I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

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I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:00 pm

I have to admit, for the longest time I thought Clement was making up shit. Of course the rich man narrative is about the need to give all your possessions to the poor. But then I started looking at the actual text of Clement's Mark and saw something surprising.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One you lack,” he said. “Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had a lot of needs (ἦν γὰρ ἔχων χρήματα πολλὰ).

The standard text has κτήματα but it is easy to see how this could have been changed from χρήματα given what follows in the next line:

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the needy (χρήματα) to enter the kingdom of God!”

But here's the genius to Clement's interpretation.

In the earlier part of narrative Mark has Jesus tell the 'needy man' - “No one is good—except God alone" (οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός). The interest in the passage among the early heresies was clearly that this showed 'the good God' who was Chrestos. But look carefully at the words - the 'one' is the Good God whom we know from elsewhere is Chrestos. Why is this important? Well look at the structure of the second part of the narrative. There is a man who has 'many needs' (χρήματα) needs to exchange them all for one - the useful one (= Chrestos).
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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by Peter Kirby » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:20 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Sep 02, 2017 4:00 pm
I have to admit, for the longest time I thought Clement was making up shit.
Right or wrong, most aren't going to hop over to the text of Clement to find the context here.

Can you offer a one-line summary of what Clement's interpretation is?

(Don't have to, but the train of thought is easier to follow with whatever that is -- Clement's argument -- in mind.)
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:47 pm

One-line summary - I think there is clever word play in Mark. χρήματα is mentioned in the gospel. The wealthy man has to sell his many χρήματα for one. χρήματα sing. χρῆμα from χράομαι, 'to furnish what is needed.' But what is the one thing he lacks? God 'the good God' or χρηστός. χρηστός is also derived from χράομαι. Should χρηστός here translated as 'Needed One'? In any event it is an etymology developed around the title of God as Chrestos not Christos.

I think Clement thought Mark wrote for neo-Platonists. Some context from Stromata 2.5:
He is Melchizedek, "King of peace," the most fit of all to head the race of men. A legislator too, inasmuch as He gave the law by the mouth of the prophets, enjoining and teaching most distinctly what things are to be done, and what not. Who of nobler lineage than He whose only Father is God? Come, then, let us produce Plato assenting to those very dogmas. The wise man he calls rich (πλούσιον) in the Phoedrus, when he says, "O dear Pan, and whatever other gods are here, grant me to become fair within; and whatever external things I have, let them be agreeable to what is within. I would reckon the wise man rich." And the Athenian stranger, finding fault with those who think that those who have many possessions are rich , speaks thus (πλουσίους εἶναι τοὺς πολλὰ κεκτημένους χρήματα ὧδε λέγει): "For the very rich (πλουσίους) to be also good is impossible (καὶ ἀγαθοὺς ἀδύνατον) -- those, I mean, whom the multitude count rich (οὕς γε δὴ πλουσίους οἱ πολλοὶ καταλέγουσι). Those they call rich, who, among a few men, are owners of the possessions worth most money (λέγουσι δὲ τοὺς κεκτημένους ἐν ὀλίγοις τῶν ἀνθρώπων πλείστου νομίσματος ἄξια κτήματα); which any bad man may possess (ἃ καὶ κακός τις κέκτηται)." "The whole world of wealth (χρημάτων) belongs to the believer," Solomon says, "but not a penny to the unbeliever." Much more, then, is the Scripture to be believed which says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man (θᾶττον κάμηλον διὰ τρυπήματος βελόνης διελεύσεσθαι ἢ πλούσιον) " to lead a philosophic life. But, on the other hand, it blesses "the poor;" as Plato understood when he said, "It is not the diminishing of one's resources, but the augmenting of insatiableness, that is to be considered poverty; for it is not slender means that ever constitutes poverty, but insatiableness, from which the good man being free, will also be rich." And in Alcibiades he calls vice a servile thing, and virtue the attribute of freemen. "Take away from you the heavy yoke, and take up the easy one," says the Scripture; as also the poets call [vice] a slavish yoke. And the expression, "Ye have sold yourselves to your sins," agrees with what is said above: "Every one, then, who committeth sin is a slave; and the slave abideth not in the house for ever. But if the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free, and the truth shall make you free." [Strom 2.5]
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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:25 am

I think χρήματα πολλὰ can be taken to mean 'many things' https://books.google.com/books?id=_N4sD ... gs&f=false and the lesson from Clement is to give up 'many things' for one 'thing.' The difficulty for me is trying to find the word in English to take chrestos to relate to 'thing-ness.' I think if χρήματα means 'things' then chrestos (hidden in the logic of Mark) means 'the Thing.' The 'good thing'? But does that work?
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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by DCHindley » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:20 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:25 am
I think χρήματα πολλὰ can be taken to mean 'many things'... and the lesson from Clement is to give up 'many things' for one 'thing.'
The difficulty for me is trying to find the word in English to take chrestos to relate to 'thing-ness.' I think if χρήματα means 'things' then chrestos (hidden in the logic of Mark) means 'the Thing.' The 'good thing'? But does that work?
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One you lack,” he said. “Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had a lot of needs (ἦν γὰρ ἔχων χρήματα πολλὰ).

The standard text has κτήματα but it is easy to see how this could have been changed from χρήματα given what follows in the next line:

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the needy (χρήματα) to enter the kingdom of God!”
IMHO, Stephan, Clement's Markan source probably had the canonical κτήματα of Mk 10.22, but when he also says "How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God" the author of canonical Mark was also likely making a word pun by using χρήματα in 10.23 to describe the same man. You seem to see it as a clue to a hypothetical text of Mark, but as we see this is not a very strong case.

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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:28 am

Except that it was in Clement's text and Mark was supposedly connected with Alexandria. There is no evidence of a Roman tradition associated with Mark in any real historical sense. No talk of 'Roman MSS' of Mark in the way we find with Alexandria. All the later sources connect Mark with Alexandria in a meaningful way. The beginning of Quis Dives Salvetur and To Theodore, two attestations prior to Eusebius of Mark's association with earliest Alexandrian Christianity.

The choice seems to be for us to (a) think that Clement changed the rho to a tau or (b) the rho was original. Is there an early citation of Mark before Clement's in Quis Dives Salvetur? Don't think so.
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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by DCHindley » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:26 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:28 am
Except that it was in Clement's text and Mark was supposedly connected with Alexandria.
I was not in a position to look up what Clement's original Greek was. Still am not.

Your explanation did not seem especially clear to me, Stephan.

Who, exactly, says what?

DCH

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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:06 pm

As Andrew notes Clement's exegesis is dependent on the χρήματα the plural of χρῆμα which derives ultimately from χράομαι. As we all know there is an underlying sophistication to Mark's narrative. It starts with a question - "διδάσκαλε, ἀγαθέ τί ποιήσω, ἵνα ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω." Jesus speaks or deflects to a strange statement about the unknown Father. Only one is good - God. He introduces the unknown Father. It doesn't seem to fit the original question except for the fact that Clement in his exegesis speaks about the need to 'know the Father' in order to have salvation.

My thinking is that:

1. the gospel of Mark was an adoptionist text.
2. adoptionist texts were fairly consistent with what we read in Tertullian's Against Praxeas 27 "they distinguish two, Father and Son, understanding the Son to be flesh, that is man, that is Jesus; and the Father to be spirit, that is God, that is Christ ... For if Jesus is one, and Christ is another, then the Son will be different from the Father, because the Son is Jesus, and the Father is Christ." But in the original text this would have just been a nomen sacrum XC.
3. the presence of In other words what is unsaid in the analysis is that the need to sell many χρήματα is a preparation for buying one χρηστός - the Father.

It was a standard trope in antiquity that the commandments were a material substitute for knowing the Most High God. "Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious."
“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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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:09 am

2. adoptionist texts were fairly consistent with what we read in Tertullian's Against Praxeas 27 "they distinguish two, Father and Son, understanding the Son to be flesh, that is man, that is Jesus; and the Father to be spirit, that is God, that is Christ ... For if Jesus is one, and Christ is another, then the Son will be different from the Father, because the Son is Jesus, and the Father is Christ."
This is very interesting. Tertullian's argument is a kind of reductio ad Marcionem. If you adoptionists continue in the your heresy, then you are giving a favour to Marcion. His alien god leaves the door (by the introduction of a Jesus mere man) but he returns from the window (with the presence of a divine Christ). The implication is that the adoptionists were monotheists in the eyes of Tertullian.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: I Think Clement's Argument in QDS is Starting to Make Sense to Me

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:07 am

Marcion does not come up in Against Praxeas. Nothing to do with Marcion.
“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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