The "Assembly of God"

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
rgprice
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The "Assembly of God"

Post by rgprice »

I'm still hung up on this and its blocking progress on my book because I feel like I need a better understanding of this and a better explanation of what's going on before I can proceed.

Related posts:
1 Cor 11: "when you come together as a church"
Galatians 1:21-24 : churches of Judea

I'm still trying to figure out what Paul really means when he talks about the "ekklēsia of God" (which is translated "church of God" in most English Bibles, but is better translated as "assembly of God").

The term is really only used in 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians and Galatians: https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearc ... rsion=NASB

I consider 1 Cor 15:9 a post-Marcion interpolation.

Some key passages:

1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours


1 Corinthians 11:16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.


1 Corinthians 11:22 What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What am I to say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I do not praise you.


2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Timothy, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:


Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;

The term ekklēsia of God did exist in the LXX and was used by Philo.

The introduction of Philippians is also interesting:

Philippians 1:1 To all the holy ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notably, he does not refer to the Philippians as an "assembly of God", nor does he use the term for any of the other group he writes to. He only ever calls the Corinthians an "assembly of God". However, in 1 Cor he also says, "nor do the assemblies of God" (1 Cor 11:16). This certainly implies some other body -- apart from the Corinthians.

But, in Gal 1:13, when Paul says, "I used to persecute the assembly of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it," is he referring specifically to the body at Corinth?

Some will argue that Gal 1:13 is an interpolation, along with 1 Cor 15:9, but Gal 1:13 is relevant to the broader message of the entire letter of Galatians IMO. Yet, outside of this statement, I don't think there are any other authentic accounts of Paul's persecution. The accounts in Acts are late fabrications as is 1 Cor 15:9. BeDuhn includes Gal 1:13 in his reconstruction of Marcion. If indeed we believe that Gal 1:13 was in Marcion, then the case for interpolation has a huge mountain to climb IMO.

So assuming that Gal 1:13 is not interpolated, what "assembly of God" is Paul talking about? Is Paul talking about a specific body of worshipers, such as those at Corinth? In the openings of the letters to the Corinthians, what does this mean: "To the church of God which is in Corinth". Does this mean that "THE one and only assembly of God" is in Corinth? Or does this mean "to one of the many assemblies of God -- the one that is in Corinth".

In 1 Cor 11:22 is Paul saying, "do you despise your own assembly here in Corinth?" or is he saying, "do you despise the universal body of Christ worshipers?" Is he referring to a universal "assembly of God" or the local one?

This is complicated by Gal 1:21:
Galatians 1:21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22 and I was still unknown by sight to the assemblies of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

This follows on from Gal 1:13, implying that the "assembly of God" mentioned in 1:13 was not specifically the Corinthian body. But other Jews referred to the Jewish people as a whole, as well as to specific congregations of Jews, as an "assembly of God", so why would Paul say in Gal 1 that he was persecuting the "assembly of God" because of his devout Judaism? At least in Gal 1:22 the distinction is made: "assemblies that are in Christ".

The term "assembly of God" was not a uniquely Christian term. It was a term used and recognized by Jews as referring to the Jewish people and Jewish bodies of worshipers. I think it is very telling, and important, that Paul uses the term "assembly of God" as opposed to "assembly of Christ" or "assembly of the Lord", especially since the term "assembly of the Lord" is used in the LXX. So the term "assembly of God" is intentionally more inclusive than "assembly of the Lord/Christ". This is clarified in Gal 1:22, "the assemblies of Judea that are in Christ".

This seems to imply that when Paul says "assembly of God" he is invoking the broadest possible umbrella, under which assemblies that are "in Christ" may fit. In other words, it implies that Paul recognizes "assemblies of God" that are not in Christ. To me this supports the conclusion of Ralph J. Korner, that Paul's use of the term "assembly of God" was intended as a means of drawing Paul's Gentile converts into the broader Jewish body. In other words, when Paul said, "assembly of God" he was specifically not creating a distinction between traditional Jews and Christ worshipers, he was including Christ worshipers in the larger Jewish tent. This, ironically is the opposite of how Paul's letters are read with the translation of "church".

Many later traditions have worked to give the impression that Paul was separating Christ worshipers from Judaism, but real the opposite is the case. But this again begs the question: what the heck is Gal 1:13 talking about? If "assembly of God" is inclusive, then why possibly would Paul have been persecuting "the assembly of God" on the basis of his devout Judaism?
rgprice
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Re: The "Assembly of God"

Post by rgprice »

Paul and Philo both make very similar statements about who can be a part of the assembly of God.

Philo:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book27.html
(324) But the law, being most especially an interpreter of equal communion, and of courteous humanity among men, has preserved the honour and dignity of each virtue; not permitting any one who is incurably sunk in vice to flee to them, but rejecting all such persons and repelling them to a distance. (325) Therefore, as it was aware that no inconsiderable number of wicked men are often mingled in these assemblies, and escape notice by reason of the crowds collected there, in order to prevent that from being the case in this instance, he [Moses] previously excludes all who are unworthy from the sacred assembly, beginning in the first instance with those who are afflicted with the disease of effeminacy, men-women, who, having adulterated the coinage of nature, are willingly driven into the appearance and treatment of licentious women. He also banishes all those who have suffered any injury or mutilation in their most important members, and those who, seeking to preserve the flower of their beauty so that it may not speedily wither away, have altered the impression of their natural manly appearance into the resemblance of a woman. (326) The law also excludes not only all harlots, but also those who being born of a harlot bear about them the disgrace of their mother, because their original birth and origin have been adulterated. (327) For this passage (if there is any passage at all in the whole scripture which does so) admits of an allegorical interpretation; for there is not one description only of impious and unholy men, but there are many and different. For some persons affirm that the incorporeal ideas are only an empty name, having no participation in any real fact, removing the most important of all essences from the list of existing things, though it is in fact the archetypal model of all things which are the distinctive qualities of essence, in accordance with which each thing is assigned to its proper species and limited to its proper dimensions. (328) The sacred pillars of the law call all these men broken; for such an injury as is implied by that term leaves a man destitute of all distinctive quality and species, and what is so broken is nothing else, to speak the strict truth, than mere shapeless material. Thus, the doctrine which takes away species throws every thing into confusion, and moreover brings back that want of proper form which existed before the elements were reduced into proper order. (329) And what can be more absurd than this? For it is out of that essence that God created every thing, without indeed touching it himself, for it was not lawful for the all-wise and all-blessed God to touch materials which were all misshapen and confused, but he created them by the agency of his incorporeal powers, of which the proper name is "ideas," which he so exerted that every genus received its proper form. But this opinion has created great irregularity and confusion. For when it takes away the things by means of which the distinctive qualities exist, it at the same time takes away the distinctive qualities themselves. (330) But other persons, as if they were engaged in a contest of wickedness, being anxious to carry off the prizes of victory, go beyond all others in impiety, joining to their denial of the ideas a negative also of the being of God, as if he had no real existence but were only spoken of for the sake of what is beneficial to men. Others, again, out of fear of that Being who appears to be present everywhere and to see every thing, are barren of wisdom, but devoted to the maintenance of that which is the greatest of all wickednesses, namely impiety. (331) There is also a third class, who have entered on the contrary path, guiding a multitude of men and women, of old and young, filling the world with arguments in favour of a multiplicity of rulers, in order by such means to eradicate all notions of the one and truly living God from the minds of men. (332) These are they who are symbolically called by the law the sons of a harlot. For as mothers who are harlots do not know who is the real father of their children, and cannot register him accurately, but have many, or I might almost say all men, their lovers and associates, the same is the case with those who are ignorant of the one true God. For, inventing a great number whom they falsely call gods, they are blinded as to the most important of all existing things which they ought to have thoroughly learnt, if not alone, at all events as the first and greatest of all things from their earliest childhood; for what can be a more honourable thing to learn than the knowledge of the true and living God?

LXI. (333) The law also excludes a fourth class, and a fifth, both hastening to the same end, but not with the same intention; for, as they are both followers of the same great evil, self-will, they have divided between them the whole soul as a kind of common inheritance, consisting of a rational and an irrational part; and the one class has appropriate the rational part, which is the mind, and the other the irrational part which is again subdivided into the outward senses; (334) therefore, the champions of the mind attribute to it the predominance in and supreme authority over all human affairs, and affirm that it is able to preserve all past things in its recollection, and to comprehend all present things with great vigour, and to divine the future by probable conjecture; (335) for this is the faculty which sowed and planted all the fertile soil in both the mountainous and champaign districts of the earth, and which invented agriculture, the most useful of all sciences for human life.

This is summarized as (1) sexual deviants: transvestites, whores and children of whores (2) atheists, (3) polytheists, (4) those who rely on the human mind, or (5) those who rely only on the human senses, making gods of them and forgetting the truly living God.

Paul:

1 Cor 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and sexual immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, namely, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

3 For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to turn such a person over to Satan for the destruction of his body, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? 7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let’s celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the greedy and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to leave the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is a sexually immoral person, or a greedy person, or an idolater, or is verbally abusive, or habitually drunk, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what business of mine is it to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the assembly? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the evil person from among yourselves.

Here Paul is saying that it is ok to interact with "bad people", but that they should not be admitted into the assembly. Paul notes that they should refrain from judging those outside the assembly, but that they should just the members of the assembly.

Both Philo and Paul are expressing a concern about protecting the sanctity of the assembly by excluding immoral people from the congregation. Their particular lists of traits for which people should be expelled have differences, but the overall theme is the same. So, I think this points to a very similar conception of what an "assembly"/ekklēsia was.
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Irish1975
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Re: The "Assembly of God"

Post by Irish1975 »

RG,

Here is a thread I posted on this topic:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7172

I have some of the same questions you do. It’s an important head-scratcher.

I think the only instance of “ekklesia tou theou” that you did not discuss is 1 Thess 2:14:

1 Thessalonians 2:14
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus which are in Judea;

This is immediately adjacent to, or perhaps part of, the putative interpolation into this critical epistle. As I commented then,
However, what immediately follows these words is the famous interpolated rant against the Jews for killing Jesus (2:14b-16). Up to this point, it appeared that Paul was meaning to praise the Thessalonians for their faithful acceptance of the word of God. Indeed, no other part of this epistle suggests that the Thessalonians had suffered any persecution whatever. Paul's only concern is for their growth in faith and holy living. This raises the question, in what respect did the Thessalonians becoming "imitators" of the church of God in Judaea give joy to Paul? It seems to have something more to do with their faith, or habit of worship, or perhaps their ability to learn from God how to love one another (4:9), or something otherwise positive. I suspect the interpolator wanted to suppress something positive that Paul was saying about the kinship between the churches in Thessaloniki and those in Judaea, and not simply inserting this implausible rant against Jews/Judaeans, and this mention by Paul of a historical Jesus.
I still think the usage is genuine, and 1 Cor 11:16 confirms the idea that Paul had an external model for the communities he was creating and/or leading. His churches were imitations of what “the apostles before him” had done in Judea.

Today I have more doubts about the single authorship of the Pauline corpus. The Paul or “Paul” of Romans takes a very different attitude to the Judean assemblies, not mentioning them positively at all, and seeming to write them off as doomed and excluded from God’s covenant (ch. 9-11). I think this must have been about something quite different than acceptance or rejection of traditions about Jesus of Nazareth.

The phrase in Gal 1:22 “that are in Christ” looks tacked-on to me, an attempt to preserve the known Pauline phrase, while also inserting the idea at this critical point (and only here) that these original assemblies of God in Judea were in fact Christ-worshipping. You are right to ask why exactly the younger Paul would be persecuting the assemblies in Judea if at the time he was fervent “in Judaism,” and I wish we had an answer for that. The reading of Galatians in canonical (ie Christian) context will always be the trump card for everyone except us skeptics.

Ben Smith observes in that earlier thread that ekklesia tou theou appears quite often in the “apostolic fathers”:

Ignatius to the Trallians 0[.1]: 1 Ignatius, who is also called Godbearer, to the holy church in Tralles of Asia, beloved of God, the Father of Jesus Christ, chosen and worthy of God, a church made at peace in flesh and spirit by the suffering of Jesus Christ, who is our hope for a resurrection that leads to him, a church which I also greet in fullness in the apostolic manner and to which I extend warmest greetings.

Ignatius to the Trallians 4.3: 3 And those who are deacons of the mysteries of Jesus Christ must also be pleasing in every way to all people. For they are not deacons dealing with food and drink; they are servants of the church of God. And so they must guard themselves against accusations as against fire.

Ignatius to the Trallians 12.1: 1 I greet you from Smyrna, along with the churches of God that are present with me and that have refreshed me in every way, in both flesh and spirit.

Ignatius to the Philadelphians 0[.1]: 1 Ignatius, who is also called Godbearer, to the church of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ that is in Philadelphia of Asia, that has received mercy and been founded in the harmony that comes from God, that rejoices without wavering in the suffering of our Lord and that is fully convinced by all mercy in his resurrection; this is the church that I greet by the blood of Jesus Christ, which is an eternal and enduring joy, especially if they are at one with the bishop and with the presbyters with him, and with the deacons who have been appointed in accordance with the mind of Jesus Christ — those who have been securely set in place by his Holy Spirit according to his own will.

Ignatius to the Philadelphians 10.1: 1 Since it has been reported to me that the church of God in Antioch of Syria is at peace — in accordance with your prayer and the compassion that you have in Christ Jesus — it is fitting for you as the church of God to elect a deacon to go as an ambassador of God there, that you may rejoice together with those who have achieved a common purpose and so give glory to the name.

Ignatius to the Smyrneans 0[.1]: 1 Ignatius, who is also called Godbearer, to the church of God the Father and the beloved Jesus Christ which is in Smyrna of Asia, which has been shown mercy in every gracious gift, filled with faith and love, and lacking no gracious gift, a church that is most worthy of God and bears what is holy. Warmest greetings in a blameless spirit and the word of God.

Polycarp to the Philippians 0[.1]: 1 Polycarp and the presbyters who are with him to the church of God that temporarily resides in Philippi. May mercy and peace be multiplied to you from God Almighty and Jesus Christ our savior.

Martyrdom of Polycarp 0[.1]: 1 The church of God that temporarily resides in Smyrna to the church of God that temporarily resides in Philomelium, and to all congregations of temporary residents everywhere, who belong to the holy and universal church. May the mercy, peace, and love of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied.

Shepherd of Hermas, Parable 9.18.2-4 (95.2-4): 2 “And so, if the one who should do good does evil, does he not appear to have done a greater evil than the one who does not know God? This is why those who have not known God and done evil are condemned to death, but those who have known God and seen his great works yet still have done evil will be punished twice over, and will die forever. Thus the church of God will be cleansed. 3 You yourself have seen how the stones were taken from the tower and handed over to the evil spirits and cast out from there. So too there will be one body of those who have been cleansed. For just as the tower appeared to have been made from a single stone after it was cleansed, so also will the church of God be after it is cleansed, when the evildoers, hypocrites, and blasphemers are removed, along with the doubleminded and those who do different kinds of evil. 4 When these are removed, the church of God will be one body, with one thought, one understanding, one faith, one love. And then the Son of God will exult and be glad in them, when he has received his people clean.” “All these things are great and glorious, Lord,” I said.

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Irish1975
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Re: The "Assembly of God"

Post by Irish1975 »

Forgot to mention 1 Clement 1:1 as well
rgprice
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Re: The "Assembly of God"

Post by rgprice »

Yeah, 1 Thess 2 is particularly thorny. It's both important and a can of worms. I also find that trying to make sense of the canonical Pauline letters is increasingly difficult because it's clear that alterations and multiple authors abound. Trying to come up with any consistent line of reasoning is almost impossible. It's also a challenge specifically because of the nature of the editing that was done to the letters. Just as in the case of 1 Thess 2, many of the most significant elements are hampered by interpolation.

A big challenge is that for many of those who accept the letters as wholly authentic, almost all of the most important elements of the letters are the very elements that are pointed to as interpolations, so this seems like opponents of authenticity are cherry picking. But the reality is that many of these important passages, like 1 Thess 2:14:16 or 1 Cor 15:3-11, etc., are important witnesses to Christian tradition, precisely because they are interpolations.

In other words, the original Pauline letters did not particularly support Roman Christianity and the views that emerged in the late 2nd century that were derived from the Gospels. Thus, these types of passages were inserted into Paul's letters in order to bring Paul's letters into closer agreement with the concept of the Gospel Jesus, and of course to combat claims made by Marcionites and other Gnostics.

So what we have a mid-2nd century interpolations that were added explicitly to endorse the views of what became mainstream Christianity. Thus, yes, many of the passages that seem to support this view of Christianity are in fact interpolations.

The best I can figure is the following:

1) "Pauline" letters existed and were written prior to the First Jewish-Roman War.
2) A collection of those letters was assembled prior to the First Jewish-Roman War, most likely by Paul himself or one of his associates.
3) We know confidently that the original "letters of Paul" were not actually hand written by Paul, but rather by one or more personal scribes. We also know that Paul did hand write some portions of the letters. So at base, we know that the letters were originally actually written by at least two people. Different letters may have been written by different scribes. Presumably Paul read the letters and signed the endings in his own pen after having read them and agreed to their content.
4) Letters forged in Paul's name may have been written while he was still alive. After all, we know for a fact that writings were forged in the name of living people, such as Galen, and Galen was unable to control their spread. Galen even recognized that many people were unable to distinguish between his authentic writings and forgeries.
5) Marcion published a collection of Paul's letters, that we know at least contained whole forged letters. We do not know if the "authentic letters of Paul" within Marcion's collection contained interpolations.
6) We also know that several of the letters in Marcion's collection were themselves compilations of multiple letters, such as 1 and 2 Corinthians, which appear to be merged compilations of what were originally 6 to 9 separate letters.
7) We know that the "orthodox" versions of Paul's letters all contain the forged letters that existed in Marcion's collection. In addition, Colossians and Ephesians/Laodiceans are themselves rather Marcionite in nature, making it likely that they were produced by Marcionite or proto-Marcionite communities.
8) Thus it seems to me that the "orthodox" versions of Paul's letters must be derived from the collection that Marcion published. Thus, most of the differences between Marcion's letters and the orthodox versions must be post-Marcionite modifications made by Marcion's opponents. I do allow that its possible there were multiple versions of some letters in circulations, particularly Romans.

It seems to me that we have to take Marcion's collection as the base, to which later modifications were made. Virtually all of those modifications would have been anti-Marcionite modifications that specifically endorse Catholic conceptions of Jesus. It also seems to me that there is a relationship between the writing of the Gospel of Luke, Acts of the Apostles, and the orthodox version of Paul's letters. Obviously the Pastorals were likely written by the same person who wrote Luke/Acts. It also seems to me that many of the editorial features of Luke, Acts and Paul's letters have common characteristics. But really who knows how many different editors there may have been all along the way? It seems to me that there is a strong likelihood of multiple revisions from day one up until the mid/late second century. And not all of the editors were ideologically aligned.

So yeah, its a big fat mess. But nevertheless, some sense can be made of it. I think that understanding the original meaning of the "assembly of God" is a key to figuring much of this out. But its quite difficult. Its even difficult to really understand what Philo and Josephus were talking about when they describe various assemblies. It's hard to tell if they are talking about assemblies in their own time, the time of Moses, actual discrete meetings, physical buildings, general concepts, an idealized "nation of Israel", a body that had a list of members, a vague concept, etc.?

Even today when someone says "the church" it is unclear what is meant. Does "the church" mean the institution of Catholicism? Does it mean a building on the corner? Does it mean the congregation? etc., etc.

But the key issue is, were the assemblies that Paul talked about and wrote to, groups that Paul saw as becoming a part of the Jewish people or groups that Paul saw as superseding the Jewish people and being separate from them?

If the "assembly of God" was Jewish in Paul's mind, then why would he persecute it? If it was not Jewish, but something other than Jewish, or something that perverted Judaism, then we can understand his initial persecution, but then we have to grapple with all of the elements of Paul that seem to be designed to draw these assemblies into the broader Jewish sphere. And why would Paul say that he persecuted "the assembly of God" as opposed to "the assembly of Christ" or "those who were in Christ"?

If we take "the assembly of God" to be exclusive, to mean that ONLY worshipers of Christ are members of the "the assembly of God", then means that Paul does not consider traditional Jews to be members of "the assembly of God". But I don't think that is supportable.
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Re: The "Assembly of God"

Post by Stuart »

I think the church of God is a later development. There is no attestation in the Marcionite corpus. There is one reference to a church of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33), and one to the churches of the gentiles (Romans 16:4 -- a late addition to the letter) where it suggests a separate entity than the one the writer of the passage belongs to. But mostly the references are simply to the church or churches without a brand name, except perhaps the locale where they are situated.

My suspicion is the Marcionites, if they referred to the church with a brand name, it was probably "the church of the saints" or possibly "the church of (Jesus) Christ" (see Ephesians 5:23-32, Colossians 1:18). There is reference throughout of collections for the saints, greeting the saints and so on as well as the saints within the church.

The church of God is often found in later strata in Paul, such as Galatians 1:13 and 1 Corinthians 15:9 which reference the Saul era of Paul derived from Acts (not in Marcion), or the pastoral letter 1 Timothy 3:5 and with more emphasis on the "living God" in 3:15, and in Acts 12:5, 20:28. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14 there seems to be a fusion of Churches of God and the Christ being head of the church (Ephesians 5:23-32) with "For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea." So what is going on here?

My speculative answer, as I have not dug super deep into it, is that the "church of God" is to emphasize, much like the "gospel of God" over the "gospel of Christ", the subordination of Jesus to God the Father, as opposed to the equality of Jesus and God (e.g., John 5:18) held by the heretical sects that rejected the Davidic Christ formula. This is all prior to the unity formula of the trinity theology, we still have competing views when the branding of churches is occurring; although how far that went is anyone's guess, and mine is that it only went so far as the clerical class and not all of them. That's my WAG.
Last edited by Stuart on Fri May 21, 2021 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The "Assembly of God"

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Stuart wrote: Fri May 21, 2021 9:18 am I think the church of God is a later development. There is no attestation in the Marcionite corpus. There is one reference to a church of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33), and one to the churches of the gentiles (Romans 16:4 -- a late addition to the letter) where it suggests a separate entity than the one the writer of the passage belongs to. But mostly the references are simply to the church or churches without a brand name, except perhaps the locale where they are situated.
That's a big deal, if true. BeDuhn seems to think "Assembly of God" was in most of these passages of the Apostolikon, but he generally puts it inside his own editorial brackets. I guess the Marcion experts have to sort it out.

The fact that the phrase appears in 1 Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, and Shepherd of Hermas is certainly relevant. How do you square that with your suspicion of the Marcionites?
My speculative answer, as I have not dug super deep into it, is that the "church of God" is to emphasize, much like the "gospel of God" over the "gospel of Christ", the subordination of Jesus to God the Father, as opposed to the equality of Jesus and God (e.g., John 5:18) held by the heretical sects that rejected the Davidic Christ formula. This is all prior to the unity formula of the trinity theology, we still have competing views when the branding of churches is occurring; although how far that went is anyone's guess, and mine is that it only went so far as the clerical class and not all of them. That's my WAG.
Hard to tell if ideas about subordination are lurking here. I see "Assembly of God" as striking a note of universalism, albeit within a clearly Jewish universe, that would be missing in the case of either "assembly of the Lord" or "assembly of Christ," much less anything to do with Moses, Abraham, Israel, David, Judah, Enoch, Ezra, etc.
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Re: The "Assembly of God"

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rgprice wrote: Fri May 21, 2021 8:36 am Yeah, 1 Thess 2 is particularly thorny. It's both important and a can of worms. I also find that trying to make sense of the canonical Pauline letters is increasingly difficult because it's clear that alterations and multiple authors abound. Trying to come up with any consistent line of reasoning is almost impossible. It's also a challenge specifically because of the nature of the editing that was done to the letters. Just as in the case of 1 Thess 2, many of the most significant elements are hampered by interpolation.
Yes. I largely agree with your account of the 2nd century interpolators/editors in the Roman church (maybe Ephesus too). I'm starting to eschew the concept of "the (7) authentic Pauline epistles" in favor of a more vague "Pauline Corpus." If we knew there were only one man behind the big four epistles Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, that would be one thing. But it almost seems easier to identity the personality behind 1 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians than to identify the Paul of Romans with the Corinthian Paul.
We do not know if the "authentic letters of Paul" within Marcion's collection contained interpolations.
What about 1 Cor 2:6-16? See recent discussion about Arthur Droge's case for interpolation there.
It also seems to me that there is a relationship between the writing of the Gospel of Luke, Acts of the Apostles, and the orthodox version of Paul's letters.
Indeed. I've argued that the intro to Romans (at least 1:1-4) and Romans 15 are particularly suspect. It is standard to use Romans 15 to situate the epistle in a historical context, but what a phony context. Quite clear that Marcion had only a 14 chapter epistle, and the orthodox crafting of 15 was particularly concerned to weasel in a respect for Peter's apostlehood in the eyes of Paul, similar to the much more flagrant interpolation at Galatians 2:7b-8.
Stuart
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Re: The "Assembly of God"

Post by Stuart »

I mean "Church of God" accompanies the "Gospel of God" and the Davidic formula or Jesus being chosen as Christ, and the idea that the father rose Jesus from the dead, as opposed to the Johannine formula where he is preexisting or the Marcionite (and Apellean, although they gave him flesh drawn from the substance of each realm as he descended) where he comes to earth without a childhood, without being born of woman, and that Christ chose his death and rose himself (Galatians 1:1 Marcionite form).

It's not one thing here, but a number of related themes. Our Catholic Romans lays out the full formula

Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God
which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,
the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh
and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the Gentiles,
including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

There are many proto-orthodox elements in there, such as servitude or slave to Christ as opposed to freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1, John 15:15), Paul being called (hearing) as opposed to receiving revelation (seeing), God's resurrecting Jesus (implied here, not spelled out as in Romans 4:24, 8:11, 10:9, et al) as opposed to Christ raising himself (Galatians 1:1 Marcionite form, John 10:17-18) and obedience of the Gentiles (this is a factional identification, not a true ethnic identification) as opposed to their prior (Christian) beliefs.

We really cannot separate these other elements from the Church of God. They sit aside each other as part of a larger theme. That is why I suspect something is going on here about placing a new regime and program on existing churches that had different beliefs, and possibly different branding.
Charles Wilson
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Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 8:13 am

Re: The "Assembly of God"

Post by Charles Wilson »

Suggestion: Like "Baptism" the "Assembly of God" may not mean what its honorable Intention implies. The Phrase might be a shaded phrase for "Roman Legions". https://brewminate.com/the-battle-of-co ... n-146-bce/

"While there is archaeological evidence of some minimal habitation in the years afterwards, Julius Caesar re-established the city as Colonia Laus Iulia Corinthiensis in 44 BC, shortly before his assassination..."

CW
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