Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Notes on 1 Corinthians and the Catholic editor
The Catholic Editor and other rambling thoughts
The time and circumstances under which the Catholic editor appended 1 Corinthians differs markedly from those that the original Marcionite author wrote the book. This fact is more pronounced than any theological difference, although there are plenty of those. The concerns and adjustments the Catholic editor made reveal a much changed, larger, more diverse, and more mature church assembly he is addressing than the one the original author knew.
These differences are not those of a handful of years but generational. The church has become more formal, no longer ruled by a single strong leader; there are hints of a reconciliation with a substantial Marcionite like group and the one of the Catholic editor represents; the very membership of the congregation has changed in size, diversity, and nature; issues such as the marriage and divorce and interaction with non-Christians, even interfaith marriage and children resulting, has entered the picture.
The theological differences between the later editor and the original author while significant, are minor in comparison. In part this may be by design, as a theme of reconciliation runs through the text. When theological adjustments are made they appear to be more in the nature of corrections than attacks on the prior position. Several salient features became clear to me as I undertook this project, and some general conclusions about textual transmission. First, the position of Marcion on marriage and celibacy is really clear once you strip out the Lukan or Pastoral material. Also the motivations and objectives of both the Catholic editor and to a certain extent Tertullian really came into sharp focus (I have a theory about the reason behind the writing of Adversus Marcionem and why it was structured the way it was) – this ties into a better theory about early manuscript transmission, a subject I'll take up later.
What follows is a summary of opinions I developed in the course of building a Marcionite Interliner.
The Realm of God and Satan
My analysis starts with a built-in opinion of the actual difference between the Catholic and Marcionite/Gnostic view concern the realms of God and Satan. In my opinion the simplest and best way to understand what was going on here is to use a sliding bar over a sheet of white paper. Label the right side “God” and the left side “Satan” at the top of the page. On the far right list all the properties of God which both agreed on (e.g., all powerful, invisible, the father of Christ, etc.) and on the far left list all the properties of Satan both agreed on (e.g., fell from God’s grace, ruler of Hades, wants to be worshipped, will bring an anti-Christ, etc.). Now the tricky part, put in the middle the properties in dispute (creator of man, ruler of angels, creator/former of the world, voice to Moses in the wilderness and creator of Jewish Law, ruler of kings of men, etc.). The basic dispute was over which properties belonged to which entity, and the ruler bar can slide to one or the other. The theological specifics flow from each proto-Christian camp based on what properties they placed on which side of the line. In this sense philosophical speculation became hardened into dogmatic and creedal absolutes (e.g., in a sense it went from philosophical “spirit of God” to legalistic “rules of man”, the former giving life the latter death, to paraphrase Paul in a more generic sense than Marcion intended since he was just as guilty as the orthodox).
If looked at this way, the differences between the Marcionite and proto-Orthodox writers are not so great. The ditheism of Marcion is merely the expansion of the realm and role of Satan. The diminishing of Satan’s role in orthodoxy had to be a later development, likely indicating that the origins were elsewhere than the Gospel story for this branch, and that they merely adopted and adapted the Christ story – an involved argument I won’t go into in this paper.
The Catholic editor was writing at a somewhat later date. His list of evils is considerably expanded, and indicates a larger and more diverse congregation and a more mature state for the church. The fact that there are issues with greedy, and effeminate, and homosexuals, and the untrained (new initiates), and non-believers, and that the emphasis has shifted from simple expulsion to a more moderate rebuking and accepting those that change their way, all reveal an longer existing and more mature church than the one addressed in Marcion’s version. This can be seen with inserted blocks,
· 5:8-5:13a, 6:1-13a (expanded list of ill behaviors, with the concept that members have to interact in the outside world, e.g., v5:10 οὐ πάντως),
· 7:12-17 (deals with interfaith marriages, divorce, and children),
· 7:18-24 (status within society when joining the church),
· 14:22-25 (deals with untrained ἰδιῶται and nonbelievers ἄπιστος attending church, while Marcion’s Paul simply said don’t associate with them per 2 Corinthians 6:14-15; also the belief that the age of prophecy and tongues has passed, which is also reflected in parts of the chapter 13 poem),
· 15:23-24, 26-28 (these deal with the specific order of the parousia, and the ranking of people within the church such as the order given in 12:28 which betray a more formal organization from a later time),
· 15:30-34 (dealing with the issue of Martyrdom).
The subtle differences tell me the church has partially reconciled with heretics (Greeks) and has multi generational congregations, which means some offspring turned out to be gay, and has grown in membership considerably such that there are interfaith marriages and children – the lines have blurred for most members, it’s a more worldly church, more organized. There is also worry about the image of the church in the eyes of non-believers and initiates (14:22). Verse 13:1 could be Marcionite, a dig at Apelles/Apollos speaking in tongues to Angles, but 13:2 has a Catholic references to Matthew 17:20 and 21:21, a book not existent when the Marcionite author wrote his version. Verses 13:8-9 talk of ending prophecy and tongues (as well as gnostic knowledge), which fits squarely with the opposition Montanist movement and the growing concern with how the church is perceived; contrast this to 14:39 where Paul says τὸ λαλεῖν μὴ κωλύετε γλώσσαις ‘do not forbid speaking in tongues!’ Add it all up and the time frame is certainly two or three decades removed from when Marcion broke in the mid-140s. We are looking at an edition dating from the reign of Emperor Commodus at the earliest, with additions that could fall into the 3rd century.
The second concern has to do with reconciling heretical congregations with orthodox. The theme of Jews and Greeks would almost completely not be present in this document except for the Catholic editor. Prime example is verse 10:32 ἀπρόσκοποι καὶ Ἰουδαίοις γίνεσθε καὶ Ἕλλησιν καὶ τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ which looks at the two camps as needing to get along, something at odds with the Marcionite position stated in 11:19 δεῖ γὰρ καὶ αἱρέσεις ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι, ἵνα οἱ δόκιμοι φανεροὶ γένωνται ἐν ὑμῖν. We see that Catholic editor’s hand again in 12:13 εἴτε ἰουδαῖοι εἴτε ἕλληνες εἴτε δοῦλοι εἴτε ἐλεύθεροι, καὶ πάντες ἓν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν where Jews and Greeks, Slaves and Free (the latter in ordinary context, not the spiritual of Marcion’s Paul) are considered the same; an impossible happening for Marcion whose Paul said instead:
ἐλεύθερος γὰρ ὢν ἐκ πάντων πᾶσιν ἐμαυτὸν ἐδούλωσα, ἵνα τοὺς πλείονας κερδήσω·
καὶ ἐγενόμην τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις ὡς Ἰουδαῖος, ἵνα Ἰουδαίους κερδήσω·
τοῖς ὑπὸ νόμον ὡς ὑπὸ νόμον, ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον κερδήσω·
τοῖς πᾶσιν γέγονα πάντα, ἵνα πάντως σώσω.
For being free from all men, to all men I enslave myself, that I might gain more;
And I became to the Jews as a Jew, that I might gain Jews;
to all men I became all things, that by all means I might save.
And why he does this is revealed in the next verse
πάντα δὲ ποιῶ διὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον. All things I do because of the Gospel.
It’s abundantly clear times have changed, the relationship is different. So much so that Catholic editor mollified Marcion’s Paul in the above statement to equate Jews and Greeks by saying that he was not under Law to the Jews and incredulously to the Greeks he says:
τοῖς ἀνόμοις ὡς ἄνομος, μὴ ὢν ἄνομος θεοῦ ἀλλ᾽ ἔννομος Χριστοῦ, ἵνα κερδάνω τοὺς ἀνόμους·
To those without law as I became as without law, (not that I was without God’s law but with Christ’s Law), that I might win those without the law;
Also things have become more practical and less ambitious even as the church has enlarged, where they only wish to save some (τινὰς) meaning other cannot be; a sentiment shared with Jude 22-23.
Part of this reconciliation is the church hierarchy formation, which means tying in the Pastoral letters and Acts to Paul. Almost all of chapter 16, much like Romans 16, deals with greetings and passing mention to legends related to acts. We see this tying in of legendary traditions of the appearances of Jesus to the Apostles so key to Luke in 15:4-10, and also the sacrament in 11:23-27 which are important to the more formalized church. The key point is tying the Catholic tradition to Paul for the combined congregation. This is why Timothy is played up, and Titus, and why Paul is made to seem like just another of the humble twelve (15:9).
Several items I thought before were to attack Marcion’s position can more accurately be looked upon as corrections. The Marcionite churches were called the churches of the saints, which was left that way in 14:33 ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων, while the Catholic churches referred to as the church of God, as the Catholic editor achieved by adding the word τοῦ θεοῦ in verse 1:2. This is important because it is a marker for additions by the Catholic editor. The words θεὸς καὶ were added in verse 6:14 (witness they are missing from AM 5.7.4 Qui dominum suscitavit, et nos suscitabit = ὁ τὸν κύριον ἤγειρεν καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐξεγερεῖ) serve the same function as καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς in Galatians 1:1, to clarify that God raised Christ. This notion is reinforced in 2 Corinthians 4:14 εἰ δότες ὅτι ὁ ἐγείρας τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἡμᾶς σὺν Ἰησοῦν ἐγερεῖ which is based on the Marcionite form of 1 Corinthians 6:14 without the Catholic editor’s explicit reference to God – this verse somehow avoided editing, perhaps because the OT reference to LXX Psalm 115.1 κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον, Ἐπίστευσα, διὸ ἐλάλησα added by the Catholic editor in 4:13.
There is no real evidence of Modalism being part of Marcion’s theological model; rather that Christ had the power to raise himself, and there wasn’t any need for the father to intervene in his mission, something consistent in all aspects of Marcion’s Christ story. Yet sufficient controversy existed when the Catholic editor wrote, such that he modified Galatians and 1 Corinthians as noted above, and elsewhere, even adding in Romans 10:6-7 this curious note Μὴ εἴπῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου … Τίς καταβήσεται εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον; τοῦτ᾽ ἔστιν Χριστὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναγαγεῖν, which he answers in 10:9 καὶ πιστεύσῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου ὅτι ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν, σωθήσῃ, making plain that the right position is that God raised Christ. Marcion’s God of course would never descend to earth or the abyss, nor bring himself into the world, something he left for to his Christ to humble himself ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν (note, we are in the Roman world of shame and honor, which extends conceptually to the Gods), as stated in Philippians 2:6-8 (see AM 5.20.3-5),
ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἵσα θεῷ, ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ.
Who though being in the form of a God, did not regard being equal with God a thing to make use of, but he poured himself out, taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men; and having been found in appearance of a man, humbling himself, becoming obedient unto death, and death by the cross.
The father, unlike the Jewish God who wrestles Jacob and who is a burning bush to Moses and who rides into battle, could never descend; that is why he sent Christ. And so Christ must raise himself.
Philippians 2:9-11 are from the Catholic Editor, or at least adjusted by him, since they betray the theology where the father bestows honors as part of the adoption process, much like a Roman Emperor of that day – or Luke/Acts or Hebrews 2:9-; contrast to the Marcionite Galatians 4:26/Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 2:8-10 where the same honors are intrinsic to Christ not something bestowed. Ironically, by being so explicit of Christ’s subservience to God the father, the Catholic editor inadvertently introduced the seed of Arian theology.
More study is needed to build a proper time frame reference for the evolution of the Church during the 2nd Century, as we can see in the structural changes apparent simply from comparing the Catholic and Marcionite 1 Corinthians text.