Thursday, November 8, 2012

Irenaeus Makes Reference to a Heretical Apostolikon

I had never noticed this before but he makes reference to a heretical 'evangelikon and apostikon' associated with the Valentinians:

Such, then, is the account which they all give of their Pleroma, and of the formation of the universe, striving, as they do, to adapt the good words of revelation to their own wicked inventions. And it is not only from the Evangelic and the Apostolic (τῶν εὐαγγελικῶν καὶ τῶν ὰποστολικών) that they endeavour to derive proofs for their opinions by means of perverse interpretations and deceitful expositions: they deal in the same way with the law and the prophets, which contain many parables and allegories that can frequently be drawn into various senses, according to the kind of exegesis to which they are subjected. And others of them, with great craftiness, adapted such parts of Scripture to their own figments, lead away captive from the truth those who do not retain a stedfast faith in one God, the Father Almighty, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. [Against Heresies 1.3.6]

No commentator doubts that this is a reference to a formal collection of writings.  This would certainly argue for the existence of these two divisions within heretical communities outside of the Catholic tradition but also that this division existed within the Church itself.

The Latin version of Irenaeus's text has "evangelicis et apostolicis" in the place of τῶν εὐαγγελικῶν καὶ τῶν ὰποστολικών.  Tertullian seems to indicate the two fold division of the New Testament was also so called in the Catholic tradition:

Let us see what it (the Roman Church) has learned, what it has taught, and what fellowship it has likewise had with the African Churches. It acknowledges one God the Lord, the creator of the universe, and Jesus Christ, the Son of God the creator, born of the Virgin Mary, as well as the resurrection of the flesh. It unites the Law and the Prophets with the writings of the Evangelists and Apostles (cum evangelicis et apostolicis litteris miscet). From these it draws its faith, and by their authority it seals this faith with water, clothes it with the Holy Spirit, feeds it with the eucharist, and encourages martyrdom. Hence it receives no one who rejects this institution. [Prescription 36]

It would seem that the terminology was pre-existent and that Irenaeus (and later Tertullian) argued that these two works should be joined with the Law and Prophets.  If this was the division of the Marcionite New Testament 'the Evangelic' was comprised of the two gospels (a shorter and longer gospel) mentioned repeatedly in the literature.

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