Monday, October 10, 2011

Proof that the Marcionite Paradigm Was Original - Paul Quotes the Gospel Prologue

I have already noted that the Marcionites thought the man who wrote the Epistles of the Apostolikon also wrote their gospel. There are well established parallels between the Gospel of Mark and Colossians. Yet I have always wondered why so many scholars overlook the fact that Clement repeatedly identifies Paul as being aware of the gospel known to the Alexandrians. In Stromata 3 Clement says that Jesus gave a commandment 'thou shalt not lust' to his disciples. Clement makes clear that Paul was aware of this gospel passage unknown to us. Morton Smith and others have long noted that the addition to Secret Mark is probably behind the apostle's references to being baptized into death, the death of Christ etc. Yet I have always thought that the strongest parallels are found between the Prologue of what is now 'the Gospel of John' and various statements in the Apostolikon.

2 Cor 4.6 in my mind makes reference to a variant reading of John 1.5. And then there is Clement of Alexandria's variant of 1 Cor 1:21 in Stromata 1.18:

ἐπειδὴ ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, τουτέστι διὰ τῶν προφητῶν κατηγγελμένῃ, οὐκ ἔγνω ὁ κόσμος διὰ τῆς σοφίας, τῆς διὰ τῶν προφητῶν λαλούσης, αὐτόν, δηλονότι τὸν θεόν, εὐδόκησεν οὗτος ὁ θεὸς διὰ τοῦ κηρύγματος τῆς μωρίας, τῆς δοκούσης Ἕλλησιν εἶναι μωρίας, σῶσαι τοὺς πιστεύοντας [Stromata]

In short, Clement records the saying as "in his wisdom, the world knew not him' instead of "in his wisdom, the world knew not God" (as in all known texts). Isn't this however just an echo of John 1:10

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not know him.
ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν καὶ ὁ κόσμος δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο καὶ ὁ κόσμος αὐτὸν οὐκ ἔγνω.

I think we could come up with a dozen possible references to the apostle being aware of the wording of the gospel, once again reinforcing the truth of the Marcionite tradition and also demonstrating the inherent reactionary nature and falseness of the Catholic system.  It also makes clear what should long ago have been known - i.e. that the original gospel would appear as a Diatessaron (= parts of what is now 'Matthew,' 'Mark,' 'Luke' and 'John' all in one 'super' text.'

Now let's examine 2 Corinthians 4.6 possible reference to John 1.5 in Tertullian's Against Marcion:

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to the light of the knowledge in the face of Christ. [Tertullian Against Marcion 5]

But notice in Tertullian's On the Resurrection of the Flesh the reference to 'darkness' disappears:

For, when he speaks of the "light which God hath commanded to shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord in the person of Jesus Christ,"

so too in Origen's Against Celsus Book Six:

and maketh him a light of the world: "For this light shone in our hearts, to give the light of the glorious Gospel of God in the face of Christ Jesus."

Unfortunately Tertullian's original citation is in Latin but I wonder whether there was a deliberate effort to avoid reading 2 Cor 4:6 as a clear allusion to John 1:5:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it

As far as I can see there are no other early allusions to 2 Corinthians 4:6 in the Church Fathers. But the Latin of Tertullian's 2 Cor 4:6 is:

Quoniam deus, qui dixit ex tenebris lucem lucescere, reluxit in cordibus nostris ad illuminationem agnitionis suae in persona Christi.

the Dialogues of Adamantius 2,19 read:

qui dixit de tenebris lucem fulgere, illuminauit in cordibus uestris lucem scientiae gloriae eius in persona Christi.

The Vulgate by contrast reads:

quoniam Deus, qui dixit de tenebris lucem splendescere, ipse illuxit in cordibus nostris ad illuminationem scientiæ claritatis Dei, in facie Christi Iesu.

And the Vulgate, the Acta Archelai, Codex Fuldensis all render John 1:5 as:

et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt

I'd say there is a very good change this is another reference to the Prologue to the Gospel (now relegated to 'the Gospel of John' in the Catholic New Testament). It is also worth noting that the second half of 2 Corinthians is almost always argued to be an allusion to John 1.9. As such three references to the Prologue.

Email with comments or questions.

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