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.