Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Was Origen Aware of Secret Mark?

Origen was a persecuted Alexandrian. Origen was persecuted by the Imperial government in Rome. Anyone that thinks that Origen could say whatever he wanted doesn't know Origen. The reason why his teaching was veiled behind allegory was because IT HAD TO BE VEILED BEHIND ALLEGORY.

I have had an important breakthrough with my research. I am absolutely certain that the original context of Christian baptism was the DROWNING OF THE EGYPTIANS in the Red Sea. My guiding assumption has always been that Marcionitism represents the beginning of Christianity. There can be no doubt that the Marcionites took an interest in the Egyptians in the Exodus narrative. There are also a number of confused reports in the Church Fathers about death being the context of Marcionite baptism.

So to make a long story short I think that the paradox of how the Marcionites could have cited 'Old Testament' scripture but maintained a point of view which was 'hostile' to the God of Israel is now also resolved. I think that if we look at Origen's discussion of TWO BAPTISM TYPOLOGIES in the Old Testament we can see that he (secretly) had knowledge of LGM 1 and which was, as we have noted many times at this site, the original context of Alexandrian baptism.

Let's start with the obvious. The context of these statements is a Commentary on the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John makes no reference to the John the Baptist baptism of Jesus. So as Origen goes line by line through the Gospel of John and he comes to the words of the Baptist, "I baptize with water, but He that comes after me is stronger than I; He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit" he decides to whisper to his audience that there is something they don't know about baptism.

Indeed immediately after his citation John 1:33 Origen explains "baptize you with the Holy Spirit" as a reference to "His last baptism, as some hold, that He (also) references in the words, 'I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?'" (Luke 12:50)

So Origen is saying that THERE IS A TRADITION which connects Luke 12:50 with 'another baptism' which Jesus would introduce to the world. I have made repeated reference at this blog that this passage is ALWAYS understood to point to a second baptism narrative being present in the original gospel (and now lost) gospel (Ephrem the Syrian, the Anonymous Treatise on Baptism, the Pistis Sophia etc).

Irenaeus says that the followers of Mark (Μαρκιανισταί) claim Jesus is pointing to their ἀπολύτρωσις baptism:

And the baptism of John was proclaimed with a view to repentance, but the redemption by Jesus was brought in for the sake of perfection. And to this He refers when He says, "And I have another baptism to be baptized with, and I hasten eagerly towards it." [Luke 12.50] Moreover, they affirm that the Lord added this ἀπολύτρωσις (baptism) to the sons of Zebedee, when their mother asked (i.e. near the equivalent place in the narrative to Mark 10:35 - 45) that they might sit, the one on His right hand, and the other on His left, in His kingdom (i.e. Mark chapter 10) [Irenaeus AH i.21.2]

The author of the Anonymous Treatise on Baptism also seems to have the same context in mind when he rejects arguments for this same 'extra baptism':

For what was said by the Lord, I have another baptism to be baptized with, signifies in this place not a second baptism, as if there were two baptisms, but demonstrates that there is moreover a baptism of another kind given to us, concurring to the same salvation. [Treatise on Baptism 14]

Epiphanius says that the so-called Marcionites (Μαρκιωνισταί) also used the passage in the EXACT same way:

He [Marcion] says that after the Lord's baptism by John he told the disciples, 'I have a baptism to be baptized with and why do I wish to if I have already accomplished it?' And again, 'I have a cup to drink and why do I wish to if I have already fulfilled it?' And because of this he decreed the giving of more baptisms [Epiphanius Panarion Section Marcionites III.3.9]

I don't want to get too distracted with the point - but it is worth reminding my readers that I think that there was only one sect associated with Mark described in different reports as different sects - i.e. 'the Marcosians' and 'the Marcionites.'

So let's get back to our original point. Origen of the Alexandrian see of Mark and a man whose patron Ambrosius was a 'former' repentant Marcionite, takes an interest in this same passage and argues that it references what he calls 'the last baptism.' The context is the Gospel of John, a text which doesn't have a narrative where John the Baptist baptizes Jesus (the Marcionite gospel similarly did not contain a reference to this event).

Origen explains this idea of two baptisms being present in the gospel by noticing that there are two crossings of water in the Torah - the Israelites going through the Red Sea being led by Moses and then a second crossing years later when the Israelites were led by Jesus (Joshua). So he says:

As we are now, as our subject requires, bringing together all that relates to the Jordan, let us look at the river. God, by Moses, carried the people through the Red Sea, making the water a wall for them on the right hand and on the left, and by Jesus He carried them through Jordan. Now, Paul deals with this Scripture, and his warfare is not according to the flesh of it, for he knew that the law is spiritual in a spiritual sense. And he shows us that he understood what is said about the passage of the Red Sea; for he says in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, how that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ. In the spirit of this passage let us also pray that we may receive from God to understand the spiritual meaning of Jesus's passage through Jordan. Of it, also, Paul would have said, I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that all our fathers went through Jordan, and were all baptized into Jesus in the spirit and in the river. And Jesus, who succeeded Moses, was a type of Jesus Christ, who succeeds the dispensation through the law, and replaces it by the preaching of the Gospel. And even if those Paul speaks of were baptized in the cloud and in the sea, there is something harsh and salt in their baptism. They are still in fear of their enemies, and crying to the Lord and to Moses, saying, [Exodus 14:11] Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you brought us forth to slay us in the wilderness? Why have you dealt thus with us, to bring us forth out of Egypt?

Against the description of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea is the superior crossing of the Jordan:

But the baptism to Jesus, which takes place in quite sweet and drinkable water, is in many ways superior to that earlier one, religion having by this time grown clearer and assuming a becoming order. For the ark of the covenant of the Lord our God is carried in procession by the priests and levites, the people following the ministers of God, it, also, accepting the law of holiness. For Joshua says to the people, [Joshua 3:5] Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow; the Lord will do wonders among you. And he commands the priests to go before the people with the ark of the covenant, wherein is plainly showed forth the mystery of the Father's economy about the Son, which is highly exalted by Him who gave the Son this office; That at the name of Jesus [Philippians 2:9-11] every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This is pointed out by what we find in the book called Jesus (Joshua), In that day I will begin to exalt you before the children of Israel. And we hear our Lord Jesus saying to the children of Israel, [Joshua 3:9-10] Come hither and hear the words of the Lord your God. Hereby you shall know that the living God is in (among) you; for when we are baptized to Jesus, we know that the living God is in us. And, in the former case, they kept the passover in Egypt, and then began their journey, but with Jesus, after crossing Jordan on the tenth day of the first month they pitched their camp in Galgala; for a sheep had to be procured before invitations could be issued to the banquet after Joshua's baptism. Then the children of Israel, since the children of those who came out of Egypt had not received circumcision, were circumcised by Jesus with a very sharp stone; the Lord declares that He takes away the reproach of Egypt on the day of Jesus's baptism, when Jesus purified the children of Israel. For it is written: [Joshua 5:9] And the Lord said to Jesus, the son of Nave, This day have I taken away the reproach of Egypt from off you.

Then the children of Israel kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month, with much greater gladness than in Egypt, for they ate unleavened bread of the grain of the holy land, and fresh food better than manna. For when they received the land of promise God did not entertain them with scantier food, nor when such a one as Joshua was their leader do they get inferior bread. This will be plain to him who thinks of the true holy land and of the Jerusalem above. Hence it is written in this same Gospel: Your fathers ate bread in the wilderness, and are dead; he that eats of this bread shall live for ever. For the manna, though it was given by God, yet was bread of travel, bread supplied to those still under discipline, well fitted for those who were under tutors and governors. And the new bread Jesus managed to get from grain they cut in the country, in the land of promise, others having laboured and his disciples reaping—that was bread more full of life, distributed as it was to those who, for their perfection, were able to receive the inheritance of their fathers. Hence, he who is still under discipline to that bread may receive death as far as it is concerned, but he who has attained to the bread that follows that, eating it, shall live for ever. [ibid]

I know it may be difficult to understand the 'allegorical method' of Origen, but his use of this technique is always specific to his immediate purposes. In this case Origen is clearly saying that Christian baptism is superior to the Jewish Passover, a point that is frequently made in his writings. But there is something more here. Something he cannot say out loud because it was officially verboten (see the Anonymous Treatise on Baptism above IN CONTEXT).

Indeed if we look at what follows a little in same chapter Origen AGAIN references Luke 12:50 but takes the argument one step further:

For when He had taken up our infirmities and carried our diseases, and had borne the sin of the whole world, and had conferred blessings on so many, then, perhaps, He received that baptism which is greater than any that could ever be conceived among men, and of which I think He speaks when He says, Luke 12:50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished? I enquire here with boldness and I challenge the ideas put forward by most writers. They say that the greatest baptism, beyond which no greater can be conceived, is His passion. But if this be so, why should He say to Mary after it, Touch Me not? He should rather have offered Himself to her touch, when by His passion He had received His perfect baptism. But if it was the case, as we said before, that after all His deeds of valour done against His enemies, He had need to wash His robe in wine, His garment in the blood of the grape, then He was on His way up to the husbandman of the true vine, the Father, so that having washed there and after having gone up on high, He might lead captivity captive and come down bearing manifold gifts— the tongues, as of fire, which were divided to the Apostles, and the holy angels which are to be present with them in each action and to deliver them. For before these economies they were not yet cleansed and angels could not dwell with them, for they too perhaps do not desire to be with those who have not prepared themselves nor been cleansed by Jesus. For it was of Jesus' benignity alone that He ate and drank with publicans and sinners, and suffered the penitent woman who was a sinner to wash His feet with her tears, and went down even to death for the ungodly, counting it not robbery to be equal with God, and emptied Himself, assuming the form of a servant. And in accomplishing all this He fulfils rather the will of the Father who gave Him up for sinners than His own. For the Father is good, but the Saviour is the image of His goodness; and doing good to the world in all things, since God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, which formerly for its wickedness was all enemy to Him, He accomplishes His good deeds in order and succession, and does not all at once take all His enemies for His footstool. For the Father says to Him, to the Lord of us all, Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies the footstool of Your feet. And this goes on till the last enemy, Death, is overcome by Him. And if we consider what is meant by this subjection to Christ and find an explanation of this mainly from the saying, [1 Corinthians 15:26] When all things shall have been put under Him, then shall the Son Himself be subjected to Him who put all things under Him, then we shall see how the conception agrees with the goodness of the God of all, since it is that of the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world.[ibid]

Now you can go online and read any number of 'experts' tell you that Origen is actually saying something substantial here. I would argue that all Origen really says is that 'there is another baptism' and it is not the 'baptism of blood' it is not martyrdom but won't go into any more details. He does the exact same thing in other writings.

The question of course which stands before us is - what is the 'other baptism' that Origen thought Jesus was referring to? Is it the same as the passage which the Marcionites and Marcosians referenced? Could it be that Origen was aware of LGM 1?

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