Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

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Giuseppe
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Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by Giuseppe »


For Aristides, the only connection between Christians and Jews is the one still noted by Paul: that Jesus was born of a Jewish woman, whom Aristides refers to as a virgin. Probably at around the same time as Aristides, Marcion of Sinope (+ ca. 160), another reader of Paul, regards the links between Jews and Christians as severed and rejects the Jewish past along with its texts and law to claim that the divine creator gave these laws in order to orient Christians exclusively to Jesus Christ and his new edict.

(Markus Vinzent, Resetting the Origins of Christianity, p. 125)

It is the first time I hear in clear terms that Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion. The thought goes automatically to Earl Doherty's view of the Apologists (less Justin) as witnesses of a Jesus-Logos crucified in heaven.

Hence in the mid-second century we have still Christians who placed the crucifixion in outer space, and shortly after (even as a contemporary!) the Marcion's Evangelion!

If Aristides was the first who interpolated Paul's Galatians 4:4 with "born by woman, born under the law", then this scenario may explain why the pauline epistles were without historicist interpolations, apart Galatians 4:4, Romans 1:3 and (possibly) Galatians 1:19. The epistles were accepted in the catholic field when still the same catholics didn't know, about Christ, more than what one as Aristides could know!

The sequence is the following:
  • Aristides writes his Apology: crucifixion in outer space;
  • Marcion wrote the Evangelion: crucifixion on the earth;
  • The pauline epistles were rapidly interpolated with the 3 items known by Aristides: "born by woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4), "born from the sperm of David" (Romans 1:3), "James the brother of the Lord" (Galatians 1:19).
  • Justin ignores yet Paul and in whiletime he collects the first midrashim that will become, after Justin, the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke etc.
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mlinssen
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Mary was not Jewish / Judean / Judaic

Post by mlinssen »

Giuseppe wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 6:22 am
For Aristides, the only connection between Christians and Jews is the one still noted by Paul: that Jesus was born of a Jewish woman, whom Aristides refers to as a virgin. Probably at around the same time as Aristides, Marcion of Sinope (+ ca. 160), another reader of Paul, regards the links between Jews and Christians as severed and rejects the Jewish past along with its texts and law to claim that the divine creator gave these laws in order to orient Christians exclusively to Jesus Christ and his new edict.

(Markus Vinzent, Resetting the Origins of Christianity, p. 125)

It is the first time I hear in clear terms that Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion. The thought goes automatically to Earl Doherty's view of the Apologists (less Justin) as witnesses of a Jesus-Logos crucified in heaven.

Hence in the mid-second century we have still Christians who placed the crucifixion in outer space, and shortly after (even as a contemporary!) the Marcion's Evangelion!

If Aristides was the first who interpolated Paul's Galatians 4:4 with "born by woman, born under the law", then this scenario may explain why the pauline epistles were without historicist interpolations, apart Galatians 4:4, Romans 1:3 and (possibly) Galatians 1:19. The epistles were accepted in the catholic field when still the same catholics didn't know, about Christ, more than what one as Aristides could know!

The sequence is the following:
  • Aristides writes his Apology: crucifixion in outer space;
  • Marcion wrote the Evangelion: crucifixion on the earth;
  • The pauline epistles were rapidly interpolated with the 3 items known by Aristides: "born by woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4), "born from the sperm of David" (Romans 1:3), "James the brother of the Lord" (Galatians 1:19).
  • Justin ignores yet Paul and in whiletime he collects the first midrashim that will become, after Justin, the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke etc.
Mary is not Jewish, Judean or Judaic - that is mere guessing.
Naturally Sweet Jus assigns her a Dividian bloodline over and over again, but none of that is in the NT

If one really wants to argue about Deu 7:3 and that it can be logically deduced that she must have been of the Judean race, then let's first discuss how wonderfully Deu 7:4a came about

BOOK OF Matthew
Chapter 1 The Genealogy of Jesus
16 And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, the One being called Christ.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ came about in this way: His mother Mary, having been pledged to Joseph, before their coming together, was found holding in womb through the Holy Spirit.
20 But on his having pondered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, you should not be afraid to receive Mary as your wife, for that having been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 2 The Pilgrimage of the Magi
11 And having come into the house, they found the Child with His mother Mary, and having fallen down, they worshiped Him. And having opened their treasures, they offered to Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Chapter 3 The Mission of John the Baptist
Chapter 13 The Parable of the Sower
55 Is this not the son of the carpenter? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
Chapter 27 Jesus Delivered to Pilate
56 among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. The Burial of Jesus
61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb. The Guards at the Tomb
Chapter 28 The Resurrection
1 And after the Sabbaths, it being dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

BOOK OF Mark
Chapter 6 The Rejection at Nazareth
3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.
Chapter 15 Jesus Delivered to Pilate
40 And there were also women looking on from afar off, among whom also were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the least and of Joseph, and Salome,
47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Josephd were watching where He was laid.
Chapter 16 The Resurrection
1 And the Sabbath having passed, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that having come, they might anoint Him.
8 And having gone out, they fled from the tomb, for trembling and amazement had seized them. And they spoke nothing to anyone; for they were afraid.a Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
9 And having risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.

BOOK OF Luke
Chapter 1 Dedication to Theophilus
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the name of the virgin was Mary.
30 And the angel said to her, “Fear not, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I do not know a man?”
38 And Mary said, “Behold, the Lord’s handmaid. May it happen to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 And in those days Mary, having risen up, went with haste into the hill country, to a town of Judah,
41 And it came to pass, as Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby in her womb leaped. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,
45 And blessed is the one having believed that there will be a fulfillment to the things spoken to her from the Lord.” Mary's Song
46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
56 And Mary dwelt with her about three months, and returned to her home. The Birth of John the Baptist
Chapter 2 The Birth of Jesus
5 to register with Mary the one being betrothed to him, she being with child.
16 And having hurried, they came and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby, lying in the manger.
19 But Mary was treasuring up all these matters, pondering them in her heart.
34 And Simeon blessed them and said to His mother Mary: “Behold, this Child is appointed for the falling and rising up of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against—
Chapter 8 Women Minister to Jesus
2 and certain women who had been cured from evil spirits and infirmities: Mary who is called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Chapter 10 Jesus Sends Out the Disciples
37 And he said, “The one having shown compassion toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “You go and do likewise.” Martha and Mary
39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also, having sat down at the feet of the Lord, was listening to His word.
42 but one thing is necessary, only one; for Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Chapter 24 The Resurrection
10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who were telling these things to the apostles.

BOOK OF John
Chapter 1 The Beginning
Chapter 2 The Wedding at Cana
Chapter 3 Jesus and Nicodemus
Chapter 4 Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
Chapter 5 The Pool of Bethesda
Chapter 6 The Feeding of the Five Thousand
Chapter 7 Jesus Teaches at the Feast
Chapter 8 The Woman Caught in Adultery
Chapter 9 Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind
Chapter 10 Jesus the Good Shepherd
Chapter 11 The Death of Lazarus
1 Now a certain man was ailing, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 And Mary was the one having anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and having wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
16 Therefore Thomas called Didymus said to the fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” Jesus Comforts Martha and Mary
19 and many of the Jews had come unto Martha and Mary, that they might console them concerning the brother.
20 Therefore Martha, when she heard that Jesus is coming, met Him; but Mary was sitting in the house.
28 And having said these things she went away and called her sister Mary secretly, having said, “The Teacher is come, and He calls you.”
31 Then the Jews being with her in the house and consoling her, having seen that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, having supposed she is going to the tomb that she might weep there.
32 Therefore Mary, when she came to where Jesus was, having seen Him, fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews having come to Mary, and having seen what He did, believed in Him.
Chapter 12 Mary Anoints Jesus
3 Therefore Mary, having taken a litraa of fragrant oil of pure nard, of great price, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Chapter 13 Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet
Chapter 14 Jesus Comforts the Disciples
Chapter 15 Jesus the True Vine
Chapter 16 Persecution Foretold
Chapter 17 Prayer for the Son
Chapter 18 The Betrayal of Jesus
Chapter 19 The Soldiers Mock Jesus
25 Now His mother, and the sister of His mother, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, had been standing by the cross of Jesus.
Chapter 20 The Resurrection
1 Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb early, it being still dark, and she sees the stone having been removed from the tomb.
9 For not yet did they understand the Scripture that it behooves Him to rise out from the dead. Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood outside at the tomb weeping. Then as she was weeping, she stooped down into the tomb,
16 Jesus says to her, “Mary.” Having turned around, she says to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni,” that is to say, “Teacher.”
18 Mary Magdalene comes bringing word to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her. Jesus Appears to the Disciples

BOOK OF Acts
Chapter 1 Prologue
14 All these were steadfastly continuing with one accord in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Chapter 12 James Killed, Peter Imprisoned
12 And having considered it, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, who is called Mark, where there were many having gathered together and praying.

BOOK OF Romans
Chapter 16 Personal Greetings and Love
6 Greet Mary, who toiled much for you.

BOOK OF 1 Corinthians

BOOK OF 2 Corinthians

BOOK OF Galatians

BOOK OF Ephesians

BOOK OF Philippians

BOOK OF Colossians

BOOK OF 1 Thessalonians

BOOK OF 2 Thessalonians

BOOK OF 1 Timothy

BOOK OF 2 Timothy

BOOK OF Titus

BOOK OF Philemon

BOOK OF Hebrews

BOOK OF James

BOOK OF 1 Peter

BOOK OF 2 Peter

BOOK OF 1 John

BOOK OF 2 John

BOOK OF 3 John

BOOK OF Jude

BOOK OF Revelation

rgprice
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Re: Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by rgprice »

Giuseppe wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 6:22 am
For Aristides, the only connection between Christians and Jews is the one still noted by Paul: that Jesus was born of a Jewish woman, whom Aristides refers to as a virgin. Probably at around the same time as Aristides, Marcion of Sinope (+ ca. 160), another reader of Paul, regards the links between Jews and Christians as severed and rejects the Jewish past along with its texts and law to claim that the divine creator gave these laws in order to orient Christians exclusively to Jesus Christ and his new edict.

(Markus Vinzent, Resetting the Origins of Christianity, p. 125)

It is the first time I hear in clear terms that Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion. The thought goes automatically to Earl Doherty's view of the Apologists (less Justin) as witnesses of a Jesus-Logos crucified in heaven.

Hence in the mid-second century we have still Christians who placed the crucifixion in outer space, and shortly after (even as a contemporary!) the Marcion's Evangelion!

If Aristides was the first who interpolated Paul's Galatians 4:4 with "born by woman, born under the law", then this scenario may explain why the pauline epistles were without historicist interpolations, apart Galatians 4:4, Romans 1:3 and (possibly) Galatians 1:19. The epistles were accepted in the catholic field when still the same catholics didn't know, about Christ, more than what one as Aristides could know!

The sequence is the following:
  • Aristides writes his Apology: crucifixion in outer space;
  • Marcion wrote the Evangelion: crucifixion on the earth;
  • The pauline epistles were rapidly interpolated with the 3 items known by Aristides: "born by woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4), "born from the sperm of David" (Romans 1:3), "James the brother of the Lord" (Galatians 1:19).
  • Justin ignores yet Paul and in whiletime he collects the first midrashim that will become, after Justin, the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke etc.
Where do you get that Aristides said anything about a crucifixion in outer space?

Isn't Aristides' Apology dates to 125? How could he be a contemporary of Marcion ca 160?
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Giuseppe
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Re: Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by Giuseppe »

rgprice wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 8:26 am Where do you get that Aristides said anything about a crucifixion in outer space?
Earl Doherty has already done a such case:

In his Second Apology 10, Justin compares Christ with Socrates and, of course, finds him superior. Such a comparison can be found in no other 2nd century apologist, including, in addition to the ones listed above, the Apology of Aristides (whose seeming mention of an historical Jesus is questioned in Appendix 11) and in the Epistle to Diognetus, which is really an apology as well. We do not even find it in Irenaeus who was a clear believer in an historical Jesus.

(Jesus Neither Gor Nor Man, p. 656, cursive original, my bold)


See in particular:

Throughout the work, there are a number of curious statements which, like statements by Minucius Felix and others, cast aspersions on pagan beliefs about their gods that are similar to beliefs we should expect to find among Christians:
It is impossible that a god should be bound or mutilated...

[ch.9]
But that a god should...die by violence is impossible,

[ch. 11 ]
And how, pray, is he a god who does not save himself?

[ch. 12]

(Jesus Neither Gor Nor Man, p. 693)


When we look at the rest of the Greek version in regard to its presentation of Christian faith and morality, we find the same tone and content as the Syriac outside its Jesus passage: a focus on God and no appeal to Gospel data. Unlike the Syriac, there is in the later part of the Greek chapter 15 a Logos-like reference, but unassociated with the Jesus of the preceding 'Gospel' passage:
For they know God, the Creator and Fashioner of all things through the onlybegotten Son and the Holy Spirit; and beside him they worship no other God.

Here the Son is presented in Logos fashion, an agent of creation, with no identification with a human man; it seems divorced from the earlier passage outlining the Gospel Jesus. As such it resembles the Logos descriptions of most of the other apologists. It is even implied that the Son is not worshiped. Similar to the Syriac, the text speaks of "the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ himself graven upon their hearts," and of those who "are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Christ." But this could be referring to a heavenly Christ. In saying that Christians "look forward to the resurrection of the dead and life in the world to come" there is no reference to Christ's own resurrection; and indeed, outside of the respective Jesus passages, there is in either version no suggestion of any incarnation or atoning death on the part of a deity as the means of salvation.

(Jesus Neither Gor Nor Man, p. 695, my bold)


Adding to this the Vinzent's view that Aristides was really a contemporary of Marcion, and not of Trajan, makes my point that probably the interpolation 'born from woman' has been made rapidly in Galatians but without yet the knowledge of a "Mary"as her name, even less so of a catholic Gospel.
Last edited by Giuseppe on Sat Jan 21, 2023 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by schillingklaus »

The Eusebian date of Aristides is not trustworthy, as is the mere existence of teyh alleged author and content of the apology.
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Re: Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by rgprice »

I don't know about a heavenly Christ, but Doherty is indeed right about the account of Jesus in Ch 2. It is shockingly Gospelesque in its content, yet the section that provided a more detailed description of Christians includes no such Gospel details, nor really even any references to Jesus.

So, other than Doherty, do any scholars address this? It seems that in most on-line sources all commentary seems to treat Ch 2 as perfectly reliable and dated to 125.
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Re: Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by Giuseppe »

rgprice wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 9:30 am
So, other than Doherty, do any scholars address this? It seems that in most on-line sources all commentary seems to treat Ch 2 as perfectly reliable and dated to 125.

Doherty is not alone in arguing for Apologists knowing only a celestial Christ (never descended on earth). The mythicist reading of Minucius Felix, in particular, has been found in past French mythicists.

Prof Vinzent gives a further evidence of Aristides being a contemporary of Marcion when he writes:
Shortly after the middle of the second century, Justin writes in his First Apology addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius (and the Roman Senate): 'We who not long ago delighted in fornication have now embraced restraint alone' (1 Apol. 14). THe criticism here is directed at the emperor's predecessor, Hadrian, who had fallen in love with a young man whom he had presumably met on his journey to Bithynia in 124 CE. ... A second harsh criticism of homosexuality also seems to refer to this prominent case and is found in the Syriac version of another Christian apologist, Aristides of Athens. He too appears to criticize Hadrian's dubious treatment of the youth, and like Justin, he also addresses his writing to Hadrian's successor Antoninus Pius after the former's death, none of the two writers, however, making reference to Paul's texts.

(ibid., p. 321)

This says me that the early and only historicist interpolations in Paul are what they are (Gal 4:4, Rom 1:3) only because they have been made by Apologists à la Aristides: the first candidates to read first Paul after that they knew Paul by reading the Apostolikon.
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Re: Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by rgprice »

None of that addresses my question. The statements in Aristides Ch 2 are quite orthodox. The scholarly consensus seems to be that they are authentic and date to 125.

What, exactly, are the arguments against this, and who makes them, aside from Doherty?
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Re: Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by Giuseppe »

rgprice wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 10:24 am What, exactly, are the arguments against this, and who makes them, aside from Doherty?
Aristides couldn't attack homosexuality in the same moment he was addressing Hadrian. Could he?
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Re: Aristides was a contemporary of Marcion

Post by MrMacSon »

rgprice wrote: Sat Jan 21, 2023 10:24 am
None of that addresses my question. The statements in Aristides Ch 2 are quite orthodox. The scholarly consensus seems to be that they are authentic and date to 125.

What, exactly, are the arguments against this, and who makes them, aside from Doherty?

See
'Aristides of Athens', chapter 4 in Writing the History of Early Christianity: From Reception to Retrospection, Cambridge University Press, 2019, by Markus Vinzent

And
Simpson, William A. 2017. Aristides’ ‘Apologyand the novelBarlaam and Ioasaph (Peeters Publishers: Leuven).



... my former PhD student, William Simpson...in his recently published thesis cautions...that 'the Greek text of Aristides’ Apology' cannot simply be taken for granted, as it "suffers from a fundamental problem in terms of its integrity," and he adds: "While Christian tradition situates the composition of this work in the second century, it is not attested by an extant Greek version that can be ascribed in its entirety to the second century," but appears for the first time in the eleventh century.

Although most scholars and textbooks portray and discuss the Apology as if it were a second-century text, the oldest known Christian Apology, during the writing of his PhD it soon became clear to Simpson that if the text did, indeed, date back to the second century, "it must have been reworked subsequently." To complicate the situation, the Greek text of this Apology only survived as part of a broader text, ‘the eleventh century novel entitled Barlaam and Ioasaph’ (B&I), and only in three tiny fourth-century fragments on papyrus, then in a Syriac translation from a seventh-century manuscript and in a short recension in Armenian that "derives from an Armenian manuscript that is dated to the year 981 A.D.." In his conclusion, Simpson summarises that Aristides’ Apology, as it has been preserved in the novel B&I, has ‘in places’ "suffered some alterations" through redaction, and that 'the Syriac has enlarged the Apology," so that one even might ask whether or not the Armenian version, which comprises only the first two chapters, represents the older text at least in its brevity, even though that version too has been reworked.
..< . . paragraph omitted . . >
Given the variations in the texts that our different ancient witnesses provide, Pouderon et al. in 2003 cautiously and wisely refrained from giving the reader a text that combines the readings of the various versions in one critical apparatus, rejecting the option ‘to assemble a puzzle of disparate elements, taken here from the one, there from another version, and thus to create an artificial, if not monstrous text that could never have existed as such, but could instead deeply mislead as to the wording or the structure of the original document’. Instead they published the different versions of the Apology separately, starting with the longest, the Syriac version, followed by the Greek version of the B&I, the Greek papyri, and then the Armenian version. These texts are followed by a commentary that covers all the given versions. In one of the appendices the editors also add the apologetic themes in the ancient Georgian martyrologies. Their disjunctive approach contrasts with older attempts that tried to create one text through the combination of the different versions.

Hence, it is admitted that the text of Aristides’ Apology can no longer be considered certain, and that it is unclear whether the text was dedicated to Hadrian or, which seems ‘more probable’, to his successor Antoninus Pius (138–161 CE), or perhaps to both. Pouderon set out the options that have been suggested so far. The first is the traditional one, based on Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History and his Chronicle, the latter in Jerome’s Latin version suggesting the year 125 CE or, according to the Armenian version, the years 124/125. The second option, based on the double mention of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius in the Syriac opening of the Apology, gives as a composition date the end of Hadrian’s reign, but, because of Hadrian’s death, the work would have been presented to Antoninus Pius. The third option sees the note on Hadrian as a scribal error, as ‘Hadrian’ is also part of the name of the Imperator Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Pius Augustus (or Augustus Pius), and suggests his reign, more specifically the years 140–145 CE. Pouderon et al. themselves opt for the years 124/125 CE without entirely rejecting the possibility of a second redaction made under Antoninus Pius.

Even though, in their description of the historical circumstances and the literary and historic nature of the text, they work solely on the assumption of a Hadrianic dating of the Apology, taking at face value the reports of Eusebius in his Church History, they admit that, for example, the Hadrianic letter To Minucius Fundanus with his orders on how to deal with petitions against Christians is not referred to by Aristides, nor is there any noticeable mutual dependency. With regards to the nature of Aristides’ Apology they stress the epideictic character (to differentiate this as an ‘encomiastic’ and ‘reprobative’ genre from the other two Aristotelean and Stoic genres of ‘deliberative’ and ‘juridical’ discourses). The epideictic character they underline by pointing out that the text does not demand anything from the emperor, but reads like a fictive discourse or an ‘open letter’ … an apologetic work in form of a speech or in style of a letter, provoked by Hadrian’s visit to Athens and destined for the widest possible distribution both in the middle of the Christian community as well as in the pagan public, of which one hoped that the Emperor would read it to whom it was addressed and to whom one certainly made the effort to deliver a copy.

Pouderon et al. did not make use of Wolfram Kinzig’s study on Christian Apologies of the second century (by the way, all the early texts known as Christian Apologies derive from the time of late Hadrian to Marcus Aurelius), a work that discusses the Sitz im Leben of these texts, although they would have found some support for their opinions, regarding both dating and even the character of the work. After listing those earlier scholars who have taken Apologies as historic writings handed over to the emperor in order to protect Christians, and others who see in them a fictive literary product to prepare learned pagan circles for the Christian message, Kinzig deduces from the consistent semantics of these texts and their descriptions that these Apologies are writings in defence of Christianity against an existing accusation that had led to condemnation and conviction by the Roman authorities. And yet, when it comes to Aristides’ Apology, he notices that almost nothing can be deduced from this text with regards to its motivation or intention ...

A second work Pouderon et al. did not, indeed could not, consult, as it had not yet appeared, is the magnum opus of Robert Volk, his text critical edition of the B&I, published in the years 2006 and 2009 ... Now that we are in possession of this critical edition, together with Simpson’s assessment of the B&I with regards to the Apology, the most recent edition by Pouderon et al. would need a thorough revision ...

Thanks to Volk’s introduction and critical edition of the Greek Barlaam and Ioasaph, we are in a position to retrace and review the last centuries of the ‘life’ of the Apology, a most fascinating one. If we picked up only the ten appendices to his introduction to the B&I, we would see how various authors in different centuries have gone back to that novel, abbreviated, epitomised or condensed it (sometimes to six lines), retold it, turned it into hymns, liturgies, catechetical, didactic or parabolic material – most often without touching the text of the Apology as it appears in that novel. Two manuscripts of the sixteenth century, however, provide us with an excerpt from Aristides’ Apology with the catalogue of Greek gods from Kronos to Adonis, yet without Aristides’ negative comments about them, to which I will come back below. It is a great advantage that Volk edited not only the long narrative of the B&I itself, but also some of these variations on the theme of B&I, so one can hope that as well as seeing the non-use of the Apology, scholars will recognise the value not just of the ‘original’ novel, but also of the attempts at capturing what the story or elements of it meant to people of later centuries.

... As we can read today in Volk’s two volumes, his edition of the Greek text of Barlaam and Ioasaph and his introductory volume, B&I is published as part of the works of John of Damascus (c. 675/ 676– 749), although Volk ‘rightly’ marked this ascription of authorship to be ‘spurious’. As such the B&I reflects the long tradition that can be traced back to the year 1215 CE, as Gui de Cambrai (twelfth/ thirteenth century) composed a poem in 1215 CE stating that the B&I has been translated by John of Damascus. Michael of Antioch (thirteenth/ fourteenth century) more explicitly wrote about John of Damascus to credit him with the authorship of the B&I. Even though there are four other people by the name of ‘John’ who have been discussed as potential authors of the B&I, John of Damascus was the one favoured by most earlier scholars. In the late nineteenth century, Herman Zotenberg put forward views that became key to creating doubt over John of Damascus’ authorship.

Zotenberg argued in meticulous detail, both on stylistic grounds and in terms of content, against that view. First, the author of B&I draws on more sources than just works by John of Damascus. Further, the theology of B&I ‘significantly differs from the theology of John Damascene’: ‘[and] it is [rather] consistent with the dogma of the authors of the Eastern Orthodox Church of the sixth and seventh centuries, where ascetic doctrine occupied a dominant position’. Zotenberg concludes that B&I was written after the new doctrine in the East was produced in 620. Nevertheless, ‘when decades ago the monks of the Abbey of Scheyern planned a new critical edition of all works of John the Damascene, they still took this work to be from his pen, and Volk’s predecessor as editor, B. Kotter, decided to include it, but Volk, who took over Kotter’s task after the latter’s death, unwaveringly’ declared the work to be of ‘spurious’ nature.

The text of the Apology within the B&I had not been recognised until the year 1893, when the first of several discoveries were made. First Rendel Harris made the chance finding of a Syriac translation of the Apology in the monastery of St Catherine (‘ Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai’), at the foot of Mount Sinai, Egypt, and J.A. Robinson pointed to the B&I as a witness for the hitherto unrecognised Apology as part of this novel. The fact that the text was not noticed earlier is due to the fine work done by the translator and redactor Euthymius the Hagiorite (= the man from the Holy Mountain) (c.955–1028), when he translated a Georgian novel into Greek and bolstered it with a new piece, Aristides’ Apology, which became the core of the new form of the novel. The translation and redaction happened ‘around the year 985’ ...

... in the years 1925-6 ‘Robert Blake discovered a [Georgian] text [called the Balavariani] now known as Jerusalem 140’, which was ‘vastly important in piecing together the textual tradition of our Greek B&I’ ...

As we can see from the Balavariani, the Georgian novel was already Christian, and Euthymius might have been inspired by this passage of Nakhor denouncing ‘the idols and their acolytes and then [praising] the faith of the Christians and their sacred laws’ to make use of Aristides’ Apology, as the passage summarises quite well what the Apology provides ...

... that the B&I romance...bec[a]me a Muslim Arabic novel, apparently with Manichean elements, may be deduced from the criticism that even the poet Abān al-Lāhiqī, who used the story, had to face. To add to the cultural mix, the text must also have displayed a number of Buddhist elements, as these are still noticeable in the Georgian version that was used by Euthymius, and that brings us further back to the previous history of the tradition of this novel. All the early Arabic stories, even in their Manichean outlook, go further back to an Iranian novel that recounted the life of the Buddha ‘and purport to have been translated by Ibn al-Miqaffa’ (d. A.D. 759) or his successors’. The name of the protagonist in the Arabic text is Bilawhar, the teacher of the Buddha, who in the Balavariani, the Christianised Georgian version of this Buddha story, had become Balavar and was later further ‘garbled into [the Greek] Barlaam’. Bilawhar, though the teacher of Buddha, was no longer an ‘Indian’ figure, and the story was no longer a ‘Buddhist’ text in the strict sense, but had already been transformed into a Muslim text with Manichean leanings ...

... the reworking of the Apology by Euthymius has to make us cautious, not to rely too much on the Greek version that the B&I gives us ...

Why had Aristides been connected with Athens? We know that Athens rather than Rome was famous for philosophical learning during the second century, even though Rome became more important during the third century. At Athens during the times of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161– 180) we read of four or eight philosophical chairs that had been created, one or two each for Stoicism, Epicurism, Platonism and Aristotelism. Even into the sixth century this city remains a stronghold for philosophical studies, with teachers who are often closely connected with those in Alexandria, even though none of the mentioned chairs seems to have survived the invasion of Athens by the barbaric Eruli in the year 267 CE. At the beginning of the fourth century CE, Eusebius of Caesarea tells us of only two masters in Athens, the Aristotelean Prosenes and the Stoic Callietes. Apparently all the other chairs had no future, even though students continued to flood the city to study rhetoric and philosophy. Hence, already Athens may have given Aristides and his Apology a certain aura of learning.
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Vinzent, Markus. Writing the History of Early Christianity, Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition; pp. 205-216

There's another 40+ pages to that chapter ...

Starting with and including (but clearly not limited to):


An Historical Setting of the Apology: The Aftermath of Bar Kokhba

When reading Aristides’ Apology today, we usually do so as if we had at hand the text of the first extant ‘Apology’, written by a Christian who addresses the emperor. Arriving at it as we have after our journey through history, we read it in a different way, perhaps one that is more congruous with the content of the text.

Scholars, as mentioned before, have noticed that the Apology does not easily fit the apologetic genre of a defence of Christians by petitioning the emperor to act on their behalf. Instead, Aristides’ Apology in all extant versions is rather a reflection on and a presentation of what Christianity is and what Christianity is all about. The text tries to define Christians as being different from ‘Barbarians’, different from the ‘Greeks’, different from the ‘Jews’, and to show that they form a novel ‘race’ ...


The Origin and Nature of Christians

Even the most recent scholarship on Aristides’ Apology assumes that we potentially know every word that Aristides wrote, but not what he said or how he said it, hence that nothing or at least not much of his text is lost, although the different versions can hardly be harmonised. It is, however, taken for granted that the longest version extant, the Syriac, gives us the original length of the text, even if in some places this text reflects later redactions. The shorter Greek text preserved by the B&I seems an abbreviated version, given that the few Greek papyri fragments and also the Armenian rendering of Eznik attest to the longer version of the Syriac text, even though scholars argue that Eznik, just like the other unknown Armenian translator who provided us with the Armenian version of the Apology, did not translate from Syriac, but from Greek ...

... That the short Armenian version could reflect the earlier stage of the Apology is supported by the rather neglected two sixteenth-century manuscripts ... These two manuscripts provide us with the catalogue of Greek gods from Kronos to Adonis, as known from the longer version of Aristides’ Apology, yet without any negative comment by Aristides ... it seems easier to assume that a pre-Christian catalogue of Greek gods had been used by the redactor of the Apology to broaden this text, based on what was given by the first two chapters, as present in the Armenian translation ...

Simpson comments:
"... according to the Greek version of the Apology there are only three races of humanity: ‘those that are worshippers of them whom ye call gods, and Jews, and Christians’, whereas the Syriac and Armenian versions break the number of races of men into four (Barbarians, Greeks, Jews, and Christians) ..."

A Retrospective Lesson

Given the state of our witnesses, deriving from a range of times, languages and religious-cultural environments, any attempt at re-creating an ‘original’ text is futile, and has rightly been given up by the most recent editors of Aristides’ Apology. Even though we might use this text with great caution when it comes to getting an insight into second-century Christianity, our retrospective journey has shown that instead of trying to get hold of this ‘second’-century text, we need to understand first not only our own perspectives and those of previous scholarship, but very importantly define and reflect upon the stages at which the Apology was appropriated to serve purposes such as the re-orientation of the Buddhist– Manichean– Christian conversion novel of the Balavariani. At this point we are reminded of where we started, and of our journey from Rome to Athens, with Raphael’s The School of Athens in mind. Philosophy and religion had been brought closer by the integration of the Apology into the conversion novel. It replaced the Balavariani’s conversion scenario of morality and threat with an appeal to Middle- and Neo-Platonic reflection ...

If one were to attempt to locate where and when Aristides’ Apology was first written [or, perhaps, skeptically, where it was set], it seems to have been in the post-Bar Kokhba setting, where there was a need to distance oneself from the Jewish rebels and their Roman opponents, and it made sense to insist on being neither Jewish nor Greek, neither Barbarian nor Egyptian, but to define oneself instead as a third (or fourth) group (without openly criticising the Romans) ...
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eta
a selected Bibliography

Pouderon, Bernard, Marie-Joseph Pierre and Bernard Outtier. 2000. ‘À propos de l’Apologie d’Aristide. Recherches sur un prototype commun aux versions syriaque et arménienne’, Recherches de science religieuse, 74: 173– 93.

Simpson, William A. 2017. Aristides’ ‘Apology’ and the novel ‘Barlaam and Ioasaph’ (Peeters Publishers: Leuven).

Volk, Robert. 2006. Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos. Band VI/ 2: Historia animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (spuria). Text und zehn Appendices (Walter de Gruyter: Berlin).

Volk, Robert. 2009. Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos. Band VI/ 1: Historia animae utilis de Barlaam et Ioasaph (spuria) – Einführung (Walter de Gruyter: Berlin).

Zotenberg, Herman. 1887. ‘Notice sur le livre de Barlaam et Josaph’, Notices et extraits des mss. de la Bibliothèque Nationale 28: 1– 166.
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