Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by andrewcriddle »

Secret Alias wrote:
Furthermore "Irenaeus told us that Justin Martyr wrote a work against Marcion, which is now lost."
And Trump said he fired Comey for the way he mistreated Clinton not the Russia investigation. What's your point?
IIUC we have both speculated that Justin against Marcion was one of the sources used by Tertullian.

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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by Bernard Muller »

Where do these authors quote Marcion saying that he edited or corrected something?
My mistake. I misread. But it would have been stupid for Marcion to say that he edited or corrected something, even he did just that. Then of course, no one could quote him admitting his handy work.
About admission of Marcion, maybe that statement from Irenaeus' AH, Bk I can be telling: "He likewise persuaded his disciples that he himself was more worthy of credit than are those apostles who have handed down the Gospel to us, furnishing them not with the Gospel, but merely a fragment of it."
Did Marcion claim to his disciples he was more trustworthy than the other (canonical) gospels? That would not prove Marcion admitted he concocted his own gospel. But that would be an acknowledgement he admitted the other gospels were in existence well before his time.
Furthermore "Irenaeus told us that Justin Martyr wrote a work against Marcion, which is now lost."
There is a good chance that Justin, in his (lost)book, would have addressed the issues about Marcion's evangelion. After all, Irenaeus did that (briefly), some 20-30 years later, so I do not see why Justin would abstain to do it in his book.

Cordially, Bernard
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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by Ben C. Smith »

Bernard Muller wrote:
Where do these authors quote Marcion saying that he edited or corrected something?
My mistake. I misread. But it would have been stupid for Marcion to say that he edited or corrected something, even he did just that. Then of course, no one could quote him admitting his handy work.
About admission of Marcion, maybe that statement from Irenaeus' AH, Bk I can be telling: "He likewise persuaded his disciples that he himself was more worthy of credit than are those apostles who have handed down the Gospel to us, furnishing them not with the Gospel, but merely a fragment of it."
Did Marcion claim to his disciples he was more trustworthy than the other (canonical) gospels? That would not prove Marcion admitted he concocted his own gospel. But that would be an acknowledgement he admitted the other gospels were in existence well before his time.
I do not know about your specific argument here, but I am of the judgment that there were indeed other gospels in existence before Marcion.
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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by Bernard Muller »

to Ben,
I do not know about your specific argument here, but I am of the judgment that there were indeed other gospels in existence before Marcion.
That was about Marcion's admissions, about any kind of admission.
But by "Gospel", Irenaeus implies the four canonical gospels, including the one attributed to "Luke" (after Marcion's times).
Of course, Irenaeus would think these gospels were early. My point is that also Marcion thought the same and therefore knew about them.

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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by Peter Kirby »

Bernard Muller wrote:
Consider the idea that Marcion was a renegade, who broke from existing teaching and adulterated the letters of Paul and the Gospel of Luke.
Let's entertain the idea here -- is there anything that could help us establish that it is true? (Or that it is false?)
Two arguments in favor of proving Marcion's Pauline epistles were written after the "canonical" ones: http://historical-jesus.info/73.html
Three arguments in favor of proving Marcion's gospel (of the Lord) was written after Luke's gospel:
http://historical-jesus.info/53.html
I believe that I may owe you some comment on the five arguments that you've outlined.

(1)
The first argument (regarding Romans 15-16) appears more fully at this location: http://historical-jesus.info/60.html

This in turn links to the page regarding the date of 1 Clement: http://historical-jesus.info/52.html -- and I have no argument about the date -- I believe that the relevant quoted passages most likely come from the last third of the 1st century (1 Clement 5:1, etc.). The date chosen (shortly after AD 80) is plausible.

Three reasons are given for believing that chapters 15-16, minus the doxology, were original to Romans:
a) 'Romans' could not end abruptly at 14:23, with no general conclusion, no greetings & no doxology.
b) Chapters 15 & 16 (except the doxology) are typically Pauline & fit well at the end of the letter. Furthermore '1 Clement' surmises Paul went to the extremities of the West, as Paul planned to do in ch. 15 (going to Spain).
Restating these to make some of the logic a little more explicit, if that's okay:

A) Romans, as an actual letter, could not end at 14:23. However, neither could it have ended at 14:23 plus the doxology. First, the doxology is not typically Pauline. Second, according to Origen, the Apostolikon did not have the doxology; therefore, the doxology was added later, after the chopping event, to make for a more salubrious ending. On the other hand, partly because the absence of 15-16 is attested in non-Marcionite editions, partly because it might not be terribly offensive to Marcion, it need not be a Marcionite edit. It could be an accidental edit picked up by Marcion ("for unknown reason, copies were made without the two last chapters" and "Early on (before Marcion), 'Romans', with chapters 15 & 16 missing, was used to make copies. And after Marcion's time, among orthodox Christians, for some time, those co-existed with copies of the full versions.") It would be corrected in the dominant stream of tradition, albeit with some lingering confusion over the placement of the doxology (confirming that its origin is as an addendum to chapter 14, although not original to Paul).

B) Chapters 15 & 16 (except the doxology) are typically Pauline & fit well at the end of the letter. And there is no reason to doubt they are original (so the argument goes), so they are original.

C) Furthermore '1 Clement' surmises Paul went to the extremities of the West, as Paul planned to do in ch. 15 (going to Spain). Since 1 Clement is relying on Romans 15 at a very early date (mid-80s on your dating, 1st century in any case according to general consensus), this should confirm the originality of Romans 15.

While there does exist an argument against the secondary nature of the two chapters (e.g. here and here and here and here), which may be stronger yet, I will put off on pressing it for now.

Paul's claim, for example, to be "a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles" and Paul's request for prayers "that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea" certainly don't seem like the stuff of anti-Marcionite propaganda, nor the kind of thing that a hypothesized zealous carver would want to leave on the cutting room floor. I agree with your conclusion that we should not assume that the reasons for the omission in some manuscripts was ideological.

Instead of arguing over the point, I'd like to concede it and take the opportunity to elaborate on some of the issues involved here.

Most importantly, this is a great illustration of the fact that ordinary text-critical concerns and ordinary textual transmission issues do not disappear when we start to inquire into the nature of the Apostolikon. The view of a radical minority try to make a very close connection between this collection of letters and the very autographs themselves, up to the most extreme view that Marcion himself may be the author. This is not a view that I would embrace; I believe that over fifty years lie between the authorship of the letters and their publication, as a collection, in the Apostolikon.

In the in-between time of the latter half of the first century, we can assume that letters of Paul were copied individually on scrolls and shared that way (granted, it's a thorny question, and some have various ideas, up to and including the publication of a collection by Paul himself). Conservatively, though, that's what would have happened for a while if we only assume that these were real letters (and don't assume Paul made his own collection). Apparently 1 Corinthians and Romans, at least, made it to the author of "1 Clement." His version, perhaps owing to its very early date (potentially even an autograph), did not suffer from the omission of the last two chapters, or so it would seem.

Yet it does appear that there was an omission of the last two chapters. It's possible that they quite literally just fell off, separated and/or tattered by use, resulting in a still-useful epistle that lacked the last two chapters. This is a known phenomenon in the transmission of texts. This apparently influenced the text used by some church fathers and some of the old Latin manuscripts, as well as the positioning and even the existence of the doxology.

Several have noticed other affinities of the text type used in the Apostolikon or Evangelion to the old Latin, which sometimes agrees with the readings attested as belonging to Marcion (according to our sources for that) against most of the Greek texts. Hence the complaint by Origen, who presumably had a more Alexandrian text at his disposal, that the last two chapters went missing from the text used by Marcion. He is an obvious person (for the church fathers) to charge with the crime, even when he did not commit it!

A more nuanced picture emerges than "strict Marcionite priority" (all of the readings that Marcion gets accused of are correct) or "strict Marcionite posteriority" (all of the readings that Marcion gets accused of are incorrect). After all, in this case, Marcion isn't even responsible! Indeed, if Origen is to be believed, Marcion was conservative enough to transmit Romans without even attempting to make the ending more palatable, as the Catholic scribes do, inserting it after chapter 14, after chapter 16, after both, after neither, or yet once even after chapter 15. On account of this behavior, do we assume 'strict Catholic posteriority" - that any reading attested anywhere in the church fathers should be suspected if it disagrees with any other? Of course not! That would be madness; variant readings are the norm. And so it is also madness when such a judgment is levied against Marcion, for similarly spurious charges.

So, true -- if we accept this argument, we can dispense with some of the extreme claims that the text claimed to belong to Marcion cannot err (and, as I've said previously, not all do accept the argument that 15-16, minus the doxology, are original). But neither would we say that the text of Justin cannot err, or that the text of Irenaeus cannot err, et cetera -- otherwise, would we not by similar logic convict Justin or Irenaeus, on account of the fact that they seem to have known of the "Longer Ending of Mark" or other passages that are not original? If we say that Marcion is a "mutilator" of the New Testament on such grounds - then, so is Justin, so is Irenaeus, so is Clement, so is Origen, so is Tertullian, so is Eusebius, and so are the lot. Mutilators of the New Testament, every one! They have failed to preserve the original text unaltered!

The conclusion that the Catholic tradition may have access to the Pauline epistles through streams of transmission (such as the copying of the individual letters) outside of the Apostolikon, with some of the readings being older, is useful information but it does nothing to establish the conclusion that "Marcion was a renegade, who broke from existing teaching and adulterated the letters of Paul and the Gospel of Luke" or even the milder conclusion that "Marcion's Pauline epistles were written after the 'canonical' ones." The text transmitted by Marcion can have older readings even in Romans, since we've already established that the "mutilation" suffered in the pre-transmission to reach Marcion consists of a fairly haphazard loss of a couple pages -- indeed, for all we know, the pages could have been lost from the autograph in Rome itself?! I'm not saying that they were -- I'm just bringing up the obvious gap between the claim of a single non-original reading being innocently relayed in the Apostolikon proves anything regarding any kind of general case. Should we assume that the people who copied the letters that Marcion eventually published were especially prone to misplacing pages or otherwise dropping out passages for no discernable reason? The assumption is an amusing one, but only that.

The fact that this is even considered an argument only shows that the influence of the allegations can be strong in someone's mind -- those accusations that Marcion set out to destroy the original sense of the gospel and the epistles -- that, even when it is believed that Marcion likely had not part in the textual difference and even when it is believed to have no particular connection to Marcionism, it still somehow provides "evidence" for the smears, or for claims that are believed to support the smears, when that plainly doesn't compute.

The "canonical" ones (in the full sense that phrase must possess - a single trait shared with the canonical text, against the Apostolikon, does not a "canonical" text make) are not actually attested (for all or even most of their readings) in the first century or early second century, so the fact that there may be some textual problem with the Apostolikon that doesn't go back to Paul does precisely nothing to establish that the "canonical" epistles date before Marcion, only that a reading preserved in most (but not all) of the "canonical" ones can be regarded as going back to Paul (and therefore is pre-Marcionite). And it does absolutely nothing to establish that Marcion had been at work on "canonical" epistles to produce his own version, or that "pre-Marcionite" is even an important dividing line pointing to a disturbance in the transmission of Paul's letters, beyond the obvious fact of their collection.

(2)
The second argument appears here: http://historical-jesus.info/73.html

It is with considerable regret that I must come around and admit that Stephan Huller is completely right about the infectious over-optimism characterizing Marcionite studies, and the diagnosis of this regret is also spot on (when you begin to shake the timbers, you wonder what other planks shall fall). But I must call it more than that: it is not merely over-optimism but also a kind of carelessness. People are too eager to clutch at new "finds" of variant Marcionite readings, that they grasp at them without even really considering the context and the source of these "pearls." Yet this is not the way we should conduct ourselves -- before asking any other question, we must first inquire regarding the "source," not as a mere source but as a text, not from a mere informant but from an author in his own right. And we must pay heed vigilantly to any clues that would rightfully check our optimism.

I was a bit shocked at the obvious conclusion here, once we take off our "source-hunting" hat and put on our "Captain Obvious" cap.

Ancient Latin lacks proper quotation marks, in our manuscripts of Tertullian, and we are reliant on the clues of context and informal verbal markers. Before jumping right into it, however, let me set some context.

Some concern (or excitement) has been voiced by scholars by the apparent omission from Ephesians 1:21 from a quotation Tertullian makes:

AM 5.5
It was He who wrought in Christ His mighty power, by raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at His own right hand, and putting all things under His feet [Ephesians 1:19-22] — even the same who said: "Sit on my right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool." For in another passage the Spirit says to the Father concerning the Son: "You have put all things under His feet." Now, if from all these facts which are found in the Creator there is yet to be deduced another god and another Christ, let us go in quest of the Creator.

But this is to be thinking with our "source-hunting" hat. If we put on our "Captain Obvious" cap, we would (if it were any other text and if it were not of such intense interest for the recovery of source variants) assume that the long parenthesis in Tertullian's Pauline text was unnecessary to be pedantically cited here. The focus of the passage is actually on quotation of the scripture that aligned with the apostolic text (sit on my right hand, put all things under His feet). Those bits are picked up by Tertullian's allusion. This kind of reference is, unfortunately for us, all too common in antiquity and in the church fathers.

In Book III of the text, the author already declares his desire to light upon Galatians 4 as proof of his contention, among other texts:

AM 3.5
When the very apostle whom our heretics adopt, interprets the law which allows an unmuzzled mouth to the oxen that tread out the grain, not of cattle, but of ourselves; and also alleges that the rock which followed (the Israelites) and supplied them with drink was Christ; teaching the Galatians, moreover, that the two narratives of the sons of Abraham had an allegorical meaning in their course; and to the Ephesians giving an intimation that, when it was declared in the beginning that a man should leave his father and mother and become one flesh with his wife, he applied this to Christ and the church.

(The point in all cases, of course: Therefore, Marcion is wrong, and Paul was speaking of the Creator.)

So when Tertullian finally gets to deploy this choice proof-text, he is understandably excited. Gifted polemicist that he is, Tertullian allows himself a bit of rhetorical flourish in his explication of the Pauline text.

AM 4.4
Now it does happen to thieves that something let fall
from their booty turns to evidence against them: and so I think
Marcion has left behind him this final reference to Abraham—
though none had more need of removal—even if he has changed
it a little. For if Abraham had two sons, one by a bondmaid and the
other by a free woman, but he that was by the bondmaid was bom after
the flesh, while he that was by the free woman was by promise: which
things are allegorical
, which means, indicative of something else :
for these are two testaments—or two revelations, as I see they have
translated it—the one from Mount Sinai referring to the synagogue
of the Jews, which according to the law gendereth to bondage: the
other gendering above all principality, power, and domination,
and every name that is named not only in this world but also
in that which is to come: for she is our mother, that holy church, in
whom we have expressed our faith: and consequently he adds,
So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
In all this the apostle has clearly shown that the noble dignity
of Christianity has its allegorical type and figure in the son of
Abraham born of a free woman, while the legal bondage of
Judaism has its type in the son of the bondmaid: and consequently,
that both the dispensations derive from that God with whom we
have found the outline sketch of both the dispensations. And the
very fact that he speaks of that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us
free—does not this establish the fact that he who sets free is he
who has been the possessor?

The simplest proof (and certainly much more clear than the alternative) that Tertullian is not quoting from a Marcionite expansion of the letter is that he tells us exactly where Marcion differs. Tertullian says "even if he has changed it a little." Then Tertullian points out a little change: "or two revelations, as I see they have translated it" (scholars debate whether the Latin here means altered, altered in translation, or merely interpreted--all are possible--in any case, there is no proof of priority either way for this word). Then, making the picture complete, Tertullian never charges Marcion with making any other kind of alteration whatsoever to this passage. How absurd! Was Tertullian staring at the insertion of a relatively long expansion, a practically unprecedented corruption in terms of the addition of words (based on other accusations, which tend to claim only subtraction or modification), and objecting not at all, but instead simply quoting it and then interpreting it as his own? Tertullian does intend to refute Marcion from his own text, but the guilt here is too great not to admonish, especially when set beside the minor issue of a single word.

Moreover, we can see Tertullian ducking and weaving in and out of the Pauline text in fairly typical fashion. After quoting "the one from Mount Sinai," Tertullian continues with the language of "referring to," preparing us from some interjections. The snippet "gendereth unto bondage" is prepared by saying "according to the law," explaining why it appears in Paul. When the next quote from Galatians appears, it is prefaced by the preposition "for," meaning that the text of Galatians explains the preceding fulsome phrase. The heavenly Jerusalem was routinely interpreted as "the holy church," and Tertullian owns this expression with the phrase "in whom we have expressed our faith." Finally, after explaining what the allegory is referring to, Tertullian sets up a meaningful direct quotation with the words "and consequently he adds," then continuing his explanation with "In all this the apostle has clearly shown..."

When I considered this carefully and registered clearly the fact that Tertullian has no issue with Marcion over the phrases of interest found here, I actually began to wonder whether this might indicate that Tertullian himself had an unusual text of Paul. But this does not seem to be the case.

Tertullian is aware of what the text of Galatians says here:

AM 3.25
But we do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven, only in another state of existence; inasmuch as it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem, let down from heaven, [Revelation 21:2] which the apostle also calls our mother from above; [Galatians 4:26] and, while declaring that our πολίτευμα, or citizenship, is in heaven, he predicates of it that it is really a city in heaven.

By unavoidable logic, then, I was led to conclude that the phrases' position here belongs to the will of Tertullian, and that the attempt to create a backstory for them in the form of an underlying text of Galatians was only making castles out of sand.

Is this surprising? It should not be! Parallel references in other church fathers should prepare us for the substitution of the words synagogue and church here by the third century Tertullian. Indeed, one such occasion (Ephraem) is so precisely parallel in spirit, yet different in the letter, that it can be taken as external evidence that a church father like Tertullian was merely allowing himself to do a normal bit of editorializing on the text.

Justin Martyr uses a similar typology to make a similar point, with similar phrasing:

Dialogue with Trypho, 134
For in the marriages of Jacob I shall mention what dispensation and prophecy were accomplished, in order that you may thereby know that your teachers never looked at the divine motive which prompted each act, but only at the grovelling and corrupting passions. Attend therefore to what I say. The marriages of Jacob were types of that which Christ was about to accomplish. For it was not lawful for Jacob to marry two sisters at once. And he serves Laban for [one of] the daughters; and being deceived in [the obtaining of] the younger, he again served seven years. Now Leah is your people and synagogue; but Rachel is our Church. And for these, and for the servants in both, Christ even now serves. For while Noah gave to the two sons the seed of the third as servants, now on the other hand Christ has come to restore both the free sons and the servants amongst them, conferring the same honour on all of them who keep His commandments; even as the children of the free women and the children of the bond women born to Jacob were all sons, and equal in dignity.
Even better, Ephraem the Syrian quotes the same passage of Tertullian, in a way that is different in many details but which agrees in the general thrust of the interpretation of the text.

source here

These (women) were symbols of the two testaments, one of the people of the Jews according to the law giving birth in slavery to the likeness of the same, Hagar ... but the higher Jerusalem is free as is Sara and is high above all powers and principalities. This/she is our mother, the holy church, which we have confessed.

Reference is made to the "Jews" and to the "holy church" and to the "high above all powers and principalities" bit, things which came naturally to the author when explaining what the allegory meant.

With some understatement, Leiu says that "Ephraem is not quoting a Marcionite text," "unintentional dependence on one seems improbable," and "the style of this commentary elides quotation of the text, paraphrase, and comment, so that it is not certain that Ephraem is working with a distinct text form."

Bingo! And as it is with Ephraem, so it is with Tertullian: he's just using the bog standard text known to him in bog standard ways, except that he's noticed only one thing about it: Marcion interprets a single word in a different fashion for some reason.

Unfortunately (and I really did try to resist this conclusion, until it seems inescapable) ... there doesn't seem to be anything to see here. What we're commenting on is the fact that Tertullian is secondary to Paul. Indeed.

(I will have to find time to consider the other three things on the Gospels later.)
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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by perseusomega9 »

Bernard Muller wrote:
About admission of Marcion, maybe that statement from Irenaeus' AH, Bk I can be telling: "He likewise persuaded his disciples that he himself was more worthy of credit than are those apostles who have handed down the Gospel to us, furnishing them not with the Gospel, but merely a fragment of it."
Did Marcion claim to his disciples he was more trustworthy than the other (canonical) gospels? That would not prove Marcion admitted he concocted his own gospel. But that would be an acknowledgement he admitted the other gospels were in existence well before his time.
d
I suppose if you believe third-hand hearsay from an axe grinding apologist is an accurate portrayal of what Marcion said your argument may have the slightest hint of validity
The metric to judge if one is a good exegete: the way he/she deals with Barabbas.

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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by Ulan »

perseusomega9 wrote:
Bernard Muller wrote:
About admission of Marcion, maybe that statement from Irenaeus' AH, Bk I can be telling: "He likewise persuaded his disciples that he himself was more worthy of credit than are those apostles who have handed down the Gospel to us, furnishing them not with the Gospel, but merely a fragment of it."
Did Marcion claim to his disciples he was more trustworthy than the other (canonical) gospels? That would not prove Marcion admitted he concocted his own gospel. But that would be an acknowledgement he admitted the other gospels were in existence well before his time.
d
I suppose if you believe third-hand hearsay from an axe grinding apologist is an accurate portrayal of what Marcion said your argument may have the slightest hint of validity
There is no mention of "gospels" anyway, so there isn't even anything about the canonical gospels which you could believe in the first place.
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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by Ben C. Smith »

Peter Kirby wrote:While there does exist an argument for the secondary nature of the two chapters (e.g. here and here and here and here), which may be stronger yet, I will put off on pressing it for now.
To be clear, one of those links is to Harry Gamble's book. He may be summarizing others' arguments for the secondary nature of Romans 15-16, but overall he defends those two chapters as original. Your conclusions in your post are, if I recall Gamble's arguments at least somewhat aright (it has been years since I read the book), compatible with his.
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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by Bernard Muller »

There is no mention of "gospels" anyway, so there isn't even anything about the canonical gospels which you could believe in the first place.
It is clear that Irenaeus endorsed four gospels (the four canonical ones) and not a single Gospel (such as a Diatessaron). So by "Gospel" he meant these four ones.

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Re: Marcion, 2nd Century Bad Boy -- Could It Be True?

Post by Secret Alias »

It is clear that Irenaeus endorsed four gospels (the four canonical ones) and not a single Gospel (such as a Diatessaron). So by "Gospel" he meant these four ones.
But is it that clear? Could the concept of four separated texts = 'the gospel' have existed without the concept of the 'gospel harmony'? I know I challenge you Bernard to see the world beyond mere words on a page but please think about it. Think about what you read.

How did the idea that four gospels = 'the gospel' come about? I know how scholars answer the question. They claim that the four most 'reliable' texts were set apart from the other gospels. But really? Do you really believe that the natural conclusion of the clear plagiarism of Mark to make Matthew and Luke - down to whole sentences shared in common - was to assume that the Holy Spirit dictated the words to Matthew and Luke and that Mark had already written?

When we look at the myth of the creation of the LXX the idea is that the Holy Spirit 'spoke' to seventy men and the translation was identical on each desk. How is it plausible that the Holy Spirit now issuing forth a new covenant would do so through 'broken telephone' or Chinese whispers?

What I am suggesting to you is that no one could have claimed that four gospels = 'the gospel' without the influence of gospel harmonies (i.e. a single gospel/single gospels) lurking in the background. I don't even think this is speculative on my part. Since Justin used a gospel harmony and a gospel harmony stood behind such seminal texts as Against Marcion (where a single long gospel commentary was reshaped into a Luke-based commentary) the primacy or at least the influence or presence of the 'gospel harmony' before Irenaeus's quadriform gospel invention nonsese is certain.
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