Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why I Am Becoming Convinced that 'Galatians' Was Actually the Lost Conclusion of 1 Corinthians (= the Epistle to the Alexandrians)

We have come up to a dead end in our construction of the First Epistle to the Corinthians - Clement stops citing material from the epistle at 1 Cor 15:50 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.' He also ignores most of chapters 14 and 15. The fact that the text would break off at this very point is quite telling because 1 Cor 15:50 is clearly the single most difficult passage from the New Testament for orthodox Christians to explain away. How can Jesus be presumed to have taught the resurrection of the same body of the now dead individual at the Final Judgment when Jesus says that 'flesh and blood' will not inherit whatever 'the kingdom of God' is?

One can begin to see the whole of the existing chapter 15 in 1 Corinthians as an orthodox attempt to make the debate with the Marcionite about something else than the baldness of 1 Cor 15:50.

Of course the question of where 1 Corinthians continued to after 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' is very difficult to solve.  Nevertheless, I am very convinced that the answer is quite obvious - the portion of our Epistle to the Galatians that Clement does end up citing (he only starts at Gal 2:19).  In other words, immediately after 1 Cor 15:50 the original Epistle to the Corinthians known to Clement's Alexandrian  community we would have found Gal 2:19 - 21, followed by Galatians chapter 3 and 4 and so on.

Here's a little clue from the writings of Clement that I will explain in greater deal later.  Let's see if the reader can see where I am going with all of this:

Does this, I ask, take place on the advent of this instruction? You cannot tell the time. For instruction leads to faith, and faith with baptism is trained by the Holy Spirit. For that faith is the one universal salvation of humanity, and that there is the same equality before the righteous and loving God, and the same fellowship between Him and all, the apostle most clearly showed, speaking to the following effect: "Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed, so that the law became our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith; but after that faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. [1] Do you not hear that we are no longer under that law which was accompanied with fear, but under the Word, the master of free choice? Then he subjoined the utterance, clear of all partiality: For you are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus." [2] There are not, then, in the same Word some illuminated (gnostics); and some animal (or natural) men; but all who have abandoned the desires of the flesh are equal and spiritual before the Lord. And again he writes in another place: For by one spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, and we have all drunk of one cup. [3] Nor were it absurd to employ the expressions of those who call the reminiscence of better things the filtration of the spirit, understanding by filtration the separation of what is baser, that results from the reminiscence of what is better. There follows of necessity, in him who has come to the recollection of what is better, repentance for what is worse. Accordingly, they confess that the spirit in repentance retraces its steps. In the same way, therefore, we also, repenting of our sins, renouncing our iniquities, purified by baptism, speed back to the eternal light, children to the Father. Jesus therefore, rejoicing in the spirit, said: I thank You, O Father, God of heaven and earth, that You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes; [4] the Master and Teacher applying the name babes to us, who are readier to embrace salvation than the wise in the world, who, thinking themselves wise, are inflated with pride. And He exclaims in exultation and exceeding joy, as if lisping with the children, Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Your sight. [5] Wherefore those things which have been concealed from the wise and prudent of this present world have been revealed to babes. Truly, then, are we the children of God, who have put aside the old man, and stripped off the garment of wickedness, and put on the immortality of Christ; that we may become a new, holy people by regeneration, and may keep the man undefiled. And a babe, as God's little one, is cleansed from fornication and wickedness. With the greatest clearness the blessed Paul has solved for us this question in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, writing thus: Brethren, be not children in understanding; howbeit in malice be children, but in understanding be men. [6] And the expression, When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child, [7] points out his mode of life according to the law, according to which, thinking childish things, he persecuted, and speaking childish things he blasphemed the Word, not as having yet attained to the simplicity of childhood, but as being in its folly; for the word νήπιον has two meanings. When I became a man, again Paul says, I put away childish things. [8] It is not incomplete size of stature, nor a definite measure of time, nor additional secret teachings in things that are manly and more perfect, that the apostle, who himself professes to be a preacher of childishness, alludes to when he sends it, as it were, into banishment; but he applies the name children to those who are under the law, who are terrified by fear as children are by bugbears; and men to us who are obedient to the Word and masters of ourselves, who have believed, and are saved by voluntary choice, and are rationally, not irrationally, frightened by terror. Of this the apostle himself shall testify, calling as he does the Jews heirs according to the first covenant, and us heirs according to promise [9]: Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors, till the time appointed by the father. So also we, when we were children, were in bondage under the rudiments of the world: but when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons by Him. [10] See how He has admitted those to be children who are under fear and sins; but has conferred manhood on those who are under faith, by calling them sons, in contradistinction from the children that are under the law: For you are no more a servant, he says, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. [11] What, then, is lacking to the son after inheritance? Wherefore the expression, When I was a child, may be elegantly expounded thus: that is, when I was a Jew (for he was a Hebrew by extraction) I thought as a child, when I followed the law; but after becoming a man, I no longer entertain the sentiments of a child, that is, of the law, but of a man, that is, of Christ, whom alone the Scripture calls man, as we have said before. I put away childish things. But the childhood which is in Christ is maturity, as compared with the law. Having reached this point, we must defend our childhood. And we have still to explain what is said by the apostle: I have fed you with milk (as children in Christ), not with meat; for you were not able, neither yet are you now able. [12] For it does not appear to me that the expression is to be taken in a Jewish sense; for I shall oppose to it also that Scripture, I will bring you into that good land which flows with milk and honey. [13] A very great difficulty arises in reference to the comparison of these Scriptures, when we consider. For if the infancy which is characterized by the milk is the beginning of faith in Christ, then it is disparaged as childish and imperfect. How is the rest that comes after the meat, the rest of the man who is perfect and endowed with knowledge, again distinguished by infant milk? Does not this, as explaining a parable, mean something like this, and is not the expression to be read somewhat to the following effect: I have fed you with milk in Christ; and after a slight stop, let us add, as children, that by separating the words in reading we may make out some such sense as this: I have instructed you in Christ with simple, true, and natural nourishment—namely, that which is spiritual: for such is the nourishing substance of milk swelling out from breasts of love. So that the whole matter may be conceived thus: As nurses nourish new-born children on milk, so do I also by the Word, the milk of Christ, instilling into you spiritual nutriment. Thus, then, the milk which is perfect is perfect nourishment, and brings to that consummation which cannot cease. Wherefore also the same milk and honey were promised in the rest. Rightly, therefore, the Lord again promises milk to the righteous, that the Word may be clearly shown to be both, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end; [14] the Word being figuratively represented as milk. Something like this Homer oracularly declares against his will, when he calls righteous men milk-fed (γαλακτοφάγοι). So also may we take the Scripture: And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ; [15] so that the carnal may be understood as those recently instructed, and still babes in Christ. For he called those who had already believed on the Holy Spirit spiritual, and those newly instructed and not yet purified carnal; whom with justice he calls still carnal, as minding equally with the heathen the things of the flesh: For whereas there is among you envy and strife, are you not carnal, and walk as men? [16] Wherefore also I have given you milk to drink, he says; meaning, I have instilled into you the knowledge which, from instruction, nourishes up to life eternal. But the expression, I have given you to drink (ἐπότισα), is the symbol of perfect appropriation. For those who are full-grown are said to drink, babes to suck. For my blood, says the Lord, is true drink. [17] In saying, therefore, I have given you milk to drink, has he not indicated the knowledge of the truth, the perfect gladness in the Word, who is the milk? And what follows next, not meat, for you were not able, may indicate the clear revelation in the future world, like food, face to face. For now we see as through a glass, the same apostle says, but then face to face. [18] Wherefore also he has added, neither yet are you now able, for you are still carnal, [19] minding the things of the flesh—desiring, loving, feeling jealousy, wrath, envy.  
[1] Galatians 3:23-25
[2] Galatians 3:26 - 28
[3] 1 Corinthians 12:13
[4] Luke 10:21
[5] Luke 10:21
[6] 1 Corinthians 14:20
[7] 1 Corinthians 13:11
[8] 1 Corinthians 13:11
[9] Galatians 3:29
[10] Galatians 4:1-5
[11] Galatians 4:7
[12] 1 Corinthians 3:2
[13] Exodus 3:8
[14] Revelation 1:8
[15] 1 Corinthians 3:1
[16] 1 Corinthians 3:3
[17] John 6:55
[18] 1 Corinthians 13:12
[19] 1 Corinthians 3:3

Email with comments or questions.

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