Monday, November 26, 2012

Quick Note - Docetism vs Monarchism

When you really think about it, Docetism (= the belief that Jesus only appeared to suffer on the Cross) is the ultimate polar opposite to monarchism.  The Patripassian question (= did the Father suffer) makes way for the two basic answers - (1) yes he did (monarchism) and (2) no he didn't.  How didn't the Father suffer?  Either (a) the Son and Father are distinct in some way or (b) they are identical (= monarchism) but the Son wasn't really there.  Interesting, this probably explains why 'docetism' was such a problem in the early (Polycarpian) church.  The root problem is ultimately whether the Father suffered rather than the 'phantom nature' of the Son.

The problem of course is whether or not the Marcionites and the rest were really 'docetists' as described by the students of Polycarp (= Irenaeus et al) or whether the Marcionite suppositions were just being misrepresented 'plugging them into' a Patripassian paradigm.  In other words, if there was a tradition which argued (via Aquila's translation) that the Creator was only 'the sufficient God' and there was a higher god 'the Father' in heaven, how would Polycarp et al have treated the sophisticated logic of the tradition?  My guess is that it is like having an argument about something sensitive with your wife - i.e. they just aren't hearing what you  are saying because they want to make you say something you are not really saying.

Irenaeus makes clear Polycarp wasn't a good listener so why would be make a reliable source about the heresies like Marcion?  No one has ever explained that one.

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