The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

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Re: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 12, 2020 6:59 am

That's not exactly it. I remember being with Benny the Samaritan in a restaurant in Bellingham WA and he put it this way. The Samaritans don't have halakhah. He stressed that all Samaritan opinions come directly from the text of the Torah. In other words, no stories about Moses going off to Ethiopia or 'extra' traditions about this or that Patriarch. I think the Marcionites were like that. They had a canon of writings and the canon determined what they believed.
“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 Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 12, 2020 7:53 am

Getting back to the OP I want to stress again that up until this point I figured that Timothy was an invented figure of the orthodox and that the mentions of Timothy in the catholic canon were just added to the shorter Marcionite originals. I used various pieces of evidence to back this up but it was ultimately wrong I think. Yes the Marcionites had a Pauline canon with less biographical material, with fewer references to 'coworkers' and a shorter list of coworkers - just Timothy and Silvanus but Timothy was indeed mentioned.

So let's take note of this:

1. no reference to Timothy in Romans before chapter 15 in the orthodox canon
2. strange pattern in Clement of Alexandria of identifying material from Romans as being directed to Timothy.
3. a similar pattern in Prescription Against Heresies where a battle with the heretics over the identity of Timothy is found.

Let's start with the references to the Roman epistle being directed to Timothy in Clement. All references to Timothy below:
Rom 8.15 - “For God hath not given us the spirit of bondage again to fear; but of power, and love, and of a sound mind. Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me his prisoner,” he writes to Timothy. [2 Tim. i. 7, 8; Rom. viii. 15] Such shall he be “who cleaves to that which is good,” according to the apostle, [Rom. xii. 9] “who hates evil, having love unfeigned; for he that loveth another fulfilleth the law.” [Rom. xiii. 8] (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 4.17)

Rom 2.25 - To illustrate: the noble apostle circumcised Timothy, though loudly declaring and writing that circumcision made with hands profits nothing (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 7.9)

Rom 3.16 - 18 - In the same way as Paul, prophecy upbraids the people with not understanding the law. “Destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known.” [Isa. lix. 7, 8; Rom. 3. 16, 17] “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” [Ps. 36.1; Rom. 3.18] “Professing themselves wise, they became fools.” [Rom. 1.22] “And we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” [1 Tim. 1. 8] “Desiring to be teachers of the law, they understand,” says the apostle, “neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” [1 Tim. 1. 7] “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.” [1 Tim. 1.5] (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 1.27)

Rom 5.13 - For if “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” [Rom. 3. 20] as those allege who disparage the law, and “till the law sin was in the world” [Rom. 5. 13] yet “without the law sin was dead,” [Rom. 7. 6] we oppose them. For when you take away the cause of fear, sin, you have taken away fear; and much more, punishment, when you have taken away that which gives rise to lust. “For the law is not made for the just man,” [Tim. 1. 9] says the Scripture. (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 4.3)

Rom 13.8 - Well, the body tills the ground, and hastes to it; but the soul is raised to God: trained in the true philosophy, it speeds to its kindred above, turning away from the lusts of the body, and besides these, from toil and fear, although we have shown that patience and fear belong to the good man. For if “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” as those allege who disparage the law, and “till the law sin was in the world;” yet “without the law sin was dead,” we oppose them. For when you take away the cause of fear, sin, you have taken away fear; and much more, punishment, when you have taken away that which gives rise to lust. “For the law is not made for the just man,” [1 Tim. i. 9] says the Scripture. Well, then, says Heraclitus, “They would not have known the name of Justice if these things had not been.” And Socrates says, “that the law was not made for the sake of the good.” But the cavillers did not know even this, as the apostle says, “that he who loveth his brother worketh not evil;” for this, “Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal; and if there be any other commandment, it is comprehended in the word, Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself.” So also is it said, “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” And “if he that loveth his neighbour worketh no evil,” and if “every commandment is comprehended in this, the loving our neighbour,” the commandments, by menacing with fear, work love, not hatred. Wherefore the law is productive of the emotion of fear. “So that the law is holy,” and in truth “spiritual,” according to the apostle. (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 4.3)

As the apostle also says in the Epistle to the Romans, "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith," teaching the one salvation which from prophecy to the Gospel is perfected by one and the same Lord. "This charge," he says, "I commit to thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war the good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck,"[5] because they defiled by unbelief the conscience that comes from God.

As, then, philosophy has been brought into evil repute by pride and self-conceit, so also ghosts by false ghosts called by the same name; of which the apostle writing says, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science (gnosis) falsely so called; which some professing, have erred concerning the faith."

Convicted by this utterance, the heretics reject the Epistles. to Timothy.[10] Well, then, if the Lord is the truth, and wisdom, and power of God, as in truth He is, it is shown that the real Gnostic is he that knows Him, and His Father by Him. For his sentiments are the same with him who said, "The lips of the righteous know high things."
And then the parallel Timothy/Romans fusion in Prescription after noting that the heretics held Peter to be an inferior apostle:
I am not good man enough, or rather I am not bad man enough, to pit Apostle against Apostle. But since these most perverse persons thrust forward that rebuke for the purpose of throwing suspicion upon the earlier teaching, I will reply, as it were, for Peter, that Paul himself said that he was made all things to all men—to the Jews a Jew, and to non-Jews a non-Jew—in order to gain all. And so in certain times, persons and cases they would blame actions which they themselves yet might equally perform in other times, persons and cases. Thus, for instance, Peter might likewise have blamed Paul because, while forbidding circumcision, he himself had circumcised Timothy. Away with those who judge Apostles. Well is it that Peter is made equal to Paul in his martyrdom.

But although Paul was caught up as far as the third heaven, and when brought into paradise heard certain things there, yet these revelations
cannot be thought to be such as would render him more qualified to teach another doctrine, since their very nature was such that they could not be communicated to any human being. But if that unknown revelation did leak out and become known to some one, and if any heresy affirms that
it is a follower of that revelation, then either Paul is guilty of having betrayed his secret, or some one else must be shewn to have been subsequently caught up into paradise to whom permission was given to speak out what Paul was not allowed to whisper.

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 ? Was it a part of that charge of which he says, "This charge I commit to thee, son Timothy " ? And likewise of that commandment of which he says, " I charge thee before GOD Who quickeneth all things, and Jesus Christ Who witnessed before Pontius Pilate a good confession, that thou observe the commandment " ? What commandment, now, and what charge ? 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. 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 explained as a proof of any hidden doctrine. 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." [Matt. 7. 6] 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. Himself had prefigured in a parable 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. 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, [1 Cor 1.10] 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" [Matt 5.27]: words spoken to prevent them from treating the Gospel in different ways.

If, then, it is incredible either that the Apostles were ignorant of the full scope of their message, or that they did not publish to all the whole plan
of the Rule of Faith, let us see whether, perchance, whilst the Apostles indeed preached simply and fully, the Churches through their own fault received it otherwise than as the Apostles used to set it forth. All these incitements to hesitancy you will find thrust forward by heretics.

They hold up instances of Churches reproved by the Apostle. "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you ?" [Gal 3.1] and "Ye were running so well : who hath hindered you ?" [Gal 5.7] and at the very beginning of his letter, "I wonder that ye have been thus so soon removed from Him Who called you in grace to another Gospel." [Gal 1.6] Likewise the words written to the Corinthians because they were still "carnal," and had to be fed on milk, not yet being able to take meat; who thought they knew something when not yet did they know anything as they ought to know it. [1 Cor 3.1, 8.2, 16,19]

Now when they instance these reproved Churches let them be sure that they were corrected. Moreover, let them recognize those Churches for whose "faith and knowledge and manner of life" the Apostle "rejoices and gives thanks to GOD.1 : Churches which to-day unite with those reproved ones in the privileges of the selfsame instruction.

But come now, suppose that all have erred: grant that the Apostle was deceived in bearing his testimony, and that the Holy Spirit regarded no Church so as to lead it into the Truth, although sent for this purpose by Christ, asked from the Father that He might be the Teacher of truth; 2 grant that the Steward of GOD) and Vicar of Christ neglected His office and permitted Churches for a time to understand differently what He Himself was preaching through the Apostles; yet is it at all likely that so many and such important Churches should all have "erred" into one and the same faith ? No uniform issue results from many chances. Error of doctrine on the part of the Churches was bound to have assumed various forms. But when one and the same tenet is found amongst many, that is not error, but tradition. Will any one then dare to affirm that the authors of the tradition were in error?

However the "error" came, it reigned for just so long, of course, as there were no heresies. Truth waited for the Marcionites and the Valentinians to set her free. In the meantime the Gospel was wrongly preached, men wrongly believed, so many countless thousands were wrongly baptized, so many works of faith were wrongly wrought, so many spiritual powers and gifts were wrongly put into operation, so many priesthoods, so many ministries were wrongly performed, so many martyrdoms were wrongly crowned! Or if not wrongly and uselessly, how can you characterize the fact that the things of GOD were running their course before it was known to which GOD they belonged? that there were Christians before Christ was found ? heresy before true doctrine? Unquestionably in every case Truth precedes its copy: the counterfeit comes afterwards. But it is absurd enough that heresy should be mistaken for the earlier teaching; especially since it is that very earlier teaching which foretold that heresies would come and would have to be guarded against. To a Church possessing this teaching it was written—nay, the teaching itself writes to the Church : "Though an angel from heaven preach any other Gospel than that we have preached, let him be anathema." [Gal 1.8]

Where at that time was Marcion, the Pontic shipmaster,1 the student of the Stoic philosophy? Where, then, was Valentinus,2 the disciple of Platonism? For it is agreed that they lived not so very long ago in the reign of Antoninus3 for the most part, and that at first they were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church in Rome during the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus,4 until, on account of their ever restless speculation whereby they corrupted the brethren also, they were expelled more than once—Marcion, indeed, with the two hundred sesterces that he had brought into the Church—and when at last banished into perpetual separation from the faithful, they spread abroad the poisonous seeds of their peculiar doctrines. Afterwards, when Marcion had professed penitence and agreed to the condition imposed upon him, namely, that if he could bring back to the Church the residue whom he had instructed to their perdition, he should be received into communion, he was prevented by death.

For indeed heresies must needs be.1 Yet it does not follow that heresies are good because they are needful. As if evil also were not needful ! For it was even needful for the Lord to be betrayed; yet "Woe to the traitor"2 to prevent any one from upholding heresies on this same ground of necessity.
“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: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 12, 2020 8:03 am

Now you may be asking - what does the situation in Prescription have to do with the one in Clement? Well if Clement's repeated understanding of Romans as a Pauline address to Timothy was widespread enough it might explain why the Prescription Against Heresies never references the epistle to the Romans. If you read the text clearly the 'Rule of Truth' that he speaks about is always defined from the Epistle to the Galatians which the author thinks is the pre-eminent epistle. I have pointed - as have many others - that the Galatian first ordering of the epistles was an orthodox habit which - according to an MS in St Catherines - originated with Irenaeus. Irenaeus (and thus Tertullian) held Galatians to be the 'first' epistle. The fact that he argues against Marcion starting with Galatians is only reflective of his own canon. It has nothing to do with the Marcionite ordering. But what about the silence regarding Romans? More to follow.
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Re: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 12, 2020 8:05 am

It should be mentioned also that Timothy receives a surprisingly subordinate ranking in Acts. One wouldn't expect someone else other than Timothy to be Paul's chosen disciple based on the evidence of the actual collection of epistles in our canon. It is surprising that Timothy is relegated to a bit player whose most notable 'thing' is that he was circumcised by Paul. Surely an anti-Marcionite story.
“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: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Stuart » Tue May 12, 2020 9:20 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 6:59 am
That's not exactly it. I remember being with Benny the Samaritan in a restaurant in Bellingham WA and he put it this way. The Samaritans don't have halakhah. He stressed that all Samaritan opinions come directly from the text of the Torah. In other words, no stories about Moses going off to Ethiopia or 'extra' traditions about this or that Patriarch. I think the Marcionites were like that. They had a canon of writings and the canon determined what they believed.
This reminds me of a story of Chinese Jews, who settled well over 1500 years ago in Southern China (they are completely ethnic Chinese at this point). The law prohibiting cooking a goat in it's mother's milk they took literally. A Jewish visitor wrote that they served him goat cooked in milk, and he asked, saying you cannot cook a goat in milk. And they responded that they made sure the milk they used is not from the same goat as Moses commended. When the guest objected saying the rabbinic laws don't allow it, they responded, "who are you going to believe, some rabbi or Moses?"

I thought it was just an amusing story. But your comment here makes me wonder if those Chinese Jews might not have been Samaritans.
“’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: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Stuart » Tue May 12, 2020 9:42 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 8:05 am
It should be mentioned also that Timothy receives a surprisingly subordinate ranking in Acts. One wouldn't expect someone else other than Timothy to be Paul's chosen disciple based on the evidence of the actual collection of epistles in our canon. It is surprising that Timothy is relegated to a bit player whose most notable 'thing' is that he was circumcised by Paul. Surely an anti-Marcionite story.
See my post about the three passages in Paul mentioning Timothy. Even the Marcionite text (assuming those passages where present) show Timothy as never present with Paul, and seem to go out of their way to say that Timothy agrees with Paul. This suggests that Timothy's legend is neither originally with Paul, and that his teachers were likely very different. Beyond that we have no clue what they were, and whether Timothy's era was prior or posterior to Paul. (Timelines here are "flexible.")

The conclusion to draw is that Timothy was in fact a significant figure, albeit legendary patron saint or mythical sect founder, separate from, with distinct teaching from that of Paul. The only thing we we can glean about his teaching (or rather the teaching associated with him) is that it was heterodox, as the circumcision is symbolic of accepting orthodoxy, which in his time he must not have. He seems to be associated with Asia, Achaia and Macedonia as well.

There seems to be an awful lot of competing Apostles in the Greek realm (today's Greece and Turkey). Add Timothy to the list with John, Philip, Paul, Apollos (Apelles?) and Cephas (Peter?). Between the letters and the legends, this region really looks a lot like ground zero.
“’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: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 12, 2020 12:43 pm

Even the Marcionite text (assuming those passages where present) show Timothy as never present with Paul, and seem to go out of their way to say that Timothy agrees with Paul.
But we will always have a deadlock here because I don't see Tertullian ever say that the citations he makes are ALL from the Marcionite canon. When he says he is citing from the Marcionite reading - once or twice in the course of two books - that's a Marcionite reading. The rest of the argument are from canonical Luke and the orthodox version of the epistles known to Irenaeus (hence their being ordered from Galatians because Irenaeus used a Galatians-first ordering of the Pauline epistles). Not sure we're ever going to agree about the implications of what Tertullian says about Paul or the Pauline canon or the Marcionites.
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Re: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Stuart » Tue May 12, 2020 1:26 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 12:43 pm
Even the Marcionite text (assuming those passages where present) show Timothy as never present with Paul, and seem to go out of their way to say that Timothy agrees with Paul.
But we will always have a deadlock here because I don't see Tertullian ever say that the citations he makes are ALL from the Marcionite canon. When he says he is citing from the Marcionite reading - once or twice in the course of two books - that's a Marcionite reading. The rest of the argument are from canonical Luke and the orthodox version of the epistles known to Irenaeus (hence their being ordered from Galatians because Irenaeus used a Galatians-first ordering of the Pauline epistles). Not sure we're ever going to agree about the implications of what Tertullian says about Paul or the Pauline canon or the Marcionites.
You do not work down at the individual vocabulary level. If you did you would find significant differences between the attested passages by the three quoting works and the unattested. Lukan words for example are all clustered in the passages of the gospel not attested. Same in Paul. I think you make the mistake of going to a strict binary "all in" or "nothing in" approach. So you miss the subtleties.

As for the text, if you build basically the attested text you and then read the result, you see a very different Paul, one who defers to nobody,. He gives commands, never requests. But the Catholic text he is bending over backwards all the time.

You don't have to be 100% exact, just roughly follow the attested and the text required to make the passages work. You can never be 100% or even 85% sure you have the division correct. And besides it was a living text, growing along. The Marcionites are like a snapshot at the halfway point. I do not ever buy the notion that any of the books were written in a single sitting.

You also give far too much weight to the commentary of the church fathers. Clearly they were wrong about the Marcionite and heterodox view of Abraham (or they deliberately misrepresented it). Ben has done some good work on the messiah ben Joseph, and it explains how Abraham could be seen as good, but the split came with Jacob's sons, those by Rachel the heterodox trace to (Joseph for Jesus, Benjamin for Paul), those from Leah, specifically Judah the orthodox followed (Jesus from Jesse and David branch). This is why in trying to absorb some of the heterodox the poroto-orthodox came up with the formula the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel, as those are common to the exegetes of both sides.

This is why I like starting from the NT text, to see what the various sects left for us as clues. The commentaries may also help for supporting if this is correct or not. But going the other way around, you wind up force reading into the text.
Last edited by Stuart on Fri May 15, 2020 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Stuart » Tue May 12, 2020 1:39 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 12:43 pm
Even the Marcionite text (assuming those passages where present) show Timothy as never present with Paul, and seem to go out of their way to say that Timothy agrees with Paul.
But we will always have a deadlock here because I don't see Tertullian ever say that the citations he makes are ALL from the Marcionite canon. When he says he is citing from the Marcionite reading - once or twice in the course of two books - that's a Marcionite reading. The rest of the argument are from canonical Luke and the orthodox version of the epistles known to Irenaeus (hence their being ordered from Galatians because Irenaeus used a Galatians-first ordering of the Pauline epistles). Not sure we're ever going to agree about the implications of what Tertullian says about Paul or the Pauline canon or the Marcionites.
Again you are 100% in or 100% out. This is your mistake, as you fail to use other criteria.

You also miss the point of my comment. It's not clear if the three passages are in the Marcionite test, and thus part of a Marcionite attempt to claim Timothy, or if they are part of the Catholic attempt to claim Timothy with Paul, also shown in Acts.

The point is it doesn't matter. Both scenarios say that Timothy is separate from Paul, that Timothy followers are different than Paul. Perhaps they overlapped, or where aligned with the Marcionites.

You also miss the subtlety of my statement on the Marcionite Pauline collection that it was already a collection from a variety of different writers (even in the same text!), layered and put together by some editor. And there is evidence the ten letter form was preceded by a 7 letter form and possibly a 3 letter form, and that it may have been a couple distinct collections pulled together. The Marcionite text was simply a snapshot. A lot of the material was not originally Marcionite but from other sects.

Clement's possible identification of the Romans letter being associated with a Timothy sect would not surprise me. It fits nicely. And again it doesn't matter if Timothy was absorbed first by the Marcionites or was in parallel. The passages I cited serve the same purpose if written by the orthodox.
“’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: The Pre-Existent Marcionite Interest in Timothy

Post by Secret Alias » Tue May 12, 2020 3:11 pm

Both scenarios say that Timothy is separate from Paul, that Timothy followers are different than Paul. Perhaps they overlapped, or where aligned with the Marcionites.
Why would we expect Paul to be writing to someone who standing right beside him?
“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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