Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chapter Ten of My New Book

 It is certainly difficult to definitively prove anything in earliest Christianity.  There is just so little evidence to work with that once you cast doubt on what has come down us you are left wandering in the proverbial wilderness.  With respect to Origen and the Alexandrian tradition there can be no doubt that thre was a conscious effort to 'smooth over' strange behaviors and practices by later authorities.  A case in point is Origen's sex change operation, or perhaps more correctly his self-castration.  While Eusebius acknowledges that Origen 'did the deed' very early in his life - likely at the completion of his 'elementary studies' - he seems to avoid acknowledging that this was behind Demetrius's dissatisfaction with the presbyter.

We have already seen how unreliable the historical chronology of Eusebius is with respect to the early third century.  Now we can take matters one step further.  There is another account of the life of Origen which is preserved by Epiphanius a couple of generations after Eusebius's Church History which offers up a very different chronology for the Alexandrian.  While acknowledging that Origen "was the son of the holy and blessed martyr Leonidas, and in his youth suffered a very great deal of persecution himself" and moreover that "he was well schooled in the Greek education and brought up in the church" the critical details vary significantly from the received account of Eusebius.

Epiphanius makes clear that once Origen left Alexandria in 215 CE he never returned before the reign of Decius (249 - 251 CE). Origen is said to have been convinced run away after "the authorities" allegedly secured a black man and gave him a choice - submit to being raped or sacrifice to idols.[1]  After choosing later Epiphanius says Origen was ashamed and "not bearing the ridicule who reproached him, elected to live in Palestine, that is, in Judaea."  On arriving at Jerusalem Origen was urged by the priesthood, "as a man with such skill in exegesis and so highly educated, to speak in church" adding that he had already been a presbyter in Alexandria.

Unlike Eusebius's chronology, Epiphanius has Origen depart to the city of Tyre in what is today the state of Lebanon:

A while later, at the urgent request of many, he made the acquaintance of Ambrose, a prominent imperial official.  (Some say that Ambrose was a Marcionite, but some, that he was a Sabellian.)  At any rate, Origen taught him to shun and abjure the sect and adopt the faith of God's holy church, for at that time Origen was of the orthodox, catholic faith.  Since Ambrose was from a different sect and being an educated man, was a zealous reader of the sacred scriptures, he asked Origen to explain them to him because of the profundity of the ideas in the sacred books.  Because he owed him this, and at his urging, Origen was willing to become the interpreter of all the scriptures, as it were, and made it his business to expound them. It is said that he spent twenty-eight years in Tyre in Phoenicia devoting himself to a life of extreme piety, and to study and hard work. Ambrose provided support for him and his stenographers and assistants, and papyrus and his other expenses; and Origen carried his work on the scripture through by burning the midnight oil, and with the most intense study. 

What makes this material so interesting is that it again draws attention to the holes in the Eusebius narrative.  At its most fundamental, the specificity of a twenty eight year residence in Tyre, a city which doesn't even come up in the chronology of the Church History.

It is also interesting that Ambrose is mentioned in both accounts, but Eusebius refuses to identify his city of origin.[2]  Perhaps even more significant is the fact that both Eusebius and Epiphanius mention the manufacture of the Hexapla - an edition of the Old Testament with at least six different versions of the material - in the same breath as the introduction of Ambrose.  Origen was certainly in Palestine immediately following his escape from Alexandria.[3]  Yet Epiphanius's account just makes more sense than Eusebius's with respect to Ambrose providing the stenographers who would eventually record his Old Testament homilies when he was sixty years of age.  This is perhaps why no less than an authority as Photius of Constantinople rejects the Eusebius chronology in this period and argues that the residence at Tyre "is the truer account." (Phil. 118)

To this end, while Eusebius won't directly tell us where Ambrose and Origen became friends we can figure it out quite easily.  His narrative about Ambrose appears in chaper 17 and in the lengthy chapter that follows he cites material from the pagan philosopher Porphyry of Tyre who saw Origen in his city when he was about fourteen presumably.  Since we know that Porphyry was born abour 234 CE this means that Origen was likely in the city around 248 CE which in turn suggests - given Epiphanius's statement that he was there for at least twenty eight years.  Given that Jerome says that Origen was buried at Tyre after his death in 253 CE, it would stand to reason that he came to Ambrose at Tyre around 225 CE.[4]

It is very significant that we have now established that according to Epiphanius's chronology Origen did not return to Alexandria for any extended period of time after he left in 215 CE.  While he may have taken short trips within the broader timeline we are establishing, it would seem that he lived in Alexandria 175 to 215, Caesarea 215 until 225 and in Tyre from 225 until his death in 253 CE.  Theodore of Pontus (= Gregory) came to Caesarea in 215 and stayed until 220 or 223 CE.  The only question left is the whereabouts of Clement who of course wrote the now famous letter to Theodore discovered at the Mar Saba monastery.

How was the letter preserved in the library?  While many have noted that a collection of letters of Clement of Alexandria are witnessed as being present in the library of the monastery as late as the ninth century, it is also possible that the letter was preserved as part of a collection of material related to Gregory - a saint who enjoyed much greater popularity than Clement.  The most likely scenario is that Clement was writing to someone in Palestine from somewhere outside of Palestine.  Yet can we narrow down the location of the place he was writing from?

According to the standard view of his life, Clement's tenure in Alexandria came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of a persecution against the Alexandrian Christians during the reign of the emperor Septimius Severus in 202 or 203 CE.  It is said that Clement fled the city fearing his life, perhaps never to return.  It is often suggested, based on the testimony of a letter written around 211 CE and attributed to Alexander, then bishop of Cappadocia, later of Jerusalem, that Clement found a safe haven in Cappadocia. We see Alexander writing to the church in Antioch making reference to Clement - "my honored brothers, I have sent this letter to you by Clement, the blessed presbyter, a man virtuous and approved, whom you yourselves also know and will recognize.  Being here, in the providence and oversight of the Master, he has strengthened and built up the Church of the Lord." (Church History 6.11.6)

As Carl Cosaert, the author of the most detailed studies of Clement's use of scripture, notes "beyond the connection of Clement to Cappadocia, the letter is significant for two points: (1) it suggests that Clement's stay in Cappadocia was extensive; and (2) it is the only reference that specifically designates Clement as a presbyter."  Andre Mehat, one of the greatest authorities on Clement thinks that he was established as a priest in Alexandria.[5]  As such yet another parallel emerges about Clement and Origen in Alexandria - they both held sacerdotal function within the Egyptian Church.

We can make a very compelling case to argue for the fact that Julius Africanus's original chronology implies that Clement left at the start of the Severan period (195 CE) and that Origen had already been his pupil for some time.[6]  Clement arrives in Cappadocia, spends a great deal of time there and then ultimately leaves for Antioch.  If this letter was dispatched in 211 CE, it is curious to see that his host Alexander was soon also to be on the move.  As Philip Schaff, editor  notes "the translation of Alexander to Jerusalem must have taken place about 212" after an aged bishop Narcissus of Jerusalem asks for Alexander to be his assistant. In due course Alexander would take over the bishopric and last there until the reign of Decius (250 CE).

Yet it is very significant to note that as we head toward the year 215 CE when Origen escapes from Alexandria to Palestine, both Clement and Alexander have now headed for Syria from Cappadocia. Even more significant is the fact that another figure associated with Caesarea of Cappadocia, Firmilian, offers Origen a safe haven there but comes instead to see him in Palestine.  As we already noted, Gregory of Nyssa makes clear that he knew Gregory and Firmilian to have been pupils of Origen at the very same time.

Most scholars will argue that there is no solid evidence to explain to us where Clement went after Antioch.  Some have said that Clement lived out his days in Jerusalem, yet there is no solid evidence for that.  Moreover some have mistakenly inferred from a statement near the end of 6.14 that Clement died in 215 CE.  However nowhere does Eusebius say this and it is yet another fundamental misunderstanding of the strange way that Book Six weaves stories from different periods into the same chapter.

Yet most significant of all is what immediately follows in Eusebius's Church History.  It is now misunderstood as a reference to Origen returning to Alexandria c. 225 CE.  It does not take too much effort to dispel the illusion here.  Eusebius has been dealing with the life of Clement of Alexandria since 6.11.  In the closing section of that chapter Clement is sent to Antioch and in what follows we can infer that it had something to do with the very topic brought up in the Letter to Theodore - a gospel written by Peter which is used by heretics in Syria.

There has to be a reason why Eusebius decides to insert a letter dealing with Antiochene affairs immediately following his reference to Clement being sent to Antioch.   It cannot be overstated that in the middle of a continuous discussion about the life of Clement (6.11 - 15) he reads a letter from the bishop of Antioch "to a certain Domninus, who, in the time of persecution, fell away from faith in Christ to the Jewish will-worship and those addressed to Pontius and Caricus, ecclesiastical men, and other letters to different persons, and still another work composed by him on the so-called Gospel of Peter."  The heresy that holds to this other gospel is called Marcian or Marcion as the material has often been mistranslated.  In either case the trail goes back to St Mark as either name means either 'of Mark' or 'those of Mark.'[7]

It is difficult to escape the sense that Clement was sent to Antioch to explain the gospel of Mark and its relation to a 'gospel of Peter.'  A similar 'to Theodore' related theme - the creation of a 'spiritual' gospel after Mark's literal narrative for Peter - continues in the two chapters of Eusebius's summary of Clement's writings.  Indeed when you add the Letter of Theodore to the mix it would seem that Clement seems to have been very busy in the third century explaining, or possibly obscuring, the original Alexandrian notion of two gospels of Mark.[8]

Yet where did Clement go from Antioch?  Francis Hitchcock in his work on the Church Father notes that "it is said that after finishing his work in Antioch, the catechist returned to his school, and died in his native city 222 AD.  This is practically all that we know of the life of one who lived in the light of the Word of life, and laboured modestly and with great success for the Church of Christ."[9]  Hitchcock position is clearly based on the correct interpretation of the material closing words in Eusebius's Church History - namely that a early scribal addition led Jerome and many others to misunderstand the text.

Indeed in a passage which is perhaps the key to unlock all the great secrets of Alexandria at the time we see that Eusebius immediately after citing Alexander's letter to Origen which makes reference to Clement says:

So much for these matters. But Adamantius, — for this also was a name of Origen—when Zephyrinus was bishop of Rome, visited Rome, desiring, as he himself somewhere says, to see the most ancient church of Rome.  After a short stay there he returned to Alexandria. And he performed the duties of catechetical instruction there with great zeal; Demetrius, who was bishop there at that time, urging and even entreating him to work diligently for the benefit of the brethren. (Church History 6.14)

It is difficult to believe that Origen would return to Alexandria after Demetrius spent so much effort trying to destroy his career.  Indeed as we have already noted, there was a synod which condemned Origen as well as a letter from the Imperial senate.

On top of this implausible historical context there is the fact that this alleged Origen reference comes from a source which clearly only identified 'Adamantius' as the figure going to Rome and then Alexandria.  The additional statement - 'for this was a name of Origen' - was certainly added by a later hand.  Now there can be no doubt that the identification of Adamantius as Origen was already established by the time of Epiphanius.  Yet it is worth noting that he acknowledges that there were those who said that 'Adamantius' was someone else.[10]

Indeed it is surprising how similar the accounts of Origen's self-castration are when comparing Eusebius and Epiphanius's narrative.  Epiphanius tells us that "precisely because of his goal of leaving no scripture uninterpreted he disguised himself, as an allurement to sin, and issued mortally dangerous exegeses. The so-called Origenists took their cue from this — not the first kind, the practitioners of the obscenity. As I have already remarked, I cannot say whether they originate with this Origen who is also called Adamantius, or whether they have another founder whose name was also Origen."  Similarly Eusebius attributes his daring deed to his devotion to scripture "at this time while Origen was conducting catechetical instruction at Alexandria, a deed was done by him which evidenced an immature and youthful mind, but at the same time gave the highest proof of faith and continence. For he took the words, There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake, in too literal and extreme a sense. And in order to fulfill the Saviour's word, and at the same time to take away from the unbelievers all opportunity for scandal,— for, although young, he met for the study of divine things with women as well as men,— he carried out in action the word of the Saviour."

Epiphanius of course goes on to delve a little deeper into question of how he actually performed the castration "it is said, however, that our Origen also thought of it as a way of dealing with his body. For some say that he severed a nerve so that he would not be disturbed by sexual pleasure or inflamed and aroused by carnal impulses. Others say no, but that he invented a drug to apply to his genitals and dry them up."  The important thing is that Epiphanius left open the door that 'they' - the Alexandrian heretics associated with his teachings might have been associated with some other Origen or even some other Adamantius.

While Eusebius does claim that Demetrius originally appointed Origen to the head of the catechetical school (6.3) it is made clear in what follows that the bishop was unaware that Origen had castrated himself.  This is certainly the bone of contention so to speak that comes between them.  The circumstances seem to have followed from the sudden departure of Clement in 193.  Origen was recommended and Demetrius allowed Origen to take the chair of instruction.  Eusebius tries to make it seem as if Demetrius knew all along what Origen had done to himself even approved of it (!) - only pretending to be upset later in order to justify his envy of Origen's popularity.  Nevertheless Nautin rightly argues that Origen's escape was certainly related to Demetrius's discovery of his self-emasculation.[11]

Origen couldn't have 'un-castrated himself.'  There was no way that he could have undone the deed that made him unwanted in Alexandria.  The only other possibility that opens up is that the reference to 'Adamantius' in the chapter on Clement in the Church History was an original reference to Clement.  In other words, as Origen leaves Alexandria in 215 CE Clement goes back - the two effectively 'trading places.'[12]  If Hitchcock is right, then it was Clement rather than Origen who is the Adamantius (6.15) who "divided the multitude and ... he selected Heraclas, and made him his partner (koinwnos) in the work of instruction. He entrusted to him the elementary training of beginners, but reserved for himself the teaching of those who were farther advanced."

This is remarkably similar to the role which Origen seems to have had in Caesarea Maritima. As such it is difficult to believe that the choice of the term koinwnos is accidental.  It is used by Paul in the epistles as an equivalent to syzygos - "So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me." (Phil 1.17).  Yet Clement uses the term almost exclusively as the term for a sexual partner in marriage [13]  There is a reference to God as the 'partner' of the gnostic at the end of Clement's Stromata which is worth bringing forward, not the least of which because it is explicitly related to the adamantos terminology.  We are told that the true gnostic "worships the Maker, and loves him, the partner (koinwnon) of life, pitying and praying for him on account of his ignorance" (Strom 7.11) and who "makes the man lord and master of himself; so that the Gnostic is temperate and passionless, incapable of being dissolved by pleasures and pains, as they say adamant (adamantos) as by fire." [14]  This is very significant on many levels but for our immediate purposes it reinforces Clement as something of an occultated Pope.

'Adamantius' went to Alexandria to establish Heraclas as his 'partner.'[15]  Eusebius certainly draws attention to the fact that it was Origen who gave him 'elementary instruction.'  Nevertheless it is worth noting that only the one called 'Adamantius' - the living Father in human form - who can establish Heraclas as a koinwnon.  In this early period now Origen and Heraclas give 'elementary instructions' yet Clement is something of the Paul figure wandering the earth and visiting various sees.  Interestingly the minute Clement dies we start to see Origen suddenly take a more pronounced leadership role.  At this present time however Clement is the occultated Father and Origen and Heraclas are in communion with him. One begins to wonder if the return to Alexandria also might have something to do with the end of Demetrius.[16]

It is of course difficult to escape the parallels between Origen's work establishing catchumens in the elementary studies in Caesarea and Tyre and the description of Heraclas being established as a 'partner' of Clement's in Alexandria.  Was Origen Clement's original partner?  It would seem to be so.  Does this mean that the Father had many partners - i.e. that he was spiritually polygamous?  It would seem rather that the catechumen were established in pairs as brothers each being 'partners' of the spiritual 'Father.'

Of course is clearly manifest in the example of Gregory and his relationship with Athenogorus.  Yet we see it also with respect to Heraclas is initiated with a 'brother' named Plutarch who eventually becomes a great martyr in the Church.  The language in Eusebius's account of the 'brothers' is odd.  Plutarch is said to have been honored with divine martyrdom after 'living well' just as Heraclas, after having 'given with him (= Plutarch) abundant evidence of a philosophic and ascetic life, was esteemed worthy to succeed Demetrius in the bishopric of Alexandria."  It is almost as if Eusebius is hinting at a mystical understanding that Plutarch gave his life to establish 'his brother' on the throne.[17]

While we don't know who Firmalian's 'partner' was (Gregory of Nyssa mistakenly identified Gregory) we find a lengthy discussion of the mysticism involving pairs from his only surviving letter, unfortunately only preserved now in Latin so we have to guess at the original terminology:

Those that come together into this house are united with gladness, according to what is asked from the Lord in the psalm, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of one's life. Whence in another place also it is made manifest, that among the saints there is great and desirous love for assembling together. "Behold," he says, "how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"  For unity and peace and concord afford the greatest pleasure not only to men who believe and know the truth, but also to heavenly angels themselves, to whom the divine word says it is a joy when one sinner repents and returns to the bond of unity. But assuredly this would not be said of the angels, who have their conversation in heaven, unless they themselves also were united to us, who rejoice at our unity; even as, on the other hand, they are assuredly saddened when they see the diverse minds and the divided wills of some, as if not only they do not together invoke one and the same God, but as if, separated and divided from one another, they can neither have a common conversation nor discourse.

...  For the grace of God is mighty to associate and join together in the bond of charity and unity even those things which seem to be divided by a considerable space of earth, according to the way in which of old also the divine power associated in the bond of unanimity Ezekiel and Daniel, though later in their age, and separated from them by a long space of time, to Job and Noah, who were among the first; so that although they were separated by long periods, yet by divine inspiration they felt the same truths. And this also we now observe in you, that you who are separated from us by the most extensive regions, approve yourselves to be, nevertheless, joined with us in mind and spirit. All which arises from the divine unity. For even as the Lord who dwells in us is one and the same, He everywhere joins and couples His own people in the bond of unity, whence their sound has gone out into the whole earth, who are sent by the Lord swiftly running in the spirit of unity; as, on the other hand, it is of no advantage that some are very near and joined together bodily, if in spirit and mind they differ, since souls cannot at all be united which divide themselves from God's unity. "For, lo," it says, "they that are far from Thee shall perish." But such shall undergo the judgment of God according to their desert, as depart from His words who prays to the Father for unity, and says, "Father, grant that, as Thou and I are one, so they also may be one in us."

This most valuable text clearly testifies to the contemporary interest in the mystical bond of same-sex coupling of men among Origenist contemporaries of Gregory the Wonder Worker.  Firmilian was part of this culture and saw himself as part of the tradition of Jesus "everywhere joining and coupling his own people in the bond of unity."

Our next window into the Origenist culture of the third century comes from the bond between Eusebius and the martyr Pamphilus.  Pamphilus was of a rich and honorable family of Beirut, who is said to have given all his property to the poor and attached himself to the "perfect men."  The interest in Jesus's dialogue with the rich youth in Mark chapter 10 is very significant.  As many scholars have noted, Pamphilius couldn't have given away all his money and been the great benefactor to Christianity, establishing among other things the great library in his see of Caesarea.  As such it is interesting that he must have shared Clement's unusual interpretation of the material - i.e. that Jesus was not specifically asking one to give up material possessions but one's passions, even the soul one was given at birth.[18]

The tenth century Byzantine writer Photius, quotes Pamphilus's Apology for Origen to the effect that Pamphilus went to Alexandria, where his teacher was Pierius, the head of the famous catechetical school there, before settling in Caesarea Maritima, where he was ordained a priest. In Alexandria, Egypt, Pamphilus became devoted to the works of Origen of Alexandria. Photius says that Pamphilus was a Phoenician born at Berytus, and a scholar of Pierius, who collected sacred literature. According to Eusebius, he suffered martyrdom in the third year of the Diocletian persecution, after spending two years in prison. While he was in prison, Pamphilus and Eusebius worked together on five books in defense of Origen

There are many references to the intimacy that Eusebius shared with Pamphilus.  He calls Pamphilus his "thrice longed for" (tripotheton) and 'much desired comrade' (= potheinotatos etairwn) .   The terminology here is derived from the pagan understanding of 'eros potheinos' or much-longed love whose wings allow for the fulfillment of hope and desire.   It is interesting that Eusebius's name in most manuscripts is that of Eusebius Pamphili - "Eusebius of Pamphilus" which has been variously explained.  Caspar Gregory in his Canon and Text of the New Testament explains "Eusebius was closely united to him, and is called therefore the Eusebius of Pamphilus."  This union seems to be reflected in what Socrates Scholasticus calls "their joint (koine) life of Origen, and admirable defense of him in answer to such as were prejudiced against him, prove that he was not the first who made this declaration, but that in doing so he was the mere expositor of the mystical tradition of the (Alexandrian) church."(Socrates Scholasticus 3.7)

It is interesting that Pamphilus learns about Origen from Pierius the head of the catechetical school in Alexandria at the time.  Pierius was called the 'little Origen' by his contemporaries owing to his devotion to his master.  The implication of the statement in Socrates is clearly that 'Origenism' was understood to be nothing more than traditional Alexandrianism.  This was not a 'sect' in any sense but a continuation of the tradition that existed before Clement but had to adapt to new realities of a fourfold canon established as a universal 'rule' at the time of Zephyrinus.

There is of course a strange pairing of 'brothers' throughout the account of the Origenist figures of the third and fourth centuries.  We already saw the brothers Heraclas and Plutarch.  Pierius has a 'brother' Isidorus who dies a martyr.  Eusebius visits Pamphilus in jail but remains unharmed, just as Pierius offers up idolatrous sacrifices but manages to hold a position of authority within the Church.  One wonders again if - by some mystical association - the death of one part of the conjoined pairs of the brothers - was understood to 'purify' or cleanse the sins of the other half.

This seems to be at the heart of the description of the brothers Aedesius and Apphianus who are said to be brothers:

not only in God, but also in the flesh, being a son of the same earthly father, endured sufferings like his, after very many confessions and protracted tortures in bonds, and after he had been sentenced by the governor to the mines in Palestine. He conducted himself through them all in a truly philosophic manner; for he was more highly educated than his brother, and had prosecuted philosophic studies. Finally in the city of Alexandria, when he beheld the judge, who was trying the Christians, offending beyond all bounds, now insulting holy men in various ways, and again consigning women of greatest modesty and even religious virgins to procurers for shameful treatment, he acted like his brother. For as these things seemed insufferable, he went forward with bold resolve, and with his words and deeds overwhelmed the judge with shame and disgrace. After suffering in consequence many forms of torture, he endured a death similar to his brother's, being cast into the sea. But these things, as I have said, happened to him in this way a little later.

Of course Aedesius and Apphianus had the same earthly father - their father was Pamphilus, no less than Gregory and Athenodorus had Origen as their spiritual father.  The idea that both brothers at the time of the Emperor Maximinus Daia 'died together' in the same manner seems to be a convenient way of hiding that one died for the sins of the other, who likely did sacrifice to idols.  Similarly in the case of Eusebius and Pamphilus Photius strangely describes the pair as being "imprisoned together" in the same age when this was certainly not true in 'real history.'

We will examine the mystical implications of the wide spread 'substitution doctrine' relating to the heretical interpretation of the crucifixion of Jesus later in this work.  For the moment it should be recognized that what we have seen already with respect to two 'brothers' sharing one soul in two bodies ultimately explains how his death on the cross effected another soul not undergoing crucifixion.  The reader of course will begin to see some of inkling of this doctrine in the verse in the gospel of John "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  Yet the Alexandrian tradition clearly seems to have implied that it was actually rooted in the longer 'mystical' text of the gospel written by Mark in Egypt.

We have already noted that Pamphilus is identified as fulfilling the important dictum to the rich youth in Mark chapter 10.  Both Clement's Letter to Theodore and his Can the Rich Man Be Saved deal with the same section in the gospel of Mark.  Can the Rich Man Be Saved can be understood to be a Homily on Mark 10:17 - 31 and the Letter to Theodore has Clement explain to Theodore - the future 'wonder worker' conjoined to his partner Athenodorus - that the material in this narrative continues to be discussed and treated in later additions to the Alexandrian gospel.  Indeed a careful reading of Can the Rich Man Be Saved reveals the same argument.[19]

As we already noted there existed in Egypt a special gospel reserved for those who have completed their three year instruction in the Old Testament which adds a new story immediately following the very next lines - Mark 10:32 - 34.  We noted already in our last chapter that many of the same common words and phrases are used in each text of Clement of Alexandria because he understood the texts to interconnected - i.e. we are dealing with one continuous reading from the Alexandria gospel of Mark rather than two separate 'pericopes' where one hidden and ultimately mystical teaching emerges from the common material.

Let us start with the publicly revealed or 'elementary' gospel of Mark chapter 10 verses 17 - 31.  A rich man comes up to Jesus and asks him how he can attain eternal life.  The important part of Jesus's response clearly demonstrates that the Law and the gospel are necessarily intertwined:

Thou knowest the commandments.Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and thy mother. And (the rich man) answering saith to Him, All these have I observed. And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him, and said, One thing thou lackest. If thou wouldest be perfect, sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me.

Clement argues against the communist interpretation of the heretics that 'sell your possessions and give to the poor' advises people to literally give all their material possessions to those who are destitute.  Instead he argues "something else is indicated by it, (something) greater, more godlike, more perfect - the stripping off of the passions from the soul itself and from the disposition, and the cutting up by the roots and casting out of what is alien to the mind. For this is the lesson peculiar to the believer, and the instruction worthy of the Saviour."

Yet what does Mark mean by the 'poor'?  According to both Clement and Origen poor does not mean 'those who have no money' but those who are poor in spirit or as Clement puts it "there is a genuine poor man, and another counterfeit and falsely so called. He that is poor in spirit, and that is the right thing, and he that is poor in a worldly sense, which is a different thing."  As Clement explains in what follows it all has to do with understanding Jesus as being present in 'the neighbor' or 'one who is near' (= pleison) - "again when he says, 'If you want to be perfect, sell your property and give the proceeds to the poor,' he is showing up the man who boasts of 'having kept all the commandments from his youth.'  He had not fulfilled 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  At that moment the Lord wanted to bring him to perfection and was teaching him to impart love (di'agapen metadidonai)."

According to Clement already in his homily on Mark 10:17 - 31 there was a secret teaching in the gospel of Mark that one had to unite not only with Jesus but more specifically with those who are near as Jesus in order to attain perfection.[20]  It is difficult not to see now that all of this is related to what we just noted about the instruction of the catechumen in the elementary studies.  One remains under the authority of the commandments until one comes into acquaintance with the gospel of a higher authority which teaches the mystical doctrine of same-sex union.  The Letter to Theodore is all about 'what's next' beyond the instruction of the catechumen.  Clement explains to Theodore (= Gregory) in effect that the gospel he is familiar with (= canonical Mark) is on the same level as the commandments of the Law.  Yet there is a mystic gospel held in secret in the Alexandrian community which is received by those who cross the threshold and receive baptism - i.e. those are no longer catechumens.

What occurs on the other side of the curtain?  What was young Theodore to expect from his baptism in the crypto-Christian community of Origen Caesarea Maritima?  Clearly the same rite that is alluded to in the secret gospel, namely the union of Jesus and the initiate:

But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb, they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.

How do we know that Theodore was going to be ritually united with another man after his ritual purification in water?  Well, we know that already because we saw the homoerotic tradition associated with him and his 'brother' Athenodorus.  So let us ask instead how do we know that Clement held to this same tradition?  All we need to do is look at his other writings.

We should take careful notice of what Clement was saying about the rich man already instructed in the Old Testament he says that in spite of his knowledge "he had not fulfilled 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  Most of us, of course, interpret 'love your neighbor' as shovel his drive way when it snows or something to that effect.  Yet Clement consistently presents it as meaning something entirely mystical - i.e. 'love Jesus as your brother' or even 'love your brother as Jesus.'  The former interpretation is far more common.  Take the example from the fourth book of the Stromata "so that if one loves himself, he loves the Lord, and confesses to salvation that he may save his soul. Though you die for your neighbour out of love, and regard the Saviour as our neighbor (plesion) for God who saves is said to be nigh in respect to what is saved; you do so, choosing death on account of life, and suffering for your own sake rather than his. (Strom. 4.7)

The point again is that when Clement adds in the original passage - at that moment the Lord wanted to bring him to perfection and was teaching him in order to impart love - he is making clear that Jesus wanted the rich man to do exactly what is described in the Secret Gospel of Mark.  Indeed as Morton Smith originally recognized the specific wording in Mark 10:21 when Jesus loved (egapesen) the rich man is reflected in the youth in Secret Mark 'looking upon him, loved him (egapesen) and began to beseech him that he might be with him.'   This can't be coincidence.  As we have already seen, the two narratives laying side by side one another in the full text of Mark in Alexandria are rooted in the very same lesson.

It escapes the notice of most people that Gregory manages in 'real life' to hold on to his massive wealth in spite of being baptized no less than Pamphilus.  Yet far more significant to the understanding that the material in Mark 10:17 - 31 was connected to some sort of 'love' ritual in what immediately followed in the gospel is found in one of our earliest descriptions of the Alexandrian mysteries of St Mark.  We have already cited Socrates as saying that the practices associated with the Origenist culture were one and the same with the mysteries practiced by the Alexandrian church.  More recently Tim Vivian, the author of the definitive study of the last of the pre-Nicene Popes of Alexandria, has come to much the same conclusion about the leadership in Egypt.

Of course when we arrive at the dawn of the age of Constantine, we see a power struggle in Alexandria where the Imperial forces effectively co-opt the chair of St Mark at least for two generations.  Nevertheless as Socrates again points out, the orthodox bishop of Alexandria Athanasius in this period never condemns Origen as heretical and even uses his arguments to bolster his efforts against the defenders of traditional Alexandrianism, viz. the associates of Arius.  At every turn the argument is made that Clement, Origen, Dionysius and other early figures were 'on the side' as it were of the Nicene creed.

Yet these arguments could only have been established with an unprecedented falsification of the original writings associated with these men - a task that Eusebius was more than eager to complete.  Nevertheless it is worth noting that for a brief period the followers of Arius did gain control again of the Church of St Mark, the very church which Arius was a presbyter before his assassination.  After the death of Constantine, his second son Constantius took over the Empire and again favored Arianism.  It is very interesting that the first two bishops he installed in the city were both from Cappadocia - Gregory of Cappadocia (339 - 346 CE) was supposedly a friend of the Emperor Constantius and one of his first acts was to bring another native of Cappadocia, Auxenius of Milan, to succeed him.

The Catholic bishop Athanasius no longer having the cover that the inner circle of Constantine provided him was chased out of town.  He had to hide in the wilderness among his supporters where he continued to develop 'attack literature' against George and the Cappadocian 'Arianists.'  It is very puzzling that at least part of this propaganda assumed that George presided over some corrupt initiation ritual which made reference to the terminology from Mark chapter 10 and had homosexual overtones.  So Athanasius writes that;

one George, a Cappadocian, who was contractor of stores at Constantinople, and having embezzled all monies that he received, was obliged to fly, he commanded to enter Alexandria with military pomp, and supported by the authority of the General. Next, finding one Epictetus a novice, a bold young man, he loved him perceiving that he was ready for wickedness; and by his means he carries on his designs against those of the Bishops whom he desires to ruin. For he is prepared to do everything that the Emperor wishes; who accordingly availing himself of his assistance, has committed at Rome a strange act, but one truly resembling the malice of Antichrist. (History of the Arians Part 8)

It has always been puzzling to scholars why the language here so closely resembles Mark 10:21. Gregory 'loved' the 'youth' Epictetus.  Epictetus is elsewhere called a hypokrites which is the same terminology we saw referenced in Rome a few chapters back with respect to the relationship between Victor and Irenaeus.

We know very little about the Church of St Mark in this early period other than it was the place where the initiation of the catechumens was said to take place in the time of Clement.  This was certainly the place where Clement established Heraclas as his 'partner.'  One even begins to suspect that this was the place Pamphilus was originally initiated by Pierius and even the place Origen sent Gregory to receive his final confirmation as the letter to Theodore was clearly written by Clement while residing in the city.  All signs point to the idea that the Alexandrian tradition also maintained a divided seat of authority.[21]  George and Epictetus emerging from the inner sanctum of the church clearrly being modeled after the example of the disciple loved by Jesus and Jesus himself is only the most explicit confirmation of this.  Nevertheless, as we will demonstrate shortly, the ritual association of the cult of twin disciples with the martyrium of St Mark would survive into the age of Cyril of Alexandria and the famous rite of same-sex union - adelphopoiia.

[1] Epiphanius  Before his escape, Epiphanius tells us that Origen was persecuted by the pagans "It is said that he suffered a great deal for the holy word of the faith and the name of Christ, and indeed was often dragged around the city, insulted, and subjected to excruciating tortures"  In a story which seems to have been borrowed from or appropriated the later cult of St Mark, Origenis said to have had his head shaved and left on the steps of the temple of their idol which they call the Serapeum, and ordered him to hand out palm branches to those who went up the stairs to worship the idol. (The priests of their idols take this posture.) (5) Taking the branches he cried out without fear or hesitation, with loud voice and a bold mind, "Come get Christ's branch, not the idol's!" And many accounts of his brave deeds are handed down to us by the ancients.
[2]  "With diabolical malice the workers of iniquity thought of mistreating him sexually and making that his punishment, and they secured a black to abuse his body. But Origen could not bear even the thought of this devil's work, and shouted  that if these were his choices he would rather sacrifice. Certainly, as is widely reported, he did not do this willingly either. But since he had agreed do to it at all, he heaped incense on his hands and dumped it on the altar fire. Thus he was excluded from a martyr's status at that time by the confessors and martyrs who were his judges, and was expelled from the church."  This appears to be a variation on the story of Origen's pupil Potimiaena, who is threatened with rape by gladiators, answers defiandy, and is put to death, Eus. HE 6.5.1-5.  The material related to agreeing to make sacrifices to pagan gods derives from Pierius of Alexandria.
[3]  Origen "states of one of these that he found it in a jar in Jericho in the time of Antoninus, the son of Severus." (198 - 217 CE)
[4] Indeed Eusebius seems to confirm this when he dates the events in
[7]  Eusebius in the next two chapters deals with the writings of Clement and concludes with yet another statement that dovetails with what appears in the Letter to Theodore.  We are told that in his last and greatest work, the Hypotyposes Clement explains the composition of the two gospels "the Gospel according to Mark had this occasion. As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered his sayings, should write them out. And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it.  When Peter learned of this, he neither directly forbade nor encouraged it. But, last of all, John, perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the gospel, being urged by his friends, and inspired by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel." The subject matter, the language and the specific terminology here is exactly reminiscent of the Letter to Theodore.  In that letter Clement tells Theodore "As for Mark, then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord's doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge. Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected." The only thing that separates this 'more spiritual' gospel which Clement confesses to Theodore is 'secret Mark' from the 'spiritual' gospel in the Hypotyposeis is the name 'John.'  Indeed it is only because this gospel written by 'John' appears after all the other gospels that scholars think of our familiar gospel according to John.  Yet does it really make sense to suppose that the description here fits that text which bears little or no relation to the gospel of Mark?  For immediately after describing the contents of the gospel Mark wrote for Peter, Clement says "perceiving that the external facts had been made plain in the gospel (= the gospel Mark wrote for Peter), being urged by his friends, and inspired by the Spirit, composed a spiritual Gospel." Clement is saying in no uncertain terms that this 'John' read the gospel of Mark that Peter "neither directly forbade nor encouraged" and decided to depart from strictly reporting the facts and composed a spiritual gospel.  The exact same idea appears in the Letter to Theodore only with the action attributed to Mark.  Now in that letter Clement gives as an aside to Theodore that "when they (the heretics) put forward their falsifications, should one concede that the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath."  In other words, Clement instructs Theodore to say that the 'more spiritual' gospel is by someone else.  Isn't this exactly what Clement is doing here in the Hypotyposeis. Most people date the Hypotyposeis to an indefinite period in the early third century.  It is very curious then that Clement goes to Antioch to deal with the discovery of a heretical gospel associated with Peter by a group devoted to Mark and then at the very same time reference the attempt someone who is not Mark to make the 'gospel of Mark' more spiritual?  Indeed this is not the end of the controversy.  It is very interesting that Origen's is said to have been starting to work on a Commentary on the Gospel of John before fleeing Alexandria.  The work we have now under that name was created in a much later period and has little or nothing to do with the original. More significant again is the rejection of For Marcion, rejecting the entire Gospel, yea rather, cutting himself off from the Gospel, boasts that he has part in the [blessings of] the Gospel.(4) Others, again (the Montanists), that they may set at nought the gift of the Spirit, which in the latter times has been, by the good pleasure of the Father, poured out upon the human race, do not admit that aspect [of the evangelical dispensation] presented by John's Gospel, in which the Lord promised that He would send the Paraclete;(5) but set aside at once both the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit. Wretched men indeed! who wish to be pseudo- prophets, forsooth, but who set aside the gift of prophecy from the Church; acting like those (the Encratitae)(6) who, on account of such as come in hypocrisy, hold themselves aloof from the communion of the brethren. We must conclude, moreover, that these men (the Montanists) can not admit the Apostle Paul either. For, in his Epistle to the Corinthians,(7) he speaks expressly of prophetical gifts, and recognises men and women prophesying in the Church. Sinning, therefore, in all these particulars, against the Spirit of God,(8) they fall into the irremissible sin. "But Marcion, mutilating that according to Luke, is proved to be a blasphemer of the only existing God, from those [passages] which he still retains. Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the Gospel by Mark, if they read it with a love of truth, may have their errors rectified."
[9] It was Clement not Origen who ventured to Rome to meet Zephyrinus c. 217 CE.[9]  This is obviously the original context of the material in the Church History.  The reason the words 'for this also was a name of Origen' were added to the text was because later Origenists wanted to demonstrate that Origen was perfectly submissive and agreeable to the bishop.[10]  There were other known 'Adamantius' figures in the third century.  A treatise from the third century - the Dialogue of the True Faith - is explicitly ascribed to an Adamantius who can't be Origen.  Eusebius apparently identified this individual as a certain Maximus and this is certainly correct.  The text in turn was copied or ascribed to the late third century Church Father Methodius and also 'Adamantius.'[11]  The thing to keep in mind is that Adamantius was an originally Alexandrian title rather than a proper name which ultimately meant something like 'impassable.'
[10] The fifth century Theodore of Cyrrhus twice explicitly identifies Adamantius as someone other than Origen.  The tenth century Byzantine scholar Photius notes that he learned from the last bishop of Jerusalem under Byzantine rule - "Sophronius informs us 'that another is Origen the Ancient, and another after him, named Adamantius'"
[13] The Carpocratians are described as 'partners (koinwnoi) in sexual freedom, these brothers in lustfulness, who pervert the Savior’s words.' (Strom 3.4)  Heretics are similarly described as false 'partners in the name' (Strom 4.4).  'The wise woman,' writes Clement must 'first choose to persuade her husband to be her partner (koinwnon) in what is conducive to happiness.' (Strom 4.19)  The wife must also consider "God is her helper and partner ... making Him the leader and guide of all her actions." (Strom 4.20)
[9] The word poieten comes from poiew which will later form the root to the term used same sex unions in the Byzantine Church - adelphopoieis or 'brother making.'  Yet Clement consistently identifies the Father as 'the Maker' because he is the one
[14] the text continues "The cause of these, then, is love, of all science the most sacred and most sovereign. For by the service of what is best and most exalted, which is characterized by unity, it renders the Gnostic at once friend and son, having in truth grown "a perfect man, up to the measure of full stature."  Further, agreement in the same thing is consent. But what is the same is one. And friendship is consummated in likeness; the community lying in oneness. The Gnostic, consequently, in virtue of being a lover of the one true God, is the really perfect man and friend of God, and is placed in the rank of son."
[15] It should be evident that Origen was not the only 'Adamantos' if he ever was so-called. Clement uses the terminology as does Basilides before him "The adherents of Basilides are in the habit of calling the passions appendages: saying that these are in essence certain spirits attached to the rational soul, through some original perturbation and confusion; and that, again, other bastard and heterogeneous natures of spirits grow on to them, like that of the wolf, the ape, the lion, the goat, whose properties showing themselves around the soul, they say, assimilate the lusts of the soul to the likeness of the animals. For they imitate the actions of those whose properties they bear. And not only are they associated with the impulses and perceptions of the irrational animals, but they affect the motions and the beauties of plants, on account of their bearing also the properties of plants attached to them. They have also the properties of a particular state, as the hardness of steel. But against this dogma we shall argue subsequently, when we treat of the soul. At present this only needs to be pointed out, that man, according to Basilides, preserves the appearance of a wooden horse, according to the poetic myth, embracing as he does in one body a host of such different spirits. [2.20]" Even Eusebius who only uses the title 'Adamantos' once to describe Clement's trip to Rome and return to Alexandria c. 216 CE, uses the term 'adamant' to describe the perfected catechumen.  He writes at the end of the Church History "who has founded a nation which of old was not even heard of, but which now is not concealed in some corner of the earth, but is spread abroad everywhere under the sun? Who has so fortified his soldiers with the arms of piety that their souls, being firmer than adamant, shine brilliantly in the contests with their opponents?" (Church History 10.4.19)  Indeed the narrative makes absolutely no sense as an Origen story.  How can Origen be the Adamantius who returns to Alexandria to establish Heraclas as his 'partner' when a little later (Church History 6.26) Eusebius looks back at this same story and says that "it was in the tenth year of the above-mentioned reign that Origen removed from Alexandria to Cæsarea, and leaves (kataleipei) Heraclas the catechetical school in that city."  Why would Eusebius say that he left the church to Heraclas in 215 CE but then claim he returned a few years later, took over his old duties found that he didn't have enough time for contemplation and then "divided the multitude and from those whom he knew well, he selected Heraclas"?  Clearly if it was Origen who left Heraclas behind to govern the Church, Origen can't be the 'Adamantius' summoned by Demetrius who took a second look and then chose Heraclas to be his associate.  When Origen left Alexandria he was only an elementary instructor and so did not have the authority to make Heraclas a 'partner.' Clement was the occultated 'Papa' (= Pope).
[16] In the Dialogue With Heracleides - an obscure work which survives from antiquity - one gets the sense that we have something of a witness to the condemnation of Origen before his flight in 215 CE.  In that text Demetrius is never identified as 'bishop.'  He is 'Demetrius' in the narrative but Origen addresses him as 'Father Demetrius' (Papa Demetriou).  In a setting like Alexandria this terminology is very significant.  The Romans stole the idea of a Papacy from the Alexandrian Church.  In the Orthodox tradition only the Alexandrian Patriarch has the title Papa.  The question starts to become, did Clement leave Alexandria or was he pushed out?  Did many of the faithful still see him as the proper head of the Church?
[17] "The first of them, he says, was Plutarch, who after living well, was honored with divine martyrdom. The second was Heraclas, a brother of Plutarch; who after he too had given with him abundant evidence of a philosophic and ascetic life, was esteemed worthy to succeed Demetrius in the bishopric of Alexandria."
[20] The renunciation, then, and selling (πωλῆσαι) of all possessions (ὐπάρχοντα), is to be understood as expressly spoken of the passions of the soul (τῶν ψυχῶν παθῶν διειρημένον). [Quis Dives Salvetur 14] And this is the import of “Sell what you have, and give to the poor, and come, follow Me” — that is, follow what is said by the Lord. Some say that by what “you have” He designated the things in the soul, of a nature not akin to it, though how these are bestowed on the poor they are not able to say. For God dispenses to all according to desert, His distribution being righteous. Despising, therefore, the possessions which God apportions to you in your magnificence, comply with what is spoken by me; haste to the ascent of the Spirit, being not only justified by abstinence from what is evil, but in addition also perfected, by Christlike beneficence. In this instance He convicted the man, who boasted that he had fulfilled the injunctions of the law, of not loving his neighbour; and it is by beneficence that the love which, according to the gnostic ascending scale, is Lord of the Sabbath, proclaims itself. We must then, according to my view, have recourse to the word of salvation neither from fear of punishment nor promise of a gift, but on account of the good itself. Such, as do so, stand on the right hand of the holy place. [Strom. 4.6] Again when he says, "If you would be perfect, sell your possessions and give to the poor," he convicts the man who boasts that he has kept all the commandments~ from his youth up. For he had not fulfilled "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Only then was he taught by the Lord who wished to make him perfect, to give for love's sake. For such an one—one who fulfils the command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”—is perfect. For this is the true luxury — the treasured wealth. But that which is squandered on foolish lusts is to be reckoned waste, not expenditure. For God has given to us, I know well, the liberty of use, but only so far as necessary; and He has determined that the use should be common [Strom 3.6]
[21] Alexandria originally operated yet there is always the idea of two chairs of authority - the bishop and the head of the catechetical school.  Even when Arius himself was presbyter of matyrium of St Mark, there are at least two other heretical figures identified as 'bishops' -Achiles, Melitus.

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