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?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Trouble with Sources - Never Salute a Marcionite

The Church Fathers, an 11th-century
Kievan miniature from Svyatoslav's 
There are three primary sources for the specific content and text of the Marcionite New Testament, Tertullian's Adversus Marcionem, Epiphanius' Panarion book 42, and the first two parts of Dialogue Adamantius. Each has their own problems. Tertullian's use of paraphrase and reference to the Catholic text at times with out notice. Epiphanius is writing much later than the others, and his source text shows signs of having been adjusted here and there toward the Catholic text in the interim.

Yet it is Dialogue Adamantius which is the most difficult. John Clabeaux states (page 12, A Lost Edition of the Letters of Paul),
'The Dial. Adam. is clearly artificial (Adamantius Dialogue xv). There are two claims by the title character (1.5 and 5.22) that he used a Marcionite Apostolikon. These claims, in light of the research of this study, are untenable. The author's claims, even if they are taken seriously, contain two major limitations: They do not speak for every Pauline citation in Dial. Adam.; and (2) when Adamantius says "ἐκ τοῦ αὐτῶν ἀποστολικοῦ" (5.22), he may merely be referring to those letters of Paul which the Marcionites accepted, without implying a reference to the text that is in fact used (catholic or Marcionite).'

Monday, March 30, 2015

John The Baptist: From the Marcionite to the Canonical

John the Baptist, 6th Century Icon 
St. Catherine at Mt. Sinai

John the Baptist appears in every canonical gospel as well as the Marcionite gospel. He is a key character playing a prominent role in each gospel. But there are subtle differences in the portrayal of his role and how it fits or doesn't in each author's presentation. What these differences are and how they came about is what I hope to answer in this survey of each gospels presentation.

The Evolving Character of John the Baptist

The character of John the Baptist figures prominently in the Gospels. We are all familiar with the scene on the Jordan where John is Baptizing, and then when Jesus is Baptized the sky opens and a voice is heard. And we are familiar with the Malachi and Isaiah references that introduce John and his preaching. But this is information that can get in the way of understanding how the character came to be so prominent in the Gospels and understanding how his role started and evolved.

So for this presentation, I am going ask you to forget everything we think we know about John and start with a fresh reading, as if for the first time. Beginning the Marcionite Gospel, and analyzing only what we find in that Gospel to understand John within the context of that writing. From there we will expand into the other Gospels to see how the character developed.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Gospel of John: Context of Authorship

John, Book of Kells (800 CE)
The Gospel of John is very different from the Synoptic Gospels in composition and content. But it is also very different in theology, and it is my aim to demonstrate it's dependence and opposition to the Synoptic Gospels, especially Matthew and Mark, and the Catholic theology they espouse. Although I am treading on ground already covered by Joseph Turmel some ninety years ago, and more recently by Roger Parvus,  [1] there is still much to be learned by a comparison between John and the Synoptic  Gospels in Catholic form. To that end I will survey some of the most obvious passages without attempting to splice the layers, with the hope of demonstrating the allegorical meaning the original author intended.

In surveying the content of the Gospel of John today with knowledge of the second century controversies, I am struck by the consistent and blunt repudiation of the Jewish God as the father of Christ, and more generally its opposition against every Jewish Christian theological point we find presented in the rest of the New Testament. It is truly a wonder this book, even with redaction, ever made it into canon.