The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

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The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:46 pm

The construction of Against Heresies 1 has been something of an obsession with me. Things start to get odd once Carpocrates is introduced to the list.
Καρποκράτης τὸν μὲν κόσμον καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῶ̣ ὑπὸ ἀγγέλων πολὺ ὑποβεβηκότων τοῦ ἀγενήτου πατρὸς γεγενῆσθαι λέγει, τὸν δὲ Ἰησοῦν ἐξ Ἰωσὴφ γεγεννῆσθαι καὶ ὅμοιον τοῖς ἀνθρώποις γεγονότα δικαιότερον τῶν λοιπῶν γενέσθαι, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ εὔτονον καὶ καθαρὰν γεγονυῖαν διαμνημονεῦσαι τὰ ὁρατὰ μὲν αὐτῇ ἐν τῇ μετὰ τοῦ ἀγενήτου θεοῦ περιφορᾷ, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ὑπ ἐκείνου αὐτ(ῇ) καταπεμφθῆναι δύναμιν, ὅπως τοὺς κοσμοποιοὺς ἐκφυγεῖν δι αὐτῆς δυνηθῇ· ἣν καὶ διὰ πάντων χωρήσασαν ἐν πᾶσί τε ἐλευθερωθεῖσαν [ἀν]εληλυθέναι πρὸς αὐτὸν, τὰ ὅμοια αὐτῆς ἀσπαζομένην. Τὴν δὲ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ λέγουσι ψυχὴν ἐννόμως ἠσκημένην ἐν Ἰουδαϊκοῖς ἔθεσι, καταφρονῆσαι αὐτῶν, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο δυνάμεις ἐπιτετελεκέναι, [Int. ἐπιτετυχηκέναι,] δι' ὧν κατήργησε τὰ ἐπὶ κολάσει πάθη προσόντα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις.

Carpocrates, again, and his followers maintain that the world and the things which are therein were created by angels greatly inferior to the unbegotten Father. They also hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and was just like other men, with the exception that he differed from them in this respect, that inasmuch as his soul was stedfast and pure, he perfectly remembered those things which he had witnessed within the sphere of the unbegotten God. On this account, a power descended upon him from the Father, that by means of it he might escape from the creators of the world; and they say that it, after passing through them all, and remaining in all points free, ascended again to him, and to the powers, which in the same way embraced like things to itself. They further declare, that the soul of Jesus, although educated in the practices of the Jews, regarded these with contempt, and that for this reason he was endowed with faculties, by means of which he destroyed those passions which dwelt in men as a punishment [for their sins].

τὸν δὲ κόσμον καὶ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ὑπὸ ἀγγέλων γεγενῆσθαι, τῶν πολύ τι ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἀγνώστου ὑποβεβηκότων· τούτους γὰρ λέγει ἀποστάντας ἀπὸ τῆς ἄνω δυνάμεως οὕτω τὸν κόσμον πεποιηκέναι. Ἰησοῦν δὲ τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν ἀπὸ Ἰωσὴφ λέγει γεγεννῆσθαι, καθάπερ καὶ πάντες ἄνθρωποι ἐκ σπέρματος ἀνδρὸς καὶ γυναικὸς ἐγεννήθησαν. εἶναι δὲ αὐτὸν ὅμοιον τοῖς πᾶσι, βίῳ δὲ διενηνοχέναι, σωφροσύνῃ τε καὶ ἀρετῇ καὶ βίῳ δικαιοσύνης. ἐπειδὴ δέ, φησίν, εὔτονον ἔσχε ψυχὴν παρὰ τοὺς ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους καὶ ἐμνημόνευεν τὰ ὁραθέντα ὑπ' αὐτῆς ἄνω, ὅτε ἦν ἐν τῇ περιφορᾷ τοῦ ἀγνώστου πατρός, ἀπεστάλθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ αὐτοῦ πατρός, φησίν, εἰς τὴν αὐτοῦ ψυχὴν δυνάμεις, ὅπως τὰ ὁραθέντα αὐτῇ ἀναμνημο1.302 νεύσασα καὶ ἐνδυναμωθεῖσα φύγῃ τοὺς κοσμοποιοὺς ἀγγέλους ἐν τῷ διὰ πάντων χωρῆσαι τῶν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ πραγμάτων καὶ πράξεων τῶν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων γινομένων καὶ ἐν παραβύστῳ ἀτόπων ἔργων καὶ ἀθεμίτων, καὶ ὅπως διὰ πασῶν τῶν πράξεων ἐλευθερωθεῖσα ἡ αὐτὴ ψυχή, φησί, τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἀνέλθῃ πρὸς τὸν αὐτὸν πατέρα τὸν ἄγνωστον, τὸν δυνάμεις αὐτῇ ἀποστείλαντα ἄνωθεν, ἵνα διὰ πασῶν

But he [Carpocrates] says that the world, and everything in the world, has been made by the angels, who are far inferior to the unknowable Father. For he says that they rebelled against the power on high, and therefore have made the world. And he says that Jesus our Lord was begotten of Joseph, just as all men were generated from a man’s seed and a woman. He is like anyone else, but is different in life — in prudence, virtue and a life of righteousness. Because he received a more vigorous soul than other men’s, and he remembered what it had seen on high when it was on the unknowable Father’s carousel, powers were sent to his soul by the Father so that it would be able to recall what it had seen, and gain the power to escape the angels who made the world by progressing through all the acts in the world and all the deeds that men can do, even strange, unlawful works done in secret — and so this same soul of Jesus, once freed by all he acts, could ascend to the same unknowable Father who had sent it the powers from above in order that it could win through to him on high by progressing through all the acts and being released. 2.6 And what is more, the souls like his < which > embrace the same experiences as his can be freed in the same way and soar aloft to the unknowable Father, by performing all the acts, and similarly being quit of them all and then released. Though it had been reared in Jewish customs Jesus’ soul despised them 7 and for that reason received powers by which it could < put > the passions < to rest > 8 which accrue to man as punishments, and rise above the world’s creators. But not only Jesus’ soul itself has this capacity; the soul as well that can progress through < all > the acts will rise above these angels who made the world. It too will < soar aloft > — like Jesus’ soul, as I said — if it receives powers and does the same sort of thing.

Κήρινθος δέ τις, αὐτὸς Αἰγυπτίων παιδείᾳ ἀσκηθείς,. 40. ἔλεγεν οὐχ ὑπὸ τοῦ πρώτου θεοῦ γεγονέναι τὸν κόσμον,. ἀλλ. ὑπὸ δυνάμεώς τινος κεχωρισμένης τῆς ὑπὲρ τὰ ὅλα ἐξουσίας καὶ ἀγνοούσης τὸν ὑπὲρ πάντα θεόν. τὸν δὲ Ἰησοῦν ὑπέθετο μὴ ἐκ παρθένου γεγενῆσθαι, γεγονέναι δὲ αὐτὸν ἐξ Ἰωσὴφ καὶ Μαρίας υἱὸν ὁμοίως τους λοιποίς ανθρώποις, και διενηνοχέναι εν δικαιοσύνη και σωφροσύνη και συνέσει υπέρ τσάντας τους λοιπούςἅπασιν ἀνθρώποις, καὶ δικαιότερον γεγονέναι καὶ σοφώτερον [πάντων]. καὶ μετὰ τὸ βάπτισμα κατελθεῖν εἰς αὐτὸν [τὸν] [ἐκ] τῆς ὑπὲρ τὰ ὅλα αὐθεντίας τὸν Χριστὸν ἐν εἴδει περιστερᾶς: καὶ τότε κηρῦξαι τὸν [ἄ]γνωστον πατέρα καὶ δυνάμεις ἐπιτελέσαι. πρὸς δὲ τῷ τέλει ἀποπτῆναι τὸν Χριστὸν ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ, καὶ τὸν [μὲν] Ἰησοῦν πεπονθέναι καὶ ἐγηγέρθαι, τὸν δὲ Χριστὸν ἀπαθῆ διαμεμενηκέναι, πνευματικὸν ὑπάρχοντα.

Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him, and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being.
The point here is that while Epiphanius's account mostly derives from what is preserved in Irenaeus/Hippolytus and the first part of the account of Cerinthus (from Irenaeus/Hippolytus) agrees with both Carpocrates accounts, it is most unusual that a parallel exists between Carpocrates (Irenaeus/Hippolytus) but not Carpocrates (Epiphanius). In the former it clearly says that a power came upon Jesus (in Cerinthus it is explicitly 'the dove' at baptism in Carpocrates (Irenaeus/Hippolytus). In Carpocrates (Epiphanius) however there is something else completely:
when it was on the unknowable Father’s carousel, powers were sent to his soul by the Father so that it would be able to recall what it had seen, and gain the power to escape the angels who made the world
I can't help but feel that this is the more original reporting - presumably from Hegesippus (as Epiphanius is using Hegesippus directly). We see this in the account of Marcellina (so Lawlor in Eusebiana). But here again we see the Irenaeus tradition reshaping the original reporting.
Last edited by Secret Alias on Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Parallels in the Account of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:36 pm

I can't help but see another odd link between Carpocrates (Epiphanius) and Cerinthus (Irenaeus/Hippolytus). The accounts agree in places even where Carpocrates (Epiphanius) and Carpocrates (Irenaeus/Hippolytus) do not (highlighted in red):
Carpocrates (Epiphanius) And he says that Jesus our Lord was begotten of Joseph (ἀπὸ Ἰωσὴφ), just as all men were generated (γεγεννῆσθαι καθάπερ καὶ πάντες ἄνθρωποι) from a man’s seed and a woman. He is like anyone else, but is different in life — in prudence, virtue and a life of righteousness (διενηνοχέναι, σωφροσύνῃ τε καὶ ἀρετῇ καὶ βίῳ δικαιοσύνης). Because he received a more vigorous soul than other men’s (παρὰ τοὺς ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους), and he remembered what it had seen on high when it was on the unknowable Father’s carousel (περιφορᾷ τοῦ ἀγνώστου πατρός), powers were sent to his soul by the Father so that it would be able to recall what it had seen, and gain the power to escape the angels

Cerinthus (Irenaeus/Hippolytus) [Jesus] being the son of Joseph and Mary (ἐξ Ἰωσὴφ καὶ Μαρίας υἱὸν) according to the ordinary course of human (ὁμοίως τους λοιποίς ανθρώποις) generation (γεγενῆσθαι), while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise (διενηνοχέναι εν δικαιοσύνη και σωφροσύνη και συνέσει) than other men (λοιπούς ἅπασιν ἀνθρώποις). Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father (περιστερᾶς καὶ τότε κηρῦξαι τὸν ἄγνωστον πατέρα καὶ δυνάμεις ἐπιτελέσα).

Carpocrates (Irenaeus/Hippolytus) They also hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and was just like other men (Ἰησοῦν ἐξ Ἰωσὴφ γεγεννῆσθαι καὶ ὅμοιον τοῖς ἀνθρώποις γεγονότα), with the exception that he differed from them in this respect, that inasmuch as his soul was stedfast and pure, he perfectly remembered those things which he had witnessed within the sphere of the unbegotten God (τοῦ ἀγενήτου θεοῦ περιφορᾷ). On this account, a power descended upon him from the Father, that by means of it he might escape from the creators of the world.
The whole bit about his soul being 'righteous, prudent and wise' (or alternatively 'different in life - in prudence, virtue and a life righteous' cement the certainty that Irenaeus's account of Cerinthus is simply a corruption of something originally written about Carpocrates. Now how do we explain that? :confusedsmiley:

I also think that the account in Hegesippus which mentions the περιφορᾷ τοῦ ἀγνώστου πατρός or alternatively τοῦ ἀγενήτου θεοῦ περιφορᾷ sits in the exact place of the περιστερᾶς καὶ τότε κηρῦξαι τὸν ἄγνωστον πατέρα καὶ δυνάμεις ἐπιτελέσαι. Compare περιφορᾷ τοῦ ἀγνώστου πατρός (Carpocrates) περιστερᾶς καὶ τότε κηρῦξαι τὸν ἄγνωστον πατέρα (Cerinthus). Yet how is this to be explained? It's there but one account (Cerinthus) seems squarely locked into the standard gospel accounts. But Carpocrates?
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Re: The Parallels in the Account of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by MrMacSon » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:56 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:36 pm
I can't help but see another odd link between Carpocrates (Epiphanius) and Cerinthus (Irenaeus/Hippolytus). The accounts agree in places even where Carpocrates (Epiphanius) and Carpocrates (Irenaeus/Hippolytus) do not ...
The accounts of Carpocrates of Epiphanius and of Irenaeus/Hippolytus seem to align extremely well, in English at least, viz. -
Carpocrates (Epiphanius) And he says that Jesus our Lord was begotten of Joseph, just as all men (were generated from a man’s seed and a woman), He is like anyone else ...

[2] ... but is different in life ...

[3] — in prudence, virtue and a life of righteousness. Because he received a more vigorous soul than other men’s ...

[4] ... and he remembered what it had seen on high when it was on the unknowable Father’s carousel ...

powers were sent to his soul by the Father so that it would be able to recall what it had seen, and gain the power to escape the angels
Carpocrates (Irenaeus/Hippolytus) They also hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and was just like other men ...

[2] ... with the exception that he differed from them ...

[3] ... that inasmuch as his soul was stedfast and pure ...

[4] ... he perfectly remembered those things which he had witnessed within the sphere of the unbegotten God.

On this account, a power descended upon him from the Father, that by means of it he might escape from the creators of the world.

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Re: The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:01 pm

Yes it is generally agreed they go back to common source material. The obvious choice is Hegesippus. But what I find interesting in light of this is that if you subtract the parallel material with Carpocrates from the Cerinthus entry (an entry which follows Carpocrates in Irenaeus) you are left with little more than a line:
... miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being.
There is clearly a 'set' here for the Ebionite section which follows Cerinthus which follows Carpocrates reads:
Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only
So the author could have simply said that they thought that Jesus was born from Joseph (and Mary) through regular human generation (as we see repeated basically in Carpocrates and then Cerinthus but instead he opts for an acknowledgement that he arranged the three in some way 'in this order' - i.e. Carpocrates, Cerinthus, Ebionites:
How Carpocrates acts sillily, in himself also alleging that existing things were made by angels.

That Cerinthus, in no wise indebted to the Scriptures, formed his opinion (not out of them), but from the tenets of the Egyptians.

What are the opinions propounded by the Ebionaeans, and that they in preference adhere to Jewish customs
Interestingly the copies of Irenaeus's Against Heresies says that Cerinthus came from Asia which matches the encounter he claims Cerinthus had with John 'in Ephesus.'

But another difficulty is clearly that the Ebionites really don't have anything in common with Cerinthus. Indeed even the structure of the order Carpocrates (sing.) Cerinthus (sing.) Ebionites (plur.) is odd. Among other disagreements the Ebionites are said to use Matthew in Irenaeus and the one original piece of information Irenaeus gives us about 'Cerinthus' is that he essentially held the beliefs associated with 'with those who prefer Mark' in Book Three - i.e. a suffering Jesus on the Cross and a Christ who united with Jesus at the baptism but left before the Passion. The implication would seem to be from Irenaeus work - which never identifies the Mark-sect - is that Cerinthus is the leader of that tradition. But there is nothing else to the account other than shared 'adoptionist' beliefs that there is too little to go on to take it serious.

Interestingly the same pattern appears in Pseudo-Tertullian's Against All Heresies - a related text to the others:
[1] Carpocrates, futhermore, introduced the following sect. He affirms that there is one Virtue, the chief among the upper (regions): that out of this were produced angels and Virtues, which, being far distant from the upper Virtues, created this world44 in the lower regions: that Christ was not born of the Virgin Mary, but was generated-a mere human being-of the seed of Joseph, superior (they admit) above all others in the practice of righteousness and in integrity of life; that He suffered among the Jews; and that His soul alone was received in heaven as having been more firm and hardy than all others: whence he would infer, retaining only the salvation of souls, that there are no resurrections of the body.

[2] After him brake out the heretic Cerinthus, teaching similarly. For he, too, says that the world was originated by those angels;46 and sets forth Christ as born of the seed of Joseph, contending that He was merely human, without divinity; affirming also that the Law was given by angels;47 representing the God of the Jews as not the Lord, but an angel.

[3] His successor was Ebion,48 not agreeing with Cerinthus in every point; in that he affirms the world to have been made by God, not by angels; and because it is written, "No disciple above his master, nor servant above his lord, " sets forth likewise the law as binding, of course for the purpose of excluding the gospel and vindicating Judaism.
Much of the material here has no parallel in either of the previous works - as brief as the entries are. Here we have three named individuals - i.e. Carpocrates, Cerinthus, Ebion (not 'the Ebionites). No reference to the 'secret Mark' doctrine of a Christ that comes at baptism and leaves before crucifixion. Here Ebion and Cerinthus could not be further apart in terms of dogma - one says that the angels made the world and the Torah, not God; the other, God made the world and Torah.

While in other heresiological compendiums it says something to the effect that the Ebionites believed a similar sort of generation for Jesus as the other two sects, nothing here appears to that effect. Indeed if we compare Carpocrates and Cerinthus their accounts of the generation to Jesus are much closer than anything we see in Irenaeus or Epiphanius:

Carpocrates: "[Christ] was generated-a mere human being-of the seed of Joseph"
Cerinthus: "Christ as born of the seed of Joseph, contending that He was merely human, without divinity"

In fact the account of Carpocrates seems to lift the words from Irenaeus's account quite literally whereas Cerinthus is more a cursory summary. It is hard to know what to make of this situation other than Cerinthus and Carpocrates are certainly related heresies. Odd that Irenaeus would set Cerinthus up against John twice in Against Heresies - (a) with John in the Ephesian bathhouse before the story of Marcion and Polycarp's encounter in Book 3 and (b) as the one John wrote against in his canonical writings. Irenaeus spent great efforts manufacturing Cerinthus as John's foil even though there seems to be little independent evidence available to us to support his strange fixation.
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Re: The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by Stuart » Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:21 am

I see the lists in AH 1.23-31 (1.22 something of a transition to the added material) as much later than the author of the first 21 chapters, something of an appended document from somewhere else.

The first of the dead giveaways are the switching from a argument style to that of simply defining the outlines of heresies in a list form, with general categorizations and sequence. The second abrupt change of style is in chapter 23, where Acts of the Apostles becomes a cited source for Simon's supposed origins. This is strange in that no where else is NT scripture taken as the source authority of a heretic. We also have myths that are not cited again until the 4th pseudo Clement Homilies and Recognitions (whether they have a late 3rd century beginnings of the myth or later is irrelevant, it's still amazing to have lay dormant for a century plus). Third is the attempt to tie all the heresies of the list --especially of Marcion and Cerdon-- to Simon the arch heretic, a practice in common with much later works of the early 4th century.

By comparison the first 21 chapters are more an exploration the various systems of Valentinians and their off shoot disciples and movements, especially Marcosians, trying to refute their beliefs after describing them. But when we get to the list section, things degenerate to merely brief description and condemnation, not even a hint of the their systems or why they are inconsistent (it's just assumed the reader knows they are). I am pretty sure if you examine the Greek style (and perhaps vocabulary) differences will also be pronounced between the sections.

Book 3 is the other highly suspicious entry in the volume, as it concerns greatly with the Primacy of the Roman church, and in listing of it's bishops alone, and some mention of succession. He even claims Rome founded the church in Corinth. Further he makes a showing of all the lead heretics having been rejected by Rome first, a concern of a much later era than the supposed Irenaeus is said to have written the volume. The issue of Roman episcopacy primacy came to a fore starting at Nicene (particularly the Athanasius excommunication controversy; showing that Rome excommunicated the arch heretics gave force to the argument they made against the excommunication of Athanasius, as Rome saw things right). It is hard to imagine it would have been an issue in the late 2nd century or early 3rd when the book is traditionally held to have been written.

There is a serious timeline anomaly here. Either Irenaeus' works are a unity and (based on traditional time line) he wrote about matters 150 years into the future (that is lent support to the eventual winner), or the works are not a unity and those elements are from a much later time than the "authentic core" of Irenaeus' work. These are the choices if you wish to keep Irenaeus in the late 2nd century. If you choose the former, you are bestowing a power on the Patristic writings we do not bestow on the Bible itself, the ability to predict the future. If you choose the latter, then you have to start sifting through the volume to determine which part could be part of an authentic core (much as is done with the Pauline epistles).

My view leans toward the latter, and not just with Irenaeus, but many of the church father writings. But I also think, like the NT "authentic cores", these original elements are pseudonymous and probably later than legend places them (some just a few decades, others as much as a century or two).

Your analysis seems to rely most heavily upon these most suspect parts of the volume. I fear you are interpreting inserted 4th and 5th century material, but believe you are examining late 2nd and early 3rd century material. And to maintain this opinion, you attach fidelity, unity and authenticity you would not even applied to the biblical texts. The confusion of the source would be understandable if it is from 150 or more years later than you are assuming. Legends would have conflated, origins more obscure and mythical.
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Re: The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:40 am

I fear you are interpreting inserted 4th and 5th century material, but believe you are examining late 2nd and early 3rd century material
But there are limits to this sort of argument. First of all, the limit for Irenaeus. Epiphanius EXPLICITLY cites this material. He was active at the end of the fourth century. In the middle of the fourth century Cyril of Jerusalem makes reference to Irenaeus and the existence of heresiological treatises in his name. Eusebius makes mention of Irenaeus and the material (in general) in the first half of the fourth century. At the best one can say based on a hyper-critical evaluation of the evidence is that a treatise or treatises were in use in Jerusalem as early as the decriminalization of Christianity.

We used to have an idiot who participated in this forum who argued that you could take the 'as old as Eusebius' argument to mean that Eusebius wrote or invented all the books of Christianity from scratch at the beginning of the fourth century. I won't get into why this is a stupid argument. But I bring it up as a stupid explanation of the evidence. So where do you go from here?

Christianity is a religion based on an alleged event taking place (the crucifixion) before the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 CE. Even at the time of Eusebius, the librarian or library owner, there are two dates given for this event - the seventh year of Tiberius and the fifteenth year of Tiberius. The former a pagan date established in the Acts of Pilate and used in anti-Christian propaganda a generation earlier and the latter from an official Christian document the Gospel of Luke.

Irenaeus, the pre-Eusebian Eusebius - i.e. a librarian or owner of vast literary resources used to define Christianity in the pre-Eusebian period - is the ultimate advocate for the reliability of Luke and by implication its dating of the crucifixion. While Irenaeus is not a well documented figure the writings associated with his name were clearly written in a period before Eusebius. It does not make sense to assume that Eusebius invented Irenaeus, forged his writings from scratch and then invented the four gospels mentioned in his writings at this late date. In order to define Irenaeus's date we must simply say 'third century or earlier.' This is a minimalist position on Irenaeus.

Is there any working back from Eusebius? I think it is apparent that Eusebius is an Origenist and actively tried to defend this third century Alexandrian Christian teacher. Since Eusebius felt compelled to defend Origen there must have been an anti-Origenist party, presumably Christian at the time of Eusebius's defence of Origen. Given the politics of the Council of Nicaea and like councils there already existed deep divisions in Christianity by the early fourth century which means they existed in some form in the third century. Given the controversial nature of Origen these divisions or similar divisions or at least 'divisions' existed at the time of Origen which was at least a century to half a century before Eusebius.

Another fact that we can tease out of Eusebius is the existence of a prominent pagan critic of Christianity named Celsus. Celsus is prominent in the writings of Eusebius but Celsus was first addressed in the writings of Origen. So Celsus was a problem for the Origenist tradition at least. From the extracts cited by Origen in his Against Celsus mention is made of many Christian factions of which 'the great Church' escaped censure by Celsus. Given that Origen and Eusebius take great pains to tackle Celsus it is unlikely that they were members of this 'great Church' tradition and so Origen's tradition was either one of the sects condemned by Celsus or related to one of them. This means that Christianity as such must have been older than Origen.

Given that Celsus must have written before Origen (as Origen is responding to his writings) and more interestingly enough time had to have passed for Origen to attempt a second draft of his original Against Celsus an early date (relative to Origen) seems likely. Of course Eusebius could have or perhaps likely wrote the second draft of Against Celsus. Perhaps all the works which explicitly mention Ambrosius's patronage of Origen were adulterated and the narrative with Ambrose employing dozens of scribes and copyists was a myth designed to explain or hide Eusebius's tampering with Origenist material. Even then the date for Against Celsus can't be very late. While we know very little about Origen's life, there were more pressing concerns than the things referenced by Celsus in the True Word. It seems a very 'bookish' academic work which suggests relative stability on the part of Origen to write eight books going line by line through a pagan work. Let's assign the composition to some time in the first half of the third century.

The fact that Celsus makes reference to 'something like' Irenaeus's compendium against the heresies in a book written at such a date that Origen could respond to it in the first half of the third century means that someone like Irenaeus, wrote a heresiological compendium around the time that Irenaeus is alleged to have composed Against Heresies. Moreover the fact that so many versions of this work survive in the name of people who lived after Irenaeus - Hippolytus (in Photius), Tertullian (pseudo), Origen (the Philosophumena common identified as 'Hippolytus's Refutation) and Cyril of Jerusalem identifies another text the Prescription Against all Heresies authored by 'Irenaeus' and Tertullian has a number of anti-heretical works which seem to related to this Irenaean productivity all point to the same bottom line - viz. that a heresiological compendium written in the second century continued to be copied in the third and fourth centuries. Whether or not Irenaeus is a historical person or multiple sources lay behind Against Heresies is beside the point. The basic portrait that we gain from ancient chronologists is basically sound.

Some other points arguing for Against Heresies being written in the late second century. No mention of the Montanists as heretics. By the third century the Montanists were increasingly a fringe group even a heresy. Moreover there is no mention of prominent third century schismatics like Noetus, Novatus, Hippolytus or Callistus (a heresiologist writing post-first generation of the third century would have had to have listed one of the two as a heresy). Moreover Gaius's rejection of the Johannine material is mildly referenced. The denial of the 'aspect' of the Paraclete, along with John's rejection of 'Cerinthus' all point to a composition contemporary with the prominent critics of the Johannine literature - i.e. at the time of Gaius and the Little Labyrinth. No mention of Theodotos and the adoptionists. In fact, interestingly their doctrines are lumped together with the opponents of John. Again all this points to a composition late second century.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:55 am

And getting back to the OP. If we can reconstruct a time frame of something like the last generation of the second century for something like Against Heresies where can we contextualize the 'double use of information' between the descriptions of Carpocrates and Cerinthus 'back to back' in Against Heresies? The obvious limit for the information is the original report of Hegesippus which seems to be the source of Epiphanius's report (I take the arguments of Lawlor to be relatively 'conclusive' in that regard - i.e. that Epiphanius is using something other than Against Heresies which has to be Hegesippus). What was the date for Hegesippus? As Lawlor notes:
Having stated that he stayed with the Corinthians for a good while, and was refreshed by their orthodoxy, 3 the quotation goes on to relate that he reached Rome and made a succession-list (or, as some will have it, remained there ) up to the episcopate of Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And after Anicetus , proceeds Hegesippus, Soter succeeds, and after him Eleutherus. 4 Then comes the remark, In every succession and in every city (the doctrine) is such as the law and the prophets and the Lord proclaim.
I've long noted that something like this lies at the heart of Irenaeus' reproduction of Hegesippus's succession list in Book 3:
then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate.
Clearly then Irenaeus wrote not only after Eleutherius but after the report of Hegesippus was published. If the text is genuine we would imagine that to be many years after publication; if as I assume Irenaeus added to Hegesippus's original report which ended at the time of Anicetus in the year 147 CE it could have been the next day after publication.

The dates for Eleutherius are usually taken to be 157- 168 CE which essentially means around the time of the death of Polycarp/Peregrinus. The fact that Polycarp comes up in the middle of Irenaeus's use of Hegesippus is noteworthy. Polycarp also visited Rome around the time of Anicetus you'd imagine. But the point is clearly IMHO the 'double-dipping' into Carpocrates to create Cerinthus is rather unusual and took place between let's say 160 - 180 CE. Why on earth is Cerinthus necessary ... unless someone thought that Carpocrates was Polycarp.

Remember. Cerinthus is really a one-note heretic. He is accused of having written Revelations as a pseudepigrapha for John. John runs out of the bathhouse because Cerinthus is there ... and then Polycarp's rejection of Marcion is immediately referenced. Polycarp is implicitly connected with John and then John is said to write because of Cerinthus:
John, the disciple of the Lord, preaches this faith, and seeks, by the proclamation of the Gospel, to remove that error which by Cerinthus had been disseminated among men, and a long time previously by those termed Nicolaitans, who are an offset of that "knowledge" falsely so called, that he might confound them, and persuade them that there is but one God, who made all things by His Word; and not, as they allege, that the Creator was one, but the Father of the Lord another
So in a sense the only way I can make sense of the double dipping into Hegesippus's account of Carpocras (as Epiphanius preserves the name) is that some thought 'Carpocras' was 'Polycarp' (similar names). By creating this doppleganger 'Cerinthus' who anti-John or the 'un-John' it necessarily puts distance between Polycarp and Carpocras because - by definition - the ordering and repetition of key parts of Hegesippus's account make it seem less likely that Polycarp would have been associated with Cerinthus. Does that make sense?
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Jul 13, 2018 10:52 am

I am wondering whether Καρποκρᾶς = בכור 'first fruit.' In the LXX, too, καρπός, sometimes means first-fruit (see Marcus in the Loeb ed., VII, p. 581, note a) and Philo mentions the d7capxoti offered by the Jews of Egypt which were sent to Jerusalem (Leg. 291, 311; see also De spec.leg. 152). According to Eustathius (on Homer, Iliad, xix, 254, p. 1 183) the Egyptian priests were eunuchs who had sacrificed their virility as a first- fruit to the gods. The idea is present in Paul and 1 Clement "Let us understand, dearly beloved, how the Master continually showeth unto us the resurrection that shall be hereafter; whereof He made the Lord Jesus Christ the firstfruit, when He raised Him from the dead." So too "So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe. And this they did in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus saith the scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith." I think very plausible that a martyrdom-obsessed Christian from the early Church would call himself 'First-Fruit.'
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Re: The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:07 pm

Stuart wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:21 am

Book 3 is the other highly suspicious entry in the volume, as it concerns greatly with the Primacy of the Roman church, and in listing of it's bishops alone, and some mention of succession. He even claims Rome founded the church in Corinth. Further he makes a showing of all the lead heretics having been rejected by Rome first, a concern of a much later era than the supposed Irenaeus is said to have written the volume. The issue of Roman episcopacy primacy came to a fore starting at Nicene [Nicea?] (particularly the Athanasius excommunication controversy; showing that Rome excommunicat[ion of] the arch heretics gave force to the argument they made against the excommunication of Athanasius, as Rome saw things right). It is hard to imagine it would have been an issue in the late 2nd century or early 3rd when the book is traditionally held to have been written.
I think the idea of a structured church in Rome in the 2nd century is very likely to be a joke: the idea seems to me to be a 'sock-puppet' to prop up a false, embellished narrative.

Stuart wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:21 am
There is a serious timeline anomaly here. Either Irenaeus' works are a unity and (based on traditional time line) he wrote about matters 150 years into the future (that is lent support to the eventual winner), or the works are not a unity and those elements are from a much later time than the "authentic core" of Irenaeus' work. These are the choices if you wish to keep Irenaeus in the late 2nd century. If you choose the former, you are bestowing a power on the Patristic writings we do not bestow on the Bible itself: the ability to predict the future. If you choose the latter, then you have to start sifting through the volume to determine which part could be part of an authentic core (much as is done with the Pauline epistles).

My view leans toward the latter, and not just with Irenaeus, but many of the church father writings. But I also think, like the NT "authentic cores", these original elements are pseudonymous and probably later than legend places them (some just a few decades, others as much as a century or two).
Well said.

Stuart wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 2:21 am
Your analysis seems to rely most heavily upon these most suspect parts of the volume. I fear you are interpreting inserted 4th and 5th century material, but believe you are examining late 2nd and early 3rd century material. And to maintain this opinion, you attach fidelity, unity and authenticity you would not even applied to the biblical texts. The confusion of the source would be understandable if it is from 150 or more years later than you are assuming. Legends would have conflated origins more obscure and mythical.

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Re: The Parallels in the Accounts of Carpocrates and Cerinthus

Post by MrMacSon » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:07 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:40 am
Stuart^^ wrote:I fear you are interpreting inserted 4th and 5th century material, but believe you are examining late 2nd and early 3rd century material
... Epiphanius EXPLICITLY cites this material. He was active at the end of the fourth century. In the middle of the fourth century Cyril of Jerusalem makes reference to Irenaeus and the existence of heresiological treatises in his name. Eusebius makes mention of Irenaeus and the material (in general) in the first half of the fourth century.
Yep, 4th century.

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:40 am
At the best one can say based on a hyper-critical evaluation of the evidence is that 'a treatise or treatises were in use in Jerusalem as early as the decriminalization of Christianity'.
Not necessarily.

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:40 am
We used to have an idiot who participated in this forum who argued that you could take the 'as old as Eusebius' argument to mean that Eusebius wrote or invented all the books of Christianity from scratch at the beginning of the fourth century. I won't get into why this is a stupid argument. But I bring it up as a stupid explanation of the evidence. So where do you go from here?
It's very unlikely that 'Eusebius wrote or invented all the books of Christianity from scratch at the beginning of the fourth century', but it's likely that he and others of his time shaped versions of many of pre-4th century Christian or semi-Christian texts, as well as other pre-4th C. non-NT books and texts.

We have plenty of reasons to induce what happened lies between 'mountainman-Pete's' proposition/s and 20th C. 'orthodox' apologetic 'scholarship'.


Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:40 am
Irenaeus, the pre-Eusebian Eusebius - i.e. a librarian or owner of vast literary resources1 used to define Christianity in the pre-Eusebian period - is the ultimate advocate for the reliability of Luke and by implication its dating of the crucifixion. While Irenaeus is not a well documented figure, the writings associated with his name were clearly written in a period before Eusebius. It does not make sense to assume that Eusebius invented Irenaeus, forged his writings from scratch2 and then invented the four gospels3 mentioned in his writings at this late date. In order to define Irenaeus's date we must simply say 'third century or earlier.' This is a minimalist position on Irenaeus.
1 Was Irenaeus really "a librarian or owner of vast literary resources" ?? - In Gaul in the far-West??

2 They may not have been forged from scratch. They may be embellished writings. Others could have had a role before or in conjunction with Eusebius eg. Pamphilus (d. 309 CE) or Lactantius or others currently unknown or poorly recorded or embellished eg. -
  • Pierius (d. c.309), aka Origen the younger', an exegetical writer who "wrote a work (biblion) comprising twelve treatises or sermons (logoi), in some of which he repeats the dogmatic points attributed by some authors to Origen, such as the subordination of the Holy Ghost to the Father and the Son, and the pre-existence of human souls. His known sermons are: one on the Gospel of St. Luke (eis to kata Loukan); an Easter sermon on Osee (eis to pascha kai ton Osee); a sermon on the Mother of God (peri tes theotokou); a few other Easter sermons; and a eulogy on 'St. Pamphilus', who had been one of his disciples (eis ton bion tou hagiou Pamphilou)."
  • 'Pope' St. Theonas of Alexandria (fl. 282-300) - see next post

As for Pamphilus, most of what we know about him is via Eusebius or Photius. He is said to have co-written the Apology for Origen with Eusebius of which only the first book is 'extant', in a Latin version made by Rufinus. It begins describing the extravagant bitterness of the feeling against Origen. The trends we are considering are repeated with Pamphilus: the canons of the alleged Council of the Apostles at Antioch were ascribed by their compiler (late fourth century) to Pamphilus, but there is no contemporaneous or immediate evidence that Pamphilus had a role in such canons.



Is there any working back from Eusebius? I think it is apparent that Eusebius is an Origenist and actively tried to defend this third century Alexandrian Christian teacher. Since Eusebius felt compelled to defend Origen there must have been an anti-Origenist party, presumably Christian at the time of Eusebius's defence of Origen.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamphilus ... _influence

(to be continued ... )

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