice" for one thousand years, so that there might be a son to him, whose name is Ormszd, who might make heaven and earth and everything that is in them. And after a thousand years of performing sacrifice he began to ponder in his mind, and said, 'Will this sacrifice I am performing be of any help, and will there be to me a son Ormizd, if I strive in vain?' And while he was meditating on this, Ormizd and Arhmn were engendered" in the womb of their mother: Ormazd, from the performance of sacrifice; and Arhmn, from the doubting. Then, when Zruan found out, he said, 'There are two sons there in the womb: the one of them who reaches me first, him I will make king.' And when Ormizd recognized the thoughts of his father, he declared them to Arhmn, saying, 'Zruan our father had the thought that the one of us who goes to him first, him will he make king.' And when Arhmn heard this he punctured the womb, went out and stood before his father. And Zruan, seeing him, did not know who this might be, and asked, 'Who are you?' And he said, I am your son.' Zruan said to him, 'You are not my son, my son is sweet-smelling and luminous, and you are dark and foul- smelling.'"- And while they were speaking these things to each other, Ormizd being born in his own hour, came and stood before Zruan. And when Zruan saw him, he knew that this was Ormazd his son, for whose sake he had been sacrificing. And, taking up the bundle of twigs" with which he had been performing the sacrifice, he gave it to Ormizd, saying, 'Up till now I performed sacrifice for your sake, hereafter you will do it for mine.' And as Zruan gave the bundle of twigs to Ormgzd and blessed him, Arhmn, coming up to Zruan, said to him, 'Did you not promise" this: Whichever of my two sons reaches me first, I will make him king?' And Zruan, in order not to break his promise, said to Arhmn, 'O false one and malefactor! Let the kingdom be given to you for nine thousand years, my having appointed Ormazd king over you, and after nine thousand years Ormszd shall reign, and what he will then to do, he shall do it.' Then began Ormizd and Arhmn to make the creations; and everything that Ormizd made was good and straight [ulil], and whatever Arhmn worked was evil and warped [t'iwr]." [Eznik of Kolb, De Deo (Maries and Mercier 1960, pp. 460- 461  tr. by J. R. Russell]

What are the implications for our understanding of the origins of the Israelite religious form that the tradition possibly understood itself to have originated from the Semitic equivalent of Arhmn?  If the parallels hold up we should ask, how and why did the story of two heavenly twins develop into an association with two earthly twins as the heads of a family of West Semitic people?  As well we should ask, what are the implications on Marcionitism?

My feeling again is that at the core Marcionitism developed from the earliest surviving forms of the Israelite religion - in specific the Dustan (hence the early interest in Samaria and the 'Dositheans' in particular among the Church Fathers).  As well Marcionite 'dualism' and its struggle to distinguish itself from Manichaeanism marks the difference between the early Israelite sects 'loose borrowing' from Zurvanism as opposed to the tradition of Mani which went back to the original source of the tradition.

Hard to prove any of these things right now, but I think in general the existence of an early Israelite tradition rooted in Persian religious thought is ignored by scholars because (a) too much emphasis is placed on Judaism and (b) too little is accorded to Samaritan sources.  Any attempt to reconstruct an Israelite religious tradition which dated back to the Persian period is also necessarily going to be quite speculative.  The motto of most scholars by contrast seems to be 'a sure nothing is better than a maybe something.'  But in this case we have to ask - what happened to the Persian-religious inspiration that made Paradise in the shape of an Iranian garden and bid Moses goodbye with the eshdat lamo?  I clearly suspect that it will end up being the 'missing link' in our understanding of Judeo-Christian origins ultimately connecting Marcion to Moses ...

Monday, July 7, 2014

The 'Super-Celestial' Textual Variant in 1 Corinthians 15:48 - 49

In my previous posts I noted that the Marcionite recension of 1 Corinthians 15:48 - 49 was known to Celsus.  The emphasis was clearly on taking on the 'super-celestial' rather than mere 'heavenly' image as our surviving Catholic texts render.  This was a reflection of the Marcionite - and ultimately mystical Jewish - understanding of a 'heaven of heavens,' that is a third heaven above the two heavens of this world.  It is worth noting that I discovered the same reading in Jerome's writings.  First the Commentary on Isaiah:
Dissipabitur ergo terra, et omnia terrena opera redigentur ad nihilum, ut abolita imagine χοἳκοῦ, permaneat imago supercoelestis. Primus enim homo de terra terrenus, et secundus de coelo coelestis: qualis terrenus, tales et terreni; et qualis supercoelestis, tales et supercoelestes: ut sicut portavimus imaginem terreni, portemus et imaginem supercoelestis [I Cor. XV, 47-49]. Unde idem Apostolus loquitur: Caro et sanguis regnum Dei non possidebunt [Ibid., 50]. Non quod secundum haereticos dispereat natura corporum, sed quod corruptivum hoc induat incorruptionem, et mortale hoc induat immortalitatem.

And then his Commentary on Matthew:

Si quis igitur in tempore judicii inventus fuerit sub nomine Christiano non habere vestem nuptialem, hoc est, vestem supercoelestis [Al. coelestis] hominis;  sed vestem pollutam, id est, veteris hominis exuvias, hic statim corripitur, et dicitur ei: Amice, quomodo huc intrasti?
 
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