Monday, December 3, 2012

A Common Source (= Irenaeus) Behind Tertullian and Epiphanius's Knowledge of the Marcionite Canon [Part Eight]

Tertullian Against Marcion 5.14

I come next to those customary judgements by which he builds up his own special doctrine, what I may call the magisterial edict of Christ. Blessed are the indigent—for the transla- tion of the word which is in the Greek requires it so—for theirs is the kingdom of God. Now this very fact that he begins with blessings is characteristic of the Creator, who with no other voice than of benediction gave sanctity to the universe of things as soon as he made them. For he says, My heart hath disgorged a supremely good word.a This must be that excellent Word, of benediction surely, who by the precedent of the old covenant is recognized as the initiator of the new covenant as well. What wonder is it then, if he also by words of this kind begins his discourse with the Crea- tor's affections, the Creator who always expresses his love for the indigent, the poor, the humble, and the widows and orphans, comforting, protecting, and avenging them—so that you may take this (as it were) private bounty of Christ to be a stream from the Saviour's fountains? Truly I do not know which way to turn among so great a multitude of words such as these, as it might be in a thicket or a meadow or an orchard of fruits. I must take up each instance at random, as chance suggests it. The psalm calls out, Judge for the fatherless and indigent, and treat with justice the humble and poor: deliver the poor, and rend the indigent out of the hand of the sinner.b Also the seventy-first psalm, With righteousness shall he judge the indigent of the people, and shall make safe the sons of the poor. And in what follows, it refers to Christ: All the gentiles shall serve him.c Now David had power over the Jewish people only: so let no one think it was said with reference to David that he had taken to himself the humble and those who were borne down by need and want. Because, he says, he hath delivered the indigent from the mighty: he shall spare the indigent and poor, and shall make safe the souls of the poor, and shall redeem their souls from usury and injustice, and honoured shall their name be in his sight.d Also: Let the sinners be turned aside into hell, all the gentiles who forget God, because the indigent man shall not for ever be kept for oblivion, the patient abiding of poor men shall not for ever perish.e Also, Who is like our God, who hath his dwelling on high, and hath regard for humble things in heaven and on earth: who lifteth up the indigent from the earth, and exalteth the poor out of the dunghill, that he may make him to sit with the princes of the people?f—meaning, in God's own kingdom. Also, further back, in Kingdoms, Hannah, the mother of Samuel, in the Spirit gives glory to God and says, He lifteth up the poor from the earth, the indigent also, that he may make him to sit with the mighty ones of the people, evidently in his own kingdom, and upon thrones of glory,g royal thrones. And in Isaiah also how does he lash out against the oppressors of the needy: Ye then, what mean ye that ye set fire to my vineyard, and the spoil of the indigent is in your houses? Wherefore do ye oppress my people, and shame the face of the indigent ?h And again, Woe to them that write down iniquity, for in writing they write down wickedness, avoiding the judgements of the indigent, and ravaging the rights of the poor of my people.i These judgements he also demands on behalf of orphans and widows, these too being in need of consolation: Do judgement for the orphan, and deal justly with the widow, and come, let us be reconciled, saith the Lord.j Whosoever has that great affection which the Creator has for every rank of humble estate, his also will be the kingdom promised by Christ, whose affection all those already enjoy to whom the promise is made. Even if you suppose the Creator's promises were earthly, while Christ's are heavenly, it is well enough that until now there is no indication of heaven belonging to any other god but the God to whom earth belongs: it is well enough that the Creator has made promises of even lesser things, because this makes it easy for me to believe him in respect of greater things, rather than one who has not previously on a foundation of lesser things built up faith in his liberality. Blessed are they that hunger, for they shall be filled. I should have been able to attach this clause to the one before, because they that hunger are precisely the same as the poor and the indigent, except that the Creator had particularly designed this promise as preparatory work for that gospel which in fact is his own: because by Isaiah he speaks thus of those, meaning the gentiles, whom he would call to him from the end of the earth: Behold swiftly, lightly, will they comek—swiftly because they are in haste, towards the end of the times, lightly because they are free of the burdens of the ancient law. They shall not hunger nor thirst—which means they will be filled, and a promise like this is only made to such as are hungry and thirsty. And again, Behold they that serve me shall be filed, but ye shall be hungry: behold they that serve me shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty.l We shall ask ourselves whether even these contrasts are not preparatory for Christ. For the moment, in that he promises the hungry they will be filled, he belongs to the Creator. Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh. Proceed with the statement of Isaiah: Behold they that serve me shall exult in joyfulness, but ye shall be put to shame: behold they that serve me shall be made glad, but ye shall cry aloud for sorrow of heart.m Take note of these contrasts also in Christ's words. Undoubtedly gladness and exultation in joyfulness are promised to those who are in opposite circumstances, the sad, the sorrowful, and the distressed. In fact psalm one hundred and twenty-five also says, They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.n Certainly laughter is quite as characteristic of those who exult and are in joyfulness, as weeping is of those in sorrow and grief. Thus by his prophecy of causes for laughter and of weeping the Creator was the first to say that those who mourn will laugh. Consequently, when he began his discourse with consolation to the poor and lowly, to those who were hungry and in tears, took immediate steps to identify himself with that one of whom he had given indications in Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor.o Blessed are the indigent, for theirs is the kingdom of heavenp—He hath sent me to heal the broken hearted.o Blessed are they that are hungry, for they shall be filled—To comfort those that mourn.o Blessed are they that weep, for they shall laugh— To give to them that mourn the glory of Sion, and instead of ashes the joyfulness of anointing, and the garment of glory for the spirit of heaviness.o If this is the ministry Christ fulfilled immediately on entering his course, either he is the same who foretold that he would come for this purpose, or else, if he who foretold it has not yet come, foolishly perhaps, yet of necessity, I shall have to say, he must have given his commission to Marcion's Christ. Blessed shall ye be when men shall hate you and reproach you and shall cast out your name as evil for the Son of man's sake. By this pronouncement he no doubt exhorts them to endurance. What less did the Creator say by Isaiah? Fear ye not reproach from men, neither be ye brought low by their reviling.q What reproach, what reviling? That which was to come for the Son of man's sake. And who is this? The one who follows the Creator's pattern. How shall I prove it? Because of the hatred prophesied against him: as by Isaiah, addressing the Jews, the instigators of hatred: For your sakes my name is blasphemed among the gentiles:r and in another place: Sanctify him who doth cut off his own soul, who is held in scorn by the gentiles, the servants and the rulers.s For if hatred was foretold against that Son of man who follows the Creator's pattern, while the gospel testifies that the name of Christians, which evidently is derived from Christ, will be hated for the Son of man's sake, and this is Christ, it indicates as the reason for that hatred the Son of man who was after the Creator's pattern, him against whom hatred was foretold. And in fact, if he were not yet come, the hatred of the name, which is today a present fact, could not have come into evidence before the Person to whom the name belongs. For he is even now sanctified among us, and does cut off his own soul by laying it down for our sake, and is held in scorn by the gentiles. Also one who has experienced human birth, he and no other must be that Son of man for whose sake even our name is cast out as evil.

It is very significant that Epiphanius omits any mention of the Beatitudes.  Could it be that the entire section was missing from the Marcionite gospel and that (a) the original text of Irenaeus made the absence explicit and (b) Tertullian chose to ignore it?  This would certainly make the Marcionite gospel appear much more Markan.

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