Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Secret Life of Jesus [Chapter Eight] Final Edit

Who Were the Martyrs of 177 CE? 

We all happen to live in a wonderful, free society which unfortunately has the effect of unconsciously prejudicing our interpretation of ancient history. We are confronted by two models of Christianity. On the one hand Irenaeus openly proclaims an apostolic tradition which claims to come direct from Jesus. It has Peter and Paul at its head. It is based in Rome and Mark has become the guarantor of Peter and Luke has the final word on Paul. There is a body of writings that have been gathered together in one collection called ‘the New Covenant’ which presents the religion to be an outgrowth of Judaism. The Jerusalem temple was destroyed because of the failure of the Jewish people to recognize Jesus as God, born from the womb of Mary. Christianity is now the new Israel, which according to Irenaeus was in the midst of a ‘new Exodus’ – a new redemption – as it gained power and influence in the Roman Empire.

This late second century interpretation of Christianity has become our own, or at least, has become the way we define the religion. Those who find difficulties with the ‘Romanness’ of the Roman Catholic Church typically follow the Protestant path of ‘rediscovering’ the ‘Jewishness’ of Jesus through various means. Nevertheless the clear alternative in antiquity to Irenaeus’s open proclamation of Christian redemption was the secretive tradition of the heresies. Indeed their tradition was so secretive that we have a difficult, if not impossible task of reconstructing their original beliefs. The previous efforts of German, and principally, Protestant scholars for instance to redefine Marcion was too often entangled in an evangelical reactionarism to the Roman Catholic religion. Scholars like Adolph von Harnack tended to channel Luther in the reconstruction of the beliefs of the ancient heretic.1

As a result of this unconscious habit the existing portrait of Marcion underestimates the importance of secrecy in the heretical tradition generally. To this end the actual historical counterpoint to Irenaeus’s open proclamation of a united Roman apostolic tradition was a Pauline crypto-Jewish faith of no fixed address. In other words, before Peter and Paul there was only shadow and fog. The Marcionites didn’t identify who wrote the gospel and epistles of their canon, who established their ecclesiastic hierarchy, what was the relationship between this man and Jesus. Everything was shrouded in mystery. To this end, when we see Clement and the followers of Mark hide – and even deny - the identity of their apostle Mark and the mysteries he established through a revelation in Christ, it is difficult not to assume that these two traditions are somehow related.

Of course the very notion of ‘secrecy’ goes against almost every value we have assumed to be Christians. Christians shouldn’t be hiding anything. They are portrayed as ready to die at any moment, openly proclaiming the ‘mystery of Jesus Christ’ which includes a whole host of fabulous beliefs. How would a crypto-Jewish faith in Jesus even sustain itself? We are absolutely unprepared for the task of reconstructing its history. Indeed we have been systematically indoctrinated to assume the lateness of these beliefs. Marcion and the rest of these heretics only arose in the second century whereas ‘true Christianity’ was established in the first.

Perhaps the best way to bridge this gap in our understanding is to give up on positing a tout comprendre – a complete understanding – of Christian history. We will likely never know exactly what happened in the first hundred years of Christianity. We can do a much better job however of understanding the cultivation of ritual secrecy that surrounded Mark the founder of Christianity in the late second century if we assume that it was developed as a result of contemporary historical circumstances. Indeed this approach helps explain Irenaeus’s repeated insistence on the recentness of the secretive heretical phenomena. According to the Church Father, the followers of Marcion, Valentinus and other schools were secretive because they were worried about exposing themselves ‘to the danger’ of being found out in plain view – an understanding which dove tails quite nicely with Celsus’s near contemporary statement that Christians form secret associations in order to avoid being arrested and killed.

Given that Christians were not subject to persecutions for most of the second century, the fact that the dates for Celsus and the first two books of Irenaeus’s Against Heresies are generally dated to the joint rule of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus (177 – 180 CE) is extremely significant for our reconstruction of a historical reconstruction of this ‘ritual silence.’ For the one persecution against Christians that is generally recognized to have a basis in history – the trials in Lugdunum and Vienne in Gaul c. 177 CE – just happen to precede the testimonies of Celsus and Irenaeus. In other words, the events in Gaul may have caused related traditions to go underground in order to escape a similar fate. Irenaeus may well have also seized the opportunity afforded him by the effective ‘demonizing’ of certain types of Christians in the broader culture. Those who wished to distinguish themselves from ‘those Christians’ might also have opted for the safety of a particular ‘brand’ of faith which was deemed acceptable to the authorities.

These persecution in the Rhone valley in what is now southern France in the last years of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius are what we might call 'the first event' in the story of the Church as we know it. The fact that it is Irenaeus who provides us with this earliest historical information turns out to be quite problematic. How accurate are his reports about the persecution? How reliable is his reporting about other aspects of the Christian culture of Lyons or as it was known in antiquity - Lugdunum?

Perhaps the first thing that should be said about Lyons is that it was the metropolis which ruled over the three regions of Gaul - Gallia Aquitania, Gallia Belgica and Gallia Lugdunensis. It was a large urban center which ultimately become the focus of an important military battle in 197 CE. Clodius Albinus would make his last stand here and by his defeat, Septimius Severus was established as the sole Emperor for the next fourteen years. Twenty years earlier Clodius Albinus, then just a young soldier, was officially recognized by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius for serving with great distinction, during the rebellion of Avidius Cassius in 175. His merits were acknowledged by the Emperor in two letters in which he declares that without Albinus the legions in Bithynia would have gone over to Avidius Cassius and as a result we assume, history may have turned out very differently.

The idea that Lugdunum should have such decisive importance around the time of the reign of Commodus should not be seen as mere coincidence. One may even notice a similar pattern with respect to Imperial control of Alexandria and Egypt in the same period. The Empire was already beginning to fall apart at the end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Celsus makes repeated mention of this in his call to Christians to help with the external threat facing civilization.2 In spite of the fact that Marcus Aurelius has long been hailed as 'the philosopher king' he seems to have been broadsided by the impending collapse of Roman society. Indeed, after repeated barbarian invasions and the revolt of Avidius Cassius, Marcus Aurelius only held on to power through the most desperate of tactics.3

We shall go on to examine the rebellions in Alexandria from 172 - 175 in more detail in our next chapter. It is enough to say now that the events in Egypt were important factors affecting the decision to persecute Christians in Gaul. After all, the center of Markan Christianity was very near the epicenter of the original Egyptian revolt. There is also good reason to believe that Irenaeus's original reporting from Lugdunum testifies to a large presence of a closely related form of Christianity. Candida Moss professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame has already noted there is significant import in the fact that the persecution of 177 CE occurred in two different regions of Gaul - i.e. Lugdunum and Vienne.4 This was not a limited local 'action' but something which signaled a broader Imperial policy against – as we shall demonstrate - a specific type of Christianity rather than Christians in general.

At the core of the mystery surrounding this important event is determining what role Irenaeus had in the persecutions. Was he merely a faithful reporter of events or was he actively taking advantage of the misfortunes of certain Christians to further his own ambitions? At the core of this question is the story developed by the fourth century Eusebius about Irenaeus role in the events in Gaul, an account which has been called into question by Moss and a growing number of scholars. We are told that Irenaeus succeeded the martyred Pothinus as the bishop of Lugdunum and was asked by the church to carry letters "while they were still in prison, to the brethren throughout Asia and Phrygia, and also to Eleutherus who was then bishop, negotiating for the peace of the churches."

Almost everyone who has ever commented on this claim believes that Irenaeus actually wrote the letters that pretend to be from the martyrs of Lyons.5 Yet more significantly the letters seem to have been used as a pretext to curb the influence of the so-called New Prophesy movement associated with the region of Phrygia in Asia Minor.6 The fact that Irenaeus is our only witness for the events of the persecutions in the Rhone valley in 177 CE is thus a great concern. Since Irenaeus lied about the circumstances of their composition we should be suspicious also of its contents.

Moss for instance struggles to determine which parts of the surviving letter can be determined to be historical. The only way out of this difficulty is to begin by always going back to questioning Irenaeus's role in the persecutions. Eusebius made up the story of Irenaeus being the successor to the bishop in Lugdunum. This helps explain why he knew so much about the conflict but fails to address how he was never imprisoned or suffered in any way during the events. It is also difficult to make sense of his ties to Asia Minor or repeated echoes of his abiding presence at Rome during the very time we would have expected him to be presiding as the bishop of this contentious region.

The problem that confronts anyone trying to reconstruct history in this period is that we tend to project our own experiences on to the ancient landscape. Eusebius was counting on this when we assumed the existence of a worldwide Church with a strong papacy consecrating bishops in every part of the Empire. Nevertheless this wasn’t the shape of the Church in 177 CE. As Allen Brent of King's College London has repeatedly demonstrated, there was no such a thing as a 'papacy' as we know it at this time.7 At best we have a series of loosely connected churches scattered across the Empire with little in the way of a central authority binding them together.

Indeed while Eusebius claims that Irenaeus was already a presbyter of the parish of Lyons at the time of the persecutions, the Martyrdom of Polycarp that Irenaeus is understood to have originally composed, identifies him as being in Rome in the preceding decade.8 Moreover Eusebius claims that Irenaeus brought with him the letter from the martyrs of Gaul to the bishop of Rome only to be consecrated as the new bishop sometime thereafter. Yet since most people think it was Irenaeus rather than the church of Lugdunum who wrote the letter, there is no need for any direct contact with the See.

Irenaeus repeatedly identifies his closeness to the Imperial court. Irenaeus could have received his information about the persecutions from the Roman side of events or perhaps from a Christian witness to the events who was now stationed in Rome. Eusebius's invention of Irenaeus's role as 'bishop of Lugdunum' is a smokescreen to explain his role in the persecutions. Indeed the writings of Irenaeus do not bear witness to his being a bishop nor to his being a resident of Gaul as some have supposed.

Indeed the only reference we find at the beginning of Against Heresies actually says something completely different. In the earliest and most reliable manuscript the Church Father says that he lived 'among the Delphians' and this reference seems to have been corrected by Florus, deacon of Lyons in the ninth century.9 Delphi was not a location in Gaul but rather in Greece. In fact the clue to witness Irenaeus’s association with Delphi is found in that other famous Irenaean forgery - the 'we' sections of the Acts of the Apostles. In one part of the ‘Lucan addition’ Acts makes a reference to a pneuma pythona - a spirit of the Pythian oracle of Delphi. It may strongly be implied that this 'Pythian spirit' reference was penned by the very same author who identifies himself as living among the Delphians.10

As such there is nothing substantive to any claim to an association between Irenaeus and Lugdunum. The reason Eusebius has to invent the idea that Irenaeus was a presbyter of the parish here at the time of the persecutions and subsequently its bishop is because his reporting about the persecutions was repeatedly challenged. Indeed he forged the very letter claiming to be from the Christian community there. Moreover his original reporting on the Markan tradition happens also to develop from Gaul. Not only was this account also challenged in antiquity as we have already demonstrated, a close inspection of this document reveals it represents a neglected near contemporary account of the persecutions of 177 CE.

In other words, most analysis of Irenaeus’s account of the persecution assumes that there was only one surviving testimony. We shall argue in what is left of this chapter that Against Heresies 1:13 – 21, that section of text dealing with the Markan heresy which we have already started to examine, developed as a report about the persecutions of 177 CE. The reason this understanding has gone undetected is that Irenaeus took the side of the government in the persecutions. As such, it is does not appear as a martyrology because Irenaeus actively denies that the victims have rendered a proper ‘witness’ owing to their heretical beliefs.

Of course, in order for our theory to hold up we would have to be able to demonstrate that the same events are being reported two different ways. In other words, that Irenaeus effectively ‘changed his mind’ about the victims and that those who are denied the honor of being remembered as saints in Book One of Against Heresies were subsequently ‘re-baptized’ as holy martyrs in the later composition of the Letter of the Christians from Vienne and Lyons. This will be surprisingly easily to demonstrate once we take a close look at the Greek wording of Irenaeus’s accounts.

It shall be our premise then that in Irenaeus’s initial account the alleged 'victims' were rejected because of their association with Mark the magician. According to Irenaeus their witness doesn’t count because they didn’t believe in God the right way. For a number of reasons including his belief that God was behind the current leadership in the Empire the persecutions and the government's handling of the crisis were viewed by Irenaeus as being divinely sanctioned.11 It was only during the subsequent reign of Victor that Irenaeus attempted a rewrite of history, forging the letters from the perspective of the victims to the church of Rome and those of Asia Minor attesting to their membership in a worldwide Catholic Church which did not even exist in 177 CE.

As we have already seen the original account of the Markan sect in Gaul was one of those documents that came back to haunt Irenaeus. Even though it was written against the adherents of Mark in Gaul, the text resonated with the followers of St Mark in Alexandria and other places.12 Irenaeus eventually sought to correct his account of the secret baptismal practices of the sect and his claim that similar practices were employed by the members of the Valentinian sect. In the very same way Irenaeus at an even later period attempted to use the persecutions of 177 CE to justify excluding other heretical groups like the New Prophesy movement of Asia Minor - a move that would again ultimately backfire against him.13

Candida Moss has drawn a lot of attention to these events in Gaul and ultimately raising doubts about the accuracy of the reporting of the ancient accounts of the martyrs. Moss accepts that Christians were indeed punished but not necessarily for the reasons given in apologetic documents. She does not deny that ancient Romans did execute some Christians because they were Christians. Rather she successfully demonstrates that they were prosecuted for failing to abide by the prevalent social rules of the age. Most of Moss’s analysis is quite good. But her specific claim that the distinction between "confessors" - i.e. Christians in prison who have been condemned but not yet put to death and “martyrs” being unknown at the time of Irenaeus is plainly untrue. Moss has simply overlooked the evidence of Irenaeus’s earlier testimony about the Markan sect in the same region and at the same time as the persecutions of 177 CE.

The specific term ‘confessor’ does appear in the account of the followers of Mark when they are said to have been 'seared with a hot iron.'14 The difficulty again is that most people have not identified that there were two different accounts of the same persecutions developed at different times of Irenaeus's career. The Letter of the Christians from Vienne and Lyons is little more than a document from near the end of the reign of Commodus and shows overt signs of presenting the reworked martyrs of Gaul as upstanding members of Roman society. This revisionist tendency should make us very suspicious of the accuracy of the reporting.

As Roy Ward, Professor of Religion at Miami University has noted the document goes out of its way to say that Christians had no ethical reservations about going to the baths, that many spoke Latin, and had a high social rank in society. This was clearly developed to counter the actual facts in the case and which find reflection in his original account - namely that they were slaves, inherited strange customs from the Jews which set them apart from the rest of the society and tended to say their prayers in barbaric languages like Aramaic.15

One could argue in fact that Irenaeus's purpose was to re-make Christianity in his own image – i.e. that the apostles sanctioned a complete accommodation to Imperial authority and reflect what we might call an underlying ‘middle class’ sensibility. In other words, it is because Irenaeus 'cares what the neighbors think' the portrait of Christians that emerges from the Letter of the Christians from Vienne and Lugdunum goes out of its way to whitewash its portrait of the martyrs who died in 177 CE. To this end, a similar claim that one famous martyr actually gave up his heretical dietary restriction while in prison should be viewed as yet another example of this revisionist tendency. The original martyrs of Gaul were heretics.

Indeed it should also be noted that for the first three books of Irenaeus's Against Heresies really make no substantive identification of specifically Catholic martyrs being made in the world. In many ways the very concept of 'martyr' is completely foreign to Irenaeus's way of thinking. Irenaeus believed so strongly that God was the one ruling force in the world that he couldn't help but come down on the side of the authorities. Since he confesses in Book Four that he and many others in the Roman Church were very close to the Imperial government, it was hard for him to have a great deal of sympathy for those who might have gotten in the way of this cozy relationship.

Nevertheless by the time he had established himself with the court of Commodus the actions of Marcus Aurelius against the churches of Alexandria and Lugdunum were a distant memory. In the very same book as Irenaeus confesses the presence of many 'individuals of faith' in the household of Caesar he speaks for the first time also of:

the Church does in every place, because of that love which she cherishes towards God, send forward, throughout all time, a multitude of martyrs to the Father; while all others not only have nothing of this kind to point to among themselves, but even maintain that such witness-bearing is not at all necessary, for that their system of doctrines is the true witness, with the exception, perhaps, that one or two among them, during the whole time which has elapsed since the Lord appeared on earth, have occasionally, along with our martyrs, borne the reproach of the name … and have been led forth with them [to death], being, as it were, a sort of retinue granted unto them. For the Church alone sustains with purity the reproach of those who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, and endure all sorts of punishments, and are put to death because of the love which they bear to God, and their confession of His Son; often weakened indeed, yet immediately increasing her members, and becoming whole again, after the same manner as her type," Lot's wife, who became a pillar of salt.

It is in fact this one reference to 'the typology' of Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt as related to martyrdom which is the clue to demonstrating that Irenaeus is channeling his original account of the martyrs of Gaul from 177 CE. The same typology can be demonstrated to lie beneath the surface of his account of the Markan baptismal sect in Against Heresies but interesting also in De Rebaptismate.16

To this end we should see it as very strange that Irenaeus does not mention witnesses of the Catholic Church in the immediately aftermath of persecutions in Vienne and Lugdunum. When Irenaeus develops his reporting from the region in the aftermath of these events he can only speak of ‘false witness’ associated with the Markan tradition. A decade later however in the Letter of the Christians from Vienne and Lyons almost every martyr is Catholic and no mention whatsoever is made of the heretical phenomenon that completely captivated him in the immediate aftermath of the persecutions. Indeed in the later account even those Christians who start the narrative with questionable beliefs before suddenly become transformed under the dispensation of Spirit coming from the Catholic martyrs. Something doesn’t quite jibe here. Irenaeus’s perspective has suddenly changed.

What we have before us in the Letter of the Christians from Vienne and Lyons is a deliberate transformation of his original description of the Markan pseudo-martyrs ten years earlier. We should pay close attention to his statement in Book Four that the heretics held that “such witness-bearing is not at all necessary.” It should be noted that this isn’t the same thing as saying that the followers of Mark weren’t slaughtered in Lugdunum and other places. Rather it is only a confirmation that they didn’t embrace the idea of recklessly throwing themselves at the authorities in order to get into heaven in the manner of the portrait he developed of his master Polycarp.17

Indeed the clearest example of this thinking is that of Clement of Alexandria – himself a follower of Mark as we have already demonstrated. He cites Jesus's very words in Matthew 10:23, when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another" to justify his own escape from the Imperial persecutions against the tradition of Mark in Alexandria under Septimius Severus c. 202 CE. An even stronger counter argument to reckless martyrdom can be seen from a gnostic text discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt where an anonymous writer declares "These are empty martyrs, since they bear witness only to themselves. And yet they are sick, and they are not able to raise themselves. But when they are 'perfected' with a (martyr's) death, this is the thought that they have within them: 'If we deliver ourselves over to death for the sake of the Name we will be saved.' These matters are not settled in this way. But through the agency of the wandering stars they say they have 'completed' their futile 'course.'"

The question of course becomes - why if Irenaeus thinks he is living in the 'year of favor' and that God is guiding the hand of the Emperor Commodus to direct the new Israel into the Promised Land does he take such an active interest now promoting martyrdom? The answer ultimate goes back to Irenaeus's repeated and ultimately puzzling interest in the typology of Lot’s wife. The story in Genesis tells the story of Lot's wife being turned to stone as punishment for disobeying the angel's command to resist the temptation look back at the destruction being wrought in Sodom. The idea of ‘looking back’ as we shall see is associated with ‘turning away’ from voluntarily martyring oneself.

Not surprisingly again Irenaeus's interest in this peculiar passage finds echo in an addition in Luke with Jesus now declaring "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32). The Marcionites argued that this was not originally found in the gospel but rather resulted from Catholic forgery.18 Yet this isn’t the only way that the Lot typology is used in the writings of Irenaeus. Charles Hill of the Reformed Theological Seminary notes that the aftermath of Lot’s wife being turned to stone – i.e. Lot’s daughters committing incest with their father is also embraced by the Church Father as an important typology. He writes “the essence of this typology sees the daughters as two synagogues, or churches, one from the Jews, one from the Gentiles, 'who gave birth to children begotten of one and the same father' (4.31.1).19

Yet Hill has chosen to ignore the much more important use of the same passage to reinforce the kind of reckless sanctioned martyrdom that Irenaeus encouraged. So we see it declared in the original passage by the Church Father:

For the Church alone sustains with purity the reproach of those who suffer persecution for righteousness' sake, and endure all sorts of punishments, and are put to death because of the love which they bear to God, and their confession of His Son; often weakened indeed, yet immediately increasing her members, and becoming whole again, after the same manner as her type," Lot's wife, who became a pillar of salt. Thus, too, [she passes through an experience] similar to that of the ancient prophets, as the Lord declares, "For so persecuted they the prophets who were before you;", inasmuch as she does indeed, in a new fashion, suffer persecution from those who do not receive the word of God.

Lot’s wife is clearly the typology of those who involuntarily suffer martyrdom. The Church sustains ‘purity’ through the blood of her martyrs some of which, as Irenaeus recognizes, die involuntarily.

In order to answer the question why Irenaeus thinks the death of martyrs resembles the fate of Lot's wife we need to go back to the original Greek passages in his writings. Hill points to uncanny parallels exist between this description of Lot’s wife in the writings of Irenaeus and the account of Blandina the martyr in Lyons. Hill begins by noting that Lot’s wife:

stands as a pillar of salt, ‘indicating that the Church also, which is the salt of the earth (Matt. 5.13), has been left behind within the confines of the earth, and subject to human sufferings,’ but also ‘typifying the foundation of the faith "makes strong, and sends forward, children to their Father’ (propempusa tous ouios pros ton Patera auton)

and immediately adds that:

an interesting parallel to this expression in 4.31.3 is found in the Epistle of Vienne and Lyons” where “Blandina the martyr is compared to a noble mother (the church) who sent forth her children before her victorious to the King (nikephorous propempsasa pros ton basiliea).

For Hill this “is interesting because it is often suspected that the Epistle was written by Irenaeus.” However he goes no further to explain the parallel or the reason Irenaeus makes it twice other than to say that Irenaeus’s conception of Lot’s wife ‘is different’ than Clement of Rome before him.19

Yet is this really so? Is the understanding of Clement really that 'different' from Irenaeus's understanding? For if we consult the passage in 1 Clement – probably written by Irenaeus himself again20 – we hear it said that:

On account of his hospitality and godliness, Lot was saved out of Sodom when all the country around him was punished by means of fire and brimstone, the Lord thus making it manifest that He does not forsake those who hope in Him, but gives up those who depart from Him to punishment and torture. For Lot's wife, who went forth with him, being of a different mind from himself and not continuing in agreement with him [as to the command which had been given them], was made an example of, so as to be a pillar of salt to this day. This was done that all might know that those who are of a double mind, and who distrust the power of God, who become a judgment and a sign to all succeeding generations [emphasis mine].

In other words, if we put all the references together it would seem Irenaeus viewed Blandina the martyr as being originally of a ‘double mind.’ According to Irenaeus’s way of thinking then, the Church was ‘kept pure’ by the decision of the Roman government to execute her.

Indeed the very same idea seems to be reinforced in his De Rebaptismate noting “let nobody flatter himself who has lost the occasion of a glorious salvation, if by chance he has excluded himself therefrom by his own fault; even as that wife of Lot, who in a similar manner in time of trouble only, contrary to the angel's command, looked behind her, and she became a pillar of salt.” To this end, when we begin to see the absolute consistency in Irenaeus’s reporting about the Lot’s wife typology representing death interceding to ‘cure’ the double-mindedness, we can begin to see that Blandida was one of the followers of Mark who Irenaeus developed into a symbol of the superiority of martyrdom to flight in the face of persecutions.

Blandina’s heretical tendencies are plainly on display when she is recorded as saying to her persecutors – “How should those persons endure such things, who, for the sake of the practice did not avail themselves even of the flesh that was permitted (them to eat)?” The heretics were famous vegetarians. Her exclamation upon giving up the ghost – “I am a Christian, and there is nothing vile done by us” seems to also echo the kind of accusations directed against the sect by Irenaeus himself. Yet she clearly fits within the context of the double-mindedness buried in Irenaeus’s original report of the anonymous noble women duped by the followers of Mark.

In the section dealing with the Markan sect in Book One of Against Heresies Irenaeus says of the 'false witnesses' drawn disproportionately from female adherents that:

some of them, indeed, make a public confession; but others of them are ashamed to do this, and in a tacit kind of way, despairing of the life of God, have, some of them, apostatized altogether; while others hesitate between the two courses, and incur that which is implied in the proverb, "neither without nor within;"[emphasis mine] possessing this as the fruit from the seed of the children of knowledge."

It is absolutely impossible not to ‘double-mindedness’ as the ‘problem’ that stood in the way of the female Markan heretics deciding to ‘go all the way’ to full martyrdom. So the case of Blandina, is brought forward, comparing her in his rewrite of that original account as living example of Lot’s wife, one who has to be involuntarily brought forward to witness Christ in order to encourage others to follow her example and thereby ‘purify’ the Church of heresy.


10 In the story in Acts Luke says that he and Paul were going to the place of prayer when "we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.' She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her." The context of the 'among the Delphians' statement in Against Heresies is very similar. Irenaeus says that he is not at like the Valentinians; he cannot match them in terms of eloquence and sophistication. But they are false witnesses of the spirit or pseudo-prophets who claim to be spiritual but are not really so. Irenaeus was telling his reader that he lived among false-prophets and goes on to apologize in advance for his plainness of speech - "thou wilt accept in a kindly spirit what I in a like spirit write to thee simply, truthfully, and in my own homely way."  

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