Friday, July 29, 2011

Ismo Dunderberg on the Baptism Ritual Among the Followers of Mark in Which Initiates Start in a 'Death-Like' State

Irenaeus takes special note of Valentinian rituals because he can call upon them as proof for his case that Valentinians were different from "ordinary" Christians. Above all, he recounts a number of Valentinian views about "redemption" (apolutrosis). His account shows that the performance of redemption as a ritual was confined to some Valentinian groups. Their identity is debated, but I am inclined to believe that these groups belonged to the followers of Marcus.

I follow the view that the entire second main part of book 1 of Irenaeus's Against Heresies (chapters 13-21) describes the views and practices of Marcus (13-16) and those of his followers (17-21). For this understanding of Irenaeus Heresies (chapters 13-21) describes the views and practices of Marcus (13-16) and those of his followers (17-21). For this understanding of Irenaeus Her. 13-21, see, eg, the translation by Unger and Dillon; Fredrik Wisse, "The Nag Hammadi Library and the Heresiologists," VigChr 25 (1971): 205-223, esp. 212; Nicola Denzey, "Apolytrosis as Ritual and Sacrament: Determining a Ritual Context for Death in Second-Century Valentinianism," forthcoming in JECS. 119. . 120.

Irenaeus calls this group a cult society (thiasos),(Irenaeus Her. 1.13.4) while he employs school terminology in connection with other Valentinians. Hippolytus alleges that a Marcosian bishop performed ritual of redemption, (Hippolytus Ref. 6.42.1) which shows that the ritual of redemption was from early on conceived of as a Marcosian rite.(The fact that a bishop is not mentioned in an earlier description of this ritual by Irenaeus (Her. 1.21.5) indicates that Marcosian groups gradually developed into a more organized church movement at the turn of the third century, after Irenaeus but prior to Hippolytus; cf. Forster, Marcus Magus, 155. 123) The Marcosian Valentinians performed the rite of redemption as a deathbed ritual, in which the dying were anointed with oil (or a mixture of oil and water) and supplied with an instruction of what they should say to the otherwordly gatekeepers [Ismo Dunderberg, Beyond Gnosticism p. 242 - 243]

I cite this section in Dunderberg's book - not because I think it is particularly insightful (it is not) - but because the author makes clear again that the Marcosian ritual began with the initiate in a 'death-like' state. Why is it these people ignore the obvious parallels with Secret Mark and the Alexandrian ritual described in to Theodore? It is enough to make you fall into fits of rage!

Clement cites directly from the Marcosian material in Irenaeus as if it is Alexandrian orthodoxy in his day. Schaff characterizes this parallel as Clement merely 'borrowing' material from the Marcosians. What the hell is the matter with these people? Marcus is St. Mark. Clement is secretly a follower of Mark. We know that from to Theodore. It's like banging your head against a wall with these people ...

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