Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Third Chapter in My New Book

A lot of things don't make sense in this world.  Take for instance of the stand of the Roman Catholic Church against 'same sex marriage.'  The community actively tells their members that their opposition is not rooted in bigotry.  They say they are forced in to their position to protect the sanctity of marriage.  Now let's think about the irony of this statement for a moment.  An all male priesthood that strictly prohibits its members from ever getting married is actively telling people the marital bond between a man and a woman is 'sacred.'  They might as well say - 'sacred for the rest of you, but not for us.'  

Most people count on their priest or pastor to tell them what it is that Christianity has always believed, what it has always practiced.  So it is generally presumed by most people that 'the Church' has always joined heterosexuals in marriage and condemned same sex unions of any kind.  It seems to be a 'no-brainer' to most people.  Christianity is rooted in Judaism,  Moses gave the Jews laws governing marriage and prohibiting homosexuality.  What could be more straightforward than that?

Of course this is all little more than the folly that American evangelicals have recently thrust onto what is essentially a Christian religion in decline.  We have long since lost track of why our ancestors believed what they did over a thousand years ago.  While it might seem to make sense that because many of the statements related to marriage in the Pentateuch might seem to lend themselves to a mystical understanding within Christianity - most notably Genesis 2:24 "that is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh" - there simply was little or no recognition of heterosexual marriage as something sacred in our earliest Christian sources.  The one exception being of course, the flatters of Demetrius in Alexandria at the turn of the third century.[1]

So how could a most influential religion like Christianity have a hostile attitude toward heterosexuality or at the very best one which exhibited profound indifference?   The arguments connecting Christianity with Judaism can only go so far as the two tradition interpreted common material in very different ways.  Judaism at its most basic, viewed sex as a blessing while earliest Christianity saw it largely as a sin.  Of course there is the ubiquitous claim of modern believers that 'fornication' - that is, sex out of the bonds of marriage - is what was properly objectionable to early Christianity.  Yet this is a gross misrepresentation of the actual situation.

For it is impossible to believe that if early Christianity intended human sexuality to be confined to marriage they would have developed something resembling a marriage 'sacrament.'  As one historian of early Christianity notes "marriage was arranged with the consent of the Church, according to the law of the Land. If the couple were both Christians, they probably received the bishop's or elder's benediction at the Lord's table. Holy, however, and awful (as a mystery, or sacrament) was Marriage itself, not its liturgical solemnization."[2]  Surely, it is impossible to believe that Jesus, the apostles or anyone in the early Church was actually advocating on behalf of the sanctity of the institutions of Roman civil law.  Yet this is exactly what people do when they argue for the 'sex is only bad if its out of wedlock' position.

So it is that we have demolished the most important argument developed by opponents of same sex marriage.  There was no such a thing as 'holy Christian matrimony' at the beginning of Christianity.  People were always getting married and having children.  Nevertheless marriage was seen as a difficulty - an obstacle if you will - with regards to developing your spirituality.  Moreover the Church - even the venerable Roman Catholic tradition - took the position that marriage was best left to the civil authorities.  Indeed for the first several centuries of its existence all marriages - even those between Christian couples - were civil unions.  The Church simply wasn't in the business of marrying heterosexuals.

Demetrius's marriage for instance was certainly done outside of the Egyptian Church.  The same kind of logic was being promoted in north Africa in the writings of Tertullian in the third century - "marriage good, celibacy better."  Yet Tertullian's interpretation seems to also to represent a novelty rather than established tradition.  We have no other early examples of a married bishop anywhere in Africa outside of these two examples (although Athanasius the Patriarch of Alexandria in the fourth century seems to have used Demetrius's example to argue that bishops could marry).  In spite of all of this the very idea of a married presbytery went wholly against the grain in the early Church.  So Jerome makes clear that it was the universal regulation of the East, of Egypt, and of Rome to ordain only those who were unmarried, or who ceased to be husbands.[3]

So now at last we settle upon the Roman Catholic rejection of marriage - a practice that has continued into the modern age.  There are no examples of Popes who ruled the Church with wives at their side.  There were of course a handful of officials who were widowers or put aside their wives in order to enter into the priesthood.  Pope Siricius (384–399) left his wife and children to become Pope.  Pope St. Agatho (678–681) was married for twenty years as a layman and had one daughter. In maturity he followed a call to God. With his wife’s blessing he became a monk at the monastery of Saint Hermes in Palermo. It is thought his wife entered a convent.  Pope Adrian II (867–872) was married before he took Holy Orders, to a woman called Stephania, and had a daughter. His wife and daughter were still living when he was elected Pope and resided with him in the Lateran Palace. They were murdered by Eleutherius, brother of Anastasius Bibliothecarius, the Church's chief librarian.

Nevertheless it has to be said that there is a clear tradition in the Roman Catholic Church - one which was originally shared by the Alexandrian and north African traditions, that priests and Popes were forbidden to be married. As early as the third century we see a Pope being accused of corrupting this celibate tradition.  Yet the charges are wholly overblown and sensationalist in nature.[4]  If women were always kept away from the priests in Rome, it is worth at least investigating the possibility that the tradition may have been open to establishing some sort of ritualized syzygy between men.  Of course such a suggestion sounds scandalous when made in the context of the current debate about same sex partnerships yet it is a line of investigation which has never gained much traction in scholarly research.

It may be proper then to delicately ask the question - where should one begin to look for two men yoked in some sort of union at the beginning of the Roman Catholic tradition?  There are just so many famous figures; the task might seem rather daunting.  After all how much information do we really have about the Church of St Peter?  And then it dawns on us.  While it is commonly referenced as Peter's church, the earliest authorities actually describe Rome as the joint possession of St Peter and St Paul.  Could the twin apostles Peter and Paul be the divinely sanctioned syzygy between male members of the Church totally overlooked by researchers into the early tradition?

What is so astounding when you look at the evidence from antiquity is how consistently they are represented as a mystical couple.  Irenaeus for instance - a man who did more to define 'orthodoxy' than any other human being in the history of Christianity clearly and repeatedly speaks of "Peter and Paul preaching at Rome" rather than merely Peter.  His near contemporary Dionysius of Corinth similarly speaks of those "joined in close union the churches that were planted by Peter and Paul, that of the Romans and that of the Corinthians:  for both of them went to our Corinth, and taught us in the same way as they taught you when they went to Italy; and having taught you, they suffered martyrdom at the same time."[5]  Moreover a group of heretics witnessed in Rome but originally from Alexandria are said to join their disciples souls in union "superior to his disciples Peter and Paul ... and in no respect inferior to Jesus."[6]

The source for story about the so-called 'Carpocratian sect' included a bishops list for the Roman see which began with "Peter and Paul."  The same list was undoubtedly used by Irenaeus when he wrote in his classic work Against Heresies in the last generation of the second century that "the universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops."  His purpose clearly was to distinguish this tradition which was fully sanctioned by the Roman state with the "perverse opinion [of those who] assemble in unauthorized meetings" - namely those aforementioned Carpocratians but also other sects as well.[7]

It is very significant for us to take notice of the fact that both Roman and Alexandrian traditions took some sort of interest in uniting two men in a mystical syzygy.  The main difference is clearly that the heretics continued to engage in this practice in the present day (and were thus 'heretics' in effect) while the Roman tradition simply venerated one such divine pairing from the distant past - viz. 'Peter and Paul.'  One can see in many ways the same thing happening with respect to Jesus too.  A pathos of distance between 'us' the believers and 'them' the holy men or divine spirits is beginning to set in.

Not withstanding this observation it is worth referencing the fact that the Roman Church was clearly never originally understood to one man's see but rather belonged to a syzygy, that of Peter and Paul.  Indeed it is often overlooked that in the last quote from Irenaeus he goes on to speak of a line of bishops emerging from "Peter and Paul" rather than just Peter.  Irenaeus develops the idea that Linus was the first bishop of Rome but that even this seems to be something of a misunderstanding of the original list.  For the fourth century Church Father Epiphanius seems to infer another pair immediately followed - that of "Linus and Cletus."[8]  Moreover, while Clement appears next all alone in the Roman list his 'pair' seems to have been the imaginary and now unnamed bishop of Corinth (probably Dionysius 17:34) with whom he had a long and utterly fabulous correspondence.[9]

In other words, if we pay careful attention both "Linus and Cletus" and Clement and his partner can be identified as successors the each of the original divine syzygy of the Church of Rome.  For Linus is always identified as the Linus in 2 Timothy 4:21 just as Tertullian says that Cletus rather than Linus was the heir of St Peter.  The only reason people ever started to say that Linus succeeded Peter was because of the attempt to establish a single line of succession in Rome.  Moreover Clement was Peter's well established disciple no less than Dionysius was associated with Paul.

Indeed this idea that there were two bishops associated with each of "Peter and Paul" seems to have continued down into the third century.  When for instance Hippolytus attacked Pope Callistus at the beginning of the third century he did so as a bishop of Rome in his own right.[10] Similarly the equally famous Gaius of Rome writing at about the same time Irenaeus not only speaks of "Peter and Paul" being the founders of the Roman Church - "And I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you choose to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Road, you will find the trophies of those who founded this church" - but was himself identified with the title the "bishop of the nations."[11] This is unmistakably a sign that he was the heir of the Pauline chair which looked after all of the church as compared we must presume with Peter having jurisdiction over the churches of Italy.  

The important thing for us to see is that these shrines of Peter and Paul were originally associated with two different Christian groups in two different parts of Rome.[12]  They were ultimately venerated as a cult of twins, a divine syzygy which transcended physical distance.  It is hard not to believe that this Roman cult was developed from an original Alexandrian model identifying Peter and Mark as adoptive 'brothers.'   The original model in Alexandria must have been the pairing of Moses and Aaron in the Book of Exodus or perhaps even the mystical relationship between God and his Word.[13]  It is difficult to now how this idea was transplanted to Rome but the aforementioned Carpocratians are one possibility.  There were also Valentinians in the capitol in the early second century and they are said to have taken a special interest in the pairing of Peter and Paul.[14]   

In any case as we shall demonstrate in our next chapter, the point of origin of this twin doctrine may well have been Alexandria.  Origen similarly likens Peter and Paul to angels and makes a point of saying that both men now have identical 'spiritual natures' - they are one soul in two bodies.[15]  This Alexandrian - or later 'Origenist' - idea diffused into a great many writings of the Church Fathers in the fourth and fifth centuries.  One author who developed this notions was Gregory of Nyssa.[16]  The tradition was also passed along on 'Origenist monks' who settled in the Mar Saba monastery in Palestine in the fifth century.  So John Cassian certainly makes reference to the same interpretation of Peter and Paul participating in one divine nature. 

Nevertheless the mystical doctrine receives its fullest expression in the writings of John of Damascus. John had access to the Mar Saba library's excellent theological library in the eight century and could express those original ideas in ways which were unthinkable centuries earlier (mostly as a result of Islamic rather than Christian governors now keeping the peace).  So it is very interesting to see John make absolutely explicit that the divine pair:

Peter and Paul are not counted as separate individuals in so far as they are one. For since they are one in respect of their essence they cannot be spoken of as two natures, but as they differ in respect of subsistence they are spoken of as two subsistences. So that number deals with differences, and just as the differing objects differ from one another so far they are enumerated.  The natures of the Lord, then, are united without confusion so far as regards subsistence, and they are divided without separation according to the method and manner of difference. And it is not according to the manner in which they are united that they are enumerated, for it is not in respect of subsistence that we hold that there are two natures of Christ: but according to the manner in which they are divided without separation they are enumerated, for it is in respect of the method and manner of difference that there are two natures of Christ. For being united in subsistence and permeating one another, they are united without confusion, each preserving throughout its own peculiar and natural difference ...  For things which differ from each other in no respect cannot be enumerated, but just so far as they differ are they enumerated; for instance, Peter and Paul are not enumerated in those respects in which they are one: for being one in respect of their essence they are not two natures nor are they so spoken of.[17] 

Of course this is an incredibly bold portrait of Peter and Paul.  It makes clear what we only get in bits in pieces from other sources.  Peter and Paul essentially sharing the divine nature of Christ because of their union. Yet John does not make explicit how it was that the two were 'paired' in the first place.  This seems to be a secret than none of the Christian mystics want to give up.  

We can hear lots of the same mystic language from John later in the same work.  At one point he notes for instance that while Peter is seen to be separate from Paul to the uninitiated observer, to those who have undergone a similar experience and been initiated into the divine mysteries "the community and connection and unity are apprehended by reason and thought. For it is by the mind that we perceive that Peter and Paul are of the same nature and have one common nature. For both are living creatures, rational and mortal: and both are flesh, endowed with the spirit of reason and understanding. It is, then, by reason that this community of nature is observed."[18]

As noted earlier, these ideas were clearly not of John's own invention but go back to various 'Origenist' writers since the later second century.  Gregory of Nyssa again notes at one point in his debate with the neo-Arian Eunomius his opponent calls members of his tradition "rash for instancing the unity of nature and difference of persons of Peter and Paul, and says we are guilty of gross recklessness, if we apply our argument to the contemplation of the objects of pure reason by the aid of material examples."[19]  Of course Gregory and members of the tradition always avoided acknowledging that they secretly 'syzygized' their members into same sex pairs.  More specifically we can see from a survey of their literature dating back to Origen that they avoided coming out and admitting that 'syzygized' men like Peter and Paul were co-equals with Christ.  It certainly had a heretical ring to it.  It also seems to echo what we just read in the early report about the practices of the Carpocratians in Rome.  

Indeed as we have already noted, what we begin to see happening over time is the 'safe' veneration of one particular syzygized male couple - that of Peter and Paul - above all others.  There certainly were others outside of Rome - Cyrus and John, Sergius and Bacchus, Philip and Bartholomew, Cosmas and Damian, George and Demetrius, the two Theodores - just to name a few who cult 'caught on' in the later period.  The underlying idea which was being systematically repressed was clearly that syzygized men together became the living embodiment of Christ.  The process of 'being syzygized' helped transform these ordinary individuals into something especially holy.  It was a divine pattern established by Jesus himself.

So it is that Theodoret writing in the fifth century in his Ecclesiastical History explicitly makes reference to the divine pairing of Peter and Paul as brothers or 'yokefellows' (syzygoi).  This language certainly takes us back to the discussions we saw earlier in Clement of Alexandria and related Alexandrian writers with respect to the spiritual equivalent of 'marriage' for men.  The only difference now is that this divine syzygy is said to have been established between Peter and Paul at their meeting at Antioch described in the canonical Acts of the Apostles.  For Theodoret writes that the Antiochenes during the persecutions of the pagan Emperor Julian in the fourth century endured only because they "had received their divine teaching from the glorious syzygoi Peter and Paul, and were full of warm affection for the Master and Saviour of all, persisted in execrating Julian to the end."[20]

The fact that Peter and Paul are described as a 'syzygy' certainly goes back to the second century.  As noted we have already seen how important the idea was to the early Alexandrian tradition.  Yet the notion already made its way to Rome at a very early date.  Not only were there Valentinians in Rome and outside of the capitol influencing Roman Christianity in the early second century, we learn that Tatian, the disciple of Justus the philosopher said that "several divine beings and several invisible aeons; everything is a mixture of good and evil, because everything lives in syzygy." [21]  While there is no direct mention of a Peter and Paul pairing here it is important to note that the veneration of syzygized men certainly predated the cult of these two saints.  Indeed this was instead the one specifically sanctioned example of a phenomena that went back to the beginnings of Christianity.  

Indeed the concept undoubtedly began with the much more primitive notion that one chosen disciple of Jesus was joined with him to become a single divine syzygy.  We see one of the clearest living examples of this original phenomenon being perpetuated into the third century Mesopotamian environment with the rise of Mani the leader of the Manichaean church.  We read over and over again in the early Manichaean writings about Mani associating with divine powers and in particular one described as his 'syzygos' (his Twin, Companion or guardian angel also his 'syzyg'). [22] This power turned out to be Mani’s special protector who granted him a special revelation at the completion of his twenty fourth year. [23] 

The story goes that after Mani became 'syzygized' with his twin he broke with the particular Jewish Christian baptismal sect he grew up in.  This Syzygos figure was ultimately identified as 'Jesus the Splendour' yet scholars are pretty certain that Mani himself was just mining an established apostolic tradition that seems to have been especially popular in the East - that of the Edessan cult of Judas called 'the twin' (= Thomas).  The tradition that Jesus had a special relationship with a twin named Judas survives in the Syriac Acts of Judas Thomas among other texts.  The likelihood is that in the Semitic Christian tradition this disciple Judas, rather than Simon, became the original foundation of the Church.[24]

The point then is that  we have at least two wholly independent traditions demonstrating that the divine syzygy concept was established by Jesus among his apostles.  While the Manichaean texts use different terms for this being - 'the Nous' (= Mind), Paraclete etc - the basic idea in this tradition is always the same.  As noted the Syzygos, Mani's alter ego, was sent to him from heaven:  this Twin brought Mani the revelation by reminding him of his divine nature and mission; and, like his guardian angel, he protected him.[25]  These details were certainly appropriated from the cult of Judas.  In the West by contrast we see the 'passing on' of the ritual syzygizing of pairs of disciples after Jesus but no mention any longer - or at least until relatively recently - of the original act of Jesus pairing with his one beloved disciple.  

It is worth noting that the Pauline Epistles themselves do make reference to the apostle's syzygos in Philippians 4:3 - "I ask you, my true syzygos, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel ... whose names are in the book of life."  Scholars have never agreed who or what this syzygos was.  Some ancient sources argue that this is a reference to Paul's wife.[26]  Nevertheless it is hard not to see this reference was originally taken by at least some sectarians to be a reference to the supernatural Jesus.  In other words, Paul like Mani and Judas before him was 'partnered' in some way with Jesus.[27]

The idea that Paul by making reference to his syzygos was alluding to a female companion derives once again from the third century Alexandrian attempts to flatter Demetrius.  Modern scholarship dismisses the possibility that this syzygos was female.[28]  Nevertheless it points to the desperation among third century Alexandrians to find a precedent for what was happening to their see.  It is worth noting that it was in Alexandria after all that the gnostics blamed the creation of the world on a male-female syzygy.  This idea is reinforced throughout the earliest Catholic reports on the beliefs of the heresies and is reflected in the recently rediscovered gnostic writings at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in such texts as the Sophia of Jesus Christ or the Apocyphon of John.  The latter work, for instance presents the myth that Wisdom wanted to reveal her image out of herself without the assent of her male syzygos. She brought forth because of her wantonness, prounikos. Her work, as a result was corrupt and in need of redemption.

It is impossible to read these fables as anything other than a disguised attack on what we might call 'heterosexualism.'  In other words, it is part of a broader attack of certain men who eschewed members of the opposite sex and actively promoted the same sex unions they took on at baptism.  If women can be saved, the argument was made, they must 'unsex' themselves in the manner of Lady MacBeth's famous soliloquy.  We see for instance the very early Egyptian gospels cited with apparent approval by Clement of Alexandria which idealize the sterilization of women.  Moreover it is also very telling that when Jerome finally turns his back on Origenism he makes specific reference to a very heretical sounding myth which makes reference to both the pairing of 'Peter and Paul' and the unsexing of women.

Jerome declares that his "researches have reached this result, that you must believe and hold the resurrection of the flesh in this sense that men’s bodies will be turned into spirits and their wives into men; and that before the foundation of the world souls existed in heaven, and thence, for reasons known to God alone, were brought down into this valley of tears, and were inserted into this body of death; that, in the end of the ages the whole of nature, being reasonable, will be fashioned again into one body as it was in the beginning, that man will be recalled into Paradise, and the apostate angel will be exalted above Peter and Paul, since they, being but men, must be placed in the lower position of paradise, while he will be restored to be that which he was originally created; and that all shall together make up the Church of the first born in heaven, and, while placed each in his separate office, shall be equally members of Christ: but all of them taken together will be the perfect body of Christ."[29]

It is very important to take note of the fact that Jerome is here revealing for the first time all the secrets he has been hiding during his life as a crypto-Christian.  For years he has hidden the true nature of the Alexandrian doctrine that brought him into the Christian faith.  Yet now, in the midst of the so-called 'Origenist controversies' which raged throughout the fifth century, he was openly exposing what he claimed was the central myth to the tradition which dated at least as far back as the time of Clement.  The reference to the repentant apostate angel being superior to Peter and Paul seems to echo statements made in the second century about the Carpocratian sect by a Roman source.  However by far the most interesting statement is the tradition promised to turn men's bodies into spirit and their wives into men.  In effect this is the clearest statement that 'spiritual men' were understood to be united with other 'spiritual men' in the neo-Alexandrian faith.[30]  

It is clear then that all early Christians agreed that women had to become male to be perfected.  Yet this is only a statement about 'progress' as Philo of Alexandria termed it at the very dawn of the tradition.[31]  If Christians were claiming to embody perfection themselves it would stand to reason that their partners could only be male.  A man and a woman 'marriage' would necessarily represent the repudiation of Christian 'progress' over Judaism.  So it is that we should go back and view the early Roman depiciton of the divine pairing of Peter and Paul as the crystalization of the Alexandrian same sex ideal.  It was not part of the development of the doctrine but rather an officially sanctioned representation of what was by the end of the second century the quintessence of Christian doctrine.

The official understanding was clearly based on the ideas in the canonical Acts of the Apostles (one may even argue that the pairing in Acts was modeled after Alexandrianism).  In essence then, there is a pre-existing notion that Jesus had become the syzygos of Simon Peter.  Peter in turn was supposed to have become 'yoked' to Paul and this pair was essentially hijacked from Antioch to the Roman capitol sometime in the mid to late second century.  By the third century the cult of heavenly twins was the most basic expression of Roman Christianity.  It proved to other traditions outside of Rome that its tradition was the embodiment of Christianity per se given that all Christianities of this time were developments of the sacredness of divinely sanctioned same sex unions.

As already mentioned the only thing new that the Roman tradition added to the mix was the emphasis of the sanctity of the 'Peter and Paul' syzygy rather than any other more ancient apostolic pairing.  In other words, the Edessan claim that Judas had become Jesus's twin, that Simon was the living spokesmen for Jesus after the resurrection and even the traditional Alexandrian pairing of pairing of Peter and Mark were ultimately either destroyed or obscured by this artificial late second century pious fabrication.  It was the most perfect embodiment of the "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" principle. Indeed most of the work which has been done of the alleged 'battle' between the Roman 'orthodoxy' and the heresies beyond the capitol fundamentally mistakes the rooting of Catholicism in gnostic principles.

To this end when we see the idea expressed over and over again that Peter and Paul established as 'one divine nature' it is only a conscious adaptation of pre-existent 'heretical' assumptions about same sex syzygies.  The only transformation now is that rather than Jim and John becoming Christ together, the exemplars of same sex unions are safely tucked away in the distant past.  Indeed a careful examination of the various writings cannot escape the notion that syzygy of Peter and Paul has actually replaced Jesus as the head of the Church.  After all, the Jerusalem Church could claim that Jesus 'founded' something in Jerusalem.  Yet Jesus never visited Rome, never visited Antioch or Alexandria.  There is a reason why heads of companies or important dignitaries lay the foundation stone of a building or smash a bottle of champagne at bow of a ship.  It simply comes down to the principle that being there matters.

To this end it is the primal Peter and Paul syzygy rather than Jesus which is consistently identified as the 'father(s)' of all the believers of the Roman church.  This is certainly why Irenaeus represents the line of Patriarchs of Rome to have come from them.  Yet the underlying sense here goes beyond merely establishing a more perfect recreation of a chain of syzygies.   There is still a wisp of the most primitive understanding that 'Christ' is present wherever two men come together in his name.[32]

So for instance we see in some of the earliest Catholic writings the notion that Peter and Paul 'speak together' and 'work together' as Christ.  Ignatius of Antioch makes reference to concept with respect to the statement "Peter and Paul who issue orders unto" the Church of Rome.[33]  Note of course that one of the cornerstones of the Catholic scriptures - here very distinct from the earlier heretical canon - that Paul somehow became of one mind with Peter.  Indeed many readers simply read through these references to 'becoming of one mind' in the early literature not recognizing that 'mind' (= Gk. nous) was another way of saying God the Father.  

The mystical act of Peter and Paul coming to one mind is yet another way of expressing their communion of spirit - or indeed as the Alexandrians originally had it, one spiritual substance.  Because their flesh was transformed their minds changed too.  What is also commonly misunderstood is that their supposed 'interest' in the dispute between Peter and Paul which precedes their concord was completely the invention of the Church Fathers.  The earlier traditions simply assumed that while Peter and Paul were of one substance, they represented different authorities within the heavenly household. Peter as aforementioned had jurisdiction over the 'psychic' church in Rome while Paul looked beyond to the greater 'spiritual' matters which were of interest to an elite group within all Christian communities spread across the world. 

To this end, with respect to the development of the gospel the original understanding was such that 'Peter and Paul' jointly composed the text.  The third century's Anatolius of Alexandria for instance speaks of "the successors of Peter and Paul, who have taught all the churches in which they sowed the spiritual seeds of the Gospel."[34]  Similarly Pope Leo in the fifth century speaks of the "progenitors" at Rome "who learnt the Gospel of the Cross of Christ from the very mouth of the most blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."[35]  In other words - and this is critical - despite the fact that Peter and Paul labored separately for the most part in their careers, 'the Gospel' as such was developed from the synergy of their working together.  It was not Peter's gospel, it was not Paul's gospel - 'the Gospel' - represents the mixing of their teachings in the same way as the sacramental cup was part water and part wine.[36]

So the slightly earlier third century Latin Church Father Tertullian speaks of "Peter and Paul" mystically establishing the gospel together "from the very beginning" and which "which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles."[37]  Which Church might you ask?  The answer should by now be obvious - "what utterance also the Romans give, so very near to whom Peter and Paul conjointly bequeathed the gospel even sealed with their own blood."   Most scholarship seems to get sidetracked with respect to understanding this mystical symbiosis between Peter and Paul in the early Church.  This is principally due to the fact that this statement comes in a work directed against a particularly important heretic named Marcion who interestingly enough was profoundly influential in Rome.[38]

It is commonly claimed that followers of Marcion 'hated' Peter and 'only loved' Paul.  Yet there is no credible evidence from the Church Fathers which supports this view.  Instead the Marcionites may well have simply had offensive ideas about the implications of the divine syzygy established between two apostles.  For if we turn to the parallel discussion in another one of Tertullian's treatises the objectionable belief of these heretics is spelled out a little differently.  The heretics claim that Peter and Paul had different roles in the development of the gospel.  Something was lacking in Peter's understanding which was completed by Paul or as Tertullian characterizes it "that a fuller knowledge might afterwards have come to them, such as came to Paul who blamed his predecessors."[39]

In other words, according to the now 'heretical' model, Peter came along and first introduced a gospel which Paul developed more spiritually or as Tertullian again expresses it "another form of Gospel was introduced by Paul beside that which Peter and the rest had previously put forth."  To this end it was not a case of the heretics 'slighting' Peter per se but rather the orthodox taking exception to the view that Peter was somehow only capable of lesser revelation.  The controversy seems in many ways very similar to the debate over the relationship of the Father to the Son in the fourth century - and there is very good reason for this apparent likeness.  This is because the original model for Peter and Paul was that of Moses and Aaron and they in turn were consistently likened by early Alexandrian writers to the relationship between the heavenly powers of Mind and Word (= nous and logos).

We shall develop this concept much more fully in what follows but for the moment it is enough to say that like all relationship, pairing does not mean absolute equality.  In a marriage there is inevitably 'the producer' (i.e. the one who works or makes more money) and the 'nurturer' (i.e. the one who directs where that potential energy is 'actualized').  In the divine household there was God Almighty, the source of everything and his viceroy, the creative Word who had the job of directing his creation.

It is important to note that Peter and Paul are likened to Moses and Aaron in Roman Christian representations as early as the fourth century.  Indeed the earliest identification to this effect appears in the Second Epistle of Clement on Virginity perhaps dating to the close of the second century.  The idea also shows up in later accounts of the apostle's paired martyrdom.  Here Paul is clearly Aaron and after arriving in Rome, he appeals to the Jews who rejected Peter's teachings about the law to be obedient to their new Moses.  As the Blackwell Companion on Paul notes "art historians, noting the apostles' frequent pairing, have suggested possible iconographic prototypes, including Rome's other founding duo, Romulus and Remus."[40]  The motif, usually referred to as the concordia apostolorum, shows them in a tight embrace.  

A fourth-century version of this motif was discovered in the recent excavations of the catacomb of the 'ex-vigna Chiaraviglio,' near the Basilica of San Sebastiano, possibly associated with the memoria to the apostles at that site.  We are told that:

Two palm trees, standing on either side of the apostles, attest to their coming martyrdom as they lock arms in greeting. Another early example of this theme, on an early fifth-century ivory belt buckle discovered beneath the cathedral of Castellammare di Stabia (30 km southeast of Naples), shows the two leaning in toward one another, their cheeks touching and their arms entwined. This particular composition may have been influenced by a painting in Rome's fourth-century basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura (destroyed  by fire in 1823). Here, Paul and Peter's meeting was the final fresco on the north wall, ending a series of forty episodes on the life of Paul and concluding a biblical cycle that made brotherhood one of its unifying themes by depicting Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, and Moses and Aaron. One of the scenes of Moses and Aaron portrayed the two brothers embracing – perhaps an intentional allusion to the concordia apostolorum.[41]

It is also interesting to note that at the very moment the paintings were being completed, the Church Father Gaudentius of Brescia preserved the same ideas in writing.  Gaudentius emphasized the analogous, fraternal relationships, citing the line of Psalm 133:1, “Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity" and as “twins” born from one spiritual womb, “blood brothers,” siblings by a communion of blood.[42]  

Of course in the original model for the Church of Rome in the second century, Peter was the bishop of the Roman Church, the first bishop of the first see.  Paul on the other hand seems to have founded the office of the 'bishop of the nations' whose representative may have had the job of ensuring that all the churches worked together.[43]  Like Moses and Aaron they were likened to the heavenly lights of the sun and the moon who illuminated the day and night and ultimately only 'coming together' (= synodos) at the beginning of the lunar cycle.[44]  Indeed in later literature related to their martyrdom the two twin lights are miraculously understood to have died on the same day but in two different place in Rome to illustrate their mystical symbiosis.[45] 

As we have noted many times in our discussion the Christian cult of the heavenly twins was not rooted in Rome.  There is good reason to believe that the mystical interpretation of Peter and Paul's role in the Roman Church was deliberately cultivated in the second century a specific political purpose.  Given all that we have demonstrated so far it would seem almost certain that the Roman model was highly influenced, or perhaps more accurately - went out of its way to co-opt - the original Alexandrian interpretation of Peter and Mark as contemporary Moses and Aaron figures.  In other words, the pairing of Peter and Paul was a conscious mythical fabrication to remold the primary divine syzygy away from its native soil in Alexandria.[46]  It was above all else a political contrivance developed for the benefit of Roman hegemony.  

This understanding was recognized by the nineteenth century French scholar Ernst Renan described the situation as follows.  "It was admitted that Peter and Paul had been the two chiefs, the two founders of the Church of Rome, and thus they became the two halves of an inseparable couple, two luminaries like the sun and the moon. What one taught, the other taught also; they were always agreed, they combated the same enemies, were both victims of the perfidies of Simon Magus; at Rome, they lived like two brothers, the Church of Rome was their common work. Thus the supremacy of that Church was founded for centuries."[47]  This understanding absolutely fundamental to understand what principles Christianity has always been rooted in.  As noted in our introduction, there is no room for claiming that opposite sex pairing was sacred in any way.  The twin apostles served as a reminder that divinity was only to be found in same sex syzygies.  

In the words of the Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul,"we have believed, and do believe, that as God does not separate the two great lights which He has made, so He is not to part you from each other, that is, neither Peter from Paul, nor Paul from Peter; but we positively believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, into whom we have been baptized, that we have become worthy also of your teaching."

[1] cf. Clement Stromata 3.6.52
[4] The accuser's name was Hippolytus, a famous Church Father.  The accused was Callistus, a figure we saw in our last chapter as an associated with third century Pope decry his allowing "bishops, priests, and deacons, who had been twice married, and thrice married, began to be allowed to retain their place among the clergy" or indeed to allow "any one who is in holy orders should become married ... to continue in holy orders as if he had not sinned."  The critic here is the famous Roman Church Father Hippolytus and his target was the sitting Pope named Callistus.  The argument being made by Hippolytus is that Callistus is becoming too lax with respect to keeping heterosexuality outside of the Church.  There is absolutely no room in the Church of Rome for a presbyter who is currently married.
[6] For their souls, descending from the same sphere as his, and therefore despising in like manner the creators of the world, are deemed worthy of the same power, and again depart to the same place. But if any one shall have despised the things in this world more than he did, he thus proves himself superior to him.
[7] Indeed Epiphanius struggles to make the numbers work the original list used by Irenaeus.  For he notes that the primitive chronology said that "Linus and Cletus were bishops for twelve years each after the death of Saints Peter and Paul in the twelfth year of Nero."  Yet something was bothering Epiphanius about the original list for he suggests that they might have ruled in Rome while Peter and Paul were ministering and then come back after their deaths.  What may have given Irenaeus, Epiphanius and everyone else that ever tried to establish a single
[12] The distinction between the Petrine "bishop of Rome" and the Pauline "bishop of the nations" is very significant as it seems to be reflected in the canonical Acts of the Apostles and related Pauline epistles.  Paul is after all "the apostle to the nations" (Romans 1:15, 11:13, Galatians 2:8).  He is portrayed in Acts as establishing churches all over the world while Peter does not.   These was probably some visible sign or memorial to each apostle in the city of Rome to which Gaius is referring.  Some such monuments are known to have existed before Constantine.  The location of these objects were likely only known to the faithful.  Much later these trophies became the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul.  Indeed about the middle of the third century, in fact, there appeared two bodies which became venerated as those of the Apostles, and which likely came from the the catacombs of the Appian Way, which was contained many Jewish cemeteries. In the fourth century these corpses reposed in the neighborhood of the “two trophies.” Above these “trophies” were then raised two basilicas of which one had become the present basilica of St. Peter and of which the other, St. Paul-beyond-the-Walls, have kept their essential forms until our day.
[14] Irenaeus 4::35 on the Valentinians - Therefore let them not any longer assert that Peter and Paul and the other apostles proclaimed the truth, but that it was the scribes and Pharisees, and the others, through whom the law was propounded. But if, at His advent, He sent forth His own apostles in the spirit of truth, and not in that of error, He did the very same also in the case of the prophets; for the Word of God was always the self-same: and if the Spirit from the Pleroma was, according to these men’s system, the Spirit of light, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of perfection, and the Spirit of knowledge, while that from the Demiurge was the spirit of ignorance, degeneracy, and error, and the offspring of obscurity; how can it be, that in one and the same being there exists perfection and defect, knowledge and ignorance, error and truth, light and darkness?
[15] Origen - so that to one angel the Church of the Ephesians was to be entrusted; to another, that of the Smyrnæans; one angel was to be Peter’s, another Paul’s; and so on through every one of the little ones that are in the Church, for such and such angels as even daily behold the face of God must be assigned to each one of them;2061 and there must also be some angel that encampeth round about them that fear God.2062  All of which things, assuredly, it is to be believed, are not performed by accident or chance, or because they (the angels) were so created, lest on that view the Creator should be accused of partiality; but it is to be believed that they were conferred by God, the just and impartial Ruler of all things, agreeably to the merits and good qualities and mental vigour of each individual spirit.
2.  And now let us say something regarding those who maintain the existence of a diversity of spiritual natures, that we may avoid falling into the silly and impious fables of such as pretend that there is a diversity of spiritual natures both among heavenly existences and human souls, and for that reason allege that they were called into being by different creators; for while it seems, and is really, absurd that to one and the same Creator should be ascribed the creation of different natures of rational beings, they are nevertheless ignorant of the cause of that diversity.  For they say that it seems inconsistent for one and the same Creator, without any existing ground of merit, to confer upon some beings the power of dominion, and to subject others again to authority; to bestow a principality upon some, and to render others subordinate to rulers.  Which opinions indeed, in my judgment, are completely rejected by following out the reasoning explained above, and by which it was shown that the cause of the diversity and variety among these beings is due to their conduct, which has been marked either with greater earnestness or indifference, according to the goodness or badness of their nature, and not to any partiality on the part of the Disposer.  But that this may more easily be shown to be the case with heavenly beings, let us borrow an illustration from what either has been done or is done among men, in order that from visible things we may, by way of consequence, behold also things invisible.
Paul and Peter are undoubtedly proved to have been men of a spiritual nature .. those, viz., who have been made the sons of God, or the children of the resurrection, or who have abandoned the darkness, and have loved the light, and have been made children of the light; or those who, proving victorious in every struggle, and being made men of peace, have been the sons of peace, and the sons of God; or those who, mortifying their members on the earth, and, rising above not only their corporeal nature, but even the uncertain and fragile movements of the soul itself, have united themselves to the Lord, being made altogether spiritual, that they may be for ever one spirit with Him, discerning along with Him each individual thing, until they arrive at a condition of perfect spirituality, and discern all things by their perfect illumination in all holiness through the word and wisdom of God, and are themselves altogether undistinguishable by any one.
[16] A third century forgery in the name of Ignatius speaks of "Clement, a hearer of Peter and Paul."\
[17] Augustine reports the existence of books in Rome written by Jesus which "bore on their front, in the form of epistolary superscription, a designation addressed to Peter and Paul" instructing them on how to perform miracles.
[22] (CMC 13.2; 101.14 and probably—cf. ZPE 58 1985 53—133.12)
[23] (CMC 17.8 ff.; 73.5–6)
[30] “Let us men then cherish our wives, and let our souls cherish our bodies, in such a way as that wives may be turned into men and bodies into spirits, and that there may be no difference of sex, but that, as among the angels there is neither male nor female, so we, who are to be like the angels, may begin to be on earth what it is promised that we shall be in heaven.”
[33] And thou who hadst been frightened by the high priest’s maid in the house of Caiaphas, hadst no fear of Rome the mistress of the world.  Was there any less power in Claudius, any less cruelty in Nero than in the judgment of Pilate or the Jews’ savage rage?  So then it was the force of love that conquered the reasons for fear:  and thou didst not think those to be feared whom thou hadst undertaken to love.  But this feeling of fearless affection thou hadst even then surely conceived when the profession of thy love for the Lord was confirmed by the mystery of the thrice-repeated question.  And nothing else was demanded of this thy earnest purpose than that thou shouldst bestow the food wherewith thou hadst thyself been enriched, on feeding His sheep whom thou didst love.
[37] Interestingly Irenaeus never makes the connection between Peter and Paul's preaching in the capitol and the development of the first gospel.  The idea comes forward instead that Matthew emerged first while the two were busy establishing 'the foundation of the Church' (sans gospel apparently) and Peter's preaching became the Gospel of Mark and Paul's the Gospel of Luke.  Yet this was clearly not necessarily the original conception.  What sort of a gospel is this that could be perfectly preached by both Peter and Paul independent of one another?  The Church Father Lactantius writing at the turn of the fourth century speaks of the "gospel" preached by the two apostles in the following terms.  Jesus "opened to them all things which were about to happen, which Peter and Paul preached at Rome; and this preaching being written for the sake of remembrance, became permanent, in which they both declared other wonderful things, and also said that it was about to come to pass that after a short time God would send against them a king who would subdue the Jews, and level their cities to the ground, and besiege the people themselves, worn out with hunger and thirst. Then it should come to pass that they should feed on the bodies of their own children, and consume one another. Lastly, that they should be taken captive, and come into the hands of their enemies, and should see their wives most cruelly harassed before their eyes, their virgins ravished and polluted, their sons torn in pieces, their little ones dashed to the ground; and lastly, everything laid waste with fire and sword, the captives banished for ever from their own lands, because they had exulted over the well-beloved and most approved Son of God. And so, after their decease, when Nero had put them to death, Vespasian destroyed the name and nation of the Jews, and did all  things which they had foretold as about to come to pass."
[38]  Origen (Hom. Luc 25.5) tells is that the followers of a certain Marcion claimed that Paul was the syzygos or Paraclete who sat to the right and their Marcion to the left.  
[43]  Leo speaks of Paul as one who "was still busied with regulating other churches, didst enter this forest of roaring beasts, this deep, stormy ocean with greater boldness than when thou didst walk upon the sea."  This clearly points to the original twofold division of the Roman episcopal throne between one representative that basically took care of domestic affairs (= Peter) and another figure who was 'bishop of the nations' (= Paul).  So Leo again says later in the same treatise that Paul was "the vessel of election and the special teacher of the nations."
[44] In one sense they were likeFor example, we see that at the beginning of the fifth century again Theodoret Bishop of Cyprus makes reference to the concept of Peter and Paul.  In a letter to Pope Leo of Rome he praises the continuity of the steadfast devotion to the divine pair in the holy city "in her keeping too are the tombs that give light to the souls of the faithful, those of our common fathers and teachers of the truth, Peter and Paul. This thrice blessed and divine pair arose in the region of sunrise, and spread their rays in all directions. Now from the region of sunset, where they willingly welcomed the setting of this life, they illuminate the world. They have rendered your see most glorious; this is the crown and completion of your good things; but in these days their God has adorned their throne by setting on it your holiness, emitting, as you do, the rays of orthodoxy." Pope Leo the Great himself makes reference to the same imagery on the divine couples feast day, describing   Paul as "the partner" of Peter's glory.  Speaking of their sufferings at the beginning of the Roman see he notes that "a progeny have sprung from these two Heaven-sown seeds is shown by the thousands of blessed martyrs, who, rivaling the Apostles’ triumphs, have traversed the city far and wide in purple-clad and ruddy-gleaming throngs, and crowned it, as it were with a single diadem of countless gems.  And over this band, dearly-beloved, whom God has set forth for our example in patience and for our confirmation in the Faith, there must be rejoicing everywhere in the commemoration of all the saints, but of these two Fathers’ excellence we must rightly make our boast in louder joy, for God’s Grace has raised them to so high a place among the members of the Church, that He has set them like the twin light of the eyes in the body, whose Head is Christ.  About their merits and virtues, which pass all power of speech, we must not make distinctions, because they were equal in their election, alike in their toils, undivided in their death."   John Chrysostom speaks of "the imitators of Paul' manifesting his living presence on the earth but the pair of Peter and Paul doing the same in heaven above "where the Cherubim sing the glory, where the Seraphim are flying, there shall we see Paul, with Peter, and as a chief and leader of the choir of the Saints, and shall enjoy his generous love. For if when here he loved men so, that when he had the choice of departing and being with Christ, he chose to be here, much more will he there display a warmer affection."  Chrysostom goes on to confess that he loves the city of Rome above all its other achievements and antiquity for the fact that "both in his lifetime he wrote to them, and loved them so, and talked with them whiles he was with us, and brought his life to a close there.  Wherefore the city is more notable upon this ground, than upon all others together. And as a body great and strong, it hath as two glistening eyes the bodies of these Saints. Not so bright is the heaven, when the sun sends forth his rays, as is the city of Rome, sending out these two lights into all parts of the world. From thence will Paul be caught up, from thence Peter. Just bethink you, and shudder at the thought of what a sight Rome will see, when Paul ariseth suddenly from that deposit, together with Peter, and is lifted up to meet the Lord.  What a rose will Rome send up to Christ!  what two crowns will the city have about it! what golden chains will she be girded with! what fountains possess! Therefore I admire the city, not for the much gold, not for the columns, not for the other display there, but for these pillars of the Church." 
[45] In the thirteenth century the author of the Golden Legend compiled a list of ancient traditions related to the saints and repeatedly makes reference to the mystical significance of Peter and Paul's simultaneous death.  "Some have doubt whether Peter and Paul suffered death in one day, for some say it was the same one day, but one a year after the other."  Yet as the author notes "Jerome and all the Saints that treat of this matter accord that it was on one day and one year, and so is it contained in an epistle of Dionysius, and Leo the pope saith the same in a sermon, saying: 'We suppose but that it was not done without cause that they suffered in one day and in one place the sentence of the tyrant, and they suffered death in one time, to the end that they should go together to Jesus Christ, and both under one persecutor to the end that equal cruelty should strain that one and that other. The day for their merit, the place for their glory, and the persecution overcome by virtue. So Leo.'" Similarly Dionysius the alleged mystical devotee of Paul saw a vision of the twin apostles united in love after their death - "I saw them coming in hand in hand at the gate of the city, clothed in luminous garments and crowned with crowns of brilliance and light.” The angelic character of the saints was understood to have been established 'secretly' while they were alive but only clearly manifest after their death.
[16] Gregory of Nyssa - So far are we from referring to an ordinary man the cause of this great and unspeakable grace, that even if any should refer so great a boon to Peter and Paul, or to an angel from heaven, we should say with Paul, “let him be anathema.” For Paul was not crucified for us, nor were we baptized into a human name

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