Thursday, April 25, 2013

Did the Marcionite Gospel Use κύριε Depreciatively?

In order to finish my essay on the redemption rite of the Alexandrian tradition I have to come to terms with Mark 10:17.  My research is leading me to challenge many of the traditionally views about the gospel.  In Mark and Luke the readings are all basically the same.  The rich man asks Jesus 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'  Matthew drops the 'good' reference but retains the idea that Jesus is being addressed as a 'teacher' (διδάσκαλε). 

The problem is of course that this is not the text of either Marcion and/or Tertullian's anti-Marcionite source in Book Four of Against Marcion.  In that Latin text Jesus is called praeceptor optime which is an interesting departure from the Vulgate and the Old Latin reading magister bone which in turn is merely a translation of the Greek texts we know.  A praeceptor has as its primary meaning one who seizes beforehand, an anticipator.  The second meaning is "commander, ruler." The third is "teacher, instructor, preceptor."

It is used by the Vulgate to translate ἐπιστάτα who's principal meaning is 'one who stands near or by: hence, like ἱκέτης, suppliant.' It can also mean 'one who is set over, commander.' As well as 'president, overseer.'  I have a very difficult time making sense of why Luke and Luke alone uses this particular terminology.   Here are the examples:

Luke 17.13 They lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" et levaverunt vocem dicentes Iesu praeceptor miserere nostri The Greek here is: καὶ αὐτοὶ ἦραν φωνὴν λέγοντες· Ἰησοῦ ἐπιστάτα, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.

Luke 5:5 N-VMS BIB: Σίμων εἶπεν Ἐπιστάτα δι' ὅλης NAS: and said, Master, we worked hard KJV: unto him, Master, we have toiled INT: Simon said Master through whole

Luke 8:24 N-VMS BIB: αὐτὸν λέγοντες Ἐπιστάτα ἐπιστάτα ἀπολλύμεθα NAS: Him up, saying, Master, Master, KJV: saying, Master, master, INT: him saying Master Master we are perishing

Luke 8:45 N-VMS BIB: ὁ Πέτρος Ἐπιστάτα οἱ ὄχλοι NAS: said, Master, the people KJV: him said, Master, the multitude throng INT: Peter Master the people

Luke 9:33 N-VMS BIB: τὸν Ἰησοῦν Ἐπιστάτα καλόν ἐστιν NAS: to Jesus, Master, it is good KJV: unto Jesus, Master, it is good INT: Jesus Master good it is

Luke 9:49 N-VMS BIB: Ἰωάννης εἶπεν Ἐπιστάτα εἴδομέν τινα NAS: and said, Master, we saw KJV: answered and said, Master, we saw one INT: John said Master we saw someone

Luke 17:13 N-VMS BIB: λέγοντες Ἰησοῦ ἐπιστάτα ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς NAS: Jesus, Master, have mercy KJV: Jesus, Master, have mercy INT: saying Jesus Master have compassion on us

Mark does not render the first two of these examples of 'Lord.' In Mark 1:16 - 20 and Mark 4:39 - 41 the appeal to a 'Lord' or 'Master' is silenced. With Luke 9:33 Mark renders it ῥαββί while Matthew has κύριε interestingly enough. With 9:49 Mark renders it Διδάσκαλε. Luke 17:13′s ten lepers narrative appears nowhere else but Luke.

My question is - why is ἐπιστάτα introduced by Luke?  Is this a Marcionitism?  In other words is it used to avoid κύριε or to demonstrate that Jesus was not so called?  Why does Tertullian's text of Luke 18:18/Mark 10:17 use κύριε/praeceptor?  It is important to note that Tertullian is centrally concerned with the concept of praecepto in his struggle against Marcion because it is used to denote the commandments of the κύριε of the Jews.  For instance just before he cites Luke 18:18 he says:

Why does He bid us "remember Lot's wife," who despised the Creator's command, and was punished for her contempt, if He does not come with judgment to avenge the infraction of His precepts (praeceptorum suorum)? [Adv Marc 4.35.16]

Countless other references to the terminology follow as Tertullian attempts to link the praeceptor to the Creator's praeceptorum.  But it is important to point out that Tertullian only cites one of the ἐπιστάτα sayings from Luke - this one.

My guess is that ἐπιστάτα was used by the Catholic editors of the Marcionite gospel (= Luke) to obscure the negative association with κύριε in the heretical text.  In other words, Jesus is saying here I am not your κύριε or perhaps κύριε is not 'good.'  The same happens in Luke 17:13.  But can I prove this?


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