Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Secret Life of Jesus [Chapter Twelve]

On Mark the Fugitive

In the end, the complete absence of a tradition of Mark in the West has to be explain if we assume that the gospel was first written in Rome.  The claim that Mark was a tireless worker for Peter is nice sounding - full of Christian virtue - but stands completely against what we know of human nature.  When for instance Polycarp of Smyrna tirelessly worked for the Church, we have on the one hand Irenaeus's hagiography to guide us.  Here a selfless portrait of a saint is attested.  Nevertheless the writings of the pagan satyrist Lucian of Samosata present a completely different portrait of Polycarp or someone like Polycarp - describing him as a man "who said everything with a view to glory and the praise of the multitude, even to the extent of leaping into fire, when he was sure not to enjoy the praise because he could not hear it."

The point here is that the tradition that Mark wrote from his own theological perspective is far more believable than the idea that he was merely parroting Peter's point of view.  This understanding not only emerges from the writings of Clement of Alexandria and the Alexandrian tradition but also the Acts of Mark.  Here Mark is said to have written the gospel "by divine illumination, harmoniously interpreting with excellence and perfection, revealing these lofty divine discourses clear to all. So from this and from his virtuous way of living, the people called this man mystery speaker [mystolektês] and holy herald [hierokêroux]."  The Acts of Mark similarly identifies the very divinity to have been in Mark as he spoke and acted.

The claim that there was not a cult of Mark or a tradition specifically associated with him in earliest antiquity is reflective of nothing more than our cultural bigotry in the West.  Certainly this tradition was hidden from us.  It was effectively outlawed, run out of town, marginalized, brutalized and abused in so many ways - however it never completely died out in Alexandria.  In the stirring words of the last Coptic Pope "How much injustice did St. Mark receive from the followers of St. Peter ? They tried to rob him his apostolic dignity, and credit all his efforts to somebody else? I mean St. Peter."

It is incredible to even think how this tradition managed to survive with the weight of Empire directed against it since the time of Irenaeus.  Nevertheless the reality is that it did manage exactly this.  Already before the Nicene Council we see Peter I's ultimately unsuccessful attempt to co-opt the Markan tradition while Arius was presbyter of the Martyrium.1  The struggle between Arianism and Orthodoxy - that is the 'orthodoxy' by the standards outside Egypt - undoubtedly left the Church of St Mark firmly in the hands of the Arians in the early part of the fourth century.  The influence of Alexander and Athanasius only extended to the walled cities where the majority of Greeks lived and perhaps some new monastic settlements.2

So how was it that the tradition associated with St Mark managed to perpetuate itself for almost the next two millennia?  It would seem not only his name, but his very person is invoked whenever a crisis confronts the community in his name.  I have already written about the eery parallels between the death of Peter I in 311 CE, at the very beginning of the power struggle between various factions in Alexandria.3  As I note in my article the Rediscovery of the Original Episcopal Throne of Alexandria published in the Journal of Coptic Studies there appears to a conscious substitution of Peter I for St Mark throughout the tradition associated with the Pope.4

For instance, the circumstances of the martyrdom of Peter I as recorded in various martyrdom narratives unmistakably echo those of St Mark himself.  The location of the two events - i.e. on the beach sand outside of the church that bore the evangelist's name - is identical.  Indeed in the Acts of Peter the parallel is made explicit - " they took him up and brought him to the place called Bucolia, where the holy St. Mark underwent martyrdom for Christ."  Both evangelist and Pope spend a night in jail before the events that lead to their execution.  Both Mark and Peter are present in sanctuaries devoted to the evangelist before being dismembered by the angry mob.  Indeed in the account the Acts of Peter, the evangelist's representative has a vision where Mark tells him that his death will be a participation in his holiness.

Peter is said to have been beheaded by the soldiers outside the Martyrium.  I argued in my article that the body identified by the Venetians as St Mark's is really St Peter's as there is no report of a head and it was taken together with the throne in the ninth century to Italy.  The identification of the body as St Mark's occurred in Alexandria as there is a persistent tradition that the head of St Mark circulated separately from the body as a holy relic.  Peter I was taken to be a second Peter and a devoted servant of the evangelist turning the tables on the traditional Roman subjugation of the holy apostle.5  The reason why Peter's death does not echo the features of the Acts of St Mark, where the evangelist is dragged around with a rope before being set on fire, is because these features come from the circumstances of the death of yet another Pope who lived after Peter I.  In other words, those details hadn't been yet invented for Mark. 

In other words, the only reason St Mark is identified as having died near the Martyrium at Boucalia is because features of Peter I's death in 311 CE become indistinguishable from the evangelist.  The specific details of Mark's martyrdom however derive their origin from the death of George the Arian bishop of Alexandria in the latter half of the fourth century.  This idea is developed in more detail by the Italian scholar Gianfresco Lusini in his recent paper on the discovery of the Martyrium Marci in two hitherto unknown Ethiopian texts.6   

As Lusini writes the details of George's death resembles several details, this episode reveals a striking similarity to the narrative of the Acts of Mark. chapters 7-9 of the apocryphal work:

which are devoted to the last hours of the martyr, recount that the apostle was assaulted by a pagan crowd and put in jail for one night; the following day he was dragged, with a rope around his neck, until he died and soon after this his body was set on fire.  These coincidences may have a historical explanation if we assume that the final part of the Acts of Mark was written immediately after the death of George, in 362 or soon after, when the memory of the most horrifying aspects of the ecclesiastic's death was still vivid.  One must consider that, thanks to the physical elimination of George, Athanasius was allowed to come back to town for the third time, and some sources report that the supporters of the exiled bishop were accused of being the true instigators of the riot and the murder, which was actually committed by the pagans. The author of the Acts of Mark was probably one of the representatives of the pro-Athanasian faction in Alexandria,  who were eager to overshadow the memory of that bloody Christmas (24 December 361) and suppress the rumours of their involvement.  In other words, the author looked for the effect of "substitution" by manipulating realistic details of the story of George in creating the myth of the martyrdom of Mark: even the date of the death of the apostle, Easter Sunday, was probably suggested by the need to wipe out and substitute another awkward aspect of the murder of George, i.e. its occurrence during the Christian rites of 24 December.

Of course Lusini's reconstruction of the transmission cannot be completely accepted as the original identification of George with St Mark must have first taken place among his followers.  To this end we have a superficial reworking of an original Arian or at least proto-Coptic identification of one of the guardians of the Martyrium of St Mark with the evangelist once again.  

This continual pattern of mistaking a leader of the Coptic community for St Mark himself cannot have been isolated to the fourth century.   Instead we should see it as an outgrowth of the unique cultic practices of the community of the evangelist and its secret baptism.  Already in Athanasius's  account of George in his Arian History we see echoes of what we might call the 'negative tradition' associated with Secret Mark.  Athanasius writes that George while Pope
transferred from Cappadocia to Milan one Auxentius an intruder rather than a Christian, whom he commanded to stay there, after he had banished for his piety towards Christ Dionysius the Bishop of the place, a godly man. But this person was as yet even ignorant of the Latin language, and unskilful in everything except impiety. And now one George, a Cappadocian, who was contractor of stores at Constantinople, and having embezzled all monies that he received, was obliged to fly, he commanded to enter Alexandria with military pomp, and supported by the authority of the General. Next, finding one Epictetus a novice, a bold young man, he loved him perceiving that he was ready for wickedness [emphasis mine] ; and by his means he carries on his designs against those of the Bishops whom he desires to ruin. For he is prepared to do everything that the Emperor wishes; who accordingly availing himself of his assistance, has committed at Rome a strange act, but one truly resembling the malice of Antichrist. (History of the Arians Part 8)

The Greek text here which is translated 'he loved him' etc has been recognized to have an echo of Mark's gospel account of Jesus and the youth in the section discussed in the Letter to Theodore.7   The same passage is said by Anathasius to have confirmed the famous monk Anthony to become a monk. But the sense here in the account of the Arian Pope's relationship with the youth implies some mystic rite rooted in the tradition of St Mark.8

When Arianism died out in the late fourth century, we may also suppose that the last remnant of the authentic Markan tradition died also.  The subsequent text associated with St Mark have all been edited with strong Athanasian or orthodox doctrines added to them.  The Acts of Mark, after listing many of miracles of the evangelist's account adds by way of emphasis "for he who accomplished these things is the Son of God and God the Christ, of the same substance as the Father and the Holy Spirit, who encompasses everything."9  It is unclear when this reference was added to the narrative, however it seems to confirm that the final editing was accomplished after the middle of the fourth century.  The same pattern seems to hold true for all the texts related to the Martyrium Marci.

With the disappearance of Arianism from Egypt the orthodox co-opted the native superstition associated with St Mark.  As Stephen J Davis notes "throughout the history of the Coptic church, the authority of the Egyptian patriarchs has been understood to derive from the imitation of Mark's virtues and from a direct lineage of apostolic succession."  The Pope is understood to be a living personification of the evangelist in ways that go beyond what we might find quite unreasonable.  The account of the suffering of Peter I and his prayer at the shrine of Saint Mark as Davis notes "not only links his identity with the evangelist himself, but also with the patriarchal lineage after Mark." In a prayer invoking Christ, Peter says, 'You chose the blessed Anianus because he was worthy; and
after him (you chose) Abilius, and those who succeeded those two; then Demetrius and Heraclas and Dionysius and Maximus; and the blessed Theonas, my father, who brought me up until I came to the ministry of this see after him."  Already this pattern of invoking episcopal succession of St Mark is evidenced within the earliest references to Arian documents.10

Yet the important thing to see here is that the connection between St Mark and his successors was not one of an abstract or merely symbolic nature.  The apostle is understood to become resurrected in their bodies throughout successive generations.  This is why the relics associated with the evangelist have such importance for the community.  When for instance the church of St Mark had been destroyed by fire during the fighting between the Byzantines and the Arabs in Alexandria in the seventh century the significance of rebuilding his church took on the greatest significance for the Coptic tradition as Mark Swanson notes "as they provided a sacred setting for the regular reenactment of their claim to continuity with St. Mark, evangelist and first patriarch of Alexandria."

As Swanson notes in documents recording the events of the beginning of Muslim rule in Egypt "this claim is clearly asserted in the History of the Patriarchs: George the Archdeacon reports that St. Mark himself appeared to Patriarch Benjamin in a vision,saying, "O my beloved, make a place for me with thee, that I may abide therein."  The purpose of this church and foremost was to establish a reliquary for the physical remains of the evangelist so he could commune with the leadership of the Church.  We can see the significance of the relics in the consecration rite of the new Pope in a text attributed to Severus of Nesterwah in an absolutely chaotic time in Egypt - an age which ultimately saw the translation of the throne and what was claimed to be the body of the evangelist to Venice.  

Severus writes a Homily to St Mark at the time of the death of Pope Jacob (819–830 CE) and tells of the evangelist again coming to him in a vision.  As we was sleeping in a room not far from Mark's Church in Alexandria before the holy Sunday of his confirmation he had a dream:

I was near a church very high, very high, of extraordinary magnificence, and was built on the plateau of a mountain. It was lit from within by number of lamps shining. While I was looking for an opening to get in, now I came to discover a small window on one side of the building. Having approached the window I open my eyes and plunging into the interior of the church; I perceive a man while bright light, and seated on a magnificent throne. He carried with him the garment of the high priests, and his face flashed beams of light of a dazzling brightness.  I also saw before him a couch while erect) and the bed on a sleeping man who looked like a martyr. I told him that sat on the throne: "Who are you, Lord, you who sit on the throne, which are surrounded by so much fame?" - "I am Mark," he replied in a voice loud and clear. Just those words were out of his mouth, I replied: "The-what are you, Lord? Mark the apostle, or Mark the second of that name? "At this request he made this clear answer:" I am not Mark the second of that name, but Mark the Evangelist who preached the faith in the province Egypt. I was emboldened to send him again this question: "Who is this person lying on that bed? - "He," he said, "is the holy martyr Demetrius. "

Severus says that Mark opened his mouth and revealed to him all the secrets of his personal life, the name of his father and mother, how he grew up.  Mark is said to have instructed him to "put it in writing and file your book in the church for the edification of all those who wish to read."
The more interesting part of the story is when Severus go up to the newly consecrated Pope the next day:

The next morning we ordained His Holiness, Patriarch Simeon in the pulpit of the supreme pontificate. However, throughout the ceremony, my mind was preoccupied, I was upset with myself and agitated by various thoughts, was because of what I saw and heard in my dream. After much thought, he came into my mind a thought.  So I turned to the patriarch, I told him: "Truly, sir, you relieve my heart, if your Holiness deign to grant me the favor to kiss the sacred head of St. Mark the Evangelist before I went to my seat. "Having attained my desire, he sent to accompany me, the deacons attached to his service, and ordered him the order of admittance to the sacred crypt. It opened in front of me the shrine in which lay the body of St. Mark the Evangelist.

While taking the venerable head of the holy apostle in my hand, I kissed it  three times, and holding it standing over him, I said in my heart: "I ask you and beg you humbly my lord, ye a disciple, an apostle, a holy martyr of our Lord Jesus Christ, relieve my heart about what I saw in my dream: is it a true vision, or is it just a dream the empty product of my imagination? If it really comes from you, I would be duty to confirm and put in writing for the edification of all who hear the story if, instead, it is a dream, I'm attached to silence and not speak to anyone. "This is the prayer that I made in my heart, while I held the head of the virtuous martyr in my hands, St. Mark the Evangelist, and afterward I went to the burial crypt and retired. But the next night, while I gave, I saw again in a dream the church that I first noticed. The calm and tranquil mind, I began to open the window, and for the second time I saw the man surrounded by light, seated on the throne as he had appeared before.

Of course the story has the evangelist go on to confirm every word of his previous encounter with Severus.  Yet the important part of the narrative for us is the idea that St Mark is still understood to be literally present with his followers.  The physical relics of the apostle allow for each successive Pope to commune with the holy evangelist and make sure that his protective presence shepherds his Church through each successive age.

The point is that when we go back and look at Irenaeus's reporting about the community of Mark the magician whom we learn from later sources was also associated with Egypt.  On the one hand, the association between St Mark and his representatives - i.e. the Popes - gets stronger as we go back in time.  That is why the martyrdom of Peter I and George become incorporated into the Martyrium Marci.  Scholarship has always misunderstood this development.  As I note in my article, the body that comes to be associated with the evangelist really belonged to Peter I.  Peter's death on the beach in Boucalia becomes the site of St Mark's death two and a half centuries earlier.  That does not mean the cult of St Mark should be dated to the fourth century but rather the interest in 'flesh and blood' was a specifically Catholic or fourth century obsession.  In previous ages St Mark was simply understood to appear in the person of his living representatives. 

To this end Irenaeus identifies Mark as specifically "drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him."  Moreover Irenaeus says Mark "enables as many as he counts worthy to be partakers of his grace" and adds what he claims is

I am eager to make thee a partaker of my grace, since the Father of all doth continually behold thy angel before His face. Now the place of thy angel is among us: it behoves us to become one. Receive first from me and by me grace. Adorn thyself as a bride who is expecting her bridegroom, that thou mayest be what I am, and I what thou art.  Establish the germ of light in thy nuptial chamber. Receive from me a spouse, and become receptive of him, while thou art received by him. Behold grace has descended upon thee; open thy mouth and prophesy.

Clearly the sacraments associated with Mark are to establish him again and again in living form throughout the world.  So Irenaeus adds that the bride "expresses her thanks to Marcus for having imparted to her of his own grace. She then makes the effort to reward him, not only by the gift of her possessions ... but also by yielding up to him her person, desiring in every way to be united to him, that she may become altogether one with him."

It has always struck me that 'the bride' here could have been originally male or female and Irenaeus begins by saying as much.  The reference to 'bride' also appears in Theodotus as we saw last chapter where he says that the initiate "is no longer a bride but has become a Logos and rests with the bridegroom together with the First-Called and First- Created, who are friends by love, sons by instruction and obedience, and brothers by community of origin."  The allusion seems to suggest that Mark was dangerously close to standing in the place of Jesus during baptismal rites.  If baptism was 'the bridal chamber' then Mark rather than Jesus was the bridegroom of the community. 

We should also note that in that last prayer of Mark there are some uncanny parallels with a hymn developed in a very public document by Clement of Alexandria.  In his Exhortation to the Heathens Clement seems to draw language from the same prayer of the heretical community of Mark:

Come to Me, that you may be put in your due rank under the one God and the one Word of God; and do not only have the advantage of the irrational creatures in the possession of reason; for to you of all mortals I grant the enjoyment of immortality. For I want, I want to impart to you this grace, bestowing on you the perfect boon of immortality; and I confer on you both the Word and the knowledge of God, My complete self. This am I, this God wills, this is symphony, this the harmony of the Father, this is the Son, this is Christ, this the Word of God, the arm of the Lord, the power of the universe, the will of the Father; of which things there were images of old, but not all adequate. I desire to restore you according to the original model, that ye may become also like Me. I anoint you with the ungent of faith, by which you throw off corruption, and show you the naked form of righteousness by which you ascend to God.

The reference here is clearly to a baptismal rite used in the community.  This is clear by the reference to anointing and nakedness. We have already noted how Irenaeus's material was developed away from an original association with the redemption baptism.

Yet if we take a second look at the hymn from Clement of Alexandria and remove the lengthy doctrinal digression in the middle we are left with this:

For I want, I want to impart to you this grace, bestowing on you the perfect boon of immortality.  and I confer on you both the Word and the knowledge of God, My complete self. This am I, this God wills, this is symphony ... I desire to restore you according to the original model, that ye may become also like Me.

Compare this to the original prayer in Irenaeus from the community of Mark:

I am eager to make thee a partaker of my grace, since the Father of all doth continually behold thy angel before His face. Now the place of thy angel is among us: it behoves us to become one. Receive first from me and by me grace. Adorn thyself as a bride who is expecting her bridegroom, that thou mayest be what I am, and I what thou art.

The parallels are simply uncanny here and point to perhaps the clearest sign yet that the secret rites of the followers of Mark in Gaul were developed from the secret gospel of Mark used by Clement's Alexandrian community.

Let us put the two sections even more closely under a microscope.  The first sentences here read:

I want to impart to you this grace,
ἐθέλω καὶ ταύτης ὑμῖν μεταδοῦναι τῆς χάριτος

I am eager to make thee a partaker of my grace
μεταδοῦναί σοι θέλω τῆς ἐμῆς χάριτος

The parallels in language here leave no doubt that the two texts are related.  Then in the next line Clement speaks of conferring the Word and the "knowledge of God" while the followers of Mark in Gaul speak of the angel which beholds the presence of the Father (= knowledge) being present in their midst.  The two divine intermediaries who commune with their respective communities are clearly one and the same.

Clement goes on to speak of a 'symphony' or 'concord' between mystagogue and the initiate.  He deliberately avoids using the metaphor of 'bride' and 'bridegroom' because he has just finished admonishing the pagan religions for encouraging sexualized marriage metaphors.11  Yet the two accounts are again identical - union between the male and female will lead to mystical perfection.  Where Clement speaks in terms of restoring the initiate so that that he or she can be reformed "according to the original model, that ye may become also like Me" the followers in Mark in Gaul in terms of adorning themselves as brides waiting for their bridegrooms "that thou mayest be what I am, and I what thou art."  It is impossible to argue that these two passages are not related.  Clement has merely consciously 'cleaned up' all the sexualized imagery from the original material.

To this end we can begin to understand the development of the veneration of the bones of Peter I as the relics of St Mark as a deliberately cultivated orthodox replacement of the traditional Markan value placed on redemption baptism.  In other words, as we see from the Letter to Theodore, the baptism of catechumens in the pre-Nicene Markan Church had as its object the establishment of new earthly tabernacles of the apostle.  This is why Irenaeus tells of a story of Mark the magician defiling a woman in Asia Minor.  This also surely accounts for why there are so many examples of figures whose names translate to 'Mark the less,' 'the son of Mark' or 'of Mark' in the late second century period.  The same mystical process of baptism surely also accounts for the apostle's title as the perfect 'work' (po'olo) of God.7

The great nineteenth century New Testament scholar Adolf Hilgenfeld surmised as much when he saw the name Marcion as a diminutive of Mark - that is 'little Mark.'The same idea surely stands behind the Philosophumena's rejection of the doctrines of Marcion viz.  that "Mark, he of the maimed finger, never announced such (tenets). For none of these (doctrines) has been written in the Gospel according to Mark."  As Hermann Raschke immediately recognized in his Werkstatt des Markus-Evangelisten (1923) this reference and many others attempt to distinguish two Marks - one orthodox, the other heretical.9  So too it is especially interesting that the Alexandrian bishop in the middle of the second century is named either Mark or Marcian ('of' or 'belonging to Mark') on separate episcopal lists.10  A similar origin may well account for the figure of 'Marcellus' of Rome and the Marcellians who are ultimately associated with the secret Mark employing Harpocratians of Salome.11

The upshot seems to be in all these cases that Jesus was taken to be the angel of the presence, the one who acts as the face or person of the invisible Father, who is the sixth who brands the initiate in the mystery rite of baptism.  It is by means of this secret process that the individual ultimately becomes a living representative of Mark.  How so?  The answer lies in recognizing that very name Mark is a disguise for fugitive.  Already the Markan community is attested to have an Aramaic liturgy by Irenaeus. The Aramaic equivalent for 'fugitive' is to be found either in the noun ma'arq plural ma'arqia (which happens to sound like Mark and Marcion respectively) and palet.  Yet palet is only used only in the plural form peletim in Aramaic; this term is clearly the root behind the name the orthodox were called in Osroene and other regions to the east of the Roman Empire in the third and fourth centuries where Marcionitism was the official form of Christianity - i.e. Palutians.12

Where did this term come from?  Owing to the mythopoetic impulse of the ancients a missionary named 'Palut' was invented to explain the name.  Yet clearly this is not the origin of the term.  One may suppose that the orthodox in Osroene identified themselves as refugees from the Roman persecutions in the late third century.  However Ephrem makes clear that this was a name imposed upon the community by the official 'Marcionite' cult of Christianity in the region.13  The surviving Marcionite sources, most notably the corrupt Latin translation of the Acts of Archelaus, identifies the head of the Church both in Osroene (Harran) and Rome in a former age as 'Marcellus.'14  However Jerome notes that the original text was written in Syriac and later translated into Greek.

The fact that Palutian (peletim) was imposed on the orthodox suggests a similar origin for the term 'Marcionite.'  It is difficult not to also see ma'arq would be a disguise for Mark and ma'arqia - fugitives - for 'those of Mark.'   This concept isn't as strange sounding as one might expect given the consistent association of 'double entendres' with the name of disciples - i.e. Simon, Peter, Thomas etc.  Moreover the earliest references to Mark assume that he was born with the name John and adopted Mark either at baptism or at some period after he was born.15

The possibility that Mark might have been a title has been suggested by Andrew Criddle of Cambridge University.16  Criddle has noted the strange reference in the Philosophumena to Marcion and the the gospel of Mark and developed a very similar understanding with respect to the Latin term murcus (= deserter). He notes that in the Philosophumena reference Mark is specifically identified as 'he of the maimed finger' (i.e. Greek ho kolobodaktulos) as a contrast to the reference of Paul as 'the apostle' (Greek ho apostolos). There is a tradition about Mark which develops from this in later sources that Mark was lacking a finger or thumb, either congenitally or (more frequently) by self-mutilation. However, as he notes, the literal lacking of a finger or thumb makes little sense as a contrast to apostle.

According to Criddle ho kolobodaktulos is "probably a translation into Greek of the Latin murcus literally stunted docked mutilated but used as a colloquial term for those who cut off their thumbs to avoid conscription in the Roman army." He refers us to the passage in the Latin jurist Amnianus Marcellinus which equate the hence of murcos with shirker malingerer deserter. The Marcellinus reference is particularly interesting given the fact that it comes in the context of referencing the province of Gaul. In other words - "all ages are most fit for military service, and the old man marches out on a campaign with a courage equal to that of the man in the prime of life ; since his limbs are toughened by cold and constant toil, and he will make light of many formidable dangers. Nor does anyone of them, for dread of the service of Mars, cut off his thumb, as in Italy: there they call such men 'murci' or cowards."

Criddle thinks that the author of Acts has this Latin reference in mind when he constructed his narrative about John Mark 'deserting' Paul and Barnabas during Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 13:13). The implications of this assumption are quite eye-opening when applied to our developing theory. According Criddle then we should suppose that "among early Latin-speaking Christians one could make the pun that John Mark should be called murcus not marcus." It should be noted that Irenaeus is the first person to draw attention to this story. In Book Three he tells the heretics who already reject Acts that the example reinforces Luke's role as 'true witness' of the Pauline message - against Mark.

It is important to note that with Acts and Irenaeus Marcus is a title or an appellation someone called 'John' - presumably the figure Irenaeus identified as established his teacher as a spokesman for the apostolic tradition. Nevertheless the very idea that Marcus was something other than a proper name interestingly leaves the door open to it being a designation of character, valor or the lack thereof. With Andrew Criddle then we can say that Mark's 'desertion' may have been developed from a pre-existent descriptive 'play on words.'  In other words, Irenaeus couldn't have invented the idea that Mark was actually a title developed from a Latin noun.  There had to be a precedent developed from a more 'Biblical' language.

The idea then that the followers of Mark were stamped by the karakter of Jesus and identified as 'sons of Mark' opens the possibility that the passage in Acts was developed in imitation of establish precedent.  Where the name Mark was formerly used to justify the 'redemption' of slaves through an Aramaic etymology, Irenaeus develops a parallel Latin explanation which justifies Luke's usurping of the tradition authority of the evangelist within the Church - i.e. his association with the so-called 'Pauline writings.'  The Aramaic noun ma'arq is related to the verb 'to run' or 'be in haste' which can be argued to be echoed in the Epistle to the Galatians when the apostle speaks of "submitting the gospel ... in private ... for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain."  The gospel isn't just a secret text or one given in private but the work of a fugitive.  

The consistent reference to Paul's 'running' across the Empire has a clear implication of the apostle's status as a fugitive from the Law.  Of course the Catholic New Testament has expunged these allusions from its canon.  Nevertheless there are repeated references to him"holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain."  The heretical understanding of Paul was not only that he venerated a 'stranger god' but moreover that he was a fugitive.  Indeed Irenaeus originally made clear that the very act of seeking heretical knowledge was tantamount to desertion - "even supposing that we ought to be seeking now and ever, where ought the search to be made?  Amongst the heretics, where everything is strange and antagonistic to our truth, and whom we are forbidden to approach ? What slave looks for his food from a stranger, let alone his master's enemy?  What soldier seeks to obtain largess and pay from unallied, let alone hostile, kings—unless, indeed, he be a deserter or a runaway or a rebel?"

In this description, Irenaeus distils the essence of the Markan tradition and his reason for opposing it so vehemently.  To this end we can begin to understand why Irenaeus - his writings channeled in the surviving Latin translations of Tertullian - so vehemently opposes Clement's acceptance of the fugitivus as a model for Christian believers.   It has been well established that in On Flight in Persecution the reference to the opinion of "some" contemporary writer that by being a fugitive "he fulfilled the command, when he fled from city to city" Clement was being referenced.16  The acceptance of becoming a fugitive is well established in his writings and it is similarly developed from the gospel saying "when they begin to persecute you, flee from city to city."

We have already demonstrated Clement's challenge to our assumptions about martyrdom developed from an undue reliance on the opinions of Irenaeus.  Irenaeus after all wanted to cleanse Christianity of the Markan tradition.  He had a vested interest in encouraging heretics to kill themselves.  Clement on the other hand seems quite comfortable accepting an apostolic precedent for becoming a fugitive.  For we know from Eusebius that, on the outbreak of the persecution under Severus in 202 Clement left Egypt for Syria and as Candida Moss importantly notes - never came back.17  He repeatedly intimates from Pauline passages that he is not running away from death as much as running to Jesus, of continuing the work which Jesus began as a fugitive as a fugitive himself.18

So Clement cites chapter twelve of the Epistle to the Hebrews - "God having provided some better thing for us for He was good that they should not without us be made perfect. Wherefore also, having encompassing us such a cloud, of witnesses holy and transparent laying aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."  The 'witnesses holy and transparent' - words not found in our recension - are clearly others who have accepted the command of Jesus in Mark chapter 10 and given up all their wealth to 'run' with Jesus.19  Indeed a little Clement explains a little later "for this is to be drawn by the Father, to become worthy to receive the power of grace from God, so as to run without hindrance."  This 'grace' here, as we have already demonstrate, comes from Mark, the one who wrote his gospel in secret, and is himself the ultimate fugitive.

In the words of Plato, which Clement readily cites for his readers - "wherefore we must try to flee hence as soon as possible. For flight is likeness to God as far as possible. And likeness is to become holy and just with wisdom."

7 ᾽Επικτητόν τινα…νεώτερον…ἠγάπησεν, ὁρῶν, κ. τ. λ. So in the account of the νεανίσκος, ῾Ο δὲ ᾽Ιησοῦς ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ, ἠγάπησεν αὐτόν. Mark 10. 21.

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Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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