Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Clement of Alexandria Never Accuses Marcion of Tampering or Removing Material from Scripture

This is a very important point for my thesis that the Marcionites and the early Alexandrians were one and the same tradition.  Clement may accuse 'Marcion' of incorrectly interpreting scripture.  This he certain does many times in his writings.  Yet there is a consistent reference also to the basic understanding that Clement and the Marcionites share the same canon.  The strongest accusation that Clement lays at the feet of Marcion is that he refuses to interpret scripture in the right way:

For those are slothful who, having it in their power to provide themselves with proper proofs for the divine Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, pick (ἐκλεγόμενοι) only what contributes to their own pleasures. And those have a craving for glory who voluntarily evade, by arguments of a diverse sort, the things delivered by the blessed apostles and teachers, which are wedded to inspired words; opposing the divine tradition by human teach ings, in order to establish the heresy. For, in truth, what remained to be said -- in ecclesiastical knowledge I mean -- by such men, Marcion, for example, or Prodicus, and such like, who did not walk in the right way? For they could not have surpassed their predecessors in wisdom, so as to discover anything in addition to what had been uttered by them; for they would have been satisfied had they been able to learn the things laid down before. [Stromata 7.16]

Clement's point here is that Marcion choose to focus his attention of certain things and ignore others.  Yet it is important to note that Clement confirms Irenaeus's claim that Marcion literally took the inspired scriptures and remodeled a new gospel and new letters of Paul to develop his teachings around.  This is a key difference between the two men.

Indeed there are countless examples where Clement makes absolutely clear that the Marcionite share the exact same reading, the exact same passage, the exact same gospel or letter that Clement has before him but they 'choose' to interpret it incorrectly.  This is a very important observation for it helps build us to the realization that Clement stood very close to the Marcionite, closer than most of us realize.

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