Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If the Mar Saba Document is a Fake - Why Does Cyril of Jerusalem Seem to Know the Alexandria Baptismal Rituals Described in to Theodore?

What an exciting time to be blogging about Mar Saba 65!  I quite literally wait for messages to appear on my phone while I sleep almost every night I go to bed - and how lonely it is to have my wife and son away for so long.   My son called me at 4:45 am this morning not realizing the time difference!  Yesterday, was exciting enough discovering Cyril of Jerusalem's Mystagogic Catecheses.  I had always known that Cyril of Jerusalem took an interest in naked baptism.  But you know how it is. Jerusalem is over here and Alexandria is over there - there doesn't seem to be much of fit.  Yet was only when I talked to Professor Doval of St Mary's College on the phone yesterday that it started to fit together.

There is no debate about the fact that Alexandrian influences weigh heavily in the material associated with Cyril of Jerusalem.  As Stephenson notes in his St Cyril of Jerusalem and the Alexandrian Heritage it has long been noted that:

a marked strain of Alexandrian mystical idealism in the author of the rather pedestrian Catechetical Lectures may cause some surprise, it must be premised  that from the historical  point of view Cyril's contact with the Alexandrian tradition would present no special difficulty. The historical links, indeed, between Alexandria and Palestine are of considerable interest. Origen first visited Caesarea, the metropolitan see of Palestine,  and Jerusalem, at the invitation of their bishops, about the year 216, and later, when expelled from Alexandria, returned to Palestine and settled in Caesarea, where in 232 he founded a brilliant theological school. From Caesarea, where he taught for twenty years, Origen's fame spread throughout the East; St. Gregory of Nyssa later spoke of him as the prince of Christian learning in the third century. At Caesarea itself, according to Prat, the admiration of the learned for Origen became a passion, and there, on his death, Origen's library, which presumably included the works of his master Clement, was preserved. The devotion of Acacius' predecessor, Eusebius of Caesarea, to Origen is well known, and Cyril's own successor, John  II of Jerusalem, appears to have been Origen's only too enthusiastic disciple. Again, the Peregrinatio of Etheria, with its reference to both creed and Scripture being expounded "first carnally and then spiritually," suggests a strong Alexandrian influence in Jerusalem at the period—whatever  that period may have been—which it describes. But perhaps the most interesting of the early links between Alexandria and Jerusalem is Clement's pupil and friend, St. Alexander, Bishop of Jerusalem. Alexander was also the fellow pupil, friend, and admirer of Origen, whom he, jointly with Theoctistus, Bishop of Caesarea, raised to the priesthood. As Alexander was Bishop of Jerusalem for at least sixteen years (216-32) and founded the theological library there,  it is not unlikely  that it was he who introduced the characteristic teaching, and perhaps methods, of the Alexandrian school into the Holy City [p 1,2]

Part of Doval's brilliance - as I noted in my previous post - is to question why we have to stop of Origen to make the connection with Alexandria. Doval effectively makes the case that there is no reason to assume that John II wrote the material associated with Cyril.  In fact, he repeatedly makes the case that many of the so-called 'Origenisms' that are used to connect John II to the Mystagogic Catecheses make just as much betraying signs of coming under the influence of Clement of Alexandria.

In fact, I have made the case to him that for far too long scholars have treated Clement and Origen as if they were completely separate theologians.  Origen was after all Clement's student and it is easy to demonstrate that many important mystical ideas were passed on from teacher to pupil - most notably the symbolic value of ritual nudity (which becomes especially important with the writings of Cyril of Jerusalem).  Indeed I would make the case that the Letter to Theodore provides the crucial 'missing link' to facilitate that understanding.

To this end, it is enough to say that even as we attempt a somewhat topical comparison of the mysticism of the Letter to Theodore (which was found in a monastery under the auspices of the same Patriarchate of Jerusalem which Cyril once presided) and the Mystagogic Catecheses (hereafter referred as as M) the reader should begin to see how obvious the connection is.  Yet in order to get the most value possible for our time spent doing this I don't want to merely limit myself to Mystagogic Catecheses.  Instead I think it would be a very useful idea to begin with Cyril's Catechetical Letters owing to the very unique circumstances associated with writing of the Mystagogic Cathecheses.

For it is well established that the Mystagogic Catecheses were written on the Monday after Easter in the Holy Sepulchre. The point then is that it would have been utterly inappropriate to reference those undergoing baptism as in any way 'dead' given that Christ had just risen. So it is that we think it prudent to start with the Catechetical Lectures instead so that may piece together the start of the rite borrowed by the Jerusalem Patriarchate from Alexandria - a rite which begins with the assumption that the catechumens and the unbaptized are in a 'death-like state' until being 'raised' by the priest's hand to begin their mystery initiation.

Yet before we get into all of that let's take a second look at what is supposed to be the Alexandrian 'mystic' according to the 'mystic' gospel of Mark referenced in the letter to Theodore.  I would like to cite the pertinent narrative in its entirety and then cite each section individually and go through the pertinent material in Cyril in order, signalling the exact moment to the reader that I have transitioned from Catechetical Instructions to the Mystagogic Catecheses.  We read:

and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan

καὶ εἰσελθὼν εὐθὺς ὅπου ἦν ὁ νεανίσκος ἐξέτεινεν τὴν χεῖρα καὶ ἤγειρεν αὐτὸν κρατήσας τῆς χειρός, ὁ δὲ νεανίσκος ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ ἠγάπησεν αὐτὸν καὶ ἤρξατο παρακαλεῖν αὐτὸν ἵνα μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ ᾖ. Καὶ ἐξελθόντες ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου ἦλθον εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ νεανίσκου, ἦν γὰρ πλούσιος. Καὶ μεθ᾽ ἡμέρας ἓξ ἐπέταξεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ὀψίας γενομένης ἔρχεται ὁ νεανίσκος πρὸς αὐτὸν περιβεβλημένος σινδόνα ἐπὶ γυμνῷ, καὶ ἔμεινε σὺν αὐτῷ τὴν νύκτα ἐκείνην. Ἐδίδασκε γὰρ αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὸ μυστήριον τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἐκεῖθεν δὲ ἀναστὰς ἐπέστρεψεν εἰς τὸ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου

The obvious place to start perhaps is the fact that there should be no doubt that the Jerusalem rite began with the notion that the catechumen were in a formerly dead state which we shall assume corresponds with the first line:

1. and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb.

I have always thought that the contact with the Pauline notion of 'baptism on behalf of the dead' and the 'baptism into Christ's death' is rooted in this passage. It is enough to say for the moment that Cyril both assumes that the catechumen are similarly dead and resurrected by the bishop in the ritual.

We begin with the notion in Cyril's Procatechesis that the individuals undergoing baptism will be 'killed' in order to be resurrected by Jesus:

you have been taken alive, flee not: for Jesus is angling for thee, not in order to kill, but by killing to make alive: for thou must die and rise again. For thou hast heard the Apostle say, Dead indeed unto sin, but living unto righteousness. Die to thy sins, and live to righteousness, live from this very day. See, I pray thee, how great a dignity Jesus bestows on thee. Thou wert called a Catechumen, while the word echoed round thee from without; hearing of hope, and knowing it not; hearing mysteries, and not understanding them; hearing Scriptures, and not knowing their depth. The echo is no longer around thee, but within thee; for the indwelling henceforth makes thy mind a house of God. When thou shalt have heard what is written concerning the mysteries, then wilt thou understand things which thou knewest not. [Procatechesis 5,6]

There is a play on words here between the cry that is 'echoing' around the resurrected and their role as 'catechumen.' There is also a clear sense - echoing to a remarkable degree what is said about the 'mystic' nature of the Alexandrian gospel - that the initiates will only now be instructed into the deeper meaning of scripture now that they have been ritually 'perfected.'

Notice as well that much of the basis for Clement's keeping the gospel 'secret' is also present in Cyril's address. Cyril goes on in the Procatechesis to instruct his hearers that what they have just been instructed from the gospel is to be kept 'secret':

When, therefore, the Lecture is delivered, if a Catechumen ask thee what the teachers have said, tell nothing to him that is without. For we deliver to thee a mystery, and a hope of the life to come. Guard the mystery for Him who gives the reward. Let none ever say to thee, What harm to thee, if I also know it? So too the sick ask for wine; but if it be given at a wrong time it causes delirium, and two evils arise; the sick man dies, and the physician is blamed. Thus is it also with the Catechumen, if he hear anything from the believer: both the Catechumen becomes delirious (for he understands not what he has heard, and finds fault with the thing, and scoffs at what is said), and the believer is condemned as a traitor. But thou art now standing on the border: take heed, pray, to tell nothing out; not that the things spoken are not worthy to be told, but because his ear is unworthy to receive. Thou wast once thyself a Catechumen, and I described not what lay before thee. When by experience thou hast learned how high are the matters of our teaching, then thou wilt know that the Catechumens are not worthy to hear them.

Ὅτε τοίνυν ἡ κατήχησις λέγηται, ἐάν σε κατηχούμενος ἐξετάσῃ, τί εἰρήκασιν οἱ διδάσκοντες, μηδὲν λέγε τῷ ἔξω· μυστήριον γάρ σοι παραδίδομεν, καὶ ἐλπίδα μέλλοντος αἰῶνος· τήρησον τὸ μυστήριον τῷ μισθαποδότῃ. Μή ποτέ σοί τις εἴπῃ· τί βλάπτῃ, ἐὰν κἀγὼ μάθω; Καὶ οἱ νοσοῦντες τὸν οἶνον ζητοῦσιν· ἀλλ' ἐὰν ἀκαίρως δοθῇ, φρενῖτιν ἐργάζεται· καὶ δύο κακὰ γίνεται, καὶ ὁ νοσῶν ἀπόλλυται, καὶ ὁ ἰατρὸς διαβάλλεται· οὕτως ὁ κατηχούμενος, ἐὰν ἀκούσῃ παρὰ πιστοῦ· καὶ ὁ κατηχούμενος φρενιτιᾷ, οὐκ οἶδε γὰρ τί ἤκουσε, καὶ ἐλέγχει τὸ πρᾶγμα, καὶ ἐκμυκτηρίζει τὸ λεγόμενον· καὶ ὁ πιστὸς ὡς προδότης κατακρίνεται. Ἤδη δὲ σὺ ἐν μεθορίῳ στήκεις, βλέπε μοι μὴ ἐκλαλήσῃς· οὐχ ὅτι οὐκ ἄξια λαλιᾶς τὰ λεγόμενα, ἀλλ' ὅτι ἡ ἀκοὴ ἀναξία τοῦ δέξασθαι· ἦς καὶ σύ ποτε κατηχούμενος, οὐ διηγησάμην σοι τὰ προκείμενα· ὅταν τῇ πείρᾳ λάβῃς τὸ ὕψωμα τῶν διδασκομένων, τότε ἂν γνώσῃ, ὅτι ἀνάξιοι οἱ κατηχούμενοι τῆς ἀκοῆς. [Procatechesis 12]

I have never understood the whole question about the existence of a 'secret' gospel. The existence of a prohibition accompanying the acceptance of 'mysteries' would only have been expected to have spilled over to a ritual prohibition on revealing the contents of the text used to instruct the former catechumen.

The purpose of being resurrected from this death-like state is to 'conjure' or 'exorcise' the demons out of oneself and allow for the new spirit of life to reside within. So we read in what follows again:

Let thy feet hasten to the catechisings; receive with earnestness the exorcisms (ἐπορκισμοὺς), whether thou be breathed upon or exorcised (ἐπορκισθῇ), the act is to thee salvation. Suppose thou hast gold unwrought and alloyed, mixed with various substances, copper, and tin, and iron, and lead: we seek to have the gold alone; can gold be purified from the foreign substances without fire? Even so without exorcisms the soul cannot be purified; and these exorcisms are divine, having been collected out of the divine Scriptures. [Procatechesis 9]

This exorcism interesting is likened to the removal of 'veils' in the very next line but we should also note that Celsus makes reference to a similar image when he says the Christian rites have stolen from the Persians the idea of an ascent through seven heavens:

especially in the mysteries of Mithras, which are celebrated amongst them [the Christians]. For in the latter there is a representation of the two heavenly revolutions,--of the movement, viz., of the fixed stars, and of that which take place among the planets, and of the passage of the soul through these. The representation is of the following nature: There is a ladder with lofty gates, and on the top of it an eighth gate. The first gate consists of lead, the second of tin, the third of copper, the fourth of iron, the fifth of a mixture of metals, the sixth of silver, and the seventh of gold. The first gate they assign to Saturn, indicating by the 'lead' the slowness of this star; the second to Venus, comparing her to the splendour and softness of tin; the third to Jupiter, being firm and solid; the fourth to Mercury, for both Mercury and iron are fit to endure all things, and are money-making and laborious; the fifth to Mars, because, being composed of a mixture of metals, it is varied and unequal; the sixth, of silver, to the Moon; the seventh, of gold, to the Sun,--thus imitating the different colours of the two latter. [Origen Contra Celsum 6.22]

One can already see the parallel notion perhaps that Celsus was referencing. The soul goes through seven veils in a parallel to the ascent through seven planets likened to various metals, stripping off various impurities along the way. Only upon reaching the highest of the seven spheres is one sufficiently 'pure' and golden.

Indeed one should note that Cyril immediately transitions at the very place we left the narrative of the Procatechesis the idea of peeling off veils is substituted (perhaps in emulation of the seven curtains of the divine tabernacle which God instructs Moses is a symbol of the pattern of the heavens (cf Exodus 25:40). In any event we read Cyril declare:

Thy face has been veiled, that thy mind may henceforward be free, lest the eye by roving make the heart rove also. But when thine eyes are veiled, thine ears are not hindered from receiving the means of salvation. For in like manner as those who are skilled in the goldsmith’s craft throw in their breath upon the fire through certain delicate instruments, and blowing up the gold which is hidden in the crucible stir the flame which surrounds it, and so find what they are seeking; even so when the exorcists inspire terror by the Spirit of God, and set the soul, as it were, on fire in the crucible of the body, the hostile demon flees away, and there abide salvation and the hope of eternal life, and the soul henceforth is cleansed from its sins and hath salvation. Let us then, brethren, abide in hope, and surrender ourselves, and hope, in order that the God of all may see our purpose, and cleanse us from our sins, and impart to us good hopes of our estate, and grant us repentance that bringeth salvation. [Procatechesis 9]

The process of 'purifying gold' which Celsus already knows is a central part of the Christian mysteries undoubtedly points to a role for both fire and water in the rites. Indeed there are repeated references to a mere 'baptism of water' and the 'baptism of fire' which clearly was not originally something merely allegorical (cf. the Anonymous Treatise on Baptism).

In what follows again here Cyril continues to emphasize that by the time the mysteries are complete the various (undoubtedly 'six') metals have been stripped away and the dead soul stands before the priest ready to be baptized as a 'pure metal':

Let your mind be refined as by fire unto reverence; let your soul be forged as metal: let the stubbornness of unbelief be hammered out: let the superfluous scales of the iron drop off, and what is pure remain; let the rust of the iron be rubbed off, and the true metal remain. May God sometime shew you that night, the darkness which shines like the day, concerning which it is said, The darkness shall not be hidden from thee, and the night shall shine as the day. Then may the gate of Paradise be opened to every man and every woman among you. Then may you enjoy the Christ-bearing waters in their fragrance. Then may you receive the name of Christ, and the power of things divine. Even now, I beseech you, lift up the eye of the mind: even now imagine the choirs of Angels, and God the Lord of all there sitting, and His Only-begotten Son sitting with Him on His right hand, and the Spirit present with them; and Thrones and Dominions doing service, and every man of you and every woman receiving salvation. Even now let your ears ring, as it were, with that glorious sound, when over your salvation the angels shall chant, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered when like stars of the Church you shall enter in, bright in the body and radiant in the soul. [Procatechesis 15]

No one should doubt for a minute this is why the Letter to Theodore specifically makes reference to 'six days' and moreover that on the day after all the impurities have been stripped from the individual the 'golden child' is ready for his final act of purification.

Indeed we have always argued that the 'redemption' (ἀπολύτρωσις) ritual of the followers of Mark mentioned in the First Book of Irenaeus's Against Heresies is one and the same with the rites associated with 'Secret Mark.' In the very next line of the Procatechesis we see why when we read:

Great is the Baptism that lies before you: a ransom (λύτρον) to captives; a remission of offences; a death of sin; a new-birth of the soul; a garment of light; a holy indissoluble seal; a chariot to heaven; the delight of Paradise; a welcome into the kingdom; the gift of adoption! [Cyril, Procatechesis 16]

and the pattern continues throughout the Catechetical lectures beginning with one of its opening statements:

As ye have entered upon a good and most glorious path, run with reverence the race of godliness. For the Only-begotten Son of God is present here most ready to redeem you (ἀπολύτρωσιν), saying, Come unto Me all that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Ye that are clothed with the rough garment of your offences, who are holden with the cords of your own sins, hear the voice of the Prophet saying, Wash you, make you clean, put away your iniquities from before Mine eyes that the choir of Angels may chant over you, [Catechetical Lecture 1.1]

Indeed the specific terminology ἀπολύτρωσις is used at the end of the eighteen lecture series to describe the whole baptismal process. Of course in its original form it would undoubtedly have referenced a much more heretical concept - viz. the redemption from the restraints of living in the material world.

2. And straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand.

Perhaps we have gone a little off topic but I think the discovery of an underlying connection back to Celsus's criticism of the (Alexandrian) Christian rites is particularly interesting. After all they immediately follow Celsus's examination of the Question of the Rich Youth narrative (Contra Celsum 6:16) so there is the possibility that Celsus himself knows the 'sevenfold uncovering' has something to do with the passage.  Indeed as we continue through the contents of the first Catechetical Lecture, most of discussion makes reference in the general terms to the fantastic effects that 'redemption' will have on their lives. It is only in the second lecture that Cyril revisits the 'resurrection from the dead' motif and - surprise, surprise - the initiates are likened to Lazarus:

What then? some one will say. We have been beguiled and are lost. Is there then no salvation left? We have fallen: Is it not possible to rise again? We have been blinded: May we not recover our sight? We have become crippled: Can we never walk upright? In a word, we are dead: May we not rise again? He that woke Lazarus who was four days dead and already stank, shall He not, O man, much more easily raise thee who art alive? [Catechetical Lecture 2.6]

There is no doubt that Cyril is referencing the canonical version of the narrative rather than text known to Clement in to Theodore. Nevertheless it would be utterly incredible to discover that Cyril is still using an apocryphal after Nicea. It is possible that the Lazarus material from John was substituted for 'Secret Mark.' Indeed Epiphanius mentions a colleague who claims to have seen a 'Hebrew version of the Gospel of John' wholly different from the 'Gospel according to the Hebrews' at a synagogue in Tiberias.

It is worth noting that all the catechetic lectures make reference to a specific feature of the raising of the dead youth narrative of the Alexandrian gospel of Mark - namely the outstretching of Jesus's hand to grab the redeemed person's soul. Once again we read in the Letter to Thedoore:

he [Jesus] stretched forth his hand and raised him [i.e. the initiated neaniskos] seizing his hand.

The same pattern is found in Cyril - first in the Procatechesis:

but thou also must stretch forth thy right hand with good resolution, that thou mayest war the Lord’s warfare, and overcome adverse powers, and become invincible against every heretical attempt. [Procatechesis 10]

then at the beginning of the first catechetic lecture:

Come for the mystical Seal, that ye may be easily recognised by the Master; be ye numbered among the holy and spiritual flock of Christ, to be set apart on His right hand, and inherit the life prepared for you. [Catechetical Lecture 1.2]

and then at the beginning of the first Mystagogic Catechesis:

I have long been wishing, O true-born and dearly beloved children of the Church, to discourse to you concerning these spiritual and heavenly Mysteries; but since I well knew that seeing is far more persuasive than hearing, I waited for the present season; that finding you more open to the influence of my words from your present experience, I might lead you by the hand into the brighter and more fragrant meadow of the Paradise before us; especially as ye have been made fit to receive the more sacred Mysteries, after having been found worthy of divine and life-giving Baptism. This Lecture was delivered on the Monday after Easter in the Holy Sepulchre: Since therefore it remains to set before you a table of the more perfect instructions, let us now teach you these things exactly, that ye may know the effect wrought upon you on that evening of your baptism. [Mystagogic Catechesis 1.1]

Clearly there is some scriptural source being consistently referenced here where an outstretched hand grabbed the 'dead' soul of the initiated and raised him to life. This does not appear anywhere in John 11. Moreover the Jerusalem baptism of the period clearly was a night baptism where the initiates stood naked before the baptismal font. Cyril is always cited as the 'naked baptism' guy in Patristic texts and I think it is one of the strongest arguments for a connection with the gospel of to Thedoore.

Yet before we continue to examine the fascinating discussion that develops from what follows in the Mystagogic Catecheses, we should go back to the second catechetical lecture and notice something else about the ritualized interest in the raising of Lazarus - its connection with Jesus's 'love' ( ) for the catechumen. The passage in full reads:

What then? some one will say. We have been beguiled and are lost. Is there then no salvation left? We have fallen: Is it not possible to rise again? We have been blinded: May we not recover our sight? We have become crippled: Can we never walk upright? In a word, we are dead: May we not rise again? He that woke Lazarus who was four days dead and already stank, shall He not, O man, much more easily raise thee who art alive? He who shed His precious blood for us, shall Himself deliver us from sin. Let us not despair of ourselves, brethren; let us not abandon ourselves to a hopeless condition. For it is a fearful thing not to believe in a hope of repentance. For he that looks not for salvation spares not to add evil to evil: but to him that hopes for cure, it is henceforth easy to be careful over himself. The robber who looks not for pardon grows desperate; but, if he hopes for forgiveness, often comes to repentance.

What then, does the serpent cast its old age” (τὸ γῆρας) and shall not we cast off our sin? Thorny ground also, if cultivated well, is turned into fruitful; and is salvation to us irrecoverable? Nay rather, our nature admits of salvation, but the will also is required.

God is loving to man, and loving in no small measure (Φιλάνθρωπος ὁ Θεὸς, καὶ φιλάνθρωπος οὐκ ὀλίγον). For say not, I have committed fornication and adultery: I have done dreadful things, and not once only, but often: will He forgive? Will He grant pardon? Hear what the Psalmist says: How great is the multitude of Thy goodness, O Lord! Thine accumulated offences surpass not the multitude of God’s mercies: thy wounds surpass not the great Physician’s skill. Only give thyself up in faith: tell the Physician thine ailment: say thou also, like David: I said, I will confess me my sin unto the Lord: and the same shall be done in thy case, which he says forthwith: And thou forgavest the wickedness of my heart.

Wouldest thou see the love of God (Θέλεις ἰδεῖν Θεοῦ φιλανθρωπίαν), O thou that art lately come to the catechising? Wouldest thou see the love of God (θέλεις ἰδεῖν Θεοῦ φιλανθρωπίαν), and the abundance of His long-suffering? Hear about Adam. Adam, God’s first-formed man, transgressed: could He not at once have brought death upon him? But see what the Lord does, in His great love towards man (ὁ φιλανθρωπότατος Κύριος). He casts him out from Paradise, for because of sin he was unworthy to live there; but He puts him to dwell over against Paradise: that seeing whence he had fallen, and from what and into what a state he was brought down, he might afterwards be saved by repentance [Catechetical Lecture 2.6,7]

Indeed countless demonstrations of God's love for humanity follow through the ages with the conclusion:

Seest thou the breadth of God’s loving-kindness extending to a hundred years? Could He not have done immediately what He did then after the hundred years? But He extended (the time) on purpose, granting a respite for repentance. Seest thou God’s goodness? And if the men of that time had repented, they would not have missed the loving-kindness of God. [Catechetical Lecture 2.9]

So the passage begins with Jesus coming to raise from the dead catechumen after the manner of Lazarus and continues to demonstrate that the love God showed man in 'resurrecting' him was clearly visible through the ages.

It is worth noting that those who find it so 'controversial' that Morton Smith should suggest that the love for the youth and Jesus in the letter to Theodore would lead to spiritual and physical union should really examine the catechetical lectures of Cyril. I am not suggesting that either tradition believed anything sordid occurred between the two participants. Clearly we hear from Clement over and over again in his writings that the purpose is for the become Christs.

Yet notice how many times the catechumens are told that they will enter into 'marriage' with Jesus:

For the Bridegroom invites all without distinction, because His grace is bounteous; and the cry of loud-voiced heralds assembles them all: but the same Bridegroom afterwards separates those who have come in to the spiritual marriage. [εἰς τὸν τυπικὸν γάμον] O may none of those whose names have now been enrolled hear the words, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? But may you all hear, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou wast faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. For now meanwhile thou standest outside the door: but God grant that you all may say, The King hath brought me into His chamber (Song of Songs 1. 4). Let my soul rejoice in the Lord: for He hath clothed me with a garment of salvation, and a robe of gladness: He hath crowned me with a garland as a bridegroom (μὴ ἔχων ἔνδυμα γάμου cf. Song of Songs 3. 11) [Catechetical  Lecture 3.2]

This is far more sexual than anything which actually appears in the Letter to Theodore and it is still not sexual. The reason the initiate is now crowned as a 'bridegroom' is because he has underwent the 'divine marriage' with Jesus and was originally understood to be co-equal with Christ (cf. Clement of Alexandria for this conception).

3. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the kingdom of God.

I assume of course that most people reading this post are already familiar with the idea that the 'house' of this pericope in the Alexandrian 'mystic' gospel narrative is the symbolic equivalent of 'inner sanctum' of the church of Alexandria.  In other words, this is the place where the 'spiritual marriage' takes place between initiate and Christ (or his representative).  Of course we are not talking about physical sex but a symbolic consummation which begins with the ritual disrobing of the candidate. How interesting then is it that when we return to the place we left in the Mystagogic Catecheses Cyril tells the Jerusalem initiates:

These daily introductions into the Mysteries (μυσταγωγίαι), and new instructions, which are the announcements of new truths, are profitable to us; and most of all to you, who have been renewed from an old state to a new. Therefore, I shall necessarily lay before you the sequel of yesterday’s Lecture (τῆς χθεσινῆς μυσταγωγίας), that ye may learn of what those things, which were done by you in the inner chamber (τῷ ἐσωτέρῳ γενόμενα οἴκῳ). The renunciation and the profession of faith were made in the outer chamber or vestibule of the Baptistery, were symbolical.

As soon, then, as ye entered, ye put off your tunic (ἀπεδύεσθε τὸν χιτῶνα); and this was an image of putting off the old man with his deeds. Having stripped yourselves, ye were naked (Ἀποδυθέντες γυμνοὶ ἦτε); in this also imitating Christ, who was stripped naked on the Cross (τοῦ σταυροῦ γυμνωθέντα Χριστόν), and by His nakedness put off from Himself the principalities and powers (καὶ τῇ γυμνότητι ἀπεκδυσάμενον τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς ἐξουσίας), and openly triumphed over them on the tree. For since the adverse powers made their lair in your members, ye may no longer wear that old garment; I do not at all mean this visible one, but the old man, which waxeth corrupt in the lusts of deceit.

May the soul which has once put him off, never again put him on (Ὃν μὴ εἴη πάλιν
ἐνδύσασθαι τῇ ἅπαξ τοῦτον ἀποδυσαμένῃ ψυχῇ), but say with the Spouse of Christ in the Song of Songs, I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on (Ἐξεδυσάμην τὸν χιτῶνά μου, πῶς
ἐνδύσομαι αὐτόνv)? O wondrous thing (Ὢ θαυμασίου πράγματος)! ye were naked in the sight of all (γυμνοὶ ἦτε ἐν ὄψεσι πάντων), and were not ashamed; for truly ye bore the likeness of the first-formed Adam, who was naked in the garden (τῷ παραδείσῳ γυμνὸς), and was not ashamed.

Then, when ye were stripped (Εἶτα ἀποδυθέντες), ye were anointed with exorcised oil, from the very hairs of your head to your feet, and were made partakers of the good olive-tree, Jesus Christ. For ye were cut off from the wild olive-tree, and grafted into the good one, and were made to share the fatness of the true olive-tree. For as the breathing of the saints, and the invocation of the Name of God, like fiercest flame, scorch and drive out evil spirits, so also this exorcised oil receives such virtue by the invocation of God and by prayer, as not only to burn and cleanse away the traces of sins, but also to chase away all the invisible powers of the evil one.

After these things, ye were led to the holy pool (κολυμβήθραν) of Divine Baptism, as Christ was carried from the Cross to the Sepulchre which is before our eyes. [Mystagogic Catechesis 2.1 -3]

I really don't know how anyone can claim that the Letter to Theodore and its allusion to an Alexandrian 'mystic' gospel is a forgery anymore than its allusion to ritual nudity acts in any way as proof that it was a forgery. If anything one can turn around as an argument for authenticity.

One could clearly make the case that would be very good reason for the Jerusalem Church to take an interest in a late second century text which took an interest in ritualized nudity during baptism. Moreover, more remarkably indeed - an interest in naked catechumen who have been raised from the dead as we read in what follows in the text:

Having been sufficiently instructed in these things, keep them, I beseech you, in your remembrance; that I also, unworthy though I be, may say of you, "Now I love you: Now I praise you, because ye always remember me, and hold fast the traditions, which I delivered unto you (Ἀγαπῶ δὲ ὑμᾶς, ὅτι πάντοτέ μου μέμνησθε, καὶ τὰς παραδόσεις, ἃς παρέδωκα ὑμῖν, κατέχετε). And God, who has presented you as it were alive from the dead, is able to grant unto you to walk in newness of life: because His is the glory and the power, now and for ever. Amen [ibid 3.9]

Of course the original passage in the Letter to the Corinthians reads:

Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.

Cyril has strangely slipped in the idea that the apostle 'loves' his hearers into the citation of 1 Cor 11.2. Is this an accident? A slip of memory? Or is it possible that Cyril knew a tradition known to the original apostle of Christianity that Jesus saved him from the dead out of love and he in turn passed on that tradition to his followers in Alexandria ...

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