Sunday, December 20, 2009

Schmid's findings on the Marcionite text of the Epistles

Ulrich Schmid, Marcion und sein Apostolos: Rekonstruktion und historische Einordnung der marcionitischen Paulusbriefausgabe, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1995.

What Schmid has done is re-examine all the evidence much more carefully and systematically than had been done so far. His finding is that Marcion’s text differed from other mss. in a way that would affect the meaning in only a few places, though these few differences are important. All the rest of what was listed by Zahn and Harnack and others is simply agreement between Marcion’s text and the papyri or the Western Text or readings attested in the Syriac transmission. Tertullian and Epiphanius and others saw the disagreement with their text, without realising that the disagreement was not specific to Marcion. Besides this, a large part of what was cited in previous work as specific to Marcion is no more than Tertullian’s re-wording of indirect quotations to fit his sentence structure, or Epiphanius not always quoting clearly.

The Dialogue of Adamantius is worthless, since the author knew just about nothing, and invented readings. Epiphanius used two different mss., not exactly the same as each other. When this is recognised, using his evidence is straightforward.

Schmid proves beyond any doubt whatever that Marcion DID use the Old Testament, and he DID have O.T. quotations in his text of the Epistles. As for the supposed rejection of the O.T. or of the Torah attributed to him from the Antitheses, everyone starting with Tertullian and extending into modern times has missed the point. The structure of this work was a list of theses in the technical sense of the term, that is, terse single statements each serving as the heading of a reasoned development of an argument. The details and subtleties would follow the headings. Treating the headings as statements meant to be adequate on their own shows ignorance of an important ancient method of composition. It is like reciting the list of theses that Luther stuck up on the church door while forgetting that he headed these as “theses to be debated”. (This comparison is mine). The theses or headings are in fact not understandable without the development, and not meant to be understandable on their own. It seems that neither Epiphanius nor Tertullian had ever seen the booklet, only the table of contents, that is, the list of Antitheses. Or otherwise it suited them not to quote the clarificatory developments of each heading so that they could misrepresent what the headings meant. (This last bit is not in Schmid’s conclusions in such an explicit form, but from what is cited in other places in the book this seems possible). Everyone seems to have wrongly thought that this list was the booklet, because Tertullian and Epiphanius said so or thought so.

Schmid thinks in terms of Marcion having made changes, but what he says can be re-phrased in terms of what was original, that is, Marcion’s, being changed. When he speaks of Marcion’s deletions, we can take that to mean that additions were put in by others.

The full list of all the differences between Marcion and the majority of Catholic mss. where at the same time Marcion is not supported by the papyri or the Western Text and so on, is very very short. See just above the middle of p. 310, starting with the words „Sein Beitrag beschränkt sich auf die Streichung präzise eingrenzbarer Textabschnitte....“ Notice that all these differences are what Schmid calls omissions by Marcion and I would call additions in the Roman & Catholic Recension. Most are additions of long phrases or whole sentences or verses with additional highly loaded content, but the last one listed by Schmid only concerns references to “the flesh of Christ”, much shorter but still loaded with implications.

All the same, the list of places where Marcion differs from the majority of Catholic mss. and is in agreement with the papyri, the Western Text and so on, is long: it comes to thirty pages in Schmid’s listing. Very few of these differences affect the meaning, but some make a big difference. These differences affecting the meaning are explained by Schmid as being due to Marcion’s use of mss. of a recension that was anti-Jewish and had been revised in accordance with the Western Text and some related recension before Marcion saw it. This can be turned round to mean that the Western Text and this similar unknown recension represent a more original text than the form in the majority of Catholic mss. The term “anti-Jewish” is in my judgment simply silly, just as silly as it is when applied to John’s Gospel. Turn this round and say the false view of the Torah and the trivialising of the argument from the Torah and introduction of some irrelevancies from the O.T. and the obscuring of the overall argument were inserted into the Roman & Catholic Text by changing words and phrases, but there was a form of the Western Text free of these alterations and agreeing with Marcion.

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