On the origin of Cerinthian separationism

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On the origin of Cerinthian separationism

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:45 am

In another thread, I have argued that the Jewish Christians attacked by Ignatius were esponents of a Radical Docetism (as opposed to Moderate Docetism of a Marcion) as a form of compromise between the early post-Markan historicist belief and the mythicism of early anti-Christian polemists. Now I see that a scholar has played a similar game to explain the origin of the separationism and chiliasm in Cerinthus:

Talk of feasts, sacrifices, and slaying of victims in the Jerusalem of a millennial world sound strange on the lips of an orthodox Christian, even stranger on the lips of a gnostic Christian. But it would not sound at all strange if a «gnostic» Cerinthus were in fact describing not his version of the Christian religious ideal but the kingdom of a Jewish, Demiurgical Messiah, which he could now relegate to a lower religious plane. [86] Thus, the addition of these distinctively «Jewish» elements could have had the effect, imagined or real, of «sounding better» to Jewish sensibilites, of creating a supposed alliance with Judaism and against a common enemy, orthodox Christianity.

(Charles E. Hill, Cerinthus, Gnostic or Chiliast? A New Solution to an Old Problem)

Note 86 reads:

It is just possible, because of his adoptionist Christology, that Cerinthus could have conceived of this Jewish Messiah as the human Jesus sans his adoptive heavenly counterpart. Irenaeus, followed by Hippolytus, says that Cerinthus taught that the abandoned Jesus did rise from the dead. Presumably he ascended to the Demiurge .... It is possible, though at this point uncertain, that it is this ascended Jesus who was expected to come again to restore the Creator's people

(my bold)

Hence the separationism between Jesus and Christ would find the his answer in a form of compromise between some Christians and the anti-Christian Jewish accusations against Christ as not the expected Conqueror Messiah. Something as:

Anti-Christian Jews: your Christ didn't conquer the world, etc. At contrary he was crucified.

Cerinthians: you are right, since it is your Christ who will conquer the world, etc. Not the our Christ, who was not even crucified, but only the mere man Jesus son of Joseph died in the his place.

Curiously, in Mark the accusation thrown against Jesus on the cross is just the same accusation thrown by these anti-Christian Jews:

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

(Mark 15:29-32)
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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