Friday, August 12, 2011

Did the Fourfold Gospel Develop to Bring Peace to the Holy Land in the Third Century?

I promise my readership that there is an actual point to determining that Clement and Origen lived a generation before Eusebius pretends they did. I am trying to clear the way for understanding that the fourfold gospel emerged in the first generation of the third century, being dropped into the conflict in the Holy Land we have been describing here. If you really think about it, there is the position of Paul of Samosata (c. 260 CE) that must have embodied the native Semitic tradition in region - namely that Jesus was born a mere man, but that at his baptism he was infused with the divine Logos or word of God. Hence, Jesus was seen not as God-become-man but as man-become-God.

This conception must have been associated with Antioch and ultimately went back to a form of Christianity with ties to Jerusalem. These people must have also accepted that Jesus had brothers and sisters from a common mother and father.

The Alexandrian tradition of Mark was very different of course. Jesus here was wholly divine. He did not have a physical mother nor any semblance of physical flesh. What we see emerging in the early third century is an attempt at ecumenicism by further dividing the gospels from a 'Gospel of the Hebrews vs. Gospel of the Egyptians' stalemate into the next divisible number - i.e. four. I suspect that there was a strong effort to establish peace in the Church by dividing the original gospel of the Antiochene community (i.e. the alleged 'Gospel Harmony' of Theophilus) into Matthew and John while the 'Egyptian gospel' (= Secret Mark) was divided into Mark and Luke.

More on this later ...

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