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Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 11:50 am
by Secret Alias
BTW I have noticed Peter Kirby's copy of this material is faulty. Something happened in the transcription:
embracing the mansion that is in heaven "For we know, that, if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we by sight," as the apostle says; walk by faith, not "and we are willing rather to be absent from the body, and present with God." The rather is in comparison. And comparison obtains in the case of things that fall under resemblance; as the more valiant man is more valiant among the valiant, and most valiant among cowards. Whence he adds, "Wherefore we strive, whether present or absent, to be accepted with Him," that is, God, whose work and creation are all things, both the world and things supramundane.

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 2:53 pm
by John2
Secret Alias wrote:
Wed May 20, 2020 2:43 pm
No. My point is:

No divorce.

vs.

No divorce with an asterisk.

Anyone with objectivity thinks the former is more original. The Christian are right on this one. Divorce came about through Moses making up shit. What God brought together no one should be able to break apart.

And Steve if you actually cared about the topic you would see that the idea that the former came from God and the latter came from Moses is evidence in what little we glimpse we get of the Marcionite and neo-Marcionite tradition https://books.google.com/books?id=YegsD ... ce&f=false

According to your link, Marcion agreed with my reading of Jesus' understanding of the Torah, i.e., that it was all from God.

For Marcion it was a straightforward matter that the entire Mosiac law had originated from the Demiurge ...



And regarding Ptolemy, your link says that:

On the one hand, Ptolemy's answer is more nuanced, introducing Moses as an independent agent. On the other hand, Ptolemy preserves the stark contrast between law and gospel that Marcion had identified in this pericope. Unlike Tertullian, Ptolemy does not admit any exceptions exist, and although he makes use of some elements from Mt. 19.3-9 as evidence for a stratum of legislation that Moses had introduced of his own accord, he avoids quoting the pericope's actual divorce saying, Mt. 19.9, which contains the porneia exception clause. And Ptolemy avoids any use of Luke's Gospel, perhaps because the argument that would be made by Tertullian based upon the Lukan version was already known to Ptolemy's contemporaries.

So your link does not appear to support what you say. According to Jorgensen, Marcion thought that all of the Torah came from God, and while Ptolemy thought that some parts were from God and some were from Moses, he avoids mentioning Jesus' exceptions for divorce in Matthew and Luke (and Mark).

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 3:38 pm
by Ken Olson
Secret Alias wrote:
I am not a great thinker (as you can tell). But I think the one thing I am attuned to is another person's perspective. I think my parents drilled that into my head. See things from someone else's perspective. I don't see my experience as universal.

Do you think the opinion you have of yourself, that you are attuned to other people's perspectives, is widely shared by people who have engaged with you on this forum? I kinda suspect it is not, but we could call for a vote.

The person I've seen on this forum routinely mocks other people and calls them stupid or dishonest for not sharing his opinions and regularly either misunderstands or misrepresents what they've said and hypothesizes or invents motives for them in order to dismiss what they say (at least twice in the post to which I'm currently responding). I think you have confused yourself with someone who is very different from you.

Now, possibly you have some special gift that attunes you to ancient readings, as opposed to modern ones, but I have yet to see any evidence for that. Your say-so does not suffice.
How I read a passage isn't as important as how an ancient read a passage. It's hard to reconstruct that with any degree of certainty. Certainly nudity could be sexualized. But as we see from Maximus of Tyre when he used 'naked with naked' the 'stripping off' of the linen cloth was a metaphor for death which doesn't quite work for us because we have different dress habits. It's also in Paul. But you don't want to consider that. You don't seem to want to see things from the ancient perspective because you are certain at the outset the passage is fake. As a forgery all that matters is how it is read today.
Certainly the word naked can have different connotations in different contexts. But it's simply false to say I have not considered that.

What I argued with regard to "naked with naked", spelling it out twice, is that within the context of the Letter to Theodore the words are presented as one of the added falsifications of the Carpocratians that are shameless lies and should be interpreted as such. This is true regardless of whether the Letter is ancient or modern. Yes, there are other contexts in which the word naked could be understood, but I'm talking about its context in the Letter to Theodore. You have again dismissed my conclusions as though they were the product of my desires, what I want, and ignored the fact that I made a rational argument for them. And, while we're at it, you have clearly not taken to heart what I said about your constant use of Bulverism -- look it up. You can't dismiss someone's views just by saying they have some other motive to hold them. Two people holding opposite conclusions might both want to be right, but that doesn't preclude he possibility that one of them actually is.

With regard to the naked youth you yourself have just said that the gay interpretation of Secret Mark will come up naturally on a naive first reading:
Mark 14:51 - 52 sounds just as 'gay' as Secret Mark. The fact that Christian books don't have 'gay' interpretations of Mark 14:51 - 52 is of little consequence. The gay interpretation of Secret Mark is a reflection of the naive 'first read' of Mark 14:51 - 52. You don't need someone whispering in your ear that it is strange. What's the Savior doing with a naked youth? I can continue to cite the question. It comes up naturally. And most of us have bad minds and dirty thoughts.
Now you want to knock over the gameboard and start the game over with the meaning of"naked" in Maximus and Paul as though we haven't already been through that.
I don't think you've taken the time to go beyond your own shadow. Your need for certainty is limiting the way you consider the material. It isn't certain that it is a forgery so you have to approach the material with more consideration and deference.
I'll give an example of me giving a considerate evaluation of one of your theories for an ancient reading of the text from this thread below. Despite your claim to be attuned to other people's perspectives, you have never given my theory anything like the consideration I have given yours. You dismissed my opening post by claiming that I'm fixated on just one possibility and too narrow minded. The self-contradiction inherent in that appears to have escaped you.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7008&p=109605&hilit=#p109605

And I apologize to the other readers of this thread, if there are any. This exchange has degenerated more into a discussion of me and Stephan rather than of The Letter to Theodore. I blame Stephan ;) but I promise I am working on a longer post considering the Letter to Theodore and two passages from Clement and one from Epiphanius. But that kind of thing takes more time.

Best,

Ken

P.S. Stephan - I got a kick out of the way you began the post. It reminded me of Phil Hartman's Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from the old SNL, with the "Ladies and Gentleman of the jury, I'm just a caveman, I don't understand your X ... but one thing I do know is Y."

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 4:27 pm
by Ken Olson

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 4:58 pm
by Secret Alias
With regards to the other members of the forum, you - wisely - pop in and out of the forum not getting too close to many of the batshit crazies. I on the other hand am an early riser. I wake up at about 5:30 or 6:00 am when - until recently - very few members of my household are awake. I turn on this forum as something to do. Yes, I really should have found another hobby. I do train my son to play football (soccer):



I ran a relatively successful business (who knows what anyone is going to do in 6 months). I also spend lots of time (now more than ever) with my wife and my dog. By all accounts I am a 'nice guy.' If I have given the impression that I mistreat or abuse people here I would argue it is in fact an extension of my attempts to actually figure out the inner workings and discovering they have wretched souls. Some people among other believe that Columbine was hoax. These are the kind of people who frequent this place. But that's neither here nor there.

Even though I now this is doomed to failure I am going to try to convince you to see Quis Dives Salvetur as proof that Clement knew and used the Secret Gospel. Already Morton Smith recognized that the rich man who Jesus 'loved' (Mark 10:21) in the scene before the Secret Mark pericope seems to exist in a parallel universe to the youth who 'loved' Jesus. The rich man asks how to receive eternal life. The answer from Jesus is sell your possessions. The rich man leaves unhappy. In the next scene the rich youth at least in theory inherits the kingdom of God through some sort of mystery rite. I hope you agree on that much with respect to the ALLEGED context of the Secret Mark pericope. Now let me try with my limited intellect to try to convince you that Clement has a gospel which referenced some sort of 'love mystery' which becomes the basis to why the crucifixion took place and what Jesus to do for his disciples by means of it.

Let's start with the actual conclusion of Quis Dives Salvetur - the place where Clement effectively says 'here is Jesus meant by sell your possessions' and how it will give you eternal life without it demanding literally for us to give up our material wealth. Clement's interpretation is quite mystic - Jesus was demanding that the man 'strip himself' (literally 'make naked') so he can be dressed with a new divine soul. In QDS 33 he begins by noting:
Open thy compassion to all who are enrolled the disciples of God; not looking contemptuously to personal appearance, nor carelessly disposed to any period of life. Nor if one appears penniless, or ragged, or ugly, or feeble, do thou fret in soul at this and turn away. This form is cast around us from without, the occasion of our entrance into this world, that we may be able to enter into this common school. But within (us) dwells the hidden Father, and His Son, who died for us and rose with us.
He explains this in QDS 36 in the following terms by referencing an apocalyptic scenario where a mystery of love was established for only a short time to rescue chosen souls before the final conflagration:
the elect of the elect (τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν ἐκλεκτότεροι), and so much more or less distinguished by drawing themselves ... not wishing to seem holy, and ashamed if one call them so; hiding in the depth of their mind the ineffable mysteries (ἐν βάθει γνώμης ἀποκρύπτοντες τὰ
ἀνεκλάλητα μυστήρια), and disdaining to let their nobleness be seen in the world ... [t]his is the seed, the image and likeness of God, and His true son and heir ( τοῦτ' ἔστι τὸ σπέρμα, εἰκὼν καὶ ὁμοίωσις θεοῦ, καὶ τέκνον αὐτοῦ γνήσιον καὶ κληρονόμον), sent here as it were on a sojourn, by the high administration and suitable arrangement of the Father, by whom the visible and invisible things of the world were created ... and all things are held together so long as the seed remains here; and when it is gathered, these things shall be very quickly dissolved.
Then in the next chapter the actual mysteries are referenced where - strangely - they are likened to the creation of the Son in individual initiates:
For what further need has God of the mysteries of love (τῆς ἀγάπης μυστήρια)? And then thou shalt look into the bosom of the Father (καὶ τότε ἐποπτεύ σεις τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός), whom God the only-begotten Son alone hath declared. And God Himself is love (ἔστι δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ θεὸς ἀγάπη) and out of love to us became feminine (καὶ δι' ἀγάπην ἡμῖν ἐθεάθη = seen). In His ineffable essence He is Father (καὶ τὸ μὲν ἄρρητον αὐτοῦ πατήρ); in His compassion to us He became Mother (τὸ δὲ εἰς ἡμᾶς συμπαθὲς [= by having like feelings] γέγονε μήτηρ). The Father by loving became feminine (ἀγαπήσας ὁ πατὴρ ἐθηλύνθη): and the great sign of this is He whom He begot of Himself (καὶ τούτου μέγα σημεῖον ὃν αὐτὸς ἐγέννησεν ἐξ αὑτοῦ); and the fruit brought forth by love is love (καὶ ὁ τεχθεὶς ἐξ ἀγάπης καρπὸς ἀγάπη). [QDS 37]
Harnack recognized how eye-opening this stuff is. Essentially the Father took on femininity - became a mother - in order to bring forth 'the fruit' by means of agape. I say it has Valentinian overtones - the idea that 'before the beginning' the Father created out of himself Jesus 'the perfect fruit' of the pleroma. The idea that Clement was a Valentinian is an old charge. But it is important to note that in Tertullian's Against the Valentinians the creation of Jesus the Perfect Fruit is the pretext for the Valentinians to engage in a massive orgy symbolizing in some sense the 'conjunction of the aeons.' I am suspending judgement on whether or not the heretics actually had orgies. The point is that just as the pagans supposed the Agape was one massive orgy ritual and just as we hear the Carpocratians knocked over lamps as they had orgies the Valentinians are alleged to have had orgies in connection with the Agape.

Itter notes:
The word κόλπος has interesting connotations not readily translated directly into English. It is often translated as 'bosom', but can also carry the connotation of a bay, or a gulf or hollow. It can also refer to the womb, the vagina or the lap, or even the folds of a woman's garment. Ultimately, however, it appears to signify the sympathetic quality of a woman's embrace, such as when a child is held within the folds of its mother's arms, and kept close to its place of origin and to what sustains its life. In this passage the Father becomes feminine in order to become known to us as motherly and as sympathetic; this is the “mystery of love” since the soul is “shown the way” (ε̉ξηγήσατο); that is, made visible to that which is ultimately ineffable and invisible. As Father, God remains ineffable, but as Mother, God becomes accessible, embracing us to her bosom and drawing us into the unfathomable depths of God’s love. The use of sexual symbolism to describe the act of generation is entirely appropriate and immediately intelligible for the human condition.
At the very least we have to see that just as the heretics emphasized that Jesus was created in the beginning by means of the self-creation of the Father (essentially him becoming a female with a womb) the immediate context of what Clement is talking about here is a mystery religion which takes place in the here and now based on a passage in his gospel where Jesus performed the Agape on a chosen disciple. Look carefully at what immediately follows our last citation of QDS:
For this also He came (διὰ τοῦτο καὶ αὐτὸς κατῆλθε). For this He put on man (διὰ τοῦτο ἄνθρωπον ἐνέδυ). For this He voluntarily subjected Himself to the experiences of men (διὰ τοῦτο τὰ ἀνθρώπων ἑκὼν ἔπαθεν), that by bringing Himself to the measure of our weakness whom He loved (ἵνα πρὸς τὴν ἡμετέραν ἀσθένειαν οὓς ἠγάπησε), He might correspondingly bring us to the measure of His own strength (μετρηθεὶς ἡμᾶς πρὸς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ δύναμιν ἀντιμετρήσῃ).
I know we like to read these 'poetic meanderings' as just something made up by Clement but notice again how close this followed by mention of the Passion in what immediately follows:
And about to be offered up and giving Himself a ransom (καὶ μέλλων σπένδεσθαι καὶ λύτρον ἑαυτὸν ἐπιδιδοὺς), He left for us a new Covenant-testament (καινὴν ἡμῖν δια θήκην καταλιμπάνει): My love I give unto you (ἀγάπην ὑμῖν δίδωμι τὴν ἐμήν). And what and how great is it? For each of us He gave His life the equivalent for all (ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἑκάστου κατέθηκε τὴν ψυχὴν τὴν ἀνταξίαν τῶν ὅλων). This He demands from us in return for one another (ταύτην ἡμᾶς ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ἀνταπαιτεῖ). And if we owe our lives to the brethren (εἰ δὲ τὰς ψυχὰς ὀφείλομεν τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς), and have made such a covenant with the Saviour (καὶ τοιαύτην τὴν συνθήκην πρὸς τὸν σωτῆρα ἀνθωμολογήμεθα), why should we any more hoard and shut up worldly goods, which are beggarly, foreign to us and transitory?
Remember Quis Dives Salvetur is a discussion of Mark chapter 10. That's what it is quite overtly. Clement first cites a 'harmonized' text of Mark 10 and then goes on to reference a group of communists who say the material demands giving up of all personal wealth and something like monastic living. Then Clement gives a lengthy refutation of this interpretation saying instead that something mysterious is being spoken by Jesus. Then comes this unknown gospel which sounds a lot like John chapters 14 and 15 and QDS ends with the story about the apostle John giving up his life for another.

In other words, the original discussion about the meaning of the pericope of the rich man segues into this strange discussion about 'the mysteries of love' where Jesus came (κατῆλθε) to 'put on a man' and crucify himself. We have inherited our own idea about what the Passion meant - namely that Jesus i.e God gets crucified, dies and is resurrected. This doesn't make sense of course because God can't die, can't be crucified etc. Basilides and previous generations of Alexandrians clearly understand that someone else died on the cross who had Jesus 'in them.' Simon Magus is one candidate. There are others. But in this tradition Jesus has to go into someone else so that this person can be crucified in his place and perform some service for the Lord which is no longer understood by us. Could the passage in Secret Mark be the 'mysteries of love' that are spoken about here?

In Secret Mark the visit to the tomb of the youth is:

Καὶ ὀργισθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀπῆλθεν μετ᾽ αὐτῆς εἰς τὸν κῆπον ὅπου ἦν τὸ μνημεῖον

In Quis Dives Salvetur it is referenced:

διὰ τοῦτο καὶ αὐτὸς κατῆλθε

Remember ἀπέρχομαι = apo + erchomai. κατέρχομαι = kata + erchomai. Already we know Clement has a different gospel from our own because his citation - is an agraphon at least from our perspective. John 14:27 reads Εἰρήνην ἀφίημι ὑμῖν, εἰρήνην τὴν ἐμὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν. Clearly Clement's gospel has Jesus's announcement before the crucifixion as a confirmation that his going into a man prior to coming to Jerusalem is the original 'love mystery' - the basis to the Agape - which will be passed on subsequently to all the disciples. John 15:13 is also hinted at when he speaks of Jesus giving his life for his brothers. So in effect Clement is skimming through a gospel harmony of sorts going from Mark chapter 10 to John chapters 14 and 15. This might explain the extended coda where John exchanges his life for another. But the important thing is that he has the whole time been attempting to explain the Gospel of Mark's account of the question of the rich man.

Clement is absolutely consistent in his understanding that Jesus's saying in Mark chapter 10:
How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
is not about money or wealth but the passion of the soul. It is explicit midway through the treatise:
The renunciation, then, and selling of all possessions, is to be understood as spoken of the passions of the soul. (Quis Dives Salvetur 14).


The idea is made explicit in Quis Dives Salvetur 11:
"Sell thy possessions." (πώλησον τὰ ὑπάρχοντά σου) And what is this? He does not, as some conceive off-hand, bid him throw away the substance he possessed, and abandon his property; but bids him banish from his soul his notions about wealth, his excitement and morbid feeling about it, the anxieties, which are the thorns of existence, which choke the seed of life. For it is no great thing or desirable to be destitute of wealth, if without a special object, -- not except on account of life. For thus those who have nothing at all, but are destitute, and beggars for their daily bread, the poor dispersed on the streets, who know not God and God's righteousness, simply on account of their extreme want and destitution of subsistence, and lack even of the smallest things, were most blessed and most dear to God, and sole possessors of everlasting life.

Nor was the renunciation of wealth and the bestowment of it on the poor or needy a new thing; for many did so before the Saviour's advent, -- some because of the leisure (thereby obtained) for learning, and on account of a dead wisdom; and others for empty fame and vainglory, as the Anaxagorases, the Democriti, and the Crateses.

Why then command as new, as divine, as alone life-giving, what did not save those of former days? And what peculiar thing is it that the new creature (καινὴ κτίσις) the Son of God intimates and teaches? It is not the outward act which others have done, but something else indicated by it (σημαινόμενον), greater, more godlike, more perfect (μεῖζον καὶ θειότερον καὶ τελεώτερον), the stripping off of the passions from the soul itself and from the disposition (τὸ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτὴν καὶ τὴν διάθεσιν γυμνῶσαι τῶν ὑπόντων παθῶν), and the cutting up by the roots and casting out of what is alien to the mind.
As a conclusion I will just cite from Dusak's summary of Le Boulluec's understanding that Clement has Secret Mark in mind when writing QDS:
Le Boulluec considers as a possibility that Clement had a passage of the text of the Secret Mark, which he himself described in the letter as “more spiritual” (πνευματικώτερον), at his disposal when writing the homily. Another strong point of his hypothesis is the passage, where Clement urges to “rid” (literally “strip,” γυμνῶσαι) “the soul itself and the will of its lurking passions." It is known that the verb γυμνῶσαι played a special role in the Secret Gospel of Mark – in his letter Clement cautions against literal interpretation of the text and also against its misuse by the Carpocratians. Also on this basis Le Boulluec speculates about Clement's knowledge of a different version of the Gospel of Mark, of which he quoted a passage in the letter.https://books.google.com/books?id=1N0sD ... 22&f=false
I have to go to Shake Shack because I am starving but I wanted to show you that already in QDS Clement shows a use of γυμνῶσαι which is consistent with his Platonic roots. I am not asking you to ignore that in other contexts γυμνῶσαι certainly can have sexual implications. But we have explicit proof in the writings of the author of the Letter to Theodore in a discussion of gospel material which coincides with the passage from Secret Mark that γυμνῶσαι is employed as part of a 'love mystery' where Jesus the Son is created 'invisibly' in the souls of new initiates. This understanding of 'stripping' off an article of clothing - undoubtedly a linen - had to have symbolic value for his Alexandrian community as it 'answers' the questions raised by the rich man immediately before the added scene in Secret Mark.

I am not expecting you to agree with me. In fact I am certain that you won't. But I want to display my sincerity in believing that γυμνῶσαι did not mean what you think it meant for Clement. Clement understood in entirely mystical/symbolic terms. That the youth is engaged in a 'love mystery' where he began by 'stripping off' or 'nakedizing' himself as a preparation for taking on a new divine soul. I strongly suspect that the youth was crucified in Jesus's place in keeping with the Alexandrian interest in that understanding. But I wholly admit that is mere speculation. The rest of what I have said here is completely grounded in the writings of Clement (QDS) and those who have written about it (Le Boulluec). While I don't expect you to change your mind, I want you to at least recognize the sincerity of my belief. I am not merely playing dodgeball with the naked reference in the secret gospel. I think it makes it even more certain that it was known to Clement.

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Fri May 22, 2020 4:59 pm
by Secret Alias
Needless to say I didn't proof any of this. I am sure there are minor errors.

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 8:28 am
by Ken Olson
To no one's surprise, I do not find Stephan's case for Clement's knowledge of Secret Mark based on what he says in Quis Dives Salvator convincing.

Caveat: I accept that Stephan is sincere in his belief, and while I have criticized his behavior in online discussions, especially his hyperbolic polemical style, I am not making any judgment about how he lives his life outside the forum. I know two people who are quite polemical online but are perfectly nice people in person (some of you may be familiar with the blogger Jim West, the other is a friend from U Md. from outside the field), so I've learned to separate the two spheres.

Stephan's case as best I can make it out:

1) In The Rich Man's Salvation (or Who is the Rich Man Who Can Be Saved? Quis Dives Salvator in Latin), Clement is primarily discussing the pericope of The Rich Man and explicitly quotes the passage (Mark 10:17-22 or 31; quoted in Rich Man 4) and attributes it to Mark's gospel (RM 5), though his text of Mark differs from the known text.

2) Immediately after that, Clement says that “And as we are clearly aware that the Saviour teaches His people nothing in a merely human way, but everything by a divine an mystical wisdom, we must not understand His words literally, but with due inquiry and intelligence we must search out and master their hidden meaning” (RM 5, Loeb translation).

3) There follows a discussion several chapters in length of the true meaning of “sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Mark 10.21). In this context, Clement concludes that Christ's words cannot mean simply to carry out the physical act of selling what one has and giving to the poor, which is a thing others had done before, but that “one must strip the soul itself and the will of their lurking passions” τὸ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτὴν καὶ τὴν διάθεσιν γυμνῶσαι τῶν ὑπόντων παθῶν (RM 13).

4) It is likely that Clement was influenced by the passage from Secret Mark quoted in the Letter to Theodore, because he says the passage he is citing is found after Mark 10.34, almost immediately after the pericope of the Rich Man, and involves a young man with only a linen cloth about his naked body.

5) The passage from Secret Mark that Clement quoted is probably based on an Alexandrian mystery cult ritual in which initiates strip themselves of their clothing to symbolize the stripping away of their passions.

There is a lot more in Stephan's post, which I consider tangential to the main argument outlined above, but will discuss briefly further below.

I will agree with points 1, 2, and 3, above and think things go wrong at points 4 and 5 where Stephan links the verb γυμνῶσαι “to strip” to the cognate noun γυμνός “naked body,” about which the youth had thrown a linen cloth. The passage from Secret Mark does not actually have the word strip or say that the young man removed the linen cloth. So we have to imagine what the passage is really talking about, which is a ritual in which the young man strips off his clothing as a symbol of ridding himself of his passions. We have no direct evidence of such a ritual. No source mentions it, including Secret Mark. We have to imagine that that's what Clement had in mind because it's just too unlikely to be coincidence that Clement might use the verb γυμνῶσαι in his 43 chapter long exegesis of the story of The Rich Man unless he were somehow influenced by his knowledge of the cognate noun γυμνός in the passage from Secret Mark which would have followed the Rich Man is the text of Secret Mark.

I would contest this judgment and suggest that a single word of near agreement between two documents is an insufficient basis to infer literary dependence. On the contrary, it seems that we have to deduce the existence of the ritual only if we first accept that Clement's comment on the Rich Man and the passage from Secret Mark must necessarily be closely intertwined, and that has not been demonstrated.

To be sure, Stephan can point out other single word agreements with Secret Mark from other parts of Clement's lengthy work to bolster his case, but this is like trying to prove that there's literary dependence between the Secret Mark passage and my Greek dictionary. My dictionary contains every word found in Secret Mark and in the same sense. Here's what Stephan claims:
what Clement is talking about here is a mystery religion which takes place in the here and now based on a passage in his gospel where Jesus performed the Agape on a chosen disciple
Now the word love (agape) is found in both Secret Mark and in Clement. But in Secret Mark it is a verb and describes the young man's love for Jesus and there is no food mentioned in the text, so it's not used in the same sense as the noun Agape, which is the Christian ritual meal.

[I'm trying very hard not to think about what Jesus performing the Agape on a chosen disciple might look like and it's just not working].

That said, it's not impossible that the passage in the Letter to Theodore was some sort of representation of an otherwise unattested Alexandrian secret ritual. Most defenses of the authenticity of the Letter to Theodore seem to understand it that way. A number of scholars have suggested this ritual was baptismal, despite the text not mentioning baptism or the presence of water. And unlike baptism, which is inherently a ritual, or the Lord's Supper, in which the symbolic nature of the meal is made explicit in the text (Mark 14.22-25), there is no direct indication in Secret Mark that the naked youth and Jesus are engaging in a ritual of any kind.

I previously separated out Stephan's secondary argument which involves a reinterpretation of Clement's incarnational language in service of the theory that someone else substituted for Jesus on the cross, but I'll take a look at that now.

Stephan quoted this passage from Clement:
For this also He came (διὰ τοῦτο καὶ αὐτὸς κατῆλθε). For this He put on man (διὰ τοῦτο ἄνθρωπον ἐνέδυ). For this He voluntarily subjected Himself to the experiences of men (διὰ τοῦτο τὰ ἀνθρώπων ἑκὼν ἔπαθεν), that by bringing Himself to the measure of our weakness whom He loved (ἵνα πρὸς τὴν ἡμετέραν ἀσθένειαν οὓς ἠγάπησε), He might correspondingly bring us to the measure of His own strength (μετρηθεὶς ἡμᾶς πρὸς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ δύναμιν ἀντιμετρήσῃ). [Rich Man 37].
Stephan argues:
In other words, the original discussion about the meaning of the pericope of the rich man segues into this strange discussion about 'the mysteries of love' where Jesus came (κατῆλθε) to 'put on a man' and crucify himself. We have inherited our own idea about what the Passion meant - namely that Jesus i.e God gets crucified, dies and is resurrected. This doesn't make sense of course because God can't die, can't be crucified etc. Basilides and previous generations of Alexandrians clearly understand that someone else died on the cross who had Jesus 'in them.' Simon Magus is one candidate. There are others. But in this tradition Jesus has to go into someone else so that this person can be crucified in his place and perform some service for the Lord which is no longer understood by us. Could the passage in Secret Mark be the 'mysteries of love' that are spoken about here?
Now most readers understand that what Clement is talking about in the passage quoted from Rich Man 37 is how the pre-existent Christ came down from heaven and was incarnated in human form and lived as a human being. This is orthodox Christian theology that has been believed by millions or billions of Christians and which we find in Paul, John, and other Church Fathers. In the Loeb translation, Butterworth translated it: “This is why the Son himself came to earth,” (cf. the near parallel in Rich Man 6). Stephan rejects the usual reading because he believes that God can't die, can't be crucified and therefore he understands “he put on man” to mean he entered into another man who was crucified rather than that Christ himself became a man. Stephan appears to be thinking that, because it's impossible for God to die, Clement must mean Jesus put on *another* man. But what Stephan believes is no limitation on what Clement believed, and what Clement says can be explained quite well on the assumption it means Christ was incarnated as a man.

To be sure, Stephan says “we have inherited our own idea about what the Passion meant,” which suggests everyone else has been getting this wrong all along and he has discovered the true meaning of the text. This would be in keeping with Stephan's claim that the one thing he is attuned to is another person's perspective. He may think he's got Clement right and everyone else has it wrong. But in the absence of a demonstration of his claim, all Stephan is really saying is that he has confidence in his own intuitions about what other people mean.

Stephan also considers the first sentence quoted above from Rich Man 37 to show Clement's knowledge of Secret Mark, based again on a single word agreement:
Καὶ ὀργισθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀπῆλθεν μετ᾽ αὐτῆς εἰς τὸν κῆπον ὅπου ἦν τὸ μνημεῖον

In Quis Dives Salvetur it is referenced:

διὰ τοῦτο καὶ αὐτὸς κατῆλθε

Remember ἀπέρχομαι = apo + erchomai. κατέρχομαι = kata + erchomai.
This is another case of Stephan taking a single word (well, two if we count καὶ), in this case an extraordinarily common word which clearly refers to something else in its original context (clear to everyone but Stephan that is) as evidence of Clement's knowledge of Secret Mark. Their common use of the word came outweighs the absence of the words anger, her, garden, and tomb from Clement. Stephan characteristically sets the bar that his own theories need to meet extremely low.

Best,

Ken

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 9:26 am
by andrewcriddle
One issue with this thread is disagreement about what the author of the Mar Saba letter is claiming. This is a separate question from whether the claims are true and whether or not the author is really Clement of Alexandria, although the way one answers one of the questions obviously affects how one answers the others.

In this post I will concentrate on what I think is being claimed.

The letter claims that Mark prepared two versions of his Gospel the shorter public version for the purpose of instruction and a longer esoteric version with extra material for the purpose of mystic initiation. It is legitimate to read the public version literally (although such a reading will be incomplete.) However the initiatory material in the esoteric version deals with deep mysteries that cannot be literally described and must be approached symbolically and will lead to error if read in a crudely literal way. This is (part of) the reason why such material should not be made public.

Carpocrates got hold of the esoteric text and reading it in a crudely literal way interpreted it as homoerotic. This is a false reading of a text that should be understood symbolically. However, its plausibility as a literal reading makes it even more necessary to limit public awareness of this esoteric text. The letter is about to explain the true symbolic meaning of the text but breaks off.

Andrew Criddle

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 9:39 am
by Ken Olson
andrewcriddle wrote:
Sun May 24, 2020 9:26 am

The letter claims that Mark prepared two versions of his Gospel the shorter public version for the purpose of instruction and a longer esoteric version with extra material for the purpose of mystic initiation. It is legitimate to read the public version literally (although such a reading will be incomplete.) However the initiatory material in the esoteric version deals with deep mysteries that cannot be literally described and must be approached symbolically and will lead to error if read in a crudely literal way. This is (part of) the reason why such material should not be made public.
Andrew,

How do you square this with the passage from the Rich Man's Salvation, where Clement says:
And as we are clearly aware that the Saviour teaches His people nothing in a merely human way, but everything by a divine and mystical wisdom, we must not understand His words literally, but with due inquiry and intelligence we must search out and master their hidden meaning” (RM 5, Loeb translation).
He appears to be talking about canonical Mark here. What do you see as the difference between how Clement says Mark should be read and how the author of the Letter to Theodore thinks Secret Mark should be read?

Best,

Ken

Re: Tinker Tailor Soldier Forger

Posted: Sun May 24, 2020 9:45 am
by Secret Alias
I will address all Ken's and Andrew's points but it is the weekend and wife restricts my time. Already she's interrupted me twice as i type this out on my phone.

Ken just to make clear Le Boulluec and I have noticed the argument in QDS veers off from its original discussion of Mark 10:17 - 31 to the core mystery of (Alexandrian) Christianity - one that involves the stripping off or nakedizing of the individual as a preparation for the putting on of a new man. The referencing of material from Luke 19, John 14, John 15 and the crucifixion makes it appear his argument follows the succession of a harmonized gospel narrative (my impression not Le Boulluec's). Le Boulluec argues Clement conclusions suggest he knows Secret Mark or at least that it makes sense that he does. I can't "encourage " your sincere reading and consideration of QDS but it's a more plausible suggestion than Morton Smith forged to Theodore - a proposition which has no evidence to support it.

Give me until Tuesday or a break from my family duties.