Saturday, October 2, 2010

Against Polycarp [Part Twenty]

So once we use the canonical Acts of the Apostles and the Ignatian material to establish Antioch as the aborted 'home' of the Catholic tradition, the way is cleared to trace the transformation of the original hypomnemata from a text about the primacy of the Jerusalem Church to one which seems to lay the groundwork for the supremacy of Rome.  As we have already noted in previous discussions Irenaeus must have been the forger of the hypomnemata of Polycarp.  Eusebius makes reference to an important parallel between the hypomnemata and the writings of Irenaeus and his forged material when he says "not only he [Hegesippus], but also Irenæus and the whole company of the ancients, called the Proverbs of Solomon All-virtuous Wisdom." Lightfoot notes that this phrase (παν€ρετος σοφία) was not only applied by Irenaeus and the author of the hypomnemata to the Wisdom of Solomon but also Clement of Rome (1 Clement 57).

We have determined that it was clearly Irenaeus who added a long section to the end of the fifth book which made it seem as if Polycarp wasn't arguing against the authority of the Roman Church. The original hypomnemata ended with a discussion of the establishment of 'heresies' in the Jerusalem Church. After giving the original list of bishops from James down to the year 147 CE, Polycarp wrote "therefore, they called the Church a virgin, for it was not yet corrupted by vain discourses.  But Thebuthis, because he was not made bishop, began to corrupt it." Of course most scholars just recycle the report as it now stands without noting how strange the name 'thebuthis' seems to be. Credner (Einl. in d. NT i. ii. 619) rightly argues however that thebuthis is not a person, but a collective idea, Aramaic opposition, reluctance, especially abhorrence of the stomach, nausea, hence vomitus, and then generally filth, dirt, much the same as spilades Jude 12; spiloi 2 Peter 2.13.

This will not be the first time that we notice that what is taken to be a name in the hypomnemata was most likely a description in the original text.  While the example suggests that the original hypomnemata was written in Aramaic, what we are now about to examine will demonstrate that Irenaeus's additions were made to a Greek translation of the original.

In order to get us to this understanding it is important that we go back to Eusebius's original parallel - but ultimately independent - report of the beginning of the Roman section in the hypomnemata.  We read:

Hegesippus in the five books of hypomnemata which have come down to us has left a most complete record of his own views. In them he states that on a journey to Rome he met a great many bishops, and that he received the same doctrine from all. It is fitting to hear what he says after making some remarks about the epistle of Clement to the Corinthians.  His words are as follows: “And the church of Corinth continued in the true faith until Primus was bishop in Corinth. I conversed with them on my way to Rome, and abode with the Corinthians many days, during which we were mutually refreshed in the true doctrine.  Being in Rome, I composed a catalogue of bishops down to Anicetus whose deacon was Eleutherus. And Anicetus was succeeded by Soter, and he by Eleutherus. In every succession, and in every city that is held which is preached by the law and the prophets and the Lord."

We have already spent sometime examining Irenaeus's version of this narrative.  It is now time to see Eusebius's more detailed account 'up close and personal' with the aid of Robert Lee William's mostly insightful commentary.

Williams notes that "there is a hint in this information that the succession to extended only to the time of Clement's letter. Hegesippus's discussion of the letter was probably of substantial length. Irenaeus discusses the letter in an excursus the length of a paragraph in his Roman bishop list (Haer. 3.3.3). Eusebius does not even mention Irenaeus in an excursus the length of a paragraph in his Roman bishop list (Haer. 3.3.3). Eusebius does not even mention Irenaeus in connection with the letter but does note that Hegesippus testified of the dissension 'adequately' (HE 3.16). This suggests a discussion in Hegesippus more lengthy than the one in Irenaeus. Lawlor has observed in connection with Corinth that Hegesippus gave special attention to initial appointment of bishops and the circumstances of the introduction of heresy. His substantial discussion of that dissension in Corinth suggests the latter point in the succession, the time of the introduction of heresy in Corinth. While it is true that what we have in 1 Clement is political, a stasis, rather than doctrinal, we have already found that Hegesippus thinks in terms of political issues when he speaks of doctrine. Little more can be said of 1 Clement as a source for succession concepts."  He goes on to note that the closing reference points to the existence of a universal Church - "his knowledge of 'each city' and 'each succession' came from the 'many bishops' he met on the trip, according to Eusebius (HE 4.22.1, 3). All we know of them as sources is the doctrinal character of the successions. What Hegesippus discovered from them was their universal conformity to 'the law and the prophets and the Lord' (4.22.2–3). This conformity of the bishops proved that they and all still under their authority were remaining true to 'the Lord' in spite of haereseis which were, perhaps also 'in every city,' destroying the unity of the churches. Hegesippus was pleased to find remnants under episcopal leadership in every city he visited.'"

Of course Williams does not express any doubts that Hegesippus's witness was actually true. This only becomes clear when we delve into the minutiae. A good example is Irenaeus, Eusebius and Epiphanius's common reference to Rome begin founded by 'Peter and Paul' - a doctrine clearly gleened from Hegesippus. Irenaeus says in the oft quoted section from Book Three that "after Peter and Paul had founded the Roman Church, and set it in order, they gave over the episcopate of it to Linus." Epiphanius similarly notes "For the bishops at Rome were, first, Peter and Paul, the apostles themselves who were also bishops — then Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, a contemporary of Peter and Paul whom Paul mentions in the Epistle to the Romans." So also Eusebius "About the twelfth year of Trajan's reign [Cerdo] the Bishop of Alexandria mentioned a few pages back departed this life, and Primus, the fourth from the apostles, was chosen to hold office there. Meanwhile at Rome, when Evarestus had completed his eighth year, Alexander took up the bishopric as fifth successor to Peter and Paul."

The reference to 'Cerdo' is quite interesting.  Clearly Eusebius is here talking about an Alexandrian bishop of this name which he has drawn from some other episcopal list besides our hypomnemata.  Yet there is also a heretic of this name who parallels our earlier discussion of the figure 'Marcian' who was the bishop at the time of Polycarp's coming to Rome.  While most scholars take the claim that 'Cerdo' is the name of a real heretic, the more likely scenario - given the fact that we have already demonstrated that Irenaeus's Against Heresies developed to some extent from the earlier hypomnemata - is that 'cerdo' just meant 'fox.'

Indeed, it is difficult to believe that so many scholars 'missed' the fact that Cerdo has to have been referenced in Irenaeus's addition to the original hypomnemata.  The entire context of his war 'Against Heresies' in Book One presupposes his audience's familiarity with the idea that a 'fox' has apparently burrowed under the walls of the supposed Roman fortress of faith and attempted to seduce Christians with 'heretical ideas.'  When we take a careful look at Irenaeus's work we see a mention of the heretical teachings - or 'error' - never being:

set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. One far superior to me has well said, in reference to this point, "A clever imitation in glass casts contempt, as it were, on that precious jewel the emerald (which is most highly esteemed by some), unless it come under the eye of one able to test and expose the counterfeit. Or, again, what inexperienced person can with ease detect the presence of brass when it has been mixed up with silver?"

As Charles Hill correctly discerns - this anonymous 'someone' is certainly Polycarp, and when we look a little in Book One we will see that Irenaeus's isn't just - to follow the analogy - that the individual teachings of these men are counterfeit, but that these 'fake jewels' are deliberately arranged in such a way so as to venerate a 'fox' instead of a king.  

Indeed just a little later in the same narrative Irenaeus brings forward this very development of Polycarp's original allegory and says:

Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skilful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king's form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king. In like manner do these persons patch together old wives' fables, and then endeavour, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions, and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions. [AH i.8.1]

The point now is that the narratives of the gospel have been re-arranged in such a way to have those outside of the Church venerate a 'fox' rather than the true king.   Who are the 'foxes' here?  Clearly it is those being made after the image of the original 'fox' who comes from some source older than Irenaeus's first book in the series.

Yet one cannot shake the feeling that the 'fox' is Valentinus, and then Valentinus somehow is at once 'Cerdo.' Going back to original passage in the introduction to the work as a whole, Irenaeus uses the 'wolf' metaphor from the gospel to allude again to the presence of 'foxes' in the Church:

Lest, therefore, through my neglect, some should be carried off, even as sheep are by wolves, while they perceive not the true character of these men,-because they outwardly are covered with sheep's clothing (against whom the Lord has enjoined us to be on our guard), and because their language resembles ours, while their sentiments are very different,--I have deemed it my duty (after reading the hypomnemasi of those who call themselves disciples of Valentinus, and after making myself acquainted with their tenets through personal intercourse with some of them) to unfold to thee, my friend, these portentous and profound mysteries, which do not fall within the range of every intellect, because all have not sufficiently purged their brains.

It is absolutely clear that Irenaeus is insinuating throughout his discussion that 'those who call themselves Valentinians' are really foxes or wolves.  They have become 'fox-like' by following the original fox - presumably the Cerdo referenced in the lost hypomnemata.

So Irenaeus want to restore the gospel from its present 'fox-like' form to reflect the true image of the king Christ.  As we read again a little later:

In like manner he also who retains unchangeable in his heart the rule of the truth which he received by means of baptism, will doubtless recognise the names, the expressions, and the parables taken from the Scriptures, but will by no means acknowledge the blasphemous use which these men make of them. For, though he will acknowledge the gems, he will certainly not receive the fox instead of the likeness of the king. But when he has restored every one of the expressions quoted to its proper position, and has fitted it to the body of the truth, he will lay bare, and prove to be without any foundation, the figment of these heretics. [AH i.10.4]

Indeed in the same way as the 'false scriptures' of the fox-like heretics will presumably be burned in fires the 'fox-like' heretics too need to be hunted down and killed.

As Irenaeus notes in his concluding words "wherefore I have laboured to bring forward, and make clearly manifest, the utterly ill-conditioned carcase of this miserable little fox.  For there will not now be need of many words to overturn their system of doctrine, when it has been made manifest to all. It is as when, on a beast hiding itself in a wood, and by rushing forth from it is in the habit of destroying multitudes, one who beats round the wood and thoroughly explores it, so as to compel the animal to break cover, does not strive to capture it, seeing that it is truly a ferocious beast; but those present can then watch and avoid its assaults, and can cast darts at it from all sides, and wound it, and finally slay that destructive brute. So, in our case, since we have brought their hidden mysteries, which they keep in silence among themselves, to the light, it will not now be necessary to use many words in destroying their system of opinions. For it is now in thy power, and in the power of all thy associates, to familiarize yourselves with what has been said, to overthrow their wicked and undigested doctrines, and to set forth doctrines agreeable to the truth. Since then the case is so, I shall, according to promise, and as my ability serves, labour to overthrow them, by refuting them all in the following book. Even to give an account of them is a tedious affair, as thou seest. But I shall furnish means for overthrowing them, by meeting all their opinions in the order in which they have been described, that I may not only expose the wild beast to view, but may inflict wounds upon it from every side." [AH 1.31.2]

The point now is that it can't be coincidence that when we look to the various references in Irenaeus, Eusebius and Epiphanius to a heretic presumed to be named 'Cerdo' it can no longer be doubted that these men are merely drawing from a description in the hypmnemata regarding a 'fox' entering the Church of Rome during the reign of Hyginus.

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