Thursday, October 18, 2012

Do Roman Catholics Eat Marcion Every Sunday at Their Services? [Part Two]

So we begin with the idea that Irenaeus, a man who was likely born in Syria moved to Lyons ultimately came to Rome in the latter half of the second century.  Irenaeus had absolutely nothing to do with the native Christian traditions in Italy.  Yet his writings represent a warm embrace of its principle beliefs including the twin apostles Peter and Paul.  Irenaeus must have come to Rome with great influence.  It is difficult to see how he managed to dislodge the authority of Florinus.  No less an authority than bishop Victor comes over to his way of thinking.

As we already noted in our last installment, Florinus was influential but it was his connection to Polycarp that was decisive.  Florinus was also identified as a Valentinian and it is interesting that members of this sect were especially noted for their acceptance of heterosexuality.  The ancient writings are filled with allusions to the effect 'they accepted the marriage of a man and woman.'

What can we say for certain about Polycarp?  He seems to have embraced Judaism so much so that the Christian Passover was celebrated on the fourteenth of the first month.  We are also told that whatever else he believed he agreed to disagree with bishop Anicetus (150 - 167 CE).  Of course this is probably a deliberate glossing over of actual events in the period by Irenaeus.  But let's at least acknowledge that Jesus's death was clearly connected with the Feast of Unleavened Bread which started on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month.

Why is this significant?  It is difficult to argue against the Roman Catholic tradition of the host being unleavened wafer.  The Orthodox tradition uses leavened bread, but there are clearly theological reasons why the wafer makes sense.  The most obvious of all being that there exists a term in Jewish Aramaic for wafer which is dated back to the beginning of the second century which sounds an awful lot like 'Marcion.'

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