Monday, December 24, 2012

Second Proof that the Heretical Collection of Pauline Letters Looked Nothing Like Our Existing Canon

A big discovery today - the first in many arguments in favor of a different 'arrangement' of the Pauline sayings.  We have already identified that Diatessaron references can be found in the deepest strata of Tertullian's anti-Marcionite polemic. It would seem that Luke 11:27 and Luke 8:19 - 21 originally formed a unit. Now we have uncovered evidence that 2 Corinthians 7:1 and 2 Corinthians 11:2 - 3 formed another unit - this time in the Apostolikon (= the collection of Pauline writings in the heretical New Testament canon shared by the Marcionites and Clement).

No one before us has been able to solve the mystery of Clement's citation of scripture.  The problem has been noted by many.  Most recently Cosaert flippantly argues that even if the manuscripts of Clement which have survived down to us have been interpolated there's no point thinking about it that much.  I don't understand that thinking.  It probably has something to do with truth getting in the way of Cosaert being able to finish his thesis (and how many scholars have been honest enough to let anything get in the way of their career?).

The bottom line is that we have certainly demonstrated in our last post that someone tampered with the existing manuscript of the Stromata - likely Eusebius (because Jerome tells us he was engaged in this sort of thing on behalf of his 'clients' Clement and Origen).   It is quite obvious from Clement's citation of 'blocks' of material from particular letters in his canon that the individual lines in a particular chapter appear 'jumbled up' - that is, they take on the appearance of a mosaic whose individual stones have been displaced.  Yet how far can we take this?  Do we know for certain that Clement used the same letters of Paul that we used?

On the surface at least the answer appears to be confirmed when we see specific reference made to 'to the Romans' and 'to the Corinthians' as well as many other texts.  Yet we have already pointed out that there are a number of good reasons to suppose that many of these may have come as a result of the same fourth century editor trying to make Clement seem 'more orthodox' to contemporary readers.  The question then becomes how do we know that Clement apostolic letters appeared like a mosaic of references from the various epistles rather than our familiar 'to the Romans,' 'to the Corinthians' etc.

As we were studying a particularly significant chapter in Book Three of the Stromata it stands we go back to our newly completed 'road map of Pauline references in Clement of Alexandria' and find the following block of citations acknowledged by Stahlin:

Stromata 3 73 § 2 - 2 Corinthians 6, 16
Stromata 3 73 § 2 - 2 Corinthians 6, 18
Stromata 3 74 § 1 - 2 Corinthians 7, 1
Stromata 3 74 § 1 - 2 Corinthians 11, 2
Stromata 3 74 § 2 - 2 Corinthians 11, 3
Stromata 3 75 § 1  - 1 Peter 2, 11
Stromata 3 75 § 1- 1 Peter 2, 12
Stromata 3 75 § 3 - Romans 6, 2
Stromata 3 76 § 2 - Romans 7, 7
Stromata 3 76 § 3 - Romans 7, 18
Stromata 3 76 § 4- Romans 7, 17
Stromata 3 77 § 1 - Romans 7, 20
Stromata 3 77 § 1- Romans 7, 23
Stromata 3 77 § 1- Romans 7, 24
Stromata 3 77 § 2 - Romans 8, 2
Stromata 3 77 § 2- Romans 8, 4
Stromata 3 77 § 3 - Romans 8, 10
Stromata 3 77 § 3 - Romans 8, 11
Stromata 3 78 § 1 - Romans 8, 5
Stromata 3 78 § 1 - Romans 8, 8
Stromata 3 78 § 2 - Romans 8, 9
Stromata 3 78 § 2 - Romans 8, 10
Stromata 3 78 § 4 - Romans 8, 12
Stromata 3 78 § 4 - Romans 8, 15
Stromata 3 79 § 1 - 1 Corinthians 7, 5
Stromata 3 79 § 2 - 1 Corinthians 7, 36

The question now becomes - was Clement stitching together an argument woven out of a patchwork of references from many distinct letters, or is the Alexandrian citing a lost original epistle which was smashed apart and its individual pieces reworked (along with much orthodox additions) into our familiar collection of epistles in our New Testament canon?

The answer comes to us when we see the entire Third Book develop from a debate with the heretics over a passage in a non-canonical gospel. Jesus apparently declared - "You have heard the injunction of the Law.  'Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, Thou shall not lust" after the youth asked him about the various commandment of Moses.  Clement and the heretics understand this show Jesus issuing a new commandment - even a new Law.  Indeed both Clement and the heretics agree that an epistle written by the Apostle which roughly corresponds to the canonical Epistle to the Romans makes reference to this passage in the lost gospel.  The question now that stands before us is - was this our Epistle to the Romans, another epistle to the Romans or a text that went under a different name completely?

Of course he answer that every scholar will tell you is that Clement used our familiar canon of Pauline epistles.  But I am increasingly becoming convinced of the opposite situation.  I think that Clement had a collection of Pauline epistles that would have appeared 'centonized' to us (and which Irenaeus says as much in his Against Heresies).  I simply can't accept that.  I can't shake (a) the manner in which our existing Pauline letters have no discernible point (they are 'pastoral' in the worst sense of the word) (b) the fact that so many of Clement's grouping of citations are found in Methodius and other sources (c) the way 1 Peter sounds Pauline and (d) the manner in which Clement's argument against the heretics would have had any weight if he was arbitrarily 'pulling references' from individual letters and stringing them along to make a point.

Let's start with the section as a whole and then focus on particular problems that I have with particular sections over the next few days.  It begins:

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."

I would like to start off by paying attention to the manner in which 2 Corinthians 11.2 immediately follows the previous reference from 7.2 and a strange commentary - allegedly from Clement's own hand - breaks 11.2 from 11.3.

It is interesting to note that since Book Three develops as a commentary on - what is for us - Romans chapter 7, that Clement cites our 2 Corinthians 7.1 twice in the chapter.  The first reference appears in Stromata 3.62.3.  The two passages fit well together.  2 Cor 7:1 helps explain and provide context to 2 Cor 11:2 - 3 in a way that its present setting does not.  Yet the real kicker is that the same two lines appear in Irenaeus (Tertullian's) Against Marcion:

If he also bids us cleanse ourselves from the defilement of flesh and blood, it is not the substance capable of the kingdom of God. And if his purpose is to present the church as a holy virgin to Christ, evidently as bride to bridegroom, the metaphor cannot be made to apply to one hostile to the actuality of the institution referred to.

Si etiam iubet ut mundemus nos ab inquinamento carnis et sanguinis, non substantiam capere regnum dei. Si et virginem sanctam destinat ecclesiam adsignare Christo, utique ut sponsam sponso, non potest imago coniungi inimico veritatis rei ipsius. [Against Marcion 5.12.6]

There are countless early texts which identify the context of 2 Cor 11:2 - 3 with ceremonial washing such as Cyprian's statement that:

For if it is carnal, they differ in no respect from the baptism of the Jews, which they use in such a manner that in it, as if in a common and vulgar laver, only external filth is washed away. But if it is spiritual, how can baptism be spiritual among those among whom there is no Holy Spirit? And thus the water wherewith they are washed is to them only a carnal washing, not a sacrament of baptism. But if the baptism of heretics can have the regeneration of the second birth, those who are baptized among them must be counted not heretics, but children of God. For the second birth, which occurs in baptism, begets sons of God. But if the spouse of Christ is one, which is the Catholic Church, it is she herself who alone bears sons of God. For there are not many spouses of Christ, since the apostle says, I have espoused you, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ

It is also worth noting that the Carmen adversus Marcionitas wrongly attributed to Tertullian identifies the letter containing these sayings as being directed to the Galatians "with such zeal, by a law Guards He our safety; warns us loyal be; Chastens; is instant. So, too, has the same  Apostle (when Galatian brethren Chiding)-Paul-written that such zeal hath he."

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