Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chapter Four of Naked Man With Naked Man

The Church and the Whore 

The Church Fathers make one thing very plain in their remembrance of history. Heresy came to the Church by means of a woman. This misogynist interpretation has of course been covered up by contemporary revisionists of history. This unmistakable underpinning of ecclesiastic history is ultimately avoided because it questions Luke’s apparent progressive attitude towards women. On the one hand, as has already been noted, women are identified by the evangelist as having leading roles in the early Church. This would seem to be a good thing as Jesus is supposed to have loved everyone equally. Nevertheless there are reasons to suspect that things aren’t as straightforward as they are made to appear by these revisionists.

For one thing, the whole notion of the archetypal heretic woman develops from a gnostic myth. Luke didn’t like the fables of his opponents. As such his motivation might not have been pro-women as much as they were anti-gay. In other words, Luke introduced women in prominent roles to replace the ‘exagerrated’ distinction between the sexes. After all, if the Creator established male and female, criticizing the femaleness could be viewed as an attack on the designs of the godhead.

Yet let’s take matters a step further. The Catholic ideal that replaced the misogynist gnostic narrative was that of the ‘virtuous virgin.’ Gone was the heretical for a woman to ‘unsex’ herself – that is, to sterilize her reproductive organs and excise the ‘breasts that give suck’ – in order to be worthy of the kingdom of God. The evangelist Mark must have originally been channeling Lady MacBeth and her famous soliloquy - “come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full.”

Of course Demetrius would have argued his wife was one of these virtuous women. Many women in the Empire would eventually embrace the Catholic interpretation of its adulterated scriptures quite willingly. Yet it is impossible not to get the sense that the original gospel of the Egyptians advocated the radical approach maintained by ascetics down to the Skopstsy of modern Russia. After all there is no other logical interpretion of the many sayings of Jesus to Salome in the secret gospel. This is simply a carry over of the original gnostic myth of the fall of Sophia.

All forms of the original Christian myth are deeply mysoginist. In one form or another we are told that the all male God was perfect in the beginning - the heavens shared in his perfection - until a woman emerged in the heavenly household. Her name was Sophia or 'wisdom’ and she had been given a male consort with whom she was supposed to remain. The story goes on to say that after a matter of time Sophia became so obsessed with the masculine perfection of the invisible Father she was passionately drawn toward 'knowing him.' She impregnated herself by means of her own desires and it is said that the 'abortion' of the present world and its Lord were born from her shortcomings.

The argument often put forward by some academics that this narrative is somehow the starting point of a feminist manifesto is simply ludicrous. It is nothing short of an attack on women and femininity. Even the presence of Mary Magdalene in the gospel should be similarly understood. This is the furthest thing from popularized notions from the DaVinci Code – i.e. the marriage of Jesus and Mary. These ideas are never found in any early sources. At best, Mary is the living personification of Sophia who is sinful because she is female. Jesus’s answer to Simon Peter in the last saying of the Gospel of Thomas sums up the situation perfectly “I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven."

The point of course is that women who were not ashamed of their sex were inherently sinful. Thus, at least according to the original POV, the mere presence of a woman speaking in the Church was scandalous in itself. The idea of a female leading the Church was simply unthinkable. So it is that we need to take a second look at the traditional identification of women having a key role in 'corrupting' the tradition ascetic values of the Christian religion.

The late fourth century Latin Father Jerome presents it plainly – “Simon Magus founded his sect assisted by the help of Helena, a prostitute. Nicolaus of Antioch, that inventor of all impurities, led a crowd of women. Marcion sent a woman ahead of him to Rome, to prepare the people's minds to be deceived by him. Apelles had in Philumena a comrade in his doctrines. Montanus, the eulogist of an impure spirit, first corrupted with gold and later defiled with heresy many churches through the agency of Priscilla and Maxmilla, women who were rich and of noble birth." It is often said that Jerome was a radical ascetic and as such had a very low opinion of women. This is supposed to ‘differentiate’ him from ‘the rest of Christianity’ which is presumed to have existed in great numbers at the time. The reality is of course that the further you go back in time the more people looked and sounded like Jerome.

Indeed, Jerome wasn’t some statistical anomaly. He stands very close to the ideal of same sex union and is famous for his "nudus nudum Jesum sequi" ("naked to follow a naked Jesus"), which became the cornerstone of medieval monasticism and the basis for the radical poverty of saints such as Francis of Assisi, who stripped himself in public to act out his renunciation of secular life. What people oftem fail to see is the manner in which almost all Jerome’s core ideas go back not merely to Origen but the broader Alexandrian tradition. The nudus nudum concept in Jerome can clear be related back to the ‘naked with naked’ (in Greek gymnos gymnw) reference in the Letter to Theodore. Most of Jerome’s references to nudus nudum occur in relation to the story of the Question of the Rich Man which introduced the baptism sequence in Secret Mark and in particular the line where Jesus commands - "If thou wouldest be perfect, sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me."

A typical example from Jerome’s writings is in his Letter 125 to Rusticus where Jerome advises that “in his steps follow closely and in those of others like him in virtue, whom the priesthood makes poor men and more than ever humble. Or if you will be perfect, go out with Abraham from your country and from your kindred, and go whither you know not. If you have substance, sell it and give to the poor. If you have none, then are you free from a great burden. Naked yourself, follow a naked Christ. The task is a hard one, it is great and difficult; but the reward is also great.” Any reader of Clement of Alexandria’s interpretation of the material from the gospel regarding selling what you have relating to nakedness can easily see that Jerome is getting inspiration from the pre-existent Alexandrian tradition rooted in the secret gospel.

Jerome’s perpetuation of the ideal of the perfection of naked male with male ‘togetherness’ however is only one small part of the legacy. The other half of the original equation of course is the simultaneous rejection of all that is female. After all, the feminine is necessarily inferior in quality and in spiritual power. Womanhood as such was seen not only as an undesirable state but one of inherent sinfulness. In today’s contemporary Catholic Church the traditional antipathy towards women is masked by the third century invention of the sanctity of Mary the mother of God. Yet this was clearly not the original Alexandrian position as Clement won’t even accept the ide of Jesus as literally being born from a virgin mother.

There are so many smoke and mirrors in these debates it is difficult for average people to even get a sense of the original context of the Christian religion. The one thing we can all be assured of is the idea of motherhood being a sacred state was a completely late innovation in the Church. Christianity developed from a radical hostility toward women which goes beyond anything witnessed by Judaism. In other words, it wasn’t just that Eve sinned, or that women were inherently sinful, salvation only comes to those who unsex themselves, or to use the language of the contemporary tradition – make themselves male after the image of their Father in heaven.

Indeed it was not – as is often claimed in New Age titles – that Mary Magdalene the ‘best’ of Jesus’s but rather the exemplification of the sickest, weakest patient, the who ‘needs the doctor’s medicine’ the most. It wasn’t just that Mary was a whore or that Mary was a woman. The evangelist’s point was that all women were sickly and slutty by nature. Hardly an endorsement of womanhood by any stretch of the imagination. Of course it is true that in some sense Jesus ‘came for’ Mary. Some associated her with the lost sheep. Neverthless it was only because she as the symbol of sinfulness embodied the ‘error’ or ‘weakeness’ of material existence because of her female form.

In Jerome’s case whenever he wants to lay out the harshest criticism of women he cites the writings of St Paul with particular zeal. The woman is the vessel by which this inherently unclean state becomes productive. In the very same way, just as the vagina creates inferior life forms which continue to inhabit the polluted earth, the female soul creates heresy because of her/its inferior grasp of the truth of the Christian message. The idea that heresy came to the world - and Rome in particular - by means of a woman - and a whore more specifically only confirmed to Jerome and his tradition thought they already 'knew about women.’ As such it is akin to white supremacists watching footage of a black man stealing a car, or anti-Semites hearing about a deal between two Jews. The facts of the case seem an unnecessary distraction. Everyone is already on board with respect to what happened even before it happened.

In the case of Jerome’s version of history it can be demonstrated to have developed from a complete misrepresentation of the facts. There are no actual examples of female heretics seducing the Church. His narrative develops from a single historical source from the middle of the second century which was misrepresented and misreported by countless generations of Patristic witnesses. Everyone cites the material in different ways in order to avoid the obvious implication of the testimony – the Church wasn’t being led by women but homosexuals. As bad as it was to admit having the Church seduced by whores, it was better than admitting it was filled with gays.

So let’s start from the beginning. In the middle of the second century there was pagan named Celsus who wrote a hostile treatise against Christianity which was known and used by almost every Church Father that came after him. The text was called ‘the True Account’ and we know very little about the original author other than his cognomen – Celsus. He apparently was a highly educated man from the elite ranks of Roman society who, among other things made mention of his encounter with ‘certain Marcellians’ in Rome during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

The original reference here must have been very ambiguous – undoubtedly a passing reference made in the context of a great number of sects that existed in the contemporary age. In the course of writing their own history of the period the later Church Fathers drew from Celsus and developed one of two narratives. In most accounts these Marcellians were said to have been headed by a heretic woman who came to Rome in the middle of the second century named Marcellina. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, in other contemporary sources the idea emerged that it was a male heretic who arrived in the Roman capitol at this time. His name was Marcion.

The reason we can be certain that the original reference was rather ambiguous is because it is cited by Origen in the third century. Yet Origen himself was aware of another second century text – the Outlines written by a certain Jewish Christian convert named Joseph – which developed the whole imaginary narrative in more detail. Marcellina was in fact a Carpocratian - the very group Clement takes on in the letter to Theodore. Clement of Alexandria certainly knew of this Outlines and makes reference to it in the first book of his classic work the Stromata. Yet he was certainly not the only one who employed this rather suspect historical chronology. Irenaeus, the famous fourth century Christian historian Eusebius and another late fourth century Church Father named Epiphanius of Salamis all took stock in this falsified text.

The important thing for us to see is that Joseph’s history completely re-invented Celsus’s original reference to the Marcellians into a wholly fictional narrative. This demonstrates the process by which most information about the heresies succumbed to highly imaginative embellishments. In this case Epiphanius is generally regarded to provide us with verbatim citations of the original story about Marcellina coming to Rome including the statement which is found in the first book of his Panarion or Medicine Chest:

a certain Marcellina who had been led into error by them paid us a visit some time ago. She was the ruin of a great number of persons in the time of Anicetus, bishop of Rome, who succeeded Pius and his predecessors.

Many scholars have noted that the text says that she 'paid us a visit some time ago' because they are Joseph's words not Epiphanius who wrote from Cyprus not Rome.

The point is that we have now gone from an original cursory reference to infact two sects named side by side – the Marcellians and the Harpocratians – in the work of a hostile pagan writer to a silly story about a whore named Marcellina who happened to be a Carpocratian. The same thing can be demonstrated to have happened with respect to the Marcion narrative. Just as ‘Marcellina’ seduces the all male Church of Rome in one version of history, the male ‘Marcion’ figure is said to have seduced the virgin church and many female virgins in other accounts.

These examples underscors how careful we should be about using information from the early Fathers uncritically. There is absolutely no evidence that either a woman named ‘Marcellina’ or a man named ‘Marcion’ came to Rome during the reign of bishop Anicetus (150 - 167 CE). Scholars have to stop pretending that what survives is a reliable witness to anything other than the repressed creativity of the original storytellers. What we are dealing with are copies of copies of copies of an original hostile pagan source which moreover have been transferred and translated into many different languages before being preserved in the form they now appear to us.

Joseph’s retelling of Celsus is the key to make sense of the history of this transmission. It has long been acknowledged by scholars that not only Epiphanius but Epiphanius’s predecessor Eusebius cites Joseph’s work when establishing the succession of bishops of Rome in the late second century. When Eusebius writes at one point "and to Anicetus succeeds Soter, after whom Eleutherus" it is generally agreed he making loose or direct citation of a bishops succession list from Joseph’s lost chronological work. The account of Marcellina is clearly attached to the main list perhaps in a separate section dealing with great moments in recent Roman ‘history.’

We can date this additional section by means of a parallel citation of the same material in the writings of the Church Father Irenaeus, undoubtedly writing in the closing years of the second century (c. 195 CE) in the third book of his classic work Against Heresies. Irenaeus wanted to demonstrate that his Catholic Church was older than the tradition of the various heresies. In order to prove this Irenaeus alludes to this unreliable chronology as "indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul." Irenaeus’s reference to Joseph’s original chronology continues all the way down to the words "Pius, then after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate."

It is generally agreed by scholars that Irenaeus and Eusebius are citing from the same original material – i.e. the chronology of Joseph known also to Clement and Epiphanius. Irenaeus’s statement here making reference to the reign of Eleutherius as ‘now’ is often mistaken to be an indication of when Irenaeus was writing rather than when Joseph wrote the Outlines. There can be no doubt however that Irenaeus was writing around 195 CE and the original reference to the bishops succession list and 'Marcellina' coming to Rome was made during the reign of Eleutherius – i.e. about 175 - 189 CE.

To this end we can start to assemble a chronology of ‘misteps’ leading to the invention of both a female heretic named ‘Marcellina’ and a male heresiarch named ‘Marcion.’ The story about 'Marcellina' was added to Joseph’s chronology during the reign of bishop Eleutherius as bishop. The anti-Christian work the True Account was written about a decade earlier c. 160 - 169 CE. Why caused Joseph development of a false historical narrative involving a woman heretic coming to Rome? The most likely influence has to be acknowledged to be the rise of influence of the Christian concubine of the Emperor Commodus with a very similar name Marcia.

What is more significant for our purposes is to reveal what was covered up by the Church Fathers – i.e. Celsus’s clear indication that the sects were in fact headed by males and were ‘deviant’ in their sexual orientation. It is again very unfortunate that we do not have Celsus's original work available to us. Our fullest understanding about what was contained in this written tradition is found in Origen of Alexandria's response which was written almost a century later and often cites words, sentences and paragraphs from the original treatise.

Jerome’s allusion to the same material however raises serious questions not only about how we should interpret Origen’s interpretation of what was said in the True Account. Indeed moreover this conflicting testimony – and those moreover of other early Chuch Fathers - ultimately questions our entire model for the history of the early Church. For Jerome who certainly had the original information from Celsus in front of him and took the name of the ‘Marcellianous’ sect - associated by Joseph with an otherwise unknown heretic named Marcellina - in a completely different manner. As we have seen Jerome took the story to be about a ‘female Marcionite’ coming to the capitol of the Empire - i.e. "Marcion sent a woman ahead of him to Rome, to prepare the people's minds to be deceived by him."

Everyone it seems agrees about the context of Celsus’s report. There were clearly all sorts of female heretics in Rome and in one in particular from the Marcellianous sect. This is all that the pagan writer told his audience in the course of running down all sorts of names of groups of crazy Christian women. The second century Christian writer with the name Joseph made the connection between the Marcellianous and a woman named Marcellina. Yet the original reference in Celsus was ambiguous enough that both Irenaeus, Jerome and many others took it in an entirely different manner.

For many readers all of this may seem a little like the splitting of hairs. Why should it matter whether it was Marcellina or Marcion who came to Rome? The answer is of couse quite simple – it underscores how unreliable the information of the early Church Fathers are with respect to their heretical opponents. These reports often develop from a kernel of historical information which in turn get warped and manipulated into something wholly fantastic which unfortunately are often taken as ‘reliable history’ by contemporary scholars. Indeed it is shocking just to see how much of our knowledge of the heretical landscape is based on clear manipulation of the original material in this one pagan writer.

Origen's preservation of the original material in fact looks very similar to Jerome's citation insofar as he wants us to believe that in the earliest period of the Church there countless female leaders of heretical movements. Origen reports that Celsus makes reference to:

the existence of certain Simonians who worship Helene, or Helenus, as their teacher, and are called ‘Helenians’ and then proceeds to discuss certain ‘Marcellians,’ after Marcellina, and ‘Harpocratians’ after Salome, and others after Mariamme, and others after Martha. We, however, who from a love of learning examine to the utmost of our ability not only the contents of Scripture, and the differences to which they give rise, but have also, from love to the truth, investigated as far as we could the opinions of philosophers, have never at any time met with these sects. He makes mention also of the Marcionites, whose leader was Marcion.

The mistake that is typically made here is that scholars find it difficult to separate Origen’s interpretation of the material – based in no small part on Joseph’s reconstruction of the evidence – and the original material from Celsus’s True Account.

A careful reading reveals that original text simply gave the name ‘Marcellianous’ which Jerome and Irenaeus took to be the Latin equivalent of the more common Greek term Markiwnistwn. After all, the name Marcion is the Greek diminutive of Marcus in the same way as the Latin Marcellus. The English equivalent would be 'Marky' (i.e. ‘Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’). Of course it is curious why the Latin diminutive of Mark would be used here rather than the Greek? It is difficult to say other than the figure of Marcellus is well known in Roman circles especially in the ‘histories’ of Peter and Paul’s missionary activities in the city. Here ‘Marcellus’ is a Roman senator who converts to Christianity in the apostolic age.

The identification of Marcion as Marcellus was also apparently influential enough to appear in the Latin translation of a Greek rendering of an original Syriac text called the Acts of Archelaus. Here a similarly famous apostolic (?) figure is identified as being known throughout the world for his establishment of a network of pilgrim hostels and kindness to strangers. It is also worth noting that in official legal sources from the Roman Empire the heretics are always referenced as Marcellianous and never as Markiwnistwn – suggesting the Latinized term was pre-existent.

It is difficult to say why the term Marcellianous was ultimately replaced by Markiwnistwn – i.e. ‘of Marcion’ – in Patristic sources. When other contemporary sources are added to the mix it would seem that the original Latin terminology behind all these confusing appelations was that of the Marcianus. In other words, Celsus was drawing on a pre-existent Latin term which meant ‘those of Mark.’ The choice of Marcellianous was certainly deliberate on the part of the pagan writer, working as he was in the age of an Emperor who bore the same name. At least part of the answer is actually found in the first century pagan writer Plutarch’s account of the consul Marcus Claudius who lived in the Republican period.

We should begin by reminding our readership that there are three parts to any Roman name the last being the cognomen which later developed into a kind of nickname. In the Republican period the cognomen identified the clan to which you belonged. Marcus Claudius was originally of the Claudian family but sometime after his death, the name 'Marcellus' became cognomitated as the surname of his Roman family, which produced many great and illustrious characters, even though they were still considered to be a branch of the Claudian clan (gens Claudia).

Plutarch begins his famous book in Greek on Marcus Claudius (entitled 'on Marcellus') with the sentence:

Marcus Claudius, who was five times consul of the Romans, was a son of Marcus (Markou), as we are told, and, according to Poseidonius, was the first of his family to be called Marcellus (Markellon), which means Martial (Areion).

In other words the name that Celsus identifies this sect with is clearly identified as meaning ‘warlike’ in Latin. This will prove to be decisively significant in identifying who the historical person the female Marcionite eventually came to be identified as. For the moment however it is important to keep in mind that Marcellianous not only means ‘those of Marcellus’ but also ‘the warriors.’

The reason why the Greek Church Fathers undoubtedly avoided the name Marcellus is that it played into Celsus’s overall argument of “Christianity as an insurgency anxious to increase its membership through active recruitment and thereby to multiply the number of restive plaintiffs against the establishment.” According to Celsus Christianity was a rebellion against the state and Christ "a conspirator,’ a "so-called savior,’ and an "author of insurrection." Indeed among his many proofs of the martial character of the religion he cites the following passage from a contemporary work – the Heavenly Dialogue – “How comes it, that while so many go about the well, no one goes down into it? Why art thou afraid when thou hast gone so far on the way? Answer: Thou art mistaken, for I lack neither courage nor weapons.”

Indeed when we take a second look at the list of heretics that Origen actually reports Celsus identifies by name – the Helenians, the Marcellians, the Harpocratians – it turns out that none of them are actually headed by females. It is Origen who suggests the Helenians should be connected with the familiar Patristic legend of Simon and a female consort named Helen. He nevertheless also acknowledges that Celsus ‘could have meant’ Helenus the prophetic brother of the prophetess Cassandra from Homer’s Iliad. Similarly the Harpocratians clearly derive their origin from the male Egyptian divinity Harpocrates or Horos the child. Moreover we see a little earlier Celsus’s original reference to the Sabellians is corrupted into ‘those of the Sibyl.’

In each case it is Origen case who makes the suggestion that females are associated with various sect names never explicitly identified as such by the author himself. Origen now becomes only the latest in a long line of Christian witnesses who consistently manipulate and deliberately misrepresent Celsus’s original testimony. We have already noted why Celsus chose Markellianous over the more original Marcianus – he wanted to present the sect as war-like and dangerous to society at large. What then was the motivation for the Christian recasting of various heresies into female-driven groups?

The answer becomes very clear when we simply continue reading from the last citation to what immediately follows in Celsus’s original treatise. The pagan clearly introduced the various sects developed around men – the Valentinians, the Sabellians, the Helenians, the Marcellians and the Harpocratians – in order to claim that they were exclusively homosexual communities. As we continue from the last cited words from Against Celsus – “he makes mention also of the Marcionites, whose leader was Marcion” – it is immediately followed by the claim that these males had sex with each other and perhaps even boys. As we read:

In the next place (in Celsus’s treatise), that he may have the appearance of knowing still more than he has yet mentioned, he says, agreeably to his usual custom, that there are others “who have wickedly invented some being as their teacher and demon, and who wallow about in a great darkness, more unholy and accursed than that of the companions of the Egyptian Antinous." And he seems to me, indeed, in touching on these matters, to say with a certain degree of truth, that there are certain others who have wickedly invented another demon, and who have found him to be their lord, as they wallow about in the great darkness of their ignorance. With respect, however, to Antinous, who is compared with our Jesus, we shall not repeat what we have already said in the preceding pages.

Antinous was of course the boy lover of the Emperor Hadrian who drowned in the Nile and was placed at the center of a religious cult developed in Egypt. Celsus makes many references to contemporary Christianity engaging in the ritual pedastry associated with the religion at Antinopolis. Origen’s response is to deflect the main criticism by attacking the argument from the margins, concentrating on tangential arguments.

Indeed it is amazing how scholarship dealing with the origins of Christianity is so desperate to have something to work with that it takes the reports about the ‘Marcionites,’ ‘Carpocratians’ at face value. The facts are that Celsus only makes reference to the Marcellians and the Harpocratians but somehow all the material about Marcellina the Carpocratian is employed as if it were somehow historically accurate. Most problematic of all here is that Origen is attempting to distract us from Celsus identifying all the sects as participating in homosexuality and pedastry and once again the information is marginalized to the non-existent Carpocratians. That Clement continues this practice in his Letter to Theodore is once again only clear proof of the documents authenticity.

Clement himself openly speaks about his fellow Christians as erastai of Christ. An erastes of course is the adult male lover of a young boy. Origen, the person in charge of responding to Celsus’s original attacks against the tradition long after the pagan was dead and buried, was castrated and connected with homosexual sex in Patristic literature. In the last citation we cited from his Against Celsus Origen makes reference to an early section in his work which dealt more comprehensively with Celsus’s repeated charge that Christianity was a pederastic religion like the Hadrianic cult at Antinoopolis. It might now be useful to take a second look at this original reference to Christianity as a homosexual cultus.

In Book Three Origen says that Celsus “introduces the case of the favourite of Adrian” referring to what the Church Father says are the native “accounts regarding the youth Antinous, and the honours paid him by the inhabitants of the city of Antinous in Egypt.” Celsus is said to hold that “the honour paid to him falls little short of that which we render to Jesus” but Origen objects to this comparison and all that he leaves out of Celsus’s original account by saying “what is there in common between a life lived among the favourites of Adrian, by one who did not abstain even from unnatural lusts, and that of the venerable Jesus, against whom even they who brought countless other charges, and who told so many falsehoods, were not able to allege that He manifested, even in the slightest degree, any tendency to what was licentious?”

Clearly Celsus thought there was a great deal of similarity between the Alexandrian Christian cultus and that of Antinous. Moreover the Historia Augustia makes it seem as Hadrian visited Alexandria to learn from the Christians about how to develop a mystery cult. Origen however notes that “if one were to investigate, in a spirit of truth and impartiality, the stories relating to Antinous, he would find that it was due to the magical arts and rites of the Egyptians that there was even the appearance of his performing anything (marvellous) in the city which bears his name, and that too only after his decease,--an effect which is said to have been produced in other temples by the Egyptians, and those who are skilled in the arts which they practise.” Indeed just like the rituals associated with secret Mark it would appear that there was a mystery cult associated with the resurrection of the dead which seemed at least to some to resemble that later developed by Hadrian for his boy lover.

Our point of course is that Origen only manages to deal with the accusations of ritual sodomy existing in early Christianity by following the lead of the Christian historian Joseph. He transforms the original reference to all Christians being led by males who engaged in homosexuality and pedastry into two separate references – one which deals with an implausible list of sects led by women and then follows it with a seemingly separate allusion to Christianity being the like the pagan cult at Antinoopolis. Celsus’s testimony is of course not the only to suggest such practices. The more or less contemporary Octavian alludes to Christian priests introducing phalluses at their rites. Tertullian at the beginning of the third century alludes to similar pagan insinuations about the brothership rites of the Christians. When taken together then it is very difficult not to conclude that the invention of Marcellina the Carpocratian was a deliberate distraction from the main thrust of the pagan charge that the Christian religion was gay.

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