Monday, September 5, 2011

An Ignored Window into the Marcionite Interpretation of Mark 3:1 - 6

These are two things from which the Marcionites have deflected, for they are not willing to call our Lord 'the Maker,' nor (do they admit) that He was (sent) by the Maker. But His active power itself deprives those who deprive Him of active power, especially because that active power of His was repairing the work of the Creator. But it is clearly seen that this is a thing learnt from Him, (I mean) that primeval Teacher who is the Architect of the creation. But this active power was sent as to the first of creatures, in order that it might be known that by this same active power the creatures had been created. For the repair of a work can only be wrought by means of that workmanship which set it in order.. But when this perfect Disciple of that perfect Architect came, not that He was a learner, nor was His Teacher instructed, in virtue of that workmanship which (proceeded) from Himself (and) in which the normal arrangements were included from the Beginning—when He came, therefore, He ordered aright the hands which He had made, that they might give alms to those who lacked health, whereas He found them (such) that, instead of giving alms from that which was their own, they committed thefts from that which was not their own. But because the hands did not perform that service on account of which He created them He was empowered, as a just Maker, to command that the hands should wither up. But instead of this He commanded that hand which was withered to be stretched forth; for He knew the effrontery of the Marcionites, that if when He was restoring and repairing the corruption of the natures they call Him 'strange' to Nature, if His deed had been contrary to Nature how much more would they have considered Him 'strange' ? But because they are perverse, perhaps if our Lord had done contrary to Nature they would not have considered Him 'strange!' But even if they had been as it were able to learn perversely, yet for the upright Teacher it was not seemly that because of the perverse ones He also should teach perversity, a rent worse than the former one . . . ' unless' they were willing to learn. For if in the [straight] way the followers of Marcion are not [able to walk, in slippery places how] can they [direct] their goings ? [Ephrem, Against Marcion Book Three]

I can't help but here some intimation of the wording of the Gospel according to the Hebrews especially with Ephrem's reference to the man's hands 'not performing that service on account of which he created them':

On Matt. xii. 13. In the Gospel which the Nazarenes and Ebionites use (which I have lately translated into Greek from the Hebrew, and which is called by many (or most) people the original of Matthew), this man who had the withered hand is described as a mason, who prays for help in such words as this: 'I was a mason seeking a livelihood with my hands: I pray thee, Jesus, to restore me mine health, that I may not beg meanly for my food.' 

I have always thought that the beggar here was an important figure in early Christianity. Could he be 'Ebion' (= Aram. beggar) of the Ebionites i.e. the head of the tradition? I suspect so ...

Email with comments or questions.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.