Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Another Odd Thing I Forgot to Mention About Epiphanius's Account of the Marcionite Gospel

It starts with 'go show yourself to the priest' (Luke 5:14; Mark 1:43) and yet Epiphanius claims he's giving us expert opinion about the text.  How is that possible?  Epiphanius has to be lying.  There's no doubt about it.  This is undoubtedly why scholars tend to prefer Tertullian for their information (i.e. because there is a clear 'beginning, middle and end' to his account).  But no one pays enough attention to the fact that - if you accept that the gospel 'really' roughly corresponds to Luke - there is this much text between the place where Tertullian starts his account and Epiphanius:

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area. 38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. 40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah. 42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. 5.1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Jesus Heals a Man With Leprosy 12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

I personally think this only scratches the surface of the problem.  I think that the main difficulty was that Irenaeus's original 'commentary' (more like 'hate literature') didn't start at the beginning of the text.  I don't know why this is but remember we have to remember that even Tertullian comments how 'suddenly' John the Baptist appears later in the narrative.  The impression that Irenaeus gave both Tertullian and Epiphanius was that he was giving a thorough account of the text so that - in effect - they could confidently assert they were doing the same following his lead.

I imagine though that Irenaeus (perhaps there is another layer behind Irenaeus?) was not originally arguing that Marcion corrupted Luke but some other text (proto-Matthew, Diatesssaron).  The text was altered to reflect a Lukan origin for the Marcionite text and both Tertullian and Epiphanius received that a version (perhaps separate versions) of that edition (see the opening lines of Tertullian's Against Marcion to see how many editions were floating around of this text).  But the point here is that there couldn't have been a formal - the Marcionite gospel begins here - otherwise Epiphanius would have had to mention something about it, no?

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