Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Marcionite Gospel and Secret Mark

You must all know how much it pains me to use the term "Marcionite" as I see absolutely NO evidence outside of the typical heretical scaremongering of the Church Fathers that a "Marcion of Pontus" ever had any historical existence.  Nevertheless it would be impossible to argue that the Church Fathers were describing a wholly imaginary phenomenon either.

As I have noted many times here it is only A THIRD CENTURY ROMAN tradition associated with Irenaeus that claims that 'Marcion' was the head of 'the Marcionites.'  There is very little in the way of hard evidence that Irenaeus actually referenced such a figure.

The surviving copies of Book One of the Five Books Against All Heresies only references 'Marcion' in the part which was appropriated from Justin's Syntagma (i.e. AH i.27.2, 3; i.28.1).  There is no specific reference to 'Marcionites' anywhere in the work.

Indeed as almost everyone knows Irenaeus's original 'lectures' (cf. Photius) must have only referenced the Valentinians and the Marcosians as two separate but ultimately related sects.  It was the specific arrangement of the First Book by a Roman editor which placed the Valentinians BEFORE the Marcosians.  One could argue that this was deliberate misinformation to prove that the Marcosians weren't preserving the original Alexandrian tradition associated with St. Mark the Evangelist (which must have been their original claim)

The point is that if the original βάρβαρον διάλεκτον [AH i.pref.2] that Irenaeus composed his original works against the Valentinians and Marcosians was Aramaic or Syriac (something I have written quite a bit about here) then the equivalent Aramaic term to 'the Marcosians' would be the marqiyone.  I think that the survival of early manuscripts of Hegesippus's catalogue of heresies referencing Μαρκιωνισταί  which later writers transformed into 'Marcionites,' copies of Justin's Apology which reference Μαρκιανοί  which is also corrected to read 'Marcionites' again as well as surviving literary witnesses to the fact the name for Marcionites in Syriac would mean 'those of Mark' in Aramaic all points to the fictitious nature of 'Marcion.'

'Marcion' was created through backformation from the original Aramaic term.  The head of the Marcionites was St. Mark.  Hegesippus, Justin and Irenaeus were all native Aramaic and Syriac speakers.  All or at least some of these men were sources for Tertullian whose translation of original Semitic material written AGAINST MARK and his sect 'the Marqiyone' still belies a typically Syrian emphasis on one true gospel - viz. the so-called Diatessaron.

I cannot help but hear echoes of an original treatise referencing only two single, long gospels - both in essence resembling the Diatessarion - but which was later adapted by some later source (Hippolytus? Tertullian?) to make it accord with the fourfold gospel known to the Church in the period.

The reason that my suggestion about the real meaning of the term 'Marcionite' is so important is that it points to them being in possession of an ur-Mark which must have had some relation to 'Secret Mark.'  This is why Hippolytus references (and ultimately rejects) a contemporary report that the gospel of the Marcionites was 'according to Mark.'

We know that the opening words of the Marcionite gospel were Mark 1:1.  The same thing is present in copies of the surviving Diatessaron.Both the Marcionite gospel and the Diatessaron 'retain' Mark's enthronement ending (otherwise from whence came the idea that Marcion himself was 'enthroned' with Jesus cf. Origen Homilies on Luke). Many of the 'Marcionite textual variants' only appear as such if we follow the Roman claims of the third century that they used a bastard copy of the Gospel of Luke.  The same 'variants' actually agree often times with known western variants of Mark.

The reason I find this so interesting is that the Marcionite gospel DID NOT HAVE the Jesus baptized by John narrative or as Holmes writes:

According to Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Theodoret, he rejected the genealogy and baptism of Christ; whilst from Tertullian's statement (chap.vii.) it seems likely that he connected what part of chap. iii.--vers. 1, 2--he chose to retain, with chap. iv. 31, at a leap.. He further eliminated the history of the tempation. That part of chap. iv. which narrates Christ's going into the synagogue at Nazareth and reading out of Isaiah he also rejected, and all afterwards to the end of yet.  Epiphanius mentions sundry slight alterations in capp. v. 14, 24, vi. 5, 17. In chap. viii. 19 he expunged h mhthr autos, kai adelfoi autou. From Tertullian's remarks (chap. xix.), it would seem at first as if Marcion had added to his Gospel that answer of our Saviour which we find related by St. Matthew, chap. xii. 48: "Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?" For he represents Marcion (as in De came Christ, vii., he represents other heretics, who deny the nativity) as making use of these words for his favourite argument. 

Yet this isn't the only way that we can see that the Marcionite gospel actually represented a 'fuller' gospel of Mark (with material found in other gospels).  There is the recurring pattern where Tertullian's source says that Marcion has erased things from the Catholic gospel - which we presume is Luke because of Tertullian's addition of new words in the introduction - until of course we realize that these 'expunged words' don't ever appear in Luke!

Holmes again has to explain this state of affairs so he comes up with a ridiculous 'hypothetical' namely that:

Tertullian might quote from memory, and think that to be in Luke which was only in Matthew--as he has done at least in three instances. (Lardner refers two of these instances to passages in chap. vii. of this Book iv., where Tertullian mentions, as erasures from Luke, what really are found in Matthew v. 17 and xv. 24. The third instance referred to by Lardner probably occurs at the end of chap. ix. of this same Book iv., where Tertullian again mistakes Matt. v. 17 for a passage of Luke, and charges Marcion with expunging it; curiously enough, the mistake recurs in chap. xii. of the same Book) ... Tertullian says (in the 4th chapter of the preceding Book) that Marcion erased the passage which gives an account of the parting of the raiment of our Saviour among the soldiers. But the reason he assigns for the erasure--'respiciens Psalmi prophetiam'--shows that in this, as well as in the few other instances which we have already named, where Tertullian has charged Marcion with so altering passages, his memory deceived him into mistaking Matthew for Luke, for the reference to the passage in the Psalm is only given by St. Matthew xxvii.

It is absolutely impossible to believe that Marcion both 'added' things from Matthew to his own gospel AND Tertullian's source was so stupid that he didn't realize that he was accusing Marcion of removing things from 'Luke' which are only found in Matthew.

The solution to all of this goes back to what we noticed about oral traditions related to St. Mark's gospel writing efforts in Alexandria.  The original Gospel of Mark originally included material found in sources outside of Luke.  I don't want to go through the list right now but the Marcionite interest in the Paraclete, coupled with the early traditions of Marcion as the disloyal secretary of John all point to what we would call 'Johannine material' present in the Marcionite text (something pointed out by Turmel over a century ago).

It is far easier I think to demonstrate that Irenaeus actually knew of a 'fuller gospel of Mark' when he writes:

For the Lord, revealing Himself to His disciples, that He Himself is the Word, who imparts knowledge of the Father, and reproving the Jews, who imagined that they, had [the knowledge of] God, while they nevertheless rejected His Word, through whom God is made known, declared, "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son has willed to reveal [Him]." Thus hath Matthew set it down, and Luke in like manner, and Mark the very same; for John omits this passage. They, however, who would be wiser than the apostles, write [the verse] in the following manner: "No man knew the Father, but the Son; nor the Son, but the Father, and he to whom the Son has willed to reveal [Him];" [Irenaeus AH iv.4.1]

The point of course is that this heretical variant was found in the Marcionite gospel. The idea that our canonical Mark was shorter than an Alexandrian original is most clearly witnessed in Clement's letter to Theodore. But I have went one step further by pointing out that the Marcionite canon included a letter to the Alexandrians. How could Clement's Alexandrian Gospel of Mark - a text so utterly intertwined with the Alexandrian liturgy - be understood to exist in a canon WITHOUT a letter to the Alexandrian Church? How could Mark's Alexandrian gospel not been fused to a Marcionite canon built around an Apostolikon reinforcing Alexandria's primacy?

The solution of all solution is to go back to the reference in Hippolytus which says essentially 'the Marcionites are wrong - Mark's gospel and Paul's letters don't when taken together support their heretical beliefs.'  But this is a stupid argument because the Marcionite clearly had a different version of each.  The Gospel of Mark they used DID NOT have the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.  Indeed 'John' isn't even referenced until chapter 5.  As the Marcionites baptized their catechumen one would think there had to have been a reference to the sacrament in the narrative - but where?

I would argue that the Marcionite baptism was based on LGM 1 (the first reference to material that appeared in the Alexandrian Gospel of Mark which was either removed or did not appear in the Roman text of the same name).  Already Harvey notes parallels between Marcionite baptismal practices and those of the Marcosians.  I would argue that the term 'Marcionite' (or marqyone) is only the Aramaic equivalent to Μαρκιανισταί.  The two sects were undoubtedly one and the same, really amounting to related Syriac and Egyptian sects which derive their origins from a common Markan ancestor.

The situation with regards to the gospel is also undoubtedly the same.  There must have been an Aramaic ancestor to Mark.  Morton Smith realized as much and now that defenders of his discovery no longer have to make clever arguments to distance Smith from the text he discovered, maybe we can now actually get somewhere in terms of understanding where 'Secret Mark' fit within the framework of early witnesses to the original gospel narrative ...

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