Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Battle of the Little John Letters (2 John vs 3 John)

Tomb of John the Apostle in Ephesus (Selçuk, Turkey)
One cannot examine the relationship between 2 John and 3 John without looking at the wider picture of the Apostle whose name was ascribed as author of these two works. And especially the role his legend played in the struggle of the structure of the emerging Church from a rag tag collection of house churches founded by itinerant preachers, which after some significant time grew into more formal organizations with dedicated houses of worship ("synagogues" is the word used in the New Testament).

And no place was this legend more at the fore than Ephesus, where for all the world it appears that John replaced Paul as the patron saint, but only after great factional struggle. The replacement seems to have been not just limited to Ephesus, but probably all of Asia Minor and Anatolia. It is a struggle that left it's mark in several books of the New Testament. [1]

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Against All Assumptions

Three Pillars of Radical Criticism (source unknown)
Today I feel like venting. So I am going to lay out what I see as the six primary assumptions made in New Testament scholarship, none of which should be assumed. Assuming even one of these to be true will lead bad results.

I mean this post to be something of a conversation starter, and I am open to refinement of what I see as being the root of the problem with New Testament studies today.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Simon Peter and the Cheshire Cat: Was Peter in the "Original" Gospel of John?

Cheshire Cat fading to smile

... All right,' said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

`Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice; `but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!'

The Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland has the remarkable ability to appear and disappear at will. At one moment he is conversing pleasantly, imparting information Alice already knows, and the next vanishing from sight. Simon Peter performs this very trick before our eyes in the Gospel of John.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Sudden Appearance of John in the Marcionite Gospel

Baptism of Christ, 3rd century, Catacomb of Callixtus
Tertullian (AM 4.11.3) is right to exclaim, Unde autem et Ioannes venit in medium? Subito Christus, subito et Ioannes when John suddenly appears in Marcion's Gospel (Luke 5:33), or rather his disciples, with no back story and no prior introduction. Tertullian compares John's entrance to that of Jesus (Subito Christus), who in Marcion's Gospel enters by descending into Capernaum (Luke 4:31) without warning or introduction. So too here, the mysterious John's disciples are compared to Jesus' disciples. As there is no Baptism in Marcion's Gospel, there is no reason for John to appear. So why is here, and why is he in the Marcionite Gospel at all?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Philemon: My Reading

{\mathfrak {P}} 87: Papyrus 87, recto, Philemon 24-25, c 250 CE
In my reconstruction of the Marcionite version of Philemon I discovered that Tertullian's comment on [1] is not quite the case, at least with respect to the received text. More accurate is his comments about Laodiceans/Ephesians noting, "The heretics hands cut so swiftly, I do not wonder when syllables are lacking, as often whole pages are felled." That is to say, the Marcionite text differs not only in entire paragraphs of material, but a few words here and there, and even a syllable or single character. So it is in Philemon.
the epistle, "To this epistle alone did its brevity avail itself against the falsifying hands of Marcion," [2] And so I have found in this letter, like all the others, a layer of material, albeit smaller in this brief one, with a distinct Catholic flavor. To be fair the Catholic text as Tertullian knew it may not have included some of the material we have today. Only small scraps survived from before the Decian [3] persecution, so we can only guess the content of the text before the mid 3rd century.

Philemon is no different than any other Pauline text. Even in it's brief form it possesses openings, closings, and formulas from additional hands. The Marcionite construction could not assume the content. But a lack of Patristic commentary meant that my efforts had to rely upon the vocabulary,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Colossians: The Image of the Invisible God

Colossians, Codex Harleianus 5557 (Minuscule 321)
In the Marcionite Apostolikon Colossians presents an interesting challenge to reconstruct. There is only one relatively brief chapter in Adversus Marcionem (5.19) which addresses the epistle, and that cuts off after chapter 2 of the letter. Beyond that there is little evidence of direct value; Epiphanius gives us only a single reading, and Dialogue Adamantius two extremely dubious passages from chapter 4 (addressed below). [1] However this is not the first reproduction I have undertaken. So I will use what I have learned from those others to gain a better approximation of the Marcionite text, and minimize the free hand eclectic.

The Ephesians Parallel

One of the features of our received text are the parallels between Colossians and Ephesians. But a funny thing happened in working through the reconstruction of Marcionite Laodiceans; all the parallel passages with Colossians vanished - excepting the common Marcionite opening and closings of all the letters in the collection. This should perhaps not be a great surprise, as Winsome Munro, Authority in Paul and Peter, had long identified Ephesians 5;15-18a, 5:21-6:9 and the parallel passages of  Colossians 3:18-4:1, 4:5 as part of the pastoral stratum.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Matthew, the Perverted Gospel of Galatians

Christ and Peter walk on water, 
Fresovo taken from Matthew 14:28-31 
Dura-Europos (mid 3rd century?)

Most scholars when they hear Marcionite priority assume this means that the first Gospel was Marcion's and all other are dependent upon it. But Paul is still regarded generally as before the Gospels. Both assumptions are wrong. Marcionite priority merely means the first publicly circulating Gospel was the Marcionite. The letters of Paul are in earlier form in Marcion's collection, but their relationship to the Gospel is less clear, as we shall see with Galatians. [1]

The entire purpose of the first Gospel was to spread the word of Christ throughout the Roman Empire. And not surprising it was sectarian, the Marcionite Gospel. Other main sect, the proto-Orthodox, quickly found themselves at a disadvantage in this new game of evangelism, where itinerant teachers (Apostles).

Galatians letter presents a picture if a divided movement. One where Paul finds his authority challenged, with rivals dismiss his teachings, and present a completely different version of Christ. This letter, even more clearly in Marcionite form, presents a scenario where the first teachings of Paul have been overturned. What then is this new Christianity Paul confronts?  How is it that this new and different message has become such a threat that it required such strong a response?