Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chapter Fifteen of Naked Man With Naked Man

Gregory Thaumaturgus was one of the most important leaders in the early Christian Church after St Paul. Unlike Clement and Origen who were priests and teachers, Gregory’s authority went beyond the interpretation of scripture. He is said to have had real political power governing a significant body of people in one of the remotest regions of the Empire some of whom may have included non-Christians. As such, the authority of our Theodore of Pontus was likely secular as well as religious in nature.  This reality challenges our inherited notion of a separation between 'church' and 'state' and perhaps explains why there were persecutions in the pre-Nicene period.  Christianity was never originally simply proclaiming an otherworldly 'kingdom of God.'

We know so very little about the third century, in part because of unrelenting political and economic turmoil, that it is sometimes difficult to put the material that survives in some sort of greater social context. Perhaps the closest parallel we know of is the example of Paul from Samosata over a generation later. Paul was a bishop of the important city of Antioch. History records that he also held the civil title of Procurator ducenarius (which essentially meant that he received a salary from the Imperial government of a 200,000 sesterces). Theodore and Paul ruled as civil authorities many years before Nicaea. To this end, it would seem that some Imperial administrations before Constantine not only tolerated Christianity but saw it as an effective means of governing at least some of the inhabitants of the Empire in an age of deep uncertainty.

The reason this is important of course is that our Theodore was consistently hailed as a figure like Moses. In other words, the contemporary evidence suggests that this idea may have been essentially rooted in the Alexandrian initiation rite. Whether it is Aaron being united with his ‘brother’ Moses or David knitting his soul with Jonathan, the mysticism of Christianity had an overarching political dimension which is often ignored. The strange words from the First Epistle to the Corinthians seem especially appropriate here “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!”

The problem as always is that the legendary details that survive about early Christian figures do not afford intimacy with them. The reality is that very little has survived to help us get to know 'Gregory Thaumaturgus.' Indeed most of what remains comes from untrustworthy apocryphal sources. Nevertheless this situation hasn't stopped Gregory from being extremely important to the Greek speaking Church. William Telfer wrote a 344 page book on the various cults associated with this saint across the Christian world. It is utterly fascinating to window into a panoply of strange customs and traditions preserved down to the modern age, all venerating man who is now almost completely unknown to us.

There is almost no mention of Athenodorus in the material that survives. Our earliest source for their relationship – outside of Theodore himself – is undoubtedly Pamphilus of Caesarea (c 280 CE) who made reference to the pair in his Apology for Origen. If Pamphilus did not actually meet Theodore or Athenodorus at a synod or an official function of the Church he certainly knew all about them from the intimate circle of contemporary Origenists. It is unfortunate that this section of the work is now lost to us. Nevertheless the evidence seems to be the source of Eusebius’s intimation that Theodore and Athenodorus were the most famous example of the same sex ideal of Alexandria.

Eusebius himself represents something of an enigma. His History of the Church has become something of a road map for early Christianity and not surprisingly we find Theodore and his partner Athenodorus favorably - evenly glowingly - referenced throughout. Yet the difficulty we encounter with Eusebius’s work is that all three references to the divine couple appear in what is certainly one of the most problematic sections of the chronology – the sixth book which is mostly devoted to the memory of the controversial figure of Origen. There are so many problems with this particular book in the series that it led many early witnesses to question Eusebius's reliability as a witness and even more so his overall motives in writing this book.

As the Byzantine chronicler George Syncellus notes "in the sixth book of his Ecclesiastical History, he [Eusebius] strives to prove that he [Origen] was greater than all the other saints and teachers. As one holding the same views that Origen did, he (Eusebius) actually insults him with his lavish words of praise, since he knows neither whereof he speaks nor what he affirms. For he makes only the briefest remarks about the holy and blessed fathers of the time. I mean Clement. author of the Stromata. and the holy martyr Hippolytus, and Africanus the historian, and Dionysius the Great of and others. The conduct of only the feeble-minded Origen from his childhood up to his desertion in the face of martyrdom does he exalt to the status of divinity."

This is to say nothing of the problems with the overall structure of the Church History as such. The first seven books are indeed a history of the Church, but only as far as the late third century. There is a basic chronological framework up until this point of emperors and bishops of Rome which provided the skeleton for the entire narrative. In other words, the chronology itself represents bits and pieces of stories and summaries which hang off of a structure of Roman bishops essentially up until 280 CE. The Church History essentially developed from a series of tables where information – such as the dates of Gregory Thaumaturgus (= our Theodore of Pontus) – are easy to get lost or mixed up.

Eusebius’s interest in developing a white-washed ‘Life of Origen’ takes so much space in the sixth book chapter that it displaces everything else. George Syncellus criticism is right on the money here. The details about the Origen’s life seem hastily fastened on to a pre-existent framework developed from an earlier chronology which did not focus so heavily on the Alexandrian Church Father. Indeed it will be our contention that because of this utterly strange, sloppy attempt to impose Origen on the Book Six that Theodore ends up appearing to have become a disciple of Origen twenty years later than it actually happened.

Theodore tells us himself that he met Origen at the time of his escape from Alexandria which is a fact also referenced twice by Eusebius in his narrative. The first reference is found in Church History 6.21. Eusebius begins by demonstrating how close Demetrius the bishop of Alexandria stood to the Imperial government. We are told that “a soldier came and delivered a letter from the governor of Arabia to Demetrius, bishop of the parish, and to the prefect of Egypt who was in office at that time, requesting that they would with all speed send Origen to him for an interview.” The idea that the Imperial government would send a messenger to Demetrius clearly means they were in touch. A few years later we are told Demetrius would carry out the orders of the Senate to condemn Origen.

The important thing for us to see is that the break between Demetrius and Origen hasn’t yet occurred. Origen goes to Arabia and then "sometime after" he returns to Alexandria only to be greeted by an important event. Eusebius reports 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. While there the bishops of the church in that country requested him to preach and expound the Scriptures publicly, although he had not yet been ordained as presbyter." We know from In Praise of Origen which we cited earlier that this was also the time Origen met Theodore.

Eusebius goes on to reference the end of the reign of Caracalla a few chapters later. This limits the “considerable war” to the years 211 – 217 and more specifically Caracalla’s mass slaughter of the citizens of Alexandria in around 215 CE. This means that Origen had to have met Theodore in the same year. The rest of the material from this section supports the idea given that events are not only placed in relation to this emperor of Rome but also various "Church writers who flourished at that time" including those who presided over the church of Rome.

After mentioning the Roman presbyters Hippolytus and Caius and the transition from Caracalla to Elagabalus it is interesting to note that Eusebius makes reference to a transition at the same time with respect to the episcopacy at Rome:

During his first year the Roman bishop, Zephyrinus, having held his office for eighteen years, died, and Callistus received the episcopate. He continued for five years, and was succeeded by Urbanus. After this, Alexander became Roman emperor, Antoninus having reigned but four years. At this time Philetus also succeeded Asclepiades in the church of Antioch. The mother of the emperor, Mammæa by name, was a most pious woman, if there ever was one, and of religious life. When the fame of Origen had extended everywhere and had come even to her ears, she desired greatly to see the man, and above all things to make trial of his celebrated understanding of divine things. Staying for a time in Antioch, she sent for him with a military escort. Having remained with her a while and shown her many things which were for the glory of the Lord and of the excellence of the divine teaching, he hastened back to his accustomed work. At that time Hippolytus, besides many other treatises, wrote a work on the passover. He gives in this a chronological table, and presents a certain paschal canon of sixteen years, bringing the time down to the first year of the Emperor Alexander (HE 6.21, 22).

It is important to note here that Eusebius has obviously substituted the name ‘Origen’ for ‘Hippolytus’ in order to make it seem less like he was a fugitive from the Imperial authorities. We actually know from other sources that Hippolytus corresponded with Mammaea. The point is that Eusebius was so desperate to rehabilitate the legacy of Origen that he appropriated stories about other people and recast them as if they were about the Alexandrian.

Indeed the manner in which Hippolytus has been introduced here has puzzled scholars for ages. The Church Father says nothing about him other than the works he wrote. As the text now stands Origen now is reputable statesman friendly with the Imperial family rather than a devious heretic hiding from the authorities. The point is that all of what follows in Book Six is an obvious attempt to obscure the fact that Origen was a fugitive who ran away from Alexandria before Demetrius could arrest him. Eusebius attempts in countless little deceitful attempts to insinuate that Origen went back to Alexandria after 215 CE (and thus ‘made up’ with Demetrius) but none of the arguments are at all convincing.

In the end we should Eusebius as literally twisting and turning the actual life of Origen in every direction to obscure the real history of the man. For instance while Eusebius makes reference to Porphyry seeing Origen in his youth in Tyre and his former Marcionite patron Ambrose commissioning him to write various works from the same Phoenician city, it is deeply significant that Eusebius never mentions Tyre by name. Epiphanius for instance has Origen depart to the city of Tyre in modern Lebanon where "at the urgent request of many, he made the acquaintance of Ambrose, a prominent imperial official.”

Moreover Epiphanius says that Origen spent many years in Tyre – twenty eight to be exact. Such a precise number is difficult to explain away especially when Jerome says that he died here too. His remains were deposited, as tradition says, in the Cathedral Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Tyre, near the great altar. A marble column, bearing his name and epitaph, and adorned with gold and gems, was visible, it is said, so late as near the end of the thirteenth century; but all vestiges of the tomb have long since disappeared.

To this end, logic would dictate that despite the convoluted apologetics of Book Six of Eusebius’s Church History we can back date twenty eight years from his death to obtain the likely years he spent at Tyre (225 – 250 CE), and then accept the combined testimony of Theodore and Eusebius to determine his time at Caesarea (215 – 223 CE). This seems to be supported by a reconstruction of a recently found Greek text of Origen’s Homily on the Psalms. Eusebius makes clear that a stenographer was only invited to write down his homilies after he turned sixty. The Homilies of Origen must have been recorded at Tyre rather than Caesarea.

This understanding is supported by Epiphanius’s statement that he only finished the Hexapla a side by side comparison of all known versions of the Old Testament just before his death at Tyre. This makes sense on a number of levels not the least of which being that the work was originally commissioned by his patron Ambrose at Tyre. The fact that the Hexapla ended up in the great Origenist library at Caesarea in later times is not at all surprising given the fact that its bishop Pamphilus was an avid Origenist who transcribed original texts by hand. Pamphilus was a native of Beruit which is less than fifty miles away from Tyre.

Another important fact to consider is that Origen’s persecution happens only after his patron and Imperial official Ambrose passes away. In other words, Origen was left vulnerable in Tyre – Ambrose’s death which Jerome says happened ‘in the year before Origen’s death’ would not have effected Origen if one was in Tyre and the other in Caesarea. To this end, it would stand to reason to accept the idea that Origen left Alexandria only to stay in Caesarea for about eight years (almost exactly the time it took to initiate Theodore and Athenodorus). Demetrius must still have been alive at this time and his efforts to condemn the Palestinian churches for allowing Origen to continue as a presbyter there ultimately caused him to flee to Tyre where he stayed under the patronage of Ambrose until his death.

There is thus great importance of the biographical statements found in the Homily on Psalm 36, written after Origen turned sixty at Tyre – and thus between the years 240 – 250 CE. Indeed we can further narrow the date of the homily on Psalm 36 in particular because of its reference to contemporary peace in the world for Origen, Ambrose and the Christian Church generally. Referencing the words from Psalm - “you would have no power over me, if it was not given you from on high” – Origen says that they “can be applied to the holy martyrs and confessors in the time of the persecution of the nations. For the impious persecutors carefully examine each righteous one, and seek to kill him. But so that this speech, in this time of peace, may not render you secure, remember that every day the righteous one has a persecuting devil, and this is the one who always plots against the righteous."

The French scholars Crouzel and Brésard note that the date of this statement can be firmly fixed to 244 to 245 CE. “The life of Origen passed between periods of persecution and those of calm. The text here envisages these two alternatives. It appears that these homilies were delivered in times of peace, probably under Philip the Arab, the first Christian emperor, before the great persecution of Decius." Philip the Arab was widely reported to be a secret believer in Christianity. Whatever the case may be, the date of 244/245 for his homily on Psalm 36 is very important when we consider another reference made a few days earlier during Origen’s lectures.

Origen is widely recognized to have made a reference to a hostile rule directed against his own person (and by implication the Church that believed in him) saying:

Listen to Isaiah, as he teaches you to despise wordly glory, all the pleasures of the flesh, for his says, "All flesh, is as wheat, and all its glory, is like a flower of wheat." Looks at the glory of the flesh: they have ruled over us for these thirty years. They have been glorified: their glory is like a flower; but this glory was dried up and withered. Some others were wealthy, and came upon honors. The walked as ones puffed up because of the honor of the things which promoted them. These things passed away, and so as a flower of wheat they will wither way, for "all flesh is wheat, and all of its glory is as a flower of wheat." The wheat is dried up and the flower has fallen.

What Origen is saying clearly is that he has suffered at the hands of the Imperial authorities for thirty years – that is since he first ran away from Alexandria in 215 CE.

To this end, we can see that the testimony of the Homilies on Psalms makes clear that Origen was basically on the run from Imperial authority for the previous thirty years. Eusebius mentions a letter written by Origen to Philip and another to his wife Severa. The fact that Origen had ultimately ‘come out of hiding’ to this Emperor alongside likely his patron Ambrose ultimately led to their being singled out and tortured in the persecutions of Decius which followed. There must have been a reason why Eusebius removes any mention of Origen being present in the city of Tyre. The only real question now is what is he hiding from us.

One more important piece of information to consider here is that of the near contemporary Origen critic Methodius. Methodius’s work against Origen was cited with approval by Epiphanius among others. The question which is never answered of course is why the two men should have come to blows in the first place. Jerome provides part of the solution when he notes that Methodius was “bishop of Olympus in Lycia and afterwards of Tyre” and who “composed books Against Porphyry written in polished and logical style.” We have already seen that Porphyry speaks of meeting Origen. Now when we add another anti-Origenist to the mix of intellectuals at Tyre, Eusebius’s silence about Origen’s twenty eight years (223 – 251 CE) there raises doubts about his whole chronology.

It should be noted that Jerome also makes reference to a tradition that Methodius died in the same persecution at Tyre which left Origen and invalid. To this end, we have two Christians and a pagan who shared a common background (Platonism) who happened to be violently opposed to one another. To this end there is also a strong tradition that Origen recanted his Christian beliefs. The report is passed on by Justinian in its fullest form but it is present also in Epiphanius’s anti-Origenist propaganda. It would seem that it wasn’t just that Eusebius simply trying to associate Origen exclusively with Caesarea for selfish reasons (he was after all the bishop of the city). His life in Tyre was no bed of roses.

Our greater point here is that once we build our chronology for Origen with the last twenty eight years of his life at Tyre – or until 223 CE – the initiation of Theodore can only have occurred in the year 215 CE. “While Origen was carrying on his customary duties in Cæsarea,” writes Eusebius, “many pupils came to him not only from the vicinity, but also from other countries. Among these Theodorus, the same that was distinguished among the bishops of our day under the name of Gregory, and his brother Athenodorus, we know to have been especially celebrated. Finding them deeply interested in Greek and Roman learning, he infused into them a love of philosophy, and led them to exchange their old zeal for the study of divinity. Remaining with him five years, they made such progress in divine things, that although they were still young, both of them were honored with a bishopric in the churches of Pontus.”

As we have already noted Eusebius’s Church History has deliberately hidden away Origen’s time at Tyre. This was also the locale where he denied Christ rather than suffering martyrdom. It is not at all surprising that Origen’s meeting with Theodore and Athenodorus should have been moved to the wrong place in the narrative of his Church History for apologetic purposes. The very same thing seems to have occurred to another acquaintance of Origen – i.e. Julius Africanus, the great chronographer. Eusebius's introduces him (6.31) right after the account of the initiation of Theodore and Athenodorus (6.30).

Indeed that Julius Africanus is placed this late in Eusebius’s narrative seems to have bothered at least a few Byzantine scholars. After all it doesn't make sense that given Eusebius frequent use of Africanus's "five books on Chronology" or the "Chronography" which was almost certainly written 221 CE. Yet Eusebius strangely moves both men to the age of Philip the Arab. The only answer that makes any sense is that everything in the original Life of Origen has been pushed back a number of years. Since Theodore and Africanus originally completed their initiation in five years according to Eusebius (215 – 220 CE albeit the number is eight years in Theodore’s In Praise of Origen) it would make sense to have Julius Africanus originally immediately follow their reference.

There is other evidence to suggest that Africanus originally appeared in the year corresponding to 221 CE in Eusebius's original Chronicle was used to compile the Church History. While that text is completely lost, the Chronicle of Jerome is largely based on that original, and has the following for 221 CE - "In Palestine Nicopolis, which previously used to be called Emmaus, was founded as a city, the labour of the embassy on its behalf being undertaken by Julius Africanus, the writer of the Chronicle." This is exactly where the reference to Africanus should be in Eusebius's Church History but it is not, owing to the sudden transformation of Book Six into an apology for Origen.

It should be noted that all scholars agree again that the original chronology was established around 280 CE only to be corrected during the Arian controversies at the time of the Nicaean convention. All subsequent chronographers to Eusebius identify Theodore and Africanus as contemporaries based on the dating of the Chronicle of Julius Africanus. For instance Jerome Letter 70 the two are separated from a list of later authorities as living at the same time and having the same basic character - "there are also in circulation the books of Julius Africanus, who wrote historical works on chronology, and of Theodore, who was subsequently called Gregory, men endowed with the miracles and virtues of the apostles. All of them interweave the teachings and sayings of the philosophers to such such an extent in their books that you might be at a loss as to which to admire in them first, their secular learning or their knowledge of the Scriptures."

It isn’t just Jerome links both men but most subsequent witnesses also add another name to the list of contemporaries – that of Clement of Alexandria. The ninth century Byzantine scholar George Monachus determined in part from Africanus' Chronology that at "living during his rule were Clement, author of the Stromata, and Africanus and Gregory Thaumaturgus." Clement is generally thought to have lived until 225 CE and that Origen became his student while Clement was still in Alexandria. Africanus, a contemporary of both men, explicitly placed this instruction in the reign of Commodus -"Commodus, son of Marcus, reigned for 12 years, 5 months - As the most learned Africanus says: During his reign, Clement, author of the Stromata, was becoming known in Alexandria. Origen became a pupil of Clement. Montanus, the heresiarch, was also living at that time. He claimed that he himself was [the] Paraclete."

Francis Thee in his Julius Africanus and the Christian View of Magic notes that "in his account of the reign of Commodus, Cedrenus cites 'Africanus the Chronographer' as placing 'Clement the Stromatist' in this time, with the following clause making Origen a pupil of Clement. The next paragraph, describing the reign of Pertinax, cites Eusebius as placing the floruits of Symmachus, Porphyry, and Africanus, and the martyrdom of Leonidas, father of Origen, in this reign." As we shall see Eusebius’s chronology completely trips up over the life of Clement of Alexandria. While Clement is briefly introduced in Book Five as “becoming well known” under the Emperor Commodus (180 – 192 CE) Eusebius ends up speaking at great length about Clement in Book Six reintroduces Clement in the Emperor’s tenth year (= 203 CE) and continues to reference events in the life of the Church Father generally dated to 220 or 225.

It is also worth noting that the Church History makes reference to Firmilian's arrival in Caesarea shortly after Origen shortly after his Egyptian exodus. It cannot go without notice that when Gregory of Nyssa tells the story of Theodore's instruction into Christianity, it takes place alongside this same Firmilian. We read in the relevant section of the Life of Gregory - "after he (Theodore) had passed through the whole education of worldly wisdom, he met a certain Firmilian, from a prominent Cappadocian family, a man of similar moral principles, as he showed by his subsequent life, since he became an ornament of the church of Caesarea, and he manifested to his friend what he wanted to do with his life: to focus on God.”

Most scholars identify Gregory of Nyssa’s pairing of Firmilian and Theodore as a nod to the relationship between his brother Basil and Gregory Nazianzen. Nevertheless it may well also hearken back to a tradition that both men were present at Caesarea under Origen c. 215 CE. Of course the understanding that Origen initiated Theodore and Athenodorus while Clement was still alive is extremely important to help figure out the identity of the addressee of the Mar Saba letter.

Gregory of Nyssa only references Theodore's original secret initiation with a single line in his Life - "so when he had thus slowly come under the yoke (ton zugon kat'anagken), and later all the proper rites (nominwn) had been carried out on him." Theodore for his part speaks in term of Jonathan’s soul being mystically wedded to the soul of David, while Gregory’s brother Basil similarly acknowledges Jonathan’s ‘partnership’ in the life of David. Yet what exactly happened in this ritual Origen performed at Caesarea?

Theodore in his Panygeric for Origen, only cryptically alludes to his union with Athenodorus. It is important to note that it is re-enacted as a ‘threesome’ rather than a stricting pairing. God is described as "setting in motion in everything until by every means he would unite us (= Theodore and Athenodorus) with this man (= Origen) who has done us so much good." It was God according to Theodore who having handed over "the stewardship" (oikonomian) to Origen for the purpose of having "the divine angel" (= Jesus) "rest equally" within Theodore and Athenodorus.

The employment of the Greek term oikonomia is very interesting in this discussion. It is a term usually used to describe the relationship between the three parts of the Holy Trinity, that most incomprehensible of Christian symbols. Perhaps the earliest appearance of the Trinity is found in documents related to baptism. The Didache puts it this way “And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.” Yet it has never been explained why a connection between the Trinity and baptism exists in the first place.

It is worth noting that our Theodore has always been most intimately associated with the Trinity. He is among the earliest spokesmen for its sanctity and Gregory of Nyssa claims the existence of a manuscript in Theodore’s own hand on the subject still preserved at his time in the Church of Neo-Caesarea. For the Orthodox tradition to this very day, the relationship of heaven and earth is like a mystical isosceles triangle with God at the apex, ‘you’ and ‘me’ at the base angles. In other examples the triangle is explained as God, priest and deacon. In any case it all goes back to the description of the inner workings of the oikonomia of the Trinity, with God the Father the source of all things standing preeminent in relation to his Word and Spirit, his Hands, who minister to him and function as his agents with respect to creation.

In baptism clearly we see descriptions of two individuals who stand in the same relative 'position' as ‘Son’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ and the Father (= presbyter) who yoked them together. In the case of the description of the ceremony descrined Theodore’s Panergyric, Origen takes the role of ‘Father’ while Theodore and Athendorus are the two subordinate powers brought into communion through his agency. The question remains, where did this pronounced Trinitarian symbolism come from? The simply answer is that originated from within Christian Platonism.

Clement of Alexandria for instance makes reference to Plato's Epistle to the tyrant Dionysius to explain the Christian Trinity - "when he [Plato] says, ‘Around the king of all, all things are, and because of Him are all things; and he [or that] is the cause of all good things; and around the second are the things second in order; and around the third, the third,’ I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father." According to the near contemporary Platonist Celsus of Rome this same letter points to the existence of three powers or gods being described in this passage from Plato. By "king of all" he means the Good, "the second" is Nous or Intellect, "the third" Psyche or Soul.

The less philosophically inclined reader need only know that ‘the Good,’ ‘Mind’ and ‘Soul’ are pre-existent Platonic terms that were familiar educated individual. As the famous philosopher Plotinus notes "Plato understood that Nous comes from the Good, and Psyche comes from Nous." We have already seen that many of the earliest Christian identified this Nous with the power associated with the secret wisdom or secret gospel. Yet it is important to see here that this ‘Good’ – i.e .the highest God (cf. Mark 10:18) can also be seen as the unknowable, unattainable knowledge where Nous and Psyche represent a divided gospel (i.e. secret and profane) which in turn are associated with the two classes of people within the ancient Church.

There is text found at Nag Hammadi called the Teaching of Silvanus which has been noted to have many similarities with the writings of Clement of Alexandria. Silvanus offers an exhortation "to war against the passions, to submit to paideia (intruction), to be gentle to acquire treasure in heaven. The ground of this spiritual ideal is self-realisation: know whence you have come; realize yourself to be a mixture of earthy body, of psyche formed at second remove in derivation from the original divine intention, and of nous with a divine ousia. As you decline from the nous-level, you cease to be wholly male and become bisexual, both male and female coexisting together, nous being male, psyche female; you may even descend wholly to the level of feminine psyche.”

The idea of a sacred marriage between Nous and Psyche is much older than Christianity. It dates back to the followers of the Greek philosopher Pythagoras. It is important to note that in Greek nous is masculine and psyche neuter just like the terms Son and Spirit. Moreover in the Alexandrian Christian tradition it is better to say that ‘the Good’ (agathos) brings together Nous with Psyche. To this end, Theodore understood himself to be yoked to his partner Athendorus through the mystical rite performed on them by Origen in Caesarea with Jesus being an active participant in this rite.

Indeed if we go back to the Panygeric, Theodore describes Jesus as the essence uniting these two powers. "He is the truth, and both the wisdom and the power of the Father of the universe himself, and is also with and in him and united to him completely; so there is no way that, either through lack of attention or wisdom, or some weakness, like someone estranged from himself, he might either lack the power to praise, or have it but deliberately (which is blasphemous to say) allow the Father to go unpraised." This notion of 'praising' God is very important to Theodore and the mystical tradition associated with him. It is the very reason why Christians assemble in churches in the first place.

‘Praising’ was an integral part of the mystical process of the two males being united in the Alexandrian rites. Theodore speaks of himself preparing to enter the purifying fires of initiation with his partner Athenodorus under Origen's instruction. He stops to make a "discourse of thanksgiving" but it is interestingly not to God the Father but to his teacher Origen who clearly embodies the Father for him and his partner. If Hippolytus's contemporary testimony can be used as a yardstick, one may presume that all three men are preparing to disrobe. Origen, the 'father' being praised stood at the apex of the divine isosceles triangle, Theodore and Athendorus each extending like hands at each end of the divine symbol.

In what follows in the Panygeric we see Theodore praise the father through Origen declaring again "even if I offer myself in my entirety, not such as I am now, profane and unclean, commingled and blended with accursed and unclean wickedness, but naked as clean, as bright, and as pure as pure can be and unmixed with anything bad— not even, I say, if I were offering myself whole and naked, as if offering a newborn, could I by myself offer any gift worthy of the honor and recompense due to the Director and Cause of all things." Up until this point Theodore - the embodiment of divine Nous has only been speaking for himself. Yet in the line that follows he adds, by way of reference to his partner Athenodorus - "neither any individual nor all together can praise him fittingly, even if all became clean were made to meet in one, transforming themselves, or rather returning to him all together in one spirit and one harmony."

The cleansing, the nakedness, the rites are all to prepare for the ideal state of friendship that was first described by Aristotle - one soul abiding in two bodies. Yet there is also something more going on here. The two men are together being prepared to receive Jesus, the divine soul that unites the heavenly partners of God the Father. When we look at the pattern in the water, Origen, Theodore and Athenodorus form a trinity together – Origen being the representative of the divine Father on earth.

It should not surprise anyone then that Theodore would eventually emerge out of this ritual as a ‘wonder working’ second Moses. The Alexandrian rite at the heart of the secret gospel was rooted in what Mark saw as a pattern of divine union through the uniting of two men. The brother-making ritual in the Book of Exodus 4.27, "he (= Aaron )met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him,’ the knitting together of the souls Jonathan and David and perhaps most importantly Joshua receiving the spirit of wisdom from Moses before his death and subsequently crossing the Jordan on New Years day. The ritual at the heart of the secret gospel of Mark was a synthesis of all these ancient precursors.

Email stephan.h.huller@gmail.com with comments or questions.

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