Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5. Diatessaron users in the East identified Irenaeus's fourfold text as heretical

Those of the movement of Simon made for themselves a gospel in four parts and they called it the Book of the Quarters (of the world). They are all sorcerers. A thread of scarlet and of the rose (color) they bind at the neck like the priests (of Rome). The ancients plated the hair of their heads and were occupying themselves with incantations and strange affairs. [Marutha of Maiperqat On the Sects translated by Voorbus p. 34] 
The description of plaiting their hair and the bit about roses describes the traditional Roman priesthood (hence an association with Rome). In the pertinent section of Irenaeus where the fourfold gospel is first introduced to the world:
for, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds ... (Adv Haer 3.10.8)
the Syriac for this section of Marutha's text and what is interesting is that the term used to specifically describe the gospel of the quarters of the word ܦܢܝܬܐ is a geographical term. I just assumed that it was principally a mathematical term (i.e. 'quarter') but the root actually means 'region.'  Not only Voorbus but Hennecke and Schneemelcher's definitive collection of the Christian apocrypha identify the reference as relating to Irenaeus - "the title (recalls the famous theory of Irenaeus (adv. haer. III. 11. 11 Harvey) on the fourfold Gospel: "It cannot be admitted that there are either more or less than four Gospels. For since there are four regions of the world (quattuor regiones mundi, tessara klimata tou cosmou ) in which we live, and four winds from the four cardinal points (quattuor principales spiritus, tessara katholica pneumata), Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, which from every part breathe out immortality and vivifying men." (cf. also Jeremiah Jones A New and Full Method p. 386 among other studies).

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