Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Promise: Marcion vs. Irenaeus and Tertullian

In the early Church there are a lot of accusations made against Marcion and we only have the writings of his opponents. Many people wrote against Marcion according to Eusebius' Church History. He even names all of them! The ones that survive are Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian- these being the closest contemporaries. Irenaeus wrote around 177 and onward, Tertullian wrote around 207 and onward, and Clement of Alexandria wrote about Marcion about 198 onward. Tertullian confirms in his own writings that he used Irenaeus as a source. Clement seems to be independent of the two.

In Genesis there was a promise give to Abraham at Gen 17:5. It reads, "No longer will you be called Abram (exalted father); your name will be Abraham (father of many), for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendents after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendents after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I wll give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendents after you; I will be their God." He then stipulates, "you must keep my covenant". The covenant is that, "every male among you shall be circumcised" even household slaves who were once foreigners. Anyone not circumcised was cut off from the covenant.

The important thing to note here is that the promise is made to Abraham and his descendents; his bloodlines. If they keep the covenant by being physically circumcised then they will dwell in the land. He offers to give them land possessed by another nation of people. Basically this God agrees to steal for Abraham and his offspring! Thus when Tertullian mocks Marcion by saying his God is fickle for giving back in amnesty what he took away, he just seems a fool. Marcion was said to have believed that God would give the land back to the Jews but not to Christians. This is actually true according to the Old Testament.

Key passages and writings are Irenaeus' Against Heresies, Clement's Stromata 5.1, Tertullian's On Patience 6 and 10, On Monogamy 6, On the apparel of Women 2.2, Archelaus' Against Manes 40, the Testament of Benjamin 12, 1Clement 10, Barnabas 13, Justin's Dialogue with Trypho 92, and so on.

Tertullian admits that Marcion did not have Galatians 3:6-3:29 mentioning Abraham but only had Galatians 4:22. Paul speaks here of two covenants in Abraham's offspring. Yet God made one covenant in Genesis. For Paul to have said what is said in Galatians 3:6-29 and then say what he says in Galatians 4:22 is nothing short of contradictory in nature. Romans 4, 9, and 11, but especially Romans 4:1-16 have no leg to stand on against Galatians 4:22!

John 8 presents an even weightier problem. The Jews claim to be Abraham's seed indicating the seed is not singular but plural and then Jesus agress with them that they are naturally his seed. Jesus says his word is not in them. He asks them why they are plotting his murder when Abraham never did such works of Satan. Then in John 8:52-58 they ask how Jesus could have seen Abraham if he was not yet even 50. Irenaeus uses this to say Jesus was around 40-50 yrs old which is total garbage. Jesus often speaks about his witnesses and who testifies to him. John was his only human testimony at the Jordan. The Father, and the Holy spirit, and Christ within Jesus tesified as well.

Thus, he is in line with John 1 in which he claims he is the Logos, not the I AM of Moses. The Jews were awaiting a Messiah of David, an earthly human king, and an eternal kingdom in which no one would ever physically died. So this was a bit disappointing to hear!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Evidence of tampering in Justin's works?

It is believed that Justin established a school in Rome around 150 AD and that he wrote an apology to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and his sons Marcus Aurelius (who he calls Verisimmus, a name I have never seen attached to him) and Lucius Verus. He makes the mistake of calling Lucius "the natural son" of Pius. This mistake aside, this work is universally recognized as a work of Justin, mainly because it is quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea. There are quite a few works attributed to Justin that survive though.

  1. Discourse to the Greeks (disputed)
  2. On the Resurrection (disputed)
  3. On the Sole Government of God (disputed)
  4. Hortatory address to the Greeks (disputed, may be by Tatian)
  5. Second Apology (highly disputed)
  6. Dialogue with Trypho (acknowledged, partially disputed)
  7. First Apology (universally acknowledged)
  8. Various fragments of his works (disputed)
  9. A lost work on Heresies (invented by Irenaeus)
  10. Epistle to Diognetus (disputed)
  11. An exposition of the true faith (false work used by Calvin)
  12. Martyrdom of Justin (not by Justin but included in AnteNicene Fathers vol. 1 under Justin)

Only two of the above are recognized as indisputably Justin's. The Second Apology mentions Urbicus and the First mentions the Emperor and his sons. Trypho was a "Hebrew" from Judea who had escaped the bar Kokhba revolt around 136 AD under Hadrian. He was living in Corinth, Greece. This means that Justin was writing between 132 AD when the war started and 160 AD when Urbicus was prefect. This man became Prefect of Rome around 146 AD.

Around the time Justin was writing, a work was composed against him titled "Treatise on the Resurrection". Many other works like "The Epistle of the Apostles" and "3Corinthians" likely date to this time. Valentinus had not been to Rome until the time of Hyginus who somehow became Bishop because the Bishop before him was martyred (see Tertullian).

Justin is know for his defense of the carnal resurrection and the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. The problem rests on the virgin birth. He had first said that the Logos was born of a virgin, without sexual union in chapter 21 of his First Apology. This is the Valentinian doctrine taken from the Gospel of John. However, Justin goes on to state in chapter 32 where Mary is the virgin and Jesus Christ is the one begotten without sexual union. This comes from the gospel of the Hebrews which states Mary was the mother of Jesus, and possibly from other infancy gospels, and the gospel of the Lord used by Valentinus and Marcion.

Thus, we see that Jesus Christ's flesh was the Logos for Justin. His God may as well be the virgin Mary herself. It seems to be evidence of later tampering by Irenaeus of Lyon from whose library we have received the writings attributed to Justin. Tertullian claims to have used both these men as a source alongside two other writers whose works are not extant.

Justin was from Flavia Neapolis in Samaria near Jacob's well. He is the first to speak of men believing in two gods (Marcion and Cerdon's error) and of Simon Magus. Justin shows a contempt for the deified Hadrian and Antinous and yet a contempt for Jews. The date of Justin's death (165 AD) given in the Chronicon Paschale cannot be maintained one bit. The latest possible date is 160 AD. Ptolemaeus the Valentinian is said by Justin to have died before him and it is likely that Marcion and Valentinus may have died alongside Justin. Polycarp likely died in 142 AD.

Justin is the first to attempt to find Jesus in every old testament prophecy. The martyrdom of Justin is the first to mention him dying under the Prefect Rusticus. Justin claimed to have been a member of the church of Martinus, this being the only meeting of Christians he was aware of in Rome. Chariton, Charito, Euelpistus, Hierax, Paeon, and Liberianus were with him confessing to be Christians. Some were from Iconium and Cappadocia and either learned Christianity from Justin or their parents. All of them were decapitated because they were citizens.

In reply to Trypho, Justin has to invent the second coming based on Daniel. Trypho objected that Daniel had said Christ would be glorious and claims he upholds the law and prophets. Daniel saying Christ would be glorious could thus be seen as contradicting Isaiah 53. No Jew in the lifetime of Jesus considered Daniel a prophet. This was done to test Justin's true knowledge, which was no knowledge at all.

Justin is claimed to have lived above the Timotinian baths at Rome and knew not of any other Christians than those he died with and Martinus' house where Christians met. There was no mention of a Pope or any of this. Justin actually calls the man he met Father. No bishops or Popes were from Flavia Neapolis!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lying scribes video

Luke 11:37-54 examined.
11:49-50 added by a Latin author.
11:51 shows familiarity with the Gospel of James 12:9-16.
Marcion's version 11:48-52 flows smoothly.

The word 'gnosis' appears in Luke 11:52 but not in the parallel passage of Matthew.

I discuss P72 in the video as well. It is humorous that this passage goes against the Sermon on the mount in Matthew in which Jesus proclaims not to call your brother a fool!

The Six Woes
"When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
Then the Lord said to him, 'Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside made the inside also? But give what is inside the dish (what you have) to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
Woe to you Pharisees, because you give a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.'
One of the experts in the law answered him, 'Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.'
Jesus replied, 'And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift a finger to help them.
'Woe to you, because you build tombs foor the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your fathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.'
["Because of this, God in his wisdom said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute'. Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all."]
"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key of Gnosis. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering."
When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say." (Luke 11:37-11:54; 11:49-51 not found in the Gospel of the Lord).
Matthew 23 dedicates a full chapter to this scene. However, it is ade to occur early in Luke and very late in Matthew, after the Triumphal entry in a crowd at the Temple rather than in a Pharisee's house. The passage is also embarassing because it contradicts the teaching of Jesus that no one is responsible for their fathers' sins. In John's passage on the children of Abraham and children of Satan the same is done.

Romans 1-5 criticism

Romans 1

New International Version (NIV)
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God
[2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life[a] was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from[c] faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.] (interpolation by an author using the letters of Ignatius of Antioch).

Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, believers,[d] that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes

[: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.] (interpolation against the concept of impartiality)

17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last

[,[e] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith."] (interpolation intended to Judaize, inserted from the Habbukuk pesher in the dead sea scrolls by infiltrators).

God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

[19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.] (interpolation by a Latin redactor. Suspect: Tertullian of Carthage).

Romans 2

God’s Righteous Judgment

[2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.] (interpolation by a Latin redactor. Suspect: Tertullian of Carthage).
2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself

[for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done."] (senseless interpolation to Judaize and overemphasize the Old Testament which is not the purpose of Paul's Epistle). 

7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil:

[first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;] (interpolation) 

10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good

[: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.]

11 [For] God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (note here that Paul's idea of the Law is not the Jews idea of the Law. See Ptolemy to Flora).

14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)

[16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.]

The Jews and the Law

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?

24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”[b] (This passage is likely authentic as it is Paul using Isaiah to show the hypocrisy of the Jews as Jesus did.)

25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the[c] written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Romans 3

God’s Faithfulness

[1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:
“So that you may be proved right when you speak
and prevail when you judge.”[a]

5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!] (this argument was never made by infidels so this passage is quite problematic.)

No One Is Righteous

9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that [Jews] Barbarians and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10

As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”[b]
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”[c]
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[d]
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”[f]
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]
(Above he uses Psalms and Isaiah against the Jews and it is quite authentically Paul)
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. (This stance is seen as overriding the law and accusations were made that this derides the prophets. However, many of the prophets like Isaiah know of no such law of Moses).

22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (add: to cover all our sins with his love).

25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.] (interpolation by Pharisees at Rome who editted the letter received from Paul at one of the Roman synagogues).

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God [,] who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Romans 4

Abraham Justified by Faith (Marcion was accused of cutting "Abraha out of the inheritance" and we find many arguments on this in 1Clement, James, etc.)

4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about.
[—but not before God.]
3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]
4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 “Blessed are those
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”[b]
9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!
11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. (This can be read as cutting Abraham out of being in line with the Jews as his inheritance. This is why the church fathers hated Marcion's stance on Abraham).
[12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.] (interpolation used to clean up the passage and sanitize for Orthodox consumption).
13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all
[Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[c] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.] (interpolation for Orthodox consumption).

[18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.] (likely interpolation) 

22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness

[—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.] (Paul did believe Christ was raised but he never made this statement, it does not fit here, and it is irrelevant to the topic at hand.)

(It is not Abraham cut off from the inheritance but rather his natural born children who do not approach God in faith and accept Christ his son).

Romans 5

Peace and Hope

5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through [our Lord Jesus] Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (highly problematic passage)

Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. (the passage is ambiguous and could be read as saying that Adam did not transgress a command).
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (see P46 Chester Beatty)


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Misconceptions on Gnostic beliefs

It is common to find many matter-of-fact statements on Gnostic belief via Google all over the internet nowdays. They are often wrong though. For instance, we find the idea that Gnostics believed the Jewish God was evil and they were anti-Semites. This of course is absurd as anti-Semitism did not exist for one thing, and the idea that YHWH was evil is an interpretation based on how these people chose to read polemics. It is also conjecture on the part of Irenaeus to say that Valentinus' Christ is Simon Magus himself. These ideas are absurd because they ignore the succession of these Gnostic groups as given by the church fathers, as well as ignoring the actual beliefs of each leader and group individually.

Simon Magus is said to have tried to buy the holy spirit's power to pass it on via the laying on of hands from Peter. Enemies of Paul were said to have charged for the teaching. Simon is also said to have taught that he was Christ. He said he was the son in Jerusalem and was crucified but he escaped or lived and came to Samaria and Rome as the Father and Paraclete. Thus, he claimed he was the Father, Son, and Holy spirit which we find later in Monarchian belief, Sabellian belief, or what Tertullian derides as Patripassianism. We also find the idea that Simon of Cyrene was crucified in place of Jesus in the beliefs of Basilides. The belows is a genealogical table of heresies from Simon to Basilides.

    1. Simon Magus (Jerusalem, Samaria)- taught he was Christ and could not be held by death and that his disciples would live forever by eating his flesh and blood. Derided the God of the Jews as an angel and demeaned the law and prophets. There was no carnal resurrection because he came back as a phantom.
    2. Menander (Samaria)- disciple of Simon Magus, taught that he was the new Christ in succession. Baptized people in his own name.
    3. Saturninus (Antioch, Syria)- disciple of Menander who taught that he was the new Christ.
    4. Basilides (Alexandria, Egypt)- schismatic of the Simonian sect, disciple of Menander and opponent of Saturninus of Antioch. The God of the Jews was an angel (may or may not have been Simon's innovation rather than Basilides'). He spoke of 365 heavens. He is the first to teach that Simon of Cyrene was crucified in place of Jesus rather than Simon Magus being the Christ. He opposed martyrdom. He followed all of Simon's doctrines and either added his own or was more true to Simon than Saturninus. Innovated the idea of Abraxas.
    5. Ignatius (Antioch, Syria)- Opposed docetic claims but spoke ex cathedra and claimed a sort of Christ within himself teaching about the bishop of Syria.
    6. Isidore (Alexandria, Egypt)- Son and pupil of Basilides. Last keeper of Basilidian doctrine.
    7. Cerinthus (Ephesus, Asia)- An heir to the teaching of Basilides or Saturninus. Taught the creation of the cosmos by angels. God of the Jews as an angel. Law given by angels. He kept the Mosaic law. He seems to be a fake-Jew opponent of Ignatius who is taking some ideas of Basilides and merging them with a Hellenic Judaism.
The above is basically what we know from patristics. The rest is all speculation.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Paul and Classical Greek writers

When writing to the Romans and Corinthians, Paul is not shy to admit Greek thought into his epistles. We find the thoughts of Aristotle the Macedonian, Plato the Athenian, Epictetus the Stoic, and Epimenides the Athenian (whom many think was a Cretan but was not, and gave use the paradox "Cretans are always liars" which is really no paradox at all). Paul makes very little use of Epicurus though.

In Aristotle's 'Politics', Xenophon's 'Anabasis of Cyrus', Plato's works, Aristotle's 'De Anima', Epictetus' 'Encheiridion', and even Marcus Aurelius' only extant writing, we find many ideas similar to Paul. However, Epictetus and Aurelius proceed Paul. Since they are later in time, we cannot say they had any influence on Paul. Isho'dad of Merv in the 9th century wrote a commentary on Acts of the Apostles and is the only source for Epimenides' so-called 'Cretica':

"They fashioned a tomb for you, holy and high one,
Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies.
But you are not dead: you lives and abides forever,
For in you we live and move and have our being."

The idea that there is one Supreme God is found in all the Pagan religions of antiquity from Sumer to Rome. In Sumer there was Anu, in Babylon there was Marduk, in Canaan there was El or Baal, in Egypt there was Amun-Ra, in Greece there was Zeus, in Rome there was Jupiter, the Jews had YHWH. The 'Cretica' is telling us that Cretans were stupid, evil, idle liars who thought Zeus was a mortal because he is made to seem mortal in writings. Epimenides is effectively saying that it is an evil lie to say Zeus could actually experience a human death so why fashion a tomb for him. His tomb is on Crete. "For in you we live and move and have our being" is very similar to how Paul describes Christ's relation to believers. Paul actually alludes to this in 1Corinthians and uses it for this reason, to say that Christ was a ransom and death could not hold him because he is divine and spirit and this is why he did not remain in a tomb.

Paul's ideas on the flesh and spirit and soul, as well as corruption and incorruption are found in Aristotle's 'Politics'. His ideas on believers being one body united to the head with differing functions among parts is also found in 'Politics'. The concept of 'parts' and a 'whole' is found in Platonic thought and Aristotelian thought. It is even likely that if Paul wrote the epistles to the Thessalonians in Macedonia, that the 'lawless one' or 'man of sin' is actually the man who opposes the State of Rome.

"1253a2 Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the 'Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one,' whom Homer denounces- the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts." (Aristotle 'Politics' Book 1, 1253a2)
There are wide implications in Paul's thinking if this is truly Paul writing. He is effectively calling the zealots who opposed Rome lawless warmongering animals and deserved outcasts. He is saying they are bad men who think they are above the rest of humanity. He is also applying it possibly to people living outside the assembly (church) who claim Jesus as their lord, etc.

Aristotle goes on further to say:

"The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and therefore he is like a part in relation to the whole. But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god; he is no part of a state." (Aristotle 'Politics' Book 1, 1253a2) 
Paul is thus calling those who live outside the state structure of Rome or the Church (of which it seems more likely to be Rome) beasts or idolaters. If these men behave this way they think themselves Gods and commit idolatry. Romans 1-2 seems to give this suggestion that they are idolaters. Other places they are likened to animal men, natural in their ways. It seems they are beasts who have no rationality, thinking themselves gods, and self sufficient to the point that they recognize nothing above them but only in word, therefore, they are Atheists.

Phrases like "the plectrum touch (ing) the lyre" are common to Aristotle and Ignatius of Antioch as well. He follows Pauline thought quite a bit. When Paul went to Greece, he found much peace compared to Judea and the East which was always in turmoil and self-abandonment.

The Greeks were not foreigners to the concept of a savior God. In Xenophon's 'Anabasis of Cyrus' we find the following (keep in mind he was a student of Plato- in this account one finds why westerners say bless you when someone sneezes):

"As he was saying this, someone sneezed, and hearing it, all the soldiers prostrated themselves to the god with a single impulse, and Xenophon said, "Men, since an omen from Zeus the savior appeared when we were speaking about salvation, it seems to me that we should vow to sacrifice thank offerings for our salvation to this same god wherever we first arrive in a friendly land, and that we should vow as well to sacrifice also to the other gods to the extent of our power. Let whoever is so resolved raise his hand", he said. And all raised their hands. After this, they made their vows and sand the paean. When all was fine with what pertained to the gods, he began again as follows:
"I chanced to be saying that we have many noble hopes for salvation. For first, we are firm in our oath to the gods, while our enemies have both violated their oaths and, contrary to their oaths, broken the truce. This being so, it is likely that the gods are opposed to our enemies, and are allies for us; and the gods are the very ones who, whenever they wish, are competent swiftly to make the strong weak and easily to save the weak, even if they are in terrible dangers. Next, I shall remind you also of the dangers faced by our ancestors, so you may know both that it is fitting for you to be brave and that the brave are saved with the help of the gods even from very terrible dangers. For when the Persians and others along with them came in a vast expedition in order to obliterate Athens again, the Athenians dared to stand up to them and were victorius over them. Having vowed to Artemis that they would sacrifice to the goddess as many she-goats as they killed of the enemy, since they were not able to find enough, they resolved to sacrifice five hundred every year, and they are still performing this sacrifice even now." (Xenophon 'Anabasis of Cyrus' Book 3, Chapter 2, Lines 9-12)
In the above paragraph it is apparent that the sacrifice of goats was an offering to the feed the souls of the dead enemies, it was a merciful act. Zeus is the Savior and oaths are important to him. They only sacrificed to other gods out of respect for enemy nations and captured nations. Not because they truly believed in them but because they believed Zeus wanted this done to win people over!

These are just a few examples. More to come soon...