Sunday, September 26, 2010

Against Polycarp [Part Sixteen]

At every turn in our investigation we have been surprised by unexpected information which challenges our tradition interpretation of the development of earliest Christianity.  We have now reached the summit of the mountain in our journey. We have not only discovered clear evidence that Irenaeus manipulated, broke apart and rearranged original evidence associated with Lucian's stranger, it was clearly associated with a 'cover up' of inherent 'controversies' associated with that shadowy figure.  Many times in our wanderings in the literary wilderness, we have wondered with Irenaeus deliberately speaks of his master in ambiguous terms, indeed as an essentially anonymous 'apostolic presbyter.'  Now we have perhaps found the reason for that ambiguity - a problematic mid-second century text later identified as a hypomnemata.

We have discovered something so difficult to understand it doesn't seem at first to be what we claim it is - viz. the Rosetta Stone of ancient Christianity.  At best it can be described as an obscure book cited only in part in the writings of some of the earliest Fathers.  So now let us ask, why should this hypomnemata - a word most of us can't even spell far less know its meaning -  be put forward as something which turns our inherited history totally upside down?  The answer lies both in the nature of what a hypomnema (plural hypomnemata) is and what it necessarily demonstrates about the earliest period of the Christian religion.

Irenaeus tells us that God through the Holy Spirit sent a message to four different evangelists and many other apostles and letter writers.  Modern scholarship has learned to ignore Irenaeus's claims, but as we shall see in the next section, the earliest traditions outside of the Catholic Church were very comfortable admitting that the gospel was a composite text and it is often described in some terminology related to the term hypomnema (cf. Justin Martyr, Tatian and Clement of Alexandria)

The point is that it was Irenaeus who invented the unhelpful idea that the writings of Christianity just dropped out of the sky directly from God.  In the period before his influence it seems that everyone from the time of the evangelists to the earliest Church Fathers were essentially engaged in the activity of writing hypomnemata explaining the divine word of Christianity to their disciples.  A partial list of early authors of hypomnemata in Christianity would include

1. the apostles (Justin I Apol. 66.3)
2. Peter (Justin Dial. 103; Clement Theod. 1.19)
3. Mark (Clement Theod. 1.19; Papias HE 3.39.15-16 = apomnemoneumata)
4. Hegesippus (Eusebius HE 4.22.4)
5. Polycarp (According to Eusebius, HE 5, 8, 8)
6. Symmachus (Eusebius, HE 6.17)
7. Pantaenus (Ecl. Prop. 56.2; Eusebius HE 5.10.4)
8. Heracleon (Origen Com. Jn. 6.92)
9. Clement (Strom. 1.1)
10. Ambrose, patron of Origen (so Cureton Spicilegium Syriacum p. xii)

The point then is that it was Irenaeus who essentially said for the first time that the New Testament canon was the 'limit' for true knowledge about Christ. It would seem that before his time it was quite normal for individuals to compose 'commentaries' of some sort in order to initiate devotees into the secret meaning of Jesus's sayings.  One would have to think that our hypomnemata here fits the contemporary milieu.  But what can we say for certain about the contents of this hypomnemata which was likely written by Polycarp in the name of Josephus?   Perhaps the place to begin is to put our familiar understanding about the figure of 'Josephus the Jew' under the microscope.

The inherited story about Josephus is rather straightforward. He was the son of a prominent priest in Jerusalem named Matthias. Josephus was a leader in the Jewish revolt of 66 - 70 CE who was taken prisoner by the future Emperor Vespasian and his son Titus, and was ultimately banished. According to the traditional narrative Josephus came to Rome he presented to the emperors, father and son, a history of the events of that Jewish war, which were deposited in the public library and, on account of his genius, was found worthy of a statue at Rome. The works of Josephus are actually quite rarely referenced by the early Church Fathers, i.e. those who lived before Constantine. Eusebius is the first person who cites a text which resembles our surviving copies of Josephus and he is often suspected of having a hand in reshaping earlier material.

Why was there such reluctance to cite the original material?  One possible explanation was that it was well known that the narrative did not go back to the time of Josephus but a second century author - even Polycarp.  In other words, the writings of Josephus had a lot of baggage attached to them.  It was only once Eusebius likely corrected the text and purged them of their original 'difficulties' that the material was widely used by Church figures.

Indeed as we have already noted, there is another version of the Josephus narrative which survives in a Latin translation and universally acknowledged to be 'heavily Christianized.'  It, like the Eusebian narrative was copied in the fourth century and survives in many different manuscripts. As we noted in our last chapter the material survives under the name 'Hegesippus' and is unfortunately dismissed by most scholars as a 'corrupt' version of our familiar 'first century' narrative.  What we are suggesting here is that all these assumptions are flawed because the actual evidence from our earliest witnesses to the Josephan narrative argues for it being composed by Polycarp - a Christian convert of Jewish extraction - in the year 147 CE.

It is in fact very likely that our stranger wrote this text in Alexandria, where he undoubtedly had access to all the historical sources used to make this hypomnemata and had this text with him when he arrived in Rome in 153 CE. The five volume book was written in the name of Josephus on the seventy seventh anniversary of the end of the war. It was intended to provide eyewitness testimony for the circumstances of the end of the Jewish religion and ultimately confirm Polycarp's own view of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.  Needless to say the book must also have been very controversial.  It not only posits a very unique theological point of view but must also at the same time have been attempting to displace an earlier interpretation likely associated with Josephus's rival Justus of Tiberias.

The fact that only Irenaeus dares to acknowledge the fact that Josephus was not the original author of the material is pivotal here. For the later writers subsequent to Irenaeus all emphasize or pretend that a man named Josephus (or some such derivation) who lived in the second century wrote this narrative which at least partly focused on the life of another Jew named Josephus living in the first century. This whole scenario seems incredible to say the least and it is undoubtedly why most scholars reject it as spurious.  But as we have seen time and time again in our study we can't just reject a literary tradition merely because it 'sounds stupid.'  Maybe the original tradition really was quite idiotic and only subsequently 'corrected' to make it sound more reasonable.  We can't afford to go into the study of Christianity accepting only those answers which ultimately vindicate the authenticity of the tradition.  In this role we are only serving as handmaidens of the Church rather than as true men of science.

So it is that those writers like Clement and Eusebius likely had to develop an absurd alternative explanation to the origin of the hypomnemata other than that it was developed out of Polycarp's imagination.  Why so?  Because a careful examination of the material makes it all too obvious that the same individual who forged this history in the name of 'Josephus,' likely was also responsible for counterfeiting the New Testament canon. As such there was only solution for Eusebius - to purge the composition of any references to its original author and it being developed by the pious forger in the second century.

We shall develop these ideas in subsequent chapters here but it is enough to say that no one should underestimate the importance of Josephus to the Church.  As a Jew, he provides seemingly 'objective' eyewitness testimony regarding the fulfillment of Jesus's prediction as to the coming end of the Jewish religion. As scholars have taken for granted the authenticity of the material in the name of Josephus, they fall into the trap first established by Polycarp and later 'completed' by Eusebius - viz. the establishment of a historical 'point of view' for accepting a particular gospel interpretation.  This understanding has become so second nature for us that we don't even realize how the texts of Josephus have effectively manipulated our thought processes.

The entire purpose of this present work is to help make people realize how our entire view of history has been manipulated by the same man who edited the gospel and the apostolic epistles. The reason Josephus 'fits' with Christianity so well is that it was artificially designed that way from the very beginning. Yet before we get to these arguments let's finish up developing the historical implications of our last chapter. Let us ask - why should we think that the hypomnemata were related to the writings of Josephus?  The first step in that direction is to eliminate other possibilities and to this end Lawlor begins by making a few very important observations which cannot be ignored.  Lawlor notes that when examined with a critical eye, nothing in Eusebius's description of the hypomnemata suggests that it was a Church History, as many other have claimed.

Lawlor points to Eusebius's own words when he writes that "in five treatise he [Hegesippus] composed memoirs (hypomnematisamenos) in a very simple style of writing, containing the uncorrupt tradition of the apostolic doctrine (kerygmatos)."  As noted, there is nothing here which implies a historical work. So let us turn instead to what Eusebius really tells us as to the nature of the book which Hegesippus wrote. His most important statement occurs in the immediate vicinity of that now referred to, forming the closing sentence of Church History Book Four and the opening words of the next chapter. Lawlor notes that "after giving some account of Saturninus and Basilides, and of Carpocrates, 'the father of the Gnostics,' he proceeds 'Nevertheless, in the time of the heretics just mentioned, the truth again called to her aid many champions of her own, who made war against the godless heresies, not only by viva voce refutations, but also by written demonstrations. Among these (en toutois) flourished Hegesippus.'"  Again nothing in here to indicate that the text was a 'history of the Catholic Church.'

After a few sentences devoted to Hegesippus, we see Eusebius passes on to Justin Martyr. This description leaves no doubt that the work of Hegesippus was not primarily a history. Lawlor sees it instead as a "defence of the Faith against the attacks of heretics, and specially of the Gnostics." He repeats again a little later "the Memoirs then were an Apology for the Faith against unbelievers, for orthodoxy against misbelievers." Yet let us stop right there and question whether Lawlor's gives the best explanation of the problem raised in his original question.

If the hypomnemata here is not a 'Church history' specifically does it follow that it can't be any other kind of historical chronology?  Lawlor points to the work as being used to define orthodoxy or at least the correct interpretation of Christian doctrine - "in disputing with the Greeks, if our writer used the arguments which form the stock-in-trade of the second-century apologists, he would not draw much upon ecclesiastical history. Against the Gnostics also there was much to be said which was purely theological, though here there was a historical argument, upon which Hegesippus, like other controversialists of his age, laid stress."  But surely this in itself does not eliminate the possibility that even the Christian material was connected to a greater historical narrative related to the Jewish war of 66 - 70 CE.

There are only a handful of acknowledged citations of the contents of the hypomnemata but one of the most famous is the reference to the beheading of James the brother of Jesus. This narrative is always cited as being part of the original Josephan tradition but has now been edited out of earliest manuscripts. Lawlor has to acknowledge that this narrative was present in the hypomnemata of Hegesippus but doesn't seem to see the greater implications of this discovery. We read:

we may now attempt to fix the position in the Memoirs of the passage represented by HE iv. 22. 4 and iii. 11. It began, as we have seen, with some sucwords as 'And after James the Just had bome witness . . . and Jerusalem had immediately afterwards been captured '. This seems to imply that a narrative of the martyrdom of James had preceded it; and if so there can be little question that the narrative referred to was that which Eusebius has quoted from the Memoirs} If the whole of that section is summarized in the words 'after James the Just had borne witness,' its closing words 'kai euthus Ouespasianus poliorkei autous,' are recalled by the succeeding allusion to the sack of Jerusalem. But while it seems plain that the passage now under consideration followed the account of the martyrdom of St. James, it is less easy to decide whether it followed it immediately or was separated from it by another passage. On the one hand, the abrupt close of the story of the martyrdom with the sentence just quoted certainly suggests that some account of the Jewish war followed. And the inference is supported by the first sentence of our passage. Would Hegesippus have resumed his narrative in so elaborate a fashion if nothing had intervened between the close of the section about St. James and the beginning of that about Symeon? But on the other hand it is difficult to believe that if Hegesippus had enlarged on this subject Eusebius would have failed to quote him. For the war the historian depends wholly on Josephus, though when he comes to the murder of St. James he places his account side by side with that of the Christian writer.

One has to feel that Lawlor consistently asks the right questions but often fails to see the right answer.  It seems very likely that the reason why Eusebius 'switches' to Josephus at this critical point in the narrative is the fact that the implications of Hegesippus's original claim that the destruction of the temple was 'caused' by the mistreatment of James, rather than the crucifixion is problematic for the Christian faith.

The very same thing happens when Origen, citing from his copies of 'the works of Josephus' makes reference to the story in the following way "Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says nevertheless— being, although against his will, not far from the truth— that these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ),— the Jews having put him to death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice. Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their being brought up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine. If, then, he says that it was on account of James that the desolation of Jerusalem was made to overtake the Jews, how should it not be more in accordance with reason to say that it happened on account (of the death) of Jesus Christ, of whose divinity so many Churches are witnesses, composed of those who have been convened from a flood of sins, and who have joined themselves to the Creator, and who refer all their actions to His good pleasure."

Indeed when we look to the surviving copies of the five books of Hegesippus which survive in Latin at the very beginning of the section which starts the description of the destruction of the temple we find exactly the kind of argument Origen thought was proper in exactly the place we might imagine the aforementioned account of James's beheading would have stood:

Iosephus finished his speech but Iohannes is moved by no laments and not persuaded by promises. God had long been pressing the faithless minds, from which crucifying Jesus Christ they defiled themselves by that wicked murder. He is the one whose death is the ruin of the Jews, born from Maria. Who came to his people and his people did not receive him. When indeed have the Jews not killed their own people? Did they not kill the son of their own Saul? Nabutha the prophet was indeed stoned by his own people. Iezabel was a Jewish woman, who commanded the Jewish elders who carried out the command, Achab was a Jew, who became the cause of his death. How many other citizens killed by the citizens! And however the city long remained whole, although destroyed by the Babylonians after many years, but afterwards restored. This is the final destruction after which the the temple is not restorable, because they have alienated with wickedness the protector of the temple, the overseer of restoration.

Of course this doesn't amount to a proof that the execution of James necessarily was part of the original text behind the Latin translation.  It also must also be noted that the surviving manuscripts of Origen identify the passage as coming from the 'eighteenth book of Jewish Antiquities' but it must be noted that the Latin Hegesippus shares many stories traditionally identified as belonging to Antiquities and not found in our surviving Jewish War tradition.

The fact is that beheading of James is certainly a Josephan narrative at least according to all our earliest witnesses.  It must be admitted that a later editor removed the story from the 'purified' texts that we have now as part of his campaign to bury any evidence linking the production of Josephus's Jewish War to Polycarp's hypomnemata of the mid-second century.  The deeper we dig into the relationship between the Hegesippus tradition and the Josephus tradition will ultimately demonstrate that the two branches come from one tree - a dubious history written on the seventy seventh anniversary of the destruction of the temple with a very questionable theological purpose.

To this end it is very important to follow Lawlor's proofs that our 'hypomnemata' wasn't a Church History even though we don't entirely agree with his other conclusions.  Most convincing of all his arguments is the fact that all references to things specifically Christian appear only in the last book of the series. As Lawlor again notes "the non-historical portion of the Memoirs, in fact, must have included the greater part of the work. Let us suppose that the argument based on the early history of the Church was only reached in the fifth Memoir, and we have at once an explanation of the facts that Eusebius does not expressly refer to the first four, and that the martyrdom of St. James was narrated in the closing division of the work."  Of course the only thing that can be said for certain is the fact that something other than a 'Church History' took up the first four books - and possibly much of the fifth book too.  The James narrative certainly would not have taken up too much space, and like the Latin Hegesippus narrative just cited, it represented little more than an aside on the part of the original author to connect the events to a Christian framework which would have greatly interested his readership.

So let us ask again - what might have filled the pages of most of the book before the mention of events in the history of the Church? There is really only convincing answer.  Lawlor's arguments are ultimately speculative or at the very least based on a debatable of the evidence. The one thing which cannot be overlooked is the fact that medieval copyists of the History of Hegesippus - a five volume work related to our surviving Josephan Jewish War - thought for some reason that their work was related to our hypomnemata. While that assumption can't be proved it at the very least provides a precedent for the idea of some sort of relationship between the two texts attributed to a man with a strange name - i.e. 'Hegesippus.'

So it is then that we can only half agree with Lawlor's initial conclusions that "the first four Memoirs contained few, if any, allusions to the history of the Church. This will become a highly probable supposition if we can show that the historical passages quoted by Eusebius, the exact source of which is not stated, are, for the most part, drawn from the fifth division of Hegesippus's work. This, I think, will be found to be the case. We can, as I believe, reconstruct nearly the whole of two long passages of the fifth Memoir, the greater part of which Eusebius, after his manner, has cut up into fragments, and inserted where it suited him in his History, and which include all the extant fragments of the writings of our author which have a direct bearing on Ecclesiastical History."  We should find it much more likely that the Christian references occurred in the fifth book because the first four books and undoubtedly much of book five dealt with the circumstances of the Jewish war (66 - 70 CE). This revolt let's not forget leads to the destruction of the Jewish religion and - to follow Latin Hegesippus main argument - becomes the central proof for the sanctity of the Christian religion. After all Jesus made a prediction that 'these things would come to pass' long before the events of the war.

Indeed it is not hard to put together a proof that this 'hypomnemata' written in 147 CE must have resembled a Josephan work. It all begins with a mostly ignored reference to 'Josephus' in Clement of Alexandria:

Flavius Josephus the Jew, who composed the history of the Jews, computing the periods, says that from Moses to David were five hundred and eighty-five years; from David to the second year of Vespasian, a thousand one hundred and seventy-nine; then from that to the tenth year of Antoninus, seventy-seven. So that from Moses to the tenth year of Antoninus there are, in all, two thousand one hundred and thirty-three years.[Strom. 1.21]

There can be absolutely no question that Clement is the one calculating the passage of time from Moses to 147 CE. The context of this passage proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Clement is citing at least one other chronology - presumably that of Judas, a near contemporary of Clement - which immediately follows the words just cited "Of others, counting from Inachus and Moses to the death of Commodus, some say there were three thousand one hundred and forty-two years; and others, two thousand eight hundred and thirty-one years." In other words it is Clement's source - i.e. 'Josephus the Jew' who wrote a book in the tenth year of Antoninus, seventy seven years from the end of the Jewish War who made this original calculation.

Hardwick says that this calculation just cited is a composite of Jewish War 6.435 ff. and Antiquities 8.61 ff; 7.389. Whealey agrees and a colleague, Andrew Criddle, helped confirm the numbers for us from the best manuscripts. The point now is that Clement's knowledge of a manuscript attributed to 'Josephus' which makes calculations of the dates of Biblical figures from the year 147 CE is paralleled by the parallel calculations of episcopal chronologies in the hypomnemata of 'Hegesippus' that end in the year 147 CE. As Cuthbert Turner notes in his study 'The Early Episcopal Lists':

the existence of a chronographer of the tenth year of Antoninus Pius (AD 147-148) has been assumed in explanation of the curious coincidence that both Clement of Alexandria (once) and Epiphanius (once) employ this year as a term in chronological calculations. The latter interrupts his series of bishops of Jerusalem, after the twentieth bishop Julianus, with the note 'all these down to the tenth year of A. Pius,' Haer. lxvi 1. The former tells us that ' Josephus reckons from Moses to David to the second year of Vespasian 1179 years, and from that to the tenth of Antoninus seventy-two years,' Strom, i 21 147; and as the mention of this this last date cannot come either from Josephus, who wrote half a century before it, or from Clement himself, who wrote half a century after it, it is a reasonable supposition that it is borrowed from some other intermediate writer, who will also have been the source of Epiphanius. This lost writer is conjectured by Schlatter l, following von Gutschmid, to be identical with the Judas mentioned above; but something more than mere conjecture is wanted before we can accuse Eusebius of mistaking the tenth year of of Severus for the tenth of A. Pius. With better judgement, Harnack suggests Cassianus was the author, we have seen that Eusebius knew nothing of him ; if Judas, we must conclude that Eusebius knew next to nothing of a book which ex hypothesi he dated fifty years too late.[Journal of Theological Studies 1900 p. 193 - 194]

So Turner notices that Clement's allusion to a 'tenth year of Antoninus' in Josephus is paralleled by a reference in Eusebius and Epiphanius to a list of bishops of Jerusalem that ends in the 'tenth year of Antoninus.' Lawlor of course demonstrates quite convincingly that the material cited by Eusebius and Epiphanius is the hypomnemata of Hegesippus. In other words, Clement's 'Josephus' has by the time of Eusebius been corrupted (deliberately?) into 'Hegesippus.'

Of course Irenaeus as we have seen infers - on at least two occasions - that Polycarp was the author of the material. How can this conflict be resolved? The answer is clearly that Lucian's stranger must have developed a historical hypomnemata in the name of Josephus the legendary Jewish commander who was captured by Vespasian and survived the events of the Jewish war. There is interestingly a hypomnemata associated with Josephus at least in the mind of the great Josephus scholar Shaye Cohen who argues that Jewish War (BJ) and Vita go back to some lost common source which was a hypomnema:

what is the nature of this hypothetical common source? The least uncertain thing about it is that it was arranged chronologically much like V(ita). If it was a literary work, a polished account like, say, that of Nicolaus of Damascus, we must explain why there are so many discrepancies between V and BJ, many more than between AJ 15-16 and BJ 1 ... It is apparent that Josephus' memory, in addition to this written source, must have played a large part in both V and BJ. Thus we need a document fixed enough to have a definite order but free enough to allow remarkable divergences caused by shifts in memory. The most likely candidate is a hypomnema, a dry sketch or outline of the events in Galilee, which Josephus prepared before writing BJ. CA 1.50, "when my entire narrative was prepared" may well refer to this sketch. Ancient historians were expected to prepare such hypomnemata before proceeding to their literary works. BJ, a rhetorical history, drastically shortened, thematically rearranged, and freely modified the hypomnema. V, a hasty polemic and apologetic, retained the scope, structure, and, in general, the dryness of the original but added anti-Justus material (including the "glosses") and extensive self-defense. A similar theory has been advanced to account for the differences between the Vita Constantini and the sections parallel to it in the Historia Ecclesiastica of Eusebius. The one, a biography, and the other, a history, describe events of Eusebius' own lifetime but disagree on many details and on the order of events. Perhaps these two works derive from a Eusebian hypomnema. We cannot now determine the exact content and form of this work. Josephus has rewritten everything not only because this was his normal procedure (see chapter two), but also because the hypomnema was meant to be rewritten.[p. 81 - 83]

As such it is at least possible that the fourth century texts of Josephus cited by Eusebius and others might ultimately have been an adaption from a lost, second century text which was a hypomnema.

Traditional Josephan scholarship can only in terms of a first century author - namely Josephus himself - developing an Aramaic hypomnema which was later expanded by second century 'assistants' (Greek synergoi) under his direction. Yet what if Jewish War especially was developed by a second century figure - namely Polycarp - developing a historika hypomnemata in the name of Josephus on the seventy seventh anniversary of the end of the war? This would certainly explain how Irenaeus could identify the text as being written by 'Polycarp,' Clement 'Josephus' and Eusebius 'Hegesippus.'

Instead of us having to posit the incredible idea that this Palestinian revolutionary so hostile originally to Greek and Roman culture suddenly and rapidly became an authority on pagan historical literature. For it is worth noting that Josephan scholarship has long recognized that the author of the Josephan corpus in part modeled his work on a work by the great Greek historian Strabo who composed a very similar work years earlier. As Alessandro Galimberti notes "there are 10 fragments of Strabo's Historika Hypomnemata in Stern's collection that depend on Josephus' express reference, all included in Books 13, 14, and 15 of the Antiquities.1 However, in 1976, Stern wrote (p. 262): 'There is much more in books thirteen and fourteen of of the Antiquities that depends on Strabo's Historika Hypomnemata than Josephus' express references to Strabo.'" The surviving material associated with 'Josephus' also makes references to his use of the hypomnemata of Herod, Vespasian and Titus (Vita 342; 358; Ap. 1.56).

The point here is that a very good circumstantial case can be made that beneath our surviving works of Josephus was a hypomnema. If we accept that the Josephan text that Clement witnesses was published in 147 CE is the source of all our existing material, Irenaeus's witness makes clear that Polycarp was the original author of this text.

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