Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More on the Corrupt Status of the Manuscripts of Irenaeus

I could devote an entire blog to the corrupt state of the Five Books Against All Heresies (I won't even both citing that other long name for the book as I have effectively proved that it was never actually WRITTEN by Irenaeus). This is a book that pretends to be an original composition of Irenaeus but is in fact a third century collection - did I say 'collection'? I meant to say CORRECTION - of original lectures of the Church Father on the the subject of what constituted 'heresy' in an age of the Roman Church's ascendancy (undoubtedly collected and edited by someone close to Hippolytus, perhaps Hippolytus himself).

In any event if it wasn't for the fact that these clowns BELIEVE in all this stupid nonsense - i.e. that there really was a college of twelve apostles headed by Peter who 'resided' in Rome - no one would take any of this seriously. But we all have to believe in something. I can remember being single and having my standards slip when I wasn't getting action from the ladies.

It's all the same thing. These desperate fools want to BELIEVE in something so they end up being forensic accountants for the STUPIDEST of belief structures.

In short what on earth is Christianity doing being headquartered in Rome?

These same people will wrinkle a knowing grin when they hear that Constantine moved the headquarters of Christianity to Constantinople. "But Rome ... you got to be kidding! This isn't the same thing at all. Why, Peter was headquartered here."

Yeah, totally different. Show me even one building that EVEN ALLEGEDLY dates back to the time of Peter.

In Alexandria, by contrast we have a building, a place and a name of the person who built the Church. A streaker running across AS Roma's football pitch has about as much a claim to be the founder of the Roman Church as an illiterate Galilean being hung upside down in antiquity.

But these idiots will persist. They point to Irenaeus - that bulwark of reliable information - for THE LIST - a bunch of names scribbled on the equivalent of a woman's sanitary napkin as 'proof' that this isn't Constantinople 180 CE.

Oh yes, Irenaeus admits that he and his fellow heads are sitting in the Imperial court. Yes, the evil Emperor was 'good' to the Church. Yes, his sleazy wife-mistress-concubine rescued two generations of Catholic Popes from the mines. But we have to look the other way.

After all we have 'THE LIST.'

Eusebius happens to promote 'THE LIST.' Oh, but Eusebius isn't like Irenaeus and they are both Imperial courtiers. No they just happened to have very good connections with the Emperor of their day.

They aren't flatterers and kiss asses because ... well, they are Christians and Christians are always good people.

Anyway, that mendacious LIST is without question the most ridiculous, highly promoted bit of nonsense ever written. And besides, its hopelessly corrupt.

Here without further ado is 'THE LIST':

Evarestus succeeded Clement, and Alexander succeeded Evarestus. Then Sixtus, the sixth from the apostles, was appointed [ac deinceps sextus ab apostolis constitutus est Sixtus]. After him Telesphorus, who suffered martyrdom gloriously, then Hyginus, then Pius, and after him Anicetus; Soter succeeded Anicetus, and now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, Eleutherus holds the office of bishop. In the same order and succession the tradition in the church and the preaching of the truth has descended from the apostles unto us.[AH iii.3.3]

It is based on the authority of THE LIST that we think that we 'know' that the bishop of Rome at the time of Irenaeus was named 'Eleutherius.'

I guess it's just me but I can't shake the feeling that there is something wrong with the existing text. You can't read two pages of Harvey's critical edition without hearing him complain about how corrupt the material is. And now we are supposed to believe that 'Sixtus' is the sixth [Lat. sextus] Pope? The name is often garbled as 'Xystus.'

I think that the original text of Irenaeus said that Telephorus was 'sixth' from the apostles and then with the material being written and rewritten so many times by so many idiots 'Sextus' became one of the founding Popes of the Roman tradition.

Don't believe it could have happened? Well, just look at the heretics 'Secundus' (AH i.11.2 = 'second') and 'Colorabus' (AH xiv. 14.1 = Aram. kol arbus 'all four' cf. Heumann).

ALL THE SURVIVING TEXTS which preserve information from Irenaeus are corrupt. They were corrupted quite early given that both Tertullian and the Philosophumena misinterpreted 'Secundus' and 'Colorabus' as names of teachers rather than allusions to numbers.

For the moment it is enough to suggest that when we read in the surviving references to Irenaeus that:

To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate.

I STRONGLY SUSPECT that the 'Eleutherius' is a Latin misunderstanding of ελευθερια which must have appeared in the original Greek - i.e. 'freedom.' The Greek text of Eusebius names the bishop ελευθερος. The Latin simply reads:

Cum autem successisset Aniceto Soter nunc duodecimo loco Episcopatum ab Apostolis habet Eleutherius.

I suspect that Irenaeus's original point was that NOW in the time of Soter the Church was free.

The truth is that most people forget that there is another fragment where Irenaeus curiously omits 'Eleutherius' all together - viz. his letter to 'Pope Victor' who is supposedly the next bishop. But notice that Irenaeus in discussing the Paschal controversy only mentions Soter as Victor's predecessor:

And the presbyters preceding Soter in the government of the Church which you now rule— I mean, Anicetus and Pius, Hyginus and Telesphorus, and Sixtus — did neither themselves observe it [after that fashion], nor permit those with them to do so.[Frag. Letter to Victor]

I don't know how anyone explains the fact that 'Eleutherius' isn't mentioned here. The only argument that can explain his absence is that a later editor provided the specific names of Victor's predecessors but that isn't satisfactory either.

The obvious answer is that there never was a bishop named Eleutherius. It was one of many corruptions which crept into the original manuscript as it was passed around like an old whore for two generations. A parallel situation is reflected in the introduction to the Five Books Against Marcion.

Why does Irenaeus refer to a 'freedom' in the Church during the reign of Commodus? I think that there is more than enough evidence to suggest that he thought that the contemporary alliance that he and his associates struck with the Emperor Commodus represented nothing short of the fulfillment of the FUTURE promise of 'redemption.'

Now it is clear from these same writings of Irenaeus that he is in reality merely RESHAPING the original Marcosian understanding that 'the redemption' was established through the dispensation of baptism from Jesus to his beloved disciple (St.) Mark, the founder of the tradition at Alexandria.

Irenaeus strangely says throughout his polemic against the apolutrosis that the redemption WAS ONLY FULFILLED IN THE CONTEMPORARY AGE.

This is absolutely clear in Book Two when he attacks the Marcosian interpretation of Isa 61.2 shared by Clement of Alexandria and every Jew in every age previous to Irenaeus that the 'year of favor' was in fact the messianic Jubilee. Clement and the Marcosians said that the year was connected with Jesus's ministry but Irenaeus disagrees and says that:

The acceptable year of the Lord, again, is this present time, in which those who believe Him are called by Him, and become acceptable to God [AH ii.22.2]

And he repeats it again one more time just for emphasis:

For the words [of Isaiah] are, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution." This present time, therefore, in which men are called and saved by the Lord, is properly understood to be denoted by "the acceptable year of the Lord;" and there follows on this "the day of retribution," that is, the judgment. [ibid]

It is worth citing THE WHOLE PASSAGE in Isaiah to demonstrate that Isaiah would naturally have identified the current age which was 'the year of favor' as at the same time the age of eleutheria:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn [Isa 61.1,2]

Indeed Book Four makes the argument even more explicit referencing the age of Commodus not only as the 'year of favor' but specifically the age of ελευθερια. Yet notice that Irenaeus's discussion throughout presupposes an INCORRECT interpretation among the Marcosians that these periods - viz. the apolutrosis - when Jesus passed on the angelic baptism to his beloved disciple. Irenaeus has to explain how his system can allow for the idea that Jesus washed his disciples but that apolutrosis was ultimately delayed so we write:

Now in the last days, when the fulness of the time of liberty had arrived, the Word Himself did by Himself "wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion," when He washed the disciples' feet with His own hands. For this is the end of the human race inheriting God; that as in the beginning, by means of our first [parents], we were all brought into bondage, by being made subject to death; so at last, by means of the New Man, all who from the beginning [were His] disciples, having been cleansed and washed from things pertaining to death, should come to the life of God. For He who washed the feet of the disciples sanctified the entire body, and rendered it clean. For this reason, too, He administered food to them in a recumbent posture, indicating that those who were lying in the earth were they to whom He came to impart life. [AH iv.22]

We see Irenaeus CLEARLY REFERENCE the fact that apolutrosis is rooted in the tradition Jewish concept of the 'redemption' of the crossing of the Red Sea but notice how he turns this around to accuse the Marcosians of siding with the Jews who killed Christ:

For the sesame heretics already mentioned by us have fallen away from themselves, by accusing the Lord, in whom they say that they believe. For those points to which they call attention with regard to the God who then awarded temporal punishments to the unbelieving, and smote the Egyptians, while He saved those that were obedient; these same [facts, I say,] shall nevertheless repeat themselves in the Lord, who judges for eternity those whom He doth judge, and lets go free for eternity those whom He does let go free: and He shall [thus] be discovered, according to the language used by these men, as having been the cause of their most heinous sin to those who laid hands upon Him, and pierced Him. For if He had not so Come, it follows that these men could not have become the slayers of their Lord; and if He had not sent prophets to them, they certainly could not have killed them, nor the apostles either. To those, therefore, who assail us, and say, If the Egyptians had not been afflicted with plagues, and, when pursuing after Israel, been choked in the sea, God could not have saved His people, this answer may be given;--Unless, then, the Jews had become the slayers of the Lord (which did, indeed, take eternal life away from them), and, by killing the apostles and persecuting the Church, had fallen into an abyss of wrath, we could not have been saved. For as they were saved by means of the blindness of the Egyptians, so are we, too, by that of the Jews; if, indeed, the death of the Lord is the condemnation of those who fastened Him to the cross, and who did not believe His advent, but the salvation of those who believe in Him [AH iv.28.3]

As Elaine Pagels rightly noted in her recent article, Irenaeus wants to accomplish nothing short of the re-engineering of the original Christian faith. He does not apolutrosis to be associated with a specific rite. It seems to smack of sorcery to encourage the idea that by washing in the baptismal water the Church affects 'redemption.'

Instead Irenaeus promotes arguments of which Photius notes "the exact truth of the doctrines of the Church appears to be falsified by spurious arguments." One can only imagine how ridiculous the flattery of this Imperial courtier must have seemed to Christians of a later period. The closest we get in our surviving texts is what appears in what follows in Book Four where he writes of Commodus's beneficence:

For if God had not accorded this in the typical exodus, no one could now be saved in our true exodus; that is, in the faith in which we have been established, and by which we have been brought forth from among the number of the Gentiles. For in some cases there follows us a small, and in others a large amount of property, which we have acquired from the mammon of unrighteousness. For from what source do we derive the houses in which we dwell, the garments in which we are clothed, the vessels which we use, and everything else ministering to our every-day life, unless it be from those things which, when we were Gentiles, we acquired by avarice, or received them from our heathen parents, relations, or friends who unrighteously obtained them?--not to mention that even now we acquire such things when we are in the faith. For who is there that sells, and does not wish to make a profit from him who buys? Or who purchases anything, and does not wish to obtain good value from the seller? Or who is there that carries on a trade, and does not do so that he may obtain a livelihood thereby? And as to those believing ones who are in the royal palace, do they not derive the utensils they employ from the property which belongs to Caesar; and to those who have not, does not each one of these [Christians] give according to his ability [AH iv.30.1]

This point is made even stronger in what follows:

For the whole exodus of the people out of Egypt, which took place under divine guidance, was a type and image of the exodus of the Church which should take place from among the Gentiles; and for this cause He leads it out at last from this world into His own inheritance, which Moses the servant of God did not [bestow], but which Jesus the Son of God shall give for an inheritance [ibid. iv.30.4]

The point is then that the Alexandrian Christian expectation for 'redemption' is now argued to have been fulfilled with the reign of Commodus - and we must remember - his Christian concubine Marcia who ruled with him as his wife.

With all of this established, how on earth does anyone believe - even for a second - that 'Eleutherius' is a bishop of the Roman Church. Irenaeus instead was originally writing IN THE AGE OF SOTER and identifying that the Church 'had liberty' under Commodus's rule.

Of course the million dollar question now is who is the 'Soter' that 'had the government of the Church' in the period that Irenaeus was writing? The answer becomes obvious when we establish that Conservator was the original Latin translation of the Greek Soter. As Stephen Brown notes, the:

association with a pagan god [viz. Jupiter] caused the translators of the Old Latin Bible to avoid the use of conservator for soter, and they instead invented a new word salvator itself based on the new verb salvare (to save). These neologisms did not gain instant currency among the Fathers. Tertullian, although he used salvator, offered salutificator as an alternative ... By the time of Augustine (d. 430 CE) however salvator was welcomes without serious apology to Latin grammarians [p. 268]

Yet was there something else more embarrassing lurking in the closets of Roman Christians? Could Commodus have been the original Conservator or 'Soter' of the Church?

Well guess what? The most common epithet on his coinage is 'Conservator' borrowing the title from the cult of Jupiter. Just look for the CONSERV inscription on all these Commodian coins:

Ref Commodus Denarius, RIC 261, RSC 703, BMC 359
Commodus Denarius. L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, laureate head right / SERAPIDI CONSERV AVG, Serapis, radiate, standing front, head left, holding branch & scepter. RSC 703.

Ref Commodus Denarius, RIC 258, RSC 354, BMC 353
Commodus Denarius. L AEL AVREL COMM AVG BRIT, laureate head right / MATRI DEV CONSERV AVG, Cybele, wearing polos, seated front, on lion running right. RSC 354.

Ref Commodus AE Sestertius, RIC 308c, Cohen 273-274, BMC 448-450
Commodus Æ Sestertius. M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG, laureate draped bust right / IVPPITER CONSERVATOR TR P VI COS III PP S-C, Jupiter standing left holding scepter, protecting Rome's new Emperor, Commodus (the small figure to left) with his thunderbolt & cloak.

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