Thursday, November 14, 2013

1 Corinthians is the Marcionite Antitheses

I have to go to bed right now but if you look at our previous post, Westcott and many others have noted that Tertullian's De Resurrectione Carnis divides the canon into instrumenta.  Yes this is true.  But the author misses the greater significance of the material.  Just take a look at the actual citations.  The point is clearly that he is trying to combat the Marcionite use of the antitheses in 1 Corinthians.  Just look and you will see that is true.  The antitheses of 1 Corinthians are verses 39 - 49.  1 Corinthians 15:50 is the famous line repeated by Tertullian's enemies throughout this and other treatises. 

Everything that Westcott and others have noticed is correct about Tertullian's citations reflecting an early Latin canon.  After putting aside the 'prophetic instrument' (De Resurr 33) he takes up the gospel instrument and the citations proceed in solid blocks of Matthew, Luke, John twice (De Resurr 33, 35) before moving on to the 'apostolic instrument.' Westcott is quite right that the citations begin with Acts (De Resurr 39) However 1 Corinthians is skipped over completely in Tertullian's explanation of 'true dogma.'  To be sure, 1 Cor. 11. 19 is the first citation from the Pauline canon, but it is put in the mouths of the heresies - i.e. they seek to make schisms and heresies because of what they read in their Pauline writings.

The actual 'Catholic instruction' from the writings of Paul come from 2 Corinthians (De Resurr 40 - 41). After a long discussion 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 is referenced as coming again from the mouths of the heretics:

The change which these undergo he reports to the Corinthians, saying, We shall all indeed rise again but we shall not all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump - not all, but those only, he means, who are found in the flesh: And the dead, he continues, will rise again, and we shall be changed. Having therefore first taken note of this order of events you will then refer what follows to the sense already indicated. (De Resurr 42)

Notice the Marcionite (heretical) variant here - i.e. 'we will not all be changed.'  This is known from De Recta in Deum Fide.  Yet after citing from the heretical letter, Tertullian ignores 1 Corinthians completely and has a steady stream of references from 2 Corinthians thereafter (De Resurr 42 -45), followed immediately by extended citations of Ephesians 4 (De Resurr 45), Romans (De Resurr 46 - 47) before he references the heretical interest in 1 Corinthians 15:50.  A discussion of the Catholic section that follows there after follows. 

Nevertheless I think there is something to this strange ordering of material.  I think it, along with other evidence, reinforces that at one time 1 Corinthians - in a slightly different form - was the heretical 'antitheses' of the Marcionites. 

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