Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why Doesn't Eusebius Know that Marcus (Irenaeus AH i.13.1) is a Valentinian?

Almost every scholar repeats the same story over and over again - the heretic Marcus mentioned in the First Book of Irenaeus's Against All Heresies was a Valentinian. 'Just look at the way the account of the Marcosians follows the account of the Valentinians,' they will tell you.  'The connecting phrase between the two accounts is 'But there is another among these heretics, Marcus is his name' (AH i.13.1) - in another words 'Marcus' is 'another' of the Valentinians.'

Well, it seems so obvious to these 'experts' that they don't even notice that there is an amazing amount of variation between the different preservations of the same material. But most significant difficulty is that Tertullian preserves a treatise Against the Valentinians that does NOT include the Marcosians.  In any event I don't want to recycle my original argument in favor of Irenaeus having written two separate treatises Against the Valentinians and Against the Marcosians which was fused with Justin's Syntagma to make the First Book of Against All Heresies.

What I found very intriguing was taking a second look at Eusebius's recycling of Irenaeus's material against the heresies and noticing that he goes out of his way NOT to identify Marcus as a Valentinian.  Take a look yourselves:

For Valentinus came to Rome under Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus.Cerdon also, Marcion's predecessor, entered the Church in the time of Hyginus, the ninth bishop, and made confession, and continued in this way, now teaching in secret, now making confession again, and now denounced for corrupt doctrine and withdrawing from the assembly of the brethren.

These words are found in the third book of the work Against Heresies. And again in the first book he speaks as follows concerning Cerdon: A certain Cerdon, who had taken his system from the followers of Simon, and had come to Rome under Hyginus, the ninth in the episcopal succession from theapostles, taught that the God proclaimed by the law and prophets was not the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the former was known, but the latter unknown; and the former was just, but the latter good. Marcion of Pontus succeeded Cerdon and developed his doctrine, uttering shameless blasphemies.

The same Irenæus unfolds with the greatest vigor the unfathomable abyss of Valentinus' errors in regard to matter, and reveals his wickedness, secret and hidden like a serpent lurking in its nest.

And in addition to these men he says that there was also another that lived in that age, Marcus by name, who was remarkably skilled in magic arts.
And he describes also their unholy initiations and their abominable mysteries in the following words:

For some of them prepare a nuptial couch and perform a mystic rite with certain forms of expression addressed to those who are being initiated, and they say that it is a spiritual marriage which is celebrated by them, after the likeness of the marriages above. But others lead them to water, and while they baptize them they repeat the following words: Into the name of the unknown father of the universe, into truth, the mother of all things, into the one that descended upon Jesus.Others repeat Hebrew names in order the better to confound those who are being initiated.
[Eusebius Church History iv.11]

I don't know what to make of this reference. It is clear from the first paragraph that Eusebius knows of a version of Against All Heresies divided up into at least three books (let's assume that it was already five at the beginning of the fourth century just to be nice). Let's also assume that the First Book of this series still presented a list of heresies which began with the Valentinians and worked down to the Marcosians and then followed by the rest of the stuff most scholars think was taken from Justin's Syntagma.

Then if this is the case - why doesn't Eusebius 'know' that there is that connective phrase between the account of the Valentinians and the account of Marcus which says either 'but there is another among these heretics, Marcus is his name' (AH i.13.1) or 'a certain other teacher among them, Marcus, an adept in sorcery.' (Philosophumena 34)

Could it be that it has something do with an attempt of various Origenists to obscure the background of his main benefactor Ambrose? For though Eusebius writes:

About this time Ambrose, who held the heresy of Valentinus, was convinced by Origen's presentation of the truth, and, as if his mind were illumined by light, he accepted the orthodox doctrine of the Church. [Eusebius Church History vi.18]

Jerome says equally emphatically that:

Ambrosius, at first a Marcionite but afterwards set right by Origen, was deacon in the church, and gloriously distinguished as confessor of the Lord. [Illustrious Lives 56]

Could this be yet another example of the pattern of mistaking Marcus for Marcion ONLY THAT Eusebius DELIBERATELY DISTINGUISHES Ambrose from his original devotion to Marcus? How else can the 'misunderstanding' that Marcus is something other than a Valentinian be explained?

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