Sunday, December 9, 2012

Epiphanius's Concentrated Use of the Term 'Amputated' in His Study of the Marcionite Canon

In the middle of Epiphanius report on the gospel he suddenly and repeatedly introduces the terms παρέκοψε or 'amputed' (36 times) and ἀπέκοψε or 'excised' (7 times) which appears nowhere in the previous forty examples of things from Marcion's gospel and nowhere else in the massively dense Panarion.  I suspect that the word appeared in the Panarion's original source Irenaeus's Against Marcion given the fact that similar terms still survive in the Latin text of Against Heresies wherever Marcion is mentioned.  Let us first demonstrate the beginning of the use of 'amputated' and 'excised' in the scholia of the Marcionite gospel:

40. Again, he amputated, (Παρέκοψε πάλιν τό) 'Then ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God.' In place of this he put, 'When ye see all the righteous in the kingdom of God and yourselves thrust'—but he put, 'kept'—'out.' 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

41. Again, he amputateed, (Παρέκοψε πάλιν τό) 'They shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down in the kingdom,' 'The last shall be first,' and 'The Pharisees came saying, Get thee out and depart, for Herod will kill thee'; also, 'He said, Go ye, and tell that fox,' until the words, 'It cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem,' and, 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent, Often would I have gathered, as a hen, thy children,' 'Your house is left unto you desolate,' and, 'Ye shall not see me until ye shall say, Blessed.'

42. Again, he amputated the entire parable of the two sons, the one who took his share of the property and spent it in dissipation, and the other. (Πάλιν παρέκοψε πᾶσαν τὴν παραβολὴν τῶν δύο υἱῶν,  τοῦ εἰληφότος τὸ μέρος τῶν ὑπαρχόντων καὶ ἀσώτως δαπανήσαντος καὶ τοῦ ἄλλου)

43. 'The Law and the prophets were until John, and every man presseth into it.'

44. The story of the rich man, and that Lazarus the beggar was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom.

45. 'But now he is comforted,' again meaning this same Lazarus.

46. Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them, since neither will they hear him that is risen from the dead.'

47. He amputated, (Παρέκοψε τό) 'Say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.'

48. When the ten lepers met him. Marcion excised a great deal (ἀπέκοψε δὲ πολλὰ καὶ ἐποίησεν) and wrote, 'He sent them away, saying, Show yourselves unto the priests'; and he substituted different words for others and said, 'Many lepers were in the day of Elisha the prophet, and none was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.'

49. 'The days will come when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man.'

50. 'One said unto him, Good master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He replied, Call not thou me good. One is good, God.' Marcion added, 'the Father,' and instead of, 'Thou knowest the commandments,' says, 'I know the commandments.'

51. 'And it came to pass that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a blind man cried, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And when he was healed, he said, Thy faith hath saved thee.

52. Marcion amputated, (Παρέκοψε τό)  'He took unto him the twelve, and said, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written in the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered and killed, and the third day he shall rise again.' He amputated the whole of this (ὅλα ταῦτα παρέκοψε)

53. He amputated the passage about the ass and Bethphage, and the one about the city and the temple, because of the scripture, (Παρέκοψεν τὸ κεφάλαιον τὸ περὶ τῆς ὄνου καὶ Βηθφαγὴ καὶ τὸ περὶ τῆς πόλεως καὶ τοῦ ἱεροῦ,  ὅτι γεγραμμένον ἦν) 'My house shall be called an house of prayer, but ye make it a den of thieves.'

54. 'And they sought to lay hands on him and they were afraid.'

55. Again, he excised the material about the vineyard which was let out to husbandmen, and the verse, (Πάλιν ἀπέκοψε τὰ περὶ τοῦ ἀμπελῶνος τοῦ ἐκδεδομένου γεωργοῖς καὶ τό)  'What is this, then, The stone which the builders rejected?'

56. He excised, (Ἀπέκοψε τό) 'Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, in calling the Lord the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. But he is a God of the living, not of the dead.'

57. He did not have the following: 'Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, saying that the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob is God of the living.'

58. Again he amputated, (Πάλιν παρέκοψε)  'There shall not an hair of your head perish' ...

And so on and son on.  The sudden concentration of this terminology in the work itself starts at scholion 40 and then appears throughout the final 38 scholia.  One can't help get the feeling that Epiphanius has grown tired of refashioning the original material from his source at this point and is now adopting terminology more in keeping with what is sitting on the page before him.

We shall see how repetitious Irenaeus is in a few moments but for now let's also acknowledge that the use of the term 'amputated' appears just as Epiphanius introduces his re-purposed original work:

But I shall come to his writings, or rather, to his tamperings. This man has only Luke as a Gospel, mutilated at the beginning because of the Saviour's conception and his incarnation.  But this person who harmed himself rather than the Gospel did not cut just the beginning off. He also cut off many words of the truth (καὶ τῶν μέσων πολλὰ περιέκοψε τῶν τῆς ἀληθείας λόγων) both at the end and in the middle, and he has added other things besides, beyond what had been written. And he uses only this (Gospel) canon, the Gospel according to Luke. [Panarion 42.9]

The language is very reminiscent of the beginning of Tertullian's study of the Marcionite gospel in Book Four which begins a discussion of the heretic excising the beginning from Luke:

Marcion, on the other hand, you must know, ascribes no author to his Gospel, as if it could not be allowed him to affix a title to that from which it was no crime (in his eyes) to subvert the very body. And here I might now make a stand, and contend that a work ought not to be recognised, which holds not its head erect, which exhibits no consistency, which gives no promise of credibility from the fullness of its title and the just profession of its author. But we prefer to join issue on every point; nor shall we leave unnoticed what may fairly be understood to be on our side. Now, of the authors whom we possess, Marcion seems to have singled out Luke for his mutilating process [Against Marcion Book 4.2]

As noted earlier all subsequent references to 'amputation' and 'excision' are concentrated in the scholia of the Marcionite gospel save for a closing note which I think was also lifted from the source he held in common with Tertullian - Irenaeus:

Since sacred scripture's whole body, as it were, is alive, what dead limb could he find agreeing with his opinion, in order to drag in a falsehood against the truth?  Instead he amputated (παρέκοψε) many of the limbs (μελῶν), as we might say, and mutilated and falsified them, but retained some few. But the very limbs he retained are still alive and cannot be killed, but have the life-giving property of their meaning, even if, in his canon, they have been cut off in innumerable small chunks. But after all this I recall further that some of these same Marcionites who, blundering into an abyss of blasphemy and completely cracked from their own devilish teaching, are not ashamed to give a bad name to the heavenly generation of the Lord whom they barely saw fit to mention even by name—and that in rejecting his divinity in some other insolent way. [Panarion 42.16]

Of course we noted the originator of this identification of Marcion as the 'mutilator' of the flesh or 'gospel' is Irenaeus who seems to have taken over a Syriac play on words with respect to the Marcionite interest in castration and the word 'gospel' and 'flesh' deriving from the same Aramaic root:

Besides this, he mutilates the Gospel which is according to Luke, removing all that is written respecting the generation of the Lord, and setting aside a great deal of the teaching of the Lord, in which the Lord is recorded as most dearly confessing that the Maker of this universe is His Father. He likewise persuaded his disciples that he himself was more worthy of credit than are those apostles who have handed down the Gospel to us, furnishing them not with the Gospel, but merely a fragment of it. In like manner, too, he dismembered the Epistles of Paul [Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.27.2]

But since this man is the only one who has dared openly to mutilate the Scriptures, and unblushingly above all others to inveigh against God, I purpose specially to refute him, convicting him out of his own writings; and, with the help of God, I shall overthrow him out of those discourses of the Lord and the apostles, which are of authority with him, and of which he makes use. [ibid 1.27.4]

But Marcion, mutilating that according to Luke, is proved to be a blasphemer of the only existing God, from those [passages] which he still retains. [ibid 3.11.7]

For Marcion, rejecting the entire Gospel, yea rather, cutting himself off from the Gospel, boasts that he has part of the Gospel [ibid 3.11.9]

Wherefore also Marcion and his followers have betaken themselves to mutilating the Scriptures, not acknowledging some books at all; and, curtailing the Gospel according to Luke and the Epistles of Paul, they assert that these are alone authentic, which they have themselves thus shortened. In another work, however, I shall, God granting [me strength], refute them out of these which they still retain. [ibid 3.12.12]

And if indeed Marcion's followers reject these, they will then possess no Gospel; for, cutting that according to Luke, as I have said already, they boast in having (part of) the Gospel. [ibid 3.14.4]

Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. [ibid 1.8.1]

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