Monday, June 11, 2012

The Seventh Chapter in My New Book

In summer of 1958 an incredible discovery was made by a most intriguing individual. The man was Morton Smith, a first year Associate Professor of Ancient History at Columbia University. The discovery was a previously unknown correspondence from Clement of Alexandria to an otherwise unknown or unidentified 'Theodore.'  It all went down like this.  Smith was in the process of cataloguing the various books of an ancient monastery near Bethlehem at the behest of the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. He knew that it was a common practice for monks to hand copy manuscripts onto the unused pages of old books. He was hoping to stumble upon something noteworthy and one day toward the end of his stay at the monastery, it finally happened.

At the back of an edition of the letters of the second century Church Father Ignatius of Antioch published by Isaac Voss in 1646 Smith noticed a ‘text written in a tiny scrawl.’  He quickly realized that the manuscript was a letter by Clement of Alexandria.  As Smith later recalled it was ‘written over both sides of the last page (which was blank) of the original book and over half of the recto of a sheet of binders paper.’ He photographed the text ‘three times for good measure' and by the time Smith started transcribing the Byzantine script he knew he had made an amazing discovery.

The new text was identified as number 65 of 75 manuscripts catalogued at the Mar Saba monastery. In 1960 Smith published his results in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Journal Nea Sion, as well as the journal Archaeology.  Smith also announced his find at the 1960 annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature where he also presented the group with a translation of the Clementine letter.  The next morning he published a written account of his presentation on the front page of The New York Times:

A copy of an ancient letter in Greek that ascribes a secret gospel to Mark and that narrates a miracle absent from the present Gospel of Mark was made public last night. Dr. Morton Smith associate of history at Columbia University presented the letter at a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis. He said he found the letter two years ago while studying ancient manuscripts at the monastery of Mar Saba about twelve miles south east of Jerusalem.

The letter incorporates the story of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead and attributes the account to Mark.

Dr. Smith's visit to Mar Saba, in the hope of finding material on ancient religion, a field in which he is an authority, was rewarded when he found the letter, presumably a seventeenth century or eighteenth century copy, written in the back leaves of a Dutch book printed in 1646.

Translated and transcribed the letter was presented last night with evidence that attributes its authorship to Clement of Alexandria.  The paper was read at the ninety sixth meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis at Union Theological Seminary.

Clement was a prolific author who wrote in Alexandria between 180 - 202 A.D.  With Origen he is generally considered either to have created or laid the foundation for Christian theology and exegesis.

Dr. Smith's find was not examined on historical or theological grounds.  But the professor foresaw that if the letter received scholarly acceptance as having been written by Clement, opinions about the teaching of Jesus, the origin and character of the Gospels and the character and early history of the early Church would have to be reconsidered.

Six paleographical experts have agreed with Dr. Smith that the handwriting he found could be dated to the eighteenth century; two favored the seventeenth century.

It was probably written by a monk, for the sign of the cross appears at the top of the text, which is two and one-half pages.  It was written with correctness and facility: Dr. Smith said it was most likely the work of a scholar.

The heading "From the letters of the most holy Clement the author of the Stromateies to Theodore," suggests that the letter was once part of a collection.  The body of the letter, which has been minutely compared to the known writings of Clement for content and style, appears to support attribution to Clement.

Words that were favored by Clement or that were particular to him were found in the letter, as well as favorite constructions in grammar.

Clement's writings which have contributed materially to knowledge of Christianity in Egypt - said to have been founded by Mark - once included works which were considered scandalous.  These have disappeared.

The questions that scholars will have to deal with in judging the document are:  could it be an imitation of Clement's work, and then, if the letter is proved genuine, could the gospel mentioned be an imitation of Mark?  Clement might have been quoting from what he honestly considered to be a gospel of Mark but about 130 years intervened between Mark and Clement.

Clement's letter to an unknown 'Theodore,' was obviously a reply.  Theodore had apparently written to the theologian, setting forth certain teachings of the Carpocratians, a heretical sect, and his opposition to them, and telling of their knowledge of the secret gospel.

In Clement's letter the Lazarus story, which Clement calls part of "secret gospel," is fully related.

However, Clement apparently made an unusual concession in revealing the "secret gospel."  Clement emphatically lectured Theodore on the necessity of keeping knowledge of the gospel secret - he "should even deny it on oath," Clement wrote.

What falsifications were in the Carpocratian version, Clement did not outline, but he charged that even "true" elements had not been "reported truly."

Further, Clement said that when Mark had written "an account of the Lord's doings" while with Peter in Rome, he had not written about all of them, nor had he even hinted "at the ones pertaining to the mysteries."

According to the letter, Mark had made a selection, choosing these "doings" that would be "most useful" in instruction in the faith.

After Peter's death Mark went to Alexandria, taking, according to Clement's letter, the notes from Peter.  From these, Clement wrote Mark "transferred to his former book the things suitable to progress towards knowledge."

Still, Clement wrote, Mark kept secret "the things which are not to be uttered."  Clement said that Mark did not set down "the hierophantic [priestly] teachings of the Lord," but added his gospel other stories and sayings that, when interpreted, "would lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth which is hidden behind seven veils."

The composition was left to the Church of Alexandria, and kept carefully guarded, Clement wrote, "being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries."

The Gospel According to John is the only one of the traditional four Gospels to include the story of Lazarus. The new material also introduces a new witness to the miracle - Salome, the personality who once played an important part in Egyptian pseudepigrapha - Biblical material that was judged spurious.

In the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament, Salome watches the Crucifixion "afar off" with other women and shares the task of anointing Jesus after his death.

Mark, the companion of the apostles, is generally considered to be the first in point of date.  He is known not to have been a witness to the New Testament events, but his gospel presented the tradition of eye-witnesses of second hand.  Biblical scholars date Mark in the sixties of the first century; Matthew or Luke, who used or whose compilers used Mark as an important source, are dated to 75 and 85 A.D.

The story made its way to newspapers across the world.  After all this was the 1950s, an idealistic era in American history, where there was widespread public interest in the rediscovery of the ancient world.  Only a few years earlier the last members of an elite group of scholars had returned home from years of combing through the major monastic libraries in the Middle East looking for lost or ignored manuscripts. A little over a decade earlier a veritable treasure trove of scrolls was found at Qumran near the Dead Sea. It was an age where almost anything seemed possible.

Morton Smith spent the better part of a decade of meticulously piecing together the nature of his remarkable discovery.  He ended up writing two books on the subject – the first, a weighty scholarly tome entitled Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark and set to Harvard University Press in 1966.  The second, a popular reinterpretation of the discovery which had only a little over a hundred pages  released by Harper and Row in the summer of 1973.  By a strange twist of fate the thin, easy to read version of the discovery was the one book by Morton Smith that everyone seems to have read - that and Jesus the Magician, which sets forth Smith's belief that the founder of Christianity was shamanistic wonder-worker.

The upshot of all of this is that Smith devoted eight years of his life to a work that almost no one ever read.  Most of the media's attention at least was focused instead on the rather sensational claim that this letter demonstrated that fallibility of our inherited religious tradition.  It is not surprising that the Letter to Theodore became a lightning rod for criticism from conservative Christians, especially in America.  So too that Morton Smith eventually became the target of many of their attacks.

Yet if we stay clear of emptiness of the contemporary 'culture wars' we can to probe into the possibility that Smith might have missed an important clue in his decade long attempt to understand his discovery.  Indeed in spite of his voluminous literary output Smith never managed to solve one of the most fundamental mysteries surrounding the discovery - who is the 'Theodore' to whom Clement addressed the contents fo the letter?
All that Smith can say is that this 'Theodore' might pretty much be anyone.  After all, Theodore was a common name in antiquity.

The closest he gets to saying anything definitive about 'Theodore is that the addressee was probably living in Palestine.  Smith remarks that not only did Clement study in Palestine under a teacher of Jewish ancestry but "Clement was also a friend of a subsequent bishop of Jerusalem (Eusebius Church History 6.11.6; 13.3; 14.9) to whom he dedicated a book against Judaizing heretics or Jews (Photius, 111).  He may have had other connections in the city."[1]  Smith seems to have supposed that because the letter is preserved at the Mar Saba library there may well be an underlying connection between Theodore and the Jerusalem see.

The Mar Saba monastery was always under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Jerusalem.  There was known to be a collection of letters attributed to Clement of Alexandria in the monastery's library at least as late as the ninth century.[2]  Morton Smith works this evidence in two directions in his study.  On the one hand he floats the idea that the Letter to Theodore must have been a fragment from that lost collection of letters.  On the other hand he works the evidence in the other direction to hypothesize that the letter was written to or by someone living in the environs of see of Jerusalem.

When Eusebius developed his Church History he presented letters of Origen drawn from the libraries of Jerusalem and Caesarea.  Caesarea Maritma was the home of a large library of books with many Alexandrian Christian authors.  Caesarea was traditionally independent from the authority of the bishop of Jerusalem.  Eusebius the author of the Church History was Caesarea's most famous bishop and while the two cities enjoyed a close relationship in the period before Eusebius's reign, there was bitter strife in the age that followed.

With so many pilgrims flooding its gates to catch a glimpse of the many important landmarks, it is not surprising to witness the see of Jerusalem demanding that Caesarea should be placed under its jurisdiction.  The various bishops of Caesarea resisted these efforts.  But by about the fifth century or so the see of Caesarea Maritima was subordinated to the the Jerusalem church.  The reason this is important is that many modern scholars have probed into a possible connection between the Letter to Theodore and the great library at Caesarea.   The original letters might either have been copied or physically moved to the monastery at Mar Saba from this library or the one established earlier by bishop Alexander at Jerusalem.[3]

What makes Caesarea so intriguing is the fact that we have already seen a certain Theodore (= Gregory Thaumaturgus) was united to another man in this city with Origen of Alexandria presiding over the ceremony.    There is such a strong undercurrent of anti-gay rhetoric from those who oppose the authenticity of the text, I say let's simply given to their 'expertise' on these matters and see where that leads us.[4]  Origen was certainly connected to the same circle of Alexandrian expatriates in Palestine.  Whatever mystical bond he established between Gregory and Athenodorus was also certainly of Alexandrian origin.  As such the allusion to a same-sex union rite in a correspondence written by another noted Alexandrian to another Theodore starts to take on ominous significance.

Origen and Clement were known to one another even if the actual nature of their relationship has been utterly expunged from the historical record.[5]  When we take a second look at the summary of the contents of the letter provided by New York Times (mostly written again by Morton Smith) we find that the direction of the research is already veering off in the wrong direction.  The letter is a correspondence between Clement of Alexandria and Theodore of Neocaesarea (later 'Gregory the Wonder Worker').  The subject throughout - not surprisingly - is what happens after initiation process is finished.

The letter opens with Clement commending Theodore for having 'silenced' or 'shut' of the 'unspeakable teachings of the Carpocratians.  He goes on to cite material from the canonical Epistle of Jude in which 'Jude' makes reference to a corrupt Agape or 'love feast' among a circle of unnamed heretics.  The fact that Jude has always been presumed to be a bishop or high ranking figure in the apostolic Jerusalem church is especially significant.  After all, Clement was a guest of Alexander the bishop of Jerusalem.  By citing the Letter of Jude one can speculate that he is deliberately making reference to a similar contemporary situation with respect to the heretical 'Carpocratian' sect corrupting an Alexandrian 'love ritual.'  Jude is the brother of Jacob, the first bishop of the see in the same way as he is now serving at the leisure of Alexander, the current bishop of the city.

As noted earlier, the evidence from the letter suggests that Theodore is a catechumen wondering 'what comes next' in his initiation process.  He has heard something negative about the same sex rite after baptism.  He has heard something about a secret gospel.  Now Clement, likely writing from Jerusalem, uses the epistle to Jude to demonstrate that the Carpocratians represent an age old problem.  There were always heretical sects misrepresenting or corrupting the original love ritual established by St Mark.  The Carpocratians are just the modern equivalents of the ancient group opposed by Jude.

The Carpocratians like their predecessors claimed to be free from the constraints of the Law of Moses.  They also 'boasted' of their possessing great and profound knowledge.  Yet  rather than saying that the heretics are way of base with their claims - the usual hyperbole developed by Patristic author - Clement argues instead that the group is 'somewhat' or mostly incorrect.  This alone should cause us to pause and take a second look at the details of his commentary.

Clement only acknowledges that some of what they say about this secret Gospel of Mark appears to be false.  There are indeed true elements in their teachings but even here Clement advises Theodore to be careful because even this isn't put in their right context.  As we shall see this is a consistent feature of Clement's critique of the Carpocratian exegesis of some commonly held gospel.  The Carpocratians misinterpret or misapply the contents of the secret text.  Yet given the fact that the official doctrine is only passed on by word of mouth to the catechumen who have completed their studies it is difficult to be certain how different the official teaching was from the Carpocratian doctrines.

We don't know the contents of the letter Theodore originally sent to Clement.  All that is certain is that he was a catechumen wondering about 'what came next' after the completion of his initiation with Origen.  Theodore likely also heard something about a 'secret gospel' or 'another gospel of Mark' which was said to be superior to the Law of Moses, the Jewish holy writings and likely also the familiar 'gospel according to Mark.'[6]  Indeed one of the principle reasons Clement went on to explain reveal detailed information about this 'secret' gospel of Mark was to demonstrate that it did not support the 'naked man with naked man' charge he made in his previous correspondence.

The fact that the Alexandrian community originally held fact to two gospels should hardly be surprising to us.  We learned the same thing from the early Roman community.  The only difference in Alexandria is that instead of one gospel being associated with the authority of Peter and another with Paul we find the Egyptian Church divided the two gospels according to Peter and Mark.  Mark wrote two gospels - one on behalf of Peter and another principally on his own authority.  Indeed as we shall demonstrate at the conclusion of this chapter, a third century document long known to researchers makes reference to the same phenomenon.  The Marcionites developed a longer version of the gospel of Mark.  Since the Marcionites are typically identified as followers of Paul, it would stand to reason that this longer 'mystical' gospel of Mark was one and the same with the 'gospel of Paul' referenced elsewhere in relation to the sect.[7]

Indeed some of the patterns that keep showing up with the respect to the Marcionites are worth noting.  The gospel of Peter was understood to be 'under the Law' whereas the gospel associated with Paul was written according to a superior authority.  By the late period at least the preferred gospel of the Marcionites was concealed from outsiders and perhaps the catechumen also.[8]  This was the exact same situation with respect to the Alexandrian 'secret gospel' of Mark.  As Scott Brown, a Canadian scholar who wrote his PhD dissertation on the Letter to Theodore, has already noted "the audience of the longer Gospel is not catechumens who are preparing for baptism but baptized Christians involved in advanced theological instruction, the goal of which is gnosis (knowledge)."[9]

The correspondence between Clement and Theodore then is entirely in keeping with what one might expect from a catechumen and a Church elder.  The difficulty that critics have raised, questioning why it is that Clement ignores the very rules of silence he references in the letter - i.e. "to deny the existence of the secret gospel on oath" - is easily explained with the identification of Theodore  as Gregory Thaumaturgus this 'breaking of the rules' becomes easy to explain.  Gregory was extremely wealthy and as such played by a different set of rules.  We can liken the situation to a rock star like George Harrison visiting with the Indian guru, Maharashi.

The Alexandrian expatriate community were likely desperate and eager to show special favor to prominent individuals like Theodore.  After all rich patrons were hard to come by.  The same situation has always been present in religious communities - the wealthy get special treatment from the authorities dependent on their money.  There is nothing at all in the surviving writings of Gregory Thaumaturgus which demonstrate any intellectual brilliance.  His lofty status was almost entirely related to the fact that he was a 'rich man' coming over to the faith.

It can't be coincidence that Clement consistently cultivates a policy of 'special treatment' for the rich.  Indeed his famous treatise Can the Rich Man Be Saved takes this flattery of the rich to new heights.  Similarly we have already seen that Clement was willing to change the rules about married priests in order to accommodate the new and extremely unlearned bishop Demetrius. So it is that Clement demonstrates time and again that the rich, powerful and well connected operate on a different playing field.  He is certainly not the first or last Christian theologian to eagerly embrace this cynical worldview.

We should note once again that when Clement decides to reveal to Theodore the exact words of the secret gospel he does to in order to disprove certain Carpocratian claims about the material.  The 'naked man with naked man' is specifically referenced but there may have been others.  We should expect that Origen had already told Clement how serious Theodore was about his studies.  As such he must have felt comfortable revealing the presence of an otherwise unknown story inserted after Mark 10:34 in the publicly circulating copies of gospel of Mark:

And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightaway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. 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.

While many detractors have argued the what is presented here is stands totally outside what one might call 'normative Christianity,' a sober view of the evidence suggests otherwise.  This material perfectly fits what we have just seen with respect to the initiation which united Gregory and Athenodorus and moreover Basil and Gregory a century later.

Most early Christian references assume the catechumen to embody the concept of 'the living dead' in some form.  So it is that they grave-clothes to their baptism.  As the famous scholar A N Wilson notes the narrative is secret Mark is merely claiming that "the ritual has been translated into an event, a 'sign' [where] the catechumen in his grave-clothes becomes an actual dead man in grave-clothes, coming forth to be initiated into the Baptism of Spirit, Baptism of Eternal Life."[10]  The dead at the time were wrapped in linen cloth when they were buried, something explicitly referenced in the parallel narrative in the gospel of John.  So it was that we find an early rite associated with the taking off or trampling the old clothes before baptism too.[11]

The obvious point of this correspondence then is to assure Theodore that the ritual he is about to partake in is wholly apostolic.  In other words, yes there was a same-sex union after baptism but no Jesus was not depicted in Mark's gospel as a naked man with another naked man.  Gregory goes out of his way to reference Mark as establishing these mysteries in order to reinforce the apostolic character of the rite. After all, Gregory was after all being initiated hundreds of miles from the original apostolic see.  He needed to be reassured about the character of the rite he was hoping to partake in.

Every metaphor, every allusion in Clement's Letter to Theodore reinforces the context of the baptism of catechumen.  For instance just before Clement explains that Mark wrote the gospel for the newly baptized he makes reference to a saying that has puzzled many critics of the discovery - "for the true things, being mixed with inventions, are falsified, so that, as the saying goes, even the salt loses its savor."  Salt was given to the catechumens in Rome and north Africa before baptism.  The specific idea that salt became 'corrupted' from mixing with heretics or idolaters is preserved in the writings of Gregory of Nazianzus.

Once we connect 'Theodore' here to 'Gregory Thaumaturgus' we can assume that the original correspondence was written within the same historical period that the surviving letter of Origen to Theodore was written.  In other words, Clement clearly wrote to Theodore while he was still a catechumen.  Origen's Letter to Theodore has also been preserved for us by the Cappadocian fathers and appears in the thirteenth chapter of their Philocalia (a kind of literary 'greatest hits package' of things laid down by Origen).  The original text was likely found in a lost part of the third century martyr Pamphilus's Apology for Origen which drew from material at the library of Caesarea.[12]

As John Anthony McGuckin notes in the Westminster Handbook on Origen, "Origen's Address to Theodore is the first of the large surviving epistle.  Theodore is generally understood to be his disciple, a young man studying with him in Caesarea, who subsequently became a leading missionary of the Cappadocian church under the name of Gregory Thaumaturgus."[13]  It is pretty much assumed by everyone that Theodore "assumed the name Gregory at his baptism; it can be presumed also that Origen arranged this at Caesarea."  Since we actually know a great deal about the manner in which the catechumen were initiated in Caesarea we can at least theoretically provide a contextual framework for the context of Clement's writing to Gregory.

The process of initiation at Caesarea was undoubtedly derived from or identical with the process of baptizing the catechumens in Alexandria.  This understanding of what went on at Caesarea under Origen's watch was first developed by Pierre Nautin of the University of Paris.  He developed his model from detailed examination of the various homilies of Origen on the books of the Old Testament.  Nautin noted the catechumen (unbaptized) were certainly an important part of the make up of Origen's audience for these readings.  As such, Nautin surmises that on all days of the week except Sunday there was a morning worship service without Eucharist that included a lengthy reading and homily on an Old Testament text.  This service would be open to catechumens as well as those more advanced in the faith and took place over a three year liturgical cycle.[14]

Nautin  rightly noted that catechumens would not have been present during the celebration of the Eucharist.  Yet his claim that they were also were also excluded from the reading the Gospel has come under some scrutiny.  The evidence of both Clement's and Origen's Letter to Theodore would suggest that a gospel - undoubtedly a publicly circulating text - was indeed read to catechumens.  In Clement's case it is certainly the gospel of Mark.  Yet we can see evidence from Clement and Origen's letters to the same Theodore that only a secret gospel was hidden from them.  This text - identified by Origen in his letter as 'the mind of the divine scriptures' - was only received by the initiates upon the successful completion of their course.  As Morton Smith put it, this was done so "that catechumens may be left without full information—not to say misinformed—in order to protect their faith."[15]

As we have already noted, this model for two gospels associated with two different apostolic authorities was widely accepted outside of Alexandria.  This is true not only at Rome but within the Marcionite tradition and even the writings of Justin Martyr.  Many scholars have noted that while Justin speaks of a written 'memoirs of the apostles' at times specifically associated with Peter his devoted student Tatian is mentioned in the same breath as a 'gospel harmony.'  The earliest report of this longer gospel only appears in the fourth century.  The assumption of scholars has always been that Tatian simply created this text on his own initiative.  Nevertheless it is almost certain that Tatian would have argued that he received the text from his master Justin.  Interestingly Justin of Rome speaks of the "Memoirs of the Apostles" being tightly connected to the law and the prophets.  Nevertheless we may also suspect that the fuller and more complete 'gospel harmony' was certainly a private gospel which was again hidden from catechumens.[14]

Marcion and Justin were associated with the city of Rome.  The fact that Clement's and Origen's Letter to Theodore were written to the same person is very significant as it affords us a window on the same sex initiation process outside Rome.  Clement and Origen were both writing to the man who would become know to future generations as Gregory the Wonder Worker.  This 'Theodore' would be likened by future generations as a second Moses and whose initiation 'in darkness' was likened to the theophany described in the book of Exodus.[16]

Clement and Origen were both corresponding with Gregory while he was still a catechumen.  As McGuckin notes Origen's "letter encourages Theodore to continue his studies day by day, through the assiduous reading of the divine Scriptures."  Yet the 'scriptures' here are clearly a mix of books of the Old Testament and the public gospel as the letter clearly witnesses:

do you, then, my lord and my son, chiefly give heed to the reading of the Divine Scriptures; do give heed. For we need great attention when we read the Divine writings, that we may not speak or form notions about them rashly. And as you give heed to reading the Divine volume with a faithful anticipation well pleasing to God, knock at its closed doors and it shall be opened unto you by the porter, of whom Jesus said, "To him the porter openeth." And as you give heed to the Divine reading, seek, in the right way and with an unfaltering faith in God, that which is hidden from the many, the mind (nous) of the Divine writings [emphasis mine]. Be not content, however, with knocking and seeking; for prayer is the most necessary qualification for the understanding of Divine things, and the Saviour urged us to this when He said, not only, Knock and it shall be opened, Seek and ye shall find, but also, Ask and it shall be given unto you."

The key to the understanding here is the line "that which is hidden from the many, the mind (nous) of the Divine writings (ton kekrummenon tois pollois noun twn theiwn grammaton)."  This is an obvious paraphrase of perhaps the most important passage in the entire collection of Pauline writings - the second chapter of the first letter to Corinthians.  As we shall see, this material is consistently understood by the Alexandrian tradition as Paul acknowledging that he laid down two teachings - even two gospels.[17]  

The important point here is for us to understand that Origen in his Letter to Theodore to be saying the exact same thing as Clement.  "And as you give heed to the Divine reading, seek, in the right way and with an unfaltering faith in God, that which is hidden from the many,the mind (nous) of the Divine writings" is a clear reference to the existence of the secret gospel.  According to the Alexandrian interpretation the apostle wrote two gospels, a publicly circulating text that just told the story of Jesus crucifixion and another built on that text as a foundation which is the 'mind of Christ.' (1 Corinthians 2:16)

So it is that we read in the beginning of the second chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians in our New Testament canon Paul announcing:

When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.(1 Corinthians 2:1 - 5)

Yet the same apostle acknowledges in what immediately follows in the letter that:

we do, however, speak a wisdom among the perfect, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began." (1 Cor 1.6 -7)  

This passage was always taken by gnostics to mean 'another gospel' separate from that of Peter and the apostles.[18]  Clement of Alexandria interprets the material in a very similar manner - the apostle's 'former' gospel was simply about Jesus being crucified and then a 'secret wisdom' (= secret gospel) was revealed, formerly hidden (apokekrumenen) from the knowledge of the catechumen.[19]

You don't have to be an expert in ancient Greek to see that this all necessarily fits together in Origen's Letter to Theodore.  Paul's original use of apokekrumenen (1 Cor 2.7) becomes Origen's kekrumenon in his correspondence with Gregory.  So too his reference to his "mind of the divine writings" is derived from Paul's "mind of Christ" which immediately follows.   As such Origen's address to Theodore presents exactly the same message as Clement's Letter to Theodore.  He references a 'secret writing' or 'secret wisdom' which is only revealed to the initiated which was written by the same man who wrote the publicly circulating gospel.  The only difference is that Origen expresses the ideas in terms of the writings of Paul while Clement in his correspondence with Gregory explicitly references Mark as the historical person behind the familiar of 'Paul.'

The idea that Paul should in some sense be a disguise for Mark is not at all surprising given the fact that even in our canonical book of Acts 'Paul' is not the apostle's original name.  Acts claims that Paul was originally known to the world as 'Saul' but suddenly adopted a new appellation which rhymed with his birth name.  No  one has satisfactorily explained why 'Paul' became his new identity.  It is widely recognized however that even though Clement makes repeated reference to the Acts of the Apostles, the text itself  "is not regarded by Clement as canonical."[20]  One may speculate that Clement employed a great number of text beyond those traditionally used by the Alexandrian Church in order to broaden the appeal of his message.

There were certainly a great number of Christians who were relegated to the status of 'heretics' for their rejection of the canonical Acts of the Apostles.  Irenaeus mentions many of them in his Against Heresies alongside the idea that Paul was not recognized by this name among these communities.[21]  How was Paul identified outside of the Catholic tradition?  The fifth century Armenian bishop Eznik of Kolb gives us a clue.  He witnesses that the Marcionites understood Marcion as the 'unspeakable' revelation in 2 Corinthians chapter 12.  As 'Marcion' is a subform of the original Latin name Marcus (= Mark) it is at least possible at least some of the Marcionites understood that our apostle 'Paul' was originally named Mark.[22]

It is also worth noting that a similar idea appears in the third century heretical compendium called the Philosophumena often attributed to Hippolytus of Rome.  The author attacks the sect which follows Marcion saying that "neither Paul the apostle nor Mark, he of the maimed finger, announced such (tenets). For none of these (doctrines) has been written in the Gospel according to Mark. But (rather it) is Empedocles, son of Meto, a native of Agrigentum. And (Marcion) despoiled this (philosopher), and imagined that up to the present would pass undetected his transference, under the same expressions, of the arrangement of his entire heresy from Sicily into the evangelical narratives." (Phil. 7:18)  The idea that the Marcionites used an expanded gospel of Mark - lengthened by the insertion of mystical doctrines originally associated with the pagan philosopher Empedocles - is significant.  Yet it is especially so given the universal testimony of the Church Fathers that this gospel was at once 'the gospel of Paul' referenced throughout the apostolic epistles of our New Testament canon.

As such we should at least acknowledge that the parallels between Clement and Origen's letters to Theodore opens the door to the possibility that Mark was in some sense understood to be a substitute for Paul.  Not only were both men paired with Peter in the early tradition, they were both specifically subordinated to Peter's authority by the third century Roman tradition. The point then is that it cannot be ignored any longer that Clement and Origen are saying the exact same thing to same Theodore.  They just happen to be taking slightly different paths to arrive at the same point.

Origen references to the material in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 to hint at the existence of a secret wisdom text which Theodore will receive upon the completion of his initiation.  In Clement's case - perhaps owing to the fact that he was not actively involved in instructing Theodore - he makes the very same point identifying the apostle as Mark:

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.

One could devote an entire volume to the misunderstood Marcionite paradigm and its influence over the Alexandrian Church.  Origen's patron Ambrose after all was a repentant Marcionite.  As to the question of why Origen sticks to the text of 1 Corinthians chapter 2 while Clement reveals the secret of the early tradition, it is ultimately very difficult to answer.  The obvious suggesting being again that it has something to do with Origen's active role in Theodore's initiation - i.e. the apostolic writings were already a part of Theodore's catechetical instruction.

It is difficult to make definitive conclusions about the motivations of people whom we know so very little - often mere sentences in the context of a broader narrative.  Perhaps Origen wasn't as easily impressed by Theodore's wealth.  Maybe the two Alexandrians were competing for the hand of this wealthy young patron.  Eventually of course Origen would succeed at attracting Ambrose the former Marcionite.  Nevertheless, it is at least conceivable that Theodore came between these former colleagues.  Perhaps this is what led Clement to overstep the established bounds of the communities ritual silence surrounding the secret gospel.  The great mystery of the Church exposed because of a 'Platonic love triangle' ...

[8] "The Marcionites had a book to which they attached special significance and in which they wrote about their doctrines. There was a book of Marcion's which he called 'the Gospel' (another MS 'the Unraveling') ... [it] is not to be found, unless God knows where [it is], for [it] is concealed among the Christians [al-Nadim Fihrist 9.1]
[11]The symbolism was certainly still present in the Antiochene Church in the fifth century where we are told that "after their baptism the catechumens were admitted to the Church and allowed to participate in the Eucharist. The author first speaks of deacons, whose function it is to bring the oblation to the altar and spread linens on it, as symbols of the linen clothes of the burial of our Lord."
[19] In Book Five of the seven volume work Clement remarks that just as "the Spirit says by Isaiah the prophet, 'I will give thee treasures, hidden, dark.'"   According to Clement this is what the "noble apostle" meant when he said "Howbeit we speak wisdom among those that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought. But we speak the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery; which none of the princes of this world knew. For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Even though the Jews are well instructed in the Old Testament Clement says that this same apostle goes on to inveigh against the opinion of their wisdom saying later "But we preach, as it is written, what eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, and hath not entered into the heart of man, what God hath prepared for them that love Him. For God hath revealed it to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God."  Clement explains that the apostle "recognises the spiritual man and the Gnostic as the disciple of the Holy Spirit dispensed by God, which is the mind of Christ. 'But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness to him.'" Already now we have arrived at the same point made by Origen in his letter to Theodore.  There is a 'mind' of the divine scripture referenced in the second chapter of the first letter to the Corinthians as 'the mind of Christ' which stands not only behind the Old Testament but more specifically (and in a deeper heretical sense) in the two gospels that were established by the apostle.  The first, Clement says, is established by "the apostle, in contradistinction to gnostic perfection, calling the common faith the foundation."  Indeed the apostle uses the word 'foundation' in almost the next line after his reference to 'the mind of Christ' saying "according to this grace given to me as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation and another built on it with gold and silver, precious stones."

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