Was the Gospel of Mark Altered to Disassociate it from the 'Heresy' of the Marcosian?

I have been writing for some time now that THERE IS A REASON why the earliest history of the Alexandrian Church is unknown to us. 'St. Mark' also called 'John' was the father of all heresies. I happen to think that he embodied the original Platonic understanding of the term gnostikos which as Morton Smith notes means:

the ideal king, the only man capable of knowing God, who would therefore act as the mediator between God and man; he would be, in effect, the Nous [the divine intellect] of his subjects, in whom he would restore their lost contact with the heavenly world from which he came.[M. Smith Studies in the Cult of Yahweh p. 186]

Why do I think that Mark was the first gnostikos? Well, it is because I think that he was the historical figure Marcus Julius Agrippa, last king of Israel who, interestingly enough is described by 'Josephus' as a person "who deserved the greatest praise" for his "knowledge of Greek philosophy." [Against Apion I.9] When you read the rabbinic account of his interest in Plato it is readily apparent that he is being likened to Marcion.

In any event, the real point of all my efforts is to demonstrate that Alexandrian Christianity developed naturally from Alexandrian Judaism. I think that the first Christians worshiped Iesous as the living embodiment of the Ogdoad (Iesous = 888) in the Jewish 'holy house' on the eastern shores of Alexandria just outside of the eastern walls of the city. In a later period, when the originally massive Jewish dyplastoon building was destroyed, the Martyrium of St. Mark was build closer inland, just behind the old structure now already sinking into the sea.

I think that the original tradition of St. Mark should be identified with the Marcosian sect of Irenaeus with 'Mark' as the messiah of the community (Irenaeus says 'Antichrist' but as we say, one man's Christ is another man's Antichrist).

I also think that Clement's Letter to Theodore is one fleeting glimpse as that original Jewish messianic tradition was being forced to accommodate itself to the new 'officially purged' Imperially sanctioned Roman Church of Jesus Christ. I think various other references (such as the account of Victor in the Liber Pontificalis) give other 'glimpses' into this transformational period.

That Clement was connected with the Marcosians has been well established by many other much better scholars than myself including:

"Irenaeus gives an account of Marcus and the Marcosians in 1.13 - 21 ... Hippolytus and Epiphanius (Haer 34) copy their accounts from Irenaeus, and probably had no direct knowledge of the works of Marcus or of his sect. Clement of Alexandria, however, knew and used his writings." [Philip Schaff note on Eusebius Church History iv.11.4]

" ... for on comparison of the sections just cited from Clement and from Irenaeus [regarding the Marcosians] the coincidences are found to be such as to put it beyond doubt that Clement in his account of the number six makes an unacknowledged use of the same [Marcosian] writing as were employed by Irenaeus." [William Smith A Dictionary of Christian Biography p. 161]

"Clement of Alexandria, himself infected with Gnosticism, actually uses Marcus number system though without acknowledgement (Strom, VI, xvi)." [Arendzen JP. Marcus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX]

Yet what even these people haven't recognized is that the 'Marcosian heresy' was already present at the time Philo was writing. As we noted in our last post, all we need to do is work backwards from Irenaeus's original statement about 'those of Mark' who

express themselves in this manner: that the letter Eta along with the remarkable one constitutes all ogdoad, as it is situated in the eighth place from Alpha. Then, again, computing the number of these elements without the remarkable (letter), and adding them together up to Eta, they exhibit the number thirty. For any one beginning from the Alpha to the Eta will, after subtracting the remarkable (letter i.e. episemon) ... they subtract twelve, and reckon it at eleven. And in like manner, (they subtract) ten and make it nine. [Hippolytus AH 6:42]

We should then note that Clement of Alexandria makes the same argument as in the name of the Alexandrian tradition of St. Mark:

six is reckoned in the order of numbers, but the succession of the letters acknowledges the character which is not written. In this case, in the numbers themselves, each unit is preserved in its order up to seven and eight. But in the number of the characters, Zeta becomes six and Eta seven. And the character having somehow slipped into writing, should we follow it out thus, the seven became six, and the eight seven.[Stromata 6:16]

Yet this understanding can be traced all the way back to Philo, a member of a leading priestly family in the Jewish community of Alexandria who notes that there is a closely related Jewish sect which promotes a highly contagious kabbalistic apocalyptic doctrine. It is important to note that Philo's description EXACTLY matches the things said by second century 'Marcosians' like Clement of Alexandria namely that:

some of those persons who have (in the past) fancied that the world is everlasting, inventing a variety of new arguments, employ also such a system of reasoning as this to establish their point: they affirm that there are four principal manners in which corruption is brought about, addition, taking away, transposition, and alteration; accordingly, the number two is by the addition of the unit corrupted so as to become the number three, and no longer remains the number two; and the number four by the taking away of the unit is corrupted so as to become the number three; again, by transposition the letter Zeta becomes the letter Eta when the parallel lines which were previously horizontal (3/43/4) are placed perpendicularly (1/2 1/2), and when the line which did before pass upwards, so as to connect the two is now made horizontal, and still extended between them so as to join them. And by alteration the word oinos, wine, becomes oxos, vinegar.

But of the manner of corruption thus mentioned there is not one which is in the least degree whatever applicable to the world, since otherwise what could we say? Could we affirm that anything is added to the world so as to cause its destruction? But there is nothing whatever outside of the world which is not a portion of it as the whole, for everything is surrounded, and contained, and mastered by it. Again, can we say that anything is taken from the world so as to have that effect? In the first place that which would be taken away would again be a world of smaller dimensions than the existing one, and in the second place it is impossible that any body could be separated from the composite fabric of the whole world so as to be completely dispersed. Again, are we to say that the constituent parts of the world are transposed? But at all events they remain in their original positions without any change of place, for never at any time shall the whole earth be raised up above the water, nor the water above the air, nor the air above the fire. But those things which are by nature heavy, namely the earth and the water, will have the middle place, the earth supporting everything like a solid foundation, and the water being above it; and the air and the fire, which are by nature light, will have the higher position, but not equally, for the air is the vehicle of the fire; and that which is carried by anything is of necessity above that which carries it. Once more: we must not imagine that the world is destroyed by alteration, for the change of any elements is equipollent, and that which is equipollent is the cause of unvarying steadiness, and of untroubled durability, inasmuch as it neither seeks any advantage itself, and is not subject to the inroads of other things which seek advantages at its expense; so that this retribution and compensation of these powers is equalized by the rules of proportion, being the produce of health and endless preservation, by all which considerations the world is demonstrated to be eternal. [On the Eternity of the World XXII]

Philo able to demonstrate that the kabbalah of 'those of Mark' was INTRODUCED IN THE FIRST CENTURY but that Philo's comments necessarily mean that the tradition of Mark was initially opposed by the Jewish priesthood in Alexandria.

One of these days I will provide a detailed examination of the first principles of this original Markan kabbalah. For the moment it is enough to say that it is based on the idea - shared by modern Jewish and Samaritan mystical traditions - that the number six represents the generative power of the world. The followers of Mark promoted the idea that owing to the crucifixion of this letter vav, it was imperative that the population of the world undergo the apolutrosis baptism which effectively 'redeemed' them to the power of the Ogdoad.

I think that the baptism referenced in Secret Mark is the basis to this Marcosian ritual. It is no coincidence then that it is said that the neaniskos waited 'six days' to undergo the sacrament. Irenaeus notes that it was according to this principle of the 'sixth' that baptism was established "and for this reason did Moses declare that man was formed on the sixth day; and then, again, according to arrangement, it was on the sixth day, which is the preparation, that the last man appeared, for the regeneration of the first [i.e. in baptism], and of this arrangement, both the beginning and the end were formed at that sixth hour, at which He was nailed to the tree. [AH i.14.6]

Yet as we all know the passage which referenced the secret baptism which occurred after 'six days' was removed from the copies of the Gospel of Mark which circulated outside of Alexandria. But this isn't the only anomaly. The surviving copies of the Gospel of Mark no longer say that the crucifixion occurred in the 'sixth hour.' We read instead that "and it was the third hour, and they crucified him." [Mark 15:25]

I have repeatedly pointed out that there are countless examples which demonstrate WITHOUT ANY DOUBT that the canonical gospel of Mark was developed in Rome with a specific anti-Alexandrian agenda. Yet the clearest of all requires that we accept the link between the heretical boogeyman Mark the gnostic and St. Mark.

For Severus of Antioch, in the context of discussing editorial changes to the gospel produces Eusebius's Letter to Marinum which now - if read with a critical eye - confirms our theory about changes to the original Gospel of Mark. For Severus writes:

But Eusebius of Caesarea, who is called 'Pamphili', whom we mentioned a little above, when writing to a man called Marinus about questions concerning the passions of our Saviour and about his Resurrection, showed us nothing whatever about the said addition, as being unknown and having no place in the books of the gospel. But in the same letters to Marinus, who had asked him for an interpretation on the subject of our Saviour's passions and his Resurrection, he inserted the following exposition also in his letters, that the divine Mark the Evangelist said that it was the 3rd hour at the time when Christ who is God and our Saviour was crucified, but the divine John (he said) wrote that it was at the 6th hour that Pilate sat upon his judgment-seat at the place called 'the pavement', and judged Christ. And therefore Eusebius said that this is an error of a scribe, who was inattentive when writing the Gospel. For it is the letter gamal that denotes 3 hours, while the letter which is called in Greek episemon denotes the number of 6 hours, and these letters are like one another in Greek, and, the scribe wishing to write '3' quickly, and having turned the letter a little backwards, it was thereby found to be '6', because, since the letter had been turned backwards, it was supposed to be the letter that denotes '6'. Since therefore the three other evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke stated alike as with one mouth that from the 6th hour to the 9th there was darkness over all the land, it is plain that our Lord and God Jesus Christ was crucified before the 6th hour, at which the darkness took place, that is from the 3rd hour, as 1142 the blessed John himself wrote. Similarly we say that it is the 3rd hour, because those who wrote before, as we have said, changed the letter. We must insert also in this our letter upon this matter a part of what Eusebius himself stated at length; and his words are as follows: «We agree not with any chance man, but with the evangelist who gave this testimony, Mark. For it happened that there was an error on the part of the scribe so that he changed the letter by adding length to it, and it was thought that the letter which represents '3' was '6', on account of the likeness of the two letters [of that which denotes '3' and that which denotes '6'. If the refore it is stated by John that it was the preparation of the day of unlevened bread, and it was about the 6th hour, and Pilate said to the Jews «Behold! your king» 1143, and so on, let there be read instead of '6th' '3rd', since the beginning of his trial took place at that time, and in the middle of the hour or after it had been completed they crucified him, so that the result is that they judged and crucified him at the same hour»; If you look for and find the volume addressed to Marinus about the interpretation of these things, you will find the accuracy of the writer as regards these matters. For our part we do not wish to write much on these subjects in this our letter. May the industry of your holiness be preserved for us meditating on these things and occupied with these things in priestly fashion, and rousing up the gloom of our silence and urging it to speak [Severus of Antioch Letter CVIII]

The fact that Eusebius says that the correct reading is 'the third hour' is not our concern. Clearly we have in the Marcosians a group connected with Mark which would have argued that in fact the corruption developed in the other direction - viz. that the episemon was exchanged for a gamma. Indeed their 'gospel of Mark' (i.e. I would argue that it is clear that whoever 'Mark' was he as "one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and ineffable regions above" [AH i.13.1] would have written a gospel even if his association with 'the Evangelist' is denied) has the 'sixth hour' reading.

I would argue that they had a much more authentic gospel of Mark - undoubtedly identical with the Alexandrian 'secret' Gospel referenced by Clement [cf. AH i.19.1 with regards to 'secret' scriptures]. Moreover I am certain that it was OUR gospels which were changed to disassociate them with the 'heresy' of the aforementioned Marcosians and indeed assist in Irenaeus's characterization of their arguments as 'laughable' [AH i.16.1] and the adherents themselves 'mad.' [ibis i.13.1]

For those who want more information on the kabbalistic interpretation of the Marcosians here's the link to my post from two days ago.

How Alexandrian Judaism Developed into Christianity [Part Three]

We are making headway towards our goal of understanding the unique theological climate of ancient Jewish Alexandria.  It all comes down to this.  Judaism presupposes a redemption from Egypt.  But what do you do when Jews find themselves back in Egypt still awaiting redemption?  I have reason to believe that the Alexandrian Jews of Philo's age WEREN'T waiting for their redemption into the Promised Land in the Roman province of Judea.

I will bring forward the basis for my assumptions in an upcoming post in this series.  For the moment it is enough to say that I have never been able to dismiss Eusebius's claims that Christianity in Egypt developed from Philo's description of the ascetic sect called the Therapeutae.  I have never been able to square the writings of Paul for instance with any tradition in Palestinian Judaism, let alone the opening words of the gospel with its reference to the Logos.

I see connections between Philo's Therapeutae and the rituals of the early Alexandrian Christianity.  There i good reason to believe that Christians in Egypt baptized their catechumen on the evening of the 21st of Nisan (the 'going out' into the eighth day of Passover).  As we demonstrated in our last post, the Therapeutae also seem to have 'reenacted' the mystery associated with the 'crossing of the sea' which occurred on the same day.

Those experts who have written on the subject tend to acknowledged that the Alexandrian practice is 'one step' away from the variant tradition in the Church.  Nevertheless there simply is not enough evidence to prove that one developed from the other.  Some examples are here.

It's as if we are almost there.  We have 'almost found' the link between the ritual prayers in the semneia of the Therapeutae as the forty ninth day went out into the fiftieth called 'the apolutrosis' and the ritual practice of baptism as the seventh day of Passover went out into the eighth in other ancient literary sources.

Alexandrian Judaism must have been the ground out of which the Christian mystery of baptism developed.  The connection is the common association with the 'crossing of the sea.'  The specific point of contact in my mind is the common association between the practice of Philo's Therapeutae and the Marcosians of Alexandria to call the commemoration of the crossing, the apolutrosis.

In my opinion, it isn't necessary to argue that the Therapeutae were ALREADY baptizing as part of their apolutrosis service.  I would make the case that 'heretical' Christianity is structured around the idea that Christ came to introduce a 'mystery' to the existing worship.  I think Clement of Alexandria, a man who had a much better idea of the original relationship between Jewish and Christian traditions in his city writes makes clear that ritual water immersion was the thing that Mark introduced to the apolutrosis of the Therapeutae.

Of course, as I noted in a previous blog last week, scholars are going to pretend that because Clement never EXPLICITLY identifies baptism as the mysterion tes basileias tou theou that the idea was unknown to him. This is simply idiotic given the nature of mystery religions in the ancient world.  One wouldn't expect that Clement or anyone else from the Alexandrian tradition would just announce the connection to those who hadn't been initiated into the tradition.

Instead when we examine the writings of Clement are a series of cryptic statements - like the one which concludes the Exhortation to the Heathens - where he speaks in such a way that 'the initiated' realize at once that he is referencing baptism as the central mysterion of the tradition.  So we read:

The Word of truth, the Word of incorruption, that regenerates man by bringing him back to the truth — the goad that urges to salvation — He who expels destruction and pursues death — He who builds up the temple of God in men, that He may cause God to take up His abode in men. Cleanse the temple; and pleasures and amusements abandon to the winds and the fire, as a fading flower; but wisely cultivate the fruits of self-command, and present thyself to God as an offering of first-fruits, that there may be not the work alone, but also the grace of God; and both are requisite, that the friend of Christ may be rendered worthy of the kingdom, and be counted worthy of the kingdom ... Then shalt thou see my God, and be initiated into the sacred mysteries, and come to the fruition of those things which are laid up in heaven reserved for me, which "ear hath not heard, nor have they entered into the heart of any." [Exhort 11.12]

There is no more common metaphor in the writing of contemporary Church Fathers to describe baptism than as a 'regeneration' to God, the truth or the like. Yet it appears with especial frequency in Irenaeus's description of the apolutrosis baptism of 'those of Mark.'

In his most explicit statement about the heretical baptism being connected with the material in Mark chapter 10, Irenaeus says that the followers of Mark:

have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole faith. They maintain that those who have attained to perfect knowledge must of necessity be regenerated into that power which is above all. For it is otherwise impossible to find admittance within the Pleroma ... For the baptism instituted by the visible Jesus was for the remission of sins, but the redemption brought in by that Christ who descended upon Him, was for perfection; and they allege that the former is animal, but the latter spiritual. [AH i.21.1,2]

The point is that Irenaeus, Clement and 'those of Mark' have inherited an understanding that baptism is both a 'regeneration' and the great mystery of the Church. The sticking point is clearly (a) identifying the mystery of baptism as 'redemption' and (b) connecting that 'other baptism' to a section of the gospel of Mark just before the request of Salome for her sons to sit beside Jesus [ibid].

Let's take each of these points in order.

Pagels wrote a very interesting article in 2002 arguing that "Irenaeus set out to make a difference between Christians in order to demonstrate that [the heretics] while commonly accepted as fellow believers, were in fact, apostates and heretics ... what concerned Irenaeus was not so much that they held beliefs and ideas different than his own, but that they engaged in practices intended to affect apolutrosis ('redemption' sometimes called 'second baptism')." I will come back to this article but I think Pagels is on the right track but misses the mark ultimately.

Irenaeus simply stripped Christian baptism away from its roots in the Jewish mystical interest in the crossing of the Sea by the ancient Israelites as the seventh day went out into the eighth.

Indeed if we scrutinize Irenaeus's description of the Marcosians I think we can find a confirmation of the basic idea that Mark introduced the concept of the 'mystery of the kingdom of God' AS BAPTISM into the Alexandrian community. It all goes back to their parallel interest in numerology that we also find in the writings of Philo and in particular the idea that mystical interest in the numbers six, seven and eight WERE ALREADY PRESENT IN THE GOSPEL.

Irenaeus writes that Mark:

asserts that the fruit of this arrangement and analogy [i.e. the conjunction of letters and numbers in heaven] has been manifested in the likeness of an image, namely, Him who, after six days, ascended into the mountain along with three others, and then became one of six (the sixth), in which character He descended and was contained in the Hebdomad, since He was the illustrious Ogdoad, and contained in Himself the entire number of the elements ... And for this reason did Moses declare that man was formed on the sixth day; and then, again, according to arrangement, it was on the sixth day, which is the preparation, that the last man appeared, for the regeneration of the first, Of this arrangement, both the beginning and the end were formed at that sixth hour, at which He was nailed to the tree. For that perfect being Nous, knowing that the number six had the power both of formation and regeneration, declared to the children of light, that regeneration which has been wrought out by Him who appeared as the Episemon in regard to that number.[AH i.14.6]

For those who have read my arguments on behalf of the idea that 'Secret Mark' was the 'apocryphal' gospel [AH i.20.1] of the Marcosians, I am very drawn to the idea that the reference:

And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God.[To Theodore III.7 - 10]

is yet another example of a reference to the mystery of the six ('after six days'), seven (it's the seventh day of the initiation) and eight (when the evening becomes night it's 'the eight').

Indeed notice that the words Irenaeus uses would perfectly fit the context of Secret Mark representing 'the redemption baptism' - viz. "it was on the sixth day, which is the preparation, that the last man appeared, for the regeneration of the first .. [because] the number six had the power both of formation and regeneration."

For those who would like argue that Irenaeus never says that the Marcosians used a gospel which had 'extra material' than our canonical text(s), this is plainly refuted in the section which deals with the Marcosian gospel. Irenaeus identifies material which did not appear in his gospel (such as Jesus instructing his teacher on the mystical significance of the alphabet) and then seeming to accept or acknowledge sayings that are unknown to our canon such as the one where Jesus:

when He said, "I have often desired to hear one of these words, and I had no one who could utter it," they maintain, that by this expression "one" He set forth the one true God whom they knew not.

Irenaeus not only seems to treat this saying as if it were already known to his audience but elsewhere in the five books he seems to think Matthew 11:27 was also found in Mark.

The reason I bring this up is that we have already established that the scriptural basis for the Marcosian apolutrosis baptism is identified by Irenaeus as appearing just before Mark 10:35 - the exact place that we find the first 'addition' to the Alexandrian Gospel of Mark in to Theodore.

Now to those who say that there is no direct reference to the followers of Mark ADDING new material to the gospel in the writings of Irenaeus, I say that they should read the five books again with a critical eye.

About a week ago I tirelessly demonstrated that there are in fact THREE surviving reworked versions of Irenaeus's original 'lecture' on the Valentinians. Most people over look Tertullian's preservation of the same material. I noted that the most puzzling feature of that work is that chapters eight, nine and ten of what is now called Irenaeus's Five Books Against All Heresies is not found in Tertullian. Tertullian's work 'jumps' from chapter seven to chapter eleven, clearly demonstrating that chapters eight, nine and ten were unknown to his original source.

Why does this matter? Because this section of text has a reference to the apolutrosis which Harvey and others changed to apulosis because they couldn't understand the actual reading in its original context. As Hippolytus notes, only the Marcosians employed a baptism called 'apolutrosis.' The Valentinians were rightly excluded from this heretical ritual.

I would argue that like most of Against All Heresies (especially Book 2), this represents an original 'lecture' against the Marcosians which a later editor placed in the middle of a continuous section of Valentinian material. The section begins with a clear statement that the heretics employed a gospel with 'additional' material to support their ideas about apolutrosis:

Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions.[AH i.8.1]

Irenaeus immediately goes on to explain the manner in which they 'transform scripture' with the example of 'rearranging gems':

Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skilful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king's form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king. In like manner do these persons patch together old wives' fables, and then endeavour, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions, and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions.[ibid]

After going through a number of examples Irenaeus concludes the section with a clear understanding that it is the variant form of baptism - apolutrosis - which is at the heart of the issue. We read:

he who retains unchangeable [ακλινη] in his heart the rule of the truth which he received by means of baptism, will doubtless recognise the names, the expressions, and the parables taken from the Scriptures, but will by no means acknowledge the blasphemous use which these men make of them. For, though he will acknowledge the gems, he will certainly not receive the fox instead of the likeness of the king. But when he has restored every one of the expressions quoted to its proper position, and has fitted it to the body of the truth, he will lay bare, and prove to be without any foundation, the figment of these heretics.

But since what may prove an apolutrosis to this scene [skene] is wanting, so that any one, on following out their imitation [μῖμος] to the end, may then at once append an argument which shall overthrow it, we have judged it well to point out, first of all, in what respects the very fathers of this fable differ among themselves, as if they were inspired by different spirits of error. For this very fact forms an a priori proof that the truth proclaimed by the Church is immoveable, and that the theories of these men are but a tissue of falsehoods.
[AH i.9.4,5]

It is my guess that the section which has been placed in chapters eight, nine and ten in Book One originally appeared immediately following chapter twenty and just before chapter twenty one (if the reader looks he will see how abrupt the change of subjects is and how perfectly the new material fits the gap).

To this end I propose that immediately following the words just cited the following words from chapter twenty one appeared:

And on this account, since it is fluctuating, it is impossible simply and all at once to make known its nature, for every one of them hands it down just as his own inclination prompts. Thus there are as many schemes of "redemption" as there are teachers of these mystical opinions. And when we come to refute them, we shall show in its fitting-place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole faith.[AH i.21.1]

In other words, the material which Tertullian cites as being in Irenaeus's original account written against the Valentinians is older and more correct than the existing manuscripts of Irenaeus. The reader should read the work I have already laid down on this subject in previous posts.

The bottom line here is that when restored to its proper context, Irenaeus's argument originally was that the apolutrosis baptism was based on a 'rearrangement' of gospel material with 'false narratives' added to support the claims for its existence. There is so much more work for us to do here. But at this moment I think that there is a growing case to be made that Irenaeus did indeed know of something like 'Secret Mark' and its alternative baptism narrative with later editors of Irenaeus's material effectively wiping the slate clean of the original reference(s).

More to follow.  I wrote this while watching Yentl ...

How Alexandrian Judaism Developed into Christianity [Part Two]

Imagine how silly a study of the origins of Islam would be if it were conducted by devout Muslims or perhaps, if the question of whether or not mount Gerizim might have been the original holy mountain of Israel were settled by people who already thought that Jerusalem was the proper home of the Mosaic religion. In the same way, it is just as implausible to think that anyone has seriously investigated the possibility that Christianity might have started in Alexandria. The facts are that everyone already 'knows' the 'right answer.' It's the understanding we inherited from our enlightened European ancestors.

As I already noted in the first post in this series the existing model for Christianity is a joke. Yes there is a 'document' which support the idea that the 'primitive Church' moved to Antioch in the period leading up to the Jewish War in 66 CE. But this text - the Acts of the Apostles - only makes its appearance in the mid to late second century and is rejected as totally spurious by Christian groups outside of the Catholic tradition.

The manner in which Alexandria is completely 'shut out' of Christian history is also very suspicious. All of our earliest witnesses to Christianity see it develop as an organized religion in Alexandria (cf. Athengoras, Hadrian to Servianus, Celsus etc.). So how has it that Alexandria 'got the shaft' as it were?

I think it has something to do with the basic idea that a Greek speaking form of Judaism which actively proselytized was a danger to the Empire. The worry is as old as the Acts of Isidore (c. 45 CE). You know the drill - 'the Jews are trying to take over the world.'

The truth is that EVERY PEOPLE has tried or is trying to take over the world. The fear which grew out of the Bar Kochba revolt was that the Jews might actually end up pulling it off.

So it is that I believe that in the late second century a new form of Christianity was developed which had very little in the way of 'roots' in Jewish tradition. Yes, the Catholic tradition 'confesses' no God greater than the Creator. But so what? As if the Jews ever identified the power which made the world with En Sof ...

It is my supposition that there was indeed an original form of Christianity which developed from Alexandrian Judaism that happened to embody all that was DANGEROUS about messianism as such. It is my belief that this tradition was founded by Mark pretty much in the way that Clement and a handful of cryptic fragmentary references in the later Alexandrian tradition describe it.

The core concept however is the idea that the central mystery in the tradition - baptism - was identified as apolytrosis. Irenaeus reports on this phenomenon in his Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called. We have to begin piecing together the original liturgical context of this identification and this starts with recognizing that the Hebrew verb ga 'al gets translated into the Septuagint by Greek verbs generated from the substantive lutron, meaning the ransom paid to buy freedom. Lutron, in turn is the root of the term apolytrosis.

Two critical passages which illustrate the use of lutron in the LXX translation of Exodus. The first:

I am the Lord, and I will lead you forth from the tyranny of the Egyptians and I will deliver you from bondage, and I will ransom you [lutrosomai] with a high arm and great judgement. [Ex. vi.7 LXX]

and then from the Song of the Sea:

Who is like to thee among the gods, O Lord? Who is like to thee? Glorified in holiness, marvelous in glories, doing wonders. Thou stretchest forth thy right hand, the earth swallowed them up. Thou hast guided in thy righteousness this thy people whom thou hast redeemed [elutroso] by thy strength, thou hast called them into thy holy resting place [Ex. xv.11 - 13]

The point of course is that we have the very foundation of the idea here that the ritual prayer form called ge'ullah in Aramaic was rendered apolytrosis in Greek. Philo, however helps demonstrate for us that in Alexandria the apolytrosis took on quite a different form that the Jewish prayers which are said morning and night.

We just saw in the first post in this series that Philo makes clear that the Jews of Alexandria gathered together each forty ninth day (i.e. each seventh Sabbath) and engaged in a nocturnal reenactment of the Israelites crossing of the sea which which took place as the seventh Sabbath 'went over' to the fiftieth day or 'eighth' (i.e. 7 x 7 + 1).

Philo clearly connects this number fifty with apolutrosis in his Preliminary Studies. While the section I am about to cite seems ON THE SURFACE to deal with the number ten, a careful examination of the material will make clear that what Philo IS REALLY SAYING is that the number ten is the simplest expression of the holy power embodied in the fifty WHICH IS THE APOLYTROSIS.

Philo begins by noting that:

the most sacred Moses has composed a hymn, with no slight degree of skill, attributing the most excellent things to this number of the decade, such as prayers, first-fruits, the continual and unceasing offerings of the priests, the observance of the passover, the atonement, (Lev 23:27} the remission of debts, and the return to the ancient allotments of property at the end of every fifty years; {Lev 25:9} the preparation and furnishing of the indissoluble tabernacle, {Ex 26:1} and ten thousand other things which it would take a long time to enumerate [Prelim. 89]

From this original identification that the number ten has within it the potential to express the power of the fifty - i.e. the Jubilee - he goes through all the places where the number ten has mystical significance in the Torah and ending with the example of the Passover lamb being consecrated on the tenth day.

So it is that Philo will use this allusion to the number ten to go back to the number fifty saying that:

This is, to speak properly, the spiritual passover of the soul, the passing over of all the passions and of every object of the outward senses to the tenth, which is the proper object of the intellect, and which is divine. For it is said in the scripture: "On the tenth day of this month let each of them take a sheep according to his house; {Ex 12:3} in order that from the tenth, there may be consecrated to the tenth, that is to God, the sacrifices which have been preserved in the soul, which is illuminated in two portions out of the three, until it is entirely changed in every part, and becomes a heavenly brilliancy like a full moon, at the height of its increase at the end of the second week, and so is able not only to guard, but even to sacrifice uninjured and faultless improvements, that is to say, propitiations. For this propitiation also is established in the tenth day of the month, when the soul addresses its supplications to the tenth portion, namely to God, and has learnt, by its own sagacity and acuteness, the insignificance and nothingness of the creature, and also the excessive perfection and pre-eminent excellence in all good things of the uncreated God. Therefore God becomes at once propitious, and propitious too, even without any supplications being addressed to him, to those who abase and humble themselves, and who are not puffed up with vain arrogance and self-opinion. This is remission and deliverance, this is complete freedom of the soul, shaking off the wanderings in which it wandered, and fleeing for a secure anchorage to the one nature which cannot wander, and which rises up to return to the lot which it formerly received when it had brilliant aspirations, and when it vigorously toiled in labours which had virtuous ends for their object. For then admiring it for its exertions, the holy scripture honoured it, giving it a most especial honour, and immortal inheritance, a place namely in the imperishable race. This is what the wise Abraham supplicates for, when that which in word indeed is the land of Sodom, but in real fact is the soul made barren of all good things and blinded as to its reason, is about to be burnt up, in order that if the memorial of justice, namely the Tenth (Gen 18:32} part be found in it, it may obtain a short of amnesty. Therefore he begins his supplication with a prayer for pardon, connected with the number fifty, and terminates with the number ten, the lowest number for whose redemption (apolutrosis) he can dare to entreat.

From which consideration it appears to me to have been, that Moses, after the appointment of chiliarchs, or commanders of thousands, and of centurians, and of captains of fifties, {Ex 18:25} thought proper to appoint captains of ten over all, in order than if the mind was not able to be improved by means of the elder orders, it might at least be purified by these last in order
.[Prelim. 106 - 110]

In my opinion it is only when you start to THINK about Philo's kabbalah that you can start to see why 'those of Mark' - i.e. the Marcosians - were so sure that the gospel was written by someone using this Alexandrian system.

Jesus has the disciples sit in groups of fifties (Luke 9:14). Jesus is understood to have come to Jerusalem on the tenth day (John 12:12). I invite the reader to look at Irenaeus's description of the Marcosians and the way they developed arguments about numbers in the Bible. I trust that they will understand how I view the followers of Mark developed out of Alexandrian Jewry.

It is more important now that we focus on Philo's words that there was "a prayer for pardon, connected with the number fifty ... [for] redemption (apolutrosis)." It is indeed important to remember that Philo also writes:

In the first place, these men assemble at the end of seven weeks, venerating not only the simple week of seven days, but also its multiplied power, for they know it to be pure and always virgin; and it is a prelude and a kind of forefeast of the greatest feast, which is assigned to the number fifty, the most holy and natural of numbers [Vita 65]

And after the feast they celebrate the sacred festival during the whole night ... they join together, and the two become one chorus, an imitation of that one which, in old time, was established by the Red Sea, on account of the wondrous works which were displayed there; for, by the commandment of God, the sea became to one party the cause of safety, and to the other that of utter destruction; for it being burst asunder, and dragged back by a violent reflux, and being built up on each side as if there were a solid wall, the space in the midst was widened, and cut into a level and dry road, along which the people passed over to the opposite land, being conducted onwards to higher ground; then, when the sea returned and ran back to its former channel, and was poured out from both sides, on what had just before been dry ground, those of the enemy who pursued were overwhelmed and perished. When the Israelites saw and experienced this great miracle, which was an event beyond all description, beyond all imagination, and beyond all hope, both men and women together, under the influence of divine inspiration, becoming all one chorus, sang hymns of thanksgiving to God the Saviour, Moses the prophet leading the men, and Miriam the prophetess leading the women [ibid 83 - 89]

Given that Philo connects the fifty with a prayer for apultrosis in one text, that lutron appears throughout the relevant sections of Exodus and the Jews call their prayers adapted from this same material 'the redemption' can there be any doubt that the Alexandrian community identified these practices described by Philo as 'the apolutrosis'?

The one thing that is missing from the description in Philo is any reference to baptism. Yet it has to be acknowledged that Philo is certainly not revealing everything about the sect - let alone his relationship with the community.

I have already noted that the Samaritan Dositheans must be regarded as being very closely related to the Therapeutae. The major difference is that we have references to them standing in the water saying prayers which - we must assume - were related to Crossing of the Sea by the Israelites. Of course, it is worth noting that these reports only come down to us because of their opponents.

Jan Van Goudoever refers to the Therapeutae venerating the 21 of Nissan as the date of the crossing - which he argues - SHOULD have been taken over by the Christians. I think we can now begin to make the case that IT WAS using the evidence from Irenaeus's portrait of the Marcosians and Clement's Letter to Theodore /...

How Alexandrian Judaism Developed into Christianity [Part One]

So let me begin by saying that this is my second attempt at developing this observation.  One wrong typing stroke caused the original long, long article (many of you know how long my articles can get!) caused the first draft to disappear.  Given that I naively believe that everything happens for a reason, I will try and use this 'opportunity' to boil down that original - and now lost - article down to its essential points.

Let me start by saying that I know I go against the grain when I suggest that Christianity developed from Alexandrian Judaism. While it is relatively well known that there are legendary stories that Philo was the first 'bishop' of Alexandria, they are rightly regarded with some suspicion.  Nevertheless one should still be open to the idea that a kernel of truth might still be in these fabulous stories.  Let's look at Photius's version of the tradition which reads in full:

Read, also, his two tractates, Censure of Gaius and Censure of Flaccus in which, more than in his other writings, he shows vigour of expression and beauty of language. But he frequently errs by changing his ideas and in describing other things in a manner at variance with Jewish philosophy. He flourished in the times of the emperor Gaius, to whom he states that he sent a deputation on behalf of his own people, while Agrippa was king of Judaea. He was the author of numerous treatises on various subjects, ethical discussions, and commentaries on the Old Testament, mostly consisting of forced allegorical explanations. I believe that it was from him that all the allegorical interpretation of Scripture originated in the Church. It is said that he was converted to Christianity, but afterwards abandoned it in a fit of anger and indignation. Before this, during the reign of the emperor Claudius, he had visited Rome, where he met St. Peter, chief of the apostles, and became intimate with him, which explains why he thought the disciples of St. Mark the evangelist, who was a disciple of St. Peter, worthy of praise, of whom he says that they led a contemplative life amongst the Jews. He calls their dwellings monasteries, and declares that they always led an ascetic life, practising fasting, prayer, and poverty.

Philo came of an Alexandrian priestly family. He was so admired amongst the Greeks for his power of eloquence that it was a common saying amongst them : "Either Plato philonizes or Philo platonizes." [Bibl. 105]

To be certain the whole business of Philo meeting St. Peter in Rome is legendary but the idea that Philo came from an Alexandrian priestly family (and thus was connected with the Alexandrian temple) and that persistent idea that the Therapeutae were disciples of St. Mark might not all be complete nonsense.

Indeed it should be emphasized that Photius is not getting ALL his ideas about a connection between St. Mark and the Therapeutae from Eusebius.  This because we see in the previous entry in the Bibliotheca that Photius was reading Philo's original report on the Therapeutae.  It reads:

Read, also, his description of the lives of those amongst the Jews who led a life of contemplative or active philosophy, the Essenes and Therapeutae. The latter not only built monasteries and holy places (semneia, to use their own word), but also laid down the rules of monasticism followed by the monks of the present day. [ibid 104]

I find the reference to the existence of semneia of the Therapeutae very interesting given the consistent use of this word to mean 'temple' - i.e. a building or site 'in the possession' of a god.  Liddell Scott has the following entry for the related term σεμνός ,, ή, όν, (σέβομαι):

A. revered, august, holy:

I. prop. of gods, e.g. Demeter, h.Cer.1,486; Hecate, Pi.P.3.79; Thetis, Id.N.5.25; Apollo, A.Th.800; Poseidon, S.OC55; Pallas Athena, ib.1090 (lyr.); at Athens the Erinyes were specially the σεμναὶ θεαί, Id.Aj.837, OC 90,458, Ar.Eq.1312, Th.224, Th.1.126, Autocl. ap. Arist.Rh.1398b26; or simply Σεμναί, A.Eu.383 (lyr.), 1041 (lyr.), E.Or.410; τὸ ς. ὄνομα their name, S.OC41; ς. βάθρον the threshold of their temple, ib.100; ς. τέλη their rites, ib. 1050 (lyr.).

2. of things divine, ὄργια ς. h.Cer.478, S.Tr.765; “θέμεθλα δίκης” Sol.4.14; “ὑγίεια” Simon.70; “θυσία” Pi.O.7.42; ς. ἄντρον the cave of Cheiron, Id.P.9.30, cf. O.5.18; ς. δόμος the temple of Apollo, Id.N.1.72; “παιάν” A.Pers.393; σέλμα ς. ἡμένων, of the Olympian gods, Id.Ag.183 (lyr.); ς. ἔργα, of the gods, Id.Supp.1037 (lyr.); “μυστήρια” S.Fr.804, E.Hipp.25; τέρμων οὐρανοῦ ib.746; ς. βίος devoted to the gods, Id.Ion 56; σεμνὰ φθέγγεσθαι, = εὔφημα, A.Ch.109 (v.l.), cf. Ar.Nu.315,364; ἦ πού τι ς. ἔστιν ὃ ξυναμπέχεις; A.Pr.521; τὸ ς. holiness, D.21.126.

Photius is clearly getting his ideas for a Therapeutaean semneia from the text of Philo that he has read with his own eyes.  This is not something that he has simply appropriated from Eusebius.

Some examples of the use of semneion in Philo's Contemplative Life include:

And in every house there is a sacred shrine which is called the semneion, and the monastery in which they retire by themselves and perform all the mysteries of a holy life, bringing in nothing, neither meat, nor drink, nor anything else which is indispensable towards supplying the necessities of the body, but studying in that place the laws and the sacred oracles of God enunciated by the holy prophets, and hymns, and psalms, and all kinds of other things by reason of which knowledge and piety are increased and brought to perfection. [Vita 25]

And this common semneion to which they all come together on the seventh day is a twofold circuit, being separated partly into the apartment of the men, and partly into a chamber for the women, for women also, in accordance with the usual fashion there, form a part of the audience, having the same feelings of admiration as the men, and having adopted the same sect with equal deliberation and decision; and the wall which is between the houses rises from the ground three or four cubits upwards, like a battlement, and the upper portion rises upwards to the roof without any opening, on two accounts; first of all, in order that the modesty which is so becoming to the female sex may be preserved, and secondly, that the women may be easily able to comprehend what is said being seated within earshot, since there is then nothing which can possibly intercept the voice of him who is speaking. [ibid 32, 33]

It is more important that we see remind ourselves that the Therapeutae employed a 364 day 'Jubilee calendar' where the day after the forty ninth day (i.e. the seventh sabbath) - i.e. the fiftieth day - was especially holy.  As Clement learned from Philo, fifty is the embodiment of the ogdoad - i.e. 7 (x 7) + 1 - or as Philo explains:

In the first place, these men assemble at the end of seven weeks, venerating not only the simple week of seven days, but also its multiplied power, for they know it to be pure and always virgin; and it is a prelude and a kind of forefeast of the greatest feast, which is assigned to the number fifty, the most holy and natural of numbers, being compounded of the power of the right-angled triangle, which is the principle of the origination and condition of the whole.  Therefore when they come together clothed in white garments, and joyful with the most exceeding gravity, when some one of the ephemereutae (for that is the appellation which they are accustomed to give to those who are employed in such ministrations), before they sit down to meat standing in order in a row, and raising their eyes and their hands to heaven, the one because they have learnt to fix their attention on what is worthy looking at, and the other because they are free from the reproach of all impure gain, being never polluted under any pretence whatever by any description of criminality which can arise from any means taken to procure advantage, they pray to God that the entertainment may be acceptable, and welcome, and pleasing; and after having offered up these prayers the elders sit down to meat, still observing the order in which they were previously arranged, for they do not look on those as elders who are advanced in years and very ancient, but in some cases they esteem those as very young men, if they have attached themselves to this sect only lately, but those whom they call elders are those who from their earliest infancy have grown up and arrived at maturity in the speculative portion of philosophy, which is the most beautiful and most divine part of it. [ibid 65 - 67]

Now I know that it will be difficult for Christians to give up their essentially childish assumptions about the development of their tradition from the pseudo-historical narrative in the Acts of the Apostles.  Nevertheless what Philo is describing here is clearly the TRUE GROUND out of which Christianity ACTUALLY developed.  

Acts, it should be seen, is complete nonsense developed for political purposes alone (i.e. to develop an alternative theory to the reality of the Alexandrian origins of Christianity).  

This becomes especially clear when we see that THE CONTEXT of the expectation associated with the veneration of the Ogdoad (i.e. the fifty) is the Crossing of the Sea.  As Marqe notes, the fact that the word AZ (i.e. Heb. 'then') begins the Song of the Sea is deliberate.  It draws our attention to the power of the Ogdoad - i.e. A (1) + Z (7) = 8.  As the Samaritans continue to acknowledge to this day the Israelites came to the water as the seventh day of Unleavened Bread ended and wonder of the crossing of the sea occurred just as the seventh 'went out' into the eighth.  

So it is that Philo says that the Therapeutae gathered on the forty ninth day and sang special hymns devoted to the crossing as the day went out into the fiftieth day.  As we read:

And after the feast they celebrate the sacred festival during the whole night; and this nocturnal festival is celebrated in the following manner: they all stand up together, and in the middle of the entertainment two choruses are formed at first, the one of men and the other of women, and for each chorus there is a leader and chief selected, who is the most honourable and most excellent of the band.  Then they sing hymns which have been composed in honour of God in many metres and tunes, at one time all singing together, and at another moving their hands and dancing in corresponding harmony, and uttering in an inspired manner songs of thanksgiving, and at another time regular odes, and performing all necessary strophes and antistrophes.  Then, when each chorus of the men and each chorus of the women has feasted separately by itself, like persons in the bacchanalian revels, drinking the pure wine of the love of God, they join together, and the two become one chorus, an imitation of that one which, in old time, was established by the Red Sea, on account of the wondrous works which were displayed there;  for, by the commandment of God, the sea became to one party the cause of safety, and to the other that of utter destruction; for it being burst asunder, and dragged back by a violent reflux, and being built up on each side as if there were a solid wall, the space in the midst was widened, and cut into a level and dry road, along which the people passed over to the opposite land, being conducted onwards to higher ground; then, when the sea returned and ran back to its former channel, and was poured out from both sides, on what had just before been dry ground, those of the enemy who pursued were overwhelmed and perished. When the Israelites saw and experienced this great miracle, which was an event beyond all description, beyond all imagination, and beyond all hope, both men and women together, under the influence of divine inspiration, becoming all one chorus, sang hymns of thanksgiving to God the Saviour, Moses the prophet leading the men, and Miriam the prophetess leading the women.  Now the chorus of male and female worshippers being formed, as far as possible on this model, makes a most humorous concert, and a truly musical symphony, the shrill voices of the women mingling with the deep-toned voices of the men. The ideas were beautiful, the expressions beautiful, and the chorus-singers were beautiful; and the end of ideas, and expressions, and chorussingers, was piety; therefore, being intoxicated all night till the morning with this beautiful intoxication, without feeling their heads heavy or closing their eyes for sleep, but being even more awake than when they came to the feast, as to their eyes and their whole bodies, and standing there till morning, when they saw the sun rising they raised their hands to heaven, imploring tranquillity and truth, and acuteness of understanding. And after their prayers they each retired to their own separate semneion, with the intention of again practising the usual philosophy to which they had been wont to devote themselves. This then is what I have to say of those who are called therapeutae, who have devoted themselves to the contemplation of nature, and who have lived in it and in the soul alone, being citizens of heaven and of the world, and very acceptable to the Father and Creator of the universe because of their virtue, which has procured them his love as their most appropriate reward, which far surpasses all the gifts of fortune, and conducts them to the very summit and perfection of happiness. [ibid 81 - 90]

Philo's use of terminology to describe the buildings of the Therapeutae is very confusing of course as many have noted.  There seems to been a koinon semneion for seventh day worship as well as individual semneion but that isn't our immediate concern here.

Our interest is to understand the context for LGM 1 (i.e. the first 'addition' to the Gospel of Mark in its original Alexandrian form).  I think everyone reading this post can see the connection now.  If not, here is some additional assistance for those people.

The Liber Pontificalis makes absolutely clear that up until the end of the second century the Alexandrians DID NOT venerate Easter on the Sunday immediately following Passover.  This was the 'innovation' that Victor of Rome established, thus changing the original Alexandrian practice.  While that original Alexandrian practice isn't explicitly identified the context of the reference makes it clear it had something to do with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

I have already referenced the fact that a number of scholars have noted that Origen references a contemporary Alexandrian Christian celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread venerated with 'appropriate' gloom (i.e. 'bitter herbs).  Origen was not alone.  This development of Chag HaMatzot as part of a variant Easter liturgy was quite early and widespread.  It seems be rooted in the conclusion of the narrative of the Gospel of Peter.

Yet I am also very convinced that it was already anticipated in the section of text which appeared in the Alexandrian Gospel of Mark just before Mark 10:35 - 45 (i.e. the so-called LGM 1).  The section of text which reads:

And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, 'Son of David, have mercy on me.' But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightaway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb, they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan

As I have often noted the ogdoad is implicit in the narrative.  The evening when Jesus comes to the neaniskos is the first day and counting after the Jewish manner we add the 'after six days' to arrive at 'the evening the youth comes to him wearing a linen cloth over his naked body.'  The 'mystery of the Kingdom of God' which takes place 'that night' is actually the eighth day in the sequence.

One would clearly expect that any baptism would occur as the seventh day literally 'went out' into the eighth.  The context is clearly the 'crossing of the Sea' as the Apostle already references this event as the basis for Christian baptism (1 Cor chapter 10).  I have also already demonstrated that among the followers of Mark (Aram. Marqione = 'Marcionites') the Letter to the Corinthians was known as 'to the Alexandrians.'

For those who ask why Jesus could be imagined by Mark to have established a ritual connected with the Israelite 'crossing of the sea' in a period of the year outside of the feast commemorating that event (i.e. the Passover) there are two easy answers for that.  The first is that Clement already tells us that LGM 1 appears immediately following Jesus' 'prediction' of the Passion - i.e.

after "And they were in the road going up to Jerusalem" and what follows, until "After three days he shall arise", the secret Gospel brings the following material word for word ...

In other words, Jesus stands up and says something is going to happen during the feast which commemorates the redemption of Israel and then IMMEDIATELY goes on to describe a baptism which occurs as the seventh day 'goes out' into the eighth (as I said many times before if Jews and Samaritans were involved in the 'deciphering' of To Theodore the text would have been understood the day after Smith found it).

The second explanation is that Philo already tells us that Alexandrian Jews - the Therapeutae - were ritually 'reenacting' or remembering the crossing every seventh Sabbath.  As such, for contemporary Alexandrian audiences at least, it wouldn't have seemed at all strange that Jesus or anyone else for that matter was thinking about the seven day Chag HaMatzot on a particular 'seventh day' in the year.

Indeed I have already informed my readers that the contemporary Samaritans still reference the 'crossing of the Sea' at the end of every Sabbath (undoubtedly a survival of Dosithean practice).

They start the second part of Saturday evening prayer with the citation from Ex. 14:10, 13 (SP) by the next words:

וישאו בני ישראל את עיניהם ויראו והנה מצרים נסעים אחריהם וייראו מאד.
ויאמר משה אל העם אל תיראו, התיצבו וראו את ישועת ה'.
ה' ילחם לכם ואתם תחרישון:

And the son of Israel raised their eyes and they saw, and behold the Egyptians were driving after them, and they became very frightened
And Moses said to the people, do not fear, stand by and see the salvation of Shehmaa.
Shehmaa will fight for you while you keep silent.

Indeed if we take matters one step further it is worth noting that the Samaritan chronicler Abu'l Fath makes explicit that the Dositheans said prayers while standing in the water. This can only be a reference to the recitation of the Song of the Sea or indeed this practice associated with commemorating the crossing as the seventh sabbath went out into the fiftieth day (they are also called Sebueans = 'seveners'). The Dositheans were especially numerous in Alexandria even down to the sixth century when Eulogius composed a special treatise against them (Photius Bibl. Cod 230).

The point is then that when we take all the evidence together it is not all surprising that something like LGM 1 appeared in the original Alexandrian Gospel written 'according to Mark.' It is even clearer why it was taken out by later Roman editors. It was clearly connected with the heretical hope for the community in a 'redemption' from the ruler of this world, who was interpreted to be Caesar.

The connection between LGM 1 and the liturgy of the Alexandrian Church is already established in Clement's description. As he introduces the idea of 'extra material' found in the Alexandrian copies as a means of justifying the presence of LGM 1 (which was apparently disputed, altered or ridiculed by at least some Christian sects) Clement notes that these additions formed the basis to the Alexandrian liturgy:

Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of that truth hidden by seven veils. Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries (megala mysteria).

Now I have already noted in my last post that Clement's division of a 'lesser' and 'greater mystery' is paralleled by the Marcosian understanding that there was a lesser and greater baptism in Christianity. The fact that Clement was a crypto-Marcosian has already been demonstrated by a number of scholars before me. I have just strengthened those proofs by uncovering over fifty parallels between the beliefs of Clement and those of the sect.

The 'great mystery' has everything to do with the eighth day (or more precisely the seventh day 'going out' into the eighth) and its relationship with the crossing of the Sea. Scott Brown's objections are not even worth considering because they are based on a set of assumptions which weren't shared by the Alexandrian tradition.

I don't want too involved in his analysis in his Mark's Other Gospel but it is worth saying two things rather briefly. The first is that the Alexandrian's always emphasized Jesus' divine nature with good reason. He was not the messiah but rather the divine hypostasis called 'Chrestos' (in the LXX a translation of yashar, consistently understood to be the root to the name 'Israel') and a name which the Marcosians emphasized had the numerical value 888. Marqe (Mark) also notes in his Samaritan writings that where the Hebrew text begins the Song of the Sea with the word AZ which, as we noted has a numerical value of eight the LXX has 'then sang' which has a value in Greek of 888. In other words, to follow the Apostle's train of thought in 1 Corinthians, Chrestos or Jesus was the hypostasis into which the ancient Israelites were baptized in the sea. As such what is being described in LGM 1 is clearly Jesus preparing the neaniskos for a similar 'baptism into his cloud' as it were only now the Christian initiates are being baptized directly into the Father rather than a divine hypostasis.

The second point is that when Jesus is properly established as the hypostasis of the Father - or even the Father himself according to some early Alexandrian 'heresies' - we realize at once that there are two different figures in the gospel narrative - i.e. 'Jesus' and 'Christ.'

To this end, when Irenaeus speaks of "those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the Gospel by Mark" [AH iii.11.7] I think it is one part of that original Alexandrian paradigm. So too his ridicule of various heretical groups for arguing that Jesus descended onto Christ and the like.

With regards to the prediction that Christ would be 'raised on the third day' [Mark 10:34] there is no contradiction in associating baptism with the eighth day given that the Gospel of Peter (a text I have always identified with the 'account of the Lord's doings' that Mark wrote for Peter in To Theodore) has BOTH Mary and the women discovering the empty tomb on the Lord's day [Gos. Pet. 50] AND additional significance to the eighth day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as the disciples are depicted as being 'on the sea' on that day [ibid 58 - 60] just before the text becomes fragmentary.

The point is that we have yet to discuss why the Marcosians identified as the 'redemption' apolytrosis] but we have already made great progress in that regard. The writings of Philo make clear that the crossing of the sea is the ultimate context for Alexandrian Christian baptism. In our next post we will take that understanding one step further ...

Clement of Alexandria Secretly Acknowledged Another Baptism Beside the 'Stupid' Story of John and Jesus in Jordan

I have been demonstration the transformation of the original Alexandrian μυστήριον into the sacramentum of the Roman Church.  As I noted in my last post, there can be no doubt that the choice of sacramentum testifies to a deliberately change in the context of the original mystery religion of Christianity.  If the Romans had simply wanted to maintain the original sense of μυστήριον they would have translated the word with the Latin equivalent mysterium.

The reason why the Roman Church, which really only comes to prominence in the Commodian era, translated μυστήριον with sacramentum was because it was already reshaping the Alexandrian mystery tradition away from its 'heretical' roots.  This is made plainly evident in the Liber Pontificalis's description of the events of Pope Victor (c. 185 CE) where it says:

He appointed that the holy feast of Easter should be observed upon the Lord's day ... He instituted a clergy in attendance ... He also ordained that, at a time of necessity, any gentile who came to be baptized, wherever it might be, whether in a river or in the sea or in a spring or in a marsh if only he pronounced the Christian confession of faith, should be thereafter a Christian in full standing.  

He held two ordinations in the month of December, four priests, seven deacons, twelve bishops in diverse places.  He also summoned a council and an inquiry among the clergy concerning the cycle of Easter and the Lord's day for Easter, and he gathered together the priests and the bishops.  Then Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, was questioned [Lat. interrogationem] and in the assembly it was decided that the Lord's day between the fourteenth day of the moon in the first month and the twenty first day of the moon should be kept as the holy feast of Easter. [p. 19]

When one reads the section on Victor IN THE CONTEXT of the whole Liber Pontificalis it is quite apparent that it is under his rule that the Church of Rome first rose to prominence.  We see him actively expanding the number of priests, deacons and bishops.

Then we should also notice that the definition of baptism here is completely transformed from its original understanding as μυστήριον.  Before I go any further I should note that traditional scholarship goes so far as to argue AGAINST the idea that baptism was originally identified as the μυστήριον of the Church.  As Osborne writes:

The New Testament does not speak of baptism as a sacrament; indeed the early Christians would not understand us with our theology of sacrament.  Only gradually did the Greek terms, mysterion and symbolon and the Latin term sacramentum come to refer to liturgical actions.  Actually the first clear reference is found in Athanasius (295 - 373 CE) but beginnings of this classification can already be found in Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian and Hippolytus.  It is in this linguistic development that some influence from the Hellenistic mystery cults can be seen.  The initiation into these mystery cults, called a muesis, gave rise to the Christian naming of baptism as mysterion.  Let us be clear: Christian baptism as an act, and a liturgical act at that, already was practiced; the naming of this act as mysterion came second. [The Christian Sacrament p. 57]

Yet is Osborne really correct here?  He certainly doesn't think that Christianity STARTED in Alexandria. If indeed these earliest representatives of Alexandrian theology can be argued to have understood baptism as mysterion we would be able to argue that only OUTSIDE of Alexandria - i.e. in Rome - was there a conscious effort to DENY the kind of 'mystery' baptism developed in Egypt.

Of course there is a very significant problem here which scholars never take into account when they boldly pronounce - like Osborne - that Clement avoided NAMING baptism as mysterion.  Would one expect those who engaged in pagan mysteries to openly acknowledge what went on behind close doors of their religion?

Oh, but Clement was writing to fellow 'brothers' in the greater Church.  As such he would have no reason to deny the μυστήριον of the Alexandrian Church, right?

Well, all of that might have been true before the discovery of the Mar Saba letter.

Clearly this text makes absolutely certain that the details of the liturgy of the Alexandrian Church were in some sense kept secret from other Christians outside of Egypt.  It is clear from his discussion with Theodore that the longer mystikon euangelion at the heart of the Alexandrian liturgy is unknown to those outside of Egypt.

As Brown notes "mystikon is the adjective corresponding to the noun mysterion, the basis for the English word “mystery.” The meaning of the adjective, therefore, should be sought with regard to how Clement used the noun mysterion and other derivatives of this word." [Mark's Other Gospel p. 152]  Yet we must qualify Brown's statement here.  

Should we expect that Clement would ever make explicit the μυστήριον of the Alexandrian Church to outsiders?  Of course not.  So unfortunately we are now in a position of having to admit that we will likely never get an explicit 'confession' of what μυστήριον meant to Clement especially as even the Letter to Theodore is written to an outsider of the Alexandrian tradition.

To this end Brown's conclusion that "[t]he lack of a cultic or sacramental connection in Clement’s use of mysterion (in his other writings) was documented in an article by H.G. Marsh in 1936 and does not need to be demonstrated again here" [ibid] can be attributed to these men not thinking through the implausibility of their own assumptions.  To put matters in every day terms, that a man publicly confesses his fidelity to his wife doesn't prove anything.  

Indeed let's spend some time seeing if Brown basically walks over the clues which can be used to demonstrate that baptism was SECRETLY understood to be the μυστήριον of the Alexandrian community.  Here is what he writes in full:

[f]or Clement, the mysteries were divine truths concealed beneath the literal level of the scriptures (e.g., Strom. I.5.32.3).  A contrived exposition of the two occurrences of mysterion in Col 1:25–27 provided Clement with the basis for his claim that the divine mysteries (he turned the word into a plural) were of two types: the gnostic tradition, which is reserved for the few, and the once hidden message of salvation, which is now openly proclaimed to the Gentiles (V.10.60.1–61.1).17 On occasion Clement followed Philo and Justin in using mysterion as a synonym for the terms symbol and parable (I.12.55.1; V.12.80.7).18 But in Clement’s writings, mysterion does not usually refer to the form or manner by which scripture reveals its truths; that is the function of mystikon (the adjective) and mystikos (the adverb). Clement normally used mysterion to designate the deeper truths themselves.  Because Clement divided the mysteries into two kinds, he was able to “disclose” the exoteric Christian truths through allegorical exposition, the same method by which the gnostic mysteries were imparted. But he still preserved the distinction between what belongs to the many and what only to a few. Clement sometimes described the different levels of mysteries using mystery-religion language of a gradation of mysteries, including a distinction between “the small and the great mysteries” (Strom. IV.1.3.1; V.11.71.1; cf. I.1.15.3).20 An Alexandrian believer might hear the longer text when being initiated into the latter (Letter to Theodore II.2). [p. 159]

Now let's stop right there because Brown will immediately go from here to argue that Clement understood the term μυστήριον allegorically as it were in the manner of the philosophers like Plato.  In other words, that there was no connection to any 'sacraments' per se.

Brown can't see the ground that he is standing on because he hasn't yet made the connection between Clement and the Marcosians (i.e. the heretical followers of Mark identified in the writings of Irenaeus and Hippolytus) which I have written about here at length AND in turn this community's identification of TWO baptisms in Christianity.

The question now is whether Clement's identification of two mysteries - one identified as 'small' and the other 'great' - are connected with his fellow Marcosians distinction between two kinds of baptism - i.e. the familiar water immersion which John gave to Jesus in the Jordan (which is the 'animal' form of the ritual) and some redemptive act connected with two separate figures named 'Jesus' and 'Christ' in the gospel narrative just before Salome's request on behalf of her sons James and John (Mark 10:35 - 45).  In other words, the very place where LGM 1 appears in the Alexandrian gospel of Mark.

Just look at the way that St. Mark the author is identified as the mystagogue of the Alexandrian tradition through his composition of the mystikon euangelion which - as Clement notes forms the basis to the mysterion of Alexandria.  Irenaeus almost begins his exposition of the Marcosian system by imitating their use of this kind of language.  

He starts by saying "I shall endeavour to state the remainder of their mystical system (tes mystagogias auton), which runs out to great length, in brief compass, and to bring to the light what has for a long time been concealed"  [AH i.13.6]  and then referring to their use of a "hidden" gospel [AH i.20.1] he adds that "these persons endeavour to set forth things in a more mystical (mustikoteron) style." [AH i.14.1]

By the time Irenaeus's gets around to describing the twofold μυστήριον of 'those of Mark' it is IMPOSSIBLE not to understand that he means the Markan See of Alexandria as described in To Theodore for he notes:

Thus there are as many schemes of redemption as there are teachers of these mystical opinions (tes gnomes mystagogoi, tosautai apolutroseis) . And when we come to refute them, we shall show in its fitting-place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole faith.  They maintain that those who have attained to perfect knowledge must of necessity be regenerated into that power which is above all. For it is otherwise impossible to find admittance within the Pleroma, since this [regeneration] it is which leads them down into the depths of Bythus. For the baptism instituted by the visible Jesus was for the remission of sins, but the redemption brought in by that Christ who descended upon Him, was for perfection; and they allege that the former is animal, but the latter spiritual. And the baptism of John was proclaimed with a view to repentance, but the redemption by Jesus was brought in for the sake of perfection. And to this He refers when He says, "And I have another baptism to be baptized with, and I hasten eagerly towards it."  Moreover, they affirm that the Lord added this redemption to the sons of Zebedee, when their mother asked that they might sit, the one on His right hand, and the other on His left, in His kingdom, saying, "Can ye be baptized with the baptism which I shall be baptized with?" Paul, too, they declare, has often set forth, in express terms, the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; and this was the same which is handed down by them in so varied and discordant forms.  

For some of them prepare a nuptial couch, and perform a sort of mystic rite  (mustagogian epitelousi) pronouncing certain expressions with those who are being initiated, and affirm that it is a spiritual marriage which is celebrated by them, after the likeness of the conjunctions above. Others, again, lead them to a place where water is, and baptize them, with the utterance of these words, "Into the name of the unknown Father of the universe--into truth, the mother of all things--into Him who descended on Jesus--into union, and redemption, and communion with the powers." [AH i.21.1 - 3]

I think when the dust settles on the 'debate' about the authenticity of To Theodore over the last generation almost everyone will come to see that I have discovered the CONTEXT of the letter.  Clement was a crypto-Marcosian.  Irenaeus knows and understands that there is another gospel associated with 'Mark' connected to another baptism more perfect than the familiar portrait of John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan.

All people have to do is remember that Clement COULDN'T reference the idea that baptism was the mysterion of his Alexandrian community because he was living in the same age that the bishop of Alexandria was brought to Rome to be interrogated about that same mystical system.

Nevertheless he does manage to convey the idea that there is another baptism beside the familiar 'animal' baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan by speaking of TWO MYSTERIES in the Church of Alexandria in cryptic references such as:

[the Lord] allowed us to communicate of those divine mysteries, and of that holy light, to those who are able to receive them. He did not certainly disclose to the many what did not belong to the many; but to the few to whom He knew that they belonged, who were capable of receiving and being moulded according to them. But secret things are entrusted to speech, not to writing, as is the case with God. [Strom i.1]

And to him who is able secretly to observe what is delivered to him. that which is veiled shall be disclosed as truth; and what is hidden to the many, shall appear manifest to the few. For why do not all know the truth? why is not righteousness loved, if righteousness belongs to all? But the mysteries are delivered mystically, that what is spoken may be in the mouth of the speaker; rather not in his voice, but in his understanding. [ibid]

So that we may have our ears ready for the reception of the tradition of true knowledge; the soil being previously cleared of the thorns and of every weed by the husbandman, in order to the planting of the vine. For there is a contest, and the prelude to the contest; and them are some mysteries before other mysteries. [ibid]

But since this tradition is not published alone for him who perceives the magnificence of the word; it is requisite, therefore, to hide in a mystery the wisdom spoken, which the Son of God taught. [ibid i.12]

I know Brown and others have combed through WHAT IS WRITTEN about Clement's writings BEFORE the discovery of To Theodore in order to argue that mysterion doesn't mean baptism but that's a little like going back to 1976 and arguing from the fact that Elton John was married he wasn't gay.

The discovery of To Theodore changes everything not only about Clement but our understanding of the history of the Church.  Clement was a crypto-Marcosian.  He lived in an age when the Roman Church was interrogating the leadership of his community.  Irenaeus was actively demonizing the tradition of Mark in order to justify the persecution of those attached to the Alexandrian tradition in places outside of Egypt.

You can't begin with the assumption that Clement was being 'open' about his beliefs when we know these things were going on.

So it is that if people were to spend time ACTUALLY comparing what is written about the Marcosians in Irenaeus to the beliefs of Clement both in his 'accepted' writings (i.e. those prior to Morton Smith's discovery) and to Theodore they would IMMEDIATELY SEE the connection.  Take for example what Irenaeus says about the Marcosians that "in a word, whatever they find in the Scriptures capable of being referred to the number eight, they declare to fulfil the mystery of the Ogdoad" [AH i.18.3] is echoed by Clement's reference to "the gnostic mystery of the numbers seven and eight" [Strom. iv.17] during his exposition of 'the apostle Clement' (i.e. 1 Clement).

I have identified fifty other proofs that Clement was a Marcosian here.  It is time to see however that the IMPLICATION of the identification of that affiliation is that not only did Clement SECRETLY identify baptism with the mysterion of the Alexandrian community, he actually posited TWO baptisms which corresponded to 'greater and lesser' mysteries in the exact same way as there was a lesser gospel 'for the increase of faith' [Theod i.17,18] and a "more spiritual gospel for those being perfected" [ibid i.21,22].

Indeed for those who are capable of such understanding, I have noted many times before that the REASON why the greater μυστήριον associated with LGM 1 is connected with the mystical Ogdoad (counting after the Jewish manner there is the explicit mention to seven days - i.e. the end of the day before the sun went down when the youth is resurrected from the tomb [Theod iii.1 - 6] plus 'six days' [ibid iii.7] and then the eighth day when he was taught the μυστήριον τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ θεοῦ) is owing to the underlying connection with the 'redemption' traditionally associated with the ancient Israelites crossing the Sea as the seventh day 'went out' into the eighth.  Hence the parallel reference in Secret Mark.  

The Romanization of the Alexandrian Christian Mystery Religion in the Early Third Century

I have been spending the last three days to demonstrate what should have been noticed long ago by the scholars who devote themselves to the Patristic literature - namely, that what passes as 'the writings of Irenaeus' cannot be regarded as a pure witness to the beliefs of late second century Rome.  To be sure there is Irenaeus in the writings of Irenaeus.  However it would be reckless to say that there isn't someone else - or indeed 'many someone elses' developing the original material in different directions.

At bottom Photius, the tenth century Byzantine scribe had before him a tradition which said that Hippolytus took 'lectures' on orthodoxy and heresy and developed the material into the book that eventually became the Refutation of All Heresies.  To be sure, Photius also acknowledges the existence of Against All Heresies which has always been taken to be five books written by Irenaeus.  Nevertheless, the very fact that Photius DOESN'T SAY that the Refutation of All Heresies was developed from Against All Heresies is very significant.

What this acknowledgment by Photius does for us is make clear that there are at least three stages to the development of the original material written by Irenaeus in the Commodian period which can be outlines as follows:

1. Various 'lectures' "of various kinds including letters, in some of which it should be observed that the exact truth of the doctrines of the Church appears to be falsified by spurious arguments" written between 177 - 192 CE

2. The development and 'correction' of this original material into Latin and other languages such as Tertullian's Against the Valentinians which makes use of one of these original 'lectures' in its original form.

3. The systematizing of these original 'lectures' into compendiums such as Against All Heresies (explicitly attributed to Irenaeus), Adversus Omnes Haereses (according to the CCSL introduction, the work was written at Rome in the time of Pope Zephyrinus c. 199 - 217) and the Philosophumena (an anonymous treatise now attributed to Hippolytus and identified as his Refutation of All Heresies mentioned in Eusebius even though Photius testimony demonstrates that the original text resembled Adversus Omnes Haereses in some ways).  

I don't see how there is any way around this formulation that I have just developed for the reader.  What passes as the writings of Irenaeus have been developed by a later editor.  As I noted before, this doesn't mean that there aren't Irenaean elements in the surviving material.  One may even argue that it could even be 'ninety percent pure.'

What seems to be clear from Photius again is that Hippolytus assembled various lectures of Irenaeus into at least one book - more than likely 'books.'  Our surviving Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called is likely the original 'Refutation' of Hippolytus (notice Photius calls Hippolytus's work Against Heresies).  Again Irenaeus never actually wrote a book called 'Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge Falsely So Called' or 'Against All Heresies.'

As the original material changed and developed over time, the original work was attributed to Irenaeus and subsequent works to Hippolytus.  The process is paralleled by the manner in which Tertullian is credited with the Five Books Against Marcion even though the original material came from writers in the second century.

Irenaeus did a very good job of pointing out beliefs that distinguished the various heretical sects.  Nevertheless, he himself was as far removed from these same Alexandrian schools as let's say the Christianity which emerged in the fourth century under Constantine.

One example, as I noted is what Schaff notes regarding the doctrine of redemption.  He writes:

all the essential elements of the later church doctrine of redemption may be found, either expressed or implied, before the close of the second century. The negative part of the doctrine, the subjection of the devil, the prince of the kingdom of sin and death, was naturally most dwelt on in the patristic period, on account of the existing conflict of Christianity with heathenism, which was regarded as wholly ruled by Satan and demons. Even in the New Testament, particularly in Col. 2:15, Heb. 2:14, and 1 John 3:8, the victory over the devil is made an integral part of the work of Christ. But this view was carried out in the early church in a very peculiar and, to some extent, mythical way; and in this form continued current, until the satisfaction theory of Anselm gave a new turn to the development of the dogma. Satan is supposed to have acquired, by the disobedience of our first parents, a legal claim (whether just or unjust) upon mankind, and held them bound in the chains of sin and death (Comp. Hebr. 2:14, 15). Christ came to our release. The victory over Satan was conceived now as a legal ransom by the payment of a stipulated price, to wit, the death of Christ; now as a cheat upon him (1 Cor. 2:8, misapprehended) either intentional and deserved, or due to his own infatuation. (This strange theory is variously held by Irenaeus, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, Ambrose, Augustin, Leo the Great and Gregory the Great. See Baur, ch. I. and II. p. 30-118.093).

This only one small example of what I see as the slow 'Romanization' of the original Alexandrian mystery religion over the first half of the third century.  I have pointed out that the Muratorian canon bears witness to the idea it originally took the shape of what must have been the original Alexandrian canon where 1 Corinthians (originally called 'to the Alexandrians' among the Marcionites) was given the preeminent place among the Pauline letters.

For the moment however I would like to devote a few paragraphs to the transformation of the original Marcionite/Marcosian understanding of the doctrine of redemption.

As most people know, the Passover is called the redemption in Judaism.  The idea goes back to Exodus 15:16 (the Song of the Sea) where God is said to have 'purchased' Israel:

Terror and dread falleth upon them (the enemies of Israel); by the greatness of Thine arm they are as still as a stone; till Thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over that Thou hast purchased.  Thou bringest them in, and plantest them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, the place, O LORD, which Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established.

There are of course many other allusions to the concept of Israel being purchased as they crossed through the sea as the seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread 'went out' into the eighth.  For the moment it is enough to see that the caricature of Simon Magus attempting to 'purchase' the Holy Spirit which comes through proper Christian baptism (cf. Acts 8:16f) is developed from a rejection of this heretical understanding.

Now it is worth noting that when scholars come across the Marcionite doctrine of redemption in later Church Fathers like Adamantius, Eznik of Kolb and Efrem the Syrian they argue that these represent the beliefs of 'later Marcionites' principally because they aren't referenced by 'the early Fathers' who wrote against Marcion.

Irenaeus of course develops the original Marcionite concept into a purchase of humanity from Satan, which is down right stupid and utterly implausible.  The original Marcionite concept was clearly the 'purchase' of humanity by Christ from the Demiurge as we see in Eznik's summary of the tradition:

He sent his Son to redeem them and 'to take on the likeness of a slave and to come into being in the form of man' [Phil 2:7] in the midst of the sons of the God of the Law. 'Heal' he said 'their lepers and give life to their dead and open their blind and make very great healings as a gift to them, so that the Lord of creatures might see you and be jealous and raise you on a cross.' 

'And then having become dead you will descend into the Harsh (or, Hell) and you will raise them thence because it is not customary for the Harsh to accept life into its midst. And for the same reason you will go up to the cross so that you might resemble the dead and so that you might open the mouth of Hell to take you and enter into the middle of it and empty it.'

And when he had raised him on a cross, they say, he descended into the Harsh and emptied it. And having raised the souls from the middle of it he led them into the third heaven, to his Father.

And the Lord of creatures having become angry, in his anger he rent his robe and the curtain of of his temple. And he darkened his sun and he clothed his world in umber. And in his affliction he dwelt in mourning. Then when Jesus descended a second time in the form of his divinity to the Lord of creatures, he brought a lawsuit against him on account of his death.

And when the Lord of the world saw that divinity of Jesus, he discovered that another God apart from himself existed. And Jesus said to him, 'I am in litigation with you, and let no one judge between us, but the laws that you wrote.'

And when they had placed the Law in the middle, Jesus said to him "Did you not write in your Law, 'Whoever will murder he will die, (cf Num 35.30 - 34)?' and 'Whoever sheds the blood of a righteous one, his blood will be shed (Gen 9:6)?'" And he said, 'Yes, I wrote."

And Jesus said to him "So give yourself into my hands, so that I might slaughter and shed your blood, because rightly am I more lawful than you, and great favors have I bestowed on your creatures." And he began to reckon up those favors that he had bestowed on that one's creatures.

And when the Lord of creatures saw that he had gained victory over him - neither did he know what to say in reply because by his own Law he was condemned; nor did he find an answer to give because he came forth condemnation in exchange for his death - so having fallen down in supplication, he was praying to him "Whereas I sinned and slaughtered you ignorantly because I did not know that you were a god, but rather I considered you a man, let there be given to you in exchange, for revenge, all of those who wish to believe in you to take wheresoever you wish."

So Jesus having released him, he carried off Paul from the astonished ones, and he revealed to him their prices, and he sent him forth to preach that we have been bought for a price, and everyone who believes in Jesus has been sold by that Just One to the Good One.

This is the beginning of the sect of the Marcion, leaving aside many irrelevancies - and what not everyone knows, but rather a few from among them, and they transmit that teaching to one another by mouth. They say, "By means of the price of the Stranger we were purchased from the Lord of creatures," and "How or in what way is the purchase, this no one knows." [Eznik A Treatise on God 358]

And again in Adamantius's debate with a Marcionite representative named Megethius:

Megethius the Marcionite: So alien are we to the Christ who appeared and the Christ who appeared to the Creator-god that Paul says 'Christ has redeemed us' [Gal 3:13]. It is clear then that he redeemed aliens, for no one ever redeems those who are his own: he redeems aliens, not his own.

Adamantius the Catholic: You and your party argue quite illogically. If you could prove your theories, well and good, but if you are hunting for an argument not yet refuted, then your reasoning is irreverent. You said that Christ is the one who bought: who is he who sold? You must have yielded to the silly fiction that buyer and seller are brothers! If the Devil who is evil, sold to the Good Christ, he is not evil but good: he who was jealous of humanity from the beginning is now no longer moved by jealousy for he has handed over his possession to the Good Christ. In point of fact he will be just, because he has given up all jealousy and all evil. But even if you say that it was not the Devil who sold but the Creator-god - whom however you claim to be just - what better justice will be shown here, if he sold those whom he had himself made to someone else? For if those who were being sold were good, he who, for ransom money, causes good servants to become the property of others is unjust. But if actually, he sold bad servants, he will still be unjust, because for ransom money, he causes his own bad servants to become the bad servants of someone else!

The case is rather that men had sinned and had alienated themselves through their sins, but they were redeemed through God's mercy ... The prophet says "You were sold without payment and you will be redeemed without money" [Isa 52:3 LXX] The words without money clearly indicate that the redemption was to be through the blood of Christ. The prophet actually asserts this "He was wounded because of your sins: by his bruises were we healed" [Isa 53:5] Because if you think that he did not, as it were, give his blood for the remission of sins, but in place of a ransom price, and that he did not offer his life for his sheep - suppose that he who received His blood or His life did actually return it; it would not be a recognized sale. And suppose that he did not return it, but retained His blood or His life, how could Christ have risen from the dead? [Adamantius Dialogue 1.820a]

As always then the heretical conception is much closer to the Jewish conception.  While the reports on the sect called 'Marcionites' never specify HOW mankind is 'purchased' from the Demiurge by Christ, the fact that there is another sect - the Marcosians - whose name means the same thing (i.e. those of Mark) who make it perfectly clear that it is through the sacrament of baptism that 'redemption' is delivered to the new Israel viz. Christianity.

I needn't say that there is an underlying connection between baptism and the crossing of the Sea by the Israelites.  This is already made explicit in 1 Corinthians chapter 10.  I think that the Marcosian 'redemption' baptism occurs in the context of Mark chapter 10 (Irenaeus i.20.2) it should be connected with LGM 1 of the secret Gospel of Mark in Alexandria.  To this end I see unfolding of this mystery of the kingdom of God over seven days culminating in an eighth day as being connected with tradition Biblical practices especially among the Samaritans.

Yet the Marcosian ritual described by Irenaeus alludes to the same idea of 'escape from authorities' as we see in the Exodus narrative.  Irenaeus writes that:

they (the Marcosians) affirm, that because of the "Redemption" it has come to pass that they can neither be apprehended, nor even seen by the judge. But even if he should happen to lay hold upon them, then they might simply repeat these words, while standing in his presence along with the "Redemption" 

O thou, who sittest beside God, and the mystical, eternal secret, thou through whom the angels, who continually behold the face of the Father, having thee as their guide and introducer, do derive their forms from above, which she in the greatness of her daring inspiring with mind on account of the goodness of the Propator, produced us as their images, having her mind then intent upon the things above, as in a dream,--behold, the judge is at hand, and the crier orders me to make my defence. But do thou, as being acquainted with the affairs of both, present the cause of both of us to the judge, inasmuch as it is in reality but one cause.

Now, as soon as the Mother hears these words, she puts the Homeric helmet of Pluto upon them, so that they may invisibly escape the judge. And then she immediately catches them up, conducts them into the bridal chamber, and hands them over to their consorts.[AH i.13.5]

The problem here is that most scholars just assume that the Marcosians are praying for release from a supernatural judge.  The terminology and the context throughout this section suits the idea of an escape from human judges.  The report goes on to explain that various followers of Mark have been captured quite near to Irenaeus (I suspect the location is the Po Valley) and in that description there is a clear understanding that at least some of the heretics have been brought to confessing their sins.

Harvey in his critical edition of Five Books Against All Heresies notes that:

Grabe and others have already noted that the Marcosian redemption prayers undoubtedly developed out of the traditional recitation of the Jewish ged'ullah (thanksgiving for their redemption from Egypt said in the morning and the evening).  He points to many common features in the formulas.  Harvey for his part notes the similarities with the Marcionites "the Marcosians like the Marcionites were not content baptizing their converts once; they repeated the rite and the second lustration was their apolytrosis that removed them from cognizance of the Demiurge.  The first baptism was material as the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan and was for the remission of sins, the second baptism  ... was spiritual and conferred redemption.  Hippolytus also mentions the twofold baptism of the Marcosians; referring to this passage of Irenaeus he says "For also the blessed presbyter Irenaeus, having approached the subject of a refutation in a more unconstrained spirit, has explained such washings and redemptions, stating more in the way of a rough digest what are their practices. (And it appears that some of the Marcosians,) on meeting with (Irenaeus' work), deny that they have so received (the secret word just alluded to), but they have learned that always they should deny. Wherefore our anxiety has been more accurately to investigate, and to discover minutely what are the (instructions) which they deliver in the case of the first bath, styling it by some such name; and in the case of the second, which they denominate Redemption." [RH vi.42] It was on account of this heretical repetition of baptism that the Eastern creeds express faith in the efficacy of "one baptism for the remission of sins." [p. 343]

I of course take issue with this understanding.  I think that the evidence points to:

i) an original Alexandrian 'redemption' baptism connected with the traditional Hebrew formulations of the ged'ullah while standing in the water and developed from LGM 1 in Secret Mark.  I do not believe that the Alexandrian Gospel of Mark had the baptism of Jesus by John.  
ii) under Roman pressure the Alexandrians superficially modified their Easter celebration away from the tradition Jewish Festival of Unleavened Bread.  Origen however testifies that it must never have completely disappeared and thus, I believe, the redemption baptism continued.  As such I think that the reference to 'two baptisms' in the period relate to the superficial adoption of the Roman identification of Jesus in the Jordan being developed alongside the apolytrosis ritual.

It is also my belief given the examples of the Alexandrian community at the time of Justin Martyr, Julius Cassian, Origen, Demetrius and later examples that the redemption ritual involved ritual castration.  This was the means by which humanity made after the image of the creator became 'reformed' after the example of the angels (see in the Marcosian formula above "thou through whom the angels, who continually behold the face of the Father, having thee as their guide and introducer, do derive their forms from above").  This reference to Matthew 18:10 repeats throughout the description of the Marcosians especially as the formula when 'men and women' are portrayed as wanting to 'unite themselves to Mark' who is the living example of the heavenly Father (i.e. sitting on the Patriarchal throne).

I will discuss this in greater detail shortly but it is enough to say that I think I have found the controversial CONTEXT for the way in which the followers of Mark sought to liberate themselves from the example of the Demiurge.  By transforming themselves into angels and being 'neither male nor female' they, like Origen, returned to the state of Adam before the fall (hence his name Adamantine cf Ezekiel 28).

The important thing is to see that Irenaeus's reference to the 'redemption from Satan' is an illogical corruption of the original practice of the followers of Mark.  This is followed historically by a complete transformation of baptism away from its original Alexandrian mystery context into something which resembled the Roman military's practice of swearing of oaths of allegiance.

As Kelly (Early Christian Creeds notes about Tertullian:

whenever he has occasion to refer to the Christian's affirmation of his faith at baptism ... several times he employs the metaphor of a soldier of the imperial army taking a military oath. There must have been a close parallelism between the procedures involved, and since the soldier's oath was generally rehearsed in his hearing while he simply indicated his assent, the obvious deduction is that much the same must have happened at baptism. There is a well-known sentence in his treatise De Spectaculis which points to the same conclusion: 'when we entered the water and affirmed the Christian faith in answer to the words proscribed by its law, we testified with our lips that we had renounced the devil, his pomp and his angels.' The passage from the De Corona which has already been referred to is similar in its bearing: 'then we are three times immersed making a somewhat fuller reply than the Lord laid down in the gospel.' (pp. 46, 47)

Clearly Tertullian's baptism involved an interrogation where the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were confirmed. We see this sort of thing represented in Hippolytus' Apostolic Tradition.

Yet these types of rituals were directed at believers who wanted to adopt the faith without any previous Christian affiliation. There is a whole other body of literature that has survived about the tradition associated with the Marcosians which suggests that they were centered out as needing to 'redo' their baptism after the Roman manner.

The so-called 'Anonymous Treatise on Baptism' wrongly dated in my opinion to the mid-third century. It was clearly developed with Irenaeus' description of the Marcosians whose rituals, he claims were borrowed from Anaxilaus of Larissa, the famed physician, Pythagorean philosopher and magician.

Just like Clement encourages his fellow Alexandrians to refuse to acknowledge another Gospel of Mark UNDER OATH the Anonymous Treatise makes clear that these Marcosians must 'repent' from their former beliefs - must 'swear an oath' like a soldier changing from one side to another:

But since the first part of this argument seems to be unfolded, we ought to touch on its subsequent part, on account of the heretics; because it is very necessary not to pass over that discussion which once falls into our hands, lest perchance some heretic should dare, of his subtlety, to assail those of our brethren who are more simple. For because John said that we must be baptized [by Jesus] in the Holy Ghost and in fire, from the fact that he went on to say and fire, some desperate men have dared to such an extent to carry their depravity, and therefore very crafty men seek how they can thus corrupt and violate, and even neutralize the baptism of holiness ... And such men as these do all these things in the desire to deceive those who are more simple or more inquisitive. And some of them try to argue that they only administer a sound and perfect, not as we, a mutilated and curtailed baptism, which they are in such wise said to designate, that immediately they have descended into the water, fire at once appears upon the water. Which if it can be effected by any trick, as several tricks of this kind are affirmed to be— of Anaxilaus— whether it is anything natural, by means of which this may happen, or whether they think that they behold this, or whether the work and magical poison of some malignant being can force fire from the water; still they declare such a deceit and artifice to be a perfect baptism, which if faithful men have been forced to receive, there will assuredly be no doubt but that they have lost that which they had. Just as, if a soldier after taking an oath should desert his camp, and in the very different camp of the enemy should wish to take an oath of a far other kind, it is plain that in this way he is discharged from his old oath.

Moreover, if a man of this sort should again return to you, you will assuredly hesitate whether he may have baptism or no; and yet it will behoove you, in whatever way you can, to aid even this man if he repent. [Anonymous Treatise 16,17]

I have already developed a number of posts demonstrating that the Anonymous Treatise was connected with the writings of Irenaeus. What I will go on to suggest in future posts is that Clement and the Alexandrian tradition was already under assault from the beginning of the Commodian period. I would even connect the persecution with the failed revolts in Alexandria (172 - 175 CE) which had the region around the Church of St. Mark in Boucolia as their epicenter.

Of course I can't prove any of these allegations yet. They are at the best suppositions which need further arguments and debate in order to develop them into a 'proof' of my assertions. Nevertheless it is enough to remind my readers that it is at least possible that the Carpocratian gospel is one and the same with our canonical Gospel of Mark or an earlier predecessor.

Yet this is not all.  I think that we can make a more direct connection between the 'oath' referenced in To Theodore and contemporary re-baptisms of Alexandrian 'heretics.'  As Kelly again notes:

one need only cite the pathetic story related by Dionysius of Alexandria in a letter to Pope Xystus about the man who came to see him in great distress: he had himself been baptized in heretical circles, and had just witnessed a Catholic baptism and heard "the questions and answers" and it dawned upon him that there was nothing like this in his own baptismal initiation. (p. 47)

Of course Kelly's summary of the letter is not quite accurate.  The individual in question in actually described as a long standing member of the Alexandrian congregation:

For truly, brother, I am in need of counsel, and I ask your judgment concerning a certain matter which has come to me, fearing that I may be in error.

For one of the brethren that assemble, who has long been considered a believer, and who, before my ordination, and I think before the appointment of the blessed Heraclas, was a member of the congregation, was present with those who were recently baptized. And when he heard the questions and answers, he came to me weeping, and bewailing himself; and falling at my feet he acknowledged and protested that the baptism with which he had been baptized among the heretics was not of this character, nor in any respect like this, because it was full of impiety and blasphemy.

And he said that his soul was now pierced with sorrow, and that he had not confidence to lift his eyes to God, because he had set out from those impious words and deeds. And on this account he besought that he might receive this most perfect purification, and reception and grace.

But I did not dare to do this; and said that his long communion was sufficient for this. For I should not dare to renew from the beginning one who had heard the giving of thanks and joined in repeating the Amen; who had stood by the table and had stretched forth his hands to receive the blessed food; and who had received it, and partaken for a long while of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. But I exhorted him to be of good courage, and to approach the partaking of the saints with firm faith and good hope.

But he does not cease lamenting, and he shudders to approach the table, and scarcely, though entreated, does he dare to be present at the prayers.[Eusebius Church History 7:9]

I am sorry my friends, there is something peculiar going on here. It seems strange to me at least that Dionysius should be showing such deference to Xystus when he was only one who held this name at the time (Roman bishops only began being called 'Pope' in the fifth century).

I see EXACT parallels with the discussion in Clement's Letter to Theodore. We have an 'oath' were a member of the Alexandrian community is being called 'a heretic' (presumably so identified owing to something he had written which displeased Xystus). When Origen was expelled from Alexandria, it explicitly says that this was done owing to the dictates of the Roman government.

It's just the blindness of traditional scholars who can't see the thread which connects this historical process to Constantine and Nicaea ...