Clement's To Theodore and Papias

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 11756
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Clement's To Theodore and Papias

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Mar 11, 2020 10:22 am

I would like to spend a post comparing the structures of Clement's account of what we might call 'perfect Mark' or gnostic Mark (secret Mark) and the manner in which it necessarily has in mind Papias's account of Mark manufacturing what we might call a profane gospel. Clement's account reads:

Such men are to be opposed in all ways and altogether. For, even if they should say something true, one who loves the truth should not, even so, agree with them. For not all true things are the truth, nor should that truth which merely seems true according to human opinions be preferred to the true truth, that according to the faith.
Now of the things they keep saying about the divinely inspired Gospel according to Mark (Τῶν τοίνυν θρυλουμένων περὶ τοῦ θεοπνεύστου κατὰ Μάρκον εὐαγγελίου), some are altogether falsifications (τὰ μὲν ψεύδεται παντελῶς), and others, even if they do contain some true elements (τὰ δέ, εἰ καὶ ἀληθῆ τινα περιέχει), nevertheless are not reported truly (οὐδ᾽ οὕτως ἀληθῶς παραδίδοται). For the true things, being mixed with inventions, are falsified, so that, as the saying goes, even the salt loses its savor (Συγκεκραμένα γὰρ τἀληθῆ τοῖς πλάσμασι παραχαράσσεται ὥστε, τοῦτο δὴ τὸ λεγόμενον, καὶ τὸ ἅλας μωρανθῆναι).

As for Mark (Ὁ γοὖν Μάρκος), then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord's doings (κατὰ τὴν τοῦ Πέτρου ἐν Ῥώμῃ
διατριβήν ἀνέγραψε τὰς πράξεις τοῦ Κυρίου), not, however, declaring all of them (οὐ μέντοι πάσας ἐξαγγέλλων), nor yet hinting at the secret ones (οὐδὲ μὴν τὰς μυστικὰς ὑποσημαίνων), but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed (ἀλλ᾽ ἐκλεγόμενος ἃς χρησιμωτάτας ἐνόμισε πρὸς αὔξησιν τῆς τῶν κατηχουμένων πίστεως). But when Peter died a martyr (Τοῦ δὲ Πέτρου μαρτυρήσαντος παρῆλθεν), Mark came over to Alexandria (εἰς Ἀλεξάνδρειαν ὁ Μάρκος), bringing both his own notes and those of Peter (κομίζων καὶ τα ταυτοῦ καὶ τὰ τοῦ Πέτρου ὑπομνήματα), from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge (ἐξ ὧν
μεταφέρων εἰς τὸ πρῶτον αὐτοῦ βιβλίον τὰ τοῖς προκόπτουσι περὶ τὴν γνῶσιν). Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected (κατάλληλα συνέταξε πνευματικώτερον εὐαγγέλιον εἰς τὴν τῶν τελειουμένων χρῆσιν).
Papias says 'the elder' says the following:
Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.
Here is what I notice:

1. θρυλ-έω the people saying this are ignorant. Clement says that what is being said about 'the divinely inspired gospel' of the elite, of those who know is not quite accurate.
2. θεοπνεύστου this word appears in the Pastoral Epistles. 2 Timothy to be exact:
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord ... Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given [me] in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others ... Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this ... This is my gospel ... I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory ... All Scripture is God-breathed ( and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Why does this matter? Because Tertullian - clearly developing something originally written by Irenaeus in Greek - makes reference to those who use a 'secret gospel' who appeal to 2 Timothy regarding their secret text:
Now what they preached—that is, what Christ revealed to them—I rule ought to be proved by no other means than through the same Churches
which the Apostles themselves founded by preaching to them viva voce, as men say, and afterwards by Epistles. If this is so, it follows accordingly that all doctrine which agrees with those Apostolic Churches and original founts of Faith must be reckoned for Truth, as preserving unquestionably that which the Churches received from the Apostles, and the Apostles from Christ, and Christ from God; and, on the other hand, that all doctrine which savours contrary to the Truth of the Churches and of the Apostles of Christ and of GOD, must be condemned at once as having its origin in falsehood. It remains therefore for us to show whether this our doctrine—the Rule of which we have set forth above—is derived from the tradition of the Apostles; and, as a deduction from this, whether the other doctrines come of falsehood.

We are in communion with the Apostolic Churches, a privilege which no diverse doctrine enjoys. This is evidence of Truth. BUT, as we have said, the same madness is seen when they allow indeed that the Apostles were not ignorant of anything nor preached different doctrines, yet will have it that they did not reveal all things to all persons, but committed some things openly to all, and others secretly to a few; basing this assertion on the fact that Paul used this expression to Timothy, "O Timothy, guard the deposit"; and again, "Keep the good deposit." What was this "deposit" of so secret a nature as to be reckoned to belong to another doctrine ? ... From the context it may be gathered not that something is obscurely hinted at in this phrase concerning a more hidden doctrine, but rather that he was commanded not to admit anything beyond that which he had heard from Paul himself, openly too, I take it—"before many witnesses" are his words.1 If by these many witnesses the heretics refuse to understand the Church, it matters not, since nothing could be kept secret which was being set forth before many witnesses.

Nor, again, can his wish that Timothy should "commit these things to faithful men who would be fit to teach others also be construed into a proof of there being some secret gospel (id quoque ad argumentum occulti alicuius euangelii interpretandum est). For when he says "these things," he refers to things of which he was writing at the moment. In reference to hidden things, present only to their secret knowledge, he would, as of absent things, use the word "those," not "these." BUT nevertheless, it may be said, it was natural for the Apostle, when he committed to any one the administration of the Gospel, which was to be ministered neither indiscriminately nor rashly, to add the injunction in accordance with the Lord's saying that "a pearl should not be cast before swine nor that which is holy to the dogs." 3

The Lord spake openly without any indication of some hidden mystery. Himself had commanded that what they had heard in darkness and in secret
they were to preach in light and on the housetops.4 Himself had prefigured in a parable5 that they were not to keep even one pound, that is, one word of His, fruitless in a hidden place. Himself used to teach that a lamp is not wont to be thrust away under a measure, but placed on a lampstand that it may give light to all that are in the house.1 These instructions the Apostles either neglected or by no means understood if they failed to fulfil
them, and concealed any portion of the light, that is, of the Word of GOD and mystery of Christ. I am fully assured they had no fear of any one, neither of the violence of the Jews nor of the Gentiles : how much more, then, would these men preach freely in the Church who were not silent in synagogues and public places! Nay, they could have converted neither Jews nor Gentiles unless they had set forth in order what they wished
them to believe! Much less would they have kept back anything from Churches already believing to commit it to a few other persons privately!

And even if they used to discuss some things in their private circles (so to speak), yet it is incredible that these things would be of such a nature as to introduce another Rule of Faith, different from and contrary to that which they were setting forth openly to all; so that they should be speaking of one GOD in the Church and of another in their private houses; and describing one substance of Christ in public and another in private; and pro- claiming one hope of the resurrection before all and another before the few; at the time when they themselves were beseeching in their own Epistles that all would speak one and the same thing,2 and that there should be no divisions and dissensions in the Church, because they themselves, whether it were Paul or others, were preaching the same thing. Moreover they remembered, "Let your speech be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for what is more than this is of evil" 1 : words spoken to prevent them from treating the Gospel in different ways.
Why does this matter? Because Irenaeus/Tertullian argues that a 'secret gospel' was promulgated among the heretics which was connected with:

O Timothy guard (φύλαξον) the deposit (παραθήκην) [1 Tim 6:20]
The good deposit (παραθήκην) guard (φύλαξον) [2 Timothy 1:14]

The deposit that the Pastoral's reference is clearly a gospel:
Marcheselli-casale writes, “The term 'deposit-paratheke' was used by paul so as to indicate the gospel that must be kept without alterations until the return of christ” (Marcheselli-casale, Le Lettere Pastorali, 679). Likewise, Mounce states, “παραθήκην, 'deposit,' is the gospel . . . Its emphatic position before the verb φὐλαξον, 'guard' (on which, see v. 12) and its description as καλήν, 'good' (see 1 Tim 1:8), roughly paralleling ὑγιαινόντων λόγων, 'healthy words,' firmly separate it from the opponents' teachings” (Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 494). Similarly, Towner maintains, “ “Paratheke is closely associated with euangelion in 2 Tim 1.6–14. The emphasis in this term is more on the preservation and accurate transmission to succeeding generations of 'the gospel' that was entrusted to Paul. In terms of content, paratheke may be generally described as euangelion, but greater precision is probably implied” (Towner, Goal of Our Instruction, 123).
Yet look again at Clement's description of Mark's gospel-writing. It once again uses language related to 2 Timothy:
Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor unguardedly, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.

Οὕτως οὖν προπαρεσκεύασεν, οὐ φθονερῶς οὐδ᾽ ἀπροφυλάκτως, ὡς ἐγὼ οἶμαι, καὶ ἀποθνήσκων κατέλιπε τὸ αὐτοῦ σύγγραμμα τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τῇ ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ, ὅπου εἰσέτι νῦν ἀσφαλῶς εὖ μάλα τηρεῖται, ἀναγινωσκόμενον πρὸς αὐτοὺς μόνους τοὺς μυουμένους τὰ μεγάλα μυστήρια.
And Clement's citation of 2 Timothy in his Exhortation is one of many passages which clearly epitomizes the teachings of the gnostic Mark:
But godliness, that makes man as far as can be like God, designates God as our suitable teacher, who alone can worthily assimilate man to God. This teaching the apostle knows as truly divine. "Thou, O Timothy," he says, "from a child hast known the holy letters, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus." For truly holy are those letters that sanctify and deify; and the writings or volumes that consist of those holy letters and syllables, the same apostle consequently calls "inspired of God, being profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work." No one will be so impressed by the exhortations of any of the saints, as he is by the words of the Lord Himself, the lover of man. For this, and nothing but this, is His only work--the salvation of man. Therefore He Himself, urging them on to salvation, cries, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Those men that draw near through fear, He converts. Thus also the apostle of the Lord, beseeching the Macedonians, becomes the interpreter of the divine voice, when he says, "The Lord is at hand; take care that ye be not apprehended empty." But are ye so devoid of fear, or rather of faith, as not to believe the Lord Himself, or Paul, who in Christ's stead thus entreats:

"Taste and see that Christ is God?" Faith will lead you in; experience will teach you; Scripture will train you, for it says, "Come hither, O children; listen to me, and I will teach you the fear of the LORD." Then, as to those who already believe, it briefly adds, "What man is he that desireth life, that loveth to see good days?" It is we, we shall say--we who are the devotees of good, we who eagerly desire good things. Hear, then, ye who are far off, hear ye who are near: the word has not been hidden from any; light is common, it shines "on all men." No one is a Cimmerian in respect to the word. Let us haste to salvation, to regeneration; let us who are many haste that we may be brought together into one love, according to the union of the essential unity; and let us, by being made good, conformably follow after union, seeking after the good Monad.

The union of many in one, issuing in the production of divine harmony out of a medley of sounds and division, becomes one symphony following one choir-leader and teacher, the Word, reaching and resting in the same truth, and crying Abba, Father. This, the true utterance of His children, God accepts with gracious welcome--the first-fruits He receives from them.
Clement also understands 2 Timothy 1:14 in the manner of the heretics which Irenaeus/Tertullian opposes:
The liars, then, in reality are not those who for the sake of the scheme of salvation conform, nor those who err in minute points, but those who are wrong in essentials, and reject the Lord and as far as in them lies deprive the Lord of the true teaching; who do not quote or deliver the Scriptures in a manner worthy of God and of the Lord; for the deposit rendered to God (παραθήκη γὰρ ἀποδιδομένη θεῷ), according to the teaching of the Lord by His apostles, is the understanding and the practice of the godly tradition. "And what ye hear in the ear " -- that is, in a hidden manner, and in a mystery (for such things are figuratively said to be spoken in the ear) -- "proclaim," He says, "on the housetops," understanding them sublimely, and delivering them in a lofty strain, and according to the canon of the truth explaining the Scriptures; for neither prophecy nor the Saviour Himself announced the divine mysteries simply so as to be easily apprehended by all and sundry, but express them in parables.
“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

User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 11756
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Clement's To Theodore and Papias

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:57 pm

So let me recap my little thing about the relationship between Papias and Clement's To Theodore:

1. Clement makes mention of 'things' people are saying about what he calls 'the divinely-inspired (θεοπνεύστου) gospel of Mark.' It is recognized to be an allusion to 2 Tim 3.16. Yet it is interesting to note that Irenaeus/Tertullian make mention to 'heretics' who justify a 'secret gospel' or mystic gospel by means of 2 Timothy.
2. I think the emphasis that Mark is θεοπνεύστου has in mind Papias's understanding that Mark "wrote accurately, yet not in order, as many things as he remembered of the things either said or done by the Lord ... so that Mark did not sin having thus written certain things as he remembered them." Clearly some of things Mark wrote are not only at odds with the 'correct order' of the gospel but also the details within that ordering. To that end questions are raised by Papias - and possibly other sources known to Papias - regarding whether or not Mark's gospel is really 'divinely-inspired' or a human all-too-human text.
3. I can't help but feel that Clement's reference to the reports about the 'divinely inspired gospel of Mark' have shades of influence from Papias's report about the gospel of Mark. With respect to the reports that are out there regarding Mark, says Clement, "some are altogether falsifications (τὰ μὲν ψεύδεται παντελῶς), and others, even if they do contain some true elements, nevertheless are not reported truly (οὐδ᾽ οὕτως ἀληθῶς παραδίδοται)." Papias says of Mark that he added both true and mistaken remembrances to his gospel but takes great pain to avoid saying he added lies - i.e. "he wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered ... [w]herefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put any falsehoods among them (παραλιπεῖν ἢ ψεύσασθαί τι ἐν αὐτοῖς)."
4.
“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

perseusomega9
Posts: 600
Joined: Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:19 am
Contact:

Re: Clement's To Theodore and Papias

Post by perseusomega9 » Tue Mar 17, 2020 12:09 pm

"in the presence of many witnesses"

Would you say this is a catholicizing redaction in 2 Tim?

Post Reply