Monday, December 24, 2012

Even More More Proof that Clement of Alexandria's New Testament Would Appear Filled With 'Mixed Up' Pauline References

In my last post I presented proof that the 'jumbled' citation of Pauline scripture in a section of text in Clement Stromata Book Three written against the heretics actually represented the original reading in the contemporary Alexandrian canon.  In particular I began with the agreement of Clement's apparent citation of 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Corinthians 11.2 - 3 as belonging together.  I noted that the same two passages appear side by side in Tertullian's Against Marcion 5.2.  Now I want to present yet another example of this reading in the Church Father Methodius and begin to draw attention to the parallels between Clement and Methodius's citation of Pauline scripture.

We know almost nothing about Methodius other than he was a Platonist who is famous for opposing Origen. Clement of course was Origen's teacher, so the two men apparently have Origen in common.  Here is De Lepra's citation of 2 Corinthians 11.3 and 2 Corinthians 7:1 together in German (there is no English translation of his material):

Menschen, denn von der Erde kommt dieser hervor. Denn verstehe, wie diesem ähnlich auch Paulus sprach im zweiten Sendschreiben an die Corinther Denn ich fürchte, dass wie die Schlange Eva verführte in ihrer Arglist etc. Und wieder: Diese gewissen Verheissungen habend reinigen wir uns von aller Unreinigkeit des Fleisches und des Geistes. Denn es sind einige Häresien, welche den äusseren Menschen nicht aussätzig haben, aber den inwendige verweslich an Sinn und Verstand (Bonwetsch Methodius vol 1. p. 324)

The point of course is that this is not the only time that Methodius confirms strange pairings in the writings of Clement.  It happens all the time and one can't help get the sense that they came from the same Platonizing culture and moreover preserved the same canon (albeit reworked slightly by later orthodox 'tweaks').

Another example here is clearly what immediately follows in our section of citation of Pauline 'proof text' from Clement.  As we noted in our last post the section in Stromata Three reads:

That is why Paul too speaks strongly against a similar group to those mentioned in the words, "Beloved, you possess these promises. Let us purify our hearts from everything which might stain flesh or spirit, aiming at the goal of holiness in the fear of God. My zeal for you is God’s zeal. I betrothed you to Christ, with a view to presenting a chaste virgin to her one and only husband." (2 Cor 7.1; 2 Cor 11.2) The Church has obtained her bridegroom; she cannot marry another. But each of us has the right to marry, within the law, the woman of our choice. I am speaking of first marriage. "But as the serpent in his wicked cunning deceived Eve, I am afraid that your thoughts may be corrupted so that you lose your singlehearted devotion to Christ." (2 Cor 11.3) The Apostle’s words are very cautious and instructive. So that admirable man Peter says, "Beloved, I urge you, as temporary residents in an alien land, to abstain from physical desires. They are marshalled against your soul. See that your behavior is such that the pagans can look up to you. This is God’s will. You are to muzzle the activity of those without understanding by the quality of your actions. Live as free people, not as though your freedom were a cover-up for vice, but as slaves in God’s service." (1 Pet 2.11-12, 15-16) Similarly, in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul writes: "We are dead to sin: how can we continue to live in it? Our old humanity was crucified with him, so as to destroy the very body of sin" down to "Do not present the parts of your body to sin to be instruments of vice." (Rom 6.2-13) At this point, I think that I ought not to leave on one side without comment the fact that the Apostle preaches the same God whether through the Law, the prophets, or the gospel. For in his letter to the Romans he attributes to the Law the words "You shall not lust" which in fact appear in the text of the gospel. He does so in the knowledge that it is one single person who makes his decrees through the Law and the prophets, and is the subject of the gospel’s proclamation. He (Paul) says, "What shall we say? Is the Law sin? Of course not. But I did not know sin except through the Law. I did not know lust, except that the Law said, ‘You shall not lust.’" (Rom 7.7) If the heretics who assail the creator suppose that Paul was speaking against him in the words that follow: "I know that nothing good lodges in me, in my flesh, that is to say," (Rom 7:18) they had better read the words which precede and come after these. He has just said, "Sin lodges in me," which makes it appropriate to go on to, "Nothing good lodges in my flesh." (Rom 7:17 - 18) On top of this he continues, "If I act contrary to my will, the effect is not mine but the effect of sin lodging in me," which, he says, "is at war with" God’s "Law and my own reason and takes me prisoner under the Law of sin which is in my very bones. What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body which is doomed to death?" (Rom 7.20, 23-4) Once again, since he never remotely gets tired of doing good, he does not hesitate to add, "The Law of the Spirit has freed me from the Law of sin and death," since through his Son "God has pronounced judgment upon sin in the flesh so that the Law’s ordinance might find fulfillment in us, whose lives are governed by the Spirit not by the flesh." (Rom 8.2-4) ... So again he attacks the hedonists and adds, "The object of the flesh is death, since those whose lives are governed by the flesh follow the flesh in their objectives; and the object of the flesh is hostility to God, for it is not subject to God’s Law. Those who live on the level of flesh cannot please God" should not be understood as some people lay down, but as I have already argued. Then in distinction from these people, he addresses the Church. "You are not living by the flesh but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God is dwelling in you. Anyone without Christ’s Spirit is not of him. But if Christ is in you, then your body is a dead thing because of sin, but the Spirit is life through righteousness. So, brothers, we are in debt. Not to the flesh, to follow it in our lives; for if you follow the flesh in the way you live, you are on the way to death. But if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live. For all who are guided by God’s Spirit are sons of God."

It cannot be ignored that despite very few of Methodius's original works surviving he references 2 Corinthians 11:2 - 3 and 1 Peter 2.11 as seeming to 'belong together' as we see in a section of the Symposium:

If, then, the rivers of Babylon are the streams of voluptuousness, as wise men say, which confuse and disturb the soul, then the willows must be chastity, to which we may suspend and draw up the organs of lust which overbalance and weigh down the mind, so that they may not be borne down by the torrents of incontinence, and be drawn like worms to impurity and corruption. For God has bestowed upon us virginity as a most useful and a serviceable help towards incorruption, sending it as an ally to those who are contending for and longing after Zion, as the psalm shows, which is resplendent charity and the commandment respecting it, for Zion is interpreted The commandment of the watchtower. Now, let us here enumerate the points which follow. For why do the souls declare that they were asked by those who led them captive to sing the Lord's song in a strange land? (1 Peter 2.11) Surely because the Gospel teaches a holy and secret song, which sinners and adulterers sing to the Evil One. For they insult the commandments, accomplishing the will of the spirits of evil, and cast holy things to dogs, and pearls before swine, Matthew 7:6 in the same manner as those of whom the prophet says with indignation, They read the law without; for the Jews were not to read the law going forth out of the gates of Jerusalem or out of their houses; and for this reason the prophet blames them strongly, and cries that they were liable to condemnation, because, while they were transgressing the commandments, and acting impiously towards God, they were pretentiously reading the law, as if, forsooth, they were piously observing its precepts; but they did not receive it in their souls, holding it firmly with faith, but rejected it, denying it by their works. And hence they sing the Lord's song in a strange land, explaining the law by distorting and degrading it, expecting a sensual kingdom, and setting their hopes on this alien world, which the Word says will pass away, (1 Peter 2:11) where those who carry them captive entice them with pleasures, lying in wait to deceive them. Now, those who sing the Gospel to senseless people seem to sing the Lord's song in a strange land, of which Christ is not the husbandman; but those who have put on and shone in the most pure and bright, and unmingled and pious and becoming, ornament of virginity, and are found barren and unproductive of unsettled and grievous passions, do not sing the song in a strange land; because they are not borne there by their hopes, nor do they stick fast in the lusts of their mortal bodies, nor do they take a low view of the meaning of the commandments, but well and nobly, with a lofty disposition, they have regard to the promises which are above, thirsting for heaven as a congenial abode, whence God, approving their dispositions, promises with an oath to give them choice honours, appointing and establishing them above His chief joy; for He says thus: If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember you, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy; meaning by Jerusalem, as I said, these very undefiled and incorrupt souls, which, having with self-denial drawn in the pure draught of virginity with unpolluted lips, are espoused to one husband, to be presented as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2) in heaven, having gotten the victory, striving for undefiled rewards. 

The point here of course isn't just that 1 Peter 2:11 and 2 Corinthians 11:2 stand side by side in the same section, the material from Romans chapters 6, 7 and 8 which immediately follow - "Sin lodges in me" - also appear in the section.

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