Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Was Tertullian's Prescription Against Heresies Derived from Irenaeus's Prescriptions Against Heresies?

Many lists of Irenaean fragments have been compiled over the years.  Cerrato gives the list of "[l]ost works of the Irenaean corpus perhaps influenced the anti-gnostic apocalyptic theology of the commentaries.  The majority are now known only by title. A catalogue can be reconstructed from later sources, particularly Eusebius, Jerome, and Photius. According to these, Irenaeus produced the following:
  1. liber variorum tractatuum, 'a book of diverse tractates' (Eusebius, HE 5. 26, Jerome, vir. ill. 35). 
  2. contra gentes, de disciplina (Eusebius, he 5. 20, Jerome vir. ill. 35) 3. [my note - Eusebius mentions 5 a brief work of Irenaeus against the heathens, entitled:πρὸς Ἕλληνας λόγος συντομώτατος καὶ τὰ μάλιστα ἀναγκαιότατος  which Jerome incorrectly reads6: Contra gentes volumen breve et de disciplina aliud]
  3. de monarchia, sive quod deus non sit conditor malorum (Eusebius, HE 5. 20, Jerome, vir. ill. 35)
  4. de schismate (Eusebius, HE 5. 2o, Jerome, vir. ill. 35). 
  5. de fide (Maximus the Confessor, PG 91, col. 276, and Paris codex 854). [my note - The fragment De fide was at first attributed to Irenaeus, but is now generally considered to be the work of Melito of Sardis.] 
  6. de universe (Photius, bibl. 48). 
  7. de trinitate (Holl, sacra parallela, 84, fragment).
  8. de octava (Eusebius, HE 5. 20, Jerome, vir. ill. 35). 
  9. epistula ad Victorem (Jerome, vir. ill. 35, in Genesim, codex Patm. rq.35). 
  10. in Canticum canticorum (Syriac fragment in Harvey, ii. 455) 
  11. commentarium in Apocalypsem (codex of the Altenberg monastery). 
  12. 'history of Elkanah and Samuel' (British Museum Syriac codex add. i2i57, f. i98, see Harvey, ii.507 
  13. commentarium in evangelium secundum marcum (Moscow codex bibl. s. syn. 48, in C. F. Matthaei (Moscow, i775). "• H3)
  14. 'on the martyrs, letter to the churches of Asia and Phrygia on the persecutions of Vienne and Lyons' (Eusebius, HE 5.1, Oecimenius" commentrium in epistulam I Petri 
  15. contra Marcionem (Irenaeus, adv. haer. i. 27. 4, 3. i2. i2). 
  16. contra Valentinum (Theodoret of Cyrrhus, haer. fabul. i.23, Harvey, ii. 479).  

The following texts, traditionally attributed to Irenaeus, are therefore possible sources of the commentaries:39 (i) adversus haereses, (2) epideixis, (3) contra gentes, (4) de monarchia, (5) de schismate, (6) de trinitate (7) de octave (8) adversus Marcionem, and (9) adversus Valentinum (assuming a work separate from the adversus haereses). These works were anti-heretical either wholly, or in part, and perhaps also contained eschatological teachings."

Odd that Cyril's allusion to the Prescriptions Against Heresies isn't included among this list but this seems to have been sabotaged to some extending by an overactive Benedictine monk who took what was written in the MS (= προστάγμασι) as a corrupt reference to Against the Heresies.
The full title of his work was A Refutation and Subversion of Knowledge falsely so called (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. V. c. 7). Cyril’s expression (ἐν τοῖς προστάγμασι) is sufficiently appropriate to the hortatory purpose professed by Irenæus in his preface. But the Benedictine Editor thinks that the word προστάγμασι may be an interpolation arising from the following words πρὸς τὰς.…The meaning would then be “in his writings Against Heresies,” the usual short title of the work. 
 Yet it is worth noting that the standard English translation retains the προστάγμασι.  We read Cyril reference 'Irenaeus the Exegete' who wrote 'the Injunctions Against Heresies.' The alternative rendering would be Prescriptions Against Heresies and it is worth noting that Tertullian's text of the same name is often rendered the same way "Firstly, a passage from Tertullian's book of injunctions against heresies is adduced where he states that the churches founded by the apostles were still in possession of the authentic text."

Despite the best efforts of the anonymous Benedictine editor of Cyril's Catechetical Lectures there is no way that the cited work of Irenaeus could be our Against Heresies.  There is specific mention of the general contents of the work which we read:
For the heretics, who are most profane in all things, have sharpened their tongue against the Holy Ghost also, and have dared to utter impious things; as Irenæus the interpreter has written in his injunctions against heresies. For some of them have dared to say that they were themselves the Holy Ghost—of whom the first was Simon , the sorcerer spoken of in the Acts of the Apostles.
Indeed a long section follows where various heretics are identified all of whom 'dared say' in one way or another 'that they were themselves the Holy Spirit':
For this Montanus, who was out of his mind and really mad (for he would not have said such things, had he not been mad), dared to say that he was himself the Holy Ghost—he, miserable man, and filled with all uncleanness and lasciviousness; for it suffices but to hint at this, out of respect for the women who are present
The facts are that none of these ideas appear in any text which survive and are attributable to Irenaeus.  This is indisputable.  Cyril can't be referring to Adversus Haereses as the Benedictine editor wants us to believe.  So which work is he referring to?  The only answer is to let the actual reading of the MS stand - Irenaeus wrote a text called Prescriptions Against Heresies. 

Now it must be acknowledged that nowhere in our surviving edition of Tertullian's Prescription Against Heresies do we find the argument take shape that Simon and Montanus were heretics who " have dared to say that they were themselves the Holy Ghost."  No but is that really surprising if this was found in Irenaeus's original text?  Tertullian after all was a follower of this Montanus who claimed to be the Holy Spirit.  And while the argument does not make its way into Tertullian's Prescription there are parallels with respect to the appendix 'Against All Heresies' which is attacked to the Prescription in most manuscripts.

For instance the appendix says that "of these [heretics] the first of all is Simon Magus, who in the Acts of the Apostles earned a condign and just sentence from the Apostle Peter." Interestingly
as Irenæus the interpreter has written in his injunctions against heresies. For some of them have dared to say that they were themselves the Holy Ghost—of whom the first was Simon , the sorcerer spoken of in the Acts of the Apostles; for when he was cast out, he presumed to teach such doctrines ... Wherefore was Simon the sorcerer condemned? Was it not that he came to the Apostles, and said, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost? For he said not, Give me also the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, but Give me the power; that he might sell to others that which could not be sold, and which he did not himself possess. He offered money also to them who had no possessions ; and this, though he saw men bringing the prices of the things sold, and laying them at the Apostles' feet. And he considered not that they who trod under foot the wealth which was brought for the maintenance of the poor, were not likely to give the power of the Holy Ghost for a bribe. But what say they to Simon? Your money perish with you, because you have thought to purchase the gift of God with money. 
Of course this information could have come directly from Acts but it is worth noting that despite sharing the same information Book One of Adversus Haereses does not describe Simon as 'the first' of the heresies.

But again, Cyril is certainly not referring to our Against Heresies.  There is nowhere where it is said that Simon claimed to be the Holy Spirit.  Moreover the MS makes clear the title of the work was the Prescriptions Against Heresies.  So we have a work of Irenaeus entitled the Prescriptions Against Heresies which emphasized a commonality among various early heretical groups - they claimed to be the Holy Spirit.

While no MS of Tertullian's Prescription Against Heresies has this line of thought (not surprisingly as Tertullian was a Montanist) it is worth noting that the appendix to his Prescription makes reference to the following in association with his own very sect:
The common blasphemy (among the Cataphrygians) lies in their saying that the Holy Spirit was in the apostles indeed, the Paraclete was not; and in their saying that the Paraclete has spoken in Montanus more things than Christ brought forward into (the compass of) the Gospel, and not merely more, but likewise better and greater.
I think we can acknowledge that Irenaeus wrote a text called Prescriptions Against Heresies, that this book was known to Cyril of Jerusalem and in the library used by the bishop and may have been related to a treatise used by Tertullian to write out his Refutations Against Heresies given that Tertullian's writings are so indebted to Irenaeus.  Yet we cannot prove any relationship yet.

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