Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Information About Marcion and a New Quote From an Epistle of the Apostle to the Jews

I was reading Roger Pearse's newly commissioned fragment of De Lepra (which I inspired him to undertake after a conversation at the Freethought and Rationalism site).  The translation is here.  The original author is the shadowy figure of Methodius of Olympius, the work survives in Old Russian and has never before been translated into English (only German).  It is only a partial translation and Roger has placed it here.  In any event notice the reference to Marcion below and the citation of the letter of Paul to the Jews is below (is this from the Epistle to the Hebrews?).  I am busy at work and just posting this without doing too much analysis:

The holy Methodius, bishop of Olympus, to Sistelius, about leprosy.

I. [1] From where, o Eubulius? Apparently not from trying to understand how divine scripture should be interpreted?

For in the early morning someone belonging to Sistelius knocked on the door and when a boy opened it, he reported that Sistelius was summoning us to him. [2] And after I arose, I immediately departed. And when we were close to the dwelling, Sistelius walked towards me, embraced me and said: Having temporarily departed from us, you robbed us of the understanding of the scripture. For as a cloud that covers the sun prevents us from seeing the sun clearly, so as well, when good instruction goes away, the soul becomes dark and the meaning eclipsed. – And I answered him: You said (reported) this well.

And after we entered the house, we sat down. [3] And Sistelius said: Now then, let us see in the scripture truth itself! With a healing herb we remove this bad leprosy, with words and with medications reducing the damage, saying: “Stand up, you, who are sleeping, and stand up from the dead, and Christ will illuminate (enlighten) you.” [4] Now then is the time, he said, to raise your voice, that is to say explaining about the leprosy that is in the law, wherein the Lord commands us to interpret much in the law allegorically, to inform the one thirsting for the gift of God of . . . an ungrudging gift.

II. [1] At the same time, do not think that I will rebuff one who wishes to receive this gift of mercy, even if I am weak in deed and word; but he, who plants the words (thoughts (?) ) into the soul of each of us, will pull the bad roots out of our hearts and plant all virtues into our souls. [2] For when the nettle-like weed has dried out, then the flower of virtue blossoms. Which Christ now also compares allegorically to the “grain of mustard seed”, saying that it will bring a large stock to the of heaven. [3] For to begin with, descending to our weaknesses the divine seed of faith becomes small; once it falls into the furrows of the soul, it grows to greatness, it proceeds to the height of piety by spiritual contemplation. [4] And the Lord justifiably calls his father the planter of such a planting, for “every single plant”, he says, “which my father did not plant, will be (pulled out?)”. For understand, that he speaks not because of the plurality of souls, as some thought, but of the proper teachings and of god-fearing thoughts (words), which the industrious planter planted invisibly into our hearts, weeding out the improper plantings from our hearts, i.e., the bad thoughts and deeds. [5] For if we do not believe such, then we become the successors of the very lawless Marcion, who says that another is the good one instead of the true God, and therefore the souls of the creator of the world could not receive the promised good life, they were without the planting of the good. However, we do not want to take that into consideration now, for it is not time for this proceeding now.

III. [1] For you are right to say, that one shouldn’t hesitate and, now that the spiritual estate is being prepared by God, one should have strong fruits of wisdom, according to the words of the Apostle who says: “We are God’s field.” [2] For in order to keep the disease from spreading and to reveal it to everyone, we ought “to heal” through the songs of the gospel and see “if there is someone, who lacks God’s mercy, whether there is an upward growing root causing damage and whether many are becoming defiled”, the Apostle says, writing to the Jews.
BTW there are a great number of these old Russian texts of Methodius some of which give us more information about many of the heresiarchs including Valentinus.  Thanks again Roger!

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