Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chapter Eight of My New Book

The ancients did not have photographic or video reproduction,  All we have is there art and their texts.  This is why it is necessary to go over the minutest details of what survives from antiquity if we want to piece together the truth.  There is always something overlooked in any examination of the evidence.  This is how our brains work.  We can only absorb so much information, we can follow only so many lines of argument.  It is precisely because of the inherent fallibility of our minds that we have check and recheck, think and rethink everything be suppose we know about something.  We must never allow ourselves to grow intellectually complacent.  There is simply too much at stake.

We still have some unfinished business with Marcia and the original report of her 'Carpocratian' sect in the Outlines of Hegesippus.  This lost chronicle is one of the most important texts to understand how it was that Christianity became corrupted.  The original material was written in Aramaic and represented a clumsy attempt to incorporate the history of the Church within the broader context of human civilization.  As we have mentioned many times, its original conclusion made mention of the seventy seventh anniversary of the end of the first Jewish War.  The material was augmented to have the author travel from Corinth to Rome and mention the influence of Marcia.

This original text was translated into Greek, not once but likely with a number of clumsy attempts.  The original Aramaic reference to a certain heretic woman of the marqyone sect became developed into two great heretics of Greek Patristic literature - 'Marcion' and the  'Marcellina' of the Carpocratian. The manner in which a sect leader Marcion developed from the marqyone is analogous to the figures of Ebion the Ebionite, Elxai the Elchasite or Cerinthus the Corinthian.  All of these examples are the result of someone who does not understand how to interpret a foreign language properly.[1]

What interests us now however is the fact that this original reference occurs in the middle of an episcopal succession list which starts with 'Peter and Paul' most perfectly preserved by the citation of the Church Father Epiphanius.  Hegesippus originally wrote:

A certain Marcellina who had been led into error by them [the Carpocratians] paid us a visit some time ago.  She was the ruin of a great number of persons in the time of Anicetus, bishop of Rome, who succeeded Pius and those mentioned above.   

 This is where the original citation of Hegesippus ends. The text making reference to a bishops list which preceded it which Eusebius provides, either citing verbatim or summarizing its contents:

For the bishops at Rome were, first, Peter and Paul, the apostles themselves and also bishops—then Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, a contemporary of Peter and Paul whom Paul mentions in the Epistle to the Romans.

Eusebius goes on to explain how it was that so much time could have elapsed between Clement and Peter, when Clement is often identified as Peter's disciple from the start.  In the next section he goes back to summarize the same material once again:

In any case, the succession of the bishops at Rome runs in this order:Peter and Paul, Linus and Cletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Xystus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, and Anicetus, whom I mentioned above, on the list.  And no one need be surprised at my listing each of the items so exactly; precise information is always given in this way. In Anicetus’ time then, as I said, the Marcellina I have spoken of appeared at Rome spewing forth the corruption of Carpocrates’ teaching, and corrupted and destroyed many there. And that made a beginning of the so-called Gnostics

As we have already noted the original material associated with this tradition from Celsus of Rome is now lost.  Nevertheless the story led to a parallel legend of a man named 'Marcion' appearing in the city at the exact same time.  So too a shadowy figure called Cerdo (= fox) was supposed to be even earlier.

While the material is confused and often inexactly cited there is a strange consistency to the dating of the material.  'Peter and Paul' are inevitably referenced as the head of the Church.  A perfect example is Irenaeus's citation of a variant of the material only now which makes reference to 'Marcion.'  He begins by mentioning "that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops." It is at this point he makes reference to a very similar list to Epiphanius and even breaks into a lengthy tangential discussion at the mention of the name Clement.  He resumes the list of bishop names going down to Eleutherius.

The interesting thing is that the list of heretics has apparently been greatly expanded and now includes Valentinus and Cerdo.  The name of Marcellina has been changed to Marcion but the two references still greatly resemble things said about the female heretic in Epiphanius's citation.  For instance:

Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place of the episcopate. But the rest, who are called Gnostics, take rise from Menander

There can be absolutely no doubt that this information derives from the same original source as that which references Marcellina.  This is precisely why the original Outlines of Hegesippus is properly identified as the 'holy grail' of texts related to the heresies.  It allows us once and for all to get around Irenaeus's attempts to shape history for us and see what was originally believed and worshiped in the important city of Rome.

Indeed while it is commonly referenced today as Peter's church, the earliest authorities actually describe Rome as the joint possession of St Peter and St Paul.  The see only becomes referenced as belonging exclusively to Peter in the third century.  It will be our contention that the twin apostles Peter and Paul embodied the divinely sanctioned syzygy between male members of the Church. Indeed what is so astounding when you look at the evidence from antiquity is how consistently they are represented as a mystical couple.

It isn't just Hegesippus or anyone that cites his original work (Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Epiphanius etc) but other second century witnesses like Dionysius of Corinth who similarly speaks of those "joined in close union the churches that were planted by Peter and Paul, that of the Romans and that of the Corinthians:  for both of them went to our Corinth, and taught us in the same way as they taught you when they went to Italy; and having taught you, they suffered martyrdom at the same time."[2]  Indeed a carefully reading of the original material reveals that the Carpocratians not only appeared in the Roman succession list but are accused - perhaps rhetorically - of claiming to be "superior to his disciples Peter and Paul ... and in no respect inferior to Jesus."[3]

The Roman Church clearly took an interest in uniting men in a mystical syzygy which imitated the angels in heaven.  It wasn't just Peter and Paul but Epiphanius citation of Hegesippus also seems to imply that another pair immediately followed - that of "Linus and Cletus."[4]  Moreover, we may even begin to speculate that one of the reasons why both Irenaeus and Epiphanius break off their accounts of the succession list at Clement is because he was originally paired with the contemporary and now unnamed bishop of Corinth  with whom he had a long and utterly fabulous correspondence.[5]  The pairing of bishops between cities helps explain the traditional role of Roman and Alexandrian churches and such figures as Marcia and Demetrius.

If we go back to the example from the Outlines "Linus and Cletus" and Clement and his Corinthian partner can be identified as successors the each of the original divine syzygy of Peter and Paul.  For Linus is always identified as the Linus in 2 Timothy 4:21 just as Tertullian says that Cletus rather than Linus was the heir of St Peter.  The only reason people ever started to say that Linus succeeded Peter was because of the attempt to establish a single line of succession in Rome.  Moreover Clement was Peter's well established disciple no less than the Corinthian church was originally associated with Paul.[6]

Indeed this idea that there were two bishops associated with each of "Peter and Paul" seems to have continued down into the third century.  This is when it is clearest of all that there were two bishops in Rome.  We have already seen that there was a famous spat where Hippolytus condemned Callistus the bishop at the beginning of the third century.  What many readers haven't realized yet is that Hippolytus was himself a bishop and in many later historical sources, an anti-Pope - the first in history.[7]  Yet Hippolytus didn't stop there he also attacked an equally famous Gaius of Rome who wrote closer to the time of Irenaeus.  This Gaius in turn is identified by an important title in one surviving reference - the "bishop of the nations."[8]

When all the evidence is pieced together it is clear that there were two 'branches of government' - to borrow the American terminology - in the Roman Church of the second and third centuries.  Indeed Gaius himself seems to hint at the separate roles of "Peter and Paul" as founders of the Roman Church in another surviving fragment - "And I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you choose to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Road, you will find the trophies of those who founded this church" -  Even though the shrines of Peter and Paul are located in two separate parts of the city, their feast day was originally celebrated together at the same time.  Early tradition even has them dying in the same hour in the two different locations.

The mystical idea which emerges in the early Church is that Peter and Paul embodied the mystical concept of the divine economy of Father and Son.  This is likely where the related concept of the Trinity was developed.  Yet it is interesting to note that Irenaeus and other early Roman figures consistently focus their attention on the divine economy of these two figures rather than the familiar three (= Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  In the same manner then there were two parts to the rule of the Church.  There was a figure like Irenaeus or Gaius who sat in the chair of Paul and looked over the Church as a whole and then there was a bishop of Peter who seems to have only had jurisdiction over the churches of Italy.

As such we can begin to see that Peter and Paul were venerated as a cult of twins, a divine syzygy which embodied the idea that the two branches of government worked together to transcend the physical distance between the two bishops.  It is hard not to believe that this Roman cult was developed from an original Alexandrian model identifying Peter and Mark as adoptive 'brothers.'  Indeed one may even argue that the reason we see so much contention in the Roman Church of the late second and early third centuries is that Demetrius had effectively emasculated the traditional authority of Rome's rival.

The rich Alexandrian tradition interesting understood that the two branches of 'divine government' was established in God's pairing of Moses and Aaron in the Book of Exodus.  The influential Alexandrian Jewish writer Philo makes the case that Moses and Aaron functioned afterr the mystical relationship established between  and his Word.[9]  It is difficult to believe that the Roman model of "Peter and Paul" developed independently of Philo.  As such, it seems highly probable that the Roman cult of the apostolic 'twins' was brought to Rome from Alexandria long before Marcia and the Carpocratians.  Indeed Irenaeus claims that a certain heretic named Valentinus was the first 'bad guy' to appear in the capitol.  His sect seems to have also taken a deep interest in the pairing of Peter and Paul.[9]

It is enough to conclude that this doctrine of heavenly pairs must have originated in Alexandria.  Origen for instance likens Peter and Paul to angels and makes a point of saying that both men now have identical 'spiritual natures' - they are one soul in two bodies.[10]  This Alexandrian notion seemed to have been diffused into a great many writings of the Church Fathers in the fourth and fifth centuries.  One prominent author who developed this notions was Gregory of Nyssa.[11]  The idea was also passed along on to so-called 'Origenist monks' who settled in the Mar Saba monastery in Palestine in the fifth century. So it is that we have John Cassian continually make reference to Peter and Paul participating in one divine nature.  The twin apostles are inevitably brought into such discussions of the divine economy because they are quite literally the living symbols of Father and Son.

The mystical doctrine survived at Mar Saba down to its last great theologian - John of Damascus. John had access to the monastery's excellent theological library in the eight century.  He not only mentions the very collection of letters of Clement of Alexandria from which the Letter to Theodore originated but also countless treatises of this and other Alexandrian writer which expressed the same mystical concept of same sex union in terms of 'Peter and Paul'.  So it is very interesting to see John make absolutely explicit that the divine pair:

Peter and Paul are not counted as separate individuals in so far as they are one. For since they are one in respect of their essence they cannot be spoken of as two natures, but as they differ in respect of subsistence they are spoken of as two subsistences. So that number deals with differences, and just as the differing objects differ from one another so far they are enumerated.  The natures of the Lord, then, are united without confusion so far as regards subsistence, and they are divided without separation according to the method and manner of difference. And it is not according to the manner in which they are united that they are enumerated, for it is not in respect of subsistence that we hold that there are two natures of Christ: but according to the manner in which they are divided without separation they are enumerated, for it is in respect of the method and manner of difference that there are two natures of Christ. For being united in subsistence and permeating one another, they are united without confusion, each preserving throughout its own peculiar and natural difference ...  For things which differ from each other in no respect cannot be enumerated, but just so far as they differ are they enumerated; for instance, Peter and Paul are not enumerated in those respects in which they are one: for being one in respect of their essence they are not two natures nor are they so spoken of.[12]

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

Indeed this is not an isolated remark in John of Damascus's writings.  We hear him repeat the same mystic idea over and over again in the same work.  At one point he notes for instance that while Peter is seen to be separate from Paul to the uninitiated observer, to those who have undergone a similar experience and been initiated into the divine mysteries "the community and connection and unity are apprehended by reason and thought. For it is by the mind that we perceive that Peter and Paul are of the same nature and have one common nature. For both are living creatures, rational and mortal: and both are flesh, endowed with the spirit of reason and understanding. It is, then, by reason that this community of nature is observed."[13]  This idea of two men being united and sharing the same nature is the very essence of Alexandrian Christianity and is an adaptation of the original rites associated with the secret gospel of Mark.

It was likely Origen who adapted the original Alexandrian interest in "Peter and Mark" model to that of the more familiar Roman "Peter and Paul" formula.  As we shall see this was a matter of survival for the tradition.    Another Origenist, Gregory of Nyssa notes at one point in his debate with the neo-Arian Eunomius his opponent calls members of his tradition "rash for instancing the unity of nature and difference of persons of Peter and Paul, and says we are guilty of gross recklessness, if we apply our argument to the contemplation of the objects of pure reason by the aid of material examples."[14]  Indeed the original Alexandrian tradition held that Peter and Paul were as different as God the Father and God the Son. It was the later Roman model promoted by Irenaeus which argued that all here 'shared of one nature.'

Indeed when Hegesippus originally reports that the Carpocratians "declare themselves similar to Jesus; while others, still more mighty, maintain that they are superior to his disciples, such as Peter and Paul, and the rest of the apostles, whom they consider to be in no respect inferior to Jesus" what he is really saying is the heretics posited a superior nature to the essence shared by "Peter and Paul."  As we shall see the heretics clearly assumed that Paul was of a 'superior' nature.  The same idea shows up in a subtle manner in the description of Mark writing the secret gospel.  Peter's gospel comes from his nature where as Mark's comes from something related but ultimately superior.

The one thing that was consistently acknowledged throughout antiquity is that men were secretly 'yoked' into same sex pairs.  The purpose was clearly for each part of the union to emerge as co-equals with Christ.  This doctrine certainly had a heretical ring to it.  It also seems to echo what we just saw in the report of the practices of the Carpocratians in Rome.  Over time of course one particular yoked male couple - that of Peter and Paul - is venerated above all others.  Nevertheless the cult of the saints had many lesser couples - Cyrus and John, Sergius and Bacchus, Philip and Bartholomew, Cosmas and Damian, George and Demetrius, the two Theodores - just to name a few.

As we shall see this cult never died.  The underlying idea was that 'being yoked'' transformed individuals into saints.  As the secret gospel declares, it was a divine pattern established by Jesus himself.  So we read in the writings of the fifth century Church Father Theodoret repeatly makes reference to the divine pairing of Peter and Paul as brothers or 'yokefellows' (syzygoi).  This language certainly takes us back to the discussions we saw earlier in Clement of Alexandria and related Alexandrian writers with respect to the spiritual equivalent of 'marriage' for men.  The only difference now is that this divine syzygy is said to have been established between Peter and Paul at their meeting at Antioch described in the canonical Acts of the Apostles.  Theodoret writes that the Antiochenes during the persecutions of the pagan Emperor Julian in the fourth century endured only because they "had received their divine teaching from the glorious syzygoi Peter and Paul, and were full of warm affection for the Master and Saviour of all, persisted in execrating Julian to the end."[15]

The fact that Peter and Paul are described as a 'syzygy' certainly goes back to the second century.  As noted we have already seen how important the idea was to the early Alexandrian tradition.  Yet the notion already made its way to Rome at a very early date.  Not only were there Valentinians in Rome and outside of the capitol influencing Roman Christianity in the early second century, we learn that Tatian, the disciple of Justus the philosopher said that "several divine beings and several invisible aeons; everything is a mixture of good and evil, because everything lives in syzygy." [16]  While there is no direct mention of a Peter and Paul pairing here it is important to note that the veneration of syzygized men certainly predated the cult of these two saints.  Indeed this was instead the one specifically sanctioned example of a phenomena that went back to the beginnings of Christianity.

Indeed the concept undoubtedly began with the much more primitive notion that one chosen disciple of Jesus was joined with him to become a single divine syzygy.  We see one of the clearest living examples of this original phenomenon being perpetuated into the third century Mesopotamian environment with the rise of Mani the leader of the Manichaean church.  We read over and over again in the early Manichaean writings about Mani associating with divine powers and in particular one described as his 'syzygos' (his Twin, Companion or guardian angel also his 'syzyg'). [17] This power turned out to be Mani’s special protector who granted him a special revelation at the completion of his twenty fourth year. [18]

The story goes that after Mani became 'syzygized' with his twin he broke with the particular Jewish Christian baptismal sect he grew up in.  This Syzygos figure was ultimately identified as 'Jesus the Splendour' yet scholars are pretty certain that Mani himself was just mining an established apostolic tradition that seems to have been especially popular in the East - that of the Edessan cult of Judas called 'the twin' (= Thomas).  The tradition that Jesus had a special relationship with a twin named Judas survives in the Syriac Acts of Judas Thomas among other texts.  The likelihood is that in the Semitic Christian tradition this disciple Judas, rather than Simon, became the original foundation of the Church.[19]

The point then is that  we have at least two wholly independent traditions demonstrating that the divine syzygy concept was established by Jesus among his apostles.  While the Manichaean texts use different terms for this being - 'the Nous' (= Mind), Paraclete etc - the basic idea in this tradition is always the same.  As noted the Syzygos, Mani's alter ego, was sent to him from heaven:  this Twin brought Mani the revelation by reminding him of his divine nature and mission; and, like his guardian angel, he protected him.[20]  These details were certainly appropriated from the cult of Judas.  In the West by contrast we see the 'passing on' of the ritual syzygizing of pairs of disciples after Jesus but no mention any longer - or at least until relatively recently - of the original act of Jesus pairing with his one beloved disciple.

It is worth noting that the Pauline Epistles themselves do make reference to the apostle's syzygos in Philippians 4:3 - "I ask you, my true syzygos, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel ... whose names are in the book of life."  Scholars have never agreed who or what this syzygos was.  Some ancient sources argue that this is a reference to Paul's wife.[21]  Nevertheless it is hard not to see this reference was originally taken by at least some sectarians to be a reference to the supernatural Jesus.  In other words, Paul like Mani and Judas before him was 'partnered' in some way with Jesus.[22]

The idea that Paul by making reference to his syzygos was alluding to a female companion derives once again from the third century Alexandrian attempts to flatter Demetrius.  Modern scholarship dismisses the possibility that this syzygos was female.[23]  Nevertheless it points to the desperation among third century Alexandrians to find a precedent for what was happening to their see.  It is worth noting that it was in Alexandria after all that the gnostics blamed the creation of the world on a male-female syzygy.  This idea is reinforced throughout the earliest Catholic reports on the beliefs of the heresies and is reflected in the recently rediscovered gnostic writings at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in such texts as the Sophia of Jesus Christ or the Apocyphon of John.  The latter work, for instance presents the myth that Wisdom wanted to reveal her image out of herself without the assent of her male syzygos. She brought forth because of her wantonness, prounikos. Her work, as a result was corrupt and in need of redemption.

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

Jerome declares that his "researches have reached this result, that you must believe and hold the resurrection of the flesh in this sense that men’s bodies will be turned into spirits and their wives into men; and that before the foundation of the world souls existed in heaven, and thence, for reasons known to God alone, were brought down into this valley of tears, and were inserted into this body of death; that, in the end of the ages the whole of nature, being reasonable, will be fashioned again into one body as it was in the beginning, that man will be recalled into Paradise, and the apostate angel will be exalted above Peter and Paul, since they, being but men, must be placed in the lower position of paradise, while he will be restored to be that which he was originally created; and that all shall together make up the Church of the first born in heaven, and, while placed each in his separate office, shall be equally members of Christ: but all of them taken together will be the perfect body of Christ."[24]

It is very important to take note of the fact that Jerome is here revealing for the first time all the secrets he has been hiding during his life as a crypto-Christian.  For years he has hidden the true nature of the Alexandrian doctrine that brought him into the Christian faith.  Yet now, in the midst of the so-called 'Origenist controversies' which raged throughout the fifth century, he was openly exposing what he claimed was the central myth to the tradition which dated at least as far back as the time of Clement.  The reference to the repentant apostate angel being superior to Peter and Paul seems to echo statements made in the second century about the Carpocratian sect by a Roman source.  But by far the most interesting statement is the tradition promised to turn men's bodies into spirit and their wives into men.  This would seem to either be an incorporation of Carpocratian doctrines or males assuming the role of 'wife.'

We go on now to examine the references to the yoking of Peter and Paul within Rome and notice at once we are stuck with how sterile the depictions become. It can be argued that there must have been a pre-existing notion that Jesus made Peter his syzygos and that Peter in turn 'yoked' himself to Paul.  No specific details are given but it is the only way to make sense of the sudden emergence of the pair.  Most of the second century references to the pair are lost to us.  All that is clear is that by the third century the cult of heavenly twins was the most basic expression of Roman Christianity.  Indeed the Roman pair became the paradigm by which all other 'yoked' male pairs were sanctioned.

The Roman tradition never explained how 'Peter and Paul' became yoked.  It never explains how Peter became united with Jesus. There is no counter part to Clement's reference to the secret gospel or the Edessan claim that Judas was made Jesus's twin.  All earlier references were ultimately either destroyed or obscured.  At the same time however the preservation of Hegesippus's episcopal line from "Peter and Paul" preserved a superstitious reverence for the power of divine twins.  After all it is the primal Peter and Paul syzygy rather than Jesus which is consistently identified as the foundation of the Roman church.  Perhaps at one time the original syzygy was understood to have given birth to a chain of yoked bishops. At the very least there is still a sense of the original mystical doctrine in the understanding that 'Christ' is present wherever two men come together in his name.[25]

So it is that the earliest Catholic writings the notion that Peter and Paul 'speak together' and 'work together' as Christ on earth.  So Ignatius of Antioch makes reference to "Peter and Paul who issue orders unto" the Church of Rome.[26]  The mystical act of Peter and Paul coming to one mind is yet another way of expressing their communion of spirit or as the later orthodoxy of Irenaeus would have it - one spiritual substance.  The earlier traditions nevertheless likely assumed that while Peter and Paul were of one substance, they represented different authorities within the heavenly household. Peter as aforementioned had jurisdiction over the 'psychic' church in Rome while Paul looked beyond to the greater 'spiritual' matters which were of interest to an elite group within all Christian communities spread across the world.

While this original understanding only survives in Patristic references to the aforementioned heresies we have Irenaeus's correction of that original doctrine perpetuating throughout the ages.  To this end, we see the idea emerge that 'Peter and Paul' jointly composed one spiritual gospel rather than Peter a basic and Paul a perfect text.  To this end, the third century's Anatolius of Alexandria for instance speaks of "the successors of Peter and Paul, who have taught all the churches in which they sowed the spiritual seeds of the Gospel."[27]  Similarly Pope Leo in the fifth century speaks of the "progenitors" at Rome "who learnt the Gospel of the Cross of Christ from the very mouth of the most blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."[28]  In other words - and this is critical - despite the fact that Peter and Paul labored separately for the most part in their careers, 'the Gospel' as such was developed from the synergy of their working together.  It was not Peter's gospel, it was not Paul's gospel - 'the Gospel' - represents the mixing of their teachings in the same way as the sacramental cup was part water and part wine.[29]

Indeed we may sum up the situation by saying that the pairing of the two apostles came to symbolize unaminity.  So the third century Latin Church Father Tertullian speaks of "Peter and Paul" mystically establishing the gospel together "from the very beginning" and which "which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles."[30]  Which Church might you ask?  The answer should by now be obvious - "what utterance also the Romans give, so very near to whom Peter and Paul conjointly bequeathed the gospel even sealed with their own blood."   This emphasis of the unaminity of the apostolic pair inevitably becomes invoked whenever the conversation turns to Marcion.  This was certainly because the heretic was most explicitly associated with the elevation of Paul about Peter.

Indeed it is commonly claimed that followers of Marcion 'hated' Peter and 'only loved' Paul.  Yet there is no credible evidence from the Church Fathers to support this view.  Instead this heretical tradition may well have preserved what Irenaeus felt was an 'offensive understanding' about the implications of the divine syzygy established between two apostles.  For if we turn to the parallel discussion in another one of Tertullian's treatises the objectionable belief of these heretics is spelled out a little differently.  The heretics claim that Peter and Paul had different roles in the development of the gospel.  Something was lacking in Peter's understanding which was completed by Paul - or as Tertullian characterizes it "that a fuller knowledge might afterwards have come to them, such as came to Paul who blamed his predecessors."[31]

In other words, according to the 'heretical' model, Peter came along and first introduced a gospel which Paul developed more spiritually or as Tertullian again expresses it "another form of Gospel was introduced by Paul beside that which Peter and the rest had previously put forth."  This is exactly what Clement says happened with respect to 'secret Mark.'  To this end it was likely not a case of the heretics 'slighting' Peter per se but rather the orthodox taking exception to the view that Peter was somehow only capable of lesser revelation.  Indeed we may even suspect that the report about these two separate gospels being associated with the familiar figures of Paul and Peter was a forced adaptation of an original formula involving Peter and Mark.

In the end it is very difficult to make any definitive pronouncements about the history of the Church.  After all we are dealing with highly biased reporting of things which often have several layers of interpretation.  What seems to emerge from all the reports is that the Roman church possessed a shorter version of a more fully developed gospel preserved in Alexandria.  Such a situation would tend to argue for the antiquity of the Roman institution but at the same time the spiritual advancement of the assembly at Alexandria.  To this end there must have always been an uneasy balancing act just to keep some semblance of unity in the Church.  The appearance of Marcia at Rome seems to have exposed that weakness and caused a reaction in the opposite direction - i.e. the emergence of a doctrine that there was no perfection beyond Peter.  Even the most naive observer can see the political implications of such a doctrine.

It is amazing to see that all of the heretical controversies of the early Church can be boiled down to an advantageous political argument for the Roman see.  By denying the superiority of the apostle who went beyond Peter, Alexandria lost its authority.  The Alexandrians gave the world the idea that the pairing of Peter and Paul was like that of Moses and Aaron and they in turn were manifestation of the working together of the heavenly powers of Father and Son.  Yet it was the Roman church, desperate to assert a claim of superiority which argued that Peter and Paul were of one substance as the Father and Son were of one substance.  Why so?  Again it was simply to shake off the traditional authority of Alexandria.  

The difficulty for this formulation of course is that it cannot be argued that Moses and Aaron were equals.  To make this case is to ignore the explicit references in the Pentateuch which tell of Moses's superiority to his brother.  To this end, we can effectively refute the silly Roman arguments by an appeal to the consistent manner in which Peter and Paul are likened to Moses and Aaron in early Roman tradition.  Indeed the earliest identification to this effect appears in the Second Epistle of Clement on Virginity perhaps dating to the close of the second century.  The idea also shows up in later accounts of the apostle's paired martyrdom.  Here Paul is clearly Aaron and after arriving in Rome, he appeals to the Jews who rejected Peter's teachings about the law to be obedient to their new Moses.

While texts can be correct and destroyed, artistic representations are much less susceptible to the malicious efforts of religious partisans.  To this end, we see clear evidence that Peter and Paul were likened to Moses and Aaron in Christian art as early as the fourth century.  As the Blackwell Companion on Paul notes "art historians, noting the apostles' frequent pairing, have suggested possible iconographic prototypes, including Rome's other founding duo, Romulus and Remus."[32]  The motif, usually referred to as the concordia apostolorum, shows them in a tight embrace which symbolizes their communing in divinity.

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

Two palm trees, standing on either side of the apostles, attest to their coming martyrdom as they lock arms in greeting. Another early example of this theme, on an early fifth-century ivory belt buckle discovered beneath the cathedral of Castellammare di Stabia (30 km southeast of Naples), shows the two leaning in toward one another, their cheeks touching and their arms entwined. This particular composition may have been influenced by a painting in Rome's fourth-century basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura (destroyed  by fire in 1823). Here, Paul and Peter's meeting was the final fresco on the north wall, ending a series of forty episodes on the life of Paul and concluding a biblical cycle that made brotherhood one of its unifying themes by depicting Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brothers, and Moses and Aaron. One of the scenes of Moses and Aaron portrayed the two brothers embracing – perhaps an intentional allusion to the concordia apostolorum.[33]

It is also interesting to note that at the very moment the paintings were being completed, the Church Father Gaudentius of Brescia preserved the same ideas in writing.  Gaudentius emphasized the analogous, fraternal relationships, citing the line of Psalm 133:1, “Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity" and as “twins” born from one spiritual womb, “blood brothers,” siblings by a communion of blood.[34]

As we have already seen in the original model for the Church of Rome in the second century, Peter was the bishop of the Roman Church, the first bishop of the first see.  Paul on the other hand seems to have founded the office of the 'bishop of the nations' whose representative may have had the job of ensuring that all the churches worked together.[35]  Like Moses and Aaron they were likened to the heavenly lights of the sun and the moon who illuminated the day and night and ultimately only 'coming together' (= synodos) at the beginning of the lunar cycle.[36]  Indeed in later literature related to their martyrdom the two twin lights are miraculously understood to have died on the same day but in two different place in Rome to illustrate their mystical symbiosis.[37]

To this end, we can conclude that the mystical interpretation of Peter and Paul's role in the Roman Church was deliberately cultivated in the second century a specific political purpose.  Given all that we have demonstrated so far it would seem almost certain that the Roman model was highly influenced, or perhaps more accurately - went out of its way to co-opt - the original Alexandrian interpretation of Peter and Mark as contemporary Moses and Aaron figures.  In other words, the pairing of Peter and Paul was a conscious mythical fabrication to remold the primary divine syzygy away from its native soil in Alexandria.[38]  It was above all else a political contrivance developed for the benefit of Roman hegemony.

This understanding was recognized by the nineteenth century French scholar Ernst Renan described the situation as follows.  "It was admitted that Peter and Paul had been the two chiefs, the two founders of the Church of Rome, and thus they became the two halves of an inseparable couple, two luminaries like the sun and the moon. What one taught, the other taught also; they were always agreed, they combated the same enemies, were both victims of the perfidies of Simon Magus; at Rome, they lived like two brothers, the Church of Rome was their common work. Thus the supremacy of that Church was founded for centuries."[39]  This understanding absolutely fundamental to understand what principles Christianity was forced to adopt in the later period.

The lesson here is of course that the two males yoked together are the living manifestation of the divine economy in heaven.  We get a sense of that in the modern notion of 'the Papacy' - where the Pope is the one who sits 'in the place' of Christ.  Yet the original concept was that of two individuals, the weaker clinging to the stronger, together manifesting an authority higher than the god of this world.  All that Paul is recorded as saying about love being above the law is embodied in the love of these two paired individuals.  This is why it became necessary to subject the surviving Roman symbol of this yoking to the same kind of doctrinal reworking as what we happening with respect to Father and Son in the fourth century.

The symbolism of the twin apostles Peter and Paul was too powerful to be completely overcome.  Yet there was a danger in allowing the idea that Paul was connected to the superior power of the Father and Peter authority was limited and imperfect.  So we see in documents like the Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul manifest the very notion of 'consubstantiality' which has made its way back into the Catholic missal.  The concluding words read "we have believed, and do believe, that as God does not separate the two great lights which He has made, so He is not to part you from each other, that is, neither Peter from Paul, nor Paul from Peter; but we positively believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, into whom we have been baptized, that we have become worthy also of your teaching."[40]

Yet this notion is nothing short of an assault on anyone every having any intimacy with the very idea of being 'yoked' to salvation.  For it was Jesus who established Peter who in turn allowed for his yokefellow to reach the heights of perfection.  This is the nature of love.  This is the nature of relationships.  There is never absolute equality but rather a delicate sharing of something which by its very nature is ineffable and difficult to put into words.  We may never fully appreciate the mysteries of love, but one thing is for certain - the later Catholic doctrine of consubstantiality has nothing to do with it.  It is nothing short of a historical assault on the original concept at the core of the secret gospel.

[1] These mistakes continue to happen even as we approach modern history.  The fourteenth century Samaritan chronicler Abu ‘l-Fateh uses a Greek source that spoke of Dosthenoi and calls the Dosithean sect the Dostan or Dustan, a collective plural form in Arabic.  Yet Abu'l-Fateh's source is undoubtedly the sixth century text of Eulogius of Alexandria entitled 'Ruling Against the Samaritans' which not only mentions the Dosithenoi but their origin from "someone named Dosthes or Dositheus."[1]  Indeed the translations of the Greek sources hardly ever give this kind of information.  We are left scratching our heads guessing and trying to put all the pieces together.

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

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