Friday, November 30, 2012

More Proof that the Marcionite Epistle to the Galatians Did Not Have Most of Chapters One and Two

Tertullian was copying out lectures of Irenaeus.  We see this in Against the Valentinians.  Irenaeus was almost certainly the source of Against Heresies Books Four and Five and the same arguments made in those books about the Marcionites refusing to 'reveal' the identity of the apostle who wrote their gospel resurface in Prescription Against the Heretics yet another of Irenaeus's original lectures.  In that text, not surprisingly we see the very same arguments directed against the Marcionites in Against Marcion only now generically addressed to 'heretics' such as:

For the purpose of scoffing at some ignorance in the Apostles, the heretics bring forward the point that Peter and his companions were blamed by Paul. "Something therefore," say they, "was lacking in them." They say this in order to build up that other contention of theirs, that a fuller knowledge might afterwards have come to them, such as came to Paul who blamed his predecessors. Now here I may say to those who reject the Acts of the Apostles: "The first thing for you to do is to shew who this Paul was—both what he was before he was an Apostle, and how he became an Apostle".; since at other times they make very great use of him in disputed matters. 

We should remember the important parallel in Clement's Letter to Theodore where the association of Mark with his gospel appears.  Here the unnamed 'Marcionites' refuse again to identify who their apostle was, how he became an apostle - it was a mystery.

This is all we will ever know about the Marcionite apostle.  Irenaeus makes clear in Against Heresies Book Three that the Marcionites even deny the name 'Paul' (something implicit but not quite exactly reproduced in Tertullian's copying efforts).  But notice how Tertullian (or his source) again goes through the Catholic edition of the Letter to the Galatians to prove who the Apostle really is.  For the text immediately continues:

For though he himself declares that from a persecutor he became an Apostle, that statement is not sufficient for one who yields credence only after proof. For not even the Lord Himself bore witness concerning Himself. But let them believe without the Scriptures that they may believe against the Scriptures. Yet they must shew from the instance adduced of Peter being blamed by Paul that another form of Gospel was introduced by Paul beside that which Peter and the rest had previously put forth. Whereas the fact is, when changed from a persecutor into a preacher, he is led in to the brethren by brethren as one of themselves, and presented to them by those who had clothed them- selves with faith at the Apostles' hands. Afterwards, as he himself relates, he "went up to Jerusalem to see Peter," because of his office, and by right of course of an identical faith and preaching. For they would not have wondered at his having become a preacher from a persecutor if he had preached anything contrary to their teaching; nor would they have "glorified the Lord" if Paul had presented himself as His adversary. Accordingly they "gave him the right hand," the sign of concord and agreement, and arranged among themselves a distribution of office, not a division of the Gospel, namely, that each should preach not a different message, but the same message to different persons, Peter to the Circumcision, Paul to the Gentiles.

I have been reading and re-reading Irenaeus for most of my life.  These sort of 'circular arguments' (you know like asking someone one 'have you stopped beating your wife?') are classic Irenaeus. His purpose is not to find out or present the truth about what the heretics actually believed but force them and everyone else to recognize his edition of Galatians as the authentic text.

Yet scholars simply refuse to see that.  Instead they act as if the only reason why Tertullian here is arguing with the heresies out of our text of Galatians is because they shared a common text.  Really?  Then why does Tertullian begin his sentence here - and in Against Marcion - with 'the heretics have to explain who Paul is' (Irenaeus also does it in Book Three of Against Heresies).  If the heretics used our text of Galatians he wouldn't be saying this.  What is the matter with scholars?  Irenaeus just wants to beat the heretics into submission.  This is a tactic that has been used against dissenters in the Church for centuries.  Another variation is - if the witch floats she's a witch.  Irenaeus wasn't too concerned about the other possibility because that would mean admitting he was wrong.

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