Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:26 am

Hebrews 3
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.
This is where the scholar and the subject matter become confounded. The fact that you didn't know about this tradition doesn't mean that the early Christians didn't know about it. First of all, it is almost explicit in the text of Exodus. Second of all, the number of Samaritans in early Christianity - Simon, his first associates, Justin etc make Samaritan undercurrents hard to deny. It couldn't be that Simon and Simon (Magus and Cephas) were interacting at such an early date speaking two different languages. There must have been a common understanding of what an apostle is. Yes to be certain the idea of 'apostles' appears to be early because of our canon. But again the Marcionite use of 'apostolic' (i.e. pertaining to one apostle) likely goes back to Samaritan usage (via Simon and the rest) and the Clementines make it seem that Peter used the same logic to deny Simon/Paul the title of apostle (i.e. there can only be one).

Only in the Gentile world did 'apostolos' take on a generic meaning. The Hebrew makes clear that Moses is the sent for one. God sends him over and over to speak on his behalf. The role of Paul is similar if we image the gospel being introduced by Paul (as the Marcionites held). Clement for one sees Paul emerge immediately after the resurrection. Paul himself says he ascended to heaven (really ascended not in his mind) and saw and heard Moses and clearly received 'secret' instructions there. For the Clementines this sort of a revelation isn't Mosaic enough. This, according to the author, is more like a prophet than an apostle. Moses stood in front of the burning bush and was 'sent.' So was Peter (notice the implicit context is Peter alone is the apostle even though there is a reference to 'apostles' later which I think is secondary). It doesn't make sense to cite the Miriam and Aaron leprosy incident if you mean 'apostles.' The implication is clearly only Moses is an apostle.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:38 am

The most fundamental question in my mind is whether Acts is just bad history or fake history and to that end whether or not the Roman government was so displeased with the secret assemblies of Christianity that it encouraged (by sparing brutality against them) the invention of an alternative history for the religion. A college of apostles doesn't challenge the authority of the Emperor. A history where a god came down to earth to establish 'the apostle' - a second Moses - to introduce a means of attaining perfection and thereby heavenly ascent was too much for the later Emperors to bear. Marcionites not only rejected Acts as spurious but the very notion of 'apostles' and the witnesses of Jesus laying down gospels. It wasn't just that they rejected the alternative gospels. The Marcionites were convinced (rightly) that the alternative gospels were spurious pseudepigraphal compositions.

How did they know that? This isn't just run of the mill inter-sectarian 'jealousy.' It is the reality with respect to the anachronistic ('Rabbi') canonical gospels. Clearly then they had a strong sense of history. They knew that an anonymous (no superscription) gospel was created by a first century figure which remained secret until much later other gospels were manufactured in the name of 'false' apostles. This understanding necessarily contradicts the content of our Pauline epistles where - conveniently - 'false apostles' already existed from the time of the apostle's ministry spreading 'other gospels' as early as 50 CE. Since we know the gospel was written at a much later date - roughly corresponding to Clement's secret Mark viz. 70 CE - the whole idea of 'apostles' running around fighting one another and then coming to an peaceful accord is a massive fiction as is Luke's composition of a gospel on behalf of Paul.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:55 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:26 am
Hebrews 3
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.
This is where the scholar and the subject matter become confounded. The fact that you didn't know about this tradition doesn't mean that the early Christians didn't know about it. First of all, it is almost explicit in the text of Exodus. Second of all, the number of Samaritans in early Christianity - Simon, his first associates, Justin etc make Samaritan undercurrents hard to deny. It couldn't be that Simon and Simon (Magus and Cephas) were interacting at such an early date speaking two different languages. There must have been a common understanding of what an apostle is. Yes to be certain the idea of 'apostles' appears to be early because of our canon. But again the Marcionite use of 'apostolic' (i.e. pertaining to one apostle) likely goes back to Samaritan usage (via Simon and the rest) and the Clementines make it seem that Peter used the same logic to deny Simon/Paul the title of apostle (i.e. there can only be one).
One, I was aware of that tradition (if for no better reason than that you yourself have been talking about it for ages on this forum), but I wanted to make sure I was not missing an early reference to the concept of Moses being the one and only. Two, the idea has always appeared to me to be sectarian in a reductive sense (reducing the number of approved books down to the Pentateuch, for example, or the number of approved prophets down to Moses), whereas early Christianity takes up a much broader view and is sectarian in a more universalistic sense. Modern Christianity evinces the same divide: on the one hand you have strict Protestants who, following Luther, practically want to reduce the canon down to the gospels and Paul (James being "an epistle of straw," for instance); on the other hand you have ecumenical Catholic monks who, like Thomas Merton, incorporate Buddhist and Hindu elements into their worship. The two instincts go in opposite directions.

ETA: I was once peripherally involved with a tiny religious group in Texas for whom the "real" scriptures were the Pauline epistles, and only the Pauline epistles. Furthermore, this group distinguished between "earlier" and "later" Pauline epistles, favoring the later ones because of the mysteries of God revealed in Ephesians and Colossians, which were, for them, the very core of the scriptures. They were fine with calling the entire NT "scripture," but they definitely had a purist sort of ranking system going on, one which relegated anything besides the later Pauline epistles to a deutero-canonical status. But that is not how early Christianity seems to have rolled.
Only in the Gentile world did 'apostolos' take on a generic meaning. The Hebrew makes clear that Moses is the sent for one. God sends him over and over to speak on his behalf.
But there is also Isaiah, and there is Jeremiah, and the latter even talks about that "parade of prophets" I mentioned, which found its way into Matthew and Luke in those verses I cited. You may like the idea of limiting things down to Moses and the Pentateuch, but that is not how the earliest Christians rolled. Do I think that we ought to investigate Samaritan influences in early Christianity? Absolutely. But that purist, reductive tendency of theirs does not appear to be one of those influences. I think that pretty much all of the Christian texts with the best claim to being early bear that same tendency, if any can be detected at all in the text at hand, to expand the boundaries of which texts and traditions to use.
Paul himself says he ascended to heaven (really ascended not in his mind) and saw and heard Moses and clearly received 'secret' instructions there.
Are you reconstructing the text? The text of 2 Corinthians 12.1-6 of which I am aware fails to mention Moses, and in it Paul says that he does not know whether it was in the body or not. It is confusing when you make these kinds of references without telling the reader how you are treating the extant text.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:02 am

What I am saying is that if you look at the orthodox story - the Pentecost 'event' - this clearly presupposes a fourfold or at least manyfold canon. There is an idea - let's call it proto-Montanist - where 'the Holy Spirit' lays down a truth and many witnesses attest to it. I don't know where this tradition began or when it began or where it ended but the notion is clearly related to the Clementine literature insofar as 'prophet' is an important concept there and 'the Holy Spirit' is intimately connected with prophethood. Let's suppose that this spiritualist society (again explicit in the Clementines) predated Christianity. So some spiritualist society had various 'prophets' who spoke the 'truth' via the Holy Spirit and the 'Jesus event' intersects with this community's existence. The Islamic notion of Muhammad as the 'seal of the prophets' seems related too as well as Jesus heralded Muhammad and his various epithets (including rasul).

What Paul or whatever his name was does is say ok they are prophets but I am the apostle. The epithet 'parakletos' is wrapped up in this tradition too (and it's subsequent borrowing by Mani - indeed Mani might be a diminutive of Menachem as it has always been in Hebrew). The Marcionites identified Paul as THE one, the only one, the one apostle, the only apostle, the one paraclete, the only paraclete. Who knows what other titles there were for him. The point is that if apostle was invented by Christianity you could imagine a college of apostles like Acts portrays. But the figure of Moses looms so largely around both the Samaritan and proto-Jewish (i.e. pre-70 CE) community that someone calling themselves 'the apostle' would have had a known, attested meaning. The audience of Acts were ignoramuses.

This is why I subscribe to Marcionite primacy. I guess to some degree I like order (hard to believe when I am so messy) and the surprising discovery of 'Jewish' (better 'Samaritan' but almost anything 'Samaritan' is necessarily proto-Jewish) underpinning to Marcionite thought is rather surprising. The Church Fathers say on the one hand that Marcion 'hated' Judaism. But Samaritans 'hated' Judaism too. The tradition of the Pharisees had abandoned core beliefs of the original exegesis of the 'Bible' (viz. the Pentateuch and Joshua). There is very little speculation on the person of Moses in rabbinic Judaism. This settles on David which can't be original to the Biblical tradition. The sanctity of Jerusalem is a later development as Jerusalem isn't even mentioned in the Pentateuch.

The point is that one could hail the destruction of the Jerusalem altar and still be connected to the Biblical continuum. Scholars never get that. Indeed I would argue that someone 'standing' (deliberate choice of terminology) up as 'the one like Moses' in the Jewish culture that leads to the catastrophe of 70 CE would likely be an anti-Jewish figure. The contemporary Jewry were obsessed with David not Moses. The spokesman for 'the truth' the one who would condemn the Jews for straying from the core beliefs of the community (viz. the priesthood both Jewish and Samaritan, Oniad and post-Oniad in Jerusalem) would best come in such a guise - viz. 'the apostle. It plays into the Jews lost or forgot their true god narrative of the gospel that the apostle wrote. Not only did they abandon the true god of their community but also they forgot his apostle, his spokesman.

Every step along the way I see the Marcionite understanding as more primitive. Look at the unnatural interpretation of 'gospel' in the Pauline letters. Paul supposedly means 'teaching' or 'preaching' but not a written text or law. But he calls himself the apostle! To call yourself the apostle AND NOT BRING A NEW LAW is tantamount to having the acronym BBC and being a eunuch. The way he glorifies in his 'revelation of the gospel' - my gospel - doesn't make sense if it is not a reified 'thing.' My gospel is the Marcionite written gospel of the apostle - the apostolic gospel. His status as 'the apostle' is confirmed by him bringing a written law. At the core of that gospel is the ten commandments which was the original Torah. The Pentateuch wasn't necessarily conceived as a divine Law by the oldest Jews and Samaritans. God only gave the ten commandments, Moses wrote the Pentateuch.

I wonder whether this logic is behind the gospel and then the commentary - the letters - of the apostle. The gospel came from God, the letters came from the man apostle. Of course a man wrote the gospel. That's not the point. But notice how much more rational the explanation of the Marcionites is implicitly to the Pentacost narrative in Acts. There had to be one author of the gospel. Somewhere some how - a man wrote it. What he laid down was 'apostolic' because it became the new law of the Christian community. The one who writes down the law is 'the apostle' and this is exactly what the Marcionites claimed about their apostle and their gospel. The simplicity is primitive and original. The orthodox story requires 'hocus pocus' and supernatural forces in its explanation of the authorship of the gospel. The Marcionite story does not and is completely straightforward.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:08 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:02 am
What I am saying is that if you look at the orthodox story - the Pentecost 'event' - this clearly presupposes a fourfold or at least manyfold canon.
I am not talking about the canon of the New Testament, gospels and all, until this very post (see below). Nor am I talking about anything so late as the Pentecost story in Acts 2, which is obviously a tendentious interpretation of the events of that first Christian generation. Neither Acts nor Marcion are as early as what I am talking about; both are reactions to what came before.

I am talking about early Christianity's penchant for referring to more Jewish texts than just the Hebrew canon, and certainly to more than just the Pentateuch. At the same time, there is this democratization of prophecy, whereby anyone who has received the spirit (through baptism, for example) is capable of it, like Eldad and Medad; this trend had to be reined in, often by bishops and deacons, and was obviously very early and very related to the overall generational prophecy that "the last days" were now present, via Joel 2.28-32 (3.1-5 Masoretic). At the same time again, these privileges are being granted to slaves and to women, yet another trend which was curbed as time went on; and to gentiles, which trend the events of 70 helped along dramatically. Is it any wonder, given the expanded Jewish canon and the emphasis on prophetic plurality and social and sexual equality, that the heirs of these early Christians would also embrace more than one gospel, more than one set of epistles, and even, at least in many cases, more than one apocalypse and more than one book of acts? The urge to narrow it all down to one gospel, or to one set of epistles, or to the Pentateuch, or to Moses, or to one single driving idea does not seem to have been the first urge which drove Christians to the multiplicity that we can trace along various paths.

And Paul never once calls himself "the apostle" (definite) in the extant epistles; it is always "an apostle" (indefinite) when it applies to him alone. The Pauline epistles do not attest to the holding back that you seem to be talking about; they attest to slaves and women being full partakers, to average Jacks and Jills being able to give prophetic words, to extracanonical scriptures like the Wisdom of Sirach and of Solomon, and to a plurality of apostles. One would have to rewrite the entire corpus to get anything else out of it. Not that I am against such a thing in principle, but I want to see the effort and not just the claim.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:32 am

Neither Acts nor Marcion are as early as what I am talking about; both are reactions to what came before.
But the dating of 'Marcion' was disputed in antiquity. There is a strong tradition (Clement, Syriac sources, even within Tertullian) which suggest that he was from the apostolic period. There's just so much we don't know and we can't let the orthodox entirely define their adversaries either.
And Paul never once calls himself "the apostle" (definite) in the extant epistles; it is always "an apostle" (indefinite) when it applies to him alone.
In our cleansed edition - sure. But when they are cited in Hegemonius other readings come forward which are compatible with 'the apostle' 'the paraclete' even that he was the 'Christ.' If the 'I am speaking like a madman' is an editor's hand attempting to soften the grandiose claims of the original apostle (which I think they are) and Irenaeus's 'I submitted to the authorities for the sake of the gospel' is more original than the negation (which I also think) the Pauline canon was in a state of flux in the second and third centuries. There was an attempt to 'de-Marcionize' the text which was more than glosses and transcription errors 'here and there.' The very identity of Paul was refashioned as if by a face-transplant. I even suspect some of the 'we' references were originally 'I' references. The fact that Paul could be forced to 'fit' with the other 'apostles' necessitated this textual overhaul. And remember while we would like to have the heretical text, the very fact that we owe to the heretics to assume that their views were rational means it can't have read as our canonical Pauline texts now do. Even without the actual evidence of massive interpolation no one could reasonably infer what the Marcionites did from our letters of Paul. That's a simple fact. We can't just keep going back to the Romans-first collection handed to us by Irenaeus and assume that it is pristine or even less than adulterated. Irenaeus was reacting to the Marcionites. When Marcionites are cited (such as Apelles) it is clear they had a laissez-faire attitude toward other traditions. They weren't reactionary. They were quite happy living within themselves and letting other beliefs persist ('there must be heresies').
Last edited by Secret Alias on Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:45 am

And what's more. Having the Marcionites say - the apostle's gospel and his letters are the limit of truth - is better than you or I two thousand years handpicking texts and traditions. The Marcionites had an enclosed system. They remind me of kids in high school who only listened to one band because they thought that nothing short of divine truth emanated from these four or five musicians. There is something refreshing about the Samaritans for this reason too. The Samaritans maintain an earlier tradition than the Jews and the Marcionites were earlier than the orthodox - both because of the closed nature of their system. Only one man had the authority to write about divine things. Moses and Marcion (Mark and of course I'm stretching here). In Samaritan too Mark and Moses are numerological equivalents of one another hence Marqe is the second Moses, the prophet of rehuta, Moses the prophet of fanuta (or maybe it is the other way I forget). There is a Samaritanism to the Marcionites that I very much like and Ephrem's notion of the Marcionite tradition having the Transfiguration on a mountain holy to the Israelite tradition (Gerizim?) intrigues me greatly. The Samaritan background for Marcion also explains his 'anti-Jewishness' very well too.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:56 am

I will attempt to keep this narrowly focused.
Secret Alias wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:32 am
And Paul never once calls himself "the apostle" (definite) in the extant epistles; it is always "an apostle" (indefinite) when it applies to him alone.
In our cleansed edition - sure. But when they are cited in Hegemonius other readings come forward which are compatible with 'the apostle' 'the paraclete' even that he was the 'Christ.'
Do you have some examples? The text is available only in Latin, so far as I know, and Latin does not even have articles, so the direct route is out. What indirect routes do you have in mind?
If the 'I am speaking like a madman' is an editor's hand attempting to soften the grandiose claims of the original apostle (which I think they are) and Irenaeus's 'I submitted to the authorities for the sake of the gospel' is more original than the negation (which I also think) the Pauline canon was influx in the second and third centuries.
I have no current opinion on "I am speaking like a madman." But how can "I submitted to the authorities" be anything but a late, derivative attempt to make Paul subject to the Pillars? It baffles me why anyone would think that reading is original. The opposite reading, "I did not submit to them even for an hour," sounds both more original and more Marcionite, if anything.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:59 am

and Latin does not even have articles, so the direct route is out.
I don't mean that 'ho apostolos' is reflected in the text per se but that the person of Paul is manifest in a way that reflects such an understanding.
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Re: Ancient notices of the differences between Matthew and Mark?

Post by Secret Alias » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:01 am

But how can "I submitted to the authorities" be anything but a late, derivative attempt to make Paul subject to the Pillars?
I agree. I think the development swung like a pendulum. Thesis. Antithesis. Synthesis. First Paul saying I am superior to the apostles (the heretics understanding according to Prescription, Against Heresies and many other texts to Paul the lap dog (developed to appease those who opposed him in the anti-Marcionite communities) to a position which tried for something in between the two extremes. But Irenaeus's reading is the earliest in our tradition which means necessarily that whether we are Marcionists or whatever we have to speculate the existence of readings older than Irenaeus.
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