Friday, August 23, 2013

The Secret Life of Jesus [Chapter Two]

Chapter Two
A Praescriptio Against the Heresies 
(dated approx. 190 CE)

The origin of the term "prescription" is interesting. It arose from the way of pleading in a Roman lawsuit the acquisition or extinction of a right by lapse of time: it was what was alleged - written first prae-scriptio, literally something "written first or before" [Gaius, 4, 13] - in the very beginning of the commission ( i.e. the "formula" or "short decree" of the praetor or other magistrate containing written instructions to the person or persons appointed to try the issues of a case) to the trial referee and before the statement of the plainitff's claim.  It thus indicated to the referee (i. e., the "judex," "arbiter," or "recuperato") that he was to try the preliminary allegation before he proceeded to the main issue.  If the praescriptio was found to be true, the suit was dismissed or suspended.

There were many such praescriptiones. The best known were the "praescriptio prejudicii" (i.e., the suit ought not to have been brought at all - Gaius, 4, 133), and the "praescriptio fori" (i.e., the suit is not within the jurisdiction of the Court). Both of these exist in modern law, but under other names. The praescriptiones were pleadable by either the plaintiff or the defendant: one of the most important was the praescriptio setting forth acquisition or extinction of a right by lapse of time. This was technically known as "praescriptio temporis" - a praescriptio possible for a defendant to plead. Subsequently, by metonymy, this term of pleading served to denote the substantive right itself, which was then likewise called "praescriptio"- whence the modern legal term "prescription."

Roman law in its final development recognized two sorts of prescription, - acquisitive and extinctive. The difference between the two is merely the effect of lapse of time upon the right prescribed. Acquisitive prescription "praescriptio acquisitiva" is the acquisition of a right by lapse of time; extinctive prescription is the extinction of a right by lapse of time.  Extinctive prescription "praescriptio extinctiva" is not a mode of acquiring ownership, while acquisitive prescription is. Extinctive prescription is but a mode of extinguishing an obligation or right in person, and is based on the principle of the limitation of actions. Acquisitive prescription may be defined as the acquisition of a thing by possession thereof as if owner for the period of time fixed by law. It is acquisition by operation of law: the courts then refuse to recognize the title of the old owner. The purpose of constituting prescription is to put an end to litigation.

When religious scholarship came across an ancient text associated with a Christian named Tertullian from the North African city of Carthage which identified itself as De Praescriptione Haereticorum (On the Prescription of Heretics) they naturally assumed that the author was a former lawyer who wrote in a 'funny' legal style.  This assumption was 'natural' in the sense that religious scholars - the people doing the studying - 'naturally' projected themselves and the world around them upon the very thing they were studying.  In this case the curious manner in which early Catholic Church Fathers to wrote long and quite boring 'treatises' on the subject of Church unity, disciple and the like in a formal legal style.

The great British scholar Geza Vermes, a man of Jewish Hungarian origin who also served as a Catholic priest in his youth, has a great summary of the praescriptiones of Tertullian - "invoking against the heretics the principle of praescriptio, through which Roman law declared the opponent's claim invalid and consequently unfit to be further debated in court, Tertullian used all his dialectical and rhetorical skill to eviscerate the Gnostic argument."  Yet the question which now stands before us is whether this all amounts to a curious 'stylistic idiosyncrasy' on the part of Tertullian or rather is it a preservation of an original legal argument, used in the late second century to invalidate the claims of the aforementioned 'heresies' with respect to ownership of the churches in the Empire.

That many of the writings that have come down to us from Tertullian derive from Irenaeus is well established in scholarship.  Tertullian's Adversus Valentinianos is an often times verbatim translation of the sections of Irenaeus's Against Heresies which deal with the Valentinian sect.  Tertullian has similarly copied Irenaeus's Apostle's Creed almost word for word.  Indeed most of the texts associated with Tertullian in Latin go back to Greek originals written by other authors and most notably Irenaeus.  Yet most important of all, the fourth century Church Father Cyril of Jerusalem specifically mentions Irenaeus's authorship of a work called Prescriptions (prostagme) Against Heresies. 

This work, Cyril says responds to the efforts of the heretics who "have sharpened their tongue against the Holy Spirit also, and have dared to utter impious things."  At the core of Tertullian's transcription of De Praescriptione there is the heretics claim that "all have erred" that "the Holy Spirit regarded no Church so as to lead it into the Truth, although sent for this purpose by Christ."  While this isn't much to go on, the common title, the similar focus of both texts and the general habit and indebtedness of Tertullian to 'borrow' from works of Irenaeus, the likelihood of the two texts being one and the same is quite high.

Indeed if we take a different approach for a moment, the question isn't whether Irenaeus is found in De Praescriptione but whether we can simply go so far as to conclude that Tertullian merely transcribed and subtly developed an original praescriptio - or many - written by Irenaeus a generation earlier.  The nineteenth century British theologian William Farrar identifies the Praescriptione as arguments which derive from Against Heresies but that "Tertullian states [them] more formally than Irenaeus."  More recently William J. Collinge in his Historical Dictionary of Catholicism commenting on the important term regula fide notes that "this term probably originated in the second century. It (or 'rule of truth ') was used by Irenaeus to designate the faith of the apostolic churches, as against the Gnostics' claims to special revelations. Tertullian uses the term to introduce a creed-like statement (De Praescriptione Haereticorum 13; ca. AD 200)." Yet once again we have only a shared use of terminology in different settings.

It is worth noting that the claim that Tertullian was a lawyer comes not from ancient sources but the influential German scholar of the last century - Adolf Harnack. In recent times however "a majority of scholars have returned to the argument of Siegmund Schlossmann" a contemporary of Harnack who saw Tertullian "not as a legal expert, but as a rhetorical genius capable of persuading with a whole range of imagery, including legal imagery."  Yet we should go one step further and argue instead that the existing text of De Praescriptione Haereticorum is plainly developed from an actual legal 'prescription' making the case that the traditional sects of Christianity should have their property confiscated owing to Irenaeus's original claim regarding his church's ownership by continuous possession of certain documents which now form our New Testament canon.

The importance of this understanding cannot be overstated.   Traditional scholarship ignores the fundamental implication of Christianity's first hundred years as an underground religion - i.e. the original traditions of the faith would have avoided developing apostolic succession lists (i.e. names and lists of bishops, priests etc), identifying places where Christians gathered, documents associated with the tradition for the precise reason that they would have been used in the persecution of members of the order.  The fact that Irenaeus comes out of the gate with everything his opponents couldn't provide in order to win a legal praescriptio in court only testifies to the fraudulent nature of material in his possession.

One would imagine that Irenaeus could have walked into a magistrates office - one who was likely already favorable to his position - produced the four canonical gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the various letters of Paul and related literature including an apostolic succession list for the Roman See and walked away with the right to speak on behalf of Christians everywhere uncontested - for the simple reason that his opponents, now identified as 'heretics,' only had a 'secret' gospel with no attestation of ownership, a collection of letters with no explicit attribution of who wrote them and moreover no identifiable 'fixed address' where members of the sect gathered or record of their establishment at any place.

It is amazing to consider how little attention is actually given to the simple transition from the Christianity identified by the pagan critic Celsus in 177 CE to the religion which experienced nothing short of a golden age perhaps five or ten years later under the Emperor Commodus.  When Celsus writes, that the Christians entered into secret associations with each other contrary to law, saying, that “of associations some are public, and that these are in accordance with the laws; others, again, secret, and maintained in violation of the laws" we have a situation where materials - i.e. documents, papers, property of various kinds - were actively being confiscated by the state.  A short time later, under Irenaeus however Christianity for the first time became an 'above ground' religion.  We have specific identification of a 'location' for the community - i.e. the Piscina Publica in Rome where Caracalla later built a massive public bath.

When we read the praescriptio that follows we should imagine that someone - i.e. Irenaeus - simply walked into a magistrates office and placed a series of (forged) documents on his desk and said 'we are Christianity, we are the true Church since the time of Christ' and walked away with a license to represent the religion in Rome and perhaps later - his successors had the same authority in every corner of the Empire.  It really was that simple.  Like any successful entrepreneur, he attempted something that no one before him had dared try and he walked away a winner!

Christ Jesus our Lord (may He allow me so to speak for the moment), Whoever He is, of whatever God the Son, of whatever substance Man and God, of whatever Faith the Teacher, of whatever reward the Promiser, did, while he was living on earth, Himself declare what He was, what He had been, what was His Father's will which He carried out, what was the duty of man that He laid down, either openly to the people or privately to His disciples, out of the number of whom He had attached to Himself twelve special ones who were destined to be the teachers of the nations. Consequently, when one of them was struck off, He bade the eleven remaining ones to go and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father and into the Son and into the Holy Spirit.

Immediately, therefore, the Apostles (whose title denotes their being sent), having added to their number by lot a twelfth, Matthias, in the place of Judas, on the authority of a prophecy in a Psalm of David, and having obtained the promised power of the Holy Spirit for miracles and for utterance, first throughout Judaea bore witness to the faith in Christ Jesus; and, having founded Churches, then went forth into the world and spread abroad the same doctrine of the same Faith to the nations. In like manner, too, they founded Churches in every city, from which the rest of the Churches hereafter have derived the transmission of their faith and the seeds of their doctrine, and are daily deriving them in order to become Churches.

Thus these Churches themselves are also reckoned as Apostolic because they are the offspring of Apostolic Churches. Every kind of thing must necessarily be classed according to its origin. Consequently these Churches, numerous and important as they are, form but the one Primitive Church founded by the Apostles; from which source they all derive. So that all are primitive and all are Apostolic; whilst that all are in one Unity is proved by the fellowship of peace and title of brotherhood and common pledge of amity - privileges which nothing governs but the one tradition of the selfsame Bond of Faith.

On this ground, therefore, we draw up our praescriptionem that if the Lord Jesus Christ sent the Apostles to preach, no others ought to be received as preachers save those whom Christ appointed; since no other knoweth the Father save the Son, and He to whom the Son hath revealed Him. Nor does the Son appear to have revealed Him to any but the Apostles whom He sent to preach - surely only what He revealed to them. Now what they preached - that is, what Christ revealed to them - I rule (praescribam) ought to be proved by no other means than through the same Churches which the Apostles themselves founded by preaching to them viva voce, as men say, and afterwards by Epistles.

If this is so, it follows accordingly that all doctrine which agrees with those Apostolic Churches and original founts of Faith must be reckoned for Truth, as preserving unquestionably that which the Churches received from the Apostles, and the Apostles from Christ, and Christ from God; and, on the other hand, that all doctrine which savours contrary to the Truth of the Churches and of the Apostles of Christ and of God, must be condemned at once as having its origin in falsehood. It remains therefore for us to show whether this our doctrine—the Rule of which we have set forth above—is derived from the tradition of the Apostles; and, as a deduction from this, whether the other doctrines come of falsehood. We are in communion with the Apostolic Churches, a privilege which no diverse doctrine enjoys. This is evidence of Truth.

But inasmuch as the proof is so easy that were it immediately produced nothing would remain for consideration, let us for the moment, supposing we had no proof to produce, give place to our opponents to see if they think they can set aside this praescriptionem. They are wont to say that the Apostles did not know all things; driven to this by the same madness which leads them to face about again and say that the Apostles did indeed know all things but did not deliver all things to all persons—in either case exposing Christ to blame for sending out Apostles with either too little preparation or too little simplicity.

But who in his senses can believe that those men were ignorant of anything, whom the Lord gave to be teachers, keeping them close to Himself in companionship, (Mark 3.14) in discipleship, in society; to whom He was accustomed to explain privately whatever was obscure, (Mark 4.34) saying that it was granted to them to know hidden truths which the people were not permitted to understand? (Mark 4:11)

Was anything hidden from Peter who was called the Rock, the Church which was to be built, who obtained the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the power of loosing and binding in Heaven and on earth?  Was anything hidden from John, the most beloved of the Lord, who lay on His breast, to whom alone the Lord beforehand pointed out Judas the traitor, and whom He commended to Mary as a son in His own place?

Who can maintain that they were ignorant to whom He even manifested His own glory, and Moses and Elijah, and the voice of His Father from heaven?  (Mark 9:1) not as though He were rejecting the other Apostles, but because "by three witnesses shall every word be established." (Deuteronomy 19:15)  Then too, they must be ignorant to whom after His Resurrection He deigned to expound all the Scriptures in the way. (Luke 24:32)

True enough He did once say, " I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now " ; (John 16:13) adding, however, "When He, the Spirit of Truth, shall have come, He will lead you into all Truth." He shewed that they who, according to His promise, should attain all Truth through the Spirit of Truth, would be ignorant of nothing. And surely He fulfilled His promise, for the Acts of the Apostles prove the descent of the Holy Spirit. (1 Acts 2:1f)

And those who do not receive this Scripture are unable either to recognize that the Holy Spirit has yet been sent to the disciples, or to maintain that they themselves are the Church, since they cannot prove when or with what origin this body was founded. It is of vast importance to them hot to produce the proofs of their position, lest simultaneously the exposure of their falsehoods should be obvious.  For the purpose of scoffing at some ignorance in the Apostles, the heretics bring forward the point that Peter and his companions were blamed by Paul.

"Something therefore," say they, "was lacking in them." They say this in order to build up that other contention of theirs, that a fuller knowledge might afterwards have come to them, such as came to Paul who blamed his predecessors. Now here I may say to those who reject the Acts of the Apostles: "The first thing for you to do is to shew who this Paul was—both what he was before he was an Apostle, and how he became an Apostle"; since at other times they make very great use of him in disputed matters.

For though he himself declares that from a persecutor he became an Apostle, that statement is not sufficient for one who yields credence only after proof. For not even the Lord Himself bore witness concerning Himself. But let them believe without the Scriptures that they may believe against the Scriptures. Yet they must shew from the instance adduced of Peter being blamed by Paul that another form of Gospel was introduced by Paul beside that which Peter and the rest had previously put forth.

Whereas the fact is, when changed from a persecutor into a preacher, he is led in to the brethren by brethren as one of themselves, and presented to them by those who had clothed them- selves with faith at the Apostles' hands. Afterwards, as he himself relates, he "went up to Jerusalem to see Peter," (Galatians 1:18) because of his office, and by right of course of an identical faith and preaching. For they would not have wondered at his having become a preacher from a persecutor if he had preached anything contrary to their teaching; nor would they have "glorified the Lord" if Paul had presented himself as His adversary.

Accordingly they "gave him the right hand," (Galatians 2:9) the sign of concord and agreement, and arranged among themselves a distribution of office, not a division of the Gospel, namely, that each should preach not a different message, but the same message to different persons, Peter to the Circumcision, Paul to the Gentiles. But if Peter was blamed because, after he had lived with Gentiles he separated himself from their companionship out of respect of persons, that surely was a fault of behaviour, not of preaching. For no question was therein involved of any other God than the Creator, nor of any other Christ than He Who came from Mary, nor of any other hope than the resurrection.

I am not good man enough, or rather I am not bad man enough, to pit Apostle against Apostle. But since these most perverse persons thrust for- ward that rebuke for the purpose of throwing suspicion upon the earlier teaching, (= that of St Peter) I will reply, as it were, for Peter, that Paul himself said that he was made all things to all men (1 Cor 9:20) - to the Jews a Jew, and to non-Jews a non-Jew—in order to gain all. And so in certain times, persons and cases they would blame actions which they themselves yet might equally perform in other times, persons and cases. Thus, for instance, Peter might likewise have blamed Paul because, while forbidding circumcision, he himself had circumcised Timothy.

Away with those who judge Apostles. Well is it that Peter is made equal to Paul in his martyrdom. But although Paul was caught up as far as the third heaven, and when brought into paradise heard certain things there, yet these revelations cannot be thought to be such as would render him more qualified to teach another doctrine, since their very nature was such that they could not be com- municated to any human being.(2 Corinthians 12:2)  But if that unknown revelation did leak out and become  known to some one, and if any heresy affirms that it is a follower of that revelation, then either Paul is guilty of having betrayed his secret, or some one else must be shewn to have been subsequently caught up into paradise to whom permission was given to speak out what Paul was not allowed to whisper.

But, as we have said, the same madness is seen when they allow indeed that the Apostles were not ignorant of anything nor preached different doctrines, yet will have it that they did not reveal all things to all persons, but committed some things openly to all, and others secretly to a few; basing this assertion on the fact that Paul used this expression to Timothy, "O Timothy, guard the deposit"; (1 Timothy 6:20) and again, "Keep the good deposit." (2 Timothy 1:14) What was this "deposit" of so secret a nature as to be reckoned to belong to another doctrine? Was it a part of that charge of which he says, "This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy"? (1 Timothy 1:18)

And likewise of that commandment of which he says, " I charge thee before GOD Who quickeneth all things, and Jesus Christ Who witnessed before Pontius Pilate a good confession, that thou observe the commandment" (1 Timothy 6:13)  What commandment, now, and what charge? From the context it may be gathered not that something is obscurely hinted at in this phrase concerning a more hidden doctrine, but rather that he was commanded not to admit anything beyond that which he had heard from Paul himself, openly too, I take it—"before many witnesses" (2 Timothy 2:2) are his words.

If by these many witnesses the heretics refuse to understand the Church, it matters not, since nothing could be kept secret which was being set forth before many witnesses. Nor, again, can his wish that Timothy should "commit these things to faithful men who would be fit to teach others also" (ibid) be explained as a proof of any hidden doctrine. For when he says "these things," he refers to things of which he was writing at the moment. In reference to hidden things, present only to their secret knowledge, he would, as of absent things, use the word "those," not "these."

But nevertheless, it may be said, it was natural for the Apostle, when he committed to any one the administration of the Gospel, which was to be ministered neither indiscriminately nor rashly, to add the injunction in accordance with the Lord's saying that "a pearl should not be cast before swine nor that which is holy to the dogs." (Matthew 7:6)  The Lord spake openly without any indication of some hidden mystery. Himself had commanded that what they had heard in darkness and in secret they were to preach in light and on the housetops. (Matt 10:27)  Himself had prefigured in a parable (Luke 19:12f) that they were not to keep even one pound, that is, one word of His, fruitless in a hidden place. Himself used to teach that a lamp is not wont to be thrust away under a measure, but placed on a lampstand that it may give light to all that are in the house. (Matthew 5:15)

These instructions the Apostles either neglected or by no means understood if they failed to fulfil them, and concealed any portion of the light, that is, of the Word of GOD and mystery of Christ. I am fully assured they had no fear of any one, neither of the violence of the Jews nor of the Gentiles : how much more, then, would these men preach freely in the Church who were not silent in synagogues and public places! Nay, they could have converted neither Jews nor Gentiles unless they had set forth in order what they wished them to believe! Much less would they have kept back anything from Churches already believ- ing to commit it to a few other persons privately!

And even if they used to discuss some things in their private circles (so to speak), yet it is incredible that these things would be of such a nature as to introduce another Rule of Faith, different from and contrary to that which they were setting forth openly to all; so that they should be speaking of one God in the Church and of another in their private houses; and describing one substance of Christ in public and another in private; and proclaiming one hope of the resurrection before all and another before the few; at the time when they themselves were beseeching in their own Epistles that all would speak one and the same thing, (1 Corinthians 1:10) and that there should be no divisions and dissensions in the Church, because they themselves, whether it were Paul or others, were preaching the same thing. Moreover they remembered, "Let your speech be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for what is more than this is of evil" (Matthew 5:27): words spoken to prevent them from treating the Gospel in different ways.

If then, it is incredible either that the Apostles were ignorant of the full scope of their message, or that they did not publish to all the whole plan of the Rule of Faith, let us see whether, perchance, whilst the Apostles indeed preached simply and fully, the Churches through their own fault received it otherwise than as the Apostles used to set it forth. All these incitements to hesitancy you will find thrust forward by heretics. They hold up instances of Churches reproved by the Apostle. "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" (Galatians 3:1) and "Ye were running so well : who hath hindered you ?" (Galatians 5:7) and at the very beginning of his letter, "I wonder that ye have been thus so soon removed from Him Who called you in grace to another Gospel." (Galatians 5:7)

Likewise the words written to the Corinthians because they were still "carnal," and had to be fed on milk, not yet being able to take meat; who thought they knew some- thing when not yet did they know anything as they ought to know it. Now when they instance these reproved Churches let them be sure that they were corrected. Moreover, let them recognize those Churches for whose "faith and knowledge and manner of life" the Apostle "rejoices and gives thanks to God."(Romans 1:8) : Churches which to-day unite with those reproved ones in the privileges of the selfsame instruction.

But come now, suppose that all have erred: grant that the Apostle was deceived in bearing his testimony, and that the Holy Spirit regarded no Church so as to lead it into the Truth, although sent for this purpose by Christ, asked from the Father that He might be the Teacher of truth; grant that the Steward of God and Vicar of Christ neglected His office and permitted Churches for a time to understand differently what He Himself was preaching through the Apostles; yet is it at all likely that so many and such important Churches should all have "erred" into one and the same faith ? No uniform issue results from many chances. Error1 of doctrine on the part of the Churches was bound to have assumed various forms. But when one and the same tenet is found amongst many, that is not error, but tradition. Will any one then dare to affirm that the authors of the tradition were in error?

However the "error" came, it reigned for just so long, of course, as there were no heresies. Truth waited for the Marcionites and the Valentinians to set her free. In the meantime the Gospel was wrongly preached, men wrongly believed, so many countless thousands were wrongly baptized, so many works of faith were wrongly wrought, so many spiritual powers and gifts were wrongly put into operation, so many priesthoods, so many ministries were wrongly performed, so many martyrdoms were wrongly crowned! Or if not wrongly and uselessly, how can you characterize the fact that the things of God were running their course before it was known to which God they belonged? that there were Christians before Christ was found? heresy before true doctrine?

Unquestionably in every case Truth precedes its copy: the counterfeit comes afterwards. But it is absurd enough that heresy should be mistaken for the earlier teaching; especially since it is that very earlier teaching which foretold that heresies would come and would have to be guarded against. To a Church possessing this teaching it was written—nay, the teaching itself writes to the Church : "Though an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel than that we have preached, let him be anathema." Where at that time was Marcion, the Pontic shipmaster,1 the student of the Stoic philosophy? Where, then, was Valentinus, the disciple of Platonism?

For it is agreed that they lived not so very long ago in the reign of Antoninus (c. 138 CE) for the most part, and that at first they were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church in Rome during the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until, on account of their ever restless speculation whereby they corrupted the brethren also, they were expelled more than once Marcion, indeed, with the two hundred sesterces that he had brought into the Church and when at last banished into perpetual separation from the faithful, they spread abroad the poisonous seeds of their peculiar doctrines.

Afterwards, when Marcion had professed penitence and agreed to the condition imposed upon him, namely, that if he could bring back to the Church the residue whom he had instructed to their perdition, he should be received into communion, he was prevented by death. For indeed heresies must needs be. Yet it does not follow that heresies are good because they are needful. As if evil also were not needful ! For it was even needful for the Lord to be betrayed; yet "Woe to the traitor" to prevent any one from upholding heresies on this same ground of necessity.

If we must examine also the pedigree of Apelles, he is not of such long standing as Marcion himself, who was his instructor and moulder, but by a carnal lapse he deserted the Marcionite chastity and withdrew from the presence of his most holy master to Alexandria. Returning thence after some years, in no way improved save that he was no longer a Marcionite, he fastened on another woman, that very virgin Philumena already mentioned, who afterwards herself also became a monstrous prostitute; and misled by her influence he wrote the "Revelations" which he learnt from her.

There are those living at this day who remember them, their own actual disciples and followers, so that they cannot deny their later date. Moreover, too, these men are condemned by their own works, as the Lord said. For if Marcion separated the New Testament from the Old, he is of later date than that which he separated, since he could only separate what was united. Having been united then before it was separated, the fact that it was afterwards separated shows that the separator was later. Similarly Valentinus, by his various exposi- tions and unhesitating emendations, shows abso- lutely that what he emended as being previously faulty belonged to an earlier age. We name these men as being the more remark- able and assiduous corruptors of the Truth.

But a certain Nigidius and Hermogenes and many others are still moving about perverting the ways of the Lord. Let them show me by what authority they have come forward. If they preach some other God, on what ground do they use the history and the writings and the names of that God against Whom they preach ? If the same God, why do they preach Him in a different way? Let them prove themselves to be new Apostles; let them say that Christ came down a second time, a second time taught, was a second time crucified, a second time dead, a second time raised. For so the Apostle has described Him as being wont to make Apostles, and to give them besides the power of showing the same signs that He Himself showed. I desire, therefore, that the miracles of these men be produced; save that I admit their greatest miracle is their inverted rivalry of the Apostles. For the latter used to make the dead alive, but these men make the living dead.

The point again here is that we have a paraphrasing of the original praescriptio that was undoubtedly used in a Roman court of law to establish the Catholic Church as the face of Christianity for eternity.  The original traditions were at a terrible disadvantage - not only because Irenaeus was on friendly terms with the Imperial court - but by virtue of the fact that being an outlawed religion had predisposed them towards secrecy.  They did not have records, deeds or proof of ownership of anything to do with Christianity, so in the end there was nothing standing in the way of Irenaeus literally claiming ownership of the religion of Jesus owing to his alleged association with the 'original' apostolic order.

As we have already suggested, after a prolonged period of persecution - one that was severe enough that it could have produced enough martyrs for Irenaeus to appropriate to his own newly invented tradition - Irenaeus basically walked into a court and laid down his praescriptio.  He made the case that another church had existed before the heresies, a Christian community that was perfectly good, perfectly obedient and perfectly respectful to authority - all things that were apparently not evident to contemporary witnesses.  This 'lost Christianity' had an unbroken succession, Irenaeus claimed until recent times - it had been utterly wiped out in the recent holocaust of Christians.

The figure of 'Apelles' is clearly more recent and is certainly one and the same with the later rebaptized martyr 'Apollos' of the Acts of Apollonius - i.e. "Apollos, otherwise known as Sakkeas."  Both men were from Alexandria and underscore the lasting Marcionite association with that city.  The death of Apelles was the last act in Irenaeus's struggle to assume de facto control of Christianity.  The association of St Mark with Alexandria was developed as a reaction against contemporary events in Rome.  Nevertheless Marcionitism was wiped away in Rome leaving only curious readings in the Old Latin manuscripts.  The surviving tradition in Alexandria adapted as best it could in light of Apelles's recent execution.  Part of that effort was Clement's strange dance with regards to the continued existence of Mark's original 'independent' but ultimately secret gospel in Alexandria. 

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