Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

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Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 05, 2020 10:53 am

I think the problem is that most people who comment on the origins of Christianity haven't spent enough time thinking about what they've learned. I've seen it with many grad students. There is such a rush to pay for the cost of their education that they are left spinning on a speedy treadmill trying to make career choices. The reality is that ALL ancient sources confirm some part of the story that is distilled in the Timothy tradition. First the Martyrdom of Timothy summarized by Photius. As Ramelli notes:
John was reported to have read the accounts that served as the basis of the Gospels, to have re-ordered them, and to have assigned them to the three other evangelists:
At that time he received papyrus rolls, from people who kept bringing them to him. These papyri recorded, in different languages, the salvific Passion of the Lord and his miracles and teachings. He put them in order, articulated them into a structure, and attributed to each of them the name of one of the three evangelists.
It is interesting that the materials, on the basis of which John purportedly performed his redactional work, are said to have been “in different languages,” presumably in reference to Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic (this being attested at least for Matthew in the tradition analyzed above), and less probably, to Latin. The material support of these first-century writings is correctly identified with papyrus rolls, which suggests an early date for the origin of this tradition.
Then the surviving Acts of Timothy which tells mostly the same story:
Some followers of the disciples of the Lord, not knowing how to put in order certain papyri which were written in different languages and put together in random fashion by these disciples and which dealt with the miracles of the Lord Jesus which had taken place in their time, came to the city of Ephesus and by common consent brought them (the papyri) to John the renowned theologian. He examined them thoroughly and taking his cue from them, after he had put in order the three gospel narratives and entitled them Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke, assigning their proper titles to the gospels, he himself theologized upon the things they had not narrated ..., filling up also the gaps they had left, in their accounts of the miracles especially, and then he set his own name to this compilation or gospel.
Origen may be another witness to the tradition reported by the Martyrdom of Timothy and the Muratori Fragment concerning the work done by John on various narratives of the life of Jesus, including the detail, as attested in the Fragment,of the early composition of the Gospel of John.
According to Rauer's edition,32 Origen claims in his homilies on Luke in fragment 9 commenting on Luke 1:1–2,33 as he also does in his first Homily on Luke (1.1), that the church has received only the four canonical Gospels, while rejecting the others. In this connection, he retrojects this choice to John the Evangelist himself:
Λόγος ἐστὶ Ἰωάννην ἔτι περιόντα βίῳ ἐπὶ Νέρωνος τὰ συγγεγραμμένα εὐαγγέλια συναγαγεῖν καὶ τὰ μὲν ἐγκρῖναικαὶἀποδέξασθαι ὧνοὐδὲνἡ τοῦδιαβόλου ἐπιβουλὴ καθήψατο, τὰ δὲ ἀπολέξασθαι καὶκαταργῆσαι, ὅσα μὴ τῆς ἀληθείας ἐχόμενα συνέγνω.

There is a tradition that John in his lifetime, during the reign of Nero, collected the gospels that had been composed, and approved of and received some, those of which the devil's deceitful assault had not taken possession, while he refused and rejected others, those which he recognized as having no truth in themselves.
“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: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 05, 2020 11:10 am

Of course Ramelli starts with Papias noting that the discussion of derives its origin from John. But I think the place to start is the Marcionite understanding that the various canonical gospels of the Catholic church were pseudepigrapha:
MEG. I can prove that the Gospels are spurious.
AD. What proofs have you to offer that this is so?
MEG. I will show from the Gospels themselves that they are spurious.
AD. Will you agree if I show from the Gospels that they are not fabrications?
MEG. I will agree if you prove it. First state the names of the Gospel writers.
AD. The disciples of Christ wrote them: John and Matthew; Mark and Luke.
MEG. Christ did not have Mark and Luke as disciples, so you and your party are convicted of producing spurious writings. Why is it that the disciples whose names are recorded in the Gospel did not write, while men who were not disciples did? Who is Luke? Who is Mark? You are therefore convicted of bringing forward names not recorded in the Scriptures.
EUTR. If Christ had disciples, would He not have committed the work to them rather than to men who were not disciples? Something seems wrong here. The disciples themselves ought rather to have been entrusted with the task.
AD. These men are also disciples of Christ.
MEG. Let the Gospel be read, and you will find that their names are not recorded.
EUTR. Let it be read.
AD. The names of the twelve apostles have been read, but not of the seventy-two.
EUTR. How many apostles had Christ ?
AD. First he sent out twelve and, after that, seventy-two to preach the gospel. Therefore, Mark and Luke, who are among the seventy-two, preached the gospel together with Paul the apostle.
MEG: It is impossible that these [two] ever saw Paul.
AD. I will show that the Apostle himself bears witness to Mark and Luke.
MEG. I do not accept your spurious Apostolicon.
AD. Produce your Apostolicon — even though it is much mutilated — and I will prove that Mark and Luke worked with Paul.
MEG. Prove it.
AD. I read at the end of Paul's letter to the Colossians : "Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoners," he says "sends you greetings; also Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions that he may come to you; receive him therefore; and Jesus who is called Justus. They alone are my fellow-workers for the Kingdom of God — men who have been a comfort to me." And following this, "Luke sends you greetings; also Demas." I have offered proofs from the Epistle. You see that even the Apostle himself witnesses to them.
EUTR. The proof is clear from these statements.
MEG. I will demonstrate from elsewhere (in the Apostolicon) that the gospels are spurious. The Apostle says that there is one Gospel, but you people say that there are four.
AD. There are four who preached the Gospel, but one Gospel. They proclaimed one Christ, and are in agreement. Now, if each of them had proclaimed or preached a different Christ, you would be right, but if the four speak of one Christ there are no longer four Gospels but one.
MEG. The Apostle doesn't say, "according to my gospels", but "according to my gospel". You see how he speaks of one. And a second time he says "if anyone should proclaim to you a different gospel, let him be accursed" (Gal.1:9?). How is it that you speak of four?
AD. The Gospel which we speak is one, but there are four evangelists.
MEG. Neither are there four evangelists, for the Apostle says (Gal.1:7) : "which is not another but there are some that trouble you and would divert (you) unto a different gospel of Christ."
AD. Paul speaks of there being a plurality of evangelists, how is it that you say there is only one?
MEG. He did not say that there are many preachers of the Gospel.
AD. I hold the Apostle in my hands, and I point out that he says in the letter to the Galatians, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach a gospel to you contrary to that which we preached." He said, We preached. Now, if there had been one, he would have said, "besides that which I have preached." The we preached indicates many.
EUTR. The expression we preached indicates many not one.
MEG. He does not refer to these, but Sylvanus and Timothy.
EUTR. At first you said that only Paul was a preacher of the Gospel; now you admit that there were others. It is possible, then, that the rest of them — the rest of the disciples — preached the Gospel. If Sylvanus, Timothy and Paul preached the Gospel, b and Paul says according to my Gospel, it is reasonable that, though there are many preachers of the Gospel, the Gospel should be called one. 7
MEG. The gospels disagree, and say first one thing and then another, from which it is apparent that they are spurious
AD. Do they preach first one Christ and then another? Do you think that they disagree in this respect? MEG. No, but they are contradictory. AD. Explain what you mean: do you hold that the Scriptures are to be understood in the spiritual or in the literal” sense? Make your position clear, please, so that the debate may proceed.
MEG. They are to be understood in the literal sense. As they have been written, so they are to be taken, and not otherwise.
[discussion of the Son of Man follows]
MEG. I will prove that the Gospel is one. (16)
AD. Who is the writer of this Gospel which you said is one?
MEG. Christ.
AD. Did the Lord Himself write that He was crucified, and rose on the third day? Does He write in this way? e
MEG. The Apostle Paul added that.
AD. Was Paul present at the crucifixion of Christ? MEG. He himself plainly wrote the Gospel.
AD. If now I should show that he was not present, but even persecuted the members of the Church after this, would you become a Christian?”
MEG. But surely I am a Christian.
Notice also the curious argument that Luke and Mark are not listed as disciples of Paul but Timothy is ... and then Timothy becomes the chief spokesman for the Pastorals (i.e. orthodox pseudepigrapha) but also the tradition that John was the author of the canonical gospels (Marcionite tradition?). The Timothy tradition regarding the origins of the canonical gospels hardly seems flattering to the orthodox church.
“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: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 05, 2020 11:16 am

The 'threefold/fourfold' rewrite of the gospels in Celsus also seems to come from this tradition (threefold now if John was the original gospel writer). It also contextualizes the Alogoi's hatred of John and the Johannine tradition.
“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: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 05, 2020 12:03 pm

Concannon (2016) translation of the relevant section of the Acts of Timothy:
At that time also those who had followed after the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ did not know how to organize sheets of paper in their possession in various languages which had been sporadically organized and which concerned the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ that happened at their time. When they were present in the city of the Ephesians, according to common consent, they brought them to the truly reverent John the theologian. 9He looked at them all and beginning from theme he put the things said by them in order in three Gospels and registered them as by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, assigning their names to the Gospels. 10But when he found that the Gospels recounted the genealogy of the matters relating to the economy of the incarnation, then he theologized about the things that were not mentioned, of which he had obtained an impression from the divine breast. Thus he supplemented the things that were left out by the others, in particular the divine miracles.
“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: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 05, 2020 12:22 pm

A rough translation of 254 Biblioteca:
Ἀνεγνώσθη ἐκ τῆς μαρτυρικῆς Τιμοθέου τοῦ ἀποστόλου συγγραφῆς.

Ὅτι πρῶτον Τιμόθεον ἡ παροῦσα συγγραφή φησιν Ἐφέσου ἐπισκοπῆσαι, ῥοπάλοις δ´ ἀναιρεθῆναι, διότι τοὺς Ἐφεσίους διεκώλυε τὰς μυσαρὰς καὶ μιαιφόνους τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἐπιτελεῖν τελετάς, ὧν μία ἦν καὶ ἡ καλουμένη Καταγώγιον, καθ´ ἣν οὗτος, καὶ ὅτι ταύτην ἐξεκήρυττε, τοῦ μαρτυρικοῦ τέλους ἠξίωται. Δομετιανὸς δὲ τηνικαῦτα τῆς Ῥωμαϊκῆς ἀρχῆς καθειστήκει τύραννος.

Τοῦ δὲ ἱεροῦ Τιμοθέου τρόπῳ τῷ εἰρημένῳ τὸν βίον λιπόντος, καὶ Δομετιανοῦ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀποφθαρέντος, Νέρβα δὲ τοῦ Ῥωμαϊκοῦ κράτους τὸ σκῆπτρον ἀναδεδεγμένου, ὁ θεολόγος Ἰωάννης τῆς ὑπερορίου φυγῆς ἀφεθεὶς κατάγεται πρὸς τὴν Ἔφεσον, ἧς καὶ πρότερον ὑπὸ Δομετιανοῦ πεφυγάδευτο. Καὶ γὰρ ἐν ταύτῃ διέτριβε ναυαγήσας μὲν περὶ τὸν αἰγιαλόν, ἐκβρασθεὶς δὲ τῆς θαλάσσης ἐμπνέων ἔτι, ἡνίκα Νέρων ὁ ἐμμανὴς τὸν κατὰ τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἔπνει διωγμόν· ὅτε καὶ τοὺς τόμους, οἳ ἀνέγραφον διαφόροις γλώσσαις τὰ σωτήρια τοῦ δεσπότου πάθη τε καὶ θαύματα καὶ διδάγματα, τούτους παρὰ τῶν κομιζόντων δεξάμενος διέταξέ τε καὶ διήρθρωσε, καὶ ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ τῶν τριῶν εὐαγγελιστῶν τὸ ὄνομα ἐνηρμόσατο. Ἀλλὰ γάρ, ὅπερ εἶπον, ψηφίσματι Νέρβα τῆς ὑπερορίας ἀνακληθεὶς τῇ Ἐφεσίων ἐπέστη μητροπόλει, καὶ αὐτὸς δι´ ἑαυτοῦ, ἑπτὰ συμπαρόντων ἐπισκόπων, τῆς Ἐφεσίων ἀντιλαμβάνεται μητροπόλεως, καὶ διήρκεσε τὸν τῆς εὐσεβείας κηρύσσων λόγον ἄχρι τῆς βασιλείας Τραιανοῦ. Ταῦτα δὴ καὶ τοιαῦθ´ ἕτερα διηγεῖται τὸ μαρτύριον ἁπλουστέρᾳ φράσει τοῦ ἁγίου Τιμοθέου.

Ὅτι ὁ ἀπόστολος Τιμόθεος ὑπὸ τοῦ μεγάλου Παύλου καὶ χειροτονεῖται τῆς Ἐφεσίων μητροπόλεως ἐπίσκοπος καὶ ἐνθρονίζεται.

Ὅτι ἡ παρὰ τοῖς Ἐφεσίοις δαιμονιώδης καὶ βδελυκτὴ ἑορτή, ἡ λεγομένη καταγώγιον, τόνδε τὸν τρόπον ἐτελεῖτο· προσχήματα μὲν ἑαυτοῖς ἀπρεπῆ περιετίθεσαν, πρὸς δὲ τὸ μὴ ἐπιγινώσκεσθαι προσωπείοις κατακαλύπτοντες τὰ ἑαυτῶν πρόσωπα, πολλά τε καὶ εἴδωλα ἐπιφερόμενοι καί τινα ᾄδοντες ᾄσματα, ἐπῄεσάν τε ἀνδράσι καὶ σεμναῖς γυναιξὶ κατὰ λῃστρικὴν ἔφοδον, καὶ φόνους εἰργάζοντο κατὰ τοὺς ἐπισήμους τόπους τῆς πόλεως, καὶ ἔπραττον προθύμως τὰ ἄθεσμα, ὡς ἐνθέσμοις ἔργοις τοῖς ἀθεμίτοις καλλωπιζόμενοι.

I partially read the account of the Martyrdom of the apostle Timothy.

This account relates first of all that Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus and that he was killed with club blows because he had prevented the Ephesians from celebrating the abominable and criminal festivals of the Greeks; one was called Catagogion (Feast of the Return): it was because he wanted to repeal it that Timothy had the honor of martyrdom. It was at the time when Domitian reigned as a tyrant over the Roman Empire.

When Saint Timothy ended his life in this way, as we have said, when Domitian died and Nerva succeeded him, John the Theologian returned free from his exile to Ephesus from where he had previously been relegated by Domitian. (in fact, he had lived there since he was shipwrecked near the shore and he had barely been thrown back alive by the sea when the cruel Nero raged against the Christians). Then, having received the detached pieces which described in different languages ​​the salutary Passion of the Master and his works and his teachings, from the hand of those who brought them to him, he [John] coordinated and distributed them) and applied to each of the writings the names of the three evangelists. But as I said, recalled from exile by a decision of Nerva, he took the head of the siege of Ephesus and led it with seven bishops and lived there announcing the holy word until the reign of Trajan. This and other things are contained in the martyrdom of Saint Timothy and it is written in a very simple style.
“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: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 05, 2020 2:39 pm

The idea appears to be something like this. All this gospel material existed before John decided to reorganize it under the broad heading of 'according to Matthew,' 'according to Mark' and 'according to Luke.' Then with respect to his own gospel "he theologized about the things that were not mentioned, of which he had obtained an impression from the divine breast. Thus he supplemented the things that were left out by the others, in particular the divine miracles."

Of course I've always subscribed to this sort of an origin for the canonical gospels. I used to say they aren't organic literary creations. But I also think this dovetails with Secret Mark if as Mullins suggests Papias has Secret Mark in mind when he wrote that famous passage about the relationship between Mark and Matthew.
“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: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Stuart » Tue May 05, 2020 4:18 pm

The Marcionites believed Jesus wrote their gospel, and that Paul wrote the parts after Jesus died. (Dialogue Adamantius 1.8)
Adamantius: "Who is the writer of this Gospel which you said is one?
Megethius: "Christ"
Adamantius: "Did the Lord himself write that he was crucified, and rose on the third day? Does he write this way?
Megethius: "The apostle Paul added that."
This is similar to how Jews believed Moses wrote the first five books, and Joshua finished the very last part of Deuteronomy. The ancients sense of reading things was somewhat literal. If a name was affixed to a text they believed they wrote it.

I think you are trying to be a bit to circuitous to try and show your point, when in fact the debates with Marcionites openly revealed who they thought wrote the gospel, and they did not hide that.
“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.” - Jonathan Swift

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Re: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 05, 2020 5:38 pm

I am focusing on the idea of the canonical gospels as pseudepigrapha.
“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: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 05, 2020 5:41 pm

AD. Who is the writer of this Gospel which you said is one?
MEG. Christ.
AD. Did the Lord Himself write that He was crucified, and rose on the third day? Does He write in this way? e
MEG. The Apostle Paul added that.
On a separate note the Marcionites clearly believed Paul was the author of the gospel, Christ speaking through him (2 Cor 13.3 etc cf application of 2 Cor 13.3 and others in Hegemonius).
“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: Where Marcion and the Orthodox Tradition Agree: John Wrote the Canonical Gospels

Post by Stuart » Fri May 08, 2020 11:26 am

Yeah I misread the title. And you are quite right on the Marcionites having an almost Gabriel to Muhammad sort of dictation by Jesus to Paul via revelation. After all "gospel" in Greek is εὖ (doing good) + ἄγγελος (angel = messenger/envoy usually of God). So the same concept of divine inspiration is at work in the claim for authority.

There was quite a fight over Achaia, Asia (Minor), Bithynia (Pontus), Galatia, and Lycia (Panphillia). There is ample evidence of the changing patron saint from Paul to John, with some Philip thrown in there. Robert Price goes into some detail about that in some of his books. The fight was over authority, that is which family gets to have the bishop in the town, and who their friends are.

I actually think Christianity "started", in the sense that it fully broke from Judaism and was it's own thing, in what today is Turkey and Greece (more Turkey than Greece). So many of the acts, especially apocryphal focus on these cities, so many of the Pauline letters,1 Peter, the acts of Philip, Revelation, and so on. The Marcionite and Johannine (identified as the Nicolaitans in Revelation?) Christians battled over this turf.

So your theory here would fit that scenario well. If the Marcionites were clashing head up with the Johannine Christians (e.g., Apollos) primarily, it would make sense that they would see "John" as the author of the rival gospel, in much the same way they saw "Paul" as the author of theirs. This Johannine region may explain why the letters and gospel were incorporated into canon, despite the heretical nature of the sect. Cephas would represent the proto-Orthodox and Matthew's gospel. The scene in Acts where Acquilla and Priscilla "conversion" of Apollos could represent the alignment of the Johannine sect with the proto-Orthodox.

My read is, if you are correct, the assignment of John to the writing of all the gospels (and clearly the author of the first edition gospel of John found the proto-Orthodox oppressive and in error) by Marcionites would be a hangover from the early days of their competition for Asia and the surrounding provinces. (Note to self, Matthew, John and the Marcionite/Luke gospels all fit, but Mark still doesn't fit -- a great mystery to me.)
“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.” - Jonathan Swift

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