Monday, July 2, 2012

Chapter Five of My New Book

On the 17th of March, 180 CE the Emperor Marcus Aurelius died in what is now the modern city of Vienna. The citizens of the Empire had high hopes that his excellent governance would continue in perpetuity.  It was only to be expected that because Marcus's secured the best educators for his son, Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antoninus, that he would emerge as the very embodiment of the philosopher king.  Yet the world soon learned that this Emperor was something else entirely.  Commodus wanted to be adored like the ancient world's equivalent of a rock star and to this end he took the stage for long stages at the Colloseum to try and winner over audiences to his new brand of politics.

No one seems to have foreseen that Commodus would have been attracted to the licentious ways of his uncle Lucius Verus. The ancient world simply took it for granted that Marcus Aurelius's 'contemplative nature' would be passed on to his son.  Indeed it is remarkable to read the criticisms which were directed at Lucius by ancient historians.  "He was a great womanizer," complain the ancient witnesses.[1]  Yet the words don't necessarily carry the same implications as we might give them.

The triumph of Christianity in the West effectively transformed our collective attitude toward sex and sexuality.  To be certain 'womanizing' is traditionally regarded as a sign of weak character but we have lost touch with the judgement of the ancients in this regard.  For Marcus Aurelius was considered a great-souled man because he was attracted to establish friendships with other great men.  There was certainly a homoerotic component not only to Marcus's relationships but more importantly for him to be considered a great man.  Indeed only animal-souled, pleasure seeking individuals would take an interest in women.  Women were simply deemed incapable of greatness and unworthy objects of desire.

The point here is that our tastes, our presuppositions and our inherited 'moral compass' leads us to misunderstand the ancient past and this is especially true with respect to earliest Christianity.  We typically foist our inherited prejudices about the inherent 'ickiness' and immorality on the sense of what ancient Christians were believing and thinking.  We assume a much greater influence for Judaism and its homophobic attitudes over the second century religion than is evidenced in the actual writings of the tradition.  And lastly we ignore how rarely the question of homosexuality and same sex attraction gets raised in the earliest Christian texts in spite of the general permissiveness of contemporary society.

The Church Fathers are far more likely to bring up the topic of women and exhibit misogynist tendencies even though none of these writers was ever female.  By contrast it would stand to reason that given the contemporary acceptance of homosexuality at least some of the second, third and fourth century Church Fathers had what we would consider to have been a gay experience at the very least before entering the presbytery.  Nevertheless the early Fathers almost always bring up the topic of 'crazy female heretics' and almost never bring up the subject of same sex attraction.  This is all the more remarkable considering the fact that almost all of these Christian writers openly embraced Platonism.  The math here simply does not add up.[2]

To this end, we shall make the case that it wasn't the implicit 'naked man with naked man' theme in Alexandrian Christianity which ultimately caused the downfall of the religion.  It wasn't as if ancient observers - Christians, pagans or otherwise - were saying Christianity was a corrupting force in society because it was promoting homosexuality.  Rather it was the fact that the tradition was 'causing' women of good standing to 'come undone' and engage in licentiousness that ultimately encouraged a transformation from within.  In order to understand this context we have to remind ourselves that in spite of all of what we have come to associate with paganism, Roman society very much valued the virginity of women.

The cult of the Vestal Virgins and the example these priestesses were supposed to set for women in Roman society was among the most sacred institutions of the Empire.  The Emperor Elagabalus in spite of wearing make up, wigs, dressing like a woman and, being married to a blond chariot driver and being "delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles" caused much greater unrest when he married the Vestal Virgin Aquilia Severa.[3] This after all was a flagrant breach of Roman law and tradition, which held that any Vestal found to have engaged in sexual intercourse was to be buried alive.

The point here is that the mystical interest in same sex unions could likely have continued indefinitely in Christianity if it were not for the Marcia the concubine of Commodus.  Marcia simply gave the Alexandrian tradition such a bad name that the mystical gospel of Mark was hidden out of view at the beginning of the third centuty.  Charlie Sheen did much the same thing recently for the idea of making business decisions while high on cocaine.  Commodus and Marcia were just too conspicuous for her devotion to Christianity to escape notice. As we noted at the beginning, the two weren't like other Imperial couples who sought to maintain private lives. Just ask the 50,000 spectators at the Colosseum witnessing their staged spectacles each night.

So it is that we must make the case that traditional scholarship has underestimated the importance of Marcia in the development of Christianity.  In order to understand the emergence of the familiar drab and sober Christianity most intimately associated with the figure of Irenaeus of Lyons we have to understand that these reforms were necessitated by the rock star status of the Imperial first couple.  Indeed the theme of the 'wayward female heretic' runs throughout his writings and the writings of the period, serving as one of the most important catalysts for embracing the complete transformation of the religion.

Yet the story of how Marcia met Lucius has more twists and turns than a bad soap opera.  From our present vantage point we can now only see the barest of outlines of their original union.  As with any ancient historical figure the place to begin our investigation is with her name Marcia Aurelia Ceionia Demetria.  The first three names testify that she was freed by the Imperial household in the reign of the Antonines (161 - 169 CE).  The cognomen Demetria can be taken two different ways - her birth name might have been Demetria or she could have been married to a man with the cognomen Demetrius.  The first possibility makes little sense given the fact she is always referenced as 'Marcia.' The second solution presents difficulties because we know so little about her male companions other than they were many.[4]

What we do know about Marcia is that she was raised by the Christian eunuch Hyacinth who still accompanied her when traveling in Rome during the reign of Commodus (c. 180 - 92).  As a little girl Marcia made her way to Rome with the household of Commodus's uncle Lucius Verus, the Emperor Lucius Ceionius Commodus.  This is where the Ceionius in her name came from.  There is an inscription associated with a fountain in a town called Anagnia (modern Anagni) some forty miles south-east of Rome that has her full name inscribed on it.  It also mentions a Marcus Aurelius Sabinianus Euhodus who is generally assumed to be her father.

We seem to know a great deal about Euhodus.  It is generally agreed that he had obtained his freedom and risen to wealth and influence as an imperial freedman.  They had some strong local connection with Anagnia, though whether the family came from there or whether Euhodus settled there with his new-found wealth is unknown.   Given the Greek names the latter is more probable, which leaves open the question of their original homeland. Euhodus may have been one of those many slaves (mostly performers of one kind or another) brought back by the Emperor Lucius Verus from Syria and Alexandria in 166 CE.

The family came originally from either Antioch or Alexandria, both cities with a noteworthy Christian community by this time. It is also possible that among the others that Verus brought back with him was an Egyptian Eclectus, who like Euhodus was soon made into a freedman and acquired money and favor through manipulating the easy-going Verus.  Verus in fact was the junior co-emperor of the philosophic Marcus Aurelius, who when Verus died in 169 CE dismissed all his colleague's freedmen with the exception of Eclectus. Eclectus probably remained assigned to Verus' widow Annia Lucilla, Marcus' own young daughter. Perhaps at this time Euhodus took his money and settled at Anagnia, where at any rate he certainly rebuilt a public bath.

After the excitement of palace life the duller pleasures of rural Anagnia may not have been sufficient for some in Euhodus' family, and it is likely that they kept up connections with any remaining friends in the palace like Eclectus.  Some time about182 CE Marcia emerges as the mistress of a collateral relative of the imperial family named Marcus Ummidius Quadratus. It is likely that Marcia was in her late teens at this time, but her role as Quadratus' mistress may not have been voluntary. As the daughter of a freedman and quite possibly a freedwoman herself she was governed by the ancient protocol that gave their patronus (former owner) fairly extensive claims on her deference (obsequium).  In this case since the patronus was effectively the imperial family the combination of tradition and power would have been impossible to deny.

At this time Marcia would again have been brought into close contact with Eclectus who was now Quadratus' chamberlain (cubicularius) probably transferred to him by Annia Lucilla.  that high-born lady was in fact herself involved in an affair with Quadratus which mushroomed into a plot to get rid of her brother the Emperor Commodus.  The assassination attempt was botched by Lucilla's step-nephew and accomplice Quintianus and all those involved were executed either then or soon afterwards.  Eclectus and Marcia both survived the bloodbath though they must have had a charmed life because every attendant close to Quadratus would certainly have been tortured to reveal any details of who was involved in the conspiracy.  While freeborn Roman citizens were normally exempt from torture, freedmen were not unless the accused was their patronus.

It has been speculated by some historians that Commodus already had his eye on the breathtaking Marcia and used the claim of assassination to clear the way for him to take his prize.  This theory is most notably put forward by the French historian Adolphe de Ceuleneer over a century and half ago.  "It is understandable that Commodus would notice the beautiful imperial freedwoman," writes de Ceuleneer and "convenient" to link Quadratus to this conspiracy as a pretext to his mistress and chamberlain cubiculaire. "It may well be that Commodus chose this conspiracy as a pretext to get rid of a man who had a mistress that the Emperor wanted to take. After all many emperors put to death for the most trivial reasons."[5]

Marcia remained the favorite of Commodus for nine years - up until the assassination she organized to kill him. Yet historians have struggled to reconcile her identity as a Christian with her being passed around the leading men of Rome like a party favor.  Not only was she sleeping now with the murderer of her former lover, there is evidence to suggest she wasn't even loyal to Commodus.  For the ancient historian Herodian maintains that she was also carrying on an affair with Eclectus the chamberlain. Yet Eclectus was almost certainly a eunuch.[6]  Eunuchs were found in great numbers in the Imperial court - and especially in the post of chamberlain cubiculaire.[7]

Lucius Verus probably got the inspiration for populating his entourage with large numbers of eunuchs from his girlfriend Panthea of Ephesus who is described by the satirist Lucian in the following terms - "I can't say who she is, but she received much attention, kept splendid state in every way, had a number of eunuchs and a great many maids, and, in general, the thing seemed to be on on a greater scale than accords with private station."  Everything we know about Lucius Verus indicates he took things to the next level.  Included in his massive company of actors, musicians, jesters, mimes, jugglers were "all kinds of slaves in whose entertainment Syria and Alexandria find pleasure, and in such numbers, indeed, that he seemed to have concluded a war, not against Parthians, but against actors."[8]  Eclectus was undoubtedly one of many such eunuch.

Of course all of this begs the question - why does the historian Dio Cassius think that Marcia and Eclectus got married if the latter was a eunuch?   The statement comes up as he introduces her marriage to Quadratus - "there was a certain Marcia, the mistress of Quadratus (one of the men slain at this time), and Eclectus, his cubicularius; the latter became the cubicularius of Commodus also, and the former, first the emperor's mistress and later the wife of Eclectus, and she saw them also perish by violence."[9]  Of course Dio Cassius presents the Emperor Elagabalus as a cross dressing eunuch married to a woman.  Moreover if Eclectus is assumed to be a fully functioning male, it is difficult to believe that she could be he concubine of Commodus while carrying on an affair or betrothed to his chamberlain.

Indeed Marcia and Eclectus were together already in the Quadratus household while she was carrying on as the senator Quadratus's mistress.  It seems impossible to believe that theirs was a carnal union here either.  Once again, it would seem that we are foisting our inherited understanding of 'what must have been going on' behind close doors to the ancient world.  All of which leads us back to the most basic question about where the 'Demetrias' from her full name came from?  Could it be that she was married to yet another male figure named Demetrius?  In the end we have to remember that Marcia was certainly the source of the report in Clement of Alexandria that  "the followers of Carpocrates think that wives should be held in common" and "in this love-feast [of theirs] they practice commonality. Then by daylight they demand any woman they want in obedience –it would be wrong to say to the Law of God – to the law of Carpocrates."[10]

It is interesting to go back to that innovation which keeps showing up in the Alexandrian historical narratives about Demetrius and his wife.  As we saw in the Coptic History of the Patriarchs, Demetrius describes himself as a 'eunuch' who is married to his 'virgin' wife.  Is it really that incredible that at almost the exact same period in history we have two Christians in the Imperial household - another eunuch and woman pair who seem to have been 'married' at least according to the later historians like Dio Cassius?  Could it be that underneath all of these references was the sacred union rite associated with Secret Mark in Alexandria?  In other words, the Carpocratian agape or 'love feast' which Clement says had already spread to Roman women in the late second century?

There are a number of reasons to think that something like this was true and brought the Alexandrian tradition into disgrace.  There are a number of reports in the period of 'virgins' and 'noble ladies' being seduced by heretics with names associated with Mark and his gospel.  It is at this same time that the Egyptian heretic named Mark enters the Patristic literature.  Mark is clearly St Mark personified as a contemporary boogeyman who is above all else a 'seducer' of innocent souls.  Irenaeus describes him as a "perfect adept in magical impostures, and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and ineffable regions above."[11]

We learn from Irenaeus and various other sources that this Mark instituted a second type of baptism different from that associated with John the Baptism.  This was a baptism of perfection or 'redemption' in which fire appeared in the water or on the water while the catechumen were being initiated.[12]  Indeed the justification for this additional rite comes from several parts of the gospel but most notably the very same section of Mark chapter 10 where we find the addition to 'Secret Mark.'[13]

For the moment at least we should focus our attention of Irenaeus's consistent concern that a great number of noble women were taking part in this secret ritual.  Irenaeus is scandalized that these "deluded women" are seem to have been numbered among the lower ranks of the presbytery.  A woman is said to bring forward the Eucharist cup and help in the consecration of the sacred vessels.[14]  Interestingly the same thing is said of the role of women in the Marcionite churches and Marcion is himself similarly accused of corrupting virgins.[15]

There is also an undeniable strong sexual undercurrent to Irenaeus's description of the Marcian sacraments.  Mark announces to the assembled females the following words while mixing the sacramental wine -  "May that grace who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill thine inner being, and multiply in thee her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in thee as in good soil."  These words, says Irenaeus are use for goading on the wretched women to madness and convincing them they can prophesy.  Yet they would certainly also have scandalized contemporary Roman society and Christians who came over to Christianity hearing reports about the manner in which wives and virtuous women generally were corrupted by the secret religion of Mark.

Scholars have known about these passages but inevitably failed to grasp their true significance for what they tell us about earliest Christianity.  We should pay attention for instance to the statement that Mark unites himself "with both men and women" but that Irenaeus only takes an interest in the sex scandal involving women.  Indeed the very same thing happens with respect to the material about the 'Carpocratians' which Irenaeus incorporates into a later section of the same work.  We know Hegesippus originally made reference to the sect performing "every unspeakable, unlawfulthing, which is not right even to say, and every kind of homosexual unionand carnal intercourse with women, with every member of the body."  Yet again, Irenaeus again only takes an interest in what is said of their corruption of women.[16]

Instead from the very beginning the reports of the Church Fathers reflect a basic discomfort with the portrait of Christian women in writers like Celsus.[17]  This is the ultimate source of the material here and so we read it declared that these heretics "have been prepared by Satan, and put forward as a reproach and stumbling-block for God’s church. For they have adopted the name of “Christian,” though Satan has arranged this so that the heathen will be scandalized by them and reject the benefit of God’s holy church and its real message, because of their wickedness and their intolerable evil deeds— so that the heathen, observing the continual behavior of the evildoers themselves and supposing that the members of God’s holy church are of the same kind, will refuse the hearing of God’s real teaching, as I said, or even, seeing certain of us behave in this profane way blaspheme us all alike. And so, wherever they see such people, most of theheathen will not come near us for conversation or an exchange of views,or to listen to sacred discourse, and will not give us a hearing, since they are frightened by the unholy deeds of the wicked people."[18]

The point of course is that the original source - and Irenaeus and Epiphanius thereafter - is really only reacting to the statements made by Celsus about Marcia c. 166 CE.  Hegesippus makes reference to the sins of the group involving the defiling of women and men and the later authors choose to focus on the noble women.  If this were taking place in the near contemporary age, the gay gossip would be far more damaging and the focus of the rebuttal.  Yet because this occurring in an antiquity, the idea that the heretics were corrupting women is the only focus of the second century Church Fathers because they were very worried about the reputation of the Church.

This is why Irenaeus goes on to express his disgust in what follows in the report on the followers of Mark that he "devotes himself especially to women, and those such as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth, whom he frequently seeks to draw after him."  He is said to be "addressing them with seductive words" such as these which follow:

I am eager to make thee a partaker of my grace, since the Father of all doth continually behold thy angel before His face. Now the place of thy angel is among us: it behoves us to become one. Receive first from me and by my grace. Adorn thyself as a bride who is expecting her bridegroom, that thou mayest be what I am, and I what thou art. Establish the sperm of light in thy nuptial chamber. Receive from me a spouse, and become receptive of him, while thou art received by him. Behold Charis has descended upon thee; open thy mouth and prophesy.

The description that follows of a woman "vainly puffed up and elated by these words and greatly excited in soul by the expectation that it is herself who is to prophesy, her heart beating violently, reaches the requisite pitch of audacity, and idly as well as impudently utters some nonsense" is directed against members of the Church who are leading member of society in the communities across the Empire.

Irenaeus is clearly reworking Celsus's original description of the various 'wild Christian women' that he met in Rome only now reinforced with the vivid example of Marcia's romp through Imperial Rome.  Irenaeus's 'heretic woman' is said to "henceforth reckons herself a prophetess, and expresses her thanks to Mark for having imparted to her of his own grace. She then makes the effort to reward him, not only by the gift of her possessions (in which way he has collected a very large fortune), but also by yielding up to him her person, desiring in every way to be united to him, that she may become altogether one with him."  While this does not yet rise to the scandal epitomized by Elagabalus's defiling of a Vestal Virgin, it is drawing on the same raw never which would eventually bring down an Emperor.

While Irenaeus says that at least "some of the most faithful women, possessed of the fear of God, were not being deceived" by every effort of Mark to seduce them, his success is ultimately attributed to magic and the use of "compounds philters and love-potions, in order to insult the persons of some of these women, if not of all."  For Irenaeus goes on to note that even those women "who have returned to the Church of God have acknowledged, confessing, too, that they have been defiled by him, and that they were filled with a burning passion towards him" because of the effectiveness of these magical potions that he developed to seduce them,[19]

It cannot be overlooked that Irenaeus goes out of his way to present the heretics as diabolically plotting to corrupt the virtues of women.  It was a deliberate effort to condemn the followers of 'Secret Mark.'  The warning is clear - bring this Egyptian Mark in your homes and he will defile your most prized possessions.  To this end  Irenaeus brings forward:

a sad example of this occurred in the case of a certain Asiatic, one of our deacons, who had received him (Mark) into his house. His wife, a woman of remarkable beauty, fell a victim both in mind and body to this magician, and, for a long time, travelled about with him. At last, when, with no small difficulty, the brethren had converted her, she spent her whole time in the exercise of public confession, weeping over and lamenting the defilement which she had received from this magician.[20]

It cannot be coincidence that Irenaeus consistently ignores the danger that Mark allegedly poses for men.  The bottom line is that no one worries to much about the corrupting of male virtue.  Indeed no one likely disputed that men would have desired to be united with another man for some sort of deep mystical union.  The misogyny in the ancient world was such that few believed that women were even capable of such profundity.  The only reason they could be acting this way was because they were controlled by magic or drugs.

This is why the discovery of the Letter to Theodore is so significant.  It not only explains the context for these reports about the heresies and why the descriptions of the Marcians and Carpocratians sound almost identical.  It finally explains how Marcia could have considered herself a Christian.  For it is interesting to note that historians of religion have struggled to explain the concubine of Commodus.  De Ceuleneer goes so far as to question how "so immoral a person could have been a Christian."  Indeed he takes issue with the word used in a third century religious text to describe her religious devotion.  Marcia is described in the Philosophumena as a 'philotheos' a Greek word which for de Ceuleneer "is not even synonymous with Christian" and is actually "used several times by pagan authors, and Aristotle and a Pollux, only in the sense of Dei amans."  The same interpretation is brought forward by many contemporary believers.  In recent times Thomas C Oden explains the terminology as follows - "this could have implied either a seeker or someone inwardly drawn toward the righteous life who was willing to give Christians a voice and who was seeking life with God."[21]

It is amazing that so many people have attempted to obscure the significance of this terminology when it clearly shows that extol Marcia as a gnostic.  Both Moses and Abraham are described as 'lovers of God' (philotheoi) after being prepared by God for the mystic vision of the divinity.[22] Philo says Moses "with a few other men, was loved by God and was a lover of God, being inspired by heavenly love, and honouring the Father of the universe beyond all things, and being honoured by him in a particular manner."[23]  Clement of Alexandria interestingly develops these same ideas within the context of the Christian mysteries and its goal of being totally assimilated with God.  He writes that "the godly man is the only lover of God, and such will he be who knows what is becoming, both in respect of knowledge and of the life which must be lived by him, who is destined to be divine, and is already being assimilated to God. So then he is in the first place a lover of God (philotheos). For as he who honours his father is a lover of his father, so he who honours God is a lover of God." [24]

The reality of course is that the term philotheos has a very specific significance within the Alexandrian tradition.  It means essentially the same thing as 'gnostic' - i.e. a figure who has been brought into acquaintance with God after some mystical vision.  The term never applies to women in Philo.  Instead it is reserved for the Patriarchs of Israel, such as Moses who managed to see God while standing in the holy of holies of the tabernacle:

the soul of the lover of God seeks to know what the one living God is according to his essence, it is entertaining upon an obscure and dark subject of investigation, from which the greatest benefit that arises to it is to comprehend that God, as to his essence, is utterly incomprehensible to any being, and also to be aware that he is invisible. And it appears to me that the great hierophant had attained to the comprehension of the most important point in this investigation before he commenced it, when he entreated God to become the exhibitor and expounder of his own nature to him, for he says, "Show me thyself;" (Ex 33:12) showing very plainly by this expression that no created being is competent by himself to learn the nature of God in his essence.[25]

Indeed Philo understands Moses to united with the divinity in the manner of the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who are described as "lovers of God, and beloved by God, loving the only God, and being loved in return by him who has chosen ... to given them also a share of the same appellation as himself. [26]

The important thing for us to see is that the concept of the 'philotheos' - the lover of God - was already established in Judaism, and particular the tradition associated with Philo in Alexandria in the first century which incorporated Greek philosophy into its exegesis of scripture.  We should recognize that the related concept of 'friendship' with anything is a quintessentially Greek virtue.  All the 'lovers of God' in the Jewish tradition are inevitably described as 'friends of God.'  As we shall see later in the book, the Patriarchs were each drawn by 'love' (philia) to God and in the same way the longer gospel of Alexandria is understood by the author of the Philosophumena of establishing the same principle with contemporary men.

This Christian understanding of philia is compatible with what Philo says about the vision of the soul at the end of the Phaedrus.  Indeed Philo understands it to have originally been established by Moses who:

describes this mystical or the soul of the man who is the lover of God, being eager for truth, springs upward and mounts from earth to heaven; and, being borne on wings, traverses the expanse of the air, being eager to be classed with and to move in concert with the sun, and moon, and all the rest of the most sacred and most harmonious company of the stars, under the immediate command and government of God, who has a kingly authority without any rival, and of which he can never be deprived, in accordance with which he justly governs the universe.[27]

Of course this use of philotheos in Philo has been entirely appropriated by his devoted Christian student Clement of Alexandria.[28]  This is neither surprising nor unexpected especially given the fact that Irenaeus himself describes the Gospel of Mark in very similar terms - as the gospel "which renovates man, and sums up all things in itself ... raising and bearing men upon .its wings into the heavenly kingdom."[29]

Indeed none of these things would likely have caused a great scandal if it were not for the fact that a notorious woman like Marcia was the standard bearer of the text into the third century.  The fact that she is the 'philotheos' of the Philosophumena's description of the age is only piece of the puzzle.  The bottom line is that having a women partake in the vision described in the Phaedrus was problematic for ancient minds.  Beyond the question of whether women were deemed to be 'great souled enough' to experience these heights, there is also the basic problem that the Platonic imagery invoked here is quite specifically homoerotic in its nature.  In the very same text heterosexual attraction is explicitly linked to animal husbandry and a soul incapable of being a 'philotheos.'  Having a woman - and especially a notorious woman like Marcia - held up as a lover of God like Abraham, Moses and the apostles was extremely problematic.

It is no wonder then that we see Hegesippus horrified by the emergence of this sexualized heresy.  Yet  he hadn't even seen the influence of this 'wanton harlot' reach the ultimate heights that would be achieved at the end of the reign of Commodus.  Nevertheless it must have been plain to Christians living at the time of Celsus's report, that Marcia and women like her were a stumbling block for the Church.   This becomes even clearer when we take a second look at the so-called Pastoral Epistles where philotheos is wrestled quite explicitly from the hands of  these raving female the heretics.

As the author of the Second Epistle to Timothy notes, clearly incorporating the language of Philo, in a false prophesy projected back in time into the mouth of a companion of Paul:

There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (philotheoi) having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.[30]

There can be no doubt that Marcia is meant here.  The material again being almost certainly written after Celsus's original treatise but before her ultimate rise to power.  It is impossible not to begin to see the influence of the historical figure of Marcia over the Roman Church since her arrival in the city c. 161 - 169 CE.  The various groups may not have agreed on much, but they were in basic agreement on this.  The gay thing - not a big deal.  The whore with a big megaphone running around pretending to speak for us - big problem.


[1] As reported in the Historia Augusta "Besides all this, he brought actors out of Syria as proudly as though he were leading kings to a triumph. The chief of these was Maximinus, on whom he bestowed the name Paris. Furthermore, he built an exceedingly notorious villa on the Clodian Way, and here he not only reviled himself for many days at a time in boundless extravagance together with his freedmen and friends of inferior rank in whose presence he felt no shame, but he even invited Marcus. Marcus came, in order to display to his brother the purity of his own moral code as worthy of respect and imitation, and for five days, staying in the same villa, he busied himself continuously with the examination of law-cases, while his brother, in the meantime, was either banqueting or preparing banquets.  Verus maintained also the actor Agrippus, surnamed Memphius, whom he had brought with him from Syria, almost as a trophy of the Parthian war, and named Apolaustius.  He had brought with him, too, players of the harp and the flute, actors and jesters from the mimes, jugglers, and all kinds of slaves in whose entertainment Syria and Alexandria find pleasure, and in such numbers, indeed, that he seemed to have concluded a war, not against Parthians, but against actors." It is in this last reference to 'slaves for pleasure' that Eclectus was drawn.  This when taken with his rise to chamberlain
[4] Much discussion for instance has been used to date the so-called Pastoral Epistles which were only accepted by the community of Irenaeus.  Indeed
[5] Further, the Barbarian philosophy recognises good as alone excellent, and virtue as sufficient for happiness, when it says, "Behold, I have set before your eyes good and evil, life and death that ye may choose life." For it calls good, "life," and the choice of it excellent, and the choice of the opposite "evil." And the end of good and of life is to become a lover of God: "For this is thy life and length of days," to love that which tends to the truth. And these points are yet clearer. For the Saviour, in enjoining to love God and our neighbour, says, "that on these two commandments hang the whole law and the prophets." [5.14]  It is, then, our purpose to prove that the Gnostic alone is holy and pious, and worships the true God in a manner worthy of Him; and that worship meet for God is followed by loving and being loved by God. He accordingly judges all excellence to be honourable according to its worth; and judges that among the objects perceived by our senses, we are to esteem rulers, and parents, and every one advanced in years; and among subjects of instruction, the most ancient philosophy and primeval prophecy; and among intellectual ideas, what is oldest in origin, the timeless and unoriginated First Principle, and Beginning of existences -- the Son -- from whom we are to learn the remoter Cause, the Father, of the universe, the most ancient and the most beneficent of all; not capable of expression by the voice, but to be reverenced with reverence, and silence, and holy wonder, and supremely venerated; declared by the Lord, as far as those who learned were capable of comprehending, and understood by those chosen by the Lord to acknowledge; "whose senses," says the apostle, "were exercised.'' [7.1]  He, then, who submits to accommodate himself merely for the benefit of his neighbours, for the salvation of those for whose sake he accommodates himself, not partaking in any dissimulation through the peril impending over the just from those who envy them, such an one by no means acts with compulsion. But for the benefit of his neighbours alone, he will do things which would not have been done by him primarily, if he did not do them on their account. Such an one gives himself for the Church, for the disciples whom he has begotten in faith; for an example to those who are capable of receiving the supreme economy of the philanthropic and God-loving Instructor, for confirmation of the truth of his words, for the exercise of love to the Lord. Such an one is unenslaved by fear, true in word, enduring in labour, never willing to lie by uttered word, and in it always securing sinlessness; since falsehood, being spoken with a certain deceit, is not an inert word, but operates to mischief.[7.9.53]
[16] embodied the wicked woman who was 'coming undone' from participation in the secret rites of the tradition.  As we noted earlier, the Roman world could tolerate a religion developed around same sex unions.  The cult of Antinous demonstrated that already in the time of Hadrian.  What seemed to cross the line for a pagan like Celsus was that "they manifestly show that they desire and are able to gain over only the silly, and the mean, and the stupid, with women and children."(3.44) We see, indeed, in private houses workers in wool and leather, and fullers, and persons of the most uninstructed and rustic character, not venturing to utter a word in the presence of their elders and wiser masters; but when they get hold of the children privately, and certain women as ignorant as themselves, they pour forth wonderful statements, to the effect that they ought not to give heed to their father and to their teachers, but should obey them; that the former are foolish and stupid, and neither know nor can perform anything that is really good, being preoccupied with empty trifles; that they alone know how men ought to live, and that, if the children obey them, they will both be happy themselves, and will make their home happy also. And while thus speaking, if they see one of the instructors of youth approaching, or one of the more intelligent class, or even the father himself, the more timid among them become afraid, while the more forward incite the children to throw off the yoke, whispering that in the presence of father and teachers they neither will nor can explain to them any good thing, seeing they turn away with aversion from the silliness and stupidity of such persons as being altogether corrupt, and far advanced in wickedness, and such as would inflict punishment upon them; but that if they wish (to avail themselves of their aid) they must leave their father and their instructors, and go with the women and their playfellows to the women's apartments, or to the leather shop, or to the fuller's shop, that they may attain to perfection;— and by words like these they gain them over.
[20] "  Moreover he concludes that these followers of Mark "have deluded many women, who have their consciences seared as with a hot iron. Some of them, indeed, make a public confession of their sins; but others of them are ashamed to do this, and in a tacit kind of way, despairing of the life of God, have, some of them, apostatized altogether; while others hesitate between the two courses, and incur that which is implied in the proverb, "neither without nor within;" possessing this as the fruit from the seed of the children of knowledge."
[22] (Cherubim 7)
[23] (Moses 2.67)
[24] Strom 7.4
[25] (Posterity of Cain 15, 16)
[26] (Abraham 50)
[27] (Special Laws 1:207)
[28] And again, on the other hand, would you not say that a man who was not of the family consecrated to the priesthood, but who was a lover of God and beloved by God, though standing without the holy shrine, was nevertheless in reality in its inmost parts? looking upon his whole life in the body as a sojourning in a foreign land; but while he is able to live only in the soul, then he thinks that he is abiding in his own country. (Heir 82) Cain and Abel are juxtaposed as the epitome of 'lovers of self' versus 'lovers of God' respectively. (Sacrifices 3)  For the terminology is repeatedly connected with people who have established 'friendship' (  ) with God through mystical union.  The idea goes all the way back to Philo of Alexandria who speaks of philotheos as causing the inferior part of the soul - "outward sensation" - to cleave to mind (Allegorical 2:50).  In a similar manner Philo says that God "plants the mind which can really behold him, and which is really loves God, the vine of a good kind, stretching out its roots so as to make them everlasting, and giving it abundance of fruit for the acquisition and enjoyment of the virtues." (Preliminary 56) God "gives drink to the souls that love God and they when they have drunk are filled with the most universal manna (Allegorical 2:86)  Will it not be when you are made perfect, and when you have been thought worthy of decisions in your favour and of crowns? For then you will be a lover of God, not of the body, and you will receive prizes, inasmuch as your wife shall be Thamar the bride of Judah, and Thamar being interpreted means the palmtree, the symbol of victory. (Allegorical 3.74)  Until then the soul brought forth the God-loving doctrine Abel, the self-loving Cain dwelt with her. But when she brought forth Abel, or unanimity with God, she abandoned unanimity with that mind which was wise in its own conceit. (Birth of Abel 3)

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