Saturday, January 30, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Step One: How Did the Gospel and Philo Imagine 'the Logos' Was Involved in Creation When There is No Mention of Him in Genesis?

It is an age old problem, one that still haunts the Islamic anti-Christian polemic to this very day.  Where did the Christian 'second God' Jesus come from?  It would be easy to say that the first Christian writers were 'seduced by paganism' when they imagined a creative Logos or Word being active since Creation, but then again we see evidence from a Jewish writer from Alexandria named Philo who shows this can't be true.

Oh, some people might turn around and say, maybe Philo invented the Logos and then Christianity was influenced by him.  While there are uncanny similarities between the prologue which now appears at the beginning of our gospel according to John and Philo's writings, this also can't be the case.  The difficulty is that we simply don't know very much about what Jews believed in the five hundred year period between the writing of the Pentateuch or Torah and the time of Philo.  What we do know however suggests that other people knew about this 'second God' but didn't call it by the Greek terminology 'the Logos.'  These Jews and Samaritans spoke Hebrew or Aramaic.

There is no doubt that Hellenistic - that is 'Greek' - culture had an influence on Philo.  But this is hardly surprising.  It would only be natural to suppose that the way Jewish writers and writers from most other backgrounds were 'influenced' by the greater culture they lived in.  Look at the parallel example of the philosopher 'Porphyry' ('purple-wearer') whose real name was 'Melech' or king.  It is unlikely that we would know of people who refused to integrate into the societies they lived in.  That's the simple fact of history - it biases us in favor of the thoughts and ideas of those who 'played the game' as it were.

The second god of Israel was not 'invented' through the influence of Greek culture.  Instead He was hidden by the author of the Pentateuch within the Hebrew letters he laid down while writing the book.

This is going to be the hardest idea for people to come to terms with in my coming book.  It isn't just that I will propose that the only way the Pentateuch can be understood is through 'kabbalak' or a mystical hermeneutic.  All people in all ages who read the Bible in Hebrew accepted this basic principle.  My book will demonstrate that what survives as 'kabbalah' to this day is a corrupt version of the original doctrine known to people living while the Jewish temple stood.  It will be my contention that the author of the Pentateuch, a man named Ezra, encoded his original Hebrew narrative with mathematical clues which unlocked the secret existence of this second god who was called 'the Logos' by Philo and a two letter code which Christians now identify by the name 'Jesus.'

It will be my contention that this secret understanding opens the door to a true understanding of what the Judeo-Christian tradition was originally about.  But before I go through all of that, I think I should spend a little time explaining where 'the Logos' or 'Jesus' is in the Book of Genesis.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

If I Was to Write Another Book ...

For some reason, I am not entirely sure why, I think I should write another book.  Of course I am not very good at writing books.  That might be a small problem.  Nevertheless, as I have little common sense, I might try it again.

Of course, the first question is - why?  Why bother attempting something I failed at so miserably the last time I went up to bat.  Well, for one, aside from being wrong about all the particulars, I thought it was a lot of fun.  And isn't life about having a few good times before it's all over?

The second point is that even though I am not very good at writing books, I am not all that great at doing much else.  I mean, I am tolerably proficient at a few things. But there is this nagging thought in my head - don't I have to fail at something at least twice to know that I am perfectly unsuitable for doing it ever again?

So what went wrong the last time?  I think I set out with the idea of finding out what it would be like to publish a book.  I succeeded at that.  I flew to London, signed a book deal and in the process got a literary agent, and met some delightful people.  I worked on a television documentary and ended up meeting even more interesting people as I continued to pitch shows and even appeared in a television documentary as recently as last year.

The problem of course was that I didn't really have a firm idea about what I was going to write about when I signed the book deal in the first place.  Of course, there was an 'idea.'  But with all this other stuff going on I sort of got distracted from the original premise of writing a quality book.

Did I mention I got an all expense paid trip to Venice, another trip to London and a bunch of other nice places?

So what's changed this time?  I think I have a much better idea for a book.  It might even be built around an article I recently helped write.  There are some difficulties I have yet to work out - like why anyone in their right mind would buy this book I am working on.  That's always the problem isn't it?  But maybe I should the book for myself.  Or better yet lay it out like I am trying to explain things to the person I love most in the world - my son.

I could have said my dog but my ten year old Bichon Frise is really only interest in sirens and people knocking on the door.  That range of material is a little too limited for me to work with this time around.

I think my main difficulty writing is that I write to avoid getting personal with people.  I mean, most writers are introverts.  I just hate people - period.  I am a good-natured misanthrope.  I don't actively despite humanity.  I just like keeping people at arms length because I expect either nothing or the worst from them.

All of this makes my next idea for a book very odd for me.  I want to write a book which explains the mystical foundations of Judeo-Christianity in a way that hopeless morons could understand and maybe even learn something.  Once again, 'it's an idea' book.  I am not going to sit down and write the history of an idea.  I don't have the patience for that.  I have this idea which I think is the answer to everything, and then if everyone agrees with me I can basically die and live happily ever after.

Here's the idea in a nutshell - Christianity is just a Gentile version of an ancient Jewish doctrine of mystical Menschlichkeit (brotherliness).  I know this sounds self-explanatory (for people that know either Yiddish or German) but I can't help but think that the Jewishness of this doctrine or myth has been unrecognized so far.

Scholars might talk about the beliefs of an ancient Jew like Philo of Alexandria for instance, acknowledge that he had this heavenly man at the heart of his worldview but they won't say he held fast to a practical understanding of mystical 'brotherliness' which was almost identical with earliest Christianity or what the rabbis say when they say 'be a mensch.'

Yes, I know it doesn't sound that impressive but it's a work in progress.  Above all else I want to write it for my son because I can't help but come to the conclusion that at the core of Western civilization whether it is 'Jewish' or 'Christian' version of the myth, it was Menschlichkeit - that made us a great.  Idealism may be naive - even stupid at times - but all the cleverness in the world can't found a civilization you'd want to live in.

I don't believe that we can live in harmony with one another without a myth which connects each of us to every one else.  I think Christianity was developed out of a long tradition of 'human idealism' within Judaism.  I would like to explain the Bible as a doctrine of brotherliness from the point of view of someone who doesn't practice any sort of religion, faith or worship.  It might read as an appreciation and understanding of the seminal role that religion had in the humanizing of humanity without preaching or believing in any of it.

That's really where I come from.  I think all of this Menschlichkeit develops from myth.  It's not objectively true but entirely necessary because myths are what are needed to prevent utter chaos and catastrophe in this world.  We humans are hopelessly self-centered and destructive. I think I understand what the people who wrote the most fundamental parts of the Bible were trying to accomplish even if I don't believe what they wrote was heaven sent.

Like many parents, I am willing to tolerate enduring a lie for the betterment of my son and the world he is going to live in.  My gift to the world is to hopefully explain how idealism - this myth of Menschlichkeit in its various forms - helped civilization attain its former greatness.  Any way, that's the idea for my new book, naked and laid bare for everyone to see.  Back to work ...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

'Reports' About the Heretics in the Patristic Writings are Almost Always Reworkings and Corruptions of Things Said by Previous Church Fathers

Origen Commentary on John (preserved in the Philocalia):
[the ancients] must have regarded the whole of Scripture as one book ... I will add to demonstrate this to you an apostolic utterance (ῥητὸν ἀποστολικὸν) not understood by the followers of Marcion, who therefore reject the Gospels (because of it). For whereas the Apostle says, "According to my gospel in Christ Jesus," and does not speak of gospels, they (the Marcionites) oppose us, and maintain that if there were several gospels the Apostle would not have used the word in the singular. They do not understand that as He is one, so the Gospel written by its many authors is one in effect, and that the true Diatessaron is one Gospel (καὶ τὸ ἀληθῶς διὰ τεσσάρων ἕν ἐστιν εὐαγγέλιον)
. John Chrysostom Homilies on Galatians:
the Marcionites are misled by this phrase (Gal 1.7 'another gospel') as diseased persons are injured even by healthy food, for they have seized upon it, and exclaim, So Paul himself has declared there is no other Gospel. For they do not allow all the Evangelists, but one only, and him mutilated and confused according to their pleasure. Their explanation of the words, according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, [Romans 16:25] is sufficiently ridiculous; nevertheless, for the sake of those who are easily seduced, it is necessary to refute it. We assert, therefore, that, although a thousand Gospels were written, if the contents of all were the same, they would still be one, and their unity no wise infringed by the number of writers. So, on the other hand, if there were one writer only, but he were to contradict himself, the unity of the things written would be destroyed. For the oneness of a work depends not on the number of its authors, but on the agreement or contradictoriness of its contents. Whence it is clear that the four Gospels are one Gospel; for, as the four say the same thing, its oneness is preserved by the harmony of the contents, and not impaired by the difference of persons. And Paul is not now speaking of the number but of the discrepancy of the things spoken. With justice might they lay hold of this expression, if the Gospels of Matthew and Luke differed in the signification of their contents, and in their doctrinal accuracy; but as they are one and the same, let them cease being senseless and pretending to be ignorant of these things which are plain to the very children.
Notice that in the standard translation "καὶ τὸ ἀληθῶς διὰ τεσσάρων" is translated "that truly delivered by four." But I wonder whether it is better translated "that the true Diatessaron" compare Plato Phaedo 109 E ὁ ἀληθῶς οὐρανὸς καὶ τὸ ἀληθῶς φῶς καὶ ἡ ὡς ἀληθῶς γῆ = "the real heaven and the real light and the real earth." So καὶ τὸ ἀληθῶς διὰ τεσσάρων ἕν ἐστιν εὐαγγέλιον would = that the real Diatessaron is one gospel. By the fifth century this was further corrupted into καὶ τὰ τεσσάρων Εὐαγγέλια ἕν ἐστιν Εὐαγγέλιον "that the four gospels is one gospel." But that wasn't there originally.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Clue For the Meaning of γυμνὸσ γυμνῷ ('Naked with Naked' Theod. III.13) Associated with Secret Mark

Yes most of us who follow the debate about the authenticity of 'Secret Mark' already know the various explanations that have been put forward by scholars.  Those who deny the authenticity of the discovery say that it only reflects the discoverer Morton Smith's alleged homosexuality.  Morton Smith himself say nakedness as being associated with a gnostic baptism rite.  Scott Brown by contrast has emphasized that the words never actually appear in the text - they are things 'said about the gospel' by heretics - so there is no nudity in the gospel.

But anyone who has read early Christian texts in Syriac knows immediately that in Aramaic šlyḥ (שליח), šlyḥa (שליחא) is masculine noun messenger or naked).  The question then is whether - as Morton Smith himself suspected - the gospel went back to an Aramaic source whether 'X with X' in this case means 'naked with naked' or 'apostle with apostle.'

Jesus is identified as an 'apostle' in the Epistle to the Hebrews.  There is a tradition in Clement of Alexandria that Peter was baptized by Jesus.  How exactly Peter became an apostle is never explained by the orthodox.  Is it possible that it has something to do with 'nakedness'?  Ephrem the Syrian certainly thinks so, though he looks to Peter's baptism in the sea when Jesus was walking on water as the proper context for that understanding we read:
Men stripped their clothes off and dived and drew thee out, pearl!
It was not kings that put thee before men, but those naked ones (or 'apostles') who were a type of the poor and the fishers and the Galileans.
For clothed bodies were not able to come to thee; they came that were stript as children; they plunged their bodies and came down to thee; and thou didst much desire them, and thou didst aid them who thus loved thee.
Glad tidings did they give for thee: their tongues before their bosoms did the poor open, and produced and showed the new riches among the merchants: upon the wrists of men they put thee as a medicine of life.
The naked ones (or 'apostles') in a type saw thy rising again by the sea-shore; and by the side of the lake they, the Apostles (or 'naked ones') of a truth, saw the rising again of the Son of thy Creator.
By thee and by thy Lord the sea and the lake were beautified.
The diver came up from the sea and put on his clothing; and from the lake too Simon Peter came up swimming and put on his coat; clad as with coats, with the love of both of you, were these two.
And since I have wandered in thee, pearl, I will gather up my mind, and by having contemplated thee, would become like thee, in that thou art all gathered up into thyself; and as thou in all times art one, one let me become by thee!
 Pearls have I gathered together that I might make a crown for the Son in the place of stains which are in my members.
Receive my offering, not that Thou art shortcoming; it is because of mine own shortcoming that I have offered it to Thee.
Whiten my stains! This crown is all spiritual pearls, which instead of gold are set in love, and instead of ouches in faith; and instead of hands, let praise offer it up to the Highest!
Tertullian seems to know of heretics who identify Peter in the sea as a baptism reference.  So too the Nag Hammadi text the Testimony of Truth.

But there are far closer examples in the writings of Ephrem the Syrian which might suggest knowledge or perhaps a tradition which knew of the passage:
Who shall make me able to gaze and look upon thee, thou great light! wherein are crowded together types of thy Lord? Who can search out the heat thereof, which though separate It is not cut off from the ray which is blended in it. Neither from the sun as being mingled with it, each one taketh up the might of its heat according to its ability. By it the naked getteth him warmth, while putting it on, after the likeness of Adam1 who was unclothed; this it is which is 'See on grateful to all that are naked, while it sendeth them forth, as men invigorated, for all labours. The Spirit also clothed the Apostles and sent them forth to the four quarters of the world b upon labours. By heat all things are ripened, as by the Spirit all things are hallowed ! O visible type ! [Rhyme of the Seventy Fourth]
The context here is clearly the theophany on Sinai where the Israelites saw a fiery Man of God (= Ishu) on the mountain.  Marvin Mayer long noted the parallel chronology between the Secret Mark initiation and Moses entering the fire (according to the Samaritans) after six days.

The Samaritans famously identify Moses by the epithet 'the apostle' (the spokesman of God').  But isn't the second God on the mountain also a 'spokesman' for God in heaven?  Of course it's heresy now to say that.  But if Moses represents the height of human perfection (as the Samaritans believe to this day) then encountering the second god (the divine 'apostle') and being refashioned in his image necessarily also makes one an 'apostle' also.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How the Church Was Won [Part Two]

It is noteworthy that Irenaeus never says that the apostles gave their writings to the Church or that the Church preserved their writings.  It is often supposed to be in his writings, but it isn't there.  Instead what is repeated over again are three disconnected statements - (1) the apostles established an episcopal order to which Irenaeus had access and mentions frequent in Adv Haer (2) the apostles and disciples wrote the four canonical gospels (3) the churches preserve the faith of the apostles and recite them in credal formulas when they gather together.  The location of the gospels and the rest of the writings is never connected to the Church.

We are told the gospels and the Christian writings were in the world, they were corrupted and in the hands of various schools or rejected by them, Irenaeus says he knows and presumably quotes the true texts of each of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Pauline epistles and the rest of the writings.  But he never explains how he happens to have the true texts 'at hand.'  Why should the manuscripts in the hands of the various 'schools' be considered inferior exemplars to the Catholic tradition if they were more of less preserved in the same codex form copied under the same conditions?  Indeed if certain schools only used Matthew and others only Mark and others only John and they failed to have the proper controls in place to preserve the true text of each of four evangelists spread over four different parts of the world, how much more impossible the task of coming years later and finding the true exemplars of each.  

Indeed the way that previous studies have gotten around this difficulty is to posit the idea that all the manuscripts were already preserved in a church archive presumably in Rome.  However if this is what Irenaeus knew to be true why doesn't he say that?  That would settle the issue right away.  Instead of making that rather straightforward argument Irenaeus goes on extended shell game throughout the first chapters of Book Three juxtaposing (1) (2) and (3) in rapid succession without saying anything about where his readers can see the authentic manuscripts.  In fact, it is surprising how little Irenaeus has to say about manuscripts, period.  

The Marcionites allegedly have a version of Luke and reject all the other texts.  Irenaeus says that they only have a 'fragment' of the complete gospel which is four canonical set.  Leaving aside the question of whether the Marcionite gospel is a corrupt version of Luke, it is worthwhile asking - was it possible for a pre-Irenaean Christian community to have all four gospels?  Many argued that Justin's sole allusion to 'gospels' is an interpolation.  As such was there a four gospel collection for Marcion to 'reject'?  Was Irenaeus introducing a new standard for Christianity which happened to coincide with the religions new standing in society?  

For it is one thing to argue that the Marcionites had a corrupt text of Luke.  But surely it is a whole different argument - an argument on a whole other level of complexity - to say the Marcionites should also accept exactly three other gospel, no more no less.  If the only previous allusion to a set of acceptable 'gospels' is an interpolation then Celsus's reference to a 'fourfold corruption' of the gospel is likely connected with familiarity with Irenaeus's argument.  Indeed it is worth noting that Irenaeus never says there are churches who use four gospels.  Rather he modifies the criticism from Book One against the Marcionites.  The four principle types of heretics - Ebionites, Marcionites, an unnamed group and the Valentinians - 'mirror' the correct number of gospels.

"Since, then, our opponents do bear testimony to us," Irenaeus says introducing his 'gospel in four' formula - "and make use of these, our proof derived from them is firm and true."  This is a most puzzling statement.  Yet as Wheeless accurately paraphrases Irenaeus, the Church Father is saying necessarily that the idea for the four gospels came after Marcion and the other schools were already comfortable using a single gospel - "the heretical use of the Four confirms their like acceptance and use by the True Churches ... The 'canonical Four' were manufactured precisely for the purpose of meeting and confuting the heretics." If the idea for a four gospels set came after Irenaeus observed the four schools using Matthew, Luke, Mark and John surely Marcion can't be faulted for using only one of those gospels.  It wasn't as if he was afforded a time machine to know what Irenaeus would write generations later.

In fact in what immediately following this critical statement Irenaeus provides little to help clarify his preference for the number four.  "It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are" - they are with respect to their association with the aforementioned four schools in the late second century.  Irenaeus digresses to mentioning the four zones of the world, four principal winds, four pillars, four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit and later four living creatures of Ezekiel and the Apocalypse.  But surely an equally poetic argument could be made for the correctness of the one gospel - i.e. God is one, two gospels or even three gospels - the Trinity, the three wise men etc.  The most substantive argument in favor of the correctness of four gospel is found in the first line - that is that Irenaeus experience in the world while writing the Adversus Haereses and easily dividing the principle schools into four.

So Irenaeus ultimately decided the right number of gospels quite arbitrarily and in an age long after the schools were already functioning, attracting disciples and writing commentaries on their single beloved gospel text.  If the schools couldn't be faulted for 'ignoring' the four gospel set of Irenaeus because it hadn't been invented at the time their schools were established what possible justification could Irenaeus have found for rejecting three other gospels which were mostly unknown to them at their foundation?  The traditional way of understanding the situation is to effectively imagine a representative of the Catholic tradition knocking on the door of the various schools with codices in hand and the community inside reject the literary missionaries.

Yet the schools of Plato got along with out necessarily embracing the writings of the Stoics or the schools of Epicurus the writings of Aristotle.  How did it become objectionable for a school to remain steadfastly devoted to only a few written texts?  How did Irenaeus manage to question Marcion's credibility for only preserving 'a fragment' of the true gospel?  The answer has to be found in Eusebius's reference to a massive expansion of Christianity at the beginning in the Commodian period.  The one common characteristic of the various schools seems to have been their reluctance to make their gospel public.  With Irenaeus we see the exact opposite situation.  He can cite scripture and scripture in rapid succession to make his points because, presumably, his readership had these texts 'at hand.'

Eusebius makes clear that among the new converts at the end of the second century were literate men.  Those who could read would certainly want to learn about their new religion from written sources.  In the case of the various 'schools' that encounter with the text seems to have occurred after a prolonged initiation for the catechumen and not every 'believer' went through this process.  Indeed if we think about matters a little further, the concealing of the gospel effectively meant that the mysteries were only revealed once one had already committed a great deal of time and energy.  If however prospective converts had their religion defined for them at the beginning of their journey - through encountering both the principal scriptural texts and the commentaries of the elders of the Church - the traditional manner of acquiring 'knowledge' was effectively overturned.

The facts are that even if as Celsus and Irenaeus acknowledge there were an abundance of public preachers telling the world 'what Christians believed' Christianity itself was defined by the written gospel.  Certainly Irenaeus attempts to redefine the traditional devotion of the schools to the gospel.  He borrows heavily from Papias to explain the existence of a worldwide Church without gospels.  If indeed we imagine that only a few of the many 'believers' actually saw a written gospel text, what would stop someone like Irenaeus from depositing a set of scriptures in a library purporting to be the 'true Gospel' along with other texts that had laid buried in private libraries and redefined the tradition in one fell swoop?

We may use the example of another contemporary as a close parallel.  Julius Africanus was a very influential Christian who work closely on a number of projects with the Severan Emperors.  Like Irenaeus scrolls rather than codices seemed to be his preferred method of preserving his works.   Only one fragment of his works survives in direct transmission. The final two columns of the 18th Cestus have been preserved thanks to a papyrus scrap discovered in the Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus at the end of the 19th century and acquired by the British Museum in 1914. Written across the grain of the papyrus, the recto, which contains the text of Africanus, has been given the number 412 (F10, see also fig. 1-4 on pp. 221 - 224. Because of the papyrus' reuse, the text of the Cestus has been truncated.

The verso of the papyrus (Pap. Oxy. 907), which runs against the grain and thus in the opposite direction of the Cestus text, contains a copy of the testament of a certain Hermogenes, originally drafted in 276 CE. during the reign of the Emperor Tacitus. In terms of the recto's dating, we should assume that the copy of the testament found on the verso was produced not long after its initial publication. We can also reasonably assume that the book roll with the text of the Cesti had been left in that state for a fairly long time before being cut up and reused. The terminus ante quem for the recto can, therefore, be arguably set at around 265 CE and perhaps even as early as the middle of the fifties of the third century.

The book copy of the Cesti would thus have been produced only a generation the completion of the original work. The papyrus, measuring 26.5 × 22.3 cm, contains two vertically intact columns of text. The second of these, also horizontally intact, includes, at the end of 25 lines of text, both a subscript with the author's name Iulius Africanus and the number of the 18th Cestus, which concludes at this point. The first preserved column, containing lines of text, was truncated on the left side before the papyrus was reused.  While the print, sometimes in scriptio continua, is flowingly written, it remains clearly within the realm of the book face type.

What makes this discovery so interesting is that Africanus has both composed a new edition of scripture - in this case pagan scripture - and actively deposited the new composition in various libraries. If we were to compare Africanus's changes to the text with a Christian scriptural example Clement of Alexandria's Secret Gospel of Mark immediately comes to mind.  A large chunk of text is inserted in the middle of a familiar narrative introducing a new literary digression.  When Morton Smith first discovered the Clementine fragment a number of scholars including R M Grant compared it to Irenaeus's reference to poets who developed new gospels by re-arranging individual lines of Homer.  In his lost original Prescription Against the Heresies Irenaeus boasts that 'one of his relatives' was a skilled composer of Homerocentoes.  In Against Heresies he goes so far as to demonstrate himself as a skilled manipulator of Homeric material.

Africanus is yet testimony to the popularity of transforming Homer by moving around verses and in this case introducing totally new material into the narrative.  It might be useful to take a look at his transformation of the pagan scriptures.  First the original passage of Homer in English translation (emboldened text identifies the portions transformed, red removed by Africanus):
Perimedes and Eurylochus restrained the sacrificial victims while I drew my sharp sword from its sheath, and with it dug a pit two foot square, then poured a libation all around to the dead, first of milk and honey, then of sweet wine, thirdly of water, sprinkled with white barley meal. Then I prayed devoutly to the powerless ghosts of the departed, swearing that when I reached Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren heifer in my palace, the best of the herd, and would heap the altar with rich spoils, and offer a ram, apart, to Teiresias, the finest jet-black ram in the flock. When, with prayers and vows, I had invoked the hosts of the dead, I led the sheep to the pit and cut their throats, so the dark blood flowed.

Then the ghosts of the dead swarmed out of Erebus – brides, and young men yet unwed, old men worn out with toil, girls once vibrant and still new to grief, and ranks of warriors slain in battle, showing their wounds from bronze-tipped spears, their armour stained with blood. Round the pit from every side the crowd thronged, with strange cries, and I turned pale with fear. Then I called to my comrades, and told them to flay and burn the sheep killed by the pitiless bronze, with prayers to the divinities, to mighty Hades and dread Persephone. I myself, drawing my sharp sword from its sheath, sat there preventing the powerless ghosts from drawing near to the blood, till I might question Teiresias.’

‘The first ghost to appear was that of my comrade Elpenor. He had not yet been buried beneath the broad-tracked earth, for we left his corpse behind in Circe’s hall, unburied and unwept, while another more urgent task drove us on. I wept now when I saw him, and pitied him, and I spoke to him with winged words: “Elpenor, how came you here, to the gloomy dark? You are here sooner on foot than I in my black ship.”
And now the transformation itself:
“[But when with both vows] and prayers, to the host of the dead [I made supplication], I took [the] sheep and slit their throats [over the pit]. The dark blood [flowed]: and there gathered the [souls from beneath Ere]bos, of corpses having died, [maids boys] and the long-suffering aged and tender [virgins] suffering misfortune recently mourned; [and man]y wounde[d by b]ronze-tipped spears, [me]n slain by Ares, with gore-stained armor, [the multi]tude beside the pit wandering about from one place and another [with an aw]ful wail; and pale fear seized me. [But] I drew my sharp sword from beside my thigh, and [sat] there, not allowing the feeble heads of the dead to draw nearer to [the blood]; and in response, I uttered these words:” (He has described the actions that must be done.)

“[O Rive] rs and Earth and Those Beneath, you who punish [me]n who are through with life, whoever swears a false oath, [you] be our witnesses, fulfill our invocation. [I have come] to enquire how I might arrive at the land [of Telem]achus, whom I left at his nurse's bosom, my [so]n. For the following was a most useful spell.” (He utters the incantation that must be sung.)

“[Hear] me, wise and watchful, well-aim[ing An]ubis ........] † aullipaepareunetaôsithoei ... † [Come] always hither, robber, well-tressed Zeus of the underworld, by granting [its success] fulfill this spell; [come hither Had]es and Earth, undying Fire, Titan Helios; [come also] Iaa and Phthah and Phrên †Omosôsô†, [and Neph]thô much-revered, and Ablanathô rich in blessings, [fier]y serpent-girded, earth-shaking Kareiê, [Abrax]as, far-famed deity of cosmic name, controlling [the world axis] and heavenly dance and cold light of northern Bears; [come a]lso, Phrên, in self-control more excellent than everyone else to me, [...] † ôrieu and phasie and sisyôn † [and Bi]rth and Death and beauteous-burning Fire; [come Isi]s earthly and heavenly and dreams [guardian goddess], and Sirius who “[And thes]e words, standing beside the pit, I sang; [for well] I remembered Circe's stern admonitions, who knows [as man]y potions as the broad earth grows; [and there came] a great wave of lion-fighting Acheron, [Kokytus] and Lethe and Polyphlegethon most mighty, [and a gh]ost army was standing round about and beside the pit; a[nd first] came the ghost of my comrade Elpenor.(and so forth)

Either this was the way it really stood, and the Poet himself omitted the extraneous part of the incantation for the sake of the dignity of the subject matter; or the Pisistratidae, when they were stitching together the other verses, excised these words, determining them to be incompatible with the verse ordering of the poem. I have reached this conclusion for many reasons ... I myself have arranged it here, seeing that I bear within me a very valuable fruit of inspiration, And you will find my proposed passage in its entirety deposited in the archives of the former homeland, Colonia Aelia Capitolina of Palestine, and in Nysa of Caria, and up to the 13th (book) in Rome near the baths of Alexander in the beautiful library in the Pantheon, the construction of which I personally supervised for the Emperor.
The idea that a man in the third century tried to 'correct' the canonical manuscripts of Homer is simply outlandish but true.  His methodology is exactly what we have proposed Irenaeus carried out perhaps a generation earlier.  But before we get into the parallels it is worth understanding how Africanus carried out his enterprise and for what ultimate purpose.

The first four omitted lines from the original Odyssey (11,44 - 47) - one's originally emboldened in red - in which Odysseus urges his companions to call upon Hades and Persephone after the skinning and burning of the sheep, are omitted in the papyrus, which then immediately continues with the three succeeding lines (11,48-50). Here, Odysseus stays the shades of the dead with his drawn sword. In place of the Homeric ending of the last line (11,50) — “before I asked Tiresias," Africanus' version substitutes the somewhat inappropriate "and in response I uttered these words." The following lines (col. 1 14-42) completely abandon the text of the Odyssey. Only in the final line of the first column does the text resume at Od. 11,51, at which point Odysseus meets with his unfortunate companion Elpenor.

For reasons of content, Africanus skips over the Odyssey's account of how Odysseus, following his sacrifices (Od. II, 33–43 = col. I 1–10), bids his companions to make a prayer (Od. 11, 44– 47). He replaces it with a different command, also spoken by Odysseus. This departure from the canonical text is indicated by the parenthetical remark (col. I ): “He has described the actions that must be done" (ἃ δεῖ ποιῆσαι εἴρηκεν), which parallels a further remark a few lines later (col. I 14): “He utters the incantation that must be sung” (ἃ δεῖ ἐπᾶσαι λέγει). In between these two one-line prose interjections, we find six lines (col. I – 21) in which rivers, Gaia, and the gods of vengeance for perjurers are called upon as witnesses and as helpers for the invocation (col. I, 15–20). By invoking this trilogy of gods, the necromancer hopes to facilitate the arrival of the human souls, with whose help he will enquire about how to return home where he has left his young son Telemachus (col. I 18–20). This appeal, composed in Homeric style, rounds off the portion quoted from the Odyssey (see ποιεῖν col. I ).

Although the first three lines of the appeal reproduce verses from the Iliad (3 , 278 –280), and the other three resemble Homeric phraseology, violations of metrical rules suggest that the author of the interpolation lacked total mastery of epic versification.135 Fifteen completely different lines (col. I 22– 36) follow the second parenthetical remark (col. I 21).136 Here we find a magical invocation made up of a mixture of Greek (chthonic Zeus, Helios etc.), Egyptian (Anubis, Ptah, Nephthys) and Judaic (Iaa for Jahwe) religious elements. It also contains typical voces magicae and propitious names (Omososon, Abraxas, Ablanatho), through whose acknowledgement their invoker could, in the Egyptian-Oriental tradition, bring a deity under his control.137 While to some extent comparable with invocations in other magical papyri (e.g. PMG , 4,1443 f) it is entirely unrelated to the situation in the Nekyia and thus distinctly set apart from the preceding six lines (col. I, 15 - 20) that for their part clearly supplement the text of the Odyssey.

Six further Homeric-sounding verses (col. I 37 – 42) seamlessly follow on from col. I , which ends with the words “for the following was a most useful spell.” These six lines describe how the rivers of the underworld earlier invoked now make their actual appearance. The Odyssey interpolation in the first column is thus made up of two parts. The first part consists of the Homeric lines (col. I 15–20 and 37–42), which Wünsch dates to the pre-Christian era on the basis of the absence of any later syncretic or magical elements. The second is the magical hymn, whose composition can confidently be dated to the Roman Empire, probably not long before Africanus or perhaps even in his age. The metrical anomalies provide additional support for this conclusion. Contrary to Wünsch's conclusion, the metrical inaccuracies found in the Homeric lines suggest that this part too stems from the period of the Roman Empire and served simply to create a link between the magical invocation and the authentic text from the Odyssey.

In the second column, Africanus speaks in his own voice. He first explains how the invocation that he has quoted had been omitted either by Homer or by the Pisistratidae, the Athenian tyrants credited with having drafted the first text of Homer in the sixth century. They did so, he says, because it was deemed inappropriate in the context of heroic epic poetry. Africanus is therefore concerned less with questions of textual criticism and authenticity than he is with literary criticism. Because, in his opinion, the incantation as it currently stands in Homer is only hinted at it is incomplete and does not adequately portray the conjuring up of the souls.

So how and why did Africanus carry out this enterprise?  As Adler points out, Africanus nowhere claims to have discovered this version of the Odyssey while conducting antiquarian research in some library which he then credulously adopted.  He notes that "[t]here is equally little evidence for the claim that Africanus either deliberately or even maliciously falsified these additional lines, or that he composed them as a parody such as one finds, for example, in Lucian's handling of epic. Instead Adler argues that Africanus, taking as his point of departure a gap in the text of the Odyssey, complements the text with his own inspired, epic-like composition.  In his opinion "[t]his is also the best explanation for the line: “bearing within me a very valuable fruit."  Africanus simply felt 'inspired' to rewrite the Odyssey and then systematically deposit this 'new scripture' as many libraries as he could influence.

As Adler concludes "[i]f we can credit his own claim, the importance of Africanus' edition of the Odyssey caused it to be deposited in three public libraries—at Jerusalem, Nysa, and Rome ... the authorization to deposit his edition of the Odyssey in the three aforementioned urban libraries, together with his claims about supervising the construction of the library at the Pantheon in Rome, underscores his social standing and prestige within the inner circle of the Roman elite."  Certainly Irenaeus speaks at great length of his own connection to the same 'inner circle' of Imperial society and moreover as already noted explicitly states that the methodology of those who transform Homer was used on the gospel.  Aside from demonstrating that he was more than capable of composing homerocentos perhaps the most interesting thing Irenaeus says about the phenomena is that 'centonizing' scriptures isn't necessarily a bad thing.  There are apparently 'good' centonized scriptures and bad ones.  One has to distinguish compositions 'according to their fruit.'

In Against Heresies immediately following his demonstration of his adeptness at manipulating Homer, Irenaeus declares:
But since what may prove a finishing-stroke to this exhibition (of centonizing texts) is wanting, so that any one, on following out their farce to the end, may then at once append an argument which shall overthrow it, we have judged it well to point out, first of all, in what respects the very fathers of this fable differ among themselves, as if they were inspired by different spirits of error. For this very fact forms an a priori proof that the truth proclaimed by the Church is immoveable, and that the theories of these men are but a tissue of falsehoods. 
In other words, the various schools were inspired by an evil spirit to do evil through their manipulations of scripture.

The various schools have a distinct version of the same scripture openly promulgated in the contemporary Roman world.  The major differences between the two recensions have resulted from the manipulations to the original text of the apostle by the leaders of the various schools.  "[C]ollecting a set of expressions and names scattered here and there [in the gospels], they twist them, as we have already said, from a natural to a non-natural sense. In so doing, they act like those who bring forward any kind of hypothesis they fancy, and then endeavour to support them out of the poems of Homer, so that the ignorant imagine that Homer actually composed the verses bearing upon that hypothesis, which has, in fact, been but newly constructed; and many others are led so far by the regularly-formed sequence of the verses, as to doubt whether Homer may not have composed them."

Just as "he who is acquainted with the Homeric writings will recognise the (original) verses ... but not the subject to which they are applied" in the centonized text "if he takes them and restores each of them to its proper position, he at once destroys the narrative in question." "In like manner," says Irenaeus, "he also who retains unchangeable the rule of the truth in his heart which he received by means of baptism, will doubtless recognise the names, the expressions, and the parables taken from the Scriptures, but will by no means acknowledge the blasphemous use which these men make of them ... when he has restored every one of the expressions quoted to its proper position, and has fitted it to the body of the truth, he will lay bare, and prove to be without any foundation, the figment of these heretics."

In a parallel passage preserved by Tertullian's hand, Irenaeus hints at the possibility of rearranging scripture according to the Holy Spirit:
A near relative of my own from the same poet has amongst other literary trifles arranged the "Table" of Cebes. Moreover, "Homerocentones" is the common name for those who from the poems of Homer patch together into one piece, quilt-like, works of their own, out of many scraps put together from this passage and that. Unquestionably the Divine writings are more fruitful in affording resources for any kind of subject. Nor do I hesitate to say that the Scriptures themselves were arranged by the will of God in such a manner as to afford material for heretics, inasmuch as I read that there must be heresies, which cannot exist without the Scriptures." 
The idea that God arranged for the scriptures to be easily 're-arranged' to help the spread of heretical ideas is a difficult one to swallow.  This especially since we have seen that Irenaeus also says that God arranged for the existence of four main types of 'schools' to foreshadow the 'correctness' of a fourfold gospel canon.

All that seems to be certain through any of this is that the order of the narratives and sentences in the canonical gospels did not match the heretical ones.  The surviving references to 'gospel harmonies' of Justin, Tatian and others often appeared to 'isolate' and rearrange the individual sentences of a given passage in the various gospels.  The order of the narrative of the gospel of the Epistula Apostolorum does not match our canonical texts.  Papias complains about Mark having the wrong order which necessarily means that he knew of a gospel with a different chronology from our canonical texts.  Luke starts off his gospel with a related interest in 'correct order' and seems to have consulted a number of sources in order to arrive at the right answer.  Yet Rhodes has demonstrated that the last chapters of this very same author's gospel have signs of 'Homeric glosses' related to Irenaeus's discussion of the homerocentos.

The question comes down to - was it the heretical gospels which centonized our four gospels, texts which did not exist as a set until Irenaeus or were our four gospels manufactured after the manner of the homerocentos?  While it is undoubtedly impossible to prove matters conclusively either way it is noteworthy that those who used 'gospel harmonies' - Justin, Ephrem and the like - inevitably saw little problem with the order of Marcion's gospel.  Yet clear breaks of order and content manifest themselves when any detailed examination of our canonical gospel to their harmonies and especially Luke.  Since Irenaeus and Africanus are generally acknowledged to have shared a similar variant text of Luke which enumerated 72 rather than 77 generations stretching from Adam to Jesus's birth isn't it at least possible that Africanus's methodology with respect to 'centonizing' canonical scripture - in this case pagan - imitated Irenaeus's a generation earlier?

Yet of course there is one clear distinction to be made in closing.  Whereas the canonical text of Homer was established - indeed it was 'canonical' because it already resided in library archives for centuries - the same was certainly not true with respect to Irenaeus's enterprise.  There were no previous exemplars when and if Irenaeus deposited them into a library archive in Rome.  In other words, whereas Julius Africanus's enterprise to replace the standard edition of Homer with a 'spiritually' centonized text was doomed to fail from the start, Irenaeus's was destined to succeed by the mere fact that the established schools of Christianity resisted exposing their secret gospel to outsiders.  The victims in this case, the four schools who collectively anticipated the revelation of the correctness of four gospels in a later age, were prohibited by their establish codes of conduct from offering a replacement for Irenaeus's new exemplars.

That is why Irenaeus's repeatedly speaks of his efforts as 'exposing' the beliefs and practices of the heretics.  These were above all else secret associations and traditions.  Celsus says as much undoubtedly referencing his source for 'all knowledge' about the schools - schools which the pagan naturally assumed represented the totality of Christian belief.  Indeed the reason why 'the great Church' couldn't be described as a haeresis was quite obvious too - they didn't sit around 'philosophizing' that is studying texts or coming up with clever arguments.  Their holy writ was safely held in the public archives in Rome somewhere - or perhaps everywhere by the beginning of the third century as the pattern of distribution with respect to Irenaeus's own writings demonstrate.

At a critical juncture of the Praescription Irenaeus looks at the heretical application of a beloved sentence from Paul that was perhaps 'centonized' from its original context to the forged 'First Letter of Timothy':
they will have it that they did not reveal all things to all persons, but committed some things openly to all, and others secretly to a few; basing this assertion on the fact that Paul used this expression to Timothy, "O Timothy, guard the deposit"; and again, "Keep the good deposit." What was this "deposit" of so secret a nature as to be reckoned to belong to another doctrine ? Was it a part of that charge of which he says, "This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy " What is this deposit? Is it so secret as to be supposed to characterize a new doctrine? ... what is (this) commandment and what is (this) charge? From the preceding and the succeeding contexts, it will be manifest that there is no mysterious hint darkly suggested in this expression about (some) far-fetched doctrine, but that a warning is rather given against receiving any other (doctrine) than that which Timothy had heard from himself, as I take it publicly: "Before many witnesses" is his phrase. Now, if they refuse to allow that the church is meant by these "many witnesses," it matters nothing, since nothing could have been secret which was produced "before many witnesses." Nor, again, must the circumstance of his having wished him to "commit these things to faithful men, who should be able to teach others also," be construed into a proof of there being some secret gospel (id quoque ad argumentum occulti alicuius euangelii interpretandum est). For, when he says "these things," he refers to the things of which he is writing at the moment. 
In other words, the Catholic nexus of 'new texts' composed 'in the spirit' as if they were Paul's there is new dictum against the secrecy of the past.  Above all else, the writings need to be made public; they need to be placed 'before many witnesses.'

And to this end, my friends, what better way to make a book public than placing it in a public library?   What could be more 'pseudo-apostolic' than that ... 

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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