Thursday, November 8, 2012

Decisive Proof That the Marcionite New Testament Was Divided into Evangelikon and Apostolikon

I will add an apostolic saying (ῥητὸν ἀποστολικὸν) not understood by the followers of Marcion (ὑπὸ τῶν Μαρκίωνος), who therefore reject the Gospels (καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ἀθετούν των τὰ εὐαγγέλια); for whereas the Apostle says, "According to my gospel in Christ Jesus (Κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιόν μου ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ)" and does not speak of gospels, they oppose us, and maintain that if there were several gospels the Apostle would not have used the word in the singular (οὐκ ἂν πλειόνων ὄντων εὐαγγελίων τὸν ἀπόστολον ἑνικῶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον εἰρηκέναι).

They do not understand that as He is one, so the Gospel written by its many authors is one in effect, and the Gospel truly delivered by four evangelists is one Gospel (οὐ συνιέντες ὅτι, ὡς εἷς ἐστὶν ὃν εὐαγγελίζονται πλείονες, οὕτως ἕν ἐστι τῇ δυνάμει τὸ ὑπὸ τῶν πολλῶν εὐαγγέλιον ἀναγεγραμμένον,  καὶ τὸ ἀληθῶς διὰ τεσσάρων ἕν ἐστιν εὐαγγέλιον). Wherefore, if this has brought us conviction as to what the one book means, and what the many, I am now not so much concerned for the quantity of the copy as for the quality of the same, lest I fall into the transgression of the commandment, if I put forth anything as truth which is contrary to the truth even in a single detail of what is written; for I shall then prove myself to be a writer of many books (ἐκεῖ γὰρ ἔσομαι γράψας βιβλία πολλά).

And just now, when, with a show of knowledge, men who hold false opinions are rising up against the holy Church of Christ (τῶν ἑτερο δόξων τῇ ἁγίᾳ τοῦ χριστοῦ ἐκκλησίᾳ), and publishing book after book (καὶ πολυβίβλους συντάξεις) which professes to expound the Evangelikon and Apostolikon (τῶν τε εὐαγγελικῶν καὶ ἀποστολικῶν λέξεων), if we hold our peace, and do not meet them with the true and sound doctrines, they will prevail over gluttonous souls which, for want of wholesome food, rush to things forbidden, to utterly unclean and abominable meats.

It therefore seems to me to be necessary, that he who can genuinely plead for the doctrine of the Church and refute the handlers of knowledge falsely so-called, should withstand the inventions of the heretics, opposing to them the elevation of the preaching of the Gospel, inasmuch as he is satisfied with the harmony of doctrines common to the Old Testament and to the New, as they are respectively called. At all events, you yourself, when advocates of the good cause were scarce, because you could not endure an irrational and commonplace faith, in your love for Jesus embraced opinions which you afterwards, when you had fully exercised the understanding given to you, condemned and forsook. This I say, according to my light, by way of excuse for men who can speak and write, and also by way of apology for myself, lest, perhaps, not being equipped as a man should be who is enabled by God to be a minister of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit, I too boldly apply myself to composition. [Origen, Commentary on John Chapter Five; Philocalia 5.7]

This association between the Marcionites and the terms 'Evangelion' and 'Apostolikon' is even clearer when in a lost section of his Commentary on Matthew Origen makes reference to the harmony which should exist between the new parts of the canon introduced by Irenaeus (note the reference to the play on words with respect to 'peacemaker') and the established Evangelikon and Apostolikon of the Marcionite communities:

To the man who is both ways a peacemaker, there is no longer anything in the Divine oracles crooked or perverse, for all things are plain to those who understand; and since to such an one there is nothing crooked or perverse, he sees abundance of peace everywhere in Scripture, even in those parts which appear not to agree and to be contradictory to one another. But there is also a third peacemaker, he, viz. who shows that what to the eyes of others seems like disagreement in the Scriptures is not really so, and who proves that harmony and concord exist, whether between the Old and the New, or the Law and the Prophets, or Evangelikon and Gospels (εὐαγγελικῶν πρὸς εὐαγγελικὰς), or Evangelikon and Apostles (ἢ εὐαγγελικῶν πρὸς ἀποστολικὰς), or Apostolikon and Apostles (ἢ ἀποστολικῶν πρὸς ἀποστολικάς).

That the text begins by arguing for an 'agreement' between Old and New Testaments makes clear which community the comments were directed against.

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