Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chapter Three of Naked Man With Naked Man

The Catholic tradition has preserved a book to help teach the story of how Christianity came to be. The text is entitled, the Acts of the Apostles and it survives in most Bibles from the third century onward. Acts was regarded as an extremely important book by many Church Fathers. It was received into our New Testament canon and placed immediately after the four gospels. The presumed author of this book is the evangelist Luke and there are obvious clues to suggest that the Gospel According to Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were written by one and the same author.

Since the gospels don’t tell us much beyond the ministry of Jesus, most people today eagerly embrace Acts as an invaluable historical witness. Nevertheless it has to be said that this wasn’t always the case. Acts was not accepted as scripture by everyone within the Catholic Church. The third century Church Father Irenaeus acknowledges that many contemporary Christians raised doubts about its authenticity. Some argued that its history was all made up. Others, more significantly, claimed that Luke himself was a fictitious character and that Acts was really written by someone else at a much later period.

This is not the place to get into a detailed understanding of what the controversies were surrounding this text. It is enough to say that we shouldn’t blindly any source from Christian antiquity. There was just too much at stake for those battling over the soul of Christianity to simply allow what actually happened to define the historical record. As Winston Churchill once notes “history will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” To this end, we should approach Acts as if it were one of many biased histories of the second century period – albeit it is the one which ultimately triumphed over all its competitors.

Acts tells the story of the beginning of the Greek Church after Paul's reconciliation with Peter at Antioch. It was here in the most fully Greek city in the province of Syria that believers were for the first time called 'Christians'. Yet even this claim is utterly incredible. The term used here in Acts - ‘Christianoi’ – isn’t believable as an appellation chosen by the first disciples of Jesus in this city. This is unmistably a barbarous adaptation of a Latin terminology into Greek. Only members of the ruling class spoke Latin in Antioch at this time. Indeed the Church Fathers make clear that the members of the Jesus cult identified themselves as Nazoraeans or Jessaeans.

As such we have to great caution when using Acts as a historical source. There is an obvious disconnect between what Acts really is and what it pretends to be. Above all else, it should be seen as representing an obsessive attempt to reshape Christianity into something ‘respectable’ a religion more in keeping with the 'bourgeois' sensibilities of the Empire. As the great evangelical scholar Frederick Fyvie Bruce sums it up, Acts was directed at "a member of the middle class in Roman society in some sections of which an interest had been kindled in this new faith." To this end, we should already see that there was likely something embarrassingly problematic with the original religion which the composition of Acts was seeking to cure.

There are many curious things about the structure of Acts but none more so than the deliberate attempt to separate Peter and Paul. Of course the traditional ‘critical’ view of the apostles is to regard with suspicion their coming together at Antioch. Nevertheless, most of this self-described ‘higher criticisms’ rarely develops a deep interest or acquaintance with the surviving tradition. One can make a strong case in fact that Acts was attempting a complete revision of the traditionally paired apostle who founded the Christian religion. The reader just has to know where to look in the surviving historical record to piece together the original understanding.

It should be noted in fact that the topics of love and marriage are completely absent from Acts. The text leaves open the question as to the personal lives of the saints. There is no mention of Paul’s traditional interest in celibacy, no reference to Peter ever having been married. Acts develops what can be described as the most two-dimensional portrait of the leaders of the early Church. It is as if he was saying – all that matters is the message they were teaching. These men were nothing more than ambassadors of the gospel; the reader doesn’t need to know anything beyond that.

Yet the personal lives of the saints are utterly critical for us to make sense of the Mar Saba document. The alleged testimony of ‘Luke’ has developed into something of an inpentrable brick wall which separates us from knowing whether or not Jesus was understood to have united himself with one of his disciples. Indeed at the very same point in the narrative the secret gospel of Mark adds the story about the youth, his resurrection and his initiation by Jesus, Luke warns his readers "against searching after another ‘secret narrative.’ This is undoubtedly because again wasn’t a real disciple. He was a late second century literary invention developed in order to combat heresy. ‘Luke’ was developed to ‘prove’ that the closest associate of Paul didn’t believe all the things the ‘heretics’ associated with the apostle.

In other words, there is clear evidence in our copies of the Gospel of Luke that its author was aware of ‘secret Mark’ and was aware of the importance that was given to the story of a disciple who was mystically united with Jesus in some circles. Luke explicitly tells the reader that no secret narrative was ever there in the place Clement tells us that a secret narrative once existed – i.e. in Mark after "'And they were in the road going up to Jerusalem' and what follows, until 'After three days he shall arise.'”

Whereas Clement goes on to say “the secret Gospel brings the following material word for word 'And they come into Bethany ...' and all that follows, our Gospel of Luke interestingly goes all the way to the end of the same section and effectively dismisses the claims of Clement:

… and on the third day he will rise. But they understood none of these things and this was the matter that was kept secret from them, and they did not grasp the things that were spoken.

In other words, Luke says in effect – don’t believe the stories about some other mystical narrative. The only ‘secret’ that was kept from the apostles was the coming Passion of Christ. Yet this is in itself a forced interepretation as Jesus is explicitly portrayed as making the truth of his death known to them.

Of course this allows us to see the methodology of the person who developed Luke and Acts. He wanted to make it plain that the old understanding was wrong – i.e. there was no secret tradition which was kept from Peter and the apostles. Even the manner that Acts avoids mentioning that Peter and Paul were mystically yoked together by some unknown rite. This was not an accidental omission but part of a campaign to deny what was the original essence of Christian mysticism – the ideal state of one divine soul being shared by two individuals.

It is Irenaeus again – the man who undoubtedly forged Luke and Acts into its present form – who makes reference to the contemporary hostility against his literary creation. Not only did they deny the existence of an apostle named 'Paul' but they "make Luke to be a liar" rejecting almost every detail of Acts as "wholly spurious." Of course few people today could imagine Christianity without an individual named Paul who was a former Pharisee who converted to the new religion on the road to Damascus. This is because Irenaeus himself made the acceptance of the claims of Luke and Acts something of a litmus test for Christian believers.

Irenaeus tells his contemporary audience at the dawn of the third century that "God set forth very many Gospel truths through Luke's instrumentality which all should esteem it necessary to use, in order that all persons, following his subsequent testimony, which treats upon the acts and the doctrine of the apostles, and holding the unadulterated rule of truth, may be saved." Indeed this evangelist above all others was at the forefront of the fight against ‘heresy.’ Luke is understood to be actively involved in challenging and correcting the heretical opinions of earlier generations.

When Luke says at the beginning of his gospel that he has undertaken to write a "narration" based on things already established "by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word" Irenaeus takes this to mean that all previous to Luke "just received doctrine as they were able to hear it" but that Luke at the very end of development of the New Testament finally established all things according to "the rule of truth." In other words, Luke is the real beginning of the Church. He represents a conscious turning away from the ‘secret doctrines’ of two men uniting as one to share the god-soul of Jesus Christ.

Indeed it is clear to Irenaeus that Luke's "testimony is true, and the doctrine of the apostles is open and stedfast, holding nothing in reserve; that they did not teach to one in secret, and another in public.” To this end Luke never mentions the presence of Christians in Alexandria in the apostolic era. He also avoids mentioning Peter and Paul being as being present in the city of Rome as one divinely established 'syzygy.' In other words, Acts was developed against a shared mystical understanding of same-sex union between the shared traditions of Rome and Alexandria.

The writings of Luke were clearly not established in their present form before the end of the second century. It is interesting that it is at this very same point in time that we see the emergence of the first likely sighting of a married pair within the ranks of Christianity – i.e. that of Demetrius the bishop of Alexandria and his unnamed wife at the end of the second century. It seems to difficult to take it as coincidence that Acts seems to have been introduced to Alexandria either with Demetrius’s rise to prominence in the city or indeed ‘in anticipation’ of his arrival there.

The reason we should take this as significant is the fact that the new additional ‘scriptures’ added to the canon by Irenaeus not only obscure the original mystical yoking of male disciples but in fact puts forward a notable emphasis on opposite sex pairings. Priscilla and Aquila represent a new concept within Christianity which is now taken as second nature – male and female synergous or assistants (Rom 16:3). The term is usually reserved for males in leadership positions. In Acts their relationship is explicitly identified as that of husband and wife. Nevertheless this understanding is absent in the greeting section at the end of the Catholic text of the Pauline letters.

There are a surprising number of opposite pairs in the Pauline epistles that have made their way to us from Irenaeus and company. At first glance this would seem to suggest the practice was well established in early Christianity. What stands in the way of this assumption, however, is the consistent objection of the heresies. It was not just a matter of the early Christian rejecting marriage but also the pairing of males and females even in mystical union. Here the Catholic tradition clearly represented a complete innovation.

What is certainly clear is that the Acts of the Apostles arrival in Alexandria coincides with the arrival of a married Pope. Of coure most people are not aware that the papacy did not originate in Rome but at Alexandria. The title 'Papa' or Pope is still the title which distinguishes the patriarch of Alexandria from all his other colleagues in the Orthodox Church. When the Roman Catholic tradition split from the Eastern churches the bishop of Rome simply took over the title traditionally associated with his Alexandrian namesake.

Demetrius is the first Alexandrian Pope that we have any detailed information. Most of our information comes from much later sources including most notably the tenth century History of the Coptic Patriarchs. The story while quite late is certainly based on earlier sources and introduces him as the first married Patriarch – something that apparently scandalized the Alexandrian Church. It is not difficult to see that what survives in the Coptic source is originally based on a tradition that presented an unflattering portrait of Father Demetrius. This is not at all surprising given the fact that he seems to have alienated the tradition leadership of the Church.

We are told that Demetrius was a complete stranger to the Alexandria tradition when he picked to be its Pope. This strange report is never fully explained by the Coptic History. We are simply told that "when the patriarch Julian (179 - 189 CE) was dying, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream, on the night before his death, and said to him : 'The man who shall visit thee to-morrow with a bunch of grapes shall be patriarch after thee.' Accordingly, when it was morning, a peasant came to him, who was married, and could neither read nor write; and his name was Demetrius ... and the patriarch Julian said to the bystanders : 'This man shall be your patriarch: for so the angel of the Lord last night declared to me.'"

The real Demetrius of history likely knew nothing of the doctrines of the Church. He was as we have already noted an outsider who was constantly at odds with the established presbyters of the Alexandrian tradition like the famous theologians Clement and Origen. Yet nowhere was his conflict with the traditional hierarchy more evident that with regards to his status as a heterosexual. Another story that is preserved in the History of the Coptic Patriarchs tells us that this status as a married man caused a great deal of consternation among the faithful. It was simply unthinkable to have a heterosexual sitting on the throne of St Mark in Alexandria.

The grumbling got so bad apparently that according to the Coptic History the same angel came down to assist Demetrius in winning over the congregation. The angel told Demetrius that he had to gather the leaders of the Christian community around his throne. Once an audience was present Demetrius and his wife were supposed to prove that they weren't heterosexuals. Their marriage was really a sham, a contrivance to make their parents happy. In order to prove that Demetrius was a eunuch and his wife a virgin they had to set themselves on fire. So we read in the Coptic History the new bishop exclaimed to those assembled there "Attend, all of you, to what I say. Know that I have not done this seeking glory from men. My age is now sixty-three years. My wife who stands before you is my cousin ... I said to her : 'Listen to what I say. We must of necessity remain together in this chamber without being separated all our lives, but there must be no further connexion between us, until death shall part us; and, if we remain thus in purity, we shall meet in the heavenly Jerusalem, and enjoy one another's company in eternal bliss.'”

The Patriarch says that his wife agreed to accept his proposal in order that “her body remained inviolate.” Their parents knew nothing of their compact. Demetrius simply says:

It is now forty-eight years since I married my wife, and we sleep on one bed and one mattress and beneath one coverlet; and the Lord, who knows and judges the living and the dead, and understands the secrets of all hearts, knows that I have never learnt that she is a woman, nor has she learnt that I am a man; but we see one another's face and no more. We sleep together, but the embraces of this world are unknown to us. And when we fall asleep, we see a form with eagle's wings, which comes flying and alights upon our bed between her and me, and stretches its right wing over me, and its left wing over her, until the morning, when it departs; and we behold it until it goes

At the core of this rather silly story does provide us with two important pieces of information about the contemporary Alexandrian Church. On the one hand, there was a clear and unmistakable hostility towards heterosexual unions. On the other, Demetrius represents the beginning of a long road toward acceptance of traditional marriage in the tradition.

In order for Demetrius to prove that he and his wife are still virgins fire is brought and applied to their persons. The fact that they demonstrate themselves unharmed proves that Demetrius is like the prophet Daniel – a eunuch. It is important to note that in order to gain acceptance Demetrius presents himself as an example of how heterosexual unions could be made acceptable. His argument is clearly that men and women could be modeled after the syzygies of angels, the traditional justification for same-sex pairing as we have already seen. The Alexandrians traditionally looked to Jesus's own actions sending out the disciples out as male pairs. Heterosexual pairs were traditionally viewed in terms of the 'dumb animals' engaging in wanton sexuality and the procreation of children. Now through the example of Demetrius and his wife – and undoubtedly Priscilla and Aquilla from Acts – opposite sex pairing was gaining credibility.

If however we want to gain some insight into the original view of the Alexandrian tradition towards heterosexuality we need only look to the figure of Julius Cassianus. Cassianus is recognized by Clement as the founder of the docetic tradition. His gospel is identified as that 'according to the Egyptians' which many have identified with secret Mark. He wrote at least a few books including one entitled On Abstinence or Eunuchery. Most intriguing of all however is C H Turner of Oxford University’s suggestion that he is likely one and the same with the bishop Cassianus who followed Mark as the first Gentile bishop of the church of Jerusalem. As we shall see, Alexandria and Jerusalem walked in lockstep in the late second century. It is entirely possible that the Gentile Church of Jerusalem was governed by the Alexandrian Church – at least initially. Even as late as Pope Peter I (c. 300 CE) the Alexandrian bishop claimed parts of Palestine as being under his jurisdiction. In the late second century however there seems to have been a continuous exodus of prominent Egyptians to Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities. Julius Cassianus should be seen as a representative of the original orthodoxy of Alexandria which had the widest possible reach based on the authority of Secret Mark.

Origen, another Alexandrian authority who ultimately found refuge in Palestine, originally noted that Cassianus “thought Jesus’s flesh was imaginary and every conjunction of male and female was foul.” This was clearly the original understanding of the Alexandrian tradition and Demetrius’s attempt to transfer the mystical union intended for same sex couples to opposite sex pairs would have been condemned by him no less than his descendants at the end of the second century. We have strong suggestions that many were chased out of Alexandria – or perhaps ultimately even martyred –for their refusal to go along with this innovation.

Of course many must have gone along with the changes – at least superficially – and secretly held on to the original beliefs. To this end we are very fortunate to have Clement of Alexandria’s 'on the ground' report of what was happening to the Christian community of Egypt at this time. Clement was certainly not an idealist willing to die for the cause of the truth. It is unlikely that any of the early Alexandrians ever shared this naïve notion. In his letter to Theodore he advises his reader to deny the existence of the secret gospel. Much the same thing is said about his community in a third century Roman text where the followers of Mark in Egypt “deny that they have so received, but they have learned that always they should deny.”

There is a word for religious traditions that have to go underground to avoid persecution. They are called ‘crypto-traditions.’ There have been many so-called crypto-faiths throughout history. There have been crypto-Jews no less than crypto-Christians and even crypto-Muslims. The Alexandrian tradition seems to have become a crypto-tradition with the arrival of Demetrius as bishop in 189 CE. It was around this time that Clement of Alexandria wrote a work called the Instructor which attempts to present Christianity as an extension of traditional Stoic philosophy. His next work, the Stomateis, presents the Alexandrian tradition as a truth hidden behind the curtains of the Jewish tabernacle, or perhaps the church of St Mark in Alexandria.

Clement was far more important to the history of Christianity than Demetrius, but for a short while at least Demetius was in effect Clement's 'boss.' As Clement retained his position of authority within the Alexandrian presbytery for quite a long time it demonstrates the effectiveness of becoming a crypto-Christian. His student Origen by contrast was expelled from the community and got into even more hot water when he was accepted as a presbyter in Jerusalem.

Clement by contrast never became the touchstone for religious controversy because he learned to keep his mouth shut. Perhaps it had something to do with Clement being more mature. Origen was a mere adolescent when Demetrius was placed on the episcopal throne of St Mark. Clement by contrast was a full grown man. Whatever the case, it is not be surprising to see Clement at least superficially supporting the cause of women and heterosexuals within the Church. His ‘boss’ after all was a married man. A careful reading of Clement’s writings makes clear that this acceptance of opposite sex marriage was something of a necessary contemporary compromise. The traditional understanding of the blessed union of souls according to Clement was still clearly rooted in same sex coupling.

As we just noted Clement's famous work - the Instructor - was written while all this conflict was brewing over having a married Patriarch sitting on the throne of St Mark. It can plausibly be interpreted as Clement's attempt to 'brown nose' his boss. The Instructor represents a systematic effort to justify what was clearly seen as a breach of tradition in the eyes of other leading voices in Alexandria. Yet it has to be recognized Clement managed to survive and thrive in Alexandria precisely because of his skills in obscuring his true meaning.

As the Coptic History makes clear - Demetrius was something of an ignoramus. As long as Clement skillfully wove the right doctrines explicitly into his narrative, he would skillfully avoid the fate of his student Origen whom Demetrius spent his whole career unsuccessfully hunting down much like the Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons. The Instructor provides unmistakably clear evidence that heterosexual marriage was not traditionally sanctioned among ecclesiastical officials. Clement only gets around this objection by a series of attempts to justify opposite sex marriage as a lower, but ultimately acceptable form of the ideal state of being 'married in the Lord.' (1 Cor 7:39)

As Clement acknowledges near the beginning of this work, heterosexual union was not originally understood to be sanctioned by Jesus. It was traditionally held to be something belonging to irrational animals rather than the truth established by Jesus during his ministry. It is important to note that not once does Clement cite 'tradition,' 'established opinion' or 'orthodoxy' while arguing that his community should change its traditional rejection of heterosexual union among its members. Over and over again he prefaces his remarks by acknowledging he is speaking wholly on his own authority in his advocating a revaluation of the tradition rejection of marriage.

Here is an example of the typical manner in which Clement makes his case. In the fourth chapter of the first of three books of the Instructor Clement declares to his readers:

Let us, then, embracing more and more this good obedience, give ourselves to the Lord; clinging to what is surest, the cable of faith in Him, and understanding that the virtue of man and woman is the same. For if the God of both is one, the master of both is also one; one church, one temperance, one modesty; their food is common, marriage an equal yoke; respiration, sight, hearing, knowledge, hope, obedience, love all alike. And those whose life is common, have common graces and a common salvation; common to them are love and training. "For in this world," he says, "they marry, and are given in marriage," in which alone the female is distinguished from the male; "but in that world it is so no more." There the rewards of this paired and holy life, which is based on syzygies, are laid up, not for male (arreni) and female (theleia), but for man (anthrwpw), the sexual desire which divides into two being removed.

Again we have a remarkable consistency about the low opinion that Jesus had about heterosexual unions. The established opinion in Alexandria was that they belonged to another God - the Creator - a being who was established as a kind of poor copy of Jesus. This was certainly the opinion of Julius Cassianus whose teachings were once taken to preserve the authority of St Mark.

This 'original accident' interpretation of Creation was extremely pervasive in Egypt. According to this understanding the present world was ultimately a mistake which needed the 'correction' introduced by Jesus to let us escape. The angelic powers want us to procreate in order to trap our souls in this material realm. This is clearly why early Christians like Clement's student Origen castrated themselves. It made it impossible for them to partake in angelic conspiracy. Clement responds to this doctrine by saying Jesus really didn't think that heterosexual sex was 'evil.'

In fact the gospel makes clear that he tolerated this 'animal pairing' in the here and now but came to establish a better pairing or syzygy 'in the world to come.' Of course the obvious question is now - when was the 'world to come' supposed to be coming? The very concept of 'the world to come' is Jewish. The Jews believed that it represented the world that would come with the advent of the messiah. In other words, it was the messianic age. This is rather straightforward and corresponds to the gospel terminology - the kingdom of God or heaven. This is clearly what Clement meant by the term. Nevertheless it is important to not that later Church Fathers wanted to avoid this understanding likely owing to the implications that it had on Christian marriage.

For reasons that are never fully explained Jesus was argued by the orthodox outside of Alexandria to have been the messiah from the time of his ministry but that the messianic age would come at the end of time, in a final judgement which was completely divorced from Jesus's original coming. The original understanding of Christians is demonstrated again and again by the Church Fathers to have been that 'the here and now' was the kingdom of heaven. The later Church Fathers actively fought against this view. They wanted to present Christianity as a respectable religion which compatible with traditional Roman values. This is why the example of Demetrius's marriage becomes such an important turning point in the history of the Church. It makes explicit the abstract theological struggles within the community.

The opponents of Demetrius's marriage - and Clement's superficial attempts to justify its legitimacy - argued that this material from the gospel reinforces that a divine syzygy would be introduced immediately "after the resurrection." In other words after the resurrection described in the gospel. These Alexandrian teachers consistently rejected the 'resurrection of bodies' in some future age. As such, we can safely say that the original Alexandrian understanding held that immediately following the resurrection of Christ, a syzygy or pairing would be introduced which would end traditional marriage - i.e. "they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven."

At this point we can see another wrinkle in the formulation emerging. The new syzygy or pairing that was introduced by Jesus the angel was like the union of angels in heaven. The angels were not divided into male and females so the humans who followed Jesus after the resurrection were similarly paired in same sex unions. As Clement noted in the earlier citation - "there the rewards of this paired and holy life, which is based on syzygies, are laid up, not for male and female, but for man (anthrwpw), the sexual desire which divides into two being removed." In short, the original model for the pairing established by Jesus was a 'heretical' notion of the conjoining of powers in heaven.

There can be no doubt tht Clement's ideas here come from an early generation of Alexandrians - those who lived at the time of Julius Cassianus, long before Demetrius and his imposition of the acceptability of heterosexual unions in the Church. Luckily, Clement preserved for us the writings of another of these early Alexandrian theologians - an otherwise unknown figure named Theodotus (150 CE?) which manifests many of the same ideas as we saw associated with Julius Cassianus only developed in much fuller detail.

According to Theodotus the "syzygies" Jesus established among humans were "brought down from divine emanations above" - in other words, the heavenly realm where the angels exist. Theodotus also says that in this heavenly fullness "where unity reigns each of the aeons has its own fullness, that is, the syzygy." In other words, all the powers exist in a paired state in heaven. There is of course a very elaborate mysticism which develops in these writings which is beyond our immediate concern. We can summarize Theodotus's mystical world view by saying that only the Father, the power which is invisibly behind all things is One, while all that proceeds from him is an 'image' or eikones of this hidden unity. This is very significant because it helps explain an obvious objection to Christian 'spiritual marriages' on earth - namely how come the two angels or two people never physical 'rejoin' as one person?

In order to explain this phenomenon Theodotus always goes back to the idea that we can't see the perfection of the highest God on earth. With our limited awareness we can only the unity reflected in the 'fullness' of the syzygy established among the angels or people. This is what makes it 'hidden' or 'secret.' Only the initiated can see it or partake in the spirit. In effect then both Theodotus and Clement were acknowledging that there was a hidden divine world that could not be seen by the human eye. It wasn’t just that God couldn’t be seen by people in the flesh. The same was true with respect to the ‘God bond’ that existed between those who were yoked by angels.

It cannot be coincidence then that Acts is only cited twice by Clement in this early three volume work which makes reference to so many other heretical concepts. Clement only acknowledges Acts to prove that holy men can eat whatever kind of food they want. It was not an important book for Clement at this stage in career no less than later in his career. It just came down to him brown-nosing his boss, and demonstrating that he was ‘on board’ with the new rules that were being established in the Church by Demetrius.

It is no wonder that Clement was so half-hearted in his acceptance of the writings associated with Luke. Luke, according to Clement, also translated the Epistle to the Hebrews which is in our canon, from Aramaic into Greek. He cites the similarity in style as part of his claims but also hints that he is passing on a broader tradition. Many modern scholars have identified Luke as the likely author of the Pastoral epistles (to Timothy, to Titus). What we are likely witnessing is an edition of the New Testament edited by someone under the name of ‘Luke’ which was steadfastly anti-heretical in orientation. The text was particularly dear to Demetrius so Clement offers limited acceptance of its authority.

Indeed we have already noted that Luke is said to have been steadfastly opposed not only the 'secret god' of the heretics but also their secret teachings. The Catholics were actively trying to root this Alexandrian doctrine from the Church. The secret narratives of the Alexandrian gospel of Mark must have been understood to have similarly brought the initiated disciple into the fullness of the angelic pleroma. This Alexandrian gospel held that Jesus came to introduce a new form of baptism. His purpose: to heal the break in the divine syzygy that was established from Adam. The additional material added to the secret gospel and referenced in the Letter to Theodore introduces a new union which would replace traditional marriage among the spiritual elite of the Christian community.

This same sex union, referenced by the Carpocratians as 'naked man with naked man' is developed in conscious imitation of the syzygy of powers in heaven. As the angels in heaven were all paired into same sex couples, so too would those imitated here on earth. Theodotus tells us that in the original Alexandrian rite after baptism, the initiates enter into something called 'the bridal chamber.' This rite where two souls are united in marriage is clearly juxtaposed against traditional heterosexual unions. Theodotus makes clear the two individuals were of the same sex - "for as long as we were children of the female only, as if of a base intercourse, incomplete and infants and senseless and weak and without form, brought forth like abortions, we were children of the woman, but when we have received form from the Saviour, we have become children of a husband and a bride chamber." In no uncertain terms here the ‘we’ here is clearly two men announcing their rebirth from male intercourse.

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