Saturday, July 3, 2010

I Have Decided to Edit My Second Article on the Throne of St. Mark Online [Part Ten]


While it might seem rather strange - and perhaps ultimately unnecessary - to connect the throne of St. Mark to a lost ending to the gospel only testified in a single source (the Apocalypse of Peter).  Nevertheless, I think it is absolutely necessary to make sense of the original iconography on the throne of St. Mark.  After all, Mark is the gospel 'with an enthronement ending' or perhaps more accurately - the one with a disputed enthronement ending.  As we have shown Irenaeus argues for the most familiar 'longer ending' of Mark but his comments make clear there was another - or perhaps 'others' - which framed the event in such a way which seemed to deny the foreknowledge of the Jewish prophets.

Another example of an 'antinomian' ending of Mark are the Marcionites who understood Marcion to sit enthroned with Jesus at his right hand. (Hom. Luk. 23) Of course this reference is so bizarre that few of us have the capacity to even consider its implications.  The point is only that there must have been more variant gospel endings than we traditionally acknowledge.  Our canonical gospel of Mark is a particular reshaping of the original narrative, one which Irenaeus goes out of his way to say was in communion with the 'Judaism.'

I strongly suspect that the ending of the gospel coincided with Yom Kippur, the traditional announcement of the 'year of favor.'  At the same time I think that the original context for Jesus announced that the coming Jubilee would be utterly transformational is now almost completely lost to us.  There is something peculiar about Luke 4:16 - 19.  The first thing is that the only reference to the 'year of favor' (outside of the Diatessaron) happens to be in Luke, the anti-Marcionite gospel.[1]  Clement of Alexandria demonstrate that the Alexandrian mystical interest in the 360 day solar year developed from another gospel tradition entirely for he writes:

And our Lord was born in the twenty-eighth year, when first the census was ordered to be taken in the reign of Augustus. And to prove that this is true, it is written in the Gospel by Luke as follows: "And in the fifteenth year, in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, the word of the Lord came to John, the son of Zacharias." And again in the same book: "And Jesus was coming to His baptism, being about thirty years old," and so on. And that it was necessary for Him to preach only a year, this also is written: "He hath sent Me to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." This both the prophet spake, and the Gospel.(Stromata 1:21)

Ἐγεννήθη δὲ ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν τῷ ὀγδόῳ καὶ εἰκοστῷ ἔτει, ὅτε πρῶτον ἐκέλευσαν ἀπογραφὰς γενέσθαι ἐπὶ Αὐγούστου. Ὅτι δὲ τοῦτ´ ἀληθές ἐστιν, ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τῷ κατὰ Λουκᾶν γέγραπται οὕτως· «ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ ἐπὶ Τιβερίου Καίσαρος ἐγένετο ῥῆμα κυρίου ἐπὶ Ἰωάννην τὸν Ζαχαρίου υἱόν.» καὶ πάλιν ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ· «ἦν δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐρχόμενος ἐπὶ τὸ βάπτισμα ὡς ἐτῶν λʹ.» καὶ ὅτι ἐνιαυτὸν μόνον ἔδει αὐτὸν κηρῦξαι, καὶ τοῦτο γέγραπται οὕτως· «ἐνιαυτὸν δεκτὸν κυρίου κηρῦξαι ἀπέστειλέν με.» τοῦτο καὶ ὁ προφήτης εἶπεν καὶ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον.

The bottom line here is that even though the citations start from Luke, the final citation has Clement just states 'this also is written' Jesus said:

"He hath sent Me to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

«ἐνιαυτὸν δεκτὸν κυρίου κηρῦξαι ἀπέστειλέν με.»

This is certainly not from our canonical Luke. It does not follow from what is portrayed in Luke 4:16 - 19.  It is not a reading from Isaiah chapter 61.  It is Jesus declaring that he was sent to announce that the coming Jubilee year was the fulfillment of messianic prophesy.

The most plausible explanation of this variant reading is that it comes from a 'secret gospel' (note Clement does not explain its origin).[1]  Its content clearly connects it with the Marcosian sect who in turn are often mistaken for followers of Marcion.[2]  It is enough to say that Clement obscures his source for his tradition about the 'year of favor' but they ultimately go back to some lost common gospel tradition which connects various heretical boogeymen identified in Patristic writers - i.e. 'Marcus,' 'Marcion' etc. - and the consistently brutalized tradition of Mark in Alexandria.[3]

Now as a means of closing of our present discussion it might be useful to see how Irenaeus's attack against those who hold a heretical interpretation of the 'year of favor' confirms once and for all that the face of the tradition he opposes was none other than Clement of Alexandria. I will demonstrate this by citing the arguments as they appear in Book Two of Against All Heresies Chapters 22 and 24 which begins with begins with a clear assault on Clement's position that "thirty, or as in some say, twelve, points out the preaching [of the Gospel]; because the LOrd preached in His thirtieth year; and the apostles were twelve."(Strom 6:14). So Irenaeus begins chapter twenty two with the words:

I have shown that the number thirty fails them in every respect; too few AEons, as they represent them, being at one time found within the Pleroma, and then again too many. There are not, therefore, thirty AEons, nor did the Saviour come to be baptized when He was thirty years old, for this reason, that He might show forth the thirty silent AEons of their system, otherwise they must first of all separate and eject [the Saviour] Himself from the Pleroma of all. Moreover, they affirm that He suffered in the twelfth month, so that He continued to preach for one year after His baptism; and they endeavour to establish this point out of the prophet (for it is written, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retributi), being truly blind, inasmuch as they affirm they have found out the mysteries of Depth, yet not understanding that which is called by Isaiah the acceptable year of the Lord, nor the day of retribution.(AH 2.22.1)

Based on all that we have seen so far it is impossible not to think that Irenaeus has Clement's Alexandrian tradition of St. Mark in mind when he says these words. Our discovery of a 'secret gospel' that Clement references which DOES NOT place Jesus in a synagogue reading from the Isaiah scroll should help us piece us together the breakdown in communication between the two men.

Clement's citation of a lost narrative where Jesus announces that he has come to proclaim 'the year of favor' neutralizes Irenaeus's objection that immediately follows. Irenaeus says:

the prophet neither speaks concerning a day which includes the space of twelve hours, nor of a year the length of which is twelve months. For even they themselves acknowledge that the prophets have very often expressed themselves in parables and allegories, and [are] not [to be understood] according to the mere sound of the words.

Yet the followers of Mark are not merely 'interpreting the words of Isaiah' but have a narrative where Jesus acts as the mevasser announcing what can only be interpreted as THE messianic Jubilee year expected by other Jews such as those of Qumran. Irenaeus's interpretation is wholly artificial and contradicts everything we know about tradition Jewish exegesis such as when he writes:

That, then, was called the day of retribution on which the Lord will render to every one according to his works--that is, the judgment. The acceptable year of the Lord, again, is this present time (i.e. the late second century), in which those who believe Him are called by Him, and become acceptable to God--that is, the whole time from His advent onwards to the consummation [of all things], during which He acquires to Himself as fruits [of the scheme of mercy] those who are saved. For, according to the phraseology of the prophet, the day of retribution follows the [acceptable] year; and the prophet will be proved guilty of falsehood if the Lord preached only for a year, and if he speaks of it.(ibid)

It is amazing to see Patristic scholars allow Irenaeus to make these absolutely uninformed statements. As we have already demonstrated, the 'day of retribution' is absolutely certainly Yom Kippur, so firmly associated with the beginning of the Jubilee year that Jesus doesn't even need to mention it, nor the other other related concepts (i.e. the redemption of captives etc.).

The more we look at the artificiality of the construction of the scene in Luke chapter 4 at the Galilean synagogue, the more obvious it becomes that Clement's citation is the original reading of the material. In this context, Jesus is speaking directly to an audience who already knows that the 'year of favor' is connected with the arrival of a unique messianic Jubilee where all God's promises would be fulfilled. He is speaking to an audience who would readily recognize how silly, artificial (and ultimately uninformed) Irenaeus's objections are, such as that which immediately follows:

For where is the day of retribution? For the year has passed, and the day of retribution has not yet come; but He still "makes His sun to rise upon the good and upon the evil, and sends rain upon the just and unjust." And the righteous suffer persecution, are afflicted, and are slain, while sinners are possessed of abundance, and "drink with the sound of the harp and psaltery, but do not regard the works of the Lord." But, according to the language, they ought to be combined, and the day of retribution to follow the year. For the words 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)

Of course if this logic is carried one step further the 'redemption of slaves' should precede the 'year of favor' and the preaching of the 'gospel to the poor' in another year entirely! Irenaeus's desperate attempts to dispute the original interpretation of the gospel in Alexandria are hopelessly aligned against the establish reading of the passage for the previous five hundred years. The day of retribution begins the 'year of favor' in the same way was as Yom Kippur was the traditional starting point of the Jubilee. They are one and the same concept.

In order to continue with his revision of history, Irenaeus has to bring forward another gospel which was originally not part of the Alexandrian tradition - the Gospel of John - and develop a ridiculous of its contents to argue that almost twenty years passed since the beginning of Jesus's ministry until the time of his crucifixion in order to refute the '360 day year' argument (i.e. 30 x 12) that we saw in Clement and the writings of the Marcosians:

As then this day (i.e. the day of retribution) does not signify one which consists of twelve hours, but the whole time during which believers in Christ suffer and are put to death for His sake, so also the year there mentioned does not denote one which consists of twelve months, but the whole time of faith during which men hear and believe the preaching of the Gospel, and those become acceptable to God who unite themselves to Him.(ibid 2.22.2)

Irenaeus continues in the next section to cite familiar Marcosian doctrines shared by Clement but ultimately concludes his discussion with what must be the ultimate context for the followers of Mark and their interest in the 'year of favor' - i.e. the introduction of a superior solar calendar of three hundred and sixty days. Irenaeus readily dismisses this by saying cleverly:

For who can concede to them that the year has three hundred and sixty-five days only, in order that there may be twelve months of thirty days each, after the type of the twelve Aeons, when the type is in fact altogether out of harmony [with the antitype]? For, in the one case, each of the Aeons is a thirtieth part of the entire Pleroma, while in the other they declare that a month is the twelfth part of a year. If, indeed, the year were divided into thirty parts, and the month into twelve, then a fitting type might be regarded as having been found for their fictitious system. But, on the contrary, as the case really stands, their Pleroma is divided into thirty parts, and a portion of it into twelve; while again the whole year is divided into twelve parts, and a certain portion of it into thirty. The Saviour therefore acted unwisely in constituting the month a type of the entire Pleroma, but the year a type only of that Duodecad which exists in the Pleroma; for it was more fitting to divide the year into thirty parts, even as the whole Pleroma is divided, but the month into twelve, just as the Aeons are in their Pleroma. Moreover, they divide the entire Pleroma into three portions,--namely, into an Ogdoad, a Decad, and a Duodecad. But our year is divided into four parts,--namely, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. And again, not even do the months, which they maintain to be a type of the Triacontad, consist precisely of thirty days, but some have more and some less, inasmuch as five days remain to them as an overplus. The day, too, does not always consist precisely of twelve hours, but rises from nine to fifteen, and then falls again from fifteen to nine. It cannot therefore be held that months of thirty days each were so formed for the sake of [typifying] the Aeons; for, in that case, they would have consisted precisely of thirty days: nor, again, the days of these months, that by means of twelve hours they might symbolize the twelve Aeons; for, in that case, they would always have consisted precisely of twelve hours.(ibid 2.22.5)

And at this point in the narrative Irenaeus's refutation of the Marcosian system of letters and numbers ends.

Our point of course is not to defend the accuracy of the three hundred and sixty day calendar but to prove that the throne of St. Mark built to reflect the number three hundred and sixty and with iconography which reflects an interest in the Jubilee year fits within an established Alexandrian milieu. Indeed we needn't restrict ourselves to the writings of Irenaeus, Clement and Origen - one of the earliest Alexandrian texts, the Epistle of Barnabas sums up all we have been discussing here quite clearly:

And again the Prophet saith, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the Gospel of grace to the humble, he sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim delivery to the captives, and sight to the blind, to announce a year acceptable to the Lord, and a day of recompense, to comfort all who mourn." Furthermore it was written concerning theSabbath in the ten words which he spake on Mount Sinai face to face to Moses. "Sanctify also the Sabbath ofthe Lord with pure hands and a pure heart." And in another place he says, "If my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I bestow my mercy upon them." He speaks of the Sabbath at the beginning ofthe Creation, "And God made in six days the works of his hands and on the seventh day he made an end, and rested in it and sanctified it." ...  Furthermore he says to them, "Your new moons and the sabbaths I cannot away with." Do you see what he means? The present sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but that which I have made, in which I will give rest to all things and make the beginning of an eighth day, that is the beginning of another world. Wherefore we also celebrate with gladness the eighth day in which Jesus also rose from the dead, and was made manifest, and ascended into Heaven. (Epistle Barnabas 14.9 - 15:9)

Now that the reader is sufficiently informed about the Alexandrian tradition regarding the numbers 6, 7 and 8, he will be able to properly interpret the hidden context to these words attributed to Barnabas.

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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