Reconstructing Celsus

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Stuart
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Stuart » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:38 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:24 pm
Of course it's muddled. Unlike most people at the forum I don't know what the right answer is before I start investigating. Since we share in interest in Marcionism let me turn this around. What do you imagine that 'Marcionites' were doing all day long. They weren't married, they didn't have children, didn't eat very much or very much that was interesting, didn't drink, didn't seem to do much of everything.

Let me throw out an idea. They didn't like sex. Sex is natural and results in children. Have you ever considered that homosexuality would be the biggest f-u to the Creator? Doesn't mean that I think Marcionites were gay. But just as a thought experiment. Buggery is pretty much as big a f-u as I can imagine to the 'world' - to the commandments, whatever. What do you think so far?
1 Corinthians 7:25-40 shows that the position on celibacy was more a recommendation.
ἐπιταγὴν κυρίου οὐκ ἔχω γνώμην δὲ δίδωμι ὡς ἠλεημένος ὑπὸ κυρίου πιστὸς εἶναι

I had thought the passage later, from Appelleans, but still before the Catholic versions of Paul. Mostly because it does not present Paul as uncompromisingly authoritative in stark contrast to all the attested Marcionite text of Paul. I was also bothered by the term ἠλεημένος which is hapax legomen (that suggests it might be from the last layers, the Pastoral). But after doing several reconstructions I have come to the conclusion it was original.

Many sects and religious groups have preferred celibacy. Even the Crusaders and Janissaries (Turkish Muslims) practiced celibacy. It is not that unusual. Look at Catholics today. The Marcionites were not unique in this among Christian sects, both from within the Heretical and the proto-Orthodox camps (using my definition where Heretical are those who reject the properties of Law Giver, Creator and Judge for the father of Christ ... all other points the camps had great diversity; this is my clinical definition of the "camps" - to avoid confusion).

But the Marcionite position seems to have been less than absolute. Verse 7:31 ἐγὼ δὲ ὑμῶν φείδομαι is clearly a suggestion and not an order, ditto τοῦτο δὲ πρὸς τὸ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν σύμφορον λέγω, οὐχ ἵνα βρόχον ὑμῖν ἐπιβάλω in 7:35. Verse 7:36 out and out says sex/marriage with a menopausal woman (ὑπέρακμος) is fine (οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει, γαμείτωσαν) -- obviously she cannot bear children, thus prolonging the era of souls being trapped by the Demiurge in human bodies. And verse 7:38 says marriage is tolerated (ὥστε καὶ ὁ γαμίζων τὴν ἑαυτοῦ παρθένον καλῶς ποιεῖ, καὶ ὁ μὴ γαμίζων κρεῖσσον ποιήσει). Verse 7:9 is the most blunt on this allowance for Christians to marry (εἰ δὲ οὐκ ἐγκρατεύονται, γαμησάτωσαν, κρεῖττον γάρ ἐστιν γαμῆσαι ἢ πυροῦσθαι).

This makes some sense. The leaders might have been expected not to marry (hence Appelles' falling out -- if he even was a Marcionite to begin with), but the rank and file could and likely did marry. The sect never would have made it to the 5th century without procreation going on.

The picture painted of Marcionites by the church fathers as prohibiting marriage probably applied to their Bishops and Deacons but not to their assembly. For Tertullian especially clergy marrying was important. Presumably less so for say Origen -- his wife would otherwise have been very frustrated. My brother and I joked about how the tables have turned, how the Catholics advocated, even demanded married clergy (1 Timothy 3:1-5 is pretty clear on this) and the Heretics often did not, but today the Catholics demand celibacy of clerics and the Protestant almost insist upon them being married.

Note: 1 Timothy 3:1-5, 3:12 seem to be a response to the more ambiguous Titus 1:5-6 where elders are expected to be married, but in 1:7-8 the Bishop must be celibate (ἐγκρατῆ). But this is no surprise as 1 Timothy is a corrective of Titus conflating both Titus and 2 Timothy. Titus was recognized by Tatian (who advocated celibacy) but not 1 & 2 Timothy (apparently later). Different sects were responsible for each of the three pastorals. It should also be recognized that "Bishop" was interchangeable with Apostle (Acts 1:17) early on, and with Sect leader (teacher).

Put another way. The Marcionites were not dissimilar to other Christians on the issue of sex, just they had celibate clergy, at least celibate Bishops.

Stuart
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Stuart » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:29 am

As for homosexuality, that was OK with some sects, and not uncommon in the Roman world. Hey we all know what it means to be "Greek." And that is not a new term, it's pretty ancient. When Hadrian is called a Greekling (Hellenist) by the gossipy Historia Augusta, ingenio eius sic ad ea declinante ut a nonnullis Graeculus diceretur, it is of course a double entendre (you know, that Ἀντίνοος boy thing).

But reading Paul it sounds more like Prostitution was the more common form of falling off the celibacy wagon. Add the (hot) women need to cover their head or shave their hair (1 Corinthians 11:5-6) to avoid the angels of the creator (11:10) ... that is the lust of the Bishop or Deacon trying to be celibate (disguised as a reference to the stories from Enoch of the Giants coming into being -very Tolkienesque kind of story-). We have this passage to thank for the Hijab. Bottom line, Marcionite clergy chased skirts it seems.

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Secret Alias
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:38 am

Yes but - in keeping with this continuing thought experiment (since you want to know where I am coming with this) - the Jewish religion was above all else a way of life, a way of living, and the characteristic ascribed to this way of life by Philo for one was that of a war against pleasure. In short the Jewish religion as a way of life was deemed to be virtuous because ... it was so awful and "displeasurable" (to make the term accord with the Greek).

Given that I can't help but feel that the tradition understanding of 'Marcionism' is ridiculously academic. People don't just gather in opposition to something. They offer something to their adherents which may be reactionary but - and this is critical - is recast as something 'positive.' To this end if the Jewish religion is understood to be a development from the first commandment to man - be fruitful and multiply - or the last commandment of the ten - 'do not lust' (taken in the manner of Philo as Clement clearly did from his gospel i.e. as a blanket statement against pleasure) you'd have to think that pure antinomianism (if such a thing ever existed in antiquity) would be more Aleister Crowley than Martin Luther. With me so far?
Last edited by Secret Alias on Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:39 am

We have this passage to thank for the Hijab
I am not sure that is true. These things were part of Semitic folk culture likely since the dawn of human history.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Secret Alias
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:53 am

So if I may continue. Homosexuality, 'fornication' and pleasure seeking (= the serpent) is the antithesis of virtue in the Pentateuch. Ok. So if Marcionism was REALLY about 'opposing Judaism, opposing the demiurge/Creator, opposing the Law' Marcionism must have resembled Carpocratism. This is beyond dispute. There weren't proto-Nazis running around reading the Pentateuch and developing a religion of rejection of the Pentateuch from the Pentateuch (like the Edward Norton character in American X even though he was Jewish oddly enough). This is absurd. This is 'academism' at its worst. The only reason that we think this is because of an uncritical reading of Irenaeus-based and reused material (Tertullian etc).

So what was 'Marcionism'? This is hard to figure out. We have some general idea that they emphasized a previously unknown Father in heaven (at least not known to most Jews) and a previously unknown Son (maybe even a 'Logos' given Celsus's interest in both Marcionism and the Logos terminology). The Marcionites somehow opposed 'the Law and prophets' - granted. But you need to read the literature on nomos in early Judaism https://books.google.com/books/about/He ... GK8GiNrQgC. There was great argument with respect to which law was heaven or man-made and this makes its way to Paul (cf. 'according to man').

Marcionism is clearly part of this debate. It may be a marginal or even extreme POV in the debate. But it is clearly there somewhere. It was influential and is clearly reported by rabbinic sources. So the Marcionites opposed someone else's definition of law as being 'from heaven' 'from God.' This clearly was the issue. But they had to have posited something else in its place. They couldn't have just been 'against the Jews' as a religion. That can't have been their focus. They can't have just been fasting, abstaining from sex just to piss the Jews and their god off. There had to be a secret 'something' which they did or practiced or engaged in which defined or explain why they were understood to be 'antinomian.'
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Secret Alias
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:58 am

My point would be that the 'brothermaking' rite which continues to exist in many marginalized Christian cultures https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelphopoiesis fits the bill for what Celsus seems to have been witnessing in Christian communities, what Clement is talking about in terms of a mystical rite at the heart of Christianity and what Origenists were engaged in down through to the time of Islam. It's how Christians 'saved' themselves from the world, the Law, the Demiurge in its original pure form. It even has an 'oriental' (= Semitic) ritualized misogyny which fits in with statements in documents like the Clementine literature (which heaven is male and everything good and earth and everything bad is female) and the Gospel of Thomas. It also seems like something which could fit in a Platonic tradition (both Clement and Marcion are identified as Platonic). The commandment in what is now the Gospel of John to pending your life 'in love' with a same sex friend, never getting married, living in a monastery together making each other perfect seems to explain the 'real world' origins of Marcionism and Alexandrian Christianity better than anything else. You can also begin to see how caricatures like Carpocratism (Celsus 'Harpocratism') and Nicolaus got their start. The doctrine seems gay and if gay it 'must necessarily' have been sordid and perverted. But was Plato sordid and perverted? No one ever claimed that he was.

I am not sure then that THE IDEA that the Christians were opposed to the Law might not have developed merely from their abstaining from sexual relations. They must have been asked, 'why don't you have a wife and make babies like everyone else.' Any answer they gave would be twisted into a cover for hating the status quo whether it is Judaism or Roman social mores. Even today it takes great balls to remain a perpetual bachelor. Even George Clooney gave in. There is something about social convention that wins people over. When I see a Catholic priest I can't help but scrutinize him for any signs that this whole charade is just a front for his (socially rejected) sexual preference. If there were a group of men who said, we only hang out with men, in pairs, alone with no women, never getting married ... it isn't hard to see where the charge of homosexuality would arise. I'd be the first to think it to be honest if I lived in antiquity.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Stuart
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Stuart » Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:39 am

You seem to be under the impression that prostitution and homosexuality were not part of the Jewish experience. I think you are being both naive and myopic when it comes to examining the history and traditions of Jews, especially during the Greek and Roman days. Jews were not much different in the Roman days from any of their Pagan or Christian neighbors, including Jewish clergy. And it's just as true today.

The context of Jewishness being a form of cultural behavior comes from post-Temple, and more likely even post Bar Kokhba days, and most of what we think of as distinct Jewish culture is probably from the Medieval era. Until Hadrian dissolved the province of Judea and removed the sanction of Jewish Law, this became a turning point in what it meant to be Jewish. There was no longer a province Jews could point to and say I am Judean (just as others would say they were Egyptian or Asian or Achaean or Gallic), and so the identity started to shift. It had already begun with the end of the temple as rituals were pushed from the temple to Synagogues (a term which had changed by the 2nd century from meaning congregation/assembly to to the physical compound were the congregation met).

The Sanhedrin also changed composition after Bar Kokhba, from the leaders of prominent families and tribes (elders, very similar to Afghan Jirga) that was the "Senate" for the Judea province, to one dominated by religious leaders and concerned more with cultural identity, since the power to make deeds and laws was now gone. Since what we have is 4th to 8th century Rabbinic literature,we see that the organization of the middle ages is projected back to the Romans and Greek days. Many scholars fall into the trap of projecting the middle ages Sanhedrin composition back into the era when it wielded real power, and coming from a leading family was everything.

You seem to be projecting backwards this religious piety of the clergy upon the ordinary citizenry of the province. The clergy wrote the history and so they rail against the "immoral" Herodian era leaders.

*********************
I'm not quite understanding your focus on gay bathhouse literature in Jerry Falwell Sr. fashion here.

It is not uncommon -as you are well aware- for polemic works to use reductio ad absurdum to describe their opponents. If they are celibate or advocate that, then you take the "common opinion" that it leads to homosexuality and thus claim your opponents are faggots. I know you are aware of this technique as you use it when you volley against Republicans. (Eg.g, Trump is ambivalent, definitely passive toward racist groups -- he thinks they are significant enough in number to try and get them to vote for him using dog whistle techniques -- ipso facto all Republicans are racists. This is an example of such hyperbole and reductio ad absurdum).

There are Jewish gays and always have been. You yourself being Jewish doesn't make you any more or less likely to have such tendencies.

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DCHindley
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by DCHindley » Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:51 am

Stuart wrote:
Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:38 pm
Note: 1 Timothy 3:1-5, 3:12 seem to be a response to the more ambiguous Titus 1:5-6 where elders are expected to be married, but in 1:7-8 the Bishop must be celibate (ἐγκρατῆ). But this is no surprise as 1 Timothy is a corrective of Titus conflating both Titus and 2 Timothy. Titus was recognized by Tatian (who advocated celibacy) but not 1 & 2 Timothy (apparently later). Different sects were responsible for each of the three pastorals. It should also be recognized that "Bishop" was interchangeable with Apostle (Acts 1:17) early on, and with Sect leader (teacher).
But ἐγκρατής in Titus 1:7 does not mean "celebate," just self-controlled in all ways. It could have a sexual connotation in situations where a predominant member might refrain from sex outside of a marriage, but the marital status is not assumed.

DCH

Charles Wilson
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Charles Wilson » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:24 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:58 am
When I see a Catholic priest I can't help but scrutinize him for any signs that this whole charade is just a front for his (socially rejected) sexual preference. If there were a group of men who said, we only hang out with men, in pairs, alone with no women, never getting married ... it isn't hard to see where the charge of homosexuality would arise. I'd be the first to think it to be honest if I lived in antiquity.
Stephan and Stuart --

There is another "Way of Life" that fits the definition above - the eunuch.

1 Corinthians 7: 7:

[7] I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

If you were a eunuch among eunuchs, you would attempt to find value in your life and the lives of those who were like you. You might even get some priest somewhere to claim a future time for you when you would have children.

It took Domitian, of all people, to end the practice throughout the empire. "Paul" has some strange attachments to his Curriculum Vitae and it is not contradictory to see that perhaps he was a eunuch (I believe the character that became "Paul" was a eunuch).

"I, at least, am a man", said Vespasian about Mucianus. It is not too much to see that this "Sect" of eunuchs would seek each other and write about their troubles and even their salvation in some future time. Or give advice to the unmutilated. Many of them were, of course, learned and performing duties in the Roman Court.

"I wish that all were as I myself am..." What were you, Paul?

Stuart
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Re: Reconstructing Celsus

Post by Stuart » Sun Aug 13, 2017 2:30 pm

Charles,

The term used by Paul is Encratic (ἐγκρατεύομαι in 1 Corinthians 9:25 for those who can and for those who are not able to do so ἀκρασία in 1 Corinthians7:5), meaning celibate. This is very clear. When the term eunuch is entirely different and thrown out as an insult by Paul (well "amputate" ἀποκόψονται in Galatians 5:12). You drew Eunuch from Matthew 19:12 (εὐνοῦχος), which is not part of the Marcionite.

I rather doubt Origen actually ἀποκόψονται to become εὐνοῦχος. Not only was it illegal in the Roman Empire at that time, but extremely dangerous, often fatal. He was almost certainly ἐγκρατής and single. Even Matthew is probably hyperbole, just as he says a Christian must be more pious and law abiding (Law of Moses) than the most pious Jew, so also this is likely what Matthew meant -- clearly the author of the most anti-Marcionite Gospel favored celibacy (at least for clergy) - against the more Lukan positions of 1 Timothy.

What this shows is just as Apelles favored marriage for clergy and Marcion celibacy among the heretics, Origen favored celibacy and Tertullian marriage. The issue of celibacy was not a theological dividing point. We have two pastorals who support each position.

Stephen's fixation on homosexuality is rather unfounded here.

BTW, it should be noted the difference in how I reconstruct the Marcionite practices and beliefs and how Stephen does. Stephen places primary emphasis on the commentary of church fathers. I place primary emphasis on the texts used by the Marcionites. I use the church fathers more as guides to possible beliefs of the Marcionites and other opponents; but their comments have to be supported by NT text the heretics used for me to consider them likely or accurate (must discount the hyperbole). There are other differences which are rather significant in our approaches and evaluations. But for Marcion that seems to be the primary.

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