Gospel "according to" ___

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 4170
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: The Title of Marcion's Gospel - was there one?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Irish1975 wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:55 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 12:36 am Harnack simply asserts that the title was "most likely" εΰαγγέλιον even though every text I've ever read that addresses the subject of titles in this sort of literature tells me assigning a title to a work was the exception rather than the rule. Why assume any title at all in Marcion's original text? All the discussions about titles of gospels in early Christian literature that I read lead me to believe that the ones we have began with the "orthodox" church's attempts to impose some sort of bibliographical control over the texts.
1. I am surprised by the suggestion that ancient books would have been published without titles. Seems very impractical for the booksellers. Or are you suggesting that Marcion didn't actually publish a collection of scriptures at all?
This was the standard practice in ancient times. The opening words would be taken as the "titles" of works in libraries. As per the previous comment, I am not sure what you are thinking of, exactly, when you speak of "publishing" in this case. I glossed over your word "published" in the OP by interpreting it as nothing more than "composing" or "redacting.

I do agree that the names being attributed to the four gospels served well as a counter to Marcion and his Paul crutch. I think it would be harder to justify this function on the basis that the catholic sponsored names were human producers of the gospel. Yes, knowing Jesus as a human was surely a plus, but the evangelists all directly or indirectly were reputed to have learned their details from those who had met the risen Jesus (and they threw in Paul's assistnt Luke as one of them!).
Irish1975 wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:55 am2. "Most likely" is the language of probability. I don't see anyone asserting that it "logically follows" that Marcion's title was Evangelion. It is generally acknowledged that our evidence for Marcion is uncertain and comes from suspicious sources.
Harnack does say "it follows from the fact/s that..." I assumed he saw the inference as "logically" following the facts.
Irish1975 wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:55 am 3. It seems unlikely that the catholics would have invented the honorific title "The Gospel" for a text that they regarded as a mutilated forgery, if that title had not already attached to Marcion's text.
Is it not also hardly likely that the catholics would have embraced with modifications a text that they thought originated with Marcion? We simply don't know when or where "the gospel" began to be used as a title for a narrative.

But whoever did first apply the term "Gospel" to the Jesus narratives did make a break from Paul's usage and meaning of the word. (That's another point that might be considered in favour of the word not being original with Marcion.)
Irish1975 wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:55 am4. What arouses my own skepticism is more the idea that Marcion titled his collection "New Testament," i.e. as in BeDuhn's title The First New Testament. Besides there being significantly less evidence that what you cite in favor of the Evangelion title--little or none, in fact--this notion seems to miss the point of both Marcionism and Catholicism. The Marcionites believed in a new and different God; not in an updated covenant or dispensation or inheritance from the Jewish God. Marcion recognized the Jewish scriptures on their own terms, but not as a revelation of the God that he worshipped. A New Testament implies an Old Testament. Trobisch discusses what limited evidence we have (not from manuscripts, but from indirect sources in Eusebius, Melito of Sardis, Tertullian, Clement) that "New Testament" as anthology title was a catholic innovation and was imposed by the publishers of the "first edition."
If the catholics were rebutting Paul's claim about human sources then it appears they made sure that the human sources they selected could also qualify as having received revelation from the resurrected Jesus, too. They countered Paul with "divine revelation plus", you might say.

Irish1975 wrote: Sat Sep 18, 2021 7:36 am If the conclusion reached by Harnack, Koester, BeDuhn is indeed a "probably," then it is not true that "everything points" to the opposite conclusion. Even if the evidence that you examined (which was interesting and helpful since I don't have many of those sources) is by some estimation weak or inconclusive, it still counts for something.
The evidence I listed was all taken from the sources ultimately cited by those scholars and they all indeed are instances of "catholic usage of the word gospel being applied retrospectively to Marcion's text" so I think my statement is justified. The "probablies" of the scholars all go back to the same handful of sources that do not exactly support their claims. That the title was or included "gospel" is a hypothesis and can never be anything more than that. Probability can apply to a hypothesis, certainly.
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 4170
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Gospel "according to" ___

Post by neilgodfrey »

Irish1975 wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 7:58 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 1:53 am I was attempting to address what was meant by a gospel being of "human origin" contra Paul's spirit-sourced gospel.
To clarify, it was not meant by me that the other apostles (about whom we know nothing, really) did or didn't receive a gospel of human origin.
Paul certainly stresses the non-human source of his gospel but I don't know that we can be so certain that the implication is that there were other apostles who did not also claim a revelation from Jesus.
Nothing to that effect was an implication of my hypothesis about what inspired the 4-Gospel titles composed by the (much later) NT editors/publishers.
Fair enough. I had assumed that all apostles claimed to have experienced visions or were reputed to have had them.
User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 9700
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: Gospel "according to" ___

Post by Giuseppe »

A strong argument to consider Marcion as author of the title "gospel" is that the novelty of the title fits well with the marcionite theology of a new deity introduced in the world. In addition, if Marcion had invented the title "apostolikon" to refer to the 7 epistles, then accordingly...
User avatar
Irish1975
Posts: 593
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:01 am
Contact:

Re: The Title of Marcion's Gospel - was there one?

Post by Irish1975 »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 1:49 am This was the standard practice in ancient times. The opening words would be taken as the "titles" of works in libraries.
Is that how any of the titles of the New Testament books were determined? Or any of the titles of the Old Testament books (LXX)? Or Homer's Iliad and Odyssey? Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, etc.
User avatar
Irish1975
Posts: 593
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:01 am
Contact:

Re: Gospel "according to" ___

Post by Irish1975 »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 12:44 am
Irish1975 wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 6:19 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Sun Sep 19, 2021 12:44 am
Irish1975 wrote: Sat Sep 18, 2021 8:31 am
Claims about anonymous authorship should be carefully distinguished from claims about how these texts were published.
What do you mean by "published"?
Just what is normally meant. The editing, standardization, and marketing of a text for sale and purchase among booksellers.
I ask because I don't think it is so easy to make comparisons with the modern processes. Were books "edited" for "publication"? By whom? What "marketing" was involved? "Standardization" -- who could be responsible? What sort of market was there for the Christian texts? Paul's letters? Gospels? --- Few of the modern processes we are familiar with apply as we understand them in these cases.
That there was such a thing as publication in antiquity is proved by the existence of libraries and bookshops (taberna librarii). Books were bought and sold, which means that they were marketed. If they were marketed, they were in most cases edited and titled, in order to facilitate the decision to purchase. Booksellers would post a list of available titles outside their shops. Even apart from bookselling, the Jewish scriptures had already established the custom of titling a sacred book, and not according to the first words of the text. So I don't understand the idea that Marcion probably would not have invented the title Evangelion because books at the time didn't have titles. Many if not most of them certainly did. And if you agree that the Church eventually did invent titles, why them and not Marcion? Even if your argument were correct, it would prove too much.

There is an article on wikipedia about the history of bookselling. While it is true that sacred books of Christians and Jews would have circulated privately and in churches and synagogues, thus to some extent obviating the public sphere of the book industry, it is not true that there was no such thing as editing and publishing as a distinct activity from that of authorship. The nomina sacra, of course, exemplify the phenomenon of editorial standardization of the 27 texts of the NT, at least as we have them in the oldest manuscripts.

Although I have not read it, Harry Gamble's Books and Readers in the Early Church: a History of Early Christian Texts discusses the publication and circulation of Christian books.
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 4170
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: The Title of Marcion's Gospel - was there one?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Irish1975 wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 8:05 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 1:49 am This was the standard practice in ancient times. The opening words would be taken as the "titles" of works in libraries.
Is that how any of the titles of the New Testament books were determined? Or any of the titles of the Old Testament books (LXX)? Or Homer's Iliad and Odyssey? Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, etc.
I do know that Homer's epics were simply known as "Homer" or Homer's poem about Achilles or about Odysseus, for instance. Herodotus and Thucydides simply open their works by identifying themselves and noting what they are about to write. These were not standard titles, just descriptions of the work to follow. Genesis was known from its opening words, "In the beginning". Similarly for other OT books. But your question has driven me back to refresh my memory and I do see that some authors note that titles were becoming more common from the time of the early Roman empire period so I must withdraw my confident assertion that titles were not commonly applied to works in the second century. I will need to do more reading on the history of titles of books.
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 4170
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Gospel "according to" ___

Post by neilgodfrey »

Irish1975 wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:03 am
That there was such a thing as publication in antiquity is proved by the existence of libraries and bookshops (taberna librarii). Books were bought and sold, which means that they were marketed. If they were marketed, they were in most cases edited and titled, in order to facilitate the decision to purchase. Booksellers would post a list of available titles outside their shops. Even apart from bookselling, the Jewish scriptures had already established the custom of titling a sacred book, and not according to the first words of the text. So I don't understand the idea that Marcion probably would not have invented the title Evangelion because books at the time didn't have titles. Many if not most of them certainly did. And if you agree that the Church eventually did invent titles, why them and not Marcion? Even if your argument were correct, it would prove too much.
I believe we need to be careful about when was what etc. Practices were not standard throughout antiquity. It is the history of ancient libraries that is very much in my mind when I have made my remarks about book titles. As for marketing, I don't know if that was done the same way we think of it today and as for books, all that was needed was a means to identify what was being sold and a standard title was not necessary for that. There was certainly no printing press, as we know, so standardization was not so easy nor even necessary, and works were always being copied with variations -- sometimes intentionally so.

As for the church's "invention of titles", we are talking there about late second century -- if "gospel according to so and so" was even thought of as a standard "title" at first (I simply don't know -- though it was obviously a useful identifier).

When I tried to set out in translation the actual evidence we have for the naming or identifying of Marcion's work I noted that there is no clear or standard view of a "title" for "gospel" in evidence that does not appear to be a late retroversion of some form of the title as it was known to the catholic writers. In my opinion, that leaves a gap in our knowledge.
Irish1975 wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:03 amThere is an article on wikipedia about the history of bookselling. While it is true that sacred books of Christians and Jews would have circulated privately and in churches and synagogues, thus to some extent obviating the public sphere of the book industry, it is not true that there was no such thing as editing and publishing as a distinct activity from that of authorship. The nomina sacra, of course, exemplify the phenomenon of editorial standardization of the 27 texts of the NT, at least as we have them in the oldest manuscripts.
Chief librarians at Alexandria were known to undertake projects to try to identify interpolations in works and to have "original" copies produced. Long before that time some places sought to standardize the works of Homer since there were so many variants. So there was "editing" in that sense. But without printing presses and centralized organization there was simply no way to standardize works in the way we think of today. A city-state might have a government that "standardized" its versions of Homer but they had no control over the versions elsewhere. Hence the work of the Alexandrian librarians.
Irish1975 wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:03 amAlthough I have not read it, Harry Gamble's Books and Readers in the Early Church: a History of Early Christian Texts discusses the publication and circulation of Christian books.
We are getting into a new phase of publication with the Christian era, in particular with the introduction of codices. As for Marcion, was he working with writings he had inherited from the first century or creating his own? With Marcion we are at the earliest phases of Christian writings while the histories about "Christian books" necessarily begin with later antiquity, I think.
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 4170
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Gospel "according to" ___

Post by neilgodfrey »

Giuseppe wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 3:06 am A strong argument to consider Marcion as author of the title "gospel" is that the novelty of the title fits well with the marcionite theology of a new deity introduced in the world. In addition, if Marcion had invented the title "apostolikon" to refer to the 7 epistles, then accordingly...
On the other hand, we might think it unusual for Marcion to use the word in a sense that was alien to Paul's usage. (That's not to deny the possibility -- after all, we may question how well Marcion did understand Paul and to what extent the teachings of his Paul overlap those of our Paul.)
User avatar
Giuseppe
Posts: 9700
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:37 am
Location: Italy

Re: Gospel "according to" ___

Post by Giuseppe »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Sep 20, 2021 10:43 am we may question how well Marcion did understand Paul and to what extent the teachings of his Paul overlap those of our Paul.)
if Paul is authentic, then this misunderstanding by Marcion is expected.
If Paul is fabricated, then the best answer for a possible misunderstanding by Marcion would find his best formulation in Detering's claim:

“I myself do not think that Marcion himself has fabricated the whole Corpus of Pauline Literature (maybe Gal, but not the complete Pauline Canon). There are a lot of letters which seem to depend on each other (you have mentioned 1 and 2 Th, I would add Kol and Eph, Rom and Gal) – and this shows that they can hardly have one author. So I would rather like to say (like the Dutch philologist SA Naber) that all Pauline letters ‘ortas esse in Cerdonis vel Marcionitarum scholis’, that means: they had been written in Marcionite/Kerdo’s school and firstly collected by ‘schoolmaster’ Marcion. There against I see no clue for the existence of a Pauline school: What should have happened to Paul’s disciples, who are mentioned in the Pauline letters in the 2. ce? Justin, Tertullian etc do not know anything about their fate and their successors. But they know about Marcion, Apelles etc. and their disciples.”

https://peterkirby.com/dialogue-concern ... stems.html
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 4170
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Gospel "according to" ___

Post by neilgodfrey »

re the "publishing" of books, it is more accurate to think of Marcion and others church authors having slaves or hired help manually copying works they wanted to share with personally known interested parties. Others who heard of the work and wanted a copy would borrow and personally make a copy for themselves and their associates, or hire others to do it for them, or use slaves for the purpose.
Post Reply