Thursday, January 5, 2017

"Epiphanius Economically Recycl[ed] Other Earlier Written Materials At Hand ..."

I thought this was a particularly useful summary of Epiphanius, the two Syrian monks and his composition of various treatises:
Epiphanius must have started composing, or at least mapping out the Panarion*, or “Medicine Chest [against Heresies],” while he was still working on the Ancoratus. Ancoratus 12.7–13.8 (GCS n.F. 10.1:20–22) already lists the eighty heresies (twenty before Christ, sixty after) of the Panarion. The main composition of the Panarion took place roughly in the years 375–378. Like the Ancoratus, the Panarion was composed upon request: a certain Acacius and Paul had “heard the names applied by Your Honor to the heresies,” and asked for a full explanation of them.58 Whether they had read the Ancoratus and were puzzled by the (out-of-the-blue) list of heresies, or whether Epiphanius was publicizing his list by other means, we cannot know. Epiphanius composed the Panarion rather quickly (in under three years), considering its length, complexity, and (presumably) his other episcopal duties during this period. As is the case with the Ancoratus, Epiphanius's compositional style seems to have left little time for editing after his initial dictation. The Panarion contains a wealth of other Christian documents (from both “heretics” and "orthodox") our only Greek fragments of Irenaeus's Against Heresies, Ptolemy's Letter to Flora, and various documents pertaining to theological struggles during Epiphanius's own time, to name just a few. In addition to these texts, Epiphanius has also included writings of his own, dictated directly into the Panarion, including a lengthy “refutation” (elenchos) of Marcion's Bible, which he had written “some years before” (apo etōn hikanōn)59 and later embedded in Panarion 42 (against the Marcionites),60 and his aforementioned Epistula ad Arabos, in defense of Mary's virginity. These are merely the two earlier writings he names: given that he also copies material from the Ancoratus (sometimes without signaling that he is doing so61) we might also imagine Epiphanius economically recycling other earlier written materials at hand that have not otherwise survived.[Jacobs Epiphanius of Cyprus: A Cultural Biography of Late Antiquity p. 20, 21]

58. Epistula Acacii et Pauli 1.9 (GCS n.F. 10.1:154).
59. Epiphanius, Panarion 42.10.2 (GCS 31:106).
60. Epiphanius, Panarion 42.11–12 (GCS 31:107–82). Note that, although this refutatio is only two chapters of the Panarion, it covers 75 pages in the critical edition.
61. See, for instance, Panarion 70.7.6–8.4 (GCS 37:239–40), which repeats the argument of Ancoratus 54.1–7 (GCS n.F. 10.1.63, 64)
The more I think about this and look at the evidence the more certain I - and everyone else - should be that the reference to 'possessing the Marcionite Bible' and carrying out the minutia of textual criticism was entirely false.

Look at the 'hurried' character of the Panarion as a whole now coupled with the fact that the outline against Marcion was never completed but was - paradoxically - carried out a while before.  It would have been hard - if not impossible - to dictate this work.  Rather I think he might have asked one of his scribes to go through previous works written against Marcion and cull as much useful information about their writings as possible.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Reasons Why No One Should Believe that Epiphanius Had the Marcionite Bible in His Possession

1. Epiphanius has a pattern of not acknowledging he is using earlier sources.  Of course he admits to drawing upon Irenaeus for his information about the Valentinians - 'blessed Irenaeus' he calls him.  But this was a well known source.  He couldn't get away with that one.  But the pattern of lifting verbatim passages from Hegesippus speaks to a broader problem of Epiphanius not telling us what are his sources.  If, as we believe, Epiphanius has lifted his information about the Marcionite Bible from second and third century literary sources rather than having the Bible 'at hand' we'd never know.
2. Epiphanius is a 'fool and a demon.'  Well not quite, but he tells a lot of lies as Ehrman and others have demonstrated.  When he claims to have the Marcionite canon 'at hand' he is merely trying to obscure the truth - viz. that he compiled a list of textual variants from second and third century Church Fathers writing about Marcion.
3. Epiphanius never published an actual 'treatise' (συντάξεως) on the subject of Marcion's Bible.  This to me is the most puzzling part of the whole situation.  The Panarion is now the treatise (συντάξεως) - indeed a massive tome - which comes out of an original request to publish something on Marcion.  He repeatedly identifies the Panarion as a συντάξεως (cf. Section 8 on the Samaritans).  The two Syrian monks originally request a συντάξεως written about Marcion presumably because they want to identify heretical monks in their presence.  Epiphanius spends a lot of time composing an 'outline' toward the possible completing of such a συντάξεως - cf. "I made a series of extracts and selections (παρ' αὐτῷ ἐξανθισάμενος καὶ ἀναλεξάμενος καθ' εἱρμὸν) of the material which would serve to refute him (τὰ ἐλέγξαι αὐτὸν δυνάμενα), and I wrote a sort of outline (ἐδάφιόν τι συντάξεως ἐποιησάμην) for a treatise (ἀκολούθως τάξας), arranging the points in order, and numbering each saying one, two, three (κεφάλαια καὶ ἐπιγράψας ἑκάστῃ ῥήσει ˉα ˉβ ˉγ). And in this way I went through all of the passages (καὶ οὕτως ἕως τέλους διεξῆλθον or perhaps 'I went through until the end ...)  But the συντάξεως was never completed.  It was left in this incomplete state even though he claims to have gone from beginning to end of the Marcionite Bible and instead the resulting 'outline' called Preface to the Outline concerning Marcion’s Bible and the Refutation of It (Προοίμιον τῆς περὶ τῶν Μαρκίωνος βιβλίων ὑποθέσεώς τε καὶ ἐλέγχου) is buried in the middle of the Panarion.  Why wasn't it completed as a stand alone treatise?  The reason people leave things incomplete is because they recognize that something is wrong with it.  It's shortcomings were such that it wasn't worth completing it.  One may even go so far as to suspect that by not completing the text and leaving it as a mere outline it would be easier to deflect criticisms.
4. Tertullian's Adversus Marcionem and its Treatment of the Gospel.  The first textual variation from what we might call 'the standard text of the Gospel of Luke' in Adversus Marcionem Book Four is Jesus declaration to the healed leper "Go, show thyself to the priest, and present the offering which Moses commanded that it may be for a testimony unto you."  Tertullan cites the passage not as a variant but as the proper reading of the passage agreeing as he often does with the Codex Bezae and some Latin sources.  For Epiphanius the citation by Tertullian (or possibly Irenaeus originally) is the first on the list of 'Marcionite textual variants' but it is a forced reading of what appears in Adversus Marcionem.  It is worth noting all the preceding citations of Luke in Adversus Marcionem Book 4 up to this point:
  1. "came down to the Galilean city of Capernaum," (AM 7.1 not a variant but a paraphrase)
  2. "they were all astonished at His doctrine." (Luke 4.32 AM 7.7 not a variant)
  3. "His word was with power" (ibid; not a variant)
  4. "the spirit of an unclean devil" exclaims: "What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God." (Luke 4:33, 34; AM 7.9 variant i.e. 'Jesus' as opposed to 'Jesus of Nazareth')
  5. "Thou art the Son of God," (Luke 4.41, AM 8.5 not a variant)
  6. "He departed, and went into a desert place." (Luke 4.42, AM 8.9 not a variant)
  7. " I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also." (ibid not a variant)
  8. "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men?" (Luke 5:11 AM 9.1)
  9. "Go, show thyself to the priest, and present the offering which Moses commanded ... that it may be for a testimony unto you" (Luke 5:14 AM 9.9, 10 variant)
If as we suggest Adversus Marcionem is the reason Luke 5:14 is the first variant on the list in Epiphanius's ὑποθέσεώς why wasn't Luke 4:33, 34 placed ahead of it?  It is a clearly a variant.  But the reason is equally clear - Adversus Marcionem does not pay any special attention to the variant.

While it is true, Adversus Marcionem doesn't treat Luke 5:14 as a variant; the author 'runs with' the reading as it were.  Adversus Marcionem eventually makes out what might be called a 'Marcionite-like argument' from the reading as we see:

On the same principle occurs all the rest. So far as renouncing all human glory went, He forbade the man to publish abroad the cure; but so far as the honour of the law was concerned, He requested that the usual course should be followed: "Go, show thyself to the priest, and present the offering which Moses commanded." For the figurative signs of the law in its types He still would have observed, because of their prophetic import. These types signified that a man, once a sinner, but afterwards purified from the stains thereof by the word of God, was bound to offer unto God in the temple a gift, even prayer and thanksgiving in the church through Christ Jesus, who is the Catholic Priest of the Father. Accordingly He added: "that it may be for a testimony unto you"----one, no doubt, whereby He would testify that He was not destroying the law, but fulfilling it; whereby, too, He would testify that it was He Himself who was foretold as about to undertake their sicknesses and infirmities. This very consistent and becoming explanation of "the testimony," that adulator of his own Christ, Marcion seeks to exclude under the cover of mercy and gentleness. For, being both good (such are his words), and knowing, besides, that every man who had been freed from leprosy would be sure to perform the solemnities of the law, therefore He gave this precept.  Well, what then? Has He continued in his goodness (that is to say, in his permission of the law) or not? For if he has persevered in his goodness, he will never become a destroyer of the law; nor will he ever be accounted as belonging to another god, because there would not exist that destruction of the law which would constitute his claim to belong to the other god.  If, however, he has not continued good, by a subsequent destruction of the law, it is a false testimony which he has since imposed upon them in his cure of the leper; because he has forsaken his goodness, in destroying the law. If, therefore, he was good whilst upholding the law, he has now become evil as a destroyer of the law. However, by the support which he gave to the law, he affirmed that the law was good. For no one permits himself in the support of an evil thing.  Therefore he is not only bad if he has permitted obedience to a bad law; but even worse still, if he has appeared as the destroyer of a good law. So that if he commanded the offering of the gift because he knew that every cured leper would be sure to bring one; he possibly abstained from commanding what he knew would be spontaneously done. In vain, therefore, was his coming down, as if with the intention of destroying the law, when he makes concessions to the keepers of the law. And yet, because he knew their disposition, he ought the more earnestly to have prevented their neglect of the law, since he had come for this purpose. Why then did he not keep silent, that man might of his own simple will obey the law? For then might he have seemed to some extent to have persisted in his patience.  But he adds also his own authority increased by the weight of this "testimony." Of what testimony, I ask, if not that of the assertion of the law? Surely it matters not in what way he asserted the law----whether as good, or as supererogatory, or as patient, or as inconstant----provided, Marcion, I drive you from your position. Observe, he commanded that the law should be fulfilled.  In whatever way he commanded it, in the same way might he also have first uttered that sentiment: "I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it." What business, therefore, had you to erase out of the Gospel that which was quite consistent in it? For you have confessed that, in his goodness, he did in act what you deny that he did in word. We have therefore good proof that He uttered the word, in the fact that He did the deed; and that you have rather expunged the Lord's word, than that our (evangelists) have inserted it. 
The point clearly is that Epiphanius clearly read this argument as if the original had knowledge of the Marcionite Bible and transferred that authority to himself.  In the case of the textual variant at Luke 4:32, 33 again the author of Adversus Marcionem does not treat it as a Marcionite corruption and doesn't bother to develop any sort of argument from the mere mention of 'Jesus' to allow Epiphanius to suppose that any mischief has taken place.  The point is clearly Epiphanius placed Luke.

For those who are interested the next time the two texts 'agree' on a textual variant it is found at Luke 7:9 cited as Λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν, τοσαύτην πίστιν οὐδὲ ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ εὗρον.  The commentary in both Epiphanius and Tertullian is clearly related.  Epiphanius writes

If He found not so great faith, even is Israel, as He discovered in this Gentile centurion, He does not therefore condemn the faith of Israel. For if He were alien from Israel's God, and did not pertain to Him, even as His father, He would certainly not have inferentially praised Israel's faith.
This is clearly a summary of what is found in Adversus Marcionem:

Likewise, when extolling the centurion's faith, how incredible a thing it is, that He should confess that He had "found so great a faith not even in Israel." to whom Israel's faith was in no way interesting! But not from the fact (here stated by Christ) could it have been of any interest to Him to approve and compare what was hitherto crude, nay, I might say, hitherto naught. Why, however, might He not have used the example of faith in another god? Because, if He had done so, He would have said that no such faith had ever had existence in Israel; but as the case stands, He intimates that He ought to have found so great a faith in Israel, inasmuch as He had indeed come for the purpose of finding it, being in truth the God and Christ of Israel, and had now stigmatized it, only as one who would enforce and uphold it. If, indeed, He had been its antagonist, He would have preferred finding it to be such faith, having come to weaken and destroy it rather than to approve of it.
But notice that Adversus Marcionem doesn't actually say that he is referencing (a) the gospel reading from Marcion's Bible or (b) that Marcion ever said this.  How then does Epiphanius, having allegedly only the Marcionite Bible in front of him, end up with an identical interpretation of the passage? But if we go one step further and go to the next 'variant' attested by both Tertullian and Epiphanius - Luke 7:9 - it is absolutely obvious that Epiphanius is using a second hand source. For the reading Αὐτός ἐστι περὶ οὗ γέγραπται· ἰδού, ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου is not unusual. It is the standard witness to Luke 7:9. So Epiphanius is clearly only interested in the saying because of the heretical interpretation of the passage which in this case is rather odd. Here's what Tertullian preserves:
But John is offended when he hears of the miracles of Christ, as of an alien god. Well, I on my side will first explain the reason of his offence, that I may the more easily explode the scandal of our heretic ... He (John) was in doubt whether He (Jesus) was actually come whom all men were looking for; whom, moreover, they ought to have recognised by His predicted works, even as the Lord sent word to John, that it was by means of these very works that He was to be recognised. Now, inasmuch as these predictions evidently related to the Creator's Christ----as we have proved in the examination of each of them----it was perverse enough, if he gave himself out to be not the Christ of the Creator, and rested the proof of his statement on those very evidences whereby he was urging his claims to be received as the Creator's Christ. Far greater still is his perverseness when, not being the Christ of John, he yet bestows on John his testimony, affirming him to be a prophet, nay more, his messenger, applying to him the Scripture, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." He graciously adduced the prophecy in the superior sense of the alternative mentioned by the perplexed John, in order that, by affirming that His own precursor was already come in the person of John,
So clearly Adversus Marcionem is drawing from followers of Marcion interpret the passage.  There is nothing in here that requires the Bible of Marcion to be at hand.

Now one may argue that Epiphanius doesn't have to have Adversus Marcionem as his source for this understanding.  You might theoretically argue that he was using De Recta in Deum Fide 2.18 or it could have been some other source unknown to us - until you actually look at the citation:
If God's only-begotten Son recognizes John and foreknows him, and because he foreknows him tells those who are willing to know the truth that this is the one of whom it is written, 'I send my messenger before thy face'—  then the one who said in writing, 'I send my messenger before thy face,' God the eternal who has spoken in the prophets and Law, was not foreign to his own Son, Jesus Christ. For he sends his messenger before his face—before the face of a Son honoured by a Father. He was not sending his messenger to serve a foreigner of whom, as you say, Marcion, he was even the opposite.
In the end there can't be much doubt that Tertullian or an earlier version of Adversus Marcionem was one of Epiphanius's sources.

Indeed in the next shared reading we see that Epiphanius completely ignores a long section which actually deals with what must have been the Marcionite objection - i.e. asking a menstruating woman to touch a man (i.e. him) and instead focuses on what was something of an afterthought in Adversus Marcionem viz. Jesus's physical body:
When Christ approved of the faith of this woman, which simply rested in the Creator, He declared by His answer to her, that He was Himself the divine object of the faith of which He approved. Nor can I overlook the fact that His garment, by being touched, demonstrated also the truth of His body; for of course" it was a body, and not a phantom, which the garment clothed. This indeed is not our point now; but the remark has a natural bearing on the question we are discussing. For if it were not a veritable body, but only a fantastic one, it could not for certain have received contamination, as being an unsubstantial thing. He therefore, who, by reason of this vacuity of his substance, was incapable of contamination, how could he possibly have desired this touch? As an adversary of the law, his conduct was deceitful, for he was not susceptible of a real pollution
The point then quite clearly is that we have clear signs that Epiphanius is not telling us the truth.  He claims that the 'outline' was the simply the product of the special intimacy he had with the Marcionite Bible.  In other words, he doesn't tell us anything about having secondary material.

We have to remember that when Epiphanius prepares us for the outline that will follow he makes clear that this won't simply be a list of textual variants but
the compilation of whatever material he and we have in common ... transcribed word for word by myself from copies of Marcion in the form of scholia with exegetical comments, to serve as an outline.
Yet there can be no doubt that many of the examples we've already brought up fall under this category and were not the result of his 'copying ... word for word from the copies of Marcion['s Bible]."

The present example of the menstruating woman.  The analysis that follows in the Panarion is again a summary of things we've just demonstrated in Adversus Marcionem:
'The people thronged him,' the crowds could not throng a spirit. And a woman who touched him and was healed touched, not air but human tangibility. For to show that the woman's touch of his body was not merely apparent, he teaches (the contrary) by saying, 'Who touched me? For I perceive that virtue hath gone out of me.'
The fact that Epiphanius falsely claims that it was the Marcionite Bible - rather than pre-existent secondary source material which the basis for these comparisons should put up red flags for the work as a whole.

The rest of the parallels between Adversus Marcionem and the Panarion:
  1. "on the third day" Adversus Marcionem Wishing, therefore, to be believed by them in this wise [i.e. by declaring he would be resurrected after three days], He declared Himself to be just what they had deemed Him to be----the Creator's Christ, the Redeemer of lsrael. But as touching the reality of His body, what can be plainer? When they were doubting whether He were not a phantom----nay, were supposing that He was one. Panarion Elenchus 16. If the only-begotten Son of God acknowledged that he was the Son of Man, and would suffer and be put to death, this is an axe pointed at you, Marcion, grubbing up your whole root—you scion of thorns, you waterless cloud, you barren tree with dead leaves! For he says in turn, 'and be raised again after three days.' But what was it that was raised, except the very thing that had suffered and been buried in the sepulchre? There could be no funeral and interment of a phantom, a wind, a spirit, or an illusion, and no resurrection of them.
  2. "And behold, there talked with him two men, Elijah and Moses in glory." Adversus Marcionem "Marcion has denied that he is here represented as speaking with the Lord" Panarion For because you [Marcion] would deny the Law and the prophets and call them alien to the Saviour and his glory and inspired teaching, he brought both men with him in his own glory, and showed them to his disciples. And the disciples showed them to us and the world—that is to everyone who desires life—to chop your roots with the first as with an axe, and with the second, trim your branches off as with the pruning hook of the utterance of the truth—the branches which secrete the hemlock and deadly poison for men, the oily sap of blasphemy! For if Moses, to whom Christ entrusted the Law long ago, were a stranger to him, and if the prophets were strangers, he would not reveal them with him in his own glory."
  3. "out of a cloud a voice, 'This is my beloved Son."  Adversus Marcionem Unless, indeed, He [the Father] had brought down his own clouds thither, because he had himself forced his way through the Creator's heaven; or else it was only a precarious cloud, as it were, of the Creator which he used. Panarion  Anyone can see that the cloud is not in the remote heights or above the heavens, but is in the creation around us from which the voice came to the Saviour. Hence, even though the Father spoke from a cloud to indicate the Son to the disciples, the demiurge is not a different person but the same One who bore witness to his own Son out of a cloud, and is not, as Marcion claims, master only of the realms above heaven.
  4. "And he said to them, O faithless generation, how long shall I suffer you?" Adversus Marcionem "Now who would not thus have rebutted the unfairness of the rebuke, if he had supposed its author to belong to him who had had no right as yet to complain? Except that not even He would have inveighed against them, if He had not dwelt among them of old in the law and by the prophets, and with mighty deeds and many mercies, and had always experienced them to be 'faithless.'" Panarion 'How long' is an indication of a time span in Christ's incarnate life; 'O faithless generation,' indicates that the prophets worked miracles in his name and believed as we find Elijah doing, and Elisha and the others. (The bit about 'how long' being equal to the incarnation is an innovation by Epiphanius reflecting contemporary Christology).  
5. Tertullian's Adversus Marcionem and its Treatment of the Apostle.  Epiphanius misinterprets Tertullian's statement about to the Laodiceans being a distinct text from Ephesians (rather than what Tertullian actually says, namely that Ephesians was called Laodiceans).  This leads to the error "but in his own Apostolic Canon, as he called it, he also added, of the so-called Epistle to the Laodiceans."

Ehrman on Why We Shouldn't Believe Epiphanius as a Textual Critical Source

So let's recount the principle reasons why Epiphanius shouldn't be believed when he repeatedly claims in the Panarion that he has assembled all of the variants in the Bible of Marcion.  He begins by making it crystal clear that:
[s]ome years ago, to find what falsehood this Marcion had invented and what his silly teaching was, I took up his very books (αὐτὰς δὴ τὰς τοῦ προειρημένου βίβλους) which he had mutilated, his so-called Gospel and Apostolic Canon (τό τε παρ' αὐτῷ λεγόμενον εὐαγγέλιον καὶ τὸ ἀποστολικὸν καλούμενον). From these two books (δύο βιβλίων) I made a series of extracts and selections (παρ' αὐτῷ ἐξανθισάμενος καὶ ἀναλεξάμενος καθ' εἱρμὸν) of the material which would serve to refute him (τὰ ἐλέγξαι αὐτὸν δυνάμενα), and I wrote a sort of outline for a treatise arranging the points in order (ἐδάφιόν τι συντάξεως ἐποιησάμην  ἀκολούθως τάξας), and numbering each saying one, two, three (κεφάλαια καὶ ἐπιγράψας ἑκάστῃ ῥήσει ˉα ˉβ ˉγ). And in this way I went through all of the passages (καὶ οὕτως ἕως τέλους διεξῆλθον or perhaps 'I went through until the end ...) in which it is apparent that, foolishly, he still retains against himself these leftover sayings of the Saviour and the apostle. For some of them had been falsely entered by himself, in an altered form and unlike the authentic copy of the Gospel and the meaning of the apostolic canon. But others were exactly like both the Gospel and Apostle, unchanged by Marcion but capable of completely demolishing him. (Panarion 10.2 - 5)
This is quite explicit.  However the section of the Panarion dealing with the Borborites is similarly explicit but Ehrman concludes that Epiphanius is lying about his attentiveness.

Regarding the sect that is called 'the filthy' (hardly a name the sect gave themselves assuming they even existed) Ehrman notes that Epiphanius claims that "he had some contact with the group as a young man–was nearly seduced into it."  But Ehrman goes on to debunk the claims made by Epiphanius from what is inferred to be 'direct contact' with their religious practices:
it is sometimes claimed that he had special access to their liturgical practices. But this is scarcely plausible. Epiphanius indicates that he spurned the advances of the two attractive Phibionite women before being drawn into their orb. This must mean that he was never present for any of the ritual activities. And it defies belief that missionaries would inform outsiders about the scandalous and reprehensible activities of the group before they were admitted into the inner circle. Potential converts were not likely to be won over by accounts of ritualistic consumption of fetuses.
So Ehrman rightly concludes that Epiphanius is lying about his firsthand knowledge of the sect here and more importantly when it comes to a splinter group called the Phibionites and his claim to have seen - and later cites from - their 'books.'

Here is what Ehrman says on the subject:
Epiphanius, as we have seen, does claim to have read the Phibionites' literature, and this claim is sometimes taken to substantiate his account, even though he himself both provides the account and makes the claim. Here as both provides the account and makes the claim. Here as always Epiphanius must be taken with a pound of salt. The books of the Phibionites could not have been widely circulated outside the group—at least any books that documented their scandalous activities. So possibly Epiphanius read some of their theological or mythological treatises, and drew (or conjured up) his own conclusions. But did he read the Greater Questions of Mary and quote it accurately in his Panarion? There is evidence that some such book did at one time exist: it is at least mentioned elsewhere, although there is no evidence that any other author of a surviving work actually had seen it.32 But nowhere else, outside of Epiphanius, are we given any indication of its contents. The episode that Epiphanius cites of Jesus engaging in illicit sex, coitus interruptus, and consumption of his own semen coincides perfectly well with Epiphanius' description of the activities of the Phibionites themselves. Moreover, Epiphanius almost certainly fabricated the accounts of these activities: he had never seen them, no one from within the group would have told him about them, they could not have been described in their other literature, and they stand at odds with what we do know of the ethical impulses of all other Gnostic groups from antiquity. On these grounds I would propose that Epiphanius made up the account of the Greater Questions of Mary.
While I agree with most of what Ehrman says I happen to think that Epiphanius's relationship with this sexualized material is a little more complex.  I think that there are good grounds for believing that the second century Christian 'historian' Hegesippus is the source for this material.  Perhaps not the Questions of Mary but certainly the description of Christian orgies.  It followed immediately after the curtailed reference to Marcellina shared by Irenaeus.

Yet the point surely is that Epiphanius is lying about his first knowledge of sectarians in order to make his research sound more authoritative.  We see this thing happen all the time in humanities.  Castaneda's Teachings of Don Juan is one such example.  Castanada received a PhD for his work with Yaqui Indians nevertheless he later embellished this familiarity to create wholly fictitious narratives related to his travels in Mexico.  In the case of Epiphanius's claims to have the two books of Marcion in front of him while composing his 'outline' of textual variants, the reason why he established the lie is obvious.

The reality was that he gleaned textual variants from the accounts directed 'Against Marcion' of which Tertullian's was one of the more prominent sources.  These sources were likely not claiming to be 'firsthand sources' for the Marcionite Bible.  Tertullian never claims to have had Marcion's gospel or apostle.  As such developing a compendium from second or third-hand witnesses to the Marcionite Bible hardly inspires much confidence.  Assembling such a list and then claiming - as the 'icing on the cake' as it were - that you did no so from a 'firsthand source' i.e. the Marcionite Bible is awe-inspiring.

Yet there is more ...

Why Tertullian Did Not Possess Marcion's Gospel (and Neither Did Epiphanius)

I have spent thirty years reading and thinking about Tertullian's testimony in Adversus Marcionem.  At first the influence of 'great scholarship' convinced me to read the material in standard way.  But now I am certain they have it all wrong.  I think scholars have read into the writings of Tertullian and assumed that he had before him and is commenting directly upon the Marcionite Bible.  This is why they - dozens and dozens of scholars over the last two hundred years - vainly attempt to 'reconstruct' the 'Marcionite edition' of the gospel and the letters of the apostle.

And why do they believe that?  Can I be so honest as to say that this is what scholars often do - make mountains out of molehills.  Well there I said it.  It's 'fun' and 'fascinating' to make believe that we can for instance reconstruct the Jewish War based exclusively on a single source - Josephus.  It isn't a 'perspective' on the events of 66 - 72 CE.  No, no, no.  'The Jewish War' is now entirely defined by what Josephus preserves for us in his tomes.  'The Jewish War' is the Jewish War.

The same thing happened with respect to Marcion.  There is a phenomenon.  It is called 'Marcion.'  Countless Church Fathers make reference to this phenomenon.  So in order to understand who or what 'Marcion' is all we need to do is gather together what 'all' the sources say - giving greater weight to the earliest witnesses.  For instance, the similarities between what Tertullian says about 'the gospel' in the context of refuting Marcion and what Epiphanius says about the Marcionite gospel while claiming he is citing directly from the Marcionite gospel, seals the deal for them.  Tertullian and Epiphanius can be read together to help us 'know' what the Marcionite Bible 'looked like.'

But can anything be more stupid than this proposition?  Epiphanius claims that he has before him the Marcionite 'Gospel' and the Marcionite 'Apostle' sitting in front of him and that he has enumerated all the variants in their Bible.  He notices 118 'differences.'  And yet, if we take every 'textual reference' in Tertullian's Adversus Marcionem to be 'textual references' to the Marcionite canon - Epiphanius's 'complete list' and Tertullian's list of citations don't exactly line up with one another.  There are underlying references that 'agree' but more often than not Tertullian makes reference to 'things said in the Scriptures' - citations of Scriptures presumed by scholars to be verbatim citations from the Marcionite canon - which don't line up with the 'complete list' in the Panarion.

My explanation for this situation is that scholars have it all wrong.  Neither man had the Marcionite scriptures in front of them when writing their tome.  Tertullian, for instance, in Books Four and Five of Adversus Marcionem is drawing on an older work, likely written by someone in the circle of Justin Martyr, which had little or nothing to do with Marcion at all.  The same situation occurs in Book Three of Adversus Marcionem.  Material originally directed 'Against the Jews' has been refashioned into a treatise 'Against Marcion.'  Why, how, when and the like don't matter here.  It is what happened with Book Three so the likelihood that it also happened in Books Four and Five already start on firm ground.

What I say is that the author of the material in Books Four and Five was citing from his own canon of scriptures originally for reasons that had little or nothing to do with Marcion.  In Book Four for instance he was just explaining how to interpret the gospel properly and along the way Marcion is referenced.  In this original source Marcion is often accused of cutting things from his gospel which never appear in Luke at all.  In other words, the original line of attack had nothing to do with Marcion corrupting a 'gospel of Luke' at all.  The author didn't know separated gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and instead as a member of the community of Justin and Tatian used a so-called 'gospel harmony' - hence the references to 'things Marcion deleted from his gospel' that only now appear in Matthew.

By the time that his ur-text reached Tertullian (i.e. by way of Irenaeus) it had been transformed into an attack against Marcion where the 'gospel of Marcion' was defined as being a mutilated version of Luke.  Irenaeus added this to the text.  But even here and in our final edition of this work (note that the introduction of Adversus Marcionem acknowledges the text was written and rewritten three times passing through different hands) there is absolutely no evidence anwhere which support the claims of modern scholarship that the author of Adversus Marcionem had before him the 'actual' Bible of Marcion.

Of course I can completely understand why scholars like to read the text that way.  When we watch a movie like Star Wars very few of us watch the movie from the perspective of George Lucas making the film.  'I wonder why he did that?'  'I wonder what that looked like sketched out on a storyboard.'  Most of us prefer what we might call a 'superficial perspective' where we enjoy the story without thinking of it as a story.  The same thing applies to the study of Patristic literature.  Adversus Marcionem is a more enjoyable read - its an easier read - if you just assume that Tertullian had Marcion's Bible in front of him.

But 'what's easy' isn't always the same thing as 'what's true.'   There are so many layers to Adversus Marcionem.  For instance there is the recurring 'Marcion cut something from the gospel' which isn't from Luke but Matthew.  Another layer is certainly the constant resurfacing of Greek terminology within a Latin text.  There are entire chapters that seem directed against 'the Jews' and only superficially adapted to fit the 'Against Marcion' theme.  I could do on and on but in the end I have to conclude we can't use Tertullian to reconstruct Marcion's Bible.  The only reason we pretend that Adversus Marcionem is doing anything other than citing from an orthodox Bible (an orthodox edition of Luke and the Pauline letters which greatly resembled Codex Bezae or the Old Latin) is that we are influenced Epiphanius, a Church Father who lived a century after Tertullian.

Epiphanius claims repeated that he has before him the Marcionite Bible and his testimony at times agrees with Tertullian and other writers.  But the parallels with Tertullian have been misunderstood.  Epiphanius is lying about having the Marcionite Bible in front of him and instead has compiled a list of anomalies from works like Adversus Marcionem (albeit likely in the form originally set down by Irenaeus) and misrepresented why he knows so much about Marcion.  It is a situation very similar to the one reported in Ehrman's Forgery and Counter-Forgery.

Ehmran concludes that Epiphanius is lying and deceiving his audience with regards to his section on the so-called Borborites - the 'filthy.' He says he has their scriptures in front of him in that chapter just as he says he has the Marcionite scriptures in front of him in chapter 40.  Lies, lies, lies.  As noted previously his near contemporaries referred to Epiphanius as being somewhere between a 'fool and a demon.'  The material that makes up his Panarion often suffers from his periodic exaggerating the quality of his information and on the other hand - and equally perplexing - his frequent plagiarism of ancient sources without acknowledging that he is in fact copying out sources near verbatim.

So it is when it is that we get around to explaining why Epiphanius didn't send his Προοίμιον τῆς περὶ τῶν Μαρκίωνος βιβλίων ὑποθέσεώς τε καὶ ἐλέγχου - his 'outline' (ὑποθέσεώς) of the Marcionite Bible immediately to the two Syrian monks who originally requested it we have to assume he was aware that his exaggerated claims might be exposed.  He was not citing material directly from the Marcionite Bible.  This was, rather, a cobbling together of textual anomalies that came up as a result of two centuries of anti-Marcionite literature.  In other words, it was all based on secondary and tertiary information about the sect.  In short, it was a much less valuable source of information about the Marcionites than what he claims.

For instance in the outline (ὑποθέσεώς) itself he writes that Marcion "will be refuted from the very works which he acknowledges without dispute from the very remnants of the Gospel and Epistles which he still has."  This has a definite Irenaean ring to it.  He goes on to say that:
[s]ome years ago, to find what falsehood this Marcion had invented and what his silly teaching was, I took up his very books which he had mutilated, his so-called Gospel and Apostolic Canon. From these two books I made a series of extracts and selections of the material which would serve to refute him, and I wrote a sort of outline for a treatise, arranging the points in order, and numbering each saying one, two, three (and so on). And in this way I went through all of the passages in which it is apparent that, foolishly, he still retains against himself these leftover sayings of the Saviour and the apostle. For some of them had been falsely entered by himself, in an altered form and unlike the authentic copy of the Gospel and the meaning of the apostolic canon. But others were exactly like both the Gospel and Apostle, unchanged by Marcion but capable of completely demolishing him. By these it is shown that the Old Testament is in agreement with the New, and the New with the Old. 
There is thus an explicit claim that in this outline he has "went through all of the passages" in the Marcionite gospel which is supposedly before him.  But if this is true then the outline for the most part does not agree with Tertullian; Tertullian can't be citing from the Marcionite Bible but his own throughout Adversus Marcionem.

The problem comes up over and over again in the introduction and conclusion of the outline.  We read again that Epiphanius acknowledges that:

I found that this compilation had been tampered with throughout, and had supplemental material added in certain passages—not for any use, but for inferior, harmful strange sayings against the sound faith, fictitious creatures of Marcion’s cracked brain. I have made this laborious, searching compilation from the scripture he has chosen, Paul and the Gospel according to Luke, so that all who are attempting to contradict his imposture may understand that the altered sayings have been fraudulently inserted, and that any not in their proper places have been stolen from them by his audacity. For the oaf thought that only these run counter to his false notion. But there is a third work of my scholarship: the compilation of whatever material he and we have in common, and whose meaning is the Saviour's incarnation and his testimony to the agreement of the New Testament with the Old—and the acknowledgment in the Gospel, by the Son of God, that God is the maker of heaven and earth and the same God who spoke in the Law and the prophets, and that this God is his own Father. And here is the brief arrangement of that work of mine, transcribed word for word by myself from copies of Marcion in the form of scholia with exegetical comments, to serve as an outline. But so that the difficult things in it will not be obscure to some and fail to be understood, I shall in turn explain of the several entries in order—I mean the first entry, the second, the third (and so on)—the reason why each saying was selected and transferred here. I begin as follows. 
We have already noted that Epiphanius is lying about having Marcion's Bible in front of him.  Tertullian or his source was one of Epiphanius's sources which explains why Epiphanius - drawing from Adversus Marcionem which draws from the author's own orthodox but ultimately unusual canon of scriptures 'agrees' with Tertullian in many places.

Again in the conclusion we see the false claims being promulgated by Epiphanius.  He summarizes by saying:
This is my treatise, prefaced in the foregoing selections from the scripture which is still preserved in Marcion's own canon. Anyone who examines its collection (of texts) must be struck with awe at the dispensations of the bountiful God. If every matter is attested and established by three witnesses, how has God granted me, by a dispensation, to put together here, as I said, a sheer total of 78 testimonies from the Gospel, and 40 from the Apostle? And these are preserved in Marcion to this day and not disputed, so that there are 118 altogether, and all contradicting Marcion's own opinion—as though in the person of the Lord's name through eighteen, and in the name of the blessing on its right through the hundred. And in addition to these he is refuted in another, further testimony, the one outside of the Gospel and The Apostle. For the utter wretch Marcion did not see fit to quote this testimony from Ephesians but from Laodiceans, which is not in the Apostle. Since, among his many failures, the oaf foolishly does not read these testimonies, he pathetically does not see the refutation that awaits him, although it is on record every day. And no one need be surprised at this. Since he professed to have some of the Gospel and Apostle, how could he help preserving at least a few words of the scripture? Since sacred scripture's whole body, as it were, is alive, what dead limb could he find agreeing with his opinion, in order to drag in a falsehood against the truth? Instead he amputated many of the limbs, as we might say, and mutilated and falsified them, but retained some few. But the very limbs he retained are still alive and cannot be killed, but have the life-giving property of their meaning, even if, in his canon, they have been cut off in innumerable small chunks.

Clearly Epiphanius has misunderstood the statements in Tertullian regarding "another epistle, which we hold to have been written to the Ephesians, but the heretics to the Laodiceans" and assumed - wrongly - that these were two separate texts.  The clearest proof again that Epiphanius did not have the Bible of Marcion in front of him.  Ehrman's point about Epiphanius's reporting on the Borborites is doubly true with Marcion - the Church Father is lying.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Developing New Article on My Blog

It's been happy times at the Huller house.  I've been toying with the idea of finally writing a paper on Marcion for quite some time.  I think that our collective assumptions about Marcion demonstrate exactly what is wrong with Biblical scholarship.  It's not just that Patristic references to the arch-heretic are largely based on rumor, gossip and slander - they are.  No, if was just that - i.e. that scholars recycled the rumor, gossip and slander developed by the early Fathers - it might be difficult to heap scorn upon academics.  But my utter contempt for Marcionite studies goes far beyond this relatively minor quibble.

It isn't just that scholars 'trust' the likes of Irenaeus and Tertullian.  The nature of academia is such that they unconsciously build upon previous studies to the point that they misread and misinterpret those most ancient sources for Marcion.  Indeed they convince themselves that we can use Tertullian in particular to 'reconstruct the Marcionite canon.'

Where did they get this insane notion from?  Does Tertullian anywhere claim that he is provide his readers with a 'handbook' or guide book to reassemble the Marcionite Bible?  No of course not.  So where did this insane quest that seems to ensnare willing idiots for every generations, develop from?  The answer would have to be Epiphanius of Salamis.

Why is this fourth century bishop so important in the history of the development of what we might call the 'Marcionite lie'?  Because quite simply Epiphanius is a pompous ass who abuses, misunderstands and misrepresents his sources and ultimately the conclusions of his research.   In the words of Heraclides bishop of Ephesus Epiphanius was "a fool and a demon." (Photius 56)  Modern scholarship concurs with this low assessment of Epiphanius's reliability.  Plooij writes that "Epiphanius ought to be the last witness we should trust uncontrolled, especially in his testimonies on heretics and heretical writings. He combines all kinds of notices, rumours, and calumnies into abracadabra often completely incomprehensible."

It's not that Epiphanius actually tells us that Tertullian's anti-Marcionite work - aptly called Against Marcion - can be used in the manner that modern scholars have employed the text i.e. to reconstruct the Marcionite gospel.  No, that's not it.  It's that Epiphanius pretends that he's done all this incredible research into the Marcionite canon and attached a composition to his Panarion (a 'medicine chest' to be used by bishops against the heresies) which purports to help them identify the influence of the Marcionite Bible.

Here's what

But I shall come to his writings, or rather, to his tamperings. This man has only Luke as a Gospel, mutilated at the beginning (περικεκομμένον ἀπὸ τῆς ἀρχῆς) because of the Saviour's conception and his incarnation. But this person who harmed himself rather than the Gospel did not cut just the beginning off. He also cut off many words of the truth (τῆς ἀληθείας λόγων) both at the end and in the middle, and he has added other things besides, beyond what had been written. And he uses only the character (μόνῳ δὲ κέχρηται τούτῳ τῷ χαρακτῆρι) of the Gospel according to Luke.  He also possesses ten Epistles of the holy apostle, the only ones he uses (αἷς μόναις κέχρηται), but not all that is written in them. He deletes some parts of them, and has altered certain sections. He uses these two volumes but has composed other treatises himself for the persons he has deceived. 9:4 Here are what he calls Epistles: 1. Galatians. 2. Corinthians. 3. Second Corinthians. 4. Romans. 5. Thessalonians. 6. Second Thessalonians. 7. Ephesians. 8. Colossians. 9. Philemon. 10. Philippians. He also has parts of the so-called Epistle to the Laodiceans.
From the very canon that he retains, of the Gospel and the Pauline Epistles, I can show with God's help that Marcion is a fraud and in error, and can refute him very effectively.  For he will be refuted from the very works which he acknowledges without dispute. From the very remnants of the Gospel and Epistles which he still has, it will be demonstrated to the wise that Christ is not foreign to the Old Testament, and hence that the prophets are not foreign to the Lord's advent— and that the apostle preaches the resurrection of the flesh and terms the prophets righteous, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob among the recipients of salvation—and that all the teachings of God's holy church are saving, holy, and firmly founded by God on faith, knowledge, hope and doctrine.
I am also going to append the treatise (σύνταξιν) which I had written against him before, at your exhortation (προτροπῆς ποιήσασθαι), brothers, hastening to compose this one.  Some years ago, to find what falsehood this Marcion had invented and what his silly teaching was, I took up his very books which he had mutilated, his so-called Gospel and Apostolic Canon. From these two books I made a series of extracts and selections of the material which would serve to refute him, and I wrote a sort of outline for a treatise, arranging the points in order, and numbering each saying one, two, three (and so on).  And in this way I went through all of the passages in which it is apparent that, foolishly, he still retains against himself these leftover sayings of the Saviour and the apostle.  For some of them had been falsely entered by himself, in an altered form and unlike the authentic copy of the Gospel and the meaning of the apostolic canon.  But others were exactly like both the Gospel and Apostle, unchanged by Marcion but capable of completely demolishing him. By these it is shown that the Old Testament is in agreement with the New, and the New with the Old.  In turn, other sayings from the same books give intimation that Christ has come in the flesh and been made perfect man among us.  Others in turn, moreover, confess the resurrection of the dead, and that God is one almighty Lord of all, himself the maker of heaven and earth, and of everything on earth. They do not counterfeit the call of the Gospel nor, certainly, do they deny the maker and artificer of all, but make manifest the One who is plainly confessed by the Apostolic Canon and the Proclamation of the Gospel.  And here, below, is my treatise, as follows:

Before we bring forward that pamphlet we should take a moment to consider what is going on with the creation of the Panarion.

The Panarion is Epiphanius's response to a letter sent by "two archimandrites, or abbots, in Chalcis and Beroea in Coelesyria" named Acacius and Paul whom - it is claimed in the preamble written by Epiphanius to introduce their request for him to write "a complete heresiology and not only they, but many as well, urged and practically compelled him to take up the task."  This is Epiphanius's summary of their request and we do find at the end of the actual letter from Acacius and Paul the following request "that you give us, for our instruction, some of the words you have spoken to certain brethren. For you, the righteous, this can be no burden but for us sinners it will be rejoicing in the Lord when we partake of them; for the load of our transgressions is lightened when we are filled with your spiritual uttterances. We have heard names by Your Honor to the sects, and we ask Your Reverence to tell us explicitly the sect belonging to these names for each religion. For everyone's gift is the same."

So it would seem - at first glance at least - that the Panarion was written at the request of these two Syrian monks to provide a comprehensive account of the various heresies.  Nevertheless when we dig deeper into this particular section of the Panarion it is apparent that Acacius and Paul originally exhorted him (προτροπῆς ποιήσασθαι) for information about Marcion, which makes sense given their presence in Syria and the prevalence of Marcionism in the region.  Can it really have been true that these two brothers sent two separate requests to Epiphanius - first a letter requesting information about Marcion which was the impetus for the composition which follows the heading - Προοίμιον τῆς περὶ τῶν Μαρκίωνος βιβλίων ὑποθέσεώς τε καὶ ἐλέγχου - i.e. an 'outline' (ὑποθέσεώς) of the Marcionite Bible - and then later when this request was not granted a second request for a complete 'heresiological compendium' which was granted by Epiphanius in the form of the Panarion which happens to have this 'composition' outlining the shape of the Marcionite Bible appended to it? I find this highly unlikely.

Instead we have to believe that the two Syrian bishops requested information about Marcion - as Epiphanius acknowledges in the section dealing with the arch-heretic - Epiphanius completed the work but then did not publish it.  Why didn't Epiphanius send back the σύνταξις back to Acacius and Paul if - as the text of the Panarion demonstrates - the ὑποθέσεώς was complete? This is the million dollar question as it were.  It is only when we ignore the strange 'two step' completion process - i.e. that Epiphanius completed but did not publish the original ὑποθέσεώς of the Marcionite Bible but hesitated sending back the finished product until it was 'buried' as it were in a massive compendium drawing upon the authority of all the previous Patristic 'heresiologists' available in church libraries.

Of course one may argue that Epiphanius had so much 'fun' going through as it were the Marcionite Bible line by line and comparing it with the Gospel and Apostle of the true Church that he decided to set out a compendium of all the heresies.  But even here there are difficulties.  Why, for instance, did the two Syrian monks decide to send out a second request for a much more massive literary composition when it was clear that Epiphanius wouldn't sent them what he had worked out against Marcion?  Seems very odd indeed and quite unnatural.  A better explanation is found in the sheer unprecedented nature of the ὑποθέσεώς.

No one before Epiphanius had ever claimed to put together a 'complete' account of all the differences between the Marcionite Bible and the Catholic Bible.  As strange as it sounds, it's true.  What Epiphanius puts forward in the ὑποθέσεώς is wholly unprecedented and we may start to wonder whether the Panarion was a systematic effort to bolster the claims inherent in the ὑποθέσεώς.  In other words, if - as I suggest - Epiphanius never had the Marcionite Bible at his disposal when he compiled this ὑποθέσεώς and instead used anomalies in existing reports about the Marcionite Bible in such works as or like Tertullian's Adversus Marcionem as the basis to his ὑποθέσεώς the weakness inherent in such an approach would be bolstered by placing that work in an erudite tome like the Panarion.  The authority of the ὑποθέσεώς is confirmed by the context of the research and study of the Panarion.

We will go into this in some detail in what follows but this is the basic assumption of the paper.  Scholars have until now used parallels between the 'anomalies' listed in Epiphanius's ὑποθέσεώς and Tertullian to argue that Tertullian can be used as an earlier ὑποθέσεώς of Marcionite variants.  But this is haphazard at best.  Tertullian never says that he is using the Marcionite Bible.  Instead it only appears to be this way because of Epiphanius's bombastic claims about assembling such an ὑποθέσεώς in the fourth century.  We assume because of the parallels between the Panarion and Adversus Marcionem that this 'demonstrates' similar qualities to both works (i.e. that both Epiphanius and Tertullian had before them the Marcionite Bible and found 'similar' anomalies).

However few have explained why the supposedly erudite ὑποθέσεώς of Epiphanius was never released as a stand alone treatise and more importantly whether patterns found in the rest of the Panarion (i.e. the unacknowledged use of other writers viz. Hegesippus to name just the most obvious) apply to the ὑποθέσεώς.  In other words, if Epiphanius wasn't telling us he was drawing from ancient sources like Hegesippus surely he could have done the same thing when compiling the ὑποθέσεώς against Marcion.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Jesus the Imaginary White Man and Donald Trump

My wife can't get over the election loss of Hillary Clinton.  As a female executive she saw in Hillary a reflection of the ideal that she sought to attain.  I think this 'dream' was very real and was as real as what voters of all colors saw in Obama, but especially 'people of color.'

Now we live in the aftermath of the destruction of that dream and we all have to move on.  My wife has vowed not to 'move on.'  She wants us to go back to Canada.  Fine.  But I want to take this opportunity to outline how to use the events of November 8th for some deeper understanding of the world.

The winners identify as 'conservatives' but I wonder, has the term 'conservative' been redefined in recent times as simply 'anti-progressive'?  In the country of my birth and throughout most English speaking countries 'conservative' has implications of 'understated,' 'traditional,' 'restrained.' These aren't things I associate with the new president.

So what makes him a conservative in the eyes of his followers?  He embodies for them 'conservative values,' 'conservative ideals' but how is this defined?  I know many young people don't remember much past yesterday so let me say that what it is they propose to 'conserve' is really an identity.  The president is for them the embodiment of a cool white male just like Reagan and all their other heroes ... a cool white man, a white man like God.

Now I know they don't come right out and say that God was a cool white male but allow me the opportunity to put that forward as their belief.  I know this isn't an explicit part of traditional Christianity but we've all seen the white skinned, blue eyed 'hippy' Jesus images.  Again, let's just accept that there are arguments for these people imagining Jesus as a 'cool white man' and that all the other other 'cool white men' these 'conservatives' adore are somehow 'made in his image.'

In traditional Christianity, the Christianity that emerged from Roman political hegemony Jesus was both a historical man and an idealized 'god-man.'  In theological terms he was both 'man' and 'God' and debates raged in the streets of the Roman Empire as to how he could be both and when he wasn't one or the other.  The absolute fusion of both these concepts doesn't make sense when we try and reconcile God being perfect with man suffering so we are left giving up trying to reconcile the two.  It becomes an article of faith, which means the idea really doesn't make much sense.

It is acknowledged by the fourth and fifth century Church Father Jerome (undoubtedly basing his argument on something written by another Christian writer from the second and third centuries) that these two absolute positions were once doctrines from two mutually hostile Christian communities.  In other words, one group of Christians believed that Jesus was ONLY a historical Jew and another community held that Jesus was ONLY an idealize Man-god.  In other words, even though Jerome thought that his beliefs in a Jesus who was both man and God predated this historical division, the more likely situation is that the doctrines of the Catholic tradition were a fusion, an ecumenical 'compromise' between two former hostile and irreconcilable understandings of Jesus in the first and second century Church.

I have always been interested in the tradition that says that Jesus was the idealized Man-god because it is the Jewish faith of my ancestors.  I know this understanding is difficult for many people to understand, but not all Jews were the followers of what my people call - the rabbanites.  There were 'crypto-Jews' in every age and every culture who put up with the inferior knowledge of their fellows and passed along a secret doctrine which they claimed was handed down from an earlier 'golden age' where Jews were an enlightened glorious race.

According to my family's understanding of Judaism all religious requirements are summed up by the informal command to 'be a Mensch.'  In German of course (the basis to much of Yiddish) mensch of course literally means 'man' or human but has much greater connotations.  At the bottom there is an understanding of the existence of an idealized Man who was God's partner at creation and is mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis before 'Adam' the material man comes on the scene.

I hope that wasn't too much of a digression.

For those of us who know, Judaism was always about the idealized 'secret' Man.  This is why he comes up so often in the earliest sources for the religion.  That Jesus (pronounced Eesu in Greek) was this is idealized God man (pronounced 'Eeshu' in Hebrew) is patently obvious to me but I will leave it out there as my second unproved assertion.  Again I allow the reader to take my word that there are very good arguments in favor of this proposition that happen to come from very, very early - the earliest - sources for Judaism.

What changed Judaism and Christianity was the collapse of the Roman Empire.  In the lead up to the so-called Crisis of the Third Century which saw the beginning of the end of the Roman hegemony in the East, the Imperial culture became strikingly 'monarchian' - a scholarly term which comes from a Greek work meaning 'one rule(r).'  In short, the government 'encouraged' all the religions and beliefs in the Empire to reinforce the veneration of a sole power in the universe in order to demonstrate their loyalty to the one ruler of the world, the Emperor.

These changes affected Judaism no less than Christianity.  Instead of being a doctrine of two powers in heaven, God and his Man, Judaism became defined in terms of what we call monotheism, that is one power in heaven.  While the understanding of a second power in Judaism were driven out of the mainstream religion they still live on in the memory of the mystical tradition.  In Christianity however Jesus made up such an important part of the religion that an irrational understanding of multiple powers being one God took hold.  Jesus was not allowed a separate identity from his Father and the rest, as they say, is history.

White people not surprising 'love' - as they say - 'the God of the Old Testament.'  But this is complete nonsense insofar as the God of the Old Testament is really a creation of Imperial 'white' hegemony.  There were always two powers in Judaism - they 'youth' who fought against Pharaoh at the Sea of Reeds and stood on the mountain as a glorious warrior AND the voice that was heard on Sinai.  In other words, to speak in Christian terms, the Son was seen by all the Israelites and the Father was heard in the clouds above.

What the white hegemony has done historically was obscure the fact that - according to the original understanding - in heaven there existed a higher God who was absolutely merciful and kind while on earth a proud youthful warrior sat in judgement over his people.  Now with the white man effectively manipulating the various sects of the Hebrew religion, one God ruled the universe in the image of the white man sitting on the throne in Rome.  All that has followed since the Crisis of the Third Century has been a theological convulsion developed from this historical tampering.

To the end that the white man ultimately 'adopted' the religion of the Jews, we must go one step further.  White people changed the Jewish religion and the Jews.  The religion that was the inspiration behind two revolts against the Roman Empire eventually marched in lock step with Imperial hegemony.  It is certainly true that Jews rejected the ideal of God as a white man.  Nevertheless their religion was stamped with the image of a monarchian ideal imposed by white rulers.  Monarchianism in whatever form is a tool of the ruling class.

In truth this is what the aftermath election of 2016 is really about - the end of monarchianism or at least it's last gasp.  'Conservatism' pretends to be a reaching back to a moral golden age, but it really only represents and speaks for a golden age that once belonged to white people.  It is a collective reaction to the 'others' that white people see threatening their hold on power.  It was no different back in the lead up to the Crisis of the Third Century.  If Trump succeeds he will have attracted a few more blacks and browns to the white social coalition that has formed in this country. But let's be plain about this from the other side: the god of white men, that is an idealized white man sitting on a throne since the Roman Empire - is the true enemy of the rest of the world.

If you are someone who supports progressive change in this country you have to be aware that when you are in a group of ten white men from different parts of the country they voted for this race-based agenda that dates back almost two thousand years. They are white power supporters and their ancestors were unconscious supporters of white hegemony. My son has strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes but I identify as Jewish and my wife Latina. Unfortunately the situation has become such that whiteness is the enemy, whiteness is the evil which has started the race war in this country and there is no turning back.

The god that these people worship is a fictional white man made in their own image. The devil that they set up has dark skin. In my home country Canada we had a situation where the Liberal party could not elect a Prime Minister who did not speak French. It was a requirement to bring the country together and build a liberal coalition that ensured a pluralistic and socially just country. A similar thing will happen in this country with respect to race.

It is impossible to deny now that the Trump win was entirely rooted in race and race consciousness on the part of whites. When pollsters asked people who they would vote for, many white people knew that their true answer was socially unacceptable, racist and worthy of contempt so they lied. This is what I call the crypto-racism that has emerged in the country. In countries with a dominant religion like Christianity or Islam oppressing minorities Jewish, Christian or Muslim minorities pretend to participate in the dominant religious culture but secretly hold to other views. This is what we saw in the election this past week.

In this case however it is not Christianity under assault in any real terms but the idealized white hegemony over the country. This is the 'persecuted ideology' which was driven underground throughout the Obama administration. And what does this say about these people? That their God is white, that their ideology was always race-based and driven into a 'crypto-religion' of sorts during this past administration. 'Political correctness' is another way of saying 'I have to lie about my true beliefs.' And what are those beliefs - that white people are the best. 'American exceptionalism' is really 'white exceptionalism' and this was ideology was under assault for the last four years. Plain and simple.

How do you defeat this white male hegemony? I am not entirely sure but in the end I think it must defeat itself. By letting Trump win this election through a racist outreach effort the obvious solution to end white exceptionalism is economic collapse. This is would prove in effect to stupid people that God is not a white man, that God does not think that white people are exceptional. So we who do not believe in the white God have to sit on the sidelines and hope for economic collapse. It's that simple.

These people were not convinced by any of the pluralistic ideology that we directed against them. They were threatened by Obama and his vision. There are no carrots to 'encourage' these people to come over to our side. We simply have to allow the white man one final kick at the can and ultimately responsibility for the destruction of the country he claims as his own before we 'the others' can take our country back. These 'cultural wars' will never end until white people stop believing that they are historically 'exceptional' and see their fellow citizens as brothers rather than 'others.' In other words, change only begins with the humbling of the white man, that is, letting him humiliate himself.

Monday, October 24, 2016

First Opinion on the Handwriting

The alpha, delta, epsilon and theta are, for instance, quite similar. But the beta and the gamma are not that similar. Other differences are for instance the vertical line on mu, having a turn in the opposite direction.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.