Sunday, September 5, 2010

Marcion and the Gnostics [Part Four]

The obvious question which SHOULD emerge from the discovery of this influential υπομνηματα in the late second century is why the 'Carpocratians' don't appear in the parallel list in Justin's Apology. This is a very important omission. The two lists appear to be virtually identical save for the reference to the one sect. How is this to be explained? The answer must be that a Catholic editor in the late second century added the allusion to the heretical lists of the υπομνηματα and that it was recognized that whoever the 'Carpocratians' were they had no existence before the coming of Marcellina to Rome. This is a very important realization and indeed if we look at the original context of this addition to the Dialogue it becomes clear WHY a later editor added this information from the υπομνηματα at this very point in his discussion with Trypho.

Justin is in the process of developing a very familiar Samaritan argument - namely that Solomon was not a messianic ruler. We read at the end of chapter 34 Justin's declaration that:

And at the close of this Psalm which I have quoted, it is written, 'The hymns of David the son of Jesse are ended.' Moreover, that Solomon was a renowned and great king, by whom the temple called that at Jerusalem was built, I know; but that none of those things mentioned in the Psalm happened to him, is evident. For neither did all kings worship him; nor did he reign to the ends of the earth; nor did his enemies, failing before him, lick the dust. Nay, also, I venture to repeat what is written in the book of Kings as committed by him, how through a woman's influence he worshipped the idols of Sidon ..."[Dialogue 34]

The original reference clearly ended here with Justin developing a typically Samaritan polemic against Solomon. The Catholic editor wanted to distract us from what was clearly originally a debate over the status of Solomon which again continues among Samaritans and Jews to this very day. So it was that the reference to women leading Solomon into idolatry naturally reminded the editor of the famous passage in the υπομνηματα which dealt with Marcellina, the 'Carpocratians' and the leading astray of the contemporary Church to the worship of idols.

So it is that we see inserted into the original text a discussion which dealing with contemporary Christian idolatry. The following words are added onto the last sentence in Justin "through a woman's influence he worshipped the idols of Sidon, which those of the Gentiles who know God, the Maker of all things through Jesus the crucified, do not venture to do, but abide every torture and vengeance even to the extremity of death, rather than worship idols, or eat meat offered to idols." At this point a discussion is continued which brings in themes from the υπομνηματα again as a distraction:

And Trypho said, "I believe, however, that many of those who say that they confess Jesus, and are called Christians, eat meats offered to idols, and declare that they are by no means injured in consequence." And I replied, "The fact that there are such men confessing themselves to be Christians, and admitting the crucified Jesus to be both Lord and Christ, yet not teaching His doctrines, but those of the spirits of error, causes us who are disciples of the true and pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, to be more faithful and stedfast in the hope announced by Him. For what things He predicted would take place in His name, these we do see being actually accomplished in our sight. For he said, 'Many shall come in My name, clothed outwardly in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." And, 'There shall be schisms and heresies.' And, 'Beware of false prophets, who shall come to you clothed outwardly in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.' And, 'Many false Christs and false apostles shall arise, and shall deceive many of the faithful.' There are, therefore, and there were many, my friends, who, coming forward in the name of Jesus, taught both to speak and act impious and blasphemous things; and these are called by us after the name of the men from whom each doctrine and opinion had its origin. For some in one way, others in another, teach to blaspheme the Maker of all things, and Christ, who was foretold by Him as coming, and the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, with whom we have nothing in common, since we know them to be atheists, impious, unrighteous, and sinful, and confessors of Jesus in name only, instead of worshippers of Him. Yet they style themselves Christians, just as certain among the Gentiles inscribe the name of God upon the works of their own hands, and partake in nefarious and impious rites. Some are called Marcians, and some Valentinians, and some Basilidians, and some Saturnilians, and others by other names; each called after the originator of the individual opinion, just as each one of those who consider themselves philosophers, as I said before, thinks he must bear the name of the philosophy which he follows, from the name of the father of the particular doctrine. So that, in consequence of these events, we know that Jesus foreknew what would happen after Him, as well as in consequence of many other events which He foretold would befall those who believed on and confessed Him, the Christ. For all that we suffer, even when killed by friends, He foretold would take place; so that it is manifest no word or act of His can be found fault with. Wherefore we pray for you and for all other men who hate us; in order that you, having repented along with us, may not blaspheme Him who, by His works, by the mighty deeds even now wrought through His name, by the words He taught, by the prophecies announced concerning Him, is the blameless, and in all things irreproachable, Christ Jesus; but, believing on Him, may be saved in His second glorious advent, and may not be condemned to fire by Him."

As we shall see this formula of a specific judgement by fire is absolutely typical of Irenaeus's apostolic creed and thus we must begin to suspect - owing not only to this reference but the incorporation of material from the beloved υπομνηματα - that Irenaeus was ultimately responsible for this addition to the text. This excursus abruptly ends here and chapter 36 goes back to the original discussion of prophetic proofs for the messiahood of Jesus.

The important point to remember here is that Irenaeus must have been restricted in his employment of the υπομνηματα otherwise he would have included the reference to the Carpocratians. The reason they have to be left off the new list in Justin is the fact that the original reference in the υπομνηματα tied their advent with the appearance of Marcellina in Rome during the reign of Anicetus. While later Church accounts place Justin's martyrdom during the reign of Antoninus Pius's sons Eusebius's discussion of Justin gives us no evidence that he wrote anything this late.

To this end, the only logical inference for why the Catholic editor of the Dialogue removed the Carpocratians from the list appropriated from the υπομνηματα was that Marcellina's appearance in the city was deemed to be subsequent to Justin's martyrdom as such Justin couldn't have written about the sect (it is worth noting that all early sources on Justin's death connect it with a certain Cynic named Crescens who doesn't appear in the later Martyrdom narrative which dates his death to the reign of Rusticus the prefect).

The interesting discovery out of all of this of course is that the origin of the Carpocratians has to be tied with the appearance of the shadowy figure of Marcellina in the latter part of the reign of Anicetus. Marcellina is a diminutive of the feminine form of the name 'Marcus.' Interestingly we see in the very same period a parallel story about the coming of another heretic to Rome who bore what amounts to the Greek equivalent of the diminutive of Marcus in Greek - i.e. Marcion.

The late Latin poem 'Against Marcion' features an episcopal list ending in Anicestus like the original υπομνηματα but now references the coming of 'little Mark' (Marcion) rather than the coming of 'little Marcia' (Marcellina):

And Anicetus the allotted post in pious order undertook.'
Neath whom Marcion here coming, the new Pontic pest,
The secret daring deed in his own heart not yet disclosed,
went, speaking commonly, in all directions, in his perfidy,
With lurking art. But after he began his deadly arrows to produce,
cast off deservedly (as author of a crime so savage),
reprobated by the saints, he burst, a wondrous monster! on our view.

The five volume work in Irenaeus's name places Marcion at Rome under Anicetus - "invaluit sub Aniceto"(AH 3.4.3). Tertullian only adds that Marcion and Valentinus "lived not so long ago — in the reign of Antoninus for the most part, — and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled."[Prescr. 30]

Yet there is a clear problem now reconciling this information with Irenaeus's use of the υπομνηματα. The υπομνηματα only mentions the Μαρκιανισταί 'those of Mark.' Dialogue's appropriation of Μαρκιανοί strengthens this original reading. It is important to note that Origen attempt at explanation - i.e. that Μαρκιανισταί MUST mean 'those of Marcion' is NOT a mediation on the original text of the υπομνηματα but Celsus's citation of that text. The rest of Origen's citation of the section makes clear that Celsus's was very loose in his employment of the original material - and Origen says as much on a number of occasions.

The difficulty then that is clearly before is that not a single contemporary witness to the period which actually says that a person named 'Marcion' came to Rome during the reign of Anicetus. These references come subsequent to the υπομνηματα and specifically with Irenaeus's claims regarding his master Polycarp's encounter with a man of this name. This reference to 'Marcion' actually brackets Irenaeus's citation of the same original υπομνηματα for we read in Book Three the following explanation of Marcion's arrival in Rome:

And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent, who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.

But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Wherefore they must be opposed at all points, if per- chance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.

It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to "the perfect" apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.

Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority,(3) that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.

But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time,--a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles,--that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, "Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within." And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, "Dost thou know me?" "I do know thee, the first-born of Satan." Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth.
[AH 3.2.1 - 3.4]

The implication clearly is now that Irenaeus - or a later editor who assembled the Five Books Against All Heresies - is deliberately modifying the contents of the original υπομνηματα. Instead of a heretical sect associated with 'Mark' a deliberate attempt is made to explain the heresy as being associated with 'Marcion.' Indeed no less an authority than Polycarp himself, the author of the υπομνηματα is brought forward to argue that there was a figure named 'Marcion' at this time. Tertullian's claim that 'little Mark' continued to stay in Rome until the reign of Eleutherius is paralleled by the report in the original υπομνηματα that 'little Marcia' came during the reign of Anicetus and stayed until Eleutherius.

Suddenly there is very little historical evidence for the existence of 'Marcion' and his supposed visit to Rome during the reign of Anicetus ...

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