2014-10-28

A Simonian Origin for Christianity, Part 14: Simon/Paul and the Law of Moses (continued)

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by Roger Parvus

For all posts in this series: Roger Parvus: A Simonian Origin for Christianity

Previous post in this series:  A Simonian Origin for Christianity, Part 13: Simon/Paul and the Law of Moses

 

Heikki Räisänen, in the preface to the 2nd edition of his Paul and the Law, writes:

There is at least a general agreement that Paul’s view of the law is a very complex and intricate matter which confronts the interpreter with a great many puzzles… [A] vast host of interpreters has felt, and feels, that there are problems—logical and other—in Paul’s theology of the law. (p. xii)

And, continues Räisänen:

Differences come to light when one tries to synthesize the individual observations, which also entails deciding whether various tensions are apparent or real. On this level, very diverse syntheses stand in opposition to each other. Scholars quite often suggest that all previous syntheses are unconvincing—and then bravely offer a brand new one. (p. xii)

quote_begin If Marcion was right, what the letters say about the Law is likely a composite of what two people wrote: the Apostle and a Judaizing interpolator quote_end

But perhaps it is not the complexity of Paul’s view of the Law that has made a convincing synthesis so elusive. Marcion, the earliest known interpreter of the Pauline letters, contended that the text in circulation in his day had been interpolated earlier by someone whose rejection of Judaism was less radical than that of the original author. That means the alleged tampering would have occurred anywhere from 75 to 125 years before the time our earliest extant manuscripts of the letters are dated.

If Marcion was right, what the letters say about the Law is likely a composite of what two people wrote: the Apostle and a Judaizing interpolator who “corrected” them. And if so, a coherent synthesis will forever be impossible. Disentanglement will be needed, not synthesis.

I have been freely playing the interpolation card in this series, trying to see if Marcion’s claim can provide solutions to the puzzles in the Pauline letters. Specifically, I am trying to see if the letters make better sense when viewed as writings of Simon of Samaria that were later interpolated by a proto-orthodox Christian.

In my last post I started looking into the law-related inconsistencies in Galatians and Romans. I suggested that the apparent denial of the divine origin of the Mosaic Law in Galatians 3:19 may be Simon’s work, and the clear exoneration of said Law in Romans 7 the work of an interpolator.

Let’s now go back and take a look at the literary context of the denial. Let’s see if the context can be plausibly untangled into two different positions regarding the Law.

Faith and Works

In Galatians 3 the Apostle begins by reminding his readers that they received the Spirit by faith, not by works of the Law. Their reception of the Spirit and their experience of “mighty deeds” (Gal. 3:5) had been triggered by their faith in the message preached by the Apostle, a message he apparently confirmed by putting before their eyes the writing(s)—the Vision of Isaiah?—in which Jesus Christ was “forewritten as crucified” (Gal. 3:1). Moreover, continues the letter, it is not Abraham’s Law-observant descendants who have been blessed along with him, but rather anyone who has Christian faith. “So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham… those who are men of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (Gal 3:7 and 9).

For all who are of the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law, for “He who through faith is justified shall live.” But the law does not rest on faith, for “The man who does them shall live in them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone hanged on a tree”—that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Brothers, in terms of merely human relations no one annuls even a man’s covenant, or adds to it, once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say, “And to seeds,” referring to many; but, referring to one, “And to your seed,” which is Christ. What I am saying is this: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. (Gal. 3:10-18)

So far there is nothing here that could not have been written by Simon of Samaria.

It is the next section that brings in ideas that are hard to harmonize with each other and with the passages above. The attempts to do so, according to J.B. Lightfoot, already numbered in the hundreds when he wrote his 1865 commentary on Galatians (Galatians p. 146).

What then is the law? It was added for the sake of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given which could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned all under sin, so that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Before faith came, we were confined under the law, locked up to the faith about to be revealed.

Consequently, the law was our chaperone until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a chaperone; for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, in no way differs from a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; but he is under managers and stewards until the date set by the father. So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elements of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, come from a woman, come under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you served beings that by nature are not gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elements, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain. (Gal. 3:19-4:11)

Amazing, alarming, surprising, shocking

quote_begin Scholars caution us not to press the comparisons too much… But violence was necessary to free us…  A more apt comparison is with hostage-holding criminals. quote_end

Many scholars recognize that in these paragraphs

Paul has made some amazing statements about the law. It is not, in his view, at least here in Galatians, a guide for moral behavior. It is not a guard against sin… It was given to Moses by angels, not by God. It was and is the tool of the demonic beings who enslaved humanity and still attempt t to keep people from God. (Dale B. Martin, New Testament History and Literature, p. 238)

And:

It is Paul who makes the alarming association of the law of Moses with the elemental spirits that the Galatians used to worship in the form of their gods… What is surprising, and most likely shocking to his audience, is that Paul says that their acceptance of an observation of Jewish law is the same thing as a return to idolatry, a return of slavery to the stoicheia. (New Testament History and Literature, p. 238)

Now given this dire position of mankind vis-à-vis the Law and its promulgators, it seems to me that the metaphors introduced in this section of Galatians are out of place. The Law is said to be a paidagogus (3:24), that is, a kind of chaperone, usually a trusted slave, whom a father charged to accompany and supervise his child. And the angelic Law-givers are said to be epitropos and oikonomos (4:2), that is, managers and stewards in a patrician household. Scholars caution us not to press the comparisons too much, that Paul was only interested in expressing the temporary and inferior status of the Law as well as the subordinate status of the angels. But to me the presence of the metaphors is jarring. Violence was necessary to free us from these characters. We were “redeemed” (Gal. 3:13 and 4:5) from them by Christ’s crucifixion. So it hardly seems appropriate to just compare them with family adjuncts who were doing their job until their charges reached maturity. A more apt comparison is with hostage-holding criminals.

Moreover we are never really told how the supposed “law as chaperone” actually accomplished anything useful. Gal. 3:22 has a purpose clause that says we were imprisoned “so that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” And another purpose clause in Gal. 3:24 says the law was our chaperone “so that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). But as Kari Kuula points out, these clauses

are hard to fill with any sensible meaning. That is, they only assert that the law is in the service of God’s plan, but no explanation is given as to how this actually takes place. In addition, they do not cohere well with the overall treatment of the law in their own context, and, in fact, they are forgotten as soon as they are stated. (The Law, the Covenant, and God’s Plan, vol. 1, p. 194)

Now some think that Paul backtracked, not just in Romans, but even here in Galatians. Kuula himself thinks the attribution in 3:22b of a salvific function to the law

should be seen as an attempt to connect the law with God. It is Paul’s way to withdraw from his “heretic” suggestion and as such it indicates that the apostle himself was not comfortable with the point he made in 3:15-20. (p. 194)

But if Paul suffered writer’s remorse sometime after composing 3:15-20 but before 3:22, why didn’t he just tear up the page and start over?

And why, if he regretted what he wrote, did he go on anyway in chapter 4 to scandalously associate the Law of Moses with the elemental spirits that the Galatians used to worship in their pagan days?

My Simonian hypothesis can offer an alternative explanation for this zigzag: It was not Paul who was uncomfortable with the heretical suggestion in the passage. It was his proto-orthodox interpolator.

A different tack

quote_begin The impotence was due not to the weakness of men (as Romans 7 would have it), but to the “weak and destitute” (Gal. 4:9) angelic elements who instituted it. quote_end

Instead of trying to harmonize, let’s consider the possibility that we are dealing here with a radical rejection of the Law that has been subsequently modified by a proto-orthodox interpolator. Simon would be the one arguing that the Mosaic Law stood in opposition to faith in God’s promise to Abraham. He sets Leviticus 18:5 (“The man who does them [i.e., the Law’s regulations] shall live in them”) in opposition to Habakkuk 2:4 (“He who is justified by faith shall live”). As he saw it, only one of those could be right: “For if the inheritance is by the law, it is no longer by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise” (Gal. 3:18). The Law was in conflict with God’s promise.

Did God, after 430 years, set up a rival salvific system?

By the way, if I am right about the Vision of Isaiah being the source of Simon/Paul’s gospel, the reason the elemental spirits are “destitute” (Gal. 4:9) may be because the Son “plundered” Hades their prison (Asc. Is. 9:16). That they are “weak” (Gal. 4:9) was demonstrated when the Son made them aware that they are not the gods they thought they were. As Isaiah ascends he realizes how much “weakness” (Asc. Is. 7:26) there is in the rulers’ world.

No. Galatians 3:19 would be Simon’s denial that God had anything to do with the Law. It was set up “by angels” (Gal. 3:19). These angels were the “elements of the world” (Gal. 4:3,9) that the Galatians had served when they were pagans. They instituted the Law for the sake of (i.e., to increase) transgressions (Gal. 3:19) and thereby imprison all under sin (Gal. 3:22). Even had they wanted to give life by means of their Law, they and it were intrinsically too impotent to accomplish that: “If a law had been given which could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law” (Gal. 3:21). The impotence was due not to the weakness of men (as Romans 7 would have it), but to the “weak and destitute” (Gal. 4:9) angelic elements who instituted it. They were impotent to give life even to someone like Simon/Paul who had been “blameless” (Phil. 3:6) in his observance of their law.

In this scenario Galatians 3:19 – 4:11 would have originally gone something like this:

What then is the law? It was added for the sake of transgressions, ordained by angels through an intermediary. An intermediary implies more than one; but God is one. If a law had been given which could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned all under sin. Before faith came, we were confined under the law, locked up to the faith about to be revealed.

In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise. We were slaves to the elements of the world. But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son, come under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you served beings that by nature are not gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elements, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.

Simon of Samaria, according to Irenaeus, taught that “men are saved by his grace, not by just works. For works are just not by nature, but by convention in accordance with the decrees of the angels who made the world and who intended, by precepts of this kind, to lead men into slavery” (Against Heresies, 1, 23, 3). In this quote we find “just works” which can plausibly mean works that were believed to justify or effect justification. And we find those works commanded by the angels who made the world. And the intent behind the angelic decrees and precepts was to enslave men.

There may be a match here with the supposedly justifying works in Galatians that were commanded by the elemental spirits of the world in order to enslave men.

The interpolator’s correction?

quote_begin The reason the passage is complicated, I suspect, is because the interpolator was faced with a text in which the original author denied that God had given the Law to Moses. quote_end

For the proto-orthodox, of course, the Law was from God. True, it was inferior to faith in Christ, and some parts of it no longer had to be observed but, since it still had in some way been given by God, to claim that there was opposition between it and faith was unacceptable. That had to be ruled out, and it would seem that it was, by means of a device I have already elsewhere accused the interpolator of using: a rhetorical question with corresponding emphatic denial.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Absolutely not! (Gal. 3:21)

Abraham J. Malherbe has pointed out that “mē genoito,” i.e., “Absolutely not,” was widely used in diatribal literature but almost always as part of a larger sentence. The standalone form is unique to the Pauline letters and the writings of Epictetus (“Mē genoito in the Diatribe and Paul”, Harvard Theological Review # 73, 1980, pp. 231-240). That does not necessarily mean, of course, that there was any direct borrowing of one from the other. But if there was, I think it more likely that a second century interpolator knew the writings of Epictetus than that the stoic philosopher knew the Pauline letters.

The usefulness of this kind of device to an interpolator should be obvious. It can effectively and succinctly remove an offensive doctrine from further consideration. The reader is led to accept any substitute the interpolator offers. If none is offered (as, for example, in Rom. 3:31), the device still serves as a guardrail against heresy. The reader’s choice of interpretations is restricted to those that don’t jump the rail.

The household metaphors too in the Galatians passage would make sense as the work of a proto-orthodox interpolator. They allow angels to be the givers of the Law, but only in a way that does not set them up as independent of or opposed to God. The Law, at least indirectly, is still God’s. And while allowing that the Law was not eternal or perfect, the metaphors keep it compatible with the promise to Abraham. They make subjection to the Law slavery, but only in the sense that being temporarily subject to household authority figures is slavery for a child. From a child’s perspective, chaperones and stewards can seem no different than prison wardens even though his father is the one who appointed them:

The law was our chaperone until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a chaperone… I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, in no way differs from a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; but he is under managers and stewards until the date set by the father. So with us, when we were children…

Thus, this turning of the Law into rules for humanity’s childhood could be how an interpolator fixed the passage. I doubt the original author viewed the Law that way, otherwise he could have dispensed with much of his argument. He could have simply said: “Parents lay down rules for their kids. God is a Father. He laid down rules for us when we were kids.” No need to unseat God as the direct Lawgiver. No need to introduce complications with talk about a mediator, a chaperone, angelic law-givers and stewards.

The reason the passage is complicated, I suspect, is because the interpolator was faced with a text in which the original author, Simon/Paul, denied that God had in any way given the Law to Moses. Angels, along with Moses their mediator, were entirely responsible for it and it was opposed to the promise of God to Abraham. The interpolator went about correcting this by insertions that presented the Law as just a temporary chaperone and the Law-giving angels as family stewards.

If this is right, the proposed interpolations (tagged by means of bold text within brackets) fit into Galatians 3:19 – 4:11 like this:

What then is the law? It was added for the sake of transgressions, [until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made,] ordained by angels through an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one. [Is the law then against the promises of God? Absolutely not! For] If a law had been given which could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned all under sin, [so that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.] Before faith came, we were confined under the law, locked up to the faith about to be revealed. [Consequently, the law was our chaperone until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a chaperone; for] In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

[I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, in no way differs from a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; but he is under managers and stewards until the date set by the father. So with us; when we were children,] We were slaves to the elements of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, [come from a woman,] come under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you served beings that by nature are not gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elements, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.

A clarification

quote_begin Note that I have tagged “come from a woman” in Gal. 4:4 as an interpolation. quote_end

Note that above I have also tagged “come from a woman” in Gal. 4:4 as an interpolation. I don’t see how these words contribute anything to the argument against the Law.

Richard Carrier has proposed that they point ahead to the allegory in Gal. 4:22 – 5:1 (On the Historicity of Jesus, pp. 575-582). In that allegory Hagar, the slave woman, represents the Law of Moses. But to me it seems a bit awkward that, in that scenario, the “woman” of Gal. 4:4 only gets identified as allegorical Hagar eighteen verses later at Gal. 4:22.

On the other hand, it is also hard to see how the words “come from a woman” would help my alleged interpolator salvage God’s authorship of the Mosaic Law. And if he really believed Christ had been born into this world and lived a life here, I expect his interpolations throughout the letters would have included many more items from that life.

So I am inclined to go with Earl Doherty’s suggestion that in Gal. 4:4 we may be dealing an interpolation that is post-Marcion (see Doherty’s arguments in his Jesus—Neither God Nor Man, pp. 207-212). For Marcion, birth from a woman—any woman—was a disgusting matter. That may be why he taught that Christ entered the world as an adult. A proto-orthodox Christian, by successfully lodging “come of a woman” in Galatians, could effectively undercut these errors right in the letter that Marcion viewed as key to the Apostle’s teaching.

But whereas Doherty suspects that both expressions (“come from a woman” and “come under the law”) may have been interpolated, I think that only the first one was. “Come under the law” makes sense in the Galatians argument. Christ placed himself under the law by submitting to crucifixion. As Gal. 3:13 says:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become [genomenos] a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone hanged on a tree”… (my emphasis and brackets).

And the presence of “come” (genomenos from ginomai) “under the law” in the original text could explain why an anti-Marcionite interpolator used ginomai instead of the more natural gennaō for his insert of “come from a woman”: It blended in better as a side-by-side match with the expression that was already there.

Next

Romans is a suspiciously complicated letter. Its author was apparently writing to a church he did not found and had never even visited. There is no indication in the letter that he had any firsthand knowledge of any of the members of the Roman church. And yet we are supposed to believe that he sent them a letter so difficult to understand that, to this day, scholars are deeply divided about what it means! Remember, its author was the same one who was careful to provide his own churches with milk before attempting to give them meat (1 Cor. 3:2). Does it make sense that he would load an introductory letter to an unfamiliar church with the indigestible meat that is in Romans?

Perhaps the letter was not always so complicated. That will be the subject of my next post.

41 Comments

  • Bertie
    2014-10-28 13:18:37 UTC - 13:18 | Permalink

    Not strictly related to the particular text under discussion here, but I read Novenson’s Christ Among the Messiahs recently (I believe it was reviewed at length on Vridar), and it strikes me that the theory you are developing (as with the Marcion priority theory) eventually has to come to terms with the huge number of uses of the word “Christ” in the Pauline corpus, both as a name/honorific (depending on whether you buy Novenson’s notion of Christ being an honorific) and occasionally as an engagement with the OT Messiah passages and contemporary Messiah discourse generally (one relevant passage in Paul is above, the one making Christ the singular seed of Abraham, which is why I thought of this).

    I can’t recall whether your previous installments discussed Messiah language and I don’t know whether and how Simon Magus would use Messiah discourse or Christ as an honorific (if you accept that idea), but maybe something to think about.

    • Roger Parvus
      2014-10-28 20:19:44 UTC - 20:19 | Permalink

      My thoughts about that are in part 8 of the series. As I explain there, I think the earliest form of the gospel may have had a double transformation by which the Son switched places with a wannabe king who was being led out for crucifixion. Among the insults intended for the rebel but which, in reality, ended up being addressed to the Son was: “Let the Anointed (Christ), the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” That may be how the Son obtained the name “Christ” on earth. The irony of mockery that correctly but unintentionally identified the King of Kings would likely have been appreciated by the first believers.

  • Giuseppe
    2014-10-28 16:04:31 UTC - 16:04 | Permalink

    Hi Roger,

    I’m learning a lot from your post, thanks.

    A question about Galatians 6:12 :

    Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

    of whom is Paul speaking? If he refers to the Pillars of Jerusalem, what are exactly their intentions and/or suspects about Paul and circumcision? Were they offended by the crucified Christ of Paul? (maybe because they knew that for Paul the crucifixion of Christ means elimination of the Law). I do not understand at the moment precisely what tactics or rethoric or apologetic they were using against Paul to dissuade the Galatians from following him.

    I also find it very suspicious that between Gal 2:14 and Gal 2:15 there is apparently no continuity and that the letter seems to omit something right at the apex of the incident of Antioch. Do you think that Paul had wanted to corrupt with money the Pillars to persuade them to convert to his view and the Pillars had refused the gift breaking the already fragile truce with Paul? (this is a guess of Paul N. Tarazi).

    On the other hand, it is also hard to see how the words “come from a woman” would help my alleged interpolator salvage God’s authorship of the Mosaic Law.
    It’s only a mere coincidence that the binomial ”law/woman” is repeated three times in the current letter? I would not bet.

    Does it make sense that he would load an introductory letter to an unfamiliar church with the indigestible meat that is in Romans?

    I have the suspect that you are thinking about some kind of esoteric language by Paul to hide his real intentions (disguised as a worshiper of YHWH as the Pillars) before testing properly the ground in a Roman community about which Paul does not know a priori the degree of loyalty to Pillars of Jerusalem.

    • Roger Parvus
      2014-10-30 02:27:03 UTC - 02:27 | Permalink

      Hi Giuseppe,

      1. I think Simon/Paul’s opponents in the Galatian churches were Christian-Jewish evangelists who had been sent out by the Jerusalem church on a mission to the Gentiles. The gospel they preached included at least partial Law-observance. And I think J. Louis Martyn is right in saying that much of what the Apostle writes in Galatians targeted claims of the rival evangelists. Thus, the insistence that one is seed of Abraham by faith was meant to counter their claim that Gentiles became Abraham’s descendants by circumcision and observance of the Law. Likewise, the Apostle’s assertion that the heavenly Jerusalem is our mother countered their claim that the Jerusalem church was the mother church (see Martyn’s commentary on Galatians).

      Yes, I think the crucifixion of Christ had a more prominent role in Simon/Paul’s preaching than it had in that of the Jerusalem church. And of course I think he understood it differently that they did. Christ’s death appears to have been viewed by them as primarily expiatory (to judge from the book of Revelation).

      2. It hard to judge motives, but I would not be surprised if the Apostle hoped that the collection money he intended to bring to Jerusalem would make the church there more receptive to him and his brand of gospel.

      3. I’m not sure which law/woman binomials you are referring to.

      4. Romans esoteric? No, I just think an interpolator’s corrections may have made the letter much longer and more complicated than it originally was.

  • Neil Godfrey
    2014-10-29 08:30:48 UTC - 08:30 | Permalink

    The “Paul Seminar’s” translation of Galatians 3:13 (titled as a “Scholars’ Version”) is:

    God’s Anointed freed us from the curse of subjection to the law…. — The Authentic Letters of Paul

    What grounds, do you think, might be used to justify this translation?

    • Bertie
      2014-10-29 16:22:18 UTC - 16:22 | Permalink

      The “subjection” bit isn’t in the Greek I’m looking at, although as I write this I don’t have a critical apparatus that would have minority readings or whatever that this “Scholar’s Version” might have picked up. Perhaps the translators are just looking ahead to verse 22 and beyond where the law becomes a guard, something that imprisons. Perhaps they don’t like the harshness or even the political incorrectness of “curse of the law” and wanted to soften it a bit with the qualifier.

      If there isn’t any textual basis for the “subjection” bit, then I don’t think it was a good idea to put it in here, because this is just one of many places in the Pauline corpus where Paul makes a bold, maybe vague, maybe controversial statement and then quickly qualifies or elaborates or backtracks — and it is too much editorializing to qualify or soften the initial proclamation in favor picking up some of what follows. (Of course, radical theories can take the backtracking, qualifying and such as evidence of later editing; others can take it as artifacts of the dictation process or as Paul’s rhetorical style, and this too gets elided by over-clarifying the text in the translation itself).

  • Stuart
    2014-10-29 17:15:33 UTC - 17:15 | Permalink

    One of the problems I have with Parvus’ placing the Pauline letters back to a fictitious literary character from Acts of the Apostles, most likely a mid-2nd century document, is the examples of the Law used in the Marcionite versions, especially concerning the sons of Abraham (Galatians 4:22-26). While the roles of the unnamed sons (Isaac and Ishmael) and their unnamed mothers (named in the Catholic revision) are reversed because they are allegorical – and the author says so – they do follow an actual legal code from the day. That legal code is Hadrianic, not Mosaic, and not Claudian. The son of the slave woman, under Roman Law during and after Hadrian acquired the status of the mother, which is a slave, and that of a free would acquire the status of his mother, and a citizen that of his mother. Hadrian, sometime in his reign (118-138 CE -probably early in his reign) overturned a ruling by Claudius (41-56 CE – also probably early in his reign) which had upheld the practice of the day where children acquired the status of their supposed father. This was tied closely to the slave trade. A free woman, or even citizen woman, could make a contract with a slaver, and bear a child sired by a slave, which would be sold for a price to the slave market. The likely abuses are obvious, and the ability to sell off unwanted children (say an affair) by making a deal with a slaver to create some documents is clear. Anyway the author of Galatians knew his audience was familiar with the Hadrianic Law and accepted it as natural and right. This certainly could not date back to the first century.

    • Giuseppe
      2014-10-29 18:22:48 UTC - 18:22 | Permalink

      Hi Stuart,

      the principal problem that I have with a II CE origins for all the ”pauline” letters, is that if on the one hand it may be very probable that Marcion wrote the first Gospel (the prof Klinghardt argues this recently), on the other how could the same Marcion be entirely ignorant of a Gospel Jesus tradition in his first letters written under the name of ”Paul” ? You cannot ignore this problem easily. This is a inexplicable conundrum that the prof Price, sfortunately, don’t know explain at all (his attempt to push later the first Gospel after Marcion is too problematic for me). This is my view, for what it’s worth.

      • Stuart
        2014-10-30 20:01:12 UTC - 20:01 | Permalink

        Giuseppe,

        Matthew 5:35 is a clear reference to Aelia Capitolina (Aelus being the family name of the Emperors from Hadrian to Commodus) and points to a composition date in the reign of Antoninus, since the city was established toward the end of Hadrian’s reign. The whole of chapter five is a refutation of the Marcionite antithesis, pointing to a post Pauline collection time frame (save Galatians), since the Antithesis was built upon the Gospel and Paul. The Gospel of John goes on a point by point refutation of the theology and Christ presented in Matthew, so must post date it. And of course Luke-Acts post dates Marcion.

        Marcion is best seen as a collector of Paul, with the exception of Galatians (the Asiatic style of Ephesians makes it clear its from a different writer), he could not have written any of the letters (everything from style to minor theological inconsistencies, to pastiches even in the Marcionite versions point toward a “school” rather than a single author). I say this with the caveat that the collector also wrote a layer onto these books which bound the collection together. the common intros and sign-offs are evidence of the collector’s editorial hand. This layer is not unlike the Lukan redactor who placed his own layer on the collection.

        The bottom line is, both the Gospels and Paul belong in the mid-2nd century. Placing the first edition of Paul in the Marcionite era does not mean it is posterior to the Gospels. The Gospels still retain their relative position to Paul. But both are better seen in context with known 2nd century controversies than the supposed 1st century ones that left no trace.

        The model I suggest is that the NT is genre fiction, where first century setting is the accepted location and second century controversies are play acted out by characters in the period piece. The concept is artistic truth.

        • Giuseppe
          2014-10-31 08:48:42 UTC - 08:48 | Permalink

          Stuart,

          If I understand correctly, your view in short is that:

          1) someone (proto-orthodox?) before Marcion wrote the epistles in II CE under the name of ”Paul” and wasn’t the historical Paul.
          2) Marcion collected these epistles and he wrote and added Galatians and the first Gospel to his collection
          3) after Marcion, other Gospels and Letters were written against Marcion.

          It makes sense because in this way I can still explain the absence of Gospel Jesus tradition in ”pauline” epistles. Can you give me some links in your blog about the point 1 in particular? (I’m already very inclined to agree with the points 2 and 3).

          very thanks,
          Giuseppe

        • Roger Parvus
          2014-10-31 15:04:46 UTC - 15:04 | Permalink

          Stuart,

          You lost me with your very first sentence: “Matthew 5:35 is a clear reference to Aelia Capitolina…”
          Matthew 5:35 says this:

          (Swear not) … “by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king.”

          If you consider that to be a “clear reference” to Hadrian’s Aelia Capitolina, I can foresee that we are going to have trouble communicating with each other. We apparently define “clarity” differently.

          • Stuart
            2014-11-12 08:37:46 UTC - 08:37 | Permalink

            I apologize an overstatement – the problem of brief comments in somebody else’s blog. I should have said “possible reference.” Although I am convinced, FWIW.

            There is a lot of unstated concepts and observations behind this claim which is not easily stated in 200 words or less, even 2000 words or more. It is tied up in the context of the authorship of the 5th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. That context concerns tight parallel and I argue interaction with the Marcionite antithesis. It starts in verse 5:17 with a statement that is directly anti-Marcionite, a turning of Luke 21:33 (and parallels; also Luke 16:17 Marcionite form) λόγοι μου to τοῦ νόμου. The Marcionites strenuously objected (e.g., see AM 4.9.10-15, 4.12.14, AM 4.36.6, AM 5.14.14, plus AH 1.27.2, AD 2.15, AA 40).

            This alone is not enough. But then you need to look at the Old Testament and New Testament pairs 5:21-26, 5:27-32, 5:33-37, 5:38-42, and 5:43-48, all announced with the peculiar phrase Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη when we expect to see something the familiar γέγραπται . This might be an indicator that the source is other than the LXX Jewish Scripture. And the second part of the pair, which is the New phrase is introduced by Jesus as γὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι. This pairing parallels what we know of the Marcionite Antithesis, which in Dialogue Adamantius takes the form Ὁ προφήτης τοῦ θεοῦ τῆς γενέσεως and the response concerning Jesus is in the form ὁ δὲ κύριος ἡμῶν, ἀγαθὸς ὢν, λέγει. We can see that Matthew, since Jesus himself speaks simply changes the voice to personal.

            That we are looking at the Antithesis as source is perhaps vouchsafed by Matthew 5:38 being in agreement with Marcion Ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος against the LXX (Exodus 21:24 / Leviticus 24:20 / Deuteronomy 19:21) ὀδούς ἀντί ὀδούς; the odds of such an agreement with Marcion (DA 2.15) against the Jewish Scriptures are beyond long. The Antithesis is full of paraphrases, and inexact quotations.

            Were it only such agreement, we could ignore it as chance. But again we see an even stronger agreement with the pair in Matthew 5:43-44 with DA 1.12 against Leviticus 19:18, when both read report the second clause “hate your enemy” that is not found anywhere in the Jewish Scripture.

            We are left with two choices, either Marcion drew his Antithesis from Matthew, who simply happened to use peculiar to this chapter announcement of OT quotes, or Matthew drew from Marcion’s antithesis. For a variety of reasons the latter case seems stronger.

            And that brings us back to Aelia Capitolina and Matthew 5:35. This verse is again part of a OT and NT pair that parallels the anti thesis, but with Matthew taking a more pro-Torah and Prophets slant. The swearing of Oaths in Jesus’ response in verse 5:37 appears to perhaps draw from 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (perhaps Romans 14:23), and would fit the Antithesis form. Matthew 5:35 is something of an addition.

            And that addition I argue comes from the context of the era of the antithesis that permeates the text surrounding the verse, which is the Antoninus reign. In that context Aelia Capitolina, which bears the family name of the Roman Emperor, his predecessor and his successors. It is a fill in for an oath to Rome itself. (The heavens I would argue is a dig at Marcionites and other heretics who found revelation in the stars, but it could also apply to Romans). There is no other Great King in view in this era. I find it a stretch to have allegory to the distant past when everything surrounding is contemporary.

            That anyway is my argument in a nutshell, sans in-depth analysis (limitations of a post). Thanks for your patience with me. – Stuart

            • Roger Parvus
              2014-11-12 13:42:40 UTC - 13:42 | Permalink

              Let me see if I’ve got this straight. According to you the Matthean Jesus basically says: “Don’t swear by Jerusalem because in about 100 years it is going to be the city of the great king Hadrian.” Hmmm. No, I think I’m going to stick with the traditional interpretation that sees the verse as an expression of the early Jewish Christian belief that Christ is the king of kings and Jerusalem is and forever will be his city.

              But in any case, thank you for taking the time to explain your theory. I think readers know you have a website where they can learn more about it.

              • Giuseppe
                2014-11-12 14:26:59 UTC - 14:26 | Permalink

                Both you and Stuart agree on one point, though: that Matthew was not very Judeo-Christian but had only to seem a Judeo-Christian Gospel. His true author was proto-orthodox.

              • Roger Parvus
                2014-11-13 15:13:56 UTC - 15:13 | Permalink

                Yes, but I think the sayings the author drew from were of Christian-Jewish provenance and that he used them for a polemic purpose. He put the Christian-Jewish gospel on the lips of a Jesus figure that was originally Simonian. The author’s sympathies were with the Christian Jews.

    • Roger Parvus
      2014-10-30 02:28:06 UTC - 02:28 | Permalink

      Stuart,

      I would like to look into that (the status of children born to slave women in the first and second centuries CE). Which book(s) would you recommend on the subject?

      • Stuart
        2014-10-30 21:53:08 UTC - 21:53 | Permalink

        I would suggest first you go to the sources. Read the actual legal decisions.

        Jewish Scholars have been greatly concerned with discovering the actual root causes of the Bar Kokhba revolt. A good article which covers the lack of Hadrian ruling or interest in circumcision is from Ra’anan Abusch (link below).

        http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/history/boustan/my_articles/BarKokhba.pdf

        He does not consider the impact of the ending of Mosaic Law at the conclusion of the Bar Kokhba revolt, which caused Hadrian to dissolve the Judea province, probably at the very end of 135 CE or the very beginning of 136 CE. I have discussed the impact of dissolving Torah Law in Judea with a few Jewish scholars, who frankly admit they never considered the impact of it on Jews in the Empire, but more than one has expressed the opinion that that it should definitely be evaluated (one in depth I care not to mention in a public forum, but feel free to email me). This is not too surprising since the question only comes forward once one accepts the fact that the Romans did not ban circumcision, and that conclusion is only recently begun to gain sway in the Jewish study.

        So I would go to the sources, the Roman Law code. A great on-line source of both Latin and English translation is here

        http://droitromain.upmf-grenoble.fr/

        The most pertinent legal rulings are here (notice the reference to “Law of the Ethnics/Nations in 83, and the prior ruling by Claudius in 84):

        http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/gaius1.html#81

        81 In conformity with these provisions, the said Decree of the Senate, enacted at the instance of the Divine Hadrian, also prescribes that the issue of a Latin man and a foreign woman, as well as that of a foreign man and a Latin woman, follows the condition of the mother.
        82 The result of this is that the child of a female slave and a freeman is, by the Law of Nations, born a slave; and, on the other hand, the child of a free woman and a male slave is free by birth.
        83 We should note, however, whether any law or enactment having the force of law, in any case changes the rule of the Law of Nations.
        84 For behold, a citizen was able to, by Claudius’ Decree of the Senate, enters into coitus with a foreign (non-Roman) slave whose master wills, while herself remaining free but by compact creating (giving birth to) a slave. For that is between her and the slave’s master. Thus he (Claudius) ordered ratified and the Senate agreed. But later, this wrong thing, the Divine Hadrian, in an elegant move restored the rule of Law of Nations: so when the women is herself remains a free woman, she gives birth to a free child.

        81 His convenienter et illud senatus consultum divo Hadriano auctore significavit, ut ex Latino et peregrina, item contra ex peregrino et Latina qui nascitur, is matris condicionem sequatur.
        82 Illud quoque his consequens est, quod ex ancilla et libero iure gentium servus nascitur, et contra ex libera et servo liber nascitur.
        83 Animadvertere tamen debemus, ne iuris gentium regulam vel lex aliqua vel quod legis vicem optinet, aliquo casu commutaverit.
        84 Ecce enim ex senatus consulto Claudiano poterat civis Romana, quae alieno servo volente domino eius coiit, ipsa ex pactione libera permanere, sed servum procreare; nam quod inter eam et dominum istius servi convenerit ex senatus consulto ratum esse iubetur. Sed postea divus Hadrianus iniquitate rei et inelegantia iuris motus restituit iuris gentium regulam, ut cum ipsa mulier libera permaneat, liberum pariat.

        • Roger Parvus
          2014-10-31 15:00:01 UTC - 15:00 | Permalink

          Stuart,

          Thank you for the references. Unfortunately, I think you are misunderstanding Gaius’ commentary. As indicated in paragraph 82, the rule in question was not of Hadrianic origin. It was recognized as belonging to the jus gentium (Law of Nations):

          82. “The result of this is that the child of a female slave and a freeman is, BY THE LAW OF NATIONS, born a slave; and, on the other hand, the child of a free woman and a male slave is free by birth.” (my caps)

          Gaius defines what he means by Law of Nations in the first paragraph of his commentary:
          “the rules constituted by natural reason FOR ALL AND OBSERVED BY ALL NATIONS alike are called the Law of Nations” (my caps).

          Now from time to time civil laws are passed that in are exceptions to the Law of Nations. That is what paragraph 83 is saying:

          83. “We should note, however, whether any law or enactment having the force of law, in any case changes a rule of the Law of Nations.”

          Paragraph 84 gives an example of such an exception:

          84. “For instance, a citizen was able, by Claudius’ Decree of the Senate, to enter into coitus with a foreign (non-Roman) slave with his owners consent, herself remaining free but, in virtue of the agreement, creating (giving birth to) a slave. Her agreement to that effect with the owner he (Claudius) ordered ratified and the Senate agreed. But later the Divine Hadrian, induced by the injustice and anomaly of the ordinance, restored the rule of Law of Nations, that since the mother continues free, she gives birth to a free child.

          Now, note that Claudius authorized a specific exception to a rule that was recognized as belonging to the Law of Nations. He didn’t abolish the Law of Nations. And he didn’t abolish the particular rule. He legislated an exception to it in the case of a specifically defined agreement between a female citizen of Rome and a slave owner. Later Hadrian did away with that exception.

          So, no, I don’t think you can use this to argue that “the practice of the day” between the time of Claudius and that of Hadrian was that “children acquired the status of their supposed father.”

  • Greg Pandatshang
    2014-11-02 03:13:19 UTC - 03:13 | Permalink

    Do I understand correctly that Marcion believed the epistles he was reading had already been interpolated, but he had to guess what the interpolations are (much as you are doing now)?

    What’s the sequence of events in your scenario? Some proto-orthodox editor makes a series of systematic additions to the epistles sometime early in the 2nd century … then Marcion re-edits them in the mid-140s and compiles them into his Apostolicon … then another proto-orthodox editor, perhaps Polycarp, responds by editing the proto-orthodox versions a bit more and then compiling them into a new version of the canon? Then, for good measure, sometime later, someone else edits the Apellean letters of Peregrinus into the Ignatian letters. So, that means at least three separate major proto-orthodox bowdlerization projects in the 2nd century, including two layers in the epistles as we know them.

    I wonder if any of the Marcionite edits to the epistles managed to end up in the final versions we have now … perhaps via Apelles.

    • Roger Parvus
      2014-11-02 11:27:52 UTC - 11:27 | Permalink

      Greg,

      In response to your first question:

      Yes, I still stand by what in wrote, for example, in my response to Chris S in part 5 of the series:

      “I think Marcion knew that the letter collection had been tampered with but—since he apparently didn’t have access to the original letters—he had to engage in much the same kind of analysis I’m doing in order to try to restore the original reading. And because of that, we cannot have full confidence in his results.”

      There I also provided these quotes:

      Harnack, in his Marcion — The Gospel of the Alien God, says this:

      … for his purifications of the text—and this is usually overlooked—he [Marcion] neither could claim nor did claim absolute certainty. But this is evident also from the history of his text; his pupils constantly made alterations in the text—sometimes more radical than his own, sometimes more conservative—perhaps under his very eyes, but certainly after his death. We are told this most definitely by Celsus, Tertullian, and Origen, and also by Ephraem, and we possess examples of it. Thus the Marcionite church did not receive from its master the gospel and the ten letters of Paul with the instruction to revere the re-established text as a ‘noli me tangere’ [do not touch], but the master gave to them the liberty, indeed perhaps left behind him the obligation, to continue the work of establishing the correct text. (p. 30)

      and J.C. O’Neill:

      Perhaps the first biblical scholar to have embarked on the task was not Weisse, but the heretic Marcion, and although his results do not seem to be the right ones, the fact that he attempted to discover what Paul originally wrote may be quoted as early evidence that the attempt is necessary. Marcion may not simply have wanted to show that Paul’s thought was a little different from the representation of it in the generally accepted epistles; he may have actually heard that Paul’s original letters had been overlaid by commentary, without possessing accurate information about what was original and what secondary.” — The Recovery of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, p. 11

      More recently, in part 12 of the series, I wrote this in response to a question by EmmaZunz:

      “I am skeptical that, even if an authentic copy of Marcion’s Apostolikon was found today, if would be of much help determining the original text of the letters. As you know, I think that the original letter collection was Simonian and that the only public version of it in circulation in Marcion’s time was one that had already been systematically interpolated by a proto-orthodox Christian. Marcion had learned and was convinced that the letters had been interpolated, but I don’t think he ever obtained an undoctored copy. That would be why the work he and subsequent Marcionites did to restore the text apparently went on for years. If they thought they had an accurate copy of the originals such ongoing restoration would have been unnecessary.

      Marcion apparently based his restoration of the texts on his understanding of the nature of the conflict between Paul and his opponents. So in large part his results would have depended on his grasp of that controversy. Some time (50-60 years) had passed and the splintering of the early churches had already progressed significantly by the time Marcion came on the scene. And it appears that Marcion was not himself Simonian. He would also have been influenced by the gospels being written which now featured a Christ who had a public ministry. If I am right that the source of Simon/Paul’s gospel was the Vision of Isaiah, that is something that Marcion likely knew nothing about. These are some of the things that would have had a bearing on his reconstruction of the text of the Pauline letters.”

      Now, in regard to Gal. 4:4, and Rom. 1:3-4 as anti-Marcionite insertions: I don’t consider those to be, as you say, “major” proto-orthodox projects. They could have been included by whoever (Polycarp?) put together the first edition of the proto-orthodox New Testament. Or it could have been one of those occasional modifications that Bart Ehrman wrote about in his The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture:

      My thesis can be stated simply: scribes occasionally altered the words of their sacred texts to make them more patently orthodox and to prevent their misuse by Christians who espoused aberrant views

      (p. xi, my emphasis)

      And

      I nonetheless take my overarching thesis to be established: proto-orthodox scribes of the second and third centuries occasionally modified their texts of Scripture in order to make them coincide more closely with the Christological views embraced by the party that would seal its victory at Nicaea and Chalcedon.”

      (p. 275, my emphasis)

      Running short of time. I will try to get to your other questions in the next day or two.

    • Roger Parvus
      2014-11-03 10:17:55 UTC - 10:17 | Permalink

      Greg,

      1. Regarding the sequence of events for the 10 earliest Pauline letters: Yes, I think there was a major and systematic interpolation of them by a proto-orthodox Christian sometime between 100 and 130 CE. I say 100 for the approximate earliest limit because I think the letters were originally collected by a Simonian and that three of the letters were written by Menander. It is not known when Menander died, but many scholars think that 100 or so would be about right. On the other end, 130 would be the approximate latest limit because the collection had apparently already been reworked by the proto-orthodox by the time Marcion arrived in Rome in the mid-130s.

      I’m inclined to date the proto-orthodox project later rather than earlier in the 100–130 period. For one thing, the earlier it occurred the harder it becomes to account for Justin’s silence about Paul and the letters. The closer we date it to 130, the more plausible it becomes that some proto-orthodox knew what had been done to the letters but—for one reason or another—were hesitant to immediately commit to it. Perhaps some of them thought it too dishonest. Or maybe some thought its primary and obvious purpose was mockery of Simon, not a serious attempt to create a substitute Apostle.

      Another reason I’m inclined to date the systematic rework late rather than early in the 100–1300 period is because the later it happened, the less likely the interpolator could expect exposure by the original Simonians. They appear to have been or to have become a secretive sect, so perhaps there was not really much chance of exposure. One downside to being a secretive sect is that it can’t discuss or defend its writings without revealing its secrets. But in any case, the danger would have become less the more time passed. The Simonians may have pretty much ceased to exist as a significant distinctive sect by the 130s. The extant record mentions no specific successor to Menander as head of the Simonians. And if, as Irenaeus says, Menander really did teach his followers that they would never die, I expect disintegration of his sect progressed as its members continued to die off anyway. Perhaps that was a significant trigger for the early second century explosion and multiplication of gnostic sects, each seemingly more interested in developing its own brand than in going back to their origins.

      I think the next important event for the Paulines would have been their inclusion around mid-second century by whoever (Polycarp?) included them in the first proto-orthodox edition of the New Testament. I don’t see that any substantial editing of the letters would have been necessary or that any Marcionite erasures would have been incorporated into it. But, as I explained in my previous comment, I think that Gal. 4:4 and Rom. 1:3-4 were most likely added to the letters at that time. They are short and sweet, but effectively sink Marcion’s teaching. And, of course, how the interpolated letters were understood would have been affected by their inclusion with the newly written Pastoral letters, Acts of the Apostles, and the Gospels.

      2. Regarding the Ignatian letters: As you know, I think that around 200 CE a proto-orthodox Christian turned letters of Peregrinus into letters of Ignatius of Antioch. But I do not consider this a “major” proto-orthodox project. For one thing, the letters are not and were never part of the New Testament. For another, the deception actually occurred somewhat late in the game. There had already been a flood of non-Scriptural forgeries (gospels, letters, apocalypses, acts) by the time someone turned their attention to the letters of Peregrinus. What makes the Ignatians a bit different from most of these is that they were not created from scratch. The interpolator modified letters of a real mid-second century heretical Christian. And secondly, many scholars who recognize the inauthenticity of much of the New Testament and the greater part of Christian second century non-Scriptural writings continue to accept the Ignatians at face value.

      • Greg Pandatshang
        2014-11-09 06:59:52 UTC - 06:59 | Permalink

        Thanks for your references — I couldn’t quite remember if I had learned about that from this series or something else.

        I do want to clarify a couple things that I think are basically semantic issues. I described the creation of the proto-Orthodox New Testament, as well as the creation of the Ignatians, as “major proto-orthodox bowdlerization projects” and that there were at least two layers in the epistles. I agree that the creation of the proto-Orthodox New Testament did not necessarily involve major editing of the epistles, which would be unnecessary if they had already been edited shortly before by a redactor with similar interests (I wonder if both the pre- and post-Marcion edits might all be part of one ongoing project by Polycarp, begun before the Marcionite boom and completed later in reaction to it — I’m trying to think of ways to simplify the model). My point, anyway, was that the creation of the gospels+epistles+Revelation collection would have been a major project, even if it didn’t involve major edits to the Paulines specifically (I assume it would have required major edits to the gospels, at least). As for the creation of the Ignatians, it might not be major in the context of proto-orthodoxy in general, but I’d still say it was a major endeavour for the editor. I certainly agree that there were occasional modifications of the scriptures by scribes, but the creation of the proto-Orthodox New Testament and of the Ignatians were both more than occasional tweaks, so that’s why I say there were at least three major phases of bowdlerization.

        My reason for asking about this in detail is that I wonder if there is other evidence that this type of detailed editing was undertaken in the early Christian era? Certainly there were many new scriptures written more-or-less from scratch, but what about thorough editing of existing texts? The first thing that comes to mind is that all the other gospels are apparently reworked versions of Mark, in a variety of styles. A further example might be the Ascension of Isaiah itself, but let’s consider the contrast: AoI is a much shorter work than the 10-letter Pauline corpus, or the collected proto-Orthodox New Testament, or the Ignations. Also, how thoroughly edited is AoI? It comprises two major sections sewn together, with a shorter third segment (the “Testament of Hezekiah”) sandwiched in awkwardly toward the end of the first, plus perhaps some introductory and concluding material, plus the whole mess of 11:2-22 (obviously edited at least once), plus who knows how many more minor interpolations. So, maybe that is just as thoroughly edited as the New Testament and the Ignatians. It’s hard to compare.

        As for the relatively late date of the first revision of the Paulines, I agree that it is more appealing because it puts more time between their initial composition and the revisions. By the same token, it is less appealing because it puts less time between the revisions and Marcion. It strikes me as a bit odd that Marcion could not obtain a copy of the un-tampered-with collection if it had only been altered so recently. Cerdo must not have had a copy, at least not one that he was willing to part with or reproduce (perhaps an example of Simonian secretiveness). I had always imagined that Marcion must have guessed that the epistles had been modified, but, if he was really in contact with Simonians at some point, they might have told him so definitively.

        • Greg Pandatshang
          2014-11-09 07:57:50 UTC - 07:57 | Permalink

          Not to put too fine a point on it: I had become enamoured of the idea that Proto-Orthodoxy as we know it might post-date Marcion. This scenario entails that there was nothing like an organised Christian church before Marcion’s movement rapidly became popular ca. 145; however, there was a loose circle of Christ-cult-oriented theophobe intellectuals in Rome who could not accept Marcion’s stark anti-Judaism, so they felt the need to create a solid doctrine and church organisation to counter Marcion.

          If the epistles had already been tampered with by a proto-Orthodox editor (and the originals lost) before Marcion, then that’s bad for this hypothesis. Perhaps it can still be mostly, or at least partially, salvaged. It would be possible, maybe (just maybe) easier, for a loose circle of theophobe intellectuals to undertake the proto-Orthodox edits to the epistles. But the question that leaves is simple: why would a bunch of gentile proselytes who like Judaism and don’t want to reject the God of the Old Testament be interested in Simonian writings in the first place? His theology was totally different than theirs. Wouldn’t they simply revile him? I had supposed that they were interested in Simon/Paul because they wanted to coöpt Marcionite doctrines and thereby attract Marcionite believers. But, apparently the proto-proto-Orthodox were already interested in Simonian writings before Marcion.

          One possibility comes to mind. Even for a serious a pro-Jewish theophobe intellectual inducted into the Christ cult, I must imagine that the urge to avoid adult circumcision under pre-modern sanitary conditions would have been strong. Not having to keep kosher would be nice, too. This could lead to motivated reasoning resulting in a softcore judaizer mindset. Become symbolically part of the nation of Israel? Great! Adult circumcision and keeping kosher? Um, maybe not. This would have led to arguments with more doctrinaire hardcore judaizer theophobes, so the softcore intellectuals would have wanted some kind of authoritative writing to cite. And which Christ cultist writes more enthusiastically against the Law than Simon does? Naturally, Simon’s letters were needful of edits to make them moderately Jewish rather than anti-Jewish. The fact that the Roman theophobes and their associates had no reason to be interested in Simon prior to this would, I suppose, have made it easier to alter without anybody catching on.

          I seem to have come around circuitously to the obvious: that the Pauline epistles as we have them might have been created specifically to license a semi-Judaism, favorable to Old Testament but with no requirement for circumcision and kosher rules, i.e. precisely the compromise path that most Christians have followed ever since.

          P.S. I wonder if this group’s hardcore judaizer rivals might have had some kind of connection to the Book of Revelation. Somebody was interested in reading this aggressively Jewish text in Greek (although of course there were also born Jews whose main language was Greek in the empire at this time). I wonder, too, if the controversies mentioned at the beginning of Revelation might make sense read in terms of this gentile hardcore vs. softcore judaizer rivalry (certainly the softcore judaizers could aptly be described as “neither hot nor cold”).

          • Greg Pandatshang
            2014-11-09 08:01:32 UTC - 08:01 | Permalink

            P.P.S.: you and I discussed the orientation of Revelation a few months ago in this comment thread: vridar.org/2013/04/02/final-of-letters-supposedly-written-by-ignatius-tackling-new-questions/ … but I still don’t understand it thoroughly enough to grasp all the possibilities.

            • Roger Parvus
              2014-11-10 12:08:13 UTC - 12:08 | Permalink

              I’m not confident that I understand it either. As you suggest, it’s possible that chapters 1-3 of Revelation have the proto-orthodox in view. I too think those chapters belong to a later stratum than other parts of the book. But I’m still inclined to think that the seven churches in question were coming under the influence of second generation Simonians rather than mid second-century proto-orthodox. The influence condemned seems to be Pauline and I doubt the proto-orthodox were solidly Pauline until the second half of the second century. Some, like Justin, may have waited to see if the attempted reworking of Simonian Christianity was going to succeed.

              • Greg Pandatshang
                2014-11-15 06:57:32 UTC - 06:57 | Permalink

                By the way, I’d be curious if you have comments (please let me know if you’ve commented in an earlier post) on the geography of the churches mentioned in the New Testament. I was surprised when I saw a map showing the seven Revelation churches — I was unaware that they are right next to each other in southwestern Anatolia.

                None of the churches to which the core Paulines are addressed particularly close to the Revelation churches: three churches are in Greece, plus Romans and Galatians. Acts places Paul in the southern part of Galatia, so that might be somewhat close to the Revelation churches.

                However, both of the Deutero-Paulines as well almost all of the Ignatians are addressed to precisely the region of the Revelation churches.

                I’m not sure what to make of this. Certainly, there could have been a geographical shift in the focus of Christian activities in Greece and Asia Minor during the course of time during which these letters were composed. However, this would not necessarily mean that the southwestern churches became more vigorous; it might simply mean that the church no longer existed at all in Galatia and Greece, so the churches in southwestern Anatolia were more successful only relatively speaking.

              • Roger Parvus
                2014-11-15 15:48:42 UTC - 15:48 | Permalink

                I admit I have wondered whether the reworking of the letters also involved a change of place names. One reason to consider that possibility is that in the pseudo-Clementines Simon’s preaching is only along the Mediterranean coast (Caesarea, Tyre, Sidon, Beyrout, Tripolis, Laodicea, Antioch). In those writings Simon does mention that he intends to go to Rome but there is not a word about planned journeys to Asia Minor, Macedonia, or Greece.

                I also think that in some ways the Corinthian letters would make good letters to Antioch. There is a party of Cephas in the church addressed by the letters, so if there is any basis to the story in Acts about Peter’s visit to Antioch, we might have a connection there. And in the letter the Apostle speaks of some kind of painful confrontation in the addressed church. And he says that the church was being disturbed by false and superapostles. Also, some of 1 Corinthians deals with table-fellowship matters (chapters 8-10).

                Moreover, Timothy has a go-between role in bringing the troubled “Corinthian” church back to Paul. As you know, I think Timothy may be the interpolator’s replacement name for Menander, Simon’s successor. Now Justin seems to make Antioch the base of operations for Menander.

                Finally, many scholars think Galatians was written closely after the Corinthian correspondence. In Galatians, the Apostle writes about an Antioch incident and the false brothers who caused it.

                So, yes, I have mulled over the possibility that letters to Antioch were “redirected” to Corinth by the interpolator. Corinth had a reputation for immorality, so perhaps the interpolator, having mocked Simon as being the man who reportedly had the Father’s wife, thought it was fitting to reroute the doctored letters to dissolute Corinth. These are all just guesses, of course, but this scenario would seem to explain more naturally the spread of Christianity from the perspective of its earliest letters. Simon/Paul’s letters, with the exception of Romans, would be addressed to churches in Samaria and along the eastern Mediterranean up to and around Antioch. The deutero-canonical Colossians and Ephesians (written, I have proposed, by Menander), the seven Revelation letters, and the letters of Ignatius/Peregrinus witness to the subsequent spread of Christianity to Asia Minor.

              • Roger Parvus
                2014-11-15 16:18:41 UTC - 16:18 | Permalink

                Correction to the second paragraph: “… so if there is any basis to the Galatian’s account of Peter’s visit to Antioch, …”

          • Roger Parvus
            2014-11-10 12:07:13 UTC - 12:07 | Permalink

            Like you, I can only guess (in this scenario) about why the proto-orthodox chose to rework Simon’s letters. As you noted, Simon’s brand of Christianity was definitely more Gentile-friendly. It allowed Gentiles to adopt whatever they wanted from Judaism and leave the rest without in any way being “second-class” Jews (as were God-fearers). I don’t know that proto-orthodox revulsion for Simon would be an obstacle. There are places in the letters where the interpolator seems to make his new Paul mock the original one (Simon). The proto-orthodox may have seen that as some kind of long-overdue justice.

  • Giuseppe
    2014-11-03 10:43:41 UTC - 10:43 | Permalink

    Hi Roger,

    I find this article:

    Reicke, B., 1951, ‘The Law and this world according to Paul: Some thoughts concerning Gal 4, 1–11’,

    available here:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3261589

    where the author describes your same view that the angels giving the Law in Galatians are evil and demonic spirits.

    Paul’s line of thinking appears to be that the Galatians were once under τὰ στοιχεῖα, then came out from under them, but now would be returning to an enslavement to τὰ στοιχεῖα by coming under the Jewish law.

    It may be intreresting to know if Reicke appeals to the usual apologetical harmonizations to explain the zigzag of Paul in Romans after having established the evil & angelic origin of Law in Galatians.

    My question is: a Paul enemy of giving-Law-angels can still be believed a Jew or it’s a clear clue to his being indeed a proto-gnostic?

    • Neil Godfrey
      2014-11-03 11:04:41 UTC - 11:04 | Permalink

      I recall once listening to studies trying to explain to us that Paul was addressing two different opponents in Galatians. One moment he’d be addressing those influenced by paganism (astrology, demons, etc) and another moment (it needed trained scholars to be able to tell us where the switches began) he’d be addressing Judaizers. It did seem rather odd. So I sought out some commentaries for myself and saw that other scholars were arguing that the Judaizers were also wrapped up in astrological beliefs. But the law being given by angels — now that suggested much more than anyone dared seriously take time to contemplate deeply.

      • Roger Parvus
        2014-11-04 14:25:37 UTC - 14:25 | Permalink

        Werner Kümmel, in his Introduction to the New Testament, lists Lütgert and Ropes as proponents of a two opponents thesis, but says they identified the parties in question as Judaizers and libertine pneumatics. In any case, Kümmel too finds “no trace of a polemic alternating between two fronts.” (p. 299)

    • Roger Parvus
      2014-11-04 14:00:47 UTC - 14:00 | Permalink

      Hi Giuseppe,

      I don’t know that it is a clear clue. Many scholars, such as Birger Pearson, think the first gnostics were “unknown Jews who incorporated aspects of Platonism into their innovative reinterpretations of their ancestral traditions” (Ancient Gnosticism</em, p. 19.) But there are others, such as Hyam Maccoby, who think gnosticism had an entirely Hellenistic origin as “an acosmic and salvationist version of the Pleroma philosophy that stemmed from Plato” (Paul and Hellenism, p. 30.) Maccoby suspects that biblical gnosticism originated in Alexandria, by way of Gentile gnostics “who were on their way in or on their way out” (p. 31) of Judaism.

  • Giuseppe
    2014-11-04 15:45:02 UTC - 15:45 | Permalink

    Maccoby is not alone to argue an hellenistic origin. G. Luttikhuizen argues the same more recently.

    Luttikhuizen wrote:
    Why did Gnostic authors express themselves in this highly critical manner about the biblical God? … The obvious reason was that the anthropomorphous appearance of the biblical Creator was not in accordance with a philosophical conception of God stamped by (Middle-)Platonic thought.
    (The Exegetical Encounter Between Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity, p. 84)

    The problem is when (first or second century?), more than where.

    So Maccoby:
    In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries scholars such as Reizenstein and, later, Bultmann took the view that Gnosticism actually began before Christianity, and that it had a strong influence on Christianity itself, especially in the formation of the view of Jesus found in the Epistles of Paul and in the Gospel of John. Then came a phase in which the view of Bultmann was discounted as without sufficient historical basis, and it became scholarly orthodoxy once more to regard Gnosticism as merely an eccentric variant of Christianity.
    (The Sacred Executioner , p. 28)

    Which are the reasons to push all the Gnostics in II century?

  • 2014-11-12 22:14:09 UTC - 22:14 | Permalink

    Roger — if I may jump ahead for a moment with this question….

    I can understand a life of Jesus being based upon Paul/Simon, but after that I find things a bit hazy. Where does the Paul-Jerusalem Pillars clash fit in to this picture? Do not the life and writings of Paul presuppose an existing Christian cult of some sort? Or am I overlooking something fundamental here?

    • Roger Parvus
      2014-11-13 15:34:31 UTC - 15:34 | Permalink

      Neil,

      I think Paul’s relationship with the Jerusalem pillars is allegorically represented by that of Jesus with the Twelve. These failed to understand his teaching (Mk. 4:13; 7:18). They lacked faith (Mk. 4:40). Their hearts were hardened to his miracles and words (Mk. 6:52; 8:17). Peter rebuked him (Mk. 8:32). All of them desired a greatness that was alien to his teaching (Mk. 9:34). They tried to stop someone from driving out demons in his name (Mk. 9:38). They tried to keep little ones away from him (Mk. 10:13). They sought to lord their authority over others (Mk. 10:42). And ultimately Peter denied him and they all abandoned him.

      So, while ostensibly the Pillars were adepts of God’s Son—and that was the cultish attachment they claimed for themselves—from the Simonian perspective of GMark they never really made the transition to Christianity. They remained Jews who, though having the best of intentions, failed to ever properly understand and embrace the gospel (Vision of Isaiah?) that had been revealed. Their own ideas of what Christ and the gospel should be led them to ultimately reject the one who understood and preached the gospel correctly, Simon/Paul, the man who was in some way a new manifestation of the recently crucified Son.

      • Greg Pandatshang
        2014-11-16 22:04:37 UTC - 22:04 | Permalink

        Roger,

        Do you suppose that Simon Peter in Mark is likely to meant to represent Cephas and the Cephas faction (i.e. broadly speaking Cephas and Simon Peter are the same character)?

        I have wondered if the Simon Peter character was meant to reflect the author’s opinions of “the Simonians” as a movement, i.e. they were ostensibly the closest to the truth and yet even they failed to understand the Son of God and his incarnation. I am at a loss to explain the byname “Peter” in that case, though … unless there were some reason to think that the author felt the Simonians of his day had become too entwined with a Hellenistic or Gentile Cephas faction.

        I have also wondered if Cephas in the epistles could turn out to be a reference to Caiaphas the high priest. It seems to be the same name, and not a common one. Note that the Toledot Yeshu makes Simon Cephas the leader of the Sanhedrin. Perhaps this is a case of an older and more accurate tradition being preserved in an unlikely place.

        • Roger Parvus
          2014-11-17 19:26:36 UTC - 19:26 | Permalink

          Yes, I think Peter and Cephas are the same character. And I think that in gMark the Jesus figure is usually an allegorical stand-in for Simon/Paul. (I say “usually” because he sometimes seems to represent the Son at his first descent. For instance, when the Lord comes walking over the sea to the boat in Mk. 6:45-52. That may have reference to the Son’s first crossing over to this world. He did not actually become a man; he only appeared to be one. A docetic Son, of course, was something many non-Simonian Christians found hard to accept.)

  • Giuseppe
    2014-11-17 18:07:03 UTC - 18:07 | Permalink

    Hi Roger,

    about Mark, I find this of Robert McFarlane ‘The Gospel of Mark and Judaism’ :

    ‘the interactions between Jesus and the others concerns establishing his way as the legitimate reading of the Torah. In this sense it must be said that Mark can not be characterised by anti-Judaism. Rather, Mark appears to have the qualities of a sectarian group, seeking to establish a new interpretation of Torah.’

    Mark ‘presents Jesus as a rabbi among rabbis’.

    It may be interesting evaluate where exactly the simonian gMark was catholicized. But this in your future post.

    • Roger Parvus
      2014-11-17 19:35:45 UTC - 19:35 | Permalink

      Thank you Giuseppe. Yes, I suspect that, just as Simonian letters were reworked to turn them into the canonical letters of a proto-orthodox Paul, a Simonian gMark was subsequently reworked to turn it into proto-orthodox gMark.

  • George Hall
    2014-11-25 10:55:07 UTC - 10:55 | Permalink

    Up to recently I’d have still given the idea of Simon as big in this whole subject. But having had a look at a couple of Talmudic references to Herod Agrippa (there is no I or II in the Talmudic record), I’m gonna have to consider Simon only a side-track.

    Unless of course the person we think of as Simon was the “Shmone” (eightness). Not a name but a title/description. And remember how even in Justin Martyr the number eight was hugely significant.

    I have the link to the Talmudic reference down way deep in my bookmarks, but it was a section speaking of Herod Agrippa as a/the “Standing one.”

    That sort of pencils “Simon Magus” out of the picture for me.

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