Markus Vinzent's Blog

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The two recensions and editions of Marcion's Gospel

Tertullian reports in his polemic against Marcion's Gospel how Marcion himself complaint about those who must have nicked his text, plagiarised and published it, even before he himself could do so:

How absurd it would be that when we have proved ours the older, and that Marcion's has emerged later, ours should be taken to have been false before it had from the truth material, and Marcion's be believed to have suffered plagiarism through ours [Luke, or Matthew] before it [= Marcion’s] was even published:[1]

This most important information of Tertullian has so far, if I am not mistaken, never been picked up by any scholar: Tertullian reports that Marcion – apparently still in his Antitheses – did explain that Luke (or is Tertullian referring this to Matthew?) was ‘plagiarism’ (aemulatio) of his own Gospel, and, even more importantly, that this plagiarism occurred even before Marcion had edited and published (editum) his own Gospel – which he seems to have done in conjunction with the Antitheses in which he drew attention to the unauthorised publication of the appropriated, interpolated and judaized version of his own Gospel.
From this information we have to draw that we are dealing not with only one version of Marcion’s Gospel, but with two different editions and possibly recensions!
The first was the unauthorised version of the Gospel which ‘suffered plagiarism’, must have gone out of the circle in which Marcion had distributed it, it was copied and altered. The text of this edition/recension which was obviously only intended for internal use, a so-called 'memorandum' or 'apomnemoneuma' can no longer be retrieved.
The second recension, the edition of which was undertaken by Marcion himself. In this Marcion responded already critically to the plagiarised version of his first edition, hence took notice of and potentially may have also revised his previous recension. Calling the altered version a ‘copy’, Marcion certainly acknowledged that the plagiarised product was based on his own, older text. The reason for himself to formally publish his own version, was of course the challenge by the plagiarised version. And in order to defend his own product, he added first the Antitheses and combined the Gospel with the ten Pauline letters, certainly not, as we can learn from this process, because he wanted to evangelize the world – and he certainly had never dreamt that his initial work would be further copied and eventually lead to the fourfold New Testament (and to harmonizations of it). Instead, his publication was a direct reaction against the case of plagiarism in self-defense. When Geoffrey M. Hahneman in his book on the Canon Muratori states that ‘Marcion’s basic intent appears to have been to recover a lost tradition’, we can certainly agree, but the quoted text of Tertullian goes against his further view that ‘there is no direct evidence that Marcion knew or excluded other gospels. So far as is known, Marcion never polemized against the other gospel traditions.’[2] Although we are not aware that Marcion knew of more than the one plagiarism, we do not know whether he is talking about Luke (it could also be Matthew, as Tertullian calles the latter often ‘our’ Gospel) or another version. Having said that Marcion, according to the above quote, was highly critical of the copy made of his Gospel, to the extent that he wrote his Antitheses and published his New Testament, the question still needs to be answered whether Marcion intentionally excluded other writings, as Tertullian claims (disallowing Rev., 1-2Tim., Tit.[3]), and thought of his New Testament as a ‘closed’ collection. If, what would need further research, later Marcionites altered and broadened Marcion’s text, we may have to do with a collection that was meant to be ‘specific’ but not ‘fixed’.[4]
As Tertullian begins his own commentary of Marcion’s Gospel with reference to Marcion’s Antitheses which Marcion has added to the second recension, his publication of the Gospel, he had only knowledge of this second recension.

[1] Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 4,2: ‘Alioquin quam absurdum, ut, si nostrum antiquius probaverimus, Marcionis vero posterius, et nostrum ante videatur falsum quam habuerit de veritate materiam, et Marcionis ante credatur aemulationem a nostro expertum quam et editum.’
[2] G.M. Hahneman, The Muratorian Fragment (1992), 91.
[3] See Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 5,2; V 21.
[4] This differentiation in G.M. Hahneman, The Muratorian Fragment (1992), 91f. (ibid. more about later Marcionites).

Friday, 9 December 2011

Forgiveness of sins in Baptism - irrespective of repentance

Marcion’s theology of the ‘Church’, the foundation for his understanding of baptism, can be found in his readings of Eph. 5:22-32 and Gal. 4:26; he saw the antithesis between the Creator’s Synagogue and the God of Love’s ‘holy Church’. Tertullian reports about Marcion’s interpretation of Galatians:
Two revelations, as I see they have translated it – the one from Mount Sinai referring to the synagogue of the Jews, which according to the law gendereth to bondage: the
other gendering above all principality, power, and domination, and every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come: for she is our mother, that holy church, in whom we have expressed our faith: and consequently he adds, So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
There is a strict antithesis between bondage and freedom, between the old revelation from the Mount Sinai referring to the synagogue, and the new one which stands ‘above all principality, power, and domination’ and is delivered to the ‘holy Church’. The Church is ‘our mother’, also the bride and therefore the replacement of matrimony and family which, according to Marcion, were the old ‘type and figure of the mystery’, but now set forth ‘by him to whom also the mystery belonged’, namely the unknown God. This God of Love did away with any bondage when he revealed himself in Christ to his free and holy Church.[2] Tertullian’s quote teaches us that Marcion also knew of an ‘expression of faith’ into this ‘holy Church’, and in a further note, Tertullian points out that, also he is not sure about the details, baptism is connected with a ‘confession of the Name’.[3]
According to Marcion’s theology, confirmed by this quote by Tertullian in which he tries to drive Marcion’s thinking ad absurdum, the remission of sins happens as a free gift from the loving God, not bound to repentance, but expressed by an engagement into a new life. Tertullian mentions that Marcion has read his message in Colossians 1:13f.: ‘He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’.[4] Hence, for Marcion, remission of sins is connected with baptism, as otherwise Tertullian could not use it in his counter-argument, but baptism is unrelated to repentance and, in consequence, to judgement. The loosing of the bonds of death is a separation from a life’s submission to the Creator and his law. Baptism is a new, a spiritual birth, in contrast to the corporeal birth, in which the soul receives the Holy Spirit. How Marcion envisaged this remission of sin to take place, is illustrated in the story of ‘Jesus Healing a Withered Hand’ (par. Luke 6:1-11), the same that we already introduced above on fasting.
Here, however, with regards to the forgiveness of sin we approach the core of this story, as can be seen in the version that is attested for Marcion’s Gospel:[5]
1:23 Just then some men <carried> a paralyzed man <on a stretcher. They were trying to bring him in and place him before Jesus. 1:24 When Jesus saw their faith he said:
‘Friend,> your sins are forgiven.’
1:25 <Then the experts in the Law and the Pharisees began to say to themselves:>
‘Who is this man <who is uttering blasphemies?>
Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
1:26 <When Jesus perceived their hostile thoughts, he said to them:
‘Why are you raising objections within yourselves? 1:27 Which is easier, to say,> ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or <to say,> ‘Stand up and take the mat’? 1:28 <‘But so that> you may know <that> the Son of Man has authority <on earth> to forgive sins’, <he said to the paralyzed man:
‘I tell you,> stand up, take your mat, <and go’,
and he went home’, glorifying God. 1:29 Then astonishment seized them all, and they were filled with> fear, <saying:
We have seen> incredible things <today.’
The pericope starts with Jesus teaching and people gathering for seeing him to be healed. Pharisees and teachers of Law are around too who are also teaching. A paralyzed man is being brought who is not only going to be healed by Jesus, but also taken as an example to state another case: that the ‘Son of Man’ is forgiving sins. The scene ends almost stereotypically or at least, as one would expected: The healed glorifies God, the rest freezes in astonishment, fear and the unbeliefer’s statement: ‘We have seen incredible things today’.
The ‘Son of Man’ who can forgive sins, is the hot topic of this story, and, as the counter argument reveals, it remained Marcion’s view that this title worked against its Old Testament figure of Daniel and human insights. It should not be taken allegorically, and, therefore, was not it in harmony with any of the Jewish or non-Pauline writings. Interestingly, the entire question of ‘forgiveness of sins’ and whether or not it involves judgement and repentance (so Tertullian’s view), or unconditional love (so Marcion’s), is a debate which, as Tim Carter has recently shown in his King’s Patristic Seminar, takes place around the mid second century, starting with Marcion. The Epistula Apostolorum, an anti-Marcionite half-Marcionite text, as I have elsewhere shown,[6] has preserved us a summary of beliefs which is shorter and misses out elements which this work elsewhere endorses, but in the given form represents a strongly Marcionite character:
They are a picture of our faith concerning the great Christianity and that is
1)       In the Father, the ruler of the entire world, and
2)       In Jesus Christ our Saviour, and
3)       In the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, and
4)       In the holy Church, and
5)       In the forgiveness of sins.
While we have seen that the belief in the ‘holy Church’ was part of Marcion’s creedal statement, EpAp 5 makes it likely that it also encompassed the belief ‘in the forgiveness of sins’. And what the Ethiopian version of EpAp 42 reports could have been written by Marcion himself: ‘Truly, truly I say to you, you will be called fathers, for you, full of love and compassion, have revealed to them what [is] heaven [… for] by my hand they will receive the baptism of life and forgiveness of sin … and they shall have forgiveness of sins and eternal life and a share of the kingdom.’ Although Hermas knows of the link between baptism and forgiveness of sins, he struggles with the question of people who sin again after they had received the forgiveness of sins in baptism.[7] But contrary to Marcion, Hermas maintains that forgiveness of sins is based on repentance. Astonishingly, Luke only knows of this link between forgiveness of sins and repentance in those sections which have no parallel in Marcion’s Gospel (Luke 1:76-7; 3:3; 24:47; see also Acts 2:38: ‘Repent and by baptized’; 5:31-2), but it is missing in such core places as the account of the last supper where Matth. 26:28 states: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’, but Luke 22:20 and Marcion’s Gospel have the Pauline formula (1Cor. 11:25: ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’): ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood’. If, as most NT scholars assume (following Irenaeus and Tertullian), Luke has been written prior to Marcion’s Gospel, than it is very difficult to explain why the link between repentance and forgiveness of sins has such a central place in those sections which have no parallel in Marcion (i.e., the beginning and end of Luke) but not in the passages which are also present in the latter’s Gospel. But if one inverts the chronological order, it becomes perfectly clear. While Luke preserved most of Marcion’s Gospeltext, the non-Marcionite link between baptism and repentance only appear in those sections which were added to Marcion’s Gospel. Be this, as one may judge, it seems a reasonable hypothesis to assume that Marcion’s baptismal statement included both, the ‘holy Church’ (Gal. 4:26) and the ‘forgiveness of sins’ (Col. 1:13f.).
Marcion’s baptism left significant traces in Church history. It entailed a radical forgiveness of sins (without any form of repentance), but also asked for strict ascetic demands (sexual renouncement, virginity) and was apparently often delayed to late in life. Not all elements were retained by the Roman Church and especially his ascetic emphasis reduced, but we learn from a quote by bishop Stephen of Rome (cited by Cyprian) that even in mid third century Rome the sacramental bonds between the different communities (that of Stephens and those of Marcionites and others) were not broken, ‘since those who are specially heretics do not baptize those who come to them from one another, but only receive them to communion.’[8] As Cyprian’s Epistle 74 further details, the reception must have been a mutual one and Stephen must especially have thought of Marcionite communities in his city. The bond of sacramental unity that is unimaginable for Cyprian was obviously still reality at Rome, a sacramental and liturgical acceptance because of much common grounds and despite some significant differences in theologies and rites.

[1] Tert., Adv. Marc. V 4.
[2] See Tert., Adv. Marc. V 18; see also Adolf von Harnack, Marcion: Das Evangelium vom fremden Gott (Leipzig, 1923. 21924 = Darmstadt, 1960), 143.
[3] Tert., Adv. Marc. I 24.
[4] See Tert., Adv. Marc. V 19.
[5] The vers numberings are taken from my forthcoming edition and commentary of Marcion’s Gospel. Brackets indicate where text is unattested for, but probably part of this Gospel, underlined if these parts are at least hinted at in Tertullian or other sources. The re-construction of this text is to a large extent hypothetical and looks like some re-stored fragments of one or more papyri. In a certain sense, the re-construction work was even more difficult in this case than working on a papyri, as the papyri sometimes give the scholar at least a defined framework, fixed lines, or a text with known lacunae, the number of missing characters asf. Unfortunately, all of this is not given in the present case. And still, we had not working entirely in the dark. Tertullian, although being a fierce opponent of Marcion and his Gospel, is so engaged and entangled with the text that in his opening paragraphs of Book IV, chapter 10 he summarizes our pericope of Marcion’s Gospel, so that we know that the story of the paralyzed followed the healing of the leper, and he also gives a few quotes of Marcion’s text. Mostly, however, we have to deduce further fragments from Tertullian’s broader counter-arguments. This makes the task extraordinarily difficult. Any conclusions which we draw below is, therefore, either restricted to the few verbal quotes that he gives, or, as we will indicate, are subject to the uncertainty of what we tried to reconstruct. One help was the seeming variants that are preserved in Codex Bezae (D), as these not only strenghthen the narrative, but also underline the theological message. The guiding elements for the reconstruction, was, of course, Tertullian’s witness, aided by the overall necessity for a coherent narrative. Verses, which Tertullian does not attest, are included, if they are necessary for the story line.
[6] M. Vinzent, Christ’s Resurrection (2011), 128-35.
[7] Hermas, Mand. IV 3,1-3.
[8] Stephen in Cyprian, Ep. 73,4.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Review of Mark Edwards on my book on 'Christ's Resurrection in Early Christianity'

The publishers kindly sent me through a review that was published in 'Church Times' on 2 December 2011:

Mark Edward picks up the question of the 'argumentum e silencio', on which I entirely agree. And he is absolutely right, silence can mean both that people believed or did not believe in the Resurrection. To assume, therefore, as a principle that they did believe in the Resurrection right from the start, as hundreds of years of scholarship and schoolbooks let us know, is therefore not the only true option. The other has not been seen yet, and therefore, is being tried out here in this book.
Now, if we have two potential options - it comes down to, how to way the arguments. As I admit in the book, sheer silence (especially in homiletic literature) could mean both, but the interesting element which is not highlighted in the review is that all the many texts that are dealt with in this book do talk about salvation, talk about incarnation, talk about death and sacrifice and that these are the salvific acts of Christ. Moreover, as I show in chapter 3 - Easter, Baptism and Sunday have been centered around Christ's death, so that, for example, up until the end of the second century there was only one unanimous definition for Easter, namely the celebration of Christ's death. Does this not let the pendulum swing towards the proposed solution?

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Meiste Eckhart's innovative Trinitarian theology - a paper given at the RIST seminar, King's College London

Summary of Markus Vinzent’s paper
by Susannah Ticciasi, King's College

In his paper, Markus offers an account of Meister Eckhart’s innovative Trinitarian theology, showing quite how radical and challenging it is in relation to the tradition, claiming that it ‘destroys a whole system of inherited philosophical theology’. He also indicates the profound ramifications it has for the place of creation in relationship with God.

As Markus shows, Eckhart’s key innovation is to locate the divine potential for generating and being generated, not in the divine Persons, but in the divine essence. This allows the Persons to share even more than they are traditionally conceived to share, since the Father (not generating through his personal properties but through the divine essence) is able to pass on to the Son even the potential to generate. Thus, generativity is a property of transcendental divine essence. Moreover, once the ground of God is reconceived in this way, Eckhart claims that it is more properly named mother than father, since it is a mother’s work to conceive. Motherhood precedes and grounds fatherhood within the Godhead, even in respect of the person of the Father, who conceives the Word. Indeed, as Markus puts it, ‘motherhood, therefore, is a description of the transcen­dentality of divine essence which allows for fatherhood, sonship, spiritness and creation’. The concept of fatherhood has a more delimited appropriateness in relation to the Father’s activity as expressed in the Son, which is an intellectual work.

The consequence of this rethinking of the divine essence is that it is no longer understood to contain differentiation, but rather is pure potentiality: God’s maternal nature is ‘detachment’. However, this also has far-reaching implications for creation, since God’s potentiality for fatherhood, sonship and spiritness is no longer any different from God’s potentiality for creation. It now becomes clear why Markus began his paper with an account of creation as, like God, ‘beyond eternity’. God is no longer to be opposed to creation as the eternal to the temporal, since creation is invited fully to share in God’s life.

The question this leaves me with is whether distinction between God and creation is nevertheless maintained, as one might infer from Eckhart’s phrase, ‘God is distinct by virtue of being indistinct’. And Markus himself claims that Eckhart does not want to confound God and creation. Such a question, as well as many others which are raised by this fascinating and provocative paper, are a compelling invitation to read the book, just published, whose first chapter is a version of Markus’ paper:

Markus Vinzent, The Art of Detachment (Eckhart: Texts and Studies, Volume 1; Peeters, 2011).

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Call for papers - Prize in Patristic Exegesis with focus on Africa

The Institute for Classical Christian Studies and the Center for Early African Christianity announced last week at the International Patristic Studies Conference held at Oxford University its 1st annual award for the best paper(s) in Patristic Exegesis. (Please see Announcement below.) We are very excited about this new initiative and believe it will encourage young scholars to venture more deeply into patristic studies in a way that is illuminating for church and society today.






 Topic: Any subject that advances the thesis of the Ancient Christian Commentary, that patristic commentators on scripture bear incomparable wisdom for contemporary Christian teaching. The subject areas investigated may be in theology, liturgy, linguistics, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, or in ecumenical, historical and socio-cultural studies.   A translation of a previously untranslated patristic text may be submitted. Untranslated Arabic, Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian texts are to be given special consideration.

Manuscripts:  The paper must be a previously unpublished manuscript submitted in English. The manuscript may be submitted in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese or Korean (all languages in which the ACCS is being translated), but if selected the writer would be responsible for translating it into English. Manuscripts selected may be submitted simultaneously to peer-reviewed journals, or may be published digitally in English for the international community of readers, teachers, and patristic scholarship.

 Length: approx. 5,000-10,000 words.

 Assessment: Manuscripts will be assessed by quality of argumentation, clarity of exposition, significance of the position argued, degree to which the paper advances the topic under discussion, contribution to global Christianity, depth of understanding of the ancient Christian writers.

African Focus: Since the Institute for Classical Study was founded by the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Project, and since the ACCS project, having been completed, is now focused on early African Christianity, we especially welcome contributions from African scholars or by other scholars on topics of patristic studies regarded texts written on the continent of Africa.

Deadline: August 1, 2012. Submit manuscript to the Institute for Classical Christian Studies, c/o Dr. Michael Glerup at the address below. The award will be announced by November 2012.

For more info please email: or visit

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

How can God be beyond himself?

A summary of a paper given in the RIST seminar, King's College London

In his Philosophical Consolation, Boethius defined ‘eternity’ as ‘totally simultaneous and perfect possession of interminable life.’[1] Where Meister Eckhart (ca. 1260-1329) refers to this quote,[2] he highlights Boethius’ dynamic concept of life (vita) with a God who simply is present: ‘God is “beyond” eternity because of his presentiality.’[3] Now, how can be beyond eternity,[4] beyond being endlessly divine? Eckhart’s reasoning starts with an explanation of Ex. 15:18: ‘The Lord will reign for ever and beyond.’
This hyperbolic ‘and beyond’, which goes further even than ‘for ever’, caught Eckhart’s attention. To Eckhart, the conventional reading of eternity reduced to a radical presentiality was ‘not subtle enough’. Whereas for Thomas Aquinas neither have there been, nor will there be infinite things in reality,[5] since, as he understands his Catholic faith, generation has a beginning and will have a definite end and therefore cannot be infinite,[6] to Eckhart, Ex. 15:18 ‘plainly and briefly intends to say that God’s kingdom will always and infinitely stand beyond any measure of counting or conceiving’.[7] In what is almost no more than a further allusion, Eckhart adds what turns out to be the core of his explanation: ‘What goes for God’s knowledge is equally true about his kingdom and rule. “We will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and beyond that” (Mi. 4:5).’[8] Whereas before Eckhart was speaking of divine knowledge only in which God understands infinite potentiality and actuality, the reference to Mi. 4:5 transfers divine knowledge to ‘us’, to God’s creatures. God’s being beyond himself means that he is enabling ‘us’ to walk in God’s name forever ‘and beyond’. What this walking of creatures in God’s name entails is further expounded in the newly published first volume of Markus Vinzent, The Art of Detachment, Meister Eckhart: Texts and Studies (Leuven, 2011):

[1] Boethius, Phil. Consol. V pr. VI (CSEL LXVII 122,12): ‘Aeternitas igitur est interminabilis vitae tota simul et perfecta possessio’, adapted from Plotinus, Enn. III 7,3,37-8.
[2] Eckhart, Expositio libri Exodi n. 80 (LW II 84,3-9).
[3] Eckhart, Expositio libri Exodi n. 80 (LW II 84,3): ‘Deus est ultra aeterna praesentialitate’ (trans. of this and further passages from this Expositio by B. McGinn, in Meister Eckhart: Teacher and Preacher, 1986, 71, trans. altered).
[4] An idea, already present in Proclos, see Proclos, Elem. 87; C.J. de Vogel, Some reflections on the Liber de causis (1966), 78.
[5] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. II/1, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Thomas F. Torrance (Edinburgh, 1957), 567.
[6] Thomas Aquinas, S. c. gent. I c. 69.
[7] Eckhart, Expositio libri Exodi n. 86 (LW II 89,4-6): ‘Ultimo breviter et plane, cum dicitur: dominus regnavit in aeternum et ultra, vult dicere quod ultra quam possit numerari aut cogitari semper in infinitum stabit regnum eius’ (trans. by B. McGinn in Meister Eckhart: Teacher and Preacher, 1986, 73).
[8] Eckhart, Expositio libri Exodi n. 86 (LW II 89,4-6): ‘Et sicut est de scientia dei, sic pari ratione est de regno ipsius et regimine, Mich. 4: ambulabimus in nomine domini dei nostri in aeternum et ultra’ (trans. by B. McGinn in Meister Eckhart: Teacher and Preacher, 1986, 73).

Saturday, 19 November 2011

First International Congress on Patristic Studies: “The Identity of Jesus: Unity and Diversity in the Patristic Period”


In the name of the Universidad Católica de Cuyo, we have the pleasure to announce the First International Congress on Patristic Studies. The main topic of discussion will be: “The Identity of Jesus: Unity and Diversity in the Patristic Period”.
This event will be held in San Juan on days 8, 9 and 10 August 2012 and the four official languages of the congress are spanish, english, italian and french.
Thematic subjects
Speakers can submit works related to the following thematic areas:
 -Jesus of Nazareth and his identity: new discussions on “Historical Jesus” and “Christ of faith”
 -Devotion to Jesus in Christianity of the first centuries
 -Different Christian trends and schools: Jewish-Christians, Prothocatholics, Gnostics.
 -Different trends  and different evangelic genres: the sayings of Gospel Q, canonical gospels, apocryphal gospels, gnostic gospels.
-The identity of Jesus in the historical record of the time..
 -The identity of Jesus and the social world of his time.
 -The identity of Jesus in the writings of the patristic writers.
 -Current and authors against the divinity of Jesus, Celsus, Porphyry, etc
 -The high Christology and the Alexandrian tradition: Bible Greek, Judaism and hellenized Christianity.
 -Christology and liturgy in the patristic age.
 - Representations about the person of Jesus in literature and art of Christian antiquity.
 - Unity and diversity of the experience of the resurrection of Jesus.
 -The Identity of Jesus and the philosophical and theological discussions in the councils of the early centuries

For more information, please, consult our website:

I look forward to your attendance

Yours sincerely
Pbro. Lic. Ángel Hernández - Dra. Patricia Andrea Ciner
Universidad Católica de Cuyo
Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades
Escuela de Cultura Religiosa
Instituto de Estudios Patrísticos
Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios Integrales
Av. José Ignacio de la Roza 1516
Rivadavia - San Juan - Argentina C.P. (5400)
Tel.: (+54) (264) 4292300 Fax: (+54) (264) 4292310
General Objectives
Clarify/ elucidate, through the analyses of different sources, the unity and diversity of theological, philosophical, historical, social, liturgical, artistic positions, etc. about the identity of Jesus in the Patristic times.
Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, Escuela de Cultura Religiosa, Instuto de Estudios Patrísticos (IEP) and Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios Integrales (CIDEI) fro Universidad Católica de Cuyo.
Academic Committee:
Dr. Francisco García Bazán
Dr. Oscar Velásquez
Dr. Héctor Padrón
Dr. María Isabel Larrauri
Dr. Rubén Peretó Rivas
Dr. Juan Carlos Alby
Dr. José Antonio Antón Pacheco
Executive Commitee:
Lic. Jorge Bernat (Decano de la Facultad de Filosofía),
Pbro. Dr. José Juan García (Director de la Escuela de
Cultura Religiosa), Pbro. Lic. Ángel Bartolomé
Hernández (Director IEP);Pbro. Lic. Pedro Fernández
(Director CIDEI) Pbro. Marcelo Alcayaga Dra. Patricia
Ciner ; Mgter. Susana Villalonga, Pbro. Lic. Leonardo
Pons, Lic. José Antonio Carrascosa , Pbro. Ariel Ayala,
Srita. María de los Ángeles González.

L'apolegetica in John Henry Newman e nei Padri di IV e V secolo

Congress on apologetics in John Henry Cardinal Newman and the Fathers of the 4th and the 5th century, organized by the Pontificia Facoltà Teologica di Sicilia "San Giovanni Evangelista" and the Istituto Siciliano di Studi Patristici e Tardoantichi "J. H. Newman", che si svolgerà a Palermo dal 25 al 26 novembre c.a.

Friday, 18 November 2011

How to date Mark? And what Marcion has to contribute

What are the ‘inconclusive … few hints’ that have been advanced 'that Mark's Gospel is earlier than Matthew's and Luke's'? According to Mark Goodacre and many others before (and after) him:

The most decisive pointer is the question of whether or not the Gospels refer, however obliquely, to the key events of 70 CE, when Jerusalem was overrun by the Roman army after the Jewish War beginning in 66 CE. Matthew and Luke both seem to provide hints that they know of the events of 70.[1]
The first hint has been found in Matth. 23:37-9 par. Luke 13:34-5, especially of interest to us, as these Lukan verses are explicitly mentioned as being absent from Marcion’s Gospel:[2]

Luke 13:34-5
Matth. 23:37-9
13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 13:35 Look, your house is forsaken!                         And I tell you, you will
not see me                until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Ps. 118:26)
23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 23:38 Look, your house is left to you desolate! 23:39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Ps. 118:26)

This is a passage from the Double Tradition that is missing in Mark. Almost literally identical in Luke and Matthew, Jesus prophetically announces ‘dramatic events to take place in Jerusalem’, ‘words that would have much more poignancy in a post-70 situation. “Your house”, Jerusalem’s house, clearly refers to the Temple, which in the post-70 period indeed lay “forsaken” and in ruins.’[3] Similarly, Matth. 22:4-8 has been taken as a reference to the destruction of the Temple:

Matth. 22:4-8
Luke 13:17-24
22:4 Again he sent other slaves, saying,
‘Tell those who have been invited,
“Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”’
22:5 But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm,

another to his business.

22:6 The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. 22:7 The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire.

Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy.
14:17 At the time for the banquet he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited,
‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ 14:18

But one after another they all began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please excuse me.’ 14:19 Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going out to examine them. Please excuse me.’ 14:20 Another said, ‘I just got married, and I cannot come.’

14:21 So the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the master of the household was furious and said to his slave, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 14:22 Then the slave said, ‘Sir, what you instructed has been done, and there is still room.’ 14:23 So the master said to his slave, ‘Go out to the highways and country roads and urge people to come in, so that my house will be filled. 14:24 For I tell you, not one of those individuals who were invited will taste my banquet!’”

Goodacre comments: ‘The thing that is so striking here is the extent to which this element [of the furious king who sends his soldiers and burns the city] intrudes into a story that can be told quite adequately without it (as in Luke and Thomas). It may be that Matthew is thinking here of the fall of Jerusalem.’[4] In other places Matthew and Luke are more detailed than Mark, from which the conclusion is drawn that they have redacted Mark in the light of the tragic events in Jerusalem, although, it is again admitted, that the evidence ‘is not decisive’ as with Matth. 24:15.21-2 // Mark 13:14.19-20 // Luke 21:20-4,[5] another important passage, as we are told again that Marcion’s Gospel does not display the verses Luke 21:21-2:[6]

Luke 21:20-4
Mark 13:14-20
Matth. 24:15-22
21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.

21:21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it,

21:22 because these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
21:23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days!

For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people.

They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
13:14 “But when you see

the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be

(let the reader understand),
then those                          in Judea must flee to the mountains. 13:15 The one on the roof must not come down or go inside to take anything out of his house. 13:16 The one in the field     must not turn back to get his cloak.

Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! 13:18 Pray that it may not be in winter.

For in those days there will be suffering unlike anything
that has happened from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, or ever will happen.

And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved. But because of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut them short.
13:21 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe him. 13:22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, the elect. 13:23 Be careful! I have told you everything ahead of time.
24:15 “So when you see

the abomination of desolation – spoken about by Daniel the prophet – standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 24:16 then those                    in Judea must flee to the mountains. 24:17 The one on the roof must not come down                     to take anything out of his house, 24:18 and the one in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.

24:19 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! 24:20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.
24:21 For then there will be  great suffering unlike anything that has happened from the beginning of the world until now, or ever will happen.

And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

W. Marxsen sees the ‘sings’ of Mark 13:5-14 ‘that are thought of as taking place in the present (wars, rumours of wars, etc.)’[7] pointing ‘to the period of the Jewish War (A.D. 66-70) before the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70)’[8] and Goodacre claims that ‘it is clear that Luke in particular is more specific than Mark’, but this is only partly true. Yes, Luke (like Marcion) speaks openly about Jesus’ announcement of a ‘Jerusalem surrounded by armies’ and ‘trampled down by the Gentiles’, but if one believes that Mark is not specific, this would also account for Matthew who is closely parallel to Mark, not Luke here.[9] Luke (and Marcion) give historical details, and yet, if we read Mark like Matthew attentively, it does not sound as if Jesus spoke ‘obliquely’[10] about the ‘desolation’, because the reference to Dan. 9:27, made explicit in Matthew, was a clear pointer for everyone who knew the Scriptures, a prophetic saying that was not only as drastic and detailed as Luke, but that also provided a theological explanation of the historical events:
9:25 So know and understand:
From the issuing of the command to restore and rebuild
Jerusalem until an anointed one, a prince arrives,
there will be a period of seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.
It will again be built, with plaza and moat,
but in distressful times.
9:26 Now after the sixty-two weeks,
an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing.
As for the city and the sanctuary,
the people of the coming prince will destroy them.
But his end will come speedily like a flood.
Until the end of the war that has been decreed
there will be destruction.
9:27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one week.
But in the middle of that week
he will bring sacrifices and offerings to a halt.
On the wing of abominations will come one who destroys,
until the decreed end is poured out on the one who destroys.”
Whereas in Luke (and Marcion), Jesus is the one who prophecies in his own words, Mark and Matthew make him use Daniel’s prophecy to express the similar message: Jerusalem will be restored and rebuild, but it will be the task of the Messiah. Prior to this reconstruction (the hope of which was a lively one around the times of the Bar Kochba revolt in 132-6 AD), there will be distressful times. Even the Messiah ‘will be cut off and have nothing’. Against Luke’s (and Marcion’s) blaming of the Gentiles, by using Daniel Mark and Matthew make the destruction the work of ‘the people of the coming prince’ and the Messiah, who by destroying the Temple and the city, by halting ‘sacrifices and offerings’ is ‘the one who destroys’. Hence, it seems that all three, Matthew, Mark and Luke (and also Marcion) knew of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, supported in Mark by Mark 15:29 and 15:38 (‘Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days” … 15:38 And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom’),[11] and also by the parable of the tenants (Mark 12:1-12), where in v. 9 ‘the catastrophe of the year 20 is indicated’.[12]
Let us compare Marcion’s gospel with the ‘missing verses’ of Luke 21:21-2 and Luke to see what drastic difference these ‘missing’ or ‘added’ verses make. Like Mark and Matthew also Luke sees the destruction of Jerusalem as a prophetic fulfilment of ‘all that is written’, although he does not detail which scriptural reference he has got in mind, and yet he hinted at Daniel having used the term ‘desolation’ in Luke 21:20. Of course, as we have seen from Mark and Matthew, Luke’s account, as it stands, is inconsistent. While Daniel mentions the Messiah and his people as causes for the destruction of Jerusalem, in Luke this prophecy is fulfilled by Gentiles. Only Marcion’s version without the verses Luke 21:21-2 is consistent, as here, the Daniel-hint of the desolation receives an interpretation which is not a fulfilment of this prophecy, but its correction: Against Daniel, the city and the temple will not and has not been destroyed by the Messiah and his people, but by the Gentiles. There were not ‘days of vengeance’ of the Lord, but days where ‘the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled’. Those who bring the sword and lead away captives will see that such times become fulfilled – overcome, as we will see by an all-loving God. This first comparison may give us a taste of what will be encountered later in the commentary.
Hence, it does not ‘seem that of all the evangelists, Mark is the least explicit about the events of 70’, and that this text provides ‘a potential indicator of Markan Priority’, even not a non ‘decisive’ one,[13] on the contrary, it seems that Marcion’s message has been altered by all three Synoptics in their respective ways.[14]

[1] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 68.
[2] See Epiph., Pan. XLII 11.6(41), while Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 31,1 is silent about the passage which harmonizes with Epiphanius’ statement.
[3] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 68.
[4] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 69.
[5] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 69-70.
[6] Epiph., Pan. XLII 11.6(59), again harmonizing with the silence in Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 39,9.
[7] W. Marxsen, Introduction (1968), 143.
[8] W. Marxsen, Introduction (1968), 143; G. Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus (22002), 54.
[9] See already Ph. Vielhauer, Geschichte (2nd corr. 1978), 34731.
[10] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 70.
[11] See A. Jülicher, Einleitung (1894), 304.
[12] Ph. Vielhauer, Geschichte (2nd corr. 1978), 347.
[13] M. Goodacre, The Synoptic Problem (2001), 70.
[14] More on this passage in the commentary.