Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Heretical (Marcionite) Variant of Matthew 5:21, 22; 27, 28 [Part One]

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment ...“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

This saying only appears in the Gospel of Matthew but there is something oddly Marcionite about the material.  As my friend Danny Mahar once noted to me - it appears 'antithetical' and we know Marcion himself is traditionally associated with a work called 'the Antitheses.'  Of course there is the traditional - insipid - rejection of this notion by the 'fact' that Marcion is identified as corrupting only things in Luke.  Yet
two quotations, independent of each other, from Adamantius (Dial., II., 15) and Isidore of Pelusium (Ep., 1, 371), and also allusions from Irenaeus (Haer., I., 27, 2), and Tertullian (Adv. Marc, 14, 4), show us that Marcion's gospel recorded one of Jesus' sayings in these words: "Think you I am come to fulfil the Law of the Prophets? I am come not to fulfil but to destroy."  Now there is nothing analogous to this in Luke's gospel, but in that of Matthew (v. 17) we find the exact reverse : "Think not I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I am come not to destroy, but to fulfil."

To this end, when we stumble upon the variant of Matthew 5:21, 22; 27, 28 in Ephrem the Syrian's Commentary on the Gospel of Concord (= the Diatessaron) we should take special note of the strengthened 'antithetical' formulation:

To them (it was said) 'You shall not kill' but to you (I say) 'You shall not be angry'
To them (it was said) 'You shall not commit adultery' (but to you I say) You shall not have evil desires' (McCarthy transl. p. 112)

The reason I was following this formulation is because the second part of the formulation appears over and over again in the writings of Clement - especially in Book Three - where it appears part of a debate with the various heretical groups (i.e. the Basilideans, Valentinians, Marcionites, Carpocratians, the followers of Prodicus, Nicolaus and many others).

It is worth noting that the saying can be traced to Origen and then members of the 'Origenist' tradition too:

Ἐῤῥέθη γὰρ, φησὶ, τοῖς ἀρχαίοις, Οὐ φονεύσεις· ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, Οὐκ ὀργισθήσῃ [Origen Expositio in Proverbia 17.177]

Ὡς γὰρ ὁ μὲν παλαιὸς ἔλεγε νόμος, Οὐ μοιχεύσεις· ὁ δὲ Κύριος, Οὐδὲ ἐπι θυμήσεις· κἀκεῖνος μὲν, Οὐ φονεύσεις· ὁ δὲ τὰ τε λειότερα νομοθετῶν, Οὐδὲ ὀργισθήσῃ· οὕτω δὴ καὶ ἐνταῦθα ὁ μὲν ἀρκεῖται τῇ εὐορκίᾳ, ὁ δὲ τῆς ἐπιορ κίας τὴν ἀφορμὴν διακόπτει. For as the old law said, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but the Lord Christ, Thou shalt not covet; and that, Thou shalt not steal [kill]; but he, commanding perfecter things, Thou shalt not be angry; so here, the law is content with swearing aright, but he cutteth off the very occasion of perjury. [Basil, Homiliae super Psalmos 29.260]

οἷον ὅτι Ἠκούσατε, Οὐ φονεύσεις· ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω, Οὐκ ὀργισθήσῃ. Ἠκούσατε ὅτι Οὐ μοιχεύσεις, ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὅτι Ὁ ἐμβλέψας γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν, ἤδη ἐμοίχευσε [John Chrysostom De Christi precibus 48.789]

Ἠκούσατε, φησὶν, ὅτι ἐῤῥέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις· Οὐ φονεύσεις. Εἰπὲ καὶ παρὰ τίνος ἐῤῥέθη· σὺ εἶπας τοῦτο, ἢ ὁ Πατὴρ ὁ σός; Ἀλλ' οὐ λέγει. Τίνος οὖν ἕνεκεν τοῦτο ἐσίγησε, καὶ τὸν εἰπόντα οὐκ ἐποίησε φανερὸν, ἀλλ' ἀπρόσωπον τὴν νομοθεσίαν εἰσήγαγεν; Ὅτι εἰ μὲν εἶπεν· Οὐ φονεύσεις, ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν· Οὐκ ὀργισθήσῃ, ἔδοξεν ἂν βαρὺ τὸ λεγόμενον εἶναι διὰ τὴν ἀπόνοιαν τῶν ἀκουόντων μηδέπω συνιέναι δυναμένων, ὅτι οὐκ ἀνατρέπων τὰ πρότερα, ἀλλ' αὔξων ταῦτα ἐνομοθέτει· καὶ εἶπον ἂν πρὸς αὐτόν· Τί λέγεις; ὁ Πατήρ σου εἶπεν· Οὐ φονεύσεις, σὺ δὲ λέγεις· Οὐκ ὀργισθήσῃ; Ἵν' οὖν μή τις ἐναντίον αὐτὸν τῷ Πατρὶ νομίσῃ εἶναι, ἢ ὡς σοφώτερόν τι πλέον εἰσφέρειν ἐκείνου, οὐκ εἶπεν, ὅτι Ἠκούσατε παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός [ibid 48.791]

If Origen preserves the first half of the saying, we see Clement (strangely) avoid direct citation of this part of the saying but repeatedly mentions the latter half as part of his rejection of the heresies.

The general assumption in Alexandria (and an understanding which Clement acknowledges to be true) is that Paul had a copy of this gospel and cites from it in Romans 7:7.  Here is a sample of references

How can this fellow still be listed in our church members’ register when he openly does away with the Law and the Gospels alike by these words? The former says, "You shall not commit adultery," the latter, "Everyone who looks with lust has already committed adultery." The words found in the Law, "You shall not lust," show that it is one single God who makes his proclamations through the Law, prophets and Gospels ... [Strom 3.8.4]

If the adulteress and her paramour are both punished with death, it is surely clear that the commandment "You shall not lust for your neighbor’s wife" applies to the gentiles, so that anyone who follows the Law in keeping his hands off his neighbor’s wife and his sister may hear directly from the Lord: "But I say to you, you shall not lust." (i.e. 'in the gospel') The addition of the pronoun "I" shows that the application of the commandment is more rigidly binding, and that Carpocrates and Epiphanes are battling against God. Epiphanes in that notorious book, I mean On Righteousness, goes on like this, and I quote: "So you must hear the words ‘You shall not lust’ as a joke of the Lawgiver, to which he added the even more ludicrous words ‘for your neighbor’s property.’ The very one who endows human beings with desire to sustain the processes of birth gives orders that it is to be suppressed, though he suppresses it in no other living creature! The words ‘for your neighbor’s wife’ are even more ridiculous since he is forcing public property to become private property" ... [Strom 3.9.1 - 3]

Anyway, there is a story that one of them encountered one of our beautiful virgins and said, "It is written, ‘Give yourself to anyone who asks.’" (i.e. another saying from the gospel misrepresented, according to Clement, by the heretics) She did not understand the fellow’s impudence and replied with the height of propriety, "If the subject is marriage, speak to my mother." What godlessness! These communists in sexual freedom, these brothers in lustfulness, actually pervert the Savior’s words. They are a disgrace not just to philosophy but to the whole of human life. They deface the truth, or rather raze it to the ground insofar as they can. The wretches make a religion out of physical union and sexual intercourse, and think that this will lead them into the kingdom of God. It is to the brothels that that sort of communism leads. Pigs and goats should be their companions. It is the whores who preside over the bordello and indiscriminately receive all comers who have most to hope from them. "That is not how you have learned Christ, if you have been told of him, if you have learned your lessons in him, as the truth is in Jesus Christ – to leave on one side your former way of life, to put off the old human nature, which is deluded by its lusts and on the road to destruction ... [Strom 3.27.3 - 4.2]

How can a combination of immoderation and dirty language be freedom? "Everyone who sins is a slave," says the Apostle. How can the man who has given himself over to every lust be a citizen according to the Law of God when the Lord has declared, "I say, you shall not lust"? Is a person to take a decision to sin deliberately, and to lay it down as a principle to commit adultery, to waste his substance in high living, and to break up other people’s marriages, when we actually pity the rest who fall involuntarily into sin? ... [Strom 3.30.3 - 31.1]

In consequence, some other worthless scoundrels say that humanity was fashioned by different powers, the body down to the navel being the product of divine craftsmanship, and below that of inferior work; which is why human beings yearn for intercourse. They forget that the upper parts of the body call out for food, and in some people show lust. They contradict Christ’s statement to the Pharisees that the same God made our outer and our inner man. In addition, desire does not come from the body, even though it expresses itself through the body ... [Strom 3.34.1, 2]

The person who drifts into pleasures is gratifying his body; the ascetic is freeing his soul from passions, and the soul has authority over the body. If they tell us that we are called to freedom, we are not, as the Apostle puts it, to present that "freedom as an opening for our lower selves." If we are to gratify lust, if we are to think a reprehensible way of living a matter of moral indifference, as they assert, either we ought to obey our lusts at all points and, if so, to engage in the most immoral and irreligious practices in conformity with our teachers, or we shall turn away from some of our desires, no longer compelled to live by amoral standards, no longer in unbridled servitude to our least honorable parts – stomach and sex-organs – pampering our carcass to serve our desire. Lust is nurtured and vitalized if we minister to its enjoyment; on the other hand, it fades away if it is kept in check. [Strom 3.41.2 - 4]

We must follow God’s Scripture, the road taken by the faithful, and we will, so far as possible, become like the Lord. We are not to live amorally. We are, so far as possible, to purify ourselves from pleasures and lusts, and take care of our soul which should continue to be engaged solely with the divine. For if it is pure and freed from all vice, the mind is somehow capable of receiving the power of God, when the divine image is established within it. Scripture says, "Everyone who has this hope in the Lord is purifying himself as the Lord is pure" ... [Strom 3.42,5, 6]

"You have been circumcised in Christ with a circumcision not performed with hands in stripping yourselves of your fleshly body, that is, in Christ’s circumcision." "So if you are risen together with Christ, look for the things above, fix your mind on them, not on earthly things. For you are dead, and your life has been buried in God together with Christ" – this hardly applies to the sexual immorality which they practice! "So mortify your earthly members – fornication, filthiness, passion, lust; through these the visitation of anger is on its way." So they too should put away "anger, temper, vice, slander, dirty talk from their mouths, stripping themselves of the old human nature with its lusts and putting on the new human nature, which is renewed for full knowledge in accordance with the likeness of its creator" ... [Strom 3.43.3 -4]

It is worth noting how different Clement's citation of Colossians 3:5 is here:

νεκρώσατε οὖν τὰ μέλη τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, πορνείαν, ἀκαθαρσίαν, πάθος, ἐπιθυμίαν, δι' ἃ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργή

So mortify your earthly members – fornication, filthiness, passion, lust; through these the visitation of anger is on its way. [Strom 3.43.5] 

We should compare received text:

νεκρώσατε οὖν τὰ μέλη τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς πορνείαν ἀκαθαρσίαν πάθος ἐπιθυμίαν κακήν, καὶ τὴν πλεονεξίαν, ἥτις ἐστιν εἰδωλολατρία, δι’ ἃ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας,

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth fornication uncleanness inordinate affection evil concupiscence and covetousness which is idolatry for which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience

It isn't just that Clement's text is 'shorter.'  It is rather that Clement's text of Colossians identifies 'anger' as something which the individual must get rid of in order to be assimilated with Christ.  This is one of many passages which suggests that 'do not be angry' may well have been part of the Apostolikon (more on that in a subsequent post).

Getting back to our analysis of Clement's debate with the heretics from a commonly held heretical (Diatessaron) we read:

This is the way to undermine the "righteousness" of Carpocrates and those who match him in sharing in a fellowship of immorality. In the moment of saying, "Give to anyone who asks," Scripture goes on, "and do not turn away anyone who wants a loan." This is the sort of fellowship Scripture teaches, not fellowship in lust. How can there be a person who asks, receives, and borrows if there is no one who possesses, grants, and lends? What does the Lord say? "I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear." Then he adds, "Insofar as you have done so to one of the humblest of these, you have done so to me" ... [Strom 3.54.1 - 3]

That concludes that demonstration. Now I propose to establish the Scriptures which refute these heretical sophists and expound the norm of self-discipline which we keep in following the Logos. The person of understanding will think out the passage of Scripture that is appropriate to challenge each of the heresies and use it at the apposite moment to refute those who set their dogmas against the commandments. From the very beginning, as I have already said, the Law laid down the injunction "You shall not desire your neighbor’s wife" in anticipation of the Lord’s closely connected dictum in accordance with the New Covenant with the same meaning from his own lips: "You have heard the injunction of the Law. ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ I say, ‘You shall not lust.’" The Law wished males to have responsible sexual relations with their marriage partners, solely for the production of children. This is clear when a bachelor is prevented from enjoying immediate sexual relations with a woman prisoner-of-war. If he once falls in love with her, he must let her cut her hair short and mourn for thirty days. If even so his desire has not faded away, then he may father children by her. The fixed period of time enables the overpowering impulse to be scrutinized and to turn into a rational appetency ... [Strom 3.71.1 - 3]

Similarly, in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul writes [of the Scripture text]: "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." 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 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.’" 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," 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." [Strom 3.75.3 - 76.3]

A long exegesis of Romans 7 - 8 continues where - as we have noted - it is assumed by Clement, the Basilideans, the Valentinians, the Carpocratians, the Marcionites, the followers of Prodicus, the followers of Cassianus, that Paul had or wrote the gospel and wrote the letter to Romans especially knowing the contents of that text.

There can be no doubt that Clement had the same saying from the Diatessaron as his gospel reading - and thus, it strongly suggests that his gospel was a Diatessaron.  This text was passed on to Origen and continued to be used by members of the 'Origenist' tradition (albeit with the two sayings inverted).  The question is open however how close we can get to finding Clement cite the words '... but I say 'do not be angry.'  Here is a list of possible citations and allusions:

If birth is an evil, then the blasphemers must place the Lord who went through birth and the virgin who gave him birth in the category of evil. Abominable people! In attacking birth they are maligning the will of God and the mystery of creation. This is the basis of Cassian’s docetism, Marcion’s too, yes, and Valentinus’ "semi-spiritual body." It leads them to say, "Humanity became like cattle in coming to sexual intercourse." But it is when a man, swollen with lust (κοίτῃ ὀργήσας), really and truly wants to go to bed with a woman not his own, that that sort of man actually becomes a wild beast. [Strom 3.102.3 - 5]

But now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." The assertion, then, may be hazarded, that it has been shown that death is the fellowship of the soul in a state of sin with the body; and life the separation from sin. And many are the stakes and ditches of lust and of wrath and anger which impede us and which must be overleaped (καὶ τάφροι τῆς ἐπιθυμίας τά τε ὀργῆς καὶ θυμοῦ βάραθρα), and all the machinations we must avoid of those who plot against us, -- who would no longer see the knowledge of God "through a glass." [Strom 4.12.2]

But God is impassible, free of anger, destitute of desire. And He is not free of fear, in the sense of avoiding what is terrible; or temperate, in the sense of having command of desires. For neither can the nature of God fall in with anything terrible, nor does God flee fear; just as He will not feel desire, so as to rule over desires. Accordingly that Pythagorean saying was mystically uttered respecting us, "that man ought to become one;" for the high priest himself is one, God being one in the immutable state of the perpetual flow or good things. Now the Saviour has taken away wrath in and with lust, wrath being lust of vengeance. For universally liability to feeling belongs to every kind of desire; and man, when deified purely into a passionless state, becomes a unit. As, then, those, who at sea are held by an anchor, pull at the anchor, but do not drag it to them, but drag themselves to the anchor; so those who, according to the gnostic life, draw God towards them, imperceptibly bring themselves to God: for he who reverences God, reverences himself. In the contemplative life, then, one in worshipping God attends to himself, and through his own spotless purification beholds the holy God holily; for self-control, being present, surveying and contemplating itself uninterruptedly, is as far as possible assimilated to God.[ibid 4.23]

For he (Pythagoras) intimated that it was necessary not only to efface the mark, but not to leave even a trace of anger; and that on its ceasing to boil, it was to be composed, and all memory of injury to be wiped out. "And let the sun upon your wrath (ἥλιος δὲ ὑμῖν τῇ ὀργῇ,)," says the Scripture, "go down (μὴ ἐπιδυέτω)." And he that said, "Thou shall not lust (οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις)," took away all memory of wrong; for wrath (θυμὸς) is found to be the impulse of lust (ἐπιθυμίας) in a mild soul, especially seeking irrational revenge. In the same way "the bed is ordered to be shaken up," so that there may be no recollection of effusion in sleep, or sleep in the day-time; nor, besides, of pleasure during the night. And he intimated that the vision of the dark ought to be dissipated speedily by the light of truth. "Be angry, and sin not (ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε)," says David, teaching us that we ought not to assent to the impression, and not to follow it up by action, and so confirm wrath (τὴν ὀργὴν χρῆναι διδάσκων). [Strom 5.5.28]

The commandment, then, "Thou shalt not lust (οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις)," says, thou shalt not serve the carnal spirit, but shall rule over it; "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit," and excites to disorderly conduct against nature; "and the Spirit against the flesh" exercises sway, in order that the conduct of the man may be according to nature. [ibid 6.16]

It is, then, rightly said by the apostle, "This Thou, shall not commit adultery, Thou shall not steal, Thou shalt not covet (οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις); and if there be any other commandment, it is comprehended in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." [7.16]

Further, the Lord shows very clearly of Himself, when, describing figuratively His manifold and in many ways serviceable culture,--He says, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman." Then He adds, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit He pruneth, that it may bring forth more fruit." For the vine that is not pruned grows to wood. So also man. The Word--the knife--clears away the wanton shoots; compelling the impulses of the soul to fructify, not to indulge in lust (οὐκ ἐπιθυμεῖν τὰς ὀρέξεις ἀναγκάσας). Now, reproof addressed to sinners has their salvation for its aim, the word being harmoniously adjusted to each one's conduct; now with tightened, now. with relaxed cords. Accordingly it was very plainly said by Moses," Be of good courage: God has drawn near to try you, that His fear may be among you, that ye sin not." [Paed 1.8]

Now hatred of evil attends the good man, in virtue of His being in nature good. Wherefore I will grant that He punishes the disobedient (for punishment is for the good and advantage of him who is punished, for it is the correction of a refractory subject); but I will not grant that He wishes to take vengeance (τιμωρεῖσθαι δὲ μὴ βούλεσθαι). Revenge (Τιμωρία) is retribution for evil, imposed for the advantage of him who takes the revenge (τιμωρουμένου). He will not desire us to take revenge (Οὐκ ἂν δὲ ἐπιθυμήσει τιμωρεῖσθαι), who teaches us "to pray for those that despitefully use us." [ibid]

It is on this account, as appears to me, that the Instructor does not permit us to give utterance to aught unseemly, fortifying us at an early stage against licentiousness. For He is admirable always at cutting out the roots of sins, such as, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," by "Thou shalt not lust' (τὸ οὐ μοιχεύσεις διὰ τοῦ οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις). For adultery is the fruit of lust, which is the evil root. And so likewise also in this instance the Instructor censures licence in names, and thus cuts off the licentious intercourse of excess. [ibid 2.6]

And what are the laws? "Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not seduce boys; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt love the Lord thy God ("Οὐ φονεύσεις, οὐ μοιχεύσεις, οὐ παιδοφθορήσεις, οὐ κλέψεις, οὐ ψευδο μαρτυρήσεις, ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου)." And the complements of these are those laws. of reason and words of sanctity which are inscribed on men's hearts: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; to him who strikes thee on the cheek, present also the other "thou shalt not lust, for by lust alone thou hast committed adultery. (ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν καὶ τῷ τύπτοντί σε εἰς τὴν σιαγόνα πάρεχε καὶ τὴν ἄλλην καὶ οὐκ ἐπιθυμήσεις, ἐπιθυμίᾳ γὰρ μόνῃ μεμοίχευκας) [Exhortation 10.108.5]

In our next post we will examine the evidence for this saying being present in this form in the Marcionite gospel, which is quite strong.

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