Friday, November 30, 2012

The Purpose of Galatians Chapters One and Two

As we have noted already, there is absolutely no evidence from the surviving anti-Marcionite commentaries that demonstrate that the Marcionite Apostolikon contained Galatians chapters 1 and 2.  The kind of argument that Tertullian develops in this section are all hypothetical - i.e. 'perhaps' you will say this if confronted with this line from these chapters.  In other words, he doesn't know what the Marcionites would say because he has no evidence from his source(s) that the Marcionites had this particular section.  It is of course far different with respect to the rest of Galatians where he mentions specific readings and interpretations of the Marcionites.

Yet is it possible that we can figure out why a Catholic editor would have added this material to the text of Galatians?  The biographical material was certainly important to 'confirm' the portrait of 'Paul' in Acts.  But there is something more.  Tertullian references his text of Galatians 1:8 (= 'though an angel from heaven preach the gospel otherwise, let him be anathema') to note that the apostle is saying that:

it is not possible for one to affirm there are two gospels, who has just denied that there is more than one. [Against Marcion 5.2]

Who is affirming that there are two gospels?  Well, the Marcionites for certain.  But it isn't just as simple as supposing that the Marcionites were talking about 'their gospel' and the 'gospel of the Judaizers.'   What scholars overlook is the fact that the Marcionite Epistle to the Galatians (or whatever it was called) didn't even have this reference.  In other words, the Catholic addition of this line isn't just a commentary on the presumed position of Paul (= the apostle's rejection of a 'Jewish' gospel associated with the apostles).  We should be even open to the possibility that it was something else entirely.

The question has to be now - could the Catholic tradition have been so subtle so as to invent Paul's hostility to the gospel associated with Peter and the apostles because the Marcionite tradition simply acknowledged the formula of Clement's Letter to Theodore (= two gospels, one associated with Peter, the other associated with his 'interpreter' whether identified as 'Mark' or 'Paul' by various traditions)?  We can't forget that Tertullian copying yet another source in Prescription Against the Heresies makes reference to this very formula existing among the heresies like the Marcionites - "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." (Praescr. 23) The reference to the 'secret' gospel immediately follows and conforms to what is written in 1 Corinthians chapters 2 and 3.

I am certain this is what is behind the Catholic invention of the biographical material in Galatians chapters 1 and 2.  It is another matter entirely however convincing the rest of you - and the rest of scholarship - of that fact.

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