Monday, August 27, 2012

Chapter Ten of Naked Man With Naked Man

The discovery of the Mar Saba document in 1958 has raised many important questions including most notably – why didn’t we know about ‘this’ before? By ‘this’ of course, we mean why were previous generations of scholarship ignorant about almost everything referenced in the letter from the secret gospel written by Mark to the rites which promised union with Jesus and/or other Christian males. If this were any other field other than religious studies, scholars would welcome the new information and move on. However this is religious studies, where rationalism has always taken a backseat to the ‘perfect understanding’ that comes with blind faith.

The bottom line is that from the very discovery scholars were ‘troubled’ by the implications of the Letter to Theodore. The real issue has nothing to do with the letter or the circumstances of the discovery but rather admitting that we might be fundamentally wrong about something. Most people who decide to make a career of studying the Bible are themselves ‘believers’ and hence see themselves as part of the chain that dates back to Jesus. They certainly ask questions but only within a limited box which always assumes that black is black and white is white.

Indeed in an age where more and more universities have questioned the value of the religious studies, along comes a discovery which shines a light on how little we actually know about anything. We have simply taken over a series of assumptions from our ancestors and dressed them up in scientific sounding terminology. In fact most of these ‘assumptions’ amount to little more than fairy tales that have passed down for generations. To use the Acts of the Apostles to explain how the Church was established is akin to employing the Book of Genesis to explain the origins of the species of plants and animals on the earth.

Let us consider for a moment the fact that the central focus of the Letter to Theodore is the person of the evangelist St Mark. Our inherited tradition has almost nothing of any value to tell us about his person. Clement introduces Mark as a central figure in the development of Christianity as well as his creation of a twofold gospel canon. If the material had referenced an apostle Edward, it wouldn’t have been at all difficult to ignore the contents of the letter. Yet Mark was certainly of central significance to the Alexandrian tradition then, and continues to be the heavenly advocate of the eighteen million member Coptic tradition today.

The Letter to Theodore focuses our attention on how entirely biased our inherited worldview really is. The ultimate question isn’t why we don’t know more about the ‘secret gospel’ but rather why our tradition ignored its author, the apostle Mark and his historical legacy. The early Church Fathers basically try and shove the Gospel of Matthew down our throat and claim it was the oldest gospel. Yet any detailed examination of the surviving gospels supports the near two thousand year old Alexandrian claim that Mark was the oldest gospel and that the evangelist had a special role within the Church which has been deliberately obscured by European theologians.

Indeed the reality is that it’s not just Mark’s ‘secret gospel’ which has been taken from us, we have almost no direct references to the presence of St Mark in Alexandria before the fourth century. In short, someone systematically hid the legacy of this most ancient of apostolic witnesses. Why on earth would this be? The answer is to be found in those hostile early references to the Marciani, the Marcionites and other groups with ‘Mark’ in their names. In these sources it is plain that ‘those of Mark’ are consistently said to be actively ‘denying’ their secret faith, and ‘denying’ that the secret gospel was from Mark or that Mark established the same sex rite that were so identifiably Alexandrian.

Among the most intriguing things that Clement mentions in the letter is the idea that “when they (the Carpocratians) put forward their falsifications, one should one concede that the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath. For, "Not all true things are to be said to all men.” The question naturally arises – under what circumstance would one be swearing an oath in reference to Mark and the existence of his ‘secret gospel’? The original context is clearly that the heretics not only allude to the ‘naked man with naked man’ business but likely also connect the entire death, resurrection and union with Jesus with Mark the Alexandrian saint – something Clement desperately wants to deny.

The point then is that Mark couldn’t have been merely suffering and ‘injustice’ at the hands of the Roman Church as the modern day Coptic tradition likes to portray matters. The ancient Alexandrians were actively obscuring any association between their central rites and the name Mark because they were afraid of a higher power – the Imperial government. It is true certainly that Hippolytus again tells us that the Marciani “on meeting with (Irenaeus' work), deny that they have so received (the secret rite just alluded to), but they have learned that always they should deny. Wherefore our anxiety has been more accurately to investigate, and to discover minutely what are the (instructions) which they deliver in the case of the first bath, styling it by some such name; and in the case of the second, which they denominate Redemption. But not even has this secret of theirs escaped (our scrutiny).”

This certainly demonstrates that Clement is reporting on a real historical phenomenon. Yet it isn’t just a matter of Clement and Hippolytus acknowledging a historical struggle within the Church but also Irenaeus. Indeed Irenaeus seems to have been the first to draw attention to the phenomenon – specifically citing men and women wanting to join themselves to Mark. However Hippolytus also accepts the idea that Irenaeus’s report isn’t completely accurate either. “For the blessed presbyter Irenaeus, having approached the subject of a refutation in a more unconstrained spirit, has explained such washings and redemptions, stating more in the way of a rough digest what are their practices.” What exactly could he have gotten so completely wrong?

Irenaeus clearly implies that all of the males of the Marciani defile each other but that “some of his disciples, too, addicting themselves to the same (sexual) practices, have deceived many silly women, and defiled them.” Moreover “they proclaim themselves as being ‘perfect,’ so that no one can be compared to them with respect to the immensity of their knowledge, nor even were you to mention Paul or Peter, or any other of the apostles. They assert that they themselves know more than all others, and that they alone have imbibed the greatness of the knowledge of that power which is unspeakable.”

Clement clearly feels that the claims of sexual impropriety represent the fundamental inaccuracy. Nevertheless there is something else that is worth noting too. At one point Irenaeus makes reference to the mystical baptism of Mark helping the heretics avoid capture at the hands of the authorities:

Hence they can do everything freely and have no fear in anything. Because of their redemption (baptism) they have become untouchable by the judge, and invisible to him. But even if he were to apprehend them they would stand before him with their redemption and say this: “O Counsellor of God and the primordial mysterious Silence, through whom the Majesties, who ever behold the Father's face, draw their forms heavenward with thee as their leader and guide,—the forms that First Progenitor's goodness, that audacious one, imagined, who then had a dreamlike notion of the things on high and emitted us in their image— Lo, the judge is nigh and the herald bids me offer my defence. But do thou, as understanding the case of us both, render an account for us both, as one, to the judge!' And the Mother hears them without delay and puts Homer’s helmet of invisibility on them, so that they escape the judge unseen, and drawing them up instantly conducts them to the marriage chamber and gives them to their bridegrooms.

Of course it is difficult at first glance to see how any of this could be related to a baptism narrative from the gospel. The helmet of invisibility associated with the god Pluto is a stock feature of Greek myths, the most famous example being Perseus’s use of the helmet after slaying Medusa.

Scholars have a tendency to interpret the use of the helmet by the gnostics in terms of ‘otherworldly judges’ – i.e. that the initiate floats invisibly past the heavenly watchers. Yet nowhere does the text actually imply this. Indeed when we look again at Hippolytus’s text we see that the Marciani are denying the existence of their secret rites to human judges and in particular Irenaeus of Lyons. Hippolytus tells us that their attempts make their system invisible have failed. Irenaeus, while not possessing a perfect understanding of their rites nevertheless managed to penetrate their cloak of invisibility.

According to the true account of their system the male initiates receive a ‘bridegroom’ upon entering the ‘marriage chamber’ –“and then she (‘the Mother’ at the end of the trial) immediately catches them up (i.e. Jesus and the initiate) and conducts them into the bridal chamber, and gives them over to their bridegrooms.” While some of the followers of Mark developed an understanding of the rite as if it were used to escape supernatural judges, it is important to note that the use of the singular ‘judge’ appears throughout. Moreover the reference to the judge’s kerux – i.e. his ‘crier’ or herald – is clearly a description of a worldly official rather than something supernatural.

A kerux was at the time of Homer a “public officials (heralds ‘who work for the people’”(Od. 19.135). As the famed orientalist Jan Gonda notes of these ancient heralds “they were inviolable, and carried as their badge a staff. In later Greece they retained much of their importance, assisting magistrates (making proclamations and keeping order) in law courts and assemblies and fulfilling a variety of other public (political, military, commercia and diplomatic) functions.” To this end the kerux has never been a feature of any known gnostic heavenly ascent. Indeed the usually model from the time suggests a ‘watcher’ with an animal face sitting over each of seven heavenly stations.

While it is certainly true that various Christian groups could interpret the figure of ‘the judge’ as Satan, the Devil or even the Creator, this reference in Irenaeus to the practices of the Marciani represents something very different. It is derived from what Irenaeus consistently references as ‘public confessions’ of Christian faith associated with the group in the contemporary age. Irenaeus speaks of “those of them who have returned to the Church of God - a thing which frequently occurs - have acknowledged, confessing, too, that they have been defiled by him, and that they were filled with a burning passion towards him” by means of love potions and philters. Similarly he speaks of “some of those” in the Rhone valley – a region which was intimately associated with Irenaeus and which famously suffered a massive Imperial persecution in the late second century – “making 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 apostatized altogether.”

The idea that the followers of an apostle named Mark began to be persecuted in the age of an Emperor of the same name is in fact universally acknowledged. Our only nuance here is that the virtual disappearance of the name ‘Mark’ in Christian circles might have something to do with the religious significance of Marcus Aurelius in the same period. We should think about this for a moment. Clement certainly wrote the Letter to Theodore in an age dominated by the cult of the dead Emperor. While Marcus began his reign in 161 CE and died in 180, the cult of the Emperor Mark only grew in significance until the end of the Severan dynasty in 235. This is a remarkable fact which is typically ignored by scholars of earliest Christianity.

In other words, that the pre-existent Alexandrian tradition of St Mark should happen to ‘go underground’ in an age which was dominated by the influence of “divus Marcus” – i.e. the deified Mark the Emperor should not be seen as completely coincidental. The fact that Clement of Alexandria tells Theodore to deny that Mark was associated with a secret rite which effectively made people brothers of the Son God and sons of the Father Most High is perfectly understandable if Clement is understood to be writing in the third century. After all it was at this time that the Emperor Septimius Severus was adapting a very similar formula with respect to the ‘divine Mark’ the Emperor.

Let’s begin with the basic facts of the age. At the beginning of the reign of Severus’s predecessor Commodus, there was an Imperial cult in Rome with a temple and a priesthood that shared the same name as the Christians in Alexandria – the Marciani. Their job was to ‘take care’ of the divine honors that were due the god who just died in 180 CE. When his son Commodus died in 192 it took Severus’s capture of Rome to secure divine honors for Marcus’s son. Yet it is important to note that the Marciani were also in charge of ‘divus Commodus’ – the divine Commodus. The priesthood in charge of maintaining the honors due the Father also took care of the Son. Septimius Severus happened to be an able bodied military commander but he recognized that he lacked legitimacy owing to his lack of pedigree. As a matter of political survival, Severus decided to do something outrageous – he posthumously adopted himself into the family of Marcus Aurelius.

We hear the contemporary historian Dio Cassius lament that Severus "caused us especial dismay by constantly styling himself the son of Marcus and the brother of Commodus." Severus's efforts however were not aimed at educated senators like Dio Cassius but rather, the common man – the kinds of people with whom Commodus was especially popular. It is striking that to see Severus explicitly emphasize his new position as brother of divus Commodus (= 'Commodus the god’) and going so far as to rename Jerusalem the Colonia Aelia Capitolina Commodiana Pia Felix during a visit of his family in 201.

As we just noted Severus had a vested interest in making his namesake Lucius Commodus a god. He needed to establish some way that he - an ordinary citizen - would have some claim to greatness. We see that the divus Commodus formula doesn't merely appear in contemporary Severan inscriptions and numismatic evidence - it also appears on an important inscription associated with a Christian within Severus's household. This inscription provides us with the missing link that connects the Imperial cult of the dead 'son of Marcus' and the syncretic form of Christianity apparently practiced in the Severine household.

Marcus Aurelius Prosenes was an imperial freedman, Augustorum libertus, who was freed by Marcus Aurelius and the co-regent Commodus between 176 - 180 CE. We see that under Commodus, Prosenes begins a respectable career administering a series of court offices (supervising the transport of wine from Italy to Rome, particularly for the table of the emperor [mensa Augusti], director of the imperial gladiator games, .steward of the imperial assets, administrator of the treasure chamber) and ultimately advances to the most influential position of an imperial chief chamberlain under Caracella ("a cubiculo August!" ).

When Prosenes died in 217 CE he had a sarcophagus built for himself which reflected the strange religious mix of Imperial and Christian themes that was practiced in the house. Among various pagan scenes there is a reference to the contemporary Severan adoption formula - 'divus Commodus' - side by side with a Christian terminology. Scholars have puzzled over how these two faiths - one in the Christian Father and Son and the other of the Imperial Marcus and Commodus could have co-existed in a single relic. Lampe has argued that there may have been a conscious effort on the part of the artisans to present a “dual face” to the world - i.e. to hide Prosenes's Christian faith behind the Imperial cultus. Yet the more straightforward answer was that Severus was only manipulating a pre-existent Christian syncretic cult established by Marcia in the household of Commodus.

As we have already noted Severus was obsessive in his devotion to anything connected to Marcus. When the Emperor died he was laid in the tomb of Marcus Antoninus and strong attention was paid to the domus divina, subjects referring to the living emperor as a god, and army units being called Severiana. Like Marcus Aurelius, Severus was succeeded from within the family, fictitiously continuing the gens Aurelii. As is well known, Caracalla got rid of his brother and co-ruler Geta in December 211 and shortly afterwards (and perhaps in connection to it) he issued the Constitutio Antoniniana, granting Roman citizenship to almost all free inhabitants of the Empire. Yet the entire basis for this adoption rite may well have been the original Alexandrian practices associated with the Christian Marciani.

Historians have debated the causes and consequences of the constitution for generations. One minor but highly visible result was that the new citizens took on the official nomen gentile of the emperor who granted them this enormous right. Almost overnight Aurelius became the most common name in the east of the Empire, and a close second in the west (after the much longer established Julius). So it is that just over 30 years after Marcus Aurelius' death, many in the Empire ended up carrying his name, although it may not have been what he had in mind when advising his men at his deathbed on how to keep his 'memory alive forever.' The unanswered question - indeed a mystery which may never be solved to everyone's satisfaction - is whether the distinction between Imperial Mark and Alexandrian Mark were intentionally blurred for the sake of furthering Severus's own career.

That the references to the Marciani in the third century all represent hostile witnesses cannot be ignored. The Muratorian canon for instance references the Christian Marciani as having psalms which were later rejected by the Church (qui etiam nouu psalmorum librum Marciani). The Marciani were said to be promoting a 'gospel of Peter' at Antioch and as we have already noted been ultimately associated with Marcia the concubine of Commodus. We have already noted that the development of the Marcionites is closely related to this name. It is hard to understand why every association with the name Mark in a Christian context is now entirely negative – unless of course it was because Severus had stolen the very idea of posthumous adoption from the Alexandrian Christian Church.

Scholars have been scratching their heads for centuries trying to figure out what the basis of this posthumous adoption ritual was. Nothing like this had never before been attempted by anyone before him. Indeed when people usually speak of 'posthumous adoption' what they mean is that a rich person on the verge of dying leaves instructions in his will that a slave, a nephew or cousin should be treated as a son. It is simply unthinkable that a living man could simply establish himself as the son of a dead Father through the dead son. Yet Severus certainly did and his son Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus or ‘Carcalla’ desiring to "give thanks to the immortal gods" expanded this concept to "all the foreigners” wanting citizenship of the Roman Empire.”

The year was 212 and Caracalla had just accepted the throne after his father’s death. Carcalla was tolerant of the Jewish and Christian faiths, but his favourite deity was the Alexandrian god Serapis, whose son or brother he pretended to be. He loved the god so much that he is portrayed as a pharaoh in a statue. How unusual then that a lover of things Alexandrian should have perpetrated one of the greatest massacres in the history of the city a short time later. We are told that the soldiers fell upon the encircled youths, attacking them and any others present. They cut them down, these armed soldiers fighting against unarmed, surrounded boys, butchering them in every conceivable fashion. Some did the killing while others outside the ring dug huge trenches; they dragged those who had fallen to these trenches and threw them in, filling the ditch with bodies. Piling on earth, they quickly raised a huge burial mound. Many were thrown in half-alive, and others were forced in unwounded.”

It is said that the slaughter was so great in Alexandria that "the wide mouths of the Nile and the entire shore around the city were stained red by the streams of blood flowing through the plain." The story is particularly significant given the fact that Origen of Alexandria, the student of Clement, was said to have narrowly missed being a victim of the holocaust. We are told by the Christian chronicler Eusebius that Origen escaped from the city at this very time noting that "a considerable war broke out in the city, and he departed from Alexandria. And thinking that it would be unsafe for him to remain in Egypt, he went to Palestine and abode in Cæsarea." Of course it is impossible to believe that Origen had inside knowledge about a plot that was kept from the leading citizens of Alexandria. Why then did Origen rush out of Egypt?

Ronald E Heine a noted expert on Origen argues that "Eusebius' statement that Origen left Alexandria for Palestine because 'no small warfare broke out again in the city' should should not be taken as a reference to the massacre under Caracalla in 215, but as a reference to the conflict between Origen and Demetrius." Origen's departure undoubtedly has something to do with increased hostility on the part of Demetrius to the continuation of traditional Alexandrian 'heresy.' The story of this escape is particularly significant as it leads to our discovery of the original context of the writing of Clement's Letter to Theodore and with it the earliest example of Christian same sex union practices from Alexandria. For it is well established that Origen's flight from Egypt ultimately led to the development of a community in Caesarea Maritima in Palestine.

We know about this fabulous Shangri La from three principle sources - correspondences of Origen, things written by Eusebius 'in defense of Origen,’ and more importantly for our purposes, a circle of Church Fathers in the fourth century who had roots in the province of Pontus on the southern shores of the Black Sea. The first two sources are certainly related. Eusebius was bishop of Caesarea where a large library of Origenist material was kept. Eusebius also mentions some material was kept in another library in Jerusalem first established by Origen’s friend the bishop Alexander. Yet the Pontic testimony to the community at Caesarea is perhaps the most interesting as the ultimate source for this narrative – Gregory the Wonderworker – is also an important witness for Alexandrian same sex unions established here.

The ultimate question here is determining why it was that Origen was forced out of Alexandria. The usual answer from scholars is that Demetrius was ‘horrified’ to learn that Origen was guilty of self-castration. While it is certainly true that emasculating oneself was a capital crime in the Roman Empire, there were so many eunuchs in contemporary Alexandria that picking on Origen in particular doesn’t make any sense. The Dialogue of Heraclides presents Demetrius and the recently installed bishops of Egypt express shock at Origen’s formula “the two gods become a unity …we profess two gods, but the power is one.”

Of course the two gods here are Father and Son. Origen had undoubtedly learned from the original tradition of St Mark that “the holy Scriptures have taught many instances of two being one … Our task here is not to take up this problem just to pass over it quickly but, for the sake of the more simple to chew on it like meat and instill the doctrine little by little in the ears of our hearers.” Origen notes that “there are many things which are two that are said in the scriptures to be one” but most important of all is the narrative of the gospel where “the just person, while distinct from Christ, is said by the Apostle to be one in relation to Christ: For whoever is united to the Lord is one spirit with him (1 Cor. 6.17).

It is interesting to see that unlike his teacher Clement who placates his master’s marital status Origen goes on to confront heterosexual relations as a betrayal of God’s intended union:

But is not one of these of a lower or diminished and inferior nature, while Christ is of a more divine and glorious and blessed nature? Are they therefore no longer two? Yes for the man and the woman are no longer two but one flesh and the just person and Christ are one spirit. Thus, our Savior and Lord, in relation to the Father and God of all, is not one flesh and one spirit, but something that is above both flesh and spirit, one God. For when human beings are joined to each other, the appropriate word is 'flesh,' and when a just person is united to Christ, the word is 'spirit,' and when Christ is united to the Father, the word is not 'flesh' or ‘spirit’ but the more prestigious word ‘God.’

The point of course is that Origen was condemned by Demetrius for his teaching about syzygies and in particular that heterosexual union is the lowest form of union. The typology of the “just person united with Christ” sounds awfully similar to what is taught in secret Mark.

In his Homilies on Ezekiel, Origen identifies Daniel and Paul as eunuchs and describes the Christian initiation as becoming ‘Paul’s son’ (i.e. no longer Mark’s interestingly). Origen goes on to note:

do not be amazed that you may become the apostle's son. If you possess the virtues, you will even become Christ's son. For he says: “Little sons, I am with you still for a little while” [John 13:33]. But when you become Christ's, you will also belong to the Almighty Father, since they are of a single and united nature. The just man labors to this end that he may ascend to the adoption of God as a son.

The important transformation that has occurred here of course is that ‘Paul’ has been substituted for ‘Mark.’ The original followers of Mark did not make this distinction and Origen seems to be pointing us in this direction by citing John 13:33. For Augustine tells us over and over again not only that the reason the apostle changed his name to ‘Paul’ was because he was ‘the smallest of men’ or ‘the least.’ He repeatedly cites 1 Corinthians 15:9 “I am the least apostle’ but more significantly the particular phrase ‘a little while.’ For instance we read Augustine explain “Paul, you see, means little. Consider the words your graces use; don't we say every day, "I will see you post paululum, in a little while; paulo post, a little later I will do this or that"? So what is Paul? Ask the man himself, he says, I am the least of the apostles.”

This notion of ‘Paul the least’ is as noted a consistent feature of Augustine’s understanding of the apostles name. The Greek word throughout is mikron and it appears importantly in the famous gospel reference to the mustard seed as the least or smallest “Which indeed is the least of all seeds but when it is grown it is the greatest among herbs and becometh a tree so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” It shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point that the Alexandrian tradition preserves this parable as a reference to their patron saint Mark.

The earliest reference to this Alexandrian understanding is the ninth century Hymn of St Mark written by the Coptic bishop Severus of Nastrawa. This composition, like all Coptic material, preserves earlier ideas:

St. Mark the apostle and servant of Jesus Christ, appeared among all creatures as mustard seed (which the Gospel speaks), which grows into a huge tree, so that the birds of the air come rest on its branches and get away from his shadow, for though our Lord Jesus Christ has sought to identify himself by this comparison, however, can also applied in the direction to St. Mark, the shining light, because those who follow Christ are themselves Christs and other members of Christ

Certainly then Mark is understood to be the ‘little one’ also. Yet this is not the only example of this phenomenon. There is a consistent method of exegesis, both within the Alexandrian tradition and outside of it, that a particular ‘little’ disciple was being consistently referenced as the ‘secret’ of the gospel narrative.

That this ‘little one’ is called both ‘Paul’ and ‘Mark’ must be taken alongside the parallel argument that this individual was the so-called ‘Paraclete’ or comforter. Perhaps the most famous surviving expression of the Paraclete doctrine is found in the early Islam devotion to Mohammed. The founder of Islam, it was argued is the ‘Paraclete’ announced by Jesus in the gospel. Indeed the very name Mohammed is argued to by the Islamic equivalent of ‘comforter.’ The underlying suggestion in our earliest sources is that Mohammed learned about this Paraclete tradition from a shadowy monastic sect called the Hanifs. Modern scholarship has also suggested the extreme dualistic Manichaean religion as another possible source.

If we trace the argument back through time we see a consistent interpretation of the gospel whereby Jesus appeared as a herald for this other messianic figure. Not only the Manichaeans but also the spiritually enthusiastic Montanists carried forward this doctrine. The Marcionites and other gnostics similarly maintained the same formula but maintained the original standard that ‘Paul’ or even Marcion was the one announced by Jesus. Origen interestingly represents our earliest witness with respect to the ‘danger’ associated with this doctrine, going so far now as to imply that ‘Paul’ gave himself the name ‘the least’ as a means of shielding himself from the accusation of claiming to the greatest of the apostles.

As Origen notes in his Homilies on Luke “the apostle Paul warns against inordinate and irrational love when he says of himself, "I fear that someone might have an opinion of me above what he sees or hears from me, and that the greatness of the revelations might exalt me," and so on. (2 Cor 12:6-7) Paul feared that even he might fall into this error. So he was unwilling to state everything about himself that he knew. He wanted no one to think more of him than he saw or, going beyond the limits of honor, to say what had been said about john, that "he was the Christ." Some people said this even about Dositheus, the heresiarch of the Samaritans;8 others said it also about judas the Galilean. Finally, some people burst forth into such great audacity of love that they invented new and unheard of exaggerations about Paul.”

“For,” he continues “some say this, that the passage in Scripture that speaks of ‘sitting at the Savior's right and left’ (Mt 20.21) applies to Paul and Marcion: Paul sits at his right hand and Marcion at his left. Others read the passage, "I shall send you an advocate, the Spirit of Truth," (Jn 14:16) and are unwilling to understand a third person besides the Father and the Son, a divine and exalted nature. They take it to mean the apostle Paul. Do not all of these seem to you to have loved more than is fitting and, while they admired the virtue of each, to have lost moderation in love?” Of course all of this makes us wonder, was the application of the name ‘Paul’ to the apostle a pragmatic way of shielding Mark from the charge that he was the awaited Jewish messiah? Indeed the Christ who was greater than the ruler of the world, a man who shared the very same name and who was openly regarded as a ‘mere shadow’ of the true Lord?

These questions may never be answered to everyone’s satisfaction but it is worth taking note of this situation given the disappearance of the name ‘Mark’ in the age of the Emperor. The suggestion that the gnostic hostility to the ‘ruler of the world’ may have had a political dimension has already been suggested by the prominent literary critic Harold Bloom. Our investigation now puts forward that this may only be the tip of the iceberg. It wasn’t merely that Christianity original venerated another Lord but another Mark, who ushered in a radical a new interpretation of divine governance and as we have seen marriage, love and happiness.

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