Monday, May 24, 2010

On Irenaeus and the Marcosian Tetrad

I was busy writing a lot of posts yesterday so I forgot to mention something important.  When I demonstrated that the Marcosian interest in the Tetrad was based on Pythagorean geometry (filtered undoubtedly through Plato and Philo) I forgot to add that the idea that the tetrad stands between the monad and the decad helps explain how Irenaeus's introduction of the quaternion was ultimately so successful.

I have been wrestling with this problem for the last ten years.  There are all these communities that used a single long gospel - ur-Mark, ur-Matthew etc.- and then along comes this guy from Rome who presents four gospels and with at least one gospel claiming to be a familiar text but in a shortened form saying that the gospel is supposed to be 'four-faced.'

How on earth did this ever work?

Yes of course, I have been putting forward what amounts to a 'conspiracy theory' that the Roman government helped the Roman Church 'scare' the other churches into accepting the reforms.  However it is also true that we should expect a prudent reformer to develop his reforms in a form that would be acceptable to the greatest number of people.

In other words, it would be prudent to have the new gospel take a form which in someway would conform to pre-existing expectations about the heavenly world.

To this end, Irenaeus's argument that the gospel 'is supposed to be' in four can be argued to have developed from a pre-existent Alexandrian interest in the Tetrad based on Pythagorean, Platonic and Philonic arguments regarding the relationship of the monad (the Father), the tetrad (the Son) and the decad (the Demiurge).

Just think for a moment about the interest in connecting the 'four' to the four living creatures of Ezekiel.  We already have a living relic which demonstrates that this Tetrad was associated with 'Christ' - viz. the throne of St. Mark.  Similar ideas are developed in contemporary literature too.

The point is that if Irenaeus were operating in a void and not building upon the pre-existent Alexandrian interest in geometry (indeed the very heretical faith he criticizes in Book One) the Roman Father WOULD NOT developed the quaternion.  It is simply too much of a leap of logic.  There would be an audience which already ACCEPTED the sanctity of the Tetrad.

As such one can turn around this understanding and make the case that in fact the Alexandrian tradition of St. Mark was actually pre-existent, that Irenaeus was MODIFYING a pre-existent Alexandrian religious form rather than ushering in something completely new and unheard of, or which was developed somewhere else.

The Alexandrian tradition came first and the Roman was a modification of that original doctrine in the same way that Mark originally stood along and then Peter was placed over him as an 'overseer.'  Much as the contemporary Roman Church was 'watching' and 'correcting' the original beliefs of Alexandria.

And one more thing ...

When I noted that Clement shared the Marcosian interest in the Tetrad and cited this passage from the Stromata:

Four pillars there are, the sign of the sacred tetrad of the ancient covenants. Further, the mystic name of four letters which was affixed to those alone to whom the adytum was accessible, is called Jave, which is interpreted, "Who is and shall be." The name of God, too, among the Greeks contains four letters. [Stromata v.6]

What I failed to mention was that THESE ideas were again drawn from Philo - the guy who specified that the tetrad was superior to the decad in a typically Platonic manner. In short Clement was developing ideas from Philo's Second Book of the Life of Moses which reads (in full):

Therefore the general form of the model was stamped upon the mind of the prophet, being accurately painted and fashioned beforehand invisibly without any materials, in species which were not apparent to the eye; and the completion of the work was made in the similitude of the model, the maker giving an accurate representation of the impression in material substances corresponding to each part of the model, and the fashion of the building was as follows. There were eight and forty pillars of cedar, which is the most incorruptible of all woods, cut out of solid trunks of great beauty, and they were all veneered with gold of great thickness. Then under each pillar there were placed two silver pedestals to support it, and on the top of each was placed one golden capital; and of these pillars the architect arranged forty along the length of the tabernacle, one half of them, or twenty, on each side, placing nothing between them, but arranging them and uniting them all in regular order, and close together, so that they might present the appearance of one solid wall; and he ranged the other eight along the inner breadth, placing six in the middle space, and two at the extreme corners, one on each side at the right and left of the centre. Again, at the entrance he placed four others, like the first in all other respects except that they had only one pedestal instead of two, as those opposite to them had, and behind them he placed five more on the outside differing only in the pedestals, for the pedestals of these last were made of brass. So that all the pillars of the tabernacle taken together, besides the two at the corners which could not be seen, were fifty-five in number, all conspicuous, being the number made by the addition of all the numbers from the unit to the complete and perfect decade. And if any were inclined to count those five pillars of the outer vestibule in the open air separately, as being in the outer court as it was called, there will then be left that most holy number of fifty, being the power of a rectangular triangle, which is the foundation of the creation of the universe, and is here entirely completed by the pillars inside the tabernacle; there being first of all forty, twenty on either side, and those in the middle being six, without counting those which were out of sight and concealed at the corners, and those opposite to the entrance, from which the veil was suspended, being four;  and the reason for which I reckon the other five with the first fifty, and again why I separate them from the fifty, I will now explain. The number five is the number of the external senses, and the external sense in man at one time inclines towards external things, and at another time comes back again upon the mind, being as it were a kind of handmaid of the laws of its nature; on which account it is that the architect has here allotted a central position to the five pillars, for those which are inside of them leant towards the innermost shrine of the tabernacle, which under a symbol is appreciable only by the intellect; and the outermost pillars, which are in the open air, and in the outer courtyard, and which are also perceptible by the external senses,  in reference to which fact it is that they are said to have differed from the others only in the pedestals, for they were made of brass. But since the mind is the principal thing in us, having an authority over the external senses, and since that which is an object of the external senses is the extremity, and as it were the pedestal or foundation of it, the architect has likened the mind to gold, and the object of the external sense to brass. And these are the measures of the pillars, they are ten cubits in length, and five cubits and a half in width, in order that the tabernacle may be seen to be of equal dimensions in all its parts.

Moreover the architect surrounded the tabernacle with very beautiful woven work of all kinds, employing work of hyacinth colour, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen for the tapestry; for he caused to be wrought ten cloths, which in the sacred scriptures he has called curtains, of the kinds which I have just mentioned, every one of them being eight and twenty cubits in length, and extending four cubits in width, in order that the complete number of the decade, and also the number four, which is the essence of the decade, and also the number twenty-eight, which is likewise a perfect number, being equal to its parts; and also the number forty, the most prolific and productive of all numbers, in which number they say that man was fashioned in the workshop of nature. Therefore the eight and twenty cubits of the curtains have this distribution: there are ten along the roof, for that is the width of the tabernacle, and the rest are placed along the sides, on each side nine, which are extended so as to cover and conceal the pillars, one cubit from the floor being left uncovered in order that the beautiful and holy looking embroidery might not be dragged. And of the forty which are included in the calculation and made up of the width of the ten curtains, the length takes thirty, for such is the length of the tabernacle, and the chamber behind takes nine. And the remaining one is in the outer vestibule, that it may be the bond to unite the whole circumference. And the outer vestibule is overshadowed by the veil; and the curtains themselves are nearly the same as veils, not only because they cover the roof and the walls, but also because they are woven and embroidered by the same figures, and with hyacinth colour, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. And the veil, and that thing, too, which was called the covering, was made of the same things. That which was within was placed along the five pillars, that the innermost shrine might be concealed; and that which was outside being placed along the five pillars, that no one of those who were not holy men might be able from any secret or distant place to behold the holy rites and ceremonies.

Moreover, he chose the materials of this embroidery, selecting with great care what was most excellent out of an infinite quantity, choosing materials equal in number to the elements of which the world was made, and having a direct relation to them; the elements being the earth and the water, and the air and the fire. For the fine flax is produced from the earth, and the purple from the water, and the hyacinth colour is compared to the air (for, by nature, it is black), and the scarlet is likened to fire, because each is of a red colour; for it followed of necessity that those who were preparing a temple made by hands for the Father and Ruler of the universe must take essences similar to those of which he made the universe itself. Therefore the tabernacle was built in the manner that has been here described, like a holy temple. And all around it a sacred precinct extended a hundred cubits in length and fifty cubits in width, having pillars all placed at an equal distance of five cubits from one another, so that there were in all sixty pillars; and they were divided so that forty were placed along the length and twenty along the breadth of the tabernacle, one half on each side. And the material of which the pillars were composed was cedar within, and on the surface without silver; and the pedestals of all of them were made of brass, and the height was equal to five cubits. For it seemed to the architect to be proper to make the height of what was called the hall equal to one half of the entire length, that so the tabernacle might appear to be elevated to double its real height. And there were thin curtains fitted to the pillars along their entire length and breadth, resembling so many sails, in order that no one might be able to enter in who was not pure.

And the situation was as follows. In the middle was placed a tent, being in length thirty cubits and in width ten cubits, including the depth of the pillars. And it was distant from the centre space by three intervals of equal distance, two being at the sides and one along the back chamber. And the interval between was by measurement twenty cubits. But along the vestibule, as was natural, by reason of the number of those who entered, the distance between them was increased and extended to fifty cubits and more; for in this way the hundred pillars of the hall were intended to be made up, twenty being along the chamber behind, and those which the tent contained, thirty in number, being included in the same calculation with the fifty at the entrances; for the outer vestibule of the tabernacle was placed as a sort of boundary in the middle of the two fifties, the one, I mean, towards the east where the entrance was, and the other being on the west, in which direction the length of the tabernacle and the surrounding wall behind was. Moreover, another outer vestibule, of great size and exceeding beauty, was made at the beginning of the entrance into the hall, by means of four pillars, along which was stretched the embroidered curtain in the same manner as the inner curtains were stretched along the tabernacle, and wrought also of similar materials;  and with this there were also many sacred vessels made, an ark, and a candlestick, and a table, and an altar of incense, and an altar of sacrifice. Now, the altar of sacrifice was placed in the open air, right opposite to the entrances of the tabernacle, being distant from it just so far as was necessary to give the ministering officers room to perform the sacrifices that were offered up every day.

But the ark was in the innermost shrine, in the inaccessible holy of holies, behind curtains; being gilded in a most costly and magnificent manner within and without, the covering of which was like to that which is called in the sacred scriptures the mercy-seat. Its length and width are accurately described, but its depth is not mentioned, being chiefly compared to and resembling a geometrical superficies; so that it appears to be an emblem, if looked at physically, of the merciful power of God; and, if regarded in a moral point of view, of a certain intellect spontaneously propitious to itself, which is especially desirous to contract and destroy, by means of the love of simplicity united with knowledge, that vain opinion which raises itself up to an unreasonable height and puffs itself up without any grounds. But the ark is the depository of the laws, for in that are placed the holy oracles of God, which were given to Moses; and the covering of the ark, which is called the mercy-seat, is a foundation for two winged creatures to rest upon, which are called, in the native language of the Hebrews, cherubim, but as the Greeks would translate the word, vast knowledge and science. Now some persons say, that these cherubim are the symbols of the two hemispheres, placed opposite to and fronting one another, the one beneath the earth and the other above the earth, for the whole heaven is endowed with wings. But I myself should say, that what is here represented under a figure are the two most ancient and supreme powers of the divine God, namely, his creative and his kingly power; and his creative power is called God; according to which he arranged, and created, and adorned this universe, and his kingly power is called Lord, by which he rules over the beings whom he has created, and governs them with justice and firmness; for he, being the only true living God, is also really the Creator of the world; since he brought things which had no existence into being; and he is also a king by nature, because no one can rule over beings that have been created more justly than he who created them.

And in the space between the five pillars and the four pillars, is that space which is, properly speaking, the space before the temple, being cut off by two curtains of woven work, the inner one of which is called the veil, and the outer one is called the covering: and the remaining three vessels, of those which I have enumerated, were placed as follows:--The altar of incense was placed in the middle, between earth and water, as a symbol of gratitude, which it was fitting should be offered up, on account of the things that had been done for the Hebrews on both these elements, for these elements have had the central situation of the world allotted to them. The candlestick was placed on the southern side of the tabernacle, since by it the maker intimates, in a figurative manner, the motions of the stars which give light; for the sun, and the moon, and the rest of the stars, being all at a great distance from the northern parts of the universe, make all their revolutions in the south. And from this candlestick there proceeded six branches, three on each side, projecting from the candlestick in the centre, so as altogether to complete the number of seven; and in all the seven there were seven candles and seven lights, being symbols of those seven stars which are called planets by those men who are versed in natural philosophy; for the sun, like the candlestick, being placed in the middle of the other six, in the fourth rank, gives light to the three planets which are above him, and to those of equal number which are below him, adapting to circumstances the musical and truly divine instrument.

And the table, on which bread and salt are laid, was placed on the northern side, since it is the north which is the most productive of winds, and because too all nourishment proceeds from heaven and earth, the one giving rain, and the other bringing to perfection all seeds by means of the irrigation of water; for the symbols of heaven and earth are placed side by side, as the holy scripture shows, the candlestick being the symbol of heaven, and that which is truly called the altar of incense, on which all the fumigatory offerings are made, being the emblem of the things of earth. But it became usual to call the altar which was in the open air the altar of sacrifice, as being that which preserved and took care of the sacrifices; intimating, figuratively, the consuming power of these things, and not the lambs and different parts of the victims which were offered, and which were naturally calculated to be destroyed by fire, but the intention of him who offered them; for if the man who made the offerings was foolish and ignorant, the sacrifices were no sacrifices, the victims were not sacred or hallowed, the prayers were ill-omened, and liable to be answered by utter destruction, for even when they appear to be received, they produce no remission of sins but only a reminding of them. But if the man who offers the sacrifice be bold and just, then the sacrifice remains firm, even if the flesh of the victim be consumed, or rather, I might say, even if no victim be offered up at all; for what can be a real and true sacrifice but the piety of a soul which loves God? The gratitude of which is blessed with immortality, and without being recorded in writing is engraved on a pillar in the mind of God, being made equally everlasting with the sun, and moon, and the universal world.

After these things the architect of the tabernacle next prepared a sacred dress for him who was to be appointed high priest, having in its embroidery a most exceedingly beautiful and admirable work; and the robe was two-fold; one part of which was called the under-robe, and the other the robe over the shoulders. Now the under-robe was of a more simple form and character, for it was entirely of hyacinthine colours, except the lowest and exterior portions, and these were ornamented with golden pomegranates, and bells, and wreaths of flowers; but the robe over the shoulders or mantle was a most beautiful and skilful work, and was made with most perfect skill of all the aforesaid kinds of material, of hyacinth colour, and purple, and fine linen, and scarlet, gold thread being entwined and embroidered in it. For the leaves were divided into fine hairs, and woven in with every thread, and on the collar stones were fitted in, two being costly emeralds of exceeding value, on which the names of the patriarchs of the tribes were engraved, six on each, making twelve in all; and on the breast were twelve other precious stones, differing in colour like seals, in four rows of three stones each, and these were fitted in what was called the logeum and the logeum was made square and double, as a sort of foundation, that it mighty bear on it, as an image, two virtues, manifestation and truth; and the whole was fastened to the mantle by fine golden chains, and fastened to it so that it might never get loose; and a golden leaf was wrought like a crown, having four names engraved on it which may only be mentioned or heard by holy men having their ears and their tongues purified by wisdom, and by no one else at all in any place whatever. And this holy prophet Moses calls the name, a name of four letters, making them perhaps symbols of the primary numbers, the unit, the number two, the number three, the number four: since all things are comprised in the number four, namely, a point, and a line, and a superficies, and a solid, and the measures of all things, and the most excellent symphonies of music, and the diatessaron in the sesquitertial proportion, and the chord in fifths, in the ratio of one and a half to one, and the diapason in the double ratio, and the double diapason in the fourfold ratio. Moreover, the number four has an innumerable list of other virtues likewise, the greater part of which we have discussed with accuracy in our dissertation on numbers. And in it there was a mitre, in order that the leaf might not touch the head; and there was also a cidaris made, for the kings of the eastern countries are accustomed to use a cidaris, instead of a diadem.

Such, then, is the dress of the high priest. But we must not omit to mention the signification which it conceals beneath both in its whole and in its parts. In its whole it is a copy and representation of the world; and the parts are a representation of the separate parts of the world. And we must begin with the long robe reaching down to the feet of the wearer. This tunic is wholly of the colour of a hyacinth, so as to be a representation of the air; for by nature the air is black, and in a measure it reaches down from the highest parts to the feet, being stretched from the parts about the moon, as far as the extremities of the earth, and being diffused everywhere. On which account also, the tunic reaches from the chest to the feet, and is spread over the whole body, and unto it there is attached a fringe of pomegranates round the ankles, and flowers, and bells. Now the flowers are an emblem of the earth; for it is from the earth that all flowers spring and bloom; but the pomegranates (rhoiskoi) are a symbol of water, since, indeed, they derive their name from the flowing (rhysis) of water, being very appropriately named; and the bells are the emblem of the concord and harmony that exist between these things; for neither is the earth without the water, nor the water without the earthly substance, sufficient for the production of anything; but that can only be effected by the meeting and combination of both. And the place itself is the most distinct possible evidence of what is here meant to be expressed; for as the pomegranates, and the flowers, and the bells, are placed in the hem of the garment which reaches to the feet, so likewise the things of which they are the symbols, namely, the earth and water, have had the lowest position in the world assigned to them, and being in strict accord with the harmony of the universe, they display their own particular powers in definite periods of time and suitable seasons. Now of the three elements, out of which and in which all the different kinds of things which are perceptible by the outward senses and perishable are formed, namely, the air, the water and the earth, the garment which reached down to the feet in conjunction with the ornaments which were attached to that part of it which was about the ankles have been plainly shown to be appropriate symbols; for as the tunic is one, and as the aforesaid three elements are all of one species, since they all have all their revolutions and changes beneath the moon, and as to the garment are attached the pomegranates, and the flowers; so also in certain manner the earth and the water may be said to be attached to and suspended from the air, for the air is their chariot. And our argument will be able to bring forth twenty probable reasons that the mantle over the shoulders is an emblem of heaven. For in the first place, the two emeralds on the shoulderblades, which are two round stones, are, in the opinion of some persons who have studied the subject, emblems of those stars which are the rulers of night and day, namely, the sun and moon; or rather, as one might argue with more correctness and a nearer approach to truth, they are the emblems of the two hemispheres; for, like those two stones, the portion below the earth and that over the earth are both equal, and neither of them is by nature adapted to be either increased or diminished like the moon. And the colour of the stars is an additional evidence in favour of my view; for to the glance of the eye the appearance of the heaven does resemble an emerald; and it follows necessarily that six names are engraved on each of the stones, because each of the hemispheres cuts the zodiac in two parts, and in this way comprehends within itself six animals. Then the twelve stones on the breast, which are not like one another in colour, and which are divided into four rows of three stones in each, what else can they be emblems of, except of the circle of the zodiac? For that also is divided into four parts, each consisting of three animals, by which divisions it makes up the seasons of the year, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, distinguishing the four changes, the two solstices, and the two equinoxes, each of which has its limit of three signs of this zodiac, by the revolutions of the sun, according to that unchangeable, and most lasting, and really divine ratio which exists in numbers; on which account they attached it to that which is with great propriety called the logeum. For all the changes of the year and the seasons are arranged by well-defined, and stated, and firm reason; and, though this seems a most extraordinary and incredible thing, by their seasonable changes they display their undeviating and everlasting permanence and durability. And it is said with great correctness, and exceeding beauty also, that the twelve stones all differ in their colour, and that no one of them resembles the other; for also in the zodiac each animal produces that colour which is akin to and belongs to itself, both in the air, and in the earth, and in the water; and it produces it likewise in all the affections which move them, and in all kinds of animals and of plants.

And this logeum is described as double with great correctness; for reason is double, both in the universe and also in the nature of mankind, in the universe there is that reason which is conversant about incorporeal species which are like patterns as it were, from which that world which is perceptible only by the intellect was made, and also that which is concerned with the visible objects of sight, which are copies and imitations of those species above mentioned, of which the world which is perceptible by the outward senses was made. Again, in man there is one reason which is kept back, and another which finds vent in utterance: and the one is, as it were a spring, and the other (that which is uttered) flows from it; and the place of the one is the dominant part, that is, the mind; but the place of the one which finds vent in utterance is the tongue, and the mouth, and all the rest of the organs of the voice. And the architect assigned a quadrangular form to the logeum, intimating under an exceedingly beautiful figure, that both the reason of nature, and also that of man, ought to penetrate everywhere, and ought never to waver in any case; in reference to which, it is that he has also assigned to it the two virtues that have been already enumerated, manifestation and truth; for the reason of nature is true, and calculated to make manifest, and to explain everything; and the reason of the wise man, imitating that other reason, ought naturally, and appropriately to be completely sincere, honouring truth, and not obscuring anything through envy, the knowledge of which can benefit those to whom it would be explained; not but what he has also assigned their two appropriate virtues to those two kinds of reason which exist in each of us, namely, that which is uttered and that which is kept concealed, attributing clearness of manifestation to the uttered one, and truth to that which is concealed in the mind; for it is suitable to the mind that it should admit of no error or falsehood, and to explanation that it should not hinder anything that can conduce to the most accurate manifestation. Therefore there is no advantage in reason which expends itself in dignified and pompous language, about things which are good and desirable, unless it is followed by consistent practice of suitable actions; on which account the architect has affixed the logeum to the robe which is worn over the shoulder, in order that it may never get loose, as he does not approve of the language being separated from the actions; for he puts forth the shoulder as the emblem of energy and action.

Such then are the figurative meanings which he desires to indicate by the sacred vestments of the high priest; and instead of a diadem he represents a cidaris on the head, because he thinks it right that the man who is consecrated to God, as his high priest, should, during the time of his exercising his office be superior to all men, not only to all private individuals, but even to all kings; and above this cidaris is a golden leaf, on which an engraving of four letters was impressed; by which letters they say that the name of the living God is indicated, since it is not possible that anything that it in existence, should exist without God being invoked; for it is his goodness and his power combined with mercy that is the harmony and uniter of all things. The high priest, then, being equipped in this way, is properly prepared for the performance of all sacred ceremonies, that, whenever he enters the temple to offer up the prayers and sacrifices in use among his nation, all the world may likewise enter in with him, by means of the imitations of it which he bears about him, the garment reaching to his feet, being the imitation of the air, the pomegranate of the water, the flowery hem of the earth, and the scarlet dye of his robe being the emblem of fire; also, the mantle over his shoulders being a representation of heaven itself; the two hemispheres being further indicated by the round emeralds on the shoulder-blades, on each of which were engraved six characters equivalent to six signs of the zodiac; the twelve stones arranged on the breast in four rows of three stones each, namely the logeum, being also an emblem of that reason which holds together and regulates the universe. For it was indispensable that the man who was consecrated to the Father of the world, should have as a paraclete, his son, the being most perfect in all virtue, to procure forgiveness of sins, and a supply of unlimited blessings; perhaps, also, he is thus giving a previous warning to the servant of God, even if he is unable to make himself worthy of the Creator, of the world, at least to labour incessantly to make himself worthy of the world itself; the image of which he is clothed in, in a manner that binds him from the time that he puts it on, to bear about the pattern of it in his mind, so that he shall be in a manner changed from the nature of a man into the nature of the world, and, if one may say so (and one may by all means and at all times speak the plain truth in sincerity), become a little world himself.

Again, outside the outer vestibule, at the entrance, is a brazen laver; the architect having not taken any mere raw material for the manufacture of it, as is very common, but having employed on its formation vessels which had been constructed with great care for other purposes; and which the women contributed with all imaginable zeal and eagerness, in rivalry of one another, competing with the men themselves in piety, having determined to enter upon a glorious contest, and to the utmost extent of their power to exert themselves so as not to fall short of their holiness. For though no one enjoined them to do so, they, of their own spontaneous zeal and earnestness, contributed the mirrors with which they had been accustomed to deck and set off their beauty, as the most becoming first fruits of their modesty, and of the purity of their married life, and as one may say of the beauty of their souls. The maker then thought it well to accept these offerings, and to melt them down, and to make nothing except the laver of them, in order that the priests who were about to enter the temple might be supplied from it, with water of purification for the purpose of performing the sacred ministrations which were appointed for them; washing their feet most especially, and their hands, as a symbol of their irreproachable life, and of a course of conduct which makes itself pure in all kinds of praiseworthy actions, proceeding not along the rough road of wickedness which one may more properly call no road at all, but keeping straight along the level and direct path of virtue. Let him remember, says he, let him who is about to be sprinkled with the water of purification from this laver, remember that the materials of which this vessel was composed were mirrors, that he himself may look into his own mind as into a mirror; and if there is perceptible in it any deformity arising from some agitation unconnected with reason or from any pleasure which would excite us, and raise us up in hostility to reason, or from any pain which might mislead us and turn us from our purpose of proceeding by the straight road, or from any desire alluring us and even dragging us by force to the pursuit of present pleasures, he seeks to relieve and cure that, desiring only that beauty which is genuine and unadulterated. For the beauty of the body consists in symmetry of parts, and in a good complexion, and a healthy firmness of flesh, having also but a short period during which it is in its prime; but the beauty of the mind consists in a harmony of doctrines and a perfect accord of virtues, which do not fade away or become impaired by lapse of time, but as long as they endure at all are constantly acquiring fresh vigour and renewed youth, being set off by the preeminent complexion of truth, and the agreement of its words with its actions, and of its actions with its words, and also of its designs with both.

And when he had been taught the patterns of the sacred tabernacle, and had in turn himself taught those who were gifted with acute comprehension, and well-qualified by nature for the comprehension and execution of those works, which it was indispensably necessary should be made; then, as was natural, when the temple had been built and finished, it was fitting also, that most suitable persons should be appointed as priests, and should be instructed in what manner it was proper for them to offer up their sacrifices, and perform their sacred ministrations. Accordingly, Moses selected his brother, choosing him out of all men, because of his superior virtue, to be high priest, and his sons he appointed priests, not giving precedence to his own family, but to the piety and holiness which he perceived to exist in those men; and what is the clearest proof of this is, that he did not think either of his sons worthy of this honour (and he had two); while he must inevitably have appointed both of them, if he had attached any importance to love for his family; and he appointed them with the unanimous consent of the whole nation, as the sacred scriptures have recorded, which was a most novel mode of proceeding, and one especially worthy of being mentioned; and, in the first place, he washed them all over with the most pure and vivifying water of the fountain; and then he gave them their sacred vestments, giving to his brother the robe which reached down to his feet, and the mantle which covered the shoulders, as a sort of breast-plate, being an embroidered robe, adorned with all kinds of figures, and a representation of the universe. And to all his nephews he gave linen tunics, and girdles, and trowsers; the girdles, in order that the wearers might be unimpeded and ready for all their sacred ministrations, were fastened up tight round the loose waists of the tunics; and the breeches, that nothing which ought to be hidden might be visible, especially when they were going up to the altar, or coming down from the high place, and doing everything with earnestness and celerity. For if their equipment had not been so accurately attended to for the sake of guarding against the uncertain future, and for the sake of providing for an energetic promptness in the sacred ministrations, the men would have appeared naked, not being able to preserve the becoming order necessary to holy men dedicated to the service of God.

And when he had thus furnished them with proper vestments, he took very fragrant ointment, which had been made by the skill of the perfumer, and first of all he anointed the altar in the open air, and the laver, sprinkling it with the perfume seven times; after that he anointed the tabernacle and every one of the sacred vessels, the ark, and the candlestick, and the altar of incense, and the table, and the censers, and the vials, and all the other things which were either necessary or useful for the sacrifices; and last of all bringing the high priest close to himself, he anointed his head with abundant quantities of oil. When he had done all this, he then, in strict accordance with what was holy, commanded a heifer and two rams to be brought; the one that he might sacrifice it for the remission of sins, intimating by a figure that to sin is congenital with every created being, however good it may be, inasmuch as it is created, and that therefore it is indispensable that God should be propitiated in its behalf by means of prayers and sacrifices, that he may not be provoked to chastise it. And of the rams, one he required for a whole burnt-offering of gratitude for the successful arrangement of all those things, of which every individual has such a share as is suited to him, deriving benefit from all the elements, enjoying the earth for his abode and in respect of the nourishment which is derived from it; the water for drinking, and washing, and sailing on; the air for breathing and for the comprehension of those things which are the objects of our outward senses (since the air is the medium in which they all are exerted), and for the seasons of the year; enjoying fire both of that kind which is used for cooking food and for warming one's self, and also that heavenly kind which is serviceable for light and for all the objects of sight. The other ram he employed for the complete accomplishment of the purification of the priests, which he appropriately called the ram of perfection, since the priests were intended to exercise their office in teaching proper and convenient rites and ceremonies to the servants and ministers of God. And he took the blood, and with some of it he poured a libation all round the altar, and part he took, holding a vial under it to catch it, and with it he anointed three parts of the body of the initiated priests, the tip of the ear, the extremity of the hand, and the extremity of the foot, all on the right side, signifying by this action that the perfect man must be pure in every word and action, and in his whole life, for it is the hearing which judges of his words, and the hand is the symbol of action, and the foot of the way in which a man walks in life; and since each of these members is an extremity of the body, and is likewise on the right side, we must imagine that it is here indicated by a figure that improvement in every thing is to be arrived at by a certain dexterity, being a portion of supreme felicity, and being the true aim in life, which a man must necessarily labour to attain, and to which he ought to refer all his actions, aiming at them in his life, as in the practice of archery men aim at a target.
[VM XVI.77 - XXIX. 151]

If the reader will take the time to look at Irenaeus's description of the Marcosians and the IDENTICAL material from Clement's Stromata it is apparent that the Markan tradition of Alexandria developed its arguments from the original description in Philo. In other words, the Pythagorean interest of the tradition of Mark was a natural development of the mystical interpretation of the Jewish temple by the Jewish Platonic philosopher Philo.

This is important because - as I noted a while ago - there is evidence that Philo was not talking about the Jerusalem temple but the Oniad temple which rabbinic tradition says was located IN THE EXACT SAME area that the Martyrium of St. Mark was built in a later period of Christianity. I have always suspected that the Alexandrian CHRISTIAN tradition just took over the physical building that Philo used to develop his mystical arguments based on mathematics.

Of course I can't prove this right now and due to POLITICAL and RELIGIOUS TENSIONS in the Middle East I can't talk openly about efforts I am involved with to ultimately PROVE this hypothesis. But regular readers of my post know what I am up to.

By the way, Chatby beach has been particularly tempestuous in the last few weeks. No work has been done this month ...

Email with comments or questions.

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