Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Clement of Alexandria's 1 Corinthians Certainly Omitted 1 Cor 9:7 - 10

As many of you know I am actively working to piecing together Clement's text of 1 Corinthians. I have been going through the material line by line, section by section in anticipation of arriving at 1 Cor 9:9 - the place where the apostle cites Deuteronomy 25.4 and develops an allegorical argument to make the case that it does apply to people rather than animals. Most of us assume that the Marcionite text had this reference given that it appears in all the anti-Marcionite writings of the Church Fathers. Nevertheless it has to be acknowledged that Megethius the Marcionite in the Dialogue of Adamantius is quite adamant (pardon the pun) that Paul "did not explicitly use any of the ancient prophets." In the response which follows Adamantius (the Catholic) cites two passages from 1 Corinthians to argue against this claim including 1 Cor 9:7 - 10. It is at this point that Megethius's reply is clearly corrupt. For after making the bald, blanket statement that Paul never 'explicitly cites' anything from the Jewish writings, his comeback to Adamantius is ridiculously weak - "You know that he speaks of the law of Moses and not of God."

There is clearly something corrupt in the text here and in other places as Schmid consistently notes. We can be virtually certain that there are places where the Church Fathers and scholars get it wrong about what was in or out of the Marcionite text. The clear example is 'a woman keeping silent in the Church.' Epiphanius doesn't seem to have had this line in his text of 1 Corinthians and mistook the reference in Tertullian's source as indicating that the Marcionites added the material(!). I have a strong feeling that 1 Corinthians 9:9 is another of those careless mistakes. This because Clement of Alexandria does not know either reference.

That Clement of Alexandria's text of 1 Corinthians skipped over a lot of material in this and other section of 1 Corinthians is plainly evident from his citation of the text. In this particular case Clement makes absolutely plain that 1 Corinthians 9:5 'jumped' over to what is in our later orthodox text 1 Corinthians 9:12:

Nor they intimated "that they must of necessity abstain from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication, from which keeping themselves, they should do well." It is a different matter, then, which is expressed by the apostle: "Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as the rest of the apostles, as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? But we have not used this power," he says, "but bear all things, lest we should occasion hindrance to the Gospel of Christ;" namely, by bearing about burdens, when it was necessary to be untrammelled for all things; or to become an example to those who wish to exercise temperance, not encouraging each other to eat greedily of what is set before us, and not to consort inconsiderately with woman. And especially is it incumbent on those entrusted with such a dispensation to exhibit to disciples a pure example. "For though I be free from all men, I have made myself servant to all," it is said, "that I might gain all. And every one that striveth for mastery is temperate in all things." μάλιστα δὲ τοὺς τηλικαύτην οἰκονομίαν πεπιστευμένους ὑπόδειγμα τοῖς μανθάνουσιν ἄχραντον ἐκκεῖσθαι προσήκει. ἐλεύθερος γὰρ ὢν ἐκ πάντων πᾶσιν ἐμαυτὸν ἐδούλωσα, φησίν, ἵνα τοὺς πάντας κερδήσω, καὶ πᾶς δὲ ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος πάντα ἐγκρατεύεται [Stromata,2]

Of course some might argue that Clement might just have been careless in his citing of the material. However the confirmation that Clement's text of 1 Corinthians did not have verses 9:7 - 10 is found when Clement cites Deuteronomy 25:4 a little earlier in the Stromata for an allegorical purpose without having any knowledge of Paul's remarkable interpretation of the material:

For the nourishment of the living animal, it is meant, may not become sauce for that which has been deprived of life; and that, which is the cause of life, may not co-operate in the consumption of the body. And the same law commands “not to muzzle the ox which treadeth out the corn: for the labourer must be reckoned worthy of his food.” And it prohibits an ox and ass to be yoked in the plough together; [Deut. 22. 10] pointing perhaps to the want of agreement in the case of the animals; and at the same time teaching not to wrong any one belonging to another race, and bring him under the yoke, when there is no other cause to allege than difference of race, which is no cause at all, being neither wickedness nor the effect of wickedness. To me the allegory also seems to signify that the husbandry of the Word is not to be assigned equally to the clean and the unclean, the believer and the unbeliever; for the ox is clean, but the ass has been reckoned among the unclean animals. But the benignant Word, abounding in humanity, teaches that neither is it right to cut down cultivated trees, or to cut down the grain before the harvest, for mischiefs sake; nor that cultivated fruit is to be destroyed at all—either the fruit of the soil or that of the soul: for it does not permit the enemy’s country to be laid waste. Further, husbandmen derived advantage from the law in such things. For it orders newly planted trees to be nourished three years in succession, and the superfluous growths to be cut off, to prevent them being loaded and pressed down; and to prevent their strength being exhausted from want, by the nutriment being frittered away, enjoins tilling and digging round them, so that [the tree] may not, by sending out suckers, hinder its growth. And it does not allow imperfect fruit to be plucked from immature trees, but after three years, in the fourth year; dedicating the first-fruits to God after the tree has attained maturity [Stromata 2.20].

It was van den Hoek who drew my attention to the fact that Clement not only ignores 1 Corinthians 9:9 but actually reluctantly employs Philo's exegesis of the scriptural material. As van den Hoek notes "That Clement is not completely satisfied with the allegory passed through Philo becomes clear from his concluding interpretation." (p. 69). Yet it is impossible to imagine that Clement would have reached for a bad interpretation of the material if the Pauline passage was available to him. Thus we must conclude that 'what you see is what you get' in Stromata 4.15 - Clement's text of 1 Corinthians chapter 9 did not contain the familiar 1 Corinthians 9:7 - 10. The most likely explanation is again that the material represents a Valentinian addition.

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