Saturday, June 11, 2011

Quick Note on Our Deconstruction of Book One of Irenaeus's Against Heresies

Our study of the Five Book of Irenaeus Against Heresies made clear that the account of the heretic Marcion (cf. AH 1.27) which appears near the end of Book One was not original to the work. It was added later as part of a subsequent emendation introducing the long section of text that begins with chapter 22:

The rule of truth which we hold, is, that there is one God Almighty, who made all things by His Word, and fashioned and formed, out of that which had no existence, all things which exist. Thus saith the Scripture, to that effect "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them, by the spirit of His mouth" ...

and goes on to introduce the accounts of Simon Magus, Menander, Saturninus, Basilides, Carpocrates, Cerdo, Ebionites, Nicolaitanes, Cerdo and then Marcion (AH 1.23 - 27). The original text of Irenaeus introduced Tatian and the Encratites as a sub-sect of the Valentinians or even Marcosians and read:

These, then, are the particulars which have reached us respecting "redemption." But since they differ so widely among themselves both as respects doctrine and tradition, and since those of them who are recognised as being most modern make it their effort daily to invent some new opinion, and to bring out what no one ever before thought of, it is a difficult matter to describe all their opinions. Many offshoots of numerous heresies have already been formed from those heretics we have described. This arises from the fact that numbers of them--indeed, we may say all--desire themselves to be teachers, and to break off from the particular heresy in which they have been involved. Forming one set of doctrines out of a totally different system of opinions, and then again others from others, they insist upon teaching something new, declaring themselves the inventors of any sort of opinion which they may have been able to call into existence. (AH 1.21.5, 1.28.1)

If the text is read in its original context we can be certain that the Encratites were actually identified a sub-sect of 'those of Mark' (i.e. Μαρκώσιοι even though neither Irenaeus nor Hippolytus ever actually uses that term). This is very significant as the current arrangement in the existing Five Books Against the Heresies has the account immediately follow the Marcionites.

What also emerges from our reconstruction of the source material is a very late origin for the term 'Marcionite' as such. The original term in Justin is almost universally acknowledged to be 'followers of Mark' (Μαρκιανοι Dialogue 35) or Μαρκιανισταὶ from the Hegesippus (Eusebius HE 4.22 cf. Athanasius Didascalia cccxviii patrum Nicaenorum). These writers are earlier than any others and Hegesippus was clearly read by Celsus and influenced his confusion over the name Μαρκελλιανοὺ (cf. Origen Contra Celsum 5.62) which clearly was influential over the creation of the heretical boogeyman 'Marcion.'

Early chroniclers still cite this original form of the name Μαρκιανοι -viz. Eusebius HE 4.11 ed. Heinichen Tome 1 as an account of the gnostic Marcus, 'the heresy of Marcianus' (ό Μαρκιανός) in the work of Serapion of Antioch cited in Eusebius HE 6.12, Epiphanius Panarion 34 etc. Indeed one can't help take note of the fact that Clement of Alexandria never cites the form Μαρκιωνισταὶ (Martyrdom of Polycarp 22.2-3 Moscow (m), Origen Comm. Psalms, Athanasius Epistula ad Alelphium, Athanasius Orationes contra Arianos, John Chrysostom In epistulam ad Ephesios (homiliae 124), Epiphanius Panarion etc.) but consistently uses ἀπὸ Μαρκίωνος (Clement of Alexandria Stromat. 2.8, 3.3 (x4), 3.4, 7.17, cf. Origen 2.27, Comm Rom 4:23 - 25).

More to follow ...

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