Monday, May 31, 2010

Why New Testament Scholarship's COMPLETE Ignorance About Judaism Has Failed to Understand Marcionitism

I don't blame people who aren't Jewish for not understanding Jews. I don't think Jews even understand what makes them tick. What is dangerous however is when 'experts' - you know, the people that wear the hat which says 'Trust Me I Know' - convince everyone around them to accept simple-minded statements like 'Marcion didn't like the God of the Jews or Judaism.' I mean, I guess there are more pressing problems out there. The country - and the whole world - are falling apart. Why should Marcionitism matter so much?

Well, my answer is simple.

The state of the world doesn't affect how much time I have to live on this earth. If there were good times or bad times, the state of the world 'out there' only gets in the way of our collective attempts to get at 'the truth.' I am not an atheist so my purpose is not to 'debunk' Christianity.

If I was a nihilist I would just go out and manage a bordello.

So for me it's all about time. We only have a few more years - perhaps generations - to figure this all out.  What gets in the way of things to a greater degree than any kind of economic collapse is - as we have noted here - Elaine Pagels sloppy scholarship, promoting ridiculous idea that 'the apolutrosis rituals was established among the followers of Ptolemy.'

This 'redemption' baptism was the exclusive domain of the followers of Mark.  Irenaeus and Hippolytus MAKE THIS ABSOLUTELY EXPLICIT.  We will never find the proper liturgical context for the baptism ritual of 'Secret Mark' as long as Pagels distracts peoples attention from its original connection with St. Mark.

But now on to the bigger lie - the nonsense that Marcionitism was hostile to Judaism.

I wish New Testament scholars could just stop continuing to spin this stuff.  Of course I suspect that all of their so-called expertise even with regards to the Christian testament has more to do with recycling what other people have said before them rather than actually understanding the material at hand.

So let me try to explain how Marcionitism developed from the Torah. Let's start with the opening words:

בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים

It is well established within Judaism that these words can be translated as the familiar 'in the beginning God created' or a second meaning 'Because of beginning' or 'With beginning created Elohim (the gods).'

The preposition בְּ in בְּרֵאשִׁית can have this meaning and is witnessed by Targum Yerushalami (frag.) and Nachmanides (ad. loc.), Bereshit Rabba 1:1, Azriel of Gerona Peirush ha-Aggadot 81 as well as the Zohar which explains it:

With this בְּרֵאשִׁית the unknown or concealed one created the palace. This palace is called אֱלֹהִים. The secret is בְּרֵאשִׁית, _____ בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים

The subject of the verse אֱלֹהִים 'gods' follows the verb בָּרָא 'created.' In typical hyperliteral fashion, the authors of the Zohar insist on reading the words in the exact order in which they appear, thereby transforming אֱלֹהִים into the object. That means that the subject is now unnamed but that is perfectly appropriate because the true subject of emanation is unnameable. The opening words of the Bible no longer mean 'in the beginning God created' but rather x 'the unknowable' with beginning created אֱלֹהִים, the palace.

With this understanding it should be completely obvious that the Marcionite notion that there was another God in heaven hardly has anything to do with an attempt to diminish the value of the Jewish god. It is entirely consistent with established interpretation of the Torah.

It is also certain that the opening words of the gospel recognize or develop a parallel interpretation to the Jewish mystical interpretation of the first words of Genesis.

If we go one step further we consistently see Jewish mystical literature connect the created 'gods' אֱלֹהִים with the word אֵלֶּה (these) which appears at the end of the creation section in Genesis 2:4:

אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, בְּהִבָּרְאָם

These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created

The word אֵלֶּה has a numerical value of 66. The very same as we noted about the name John יון as a possible diminutive of יוחנן.

There is a consistent understanding in the earliest sources about the Marcosians that they took an interest in expressing the sixth letter as essentially two sixes. While these discussions now take place in Greek the sixth Hebrew letter - vav (ו) - is fully spelled out it appears as two sixes side by side - viz. וו - and has a value of 66.

In the coming days I will cite from the surviving Jewish and Samaritan mystical literature to demonstrate that Marcosian kabbalah was developed from the same tradition which ultimately spawned classic works like the Zohar and the Mimar Marqe. Mark's spin on the tradition was that he was the 66 - the power which created the world and needed redemption.

I wonder whether all of this mystical interest in the number six had something to do with the Marcionite understanding that Jesus was crucified within a generation of the year 6000. So much to learn, so much to think about ...

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