Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why All Previous Attempts to Figure Out the Marcionite New Testament Stink

We have all been experienced desperation in our lives. Whether it be having sex with the fat girl at school or being too eager to answer a question at a job interview which led to someone else getting the job, to be human is to be desperate. Nevertheless nowhere is this more apparent than with the countless scholars who have claimed they 'know' what the Marcionite gospel and letters looked like. Not only is our information 'spotty' (we depend almost wholly on Tertullian, Adamantius and Epiphanius) their testimonies are down right atrocious. Ulrich Schmid rightly discounts most of Adamantius's Dialogues because they are hopelessly corrupt. This leaves Tertullian and Epiphanius yet even here Tertullian and Epiphanius often disagree on basic details.

I have thought about the problems related to this effort to 'reacquaint' ourselves with the Marcionite canon and I am absolutely certain - all previous efforts stink. There are many reasons for my low estimation of previous reconstructions but I think the people - whether von Harnack, Schmid, Detering, Mahar have all been too desperate to accept Tertullian's information uncritically. The obvious difficulty coming down to - when is Tertullian giving us the reading from Marcion's canon and when is reading from his own?

I think the way people get around this (at least in their own conscience) is to assume that Tertullian's canon was 'sort of like' Marcion's. But this is hopelessly deluded. We don't that this true. We'd like it to true but we have know way to know the answer. As such I say toss it all in the garbage and try another approach entirely.

I am still working out the details to how we move forward but my basic approach is:

  1. to only accept the testimony of the Church Fathers if he explicitly says 'this is Marcion's reading' or something to that effect. 
  2. use that as the barest of frameworks for what the Marcionite Apostolikon looked like (I have given up on any hope of reconstructing the Marcionite gospel) 
  3. make the argument that Clement of Alexandria's citations of material from the Pauline letters conforms to that 'barest of frameworks' 
  4. use a comparative analysis of Clement's Alexandrian canon and those same Marcionite references but giving preference to Clement. 
  5. reconstruct a 'basic idea' (no exactness) of what the original Apostolikon looked like (leaving aside the whole question of whether it was Marcionite or not)..
I am still working all of this out in my head but I wanted to emphasize to my readers that the basic pattern which emerges in Clement's citation of Romans conforms to what most people think the Marcionite letter looked like (save for the question of whether chapter 15, 16 was present where it agrees with those who said the Marcionite text had at least something from these chapters). Now let's look at a specific example where the Clementine citation of 1 Corinthians agrees with what we know was NOT in the Marcionite canon but a superficial examination of Tertullian and Epiphanius would lead us to believe that 1 Cor 14.34 was in the Marcionite canon

Both Tertullian and Epiphanius make reference to the obviously forged addition of:

The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.

When I say obviously I mean that because we know from other sources that women took leading roles in the Marcionite church. They had to be speaking in the Church. As such, this is a Catholic addition and follows patterns of misogyny in this tradition.

What is interesting of course is that Epiphanius himself never mentions 1 cor 14.34 in any of his other works - i.e. only in the section of the Panarion which deals with the various Marcionite gospel readings. So Carroll D. Osburn in her Text of the Apostolos in Epiphanius concludes that because Epiphanius only mentions it here Epiphanius's reference must reflect that was actually in Marcion's text:

However, in the only places in Epiphanius where 1 Cor 14:34 occurs, each time it is the scholion (Pan 42.11.8; Pan 42.12.3) in which he gives Marcion's text, not in his own elenchus. In the following discussion in the elenchus (Pan 42.12.3), the only part of 14:34 Epiphanius quotes from his own text is καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει, which does not have a variant reading. The only other reference to this verse in Pan 79.3.6 is an allusion to it and 1 Tim 2:12, in a discussion concerning the place of women in the church. Therefore, Epiphanius should not be cited in the apparatus for this variant; however, [correcting the reference books to say this appeared in Marcion's edition rather than Epiphanius would be more accurate] p. 260

Yet this is completely ludicrous. The obvious solution to the difficulty is that the material appeared in neither Marcion's version of the letter nor Epiphanius but comes rather from the source that Epiphanius used to provide information on Marcion.

As I have noted many times before Epiphanius's original source is the same original text which stands behind Tertullian's Against Marcion Books 4 and 5. The differences that exist between Tertullian and Epiphanius have come about because of Tertullian's reworking of that original source which was clearly Syrian (the use of the Diatessaron and the order of Pauline canon is not Marcionite but Syrian i.e. Galatians first). In any event here is the reference in Tertullian Against Marcion 5.9 which clearly still known to Epiphanius:

When he mentions the fact that “it is written in the law,” how that the Creator would speak with other tongues and other lips, whilst confirming indeed the gift of tongues by such a mention, he yet cannot be thought to have affirmed that the gift was that of another god by his reference to the Creator’s prediction. In precisely the same manner, when enjoining on women silence in the church, that they speak not for the mere sake of learning (although that even they have the right of prophesying, he has already shown when he covers the woman that prophesies with a veil), he goes to the law for his sanction that woman should be under obedience. Now this law, let me say once for all, he ought to have made no other acquaintance with, than to destroy it.

Whoever this original source was (Theophilus of Antioch? Rhodo?) the most important thing for us to see is that Clement of Alexandria makes almost a hundred references to 1 Corinthians but never once to 1 Corinthians 14.34.

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