Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Marcion and Aquila [Part Eleven]

I don't know if my readers have been following this series of posts about the parallels between Marcion and Aquila both of Sinope, Pontus.  I sometimes worry that my sheer volume of output makes it difficult for the average reader to follow the train of thought.  As such I have to stop every once and a while and 'catch my breath' as it were and restate the overarching idea that is behind these posts.  Often that is a good thing as the overarching idea or thought changes in light of new evidence, so here goes.

The Marcionites must have used a Greek translation of Old Testament.  The typically insipid attitude of scholarship epitomized by Sebastian Moll is basically that 'because' the Marcionites 'hated' the Jews and their god they would have treated the Old Testament as something like used toilet paper.  In other words, they would have had no need to read the Scriptures because they hated them.

This argument, while admittedly an oversimplification of Moll's thesis and those like him, nevertheless embodies the general stupidity with merely cutting and pasting the things said by the Church Fathers into our understanding of Marcion and Marcionites.  In spite of the fact that these partisans say that the Marcion and the Marcionites resented or even hated the Creator, there are enough anomalies in what we know about the Marcionite New Testament that we should have to believe that they had an 'accepted' or 'authoritative' Old Testament in Greek.

Despite all efforts to obscure this fact, the both the gospel and the letters of Paul contained Old Testament readings.  This has never been adequately explained by those who parrot the irrational claims of the Church Fathers.  If, as Irenaeus and Tertullian claim, Marcion simply 'removed' Jewish things from 'our' collection of Luke and the epistles of Paul, why not remove all of them?  Why leave some in there?  The answer that Tertullian gives - that Marcion wanted to trick people into believing that his version was authentic - is silly and so is the work of people like Moll who take these artificial contrivances at face value.

The Marcionites possessed a version of the gospel and the epistles of Paul which contained references to Old Testament scripture.  Adamantius makes reference to Marcionite interpretations of the book of Daniel. Ephrem makes reference to an apparent favorable Marcionite estimation of Daniel noting that they obsession with constant prayer was inspired by the prophet.

It is not hard to imagine why the Marcionites took such interest in Daniel.  After all, he is acknowledged by Jews and Christians alike as being a prophetic eunuch.  The Marcionites are repeatedly identified as being similarly castrated.  I just came across another reference to this association in Jerome's Commentary on Galatians.  The evidence for Marcionite castration rites is overwhelming albeit mostly ignored by scholarship.

So the point is that there is established evidence for a Marcionite interest in both Daniel and the Book of Daniel.  The question which has never been answered is what Greek translation of the writings of Daniel the Marcionites used.  Lactantius's points to the translation of Aquila which is certainly interesting because it dovetails with an uncanny parallel in the shadowy biographies associated with the two men of Pontus.  We will continue to demonstrate this in future posts but already with respect to the translation 'sufficient God' for El Shaddai and the specific application that Eusebius makes of it (= the god known to the Jewish Patriarchs who is not the true God revealed in Christ) has a heretical and even Marcionite ring to it.  Aquila's famous rejection of circumcision because it is not included in the Ten Commandments echoes arguments found in the gospel and may also help to explain Marcionite 'rejection' of the Law of Moses.

Yet for the moment let's go back to the identification of Theodotion as a Marcionite.  On the surface this would contradict the assertion of Lactantius that Aquila was the preferred translation of the sect.  Nevertheless the solution to the problem may well be Origen's repeated assertion that there were two editions of Aquila's translation.  Not only does this radical testimony provide context for the idea that there were two editions of the gospel of Mark, but more importantly the consistent testimony of Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Tertullian that the Marcionites themselves had two editions of the gospel and specifically in Irenaeus and Hippolytus that one of those editions was a longer gospel of Mark.

Indeed with specific reference to the text of Daniel the later Greek translations demonstrate a pattern uncannily similar to 'secret Mark.'  An editor in the second century 'added' new mystical material. The material that was added to the Greek includes - Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children : Daniel 3:24-90 inserted between verses 23 and 24 (v. 24 becomes v. 91) in the Protestant canon, Susanna and the Elders : before Daniel 1:1, a prologue in early Greek manuscripts; chapter 13 in the Vulgate Bel and the Dragon : after Daniel 12:13 in Greek, an epilogue; chapter 14 in the Vulgate  The most popular version of this longer text of Daniel in Christian circles was the translation associated with Theodotian.

Yet Origen identifies this text as 'the LXX' in his citations and it is mostly accepted that what passes as the LXX of Ecclesiastes in Origen's Hexapla was likely written Aquila's second edition translation.  Theodotion is universally acknowledged to be a late second century figure, yet there is an unexplained difficulty insofar as his readings are found in the gospels, the epistles of the New Testament, Revelations and many early Church Fathers.  The fact that his name is often identified as Theodotus makes me wonder whether the translation which survives in his name is in fact the second 'secret' edition of Aquila.  The association with Theodotus/Theodotion being that he was a defender of the Marcionite.Aquilan text at Rome against the LXX.

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