Adamantius, De recta in deum fide

One stray ante-Nicene work that never appeared in the Ante-Nicene Fathers collection is a dialogue On the true faith in God attributed in the manuscripts to an otherwise unknown Adamantius.  Of course Origen was known as Adamantius also, but the author of this work holds anti-Origenist views. 

The work consists of a dialogue in two parts, held with the pagan Eutropius as arbiter, on which is the real Christianity.  In the first part, the author disputes with two Marcionites.  In the second a follower of Bardesanes is refuted. 

The text makes use of now lost works by Methodius, and therefore cannot be much earlier than 300 AD.  It is extant in the original Greek in at least ten manuscripts, and also in a translation by Rufinus.  It was published in the Patrologia Graeca 11, and a critical text exists in the GCS vol. 4 (1901) which is online, albeit only to Americans and contains both the Greek and Rufinus’ Latin.  An English translation by Robert A. Pretty was published in 1997 by Peeters, but sadly is offline.

I have been sent a quotation from the work, or rather what is apparently a paraphrase of a passage from it, which is as follows:

“What right has he [a heretic] to assert that the Messiah wrote the gospel? The gospel writer did not refer to himself as the Christ but to Jesus who he is proclaiming.”

I have no idea where in the dialogue this can be found.  Does anyone have any ideas?


24 thoughts on “Adamantius, De recta in deum fide

  1. I bet I know who that came from. Bless those who persecute you, I guess. I was using Danny Mahar’s translation of the French which available in part here:

    The Petty version is here:

    and renders the as follows:

    What right has Marcus to say that Christ wrote the gospel. The Gospel writer did not refer to himself; he refers to him who he is proclaiming – Jesus Christ.

  2. I’m sorry I don’t use hard copies of anything any more. Danny’s translation of Eznik is based on a French translation of an Armenian text. The source of the Adamantius material appears at his website.

  3. Thank you very much for these (the first comment went into the “moderate” queue because of the links, but of course I OK’d it).

    I try not to use hard copy either — it just fills up the floor.

    Well! A translation of Adamantius, if only a partial one!!! That is excellent news. Pity it’s copyright, tho. I might write to the author and ask if he would release the copyright.

    He says that he translated from the Latin version by Rufinus in GCS 4. Is there a French version around, did you say?

    You also mention Eznik; I didn’t understand this. Is there a version of Eznik somewhere on his site?

    The Petty version is on p. 93, I see. But p.92 – where the context of the remark will be found – is offline. Bother!

    More on this later!

  4. Here’s the story about Daniel Mahar. I have known him for years. His background is in Syriac actually, having worked with George Lamsa on the translation of a number of documents including the Peshitta if memory serves me correct. Back in the day when I was in university he sent me a whole package of things related to Marcion including a French translation of the Armenian summary of Eznik’s Book on the Marcionites (which contains one of the most interesting summaries of their beliefs I might add) and the full translation of Adamantius (which is also very interesting but as Schmid notes also very unreliable). Danny is a very useful source for the translation of Syriac documents and an extremely generous soul with an unparalleled knowledge of Marcion and the Marcionites. I must remind him to move his site over from Geosites where it now is. I think it only has days of life left with Yahoo planning to shut the whole operation down. But it’s well worth going over there and seeing all the information he compiled years ago …

  5. Thanks for these notes. I know of Eznik’s book, but there is no good version online that I know of.

    Did he translate all of Adamantius, then? The page online only translates the first part of the book, which covers Marcion.

    He ought to move his site to Google sites (

  6. I know he should move his site. I will talk to him about that. He did translate all the material which which related to things said by or were responses to things said by either Marcus or Megethius the two Marcionite representatives. I will talk to him and ask him if there is more

  7. Comparing the GCS edition with the Pretty page online, I find that 830a is the pagination of some early edition, which appears on p.86-87 of the GCS edition.

    Interestingly I can see a deviation between the Greek and the translation of Rufinus at just this point; Rufinus doesn’t use the word “Jesus.”

    On the previous page, the statement by Peter, “you are the Christ” has been raised. Eutropius the pagan arbitrator asks whether Peter wrote the gospel.T he Marcionite Marcus replies “Christ, not Peter, wrote the gospel.”

    Pretty: “What right has Marcus to say that Christ wrote the gospel. The Gospel writer did not refer to himself; he refers to him who he is proclaiming – Jesus Christ.”

    Rufinus: “Deinde quomodo dicit Christum scripsisse euangelium? Non enim tanquam de se scribens loquitur scriptor euangelii, sed tanquam alium et qui extra se sit praedicans Christum.”

    Greek: “πῶς δὲ λέγει τὸν Χριστὸν γεγραφηκέναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον? οὐ γὰρ ὡς περὶ αὑτοῦ ὁ γράψας τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἐσήμανε, σημαίνει ὃν κηρύσσει Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν,…”

    My attempt from Greek: “But how does he say that the Christ has written the gospel? For he who wrote the gospel did not indicate himself, he indicates the one he is proclaiming – Christ Jesus.”

  8. I bet the Marcionite understanding derives from Mark 1:1 (see Hippolytus). The controversy might also have to do with who is the real author of Mark. The text is so corrupt it is difficult to know anything for certain.

  9. Can I copy this on to my blog? I’d like to develop this idea with early Coptic sources (including fragments of Peter I)

  10. Yes, please do whatever you like with this. If you link to here, then it will create a trackback so readers can follow the discussion further.

    I’m pretty much done with it. I think the original paraphrase is a bit misleading, although it is hard to quote a continuous excerpt that explains it. The key point is the context of the thing; the pagan Eutropius is asking whether Peter wrote the gospel; the Marcionite replies that Christ did (since they only have one gospel, the mutilated Luke composed by Marcion); and Adamantius responds as we see above.

  11. Nut that’s the whole point. This contradicts the inherited assumptions about the Marcionites. The discussion only makes sense if they are arguing about the gospel of Mark. Hippolytus alludes to this – ie (again a paraphrase) ” the Marcionite gospel isn’t the gospel of Mark”? Why would Hippolytus have bothered to say this unless there were some making the opposite argument. A number of scholars have also noted that Tertullian and Epiphanius’ citations of “alterations” to Luke don’t look that strange if we compare them to western readings of Mark.

    The point is that this discussion only makes sense if the two representatives are arguing over a gospel of Mark. That would explain the Marcionite reference to “Christ’s gospel” (Tertullian alludes to this too I think when he says the Marcionites don’t attribute their text to Paul but call it “the gospel of the Lord” (again I am writing this from memory). I think this is an allusion to Mark 1:1.

    The solution to the Marcionite problem is that they employed a text related to Diatessaron (see Ulrich Schmid’s book on Marcion). This would explain the mix of Markan readings and material from Luke (it also helps explain why Tertullian accuses Marcion of removing things from his gospel which don’t appear in Luke).

    Tertullian’s original arguments had to have been developed by someone who employed a single long gospel harmony (like the Marcionites essentially ) and that original text was adapted by Tertullian (notice that Against Marcion III and Against the Jews go back to some earlier source).

    In this case I think the original argument in Dialogues go back to something along the lines of what I cited from the current Coptic Pope (ie who really wrote Mark). Essental reading here is Stephen Davis of Yale’s excellent book on the (re)Incarnation of the Christ-soul in the Coptic Church. I apply this idea to the Coptic Papacy in particular and the channeling of the Christ soul to the representatives of St Mark through St Mark himself.

    This explains the Marcionite position I think. Otherwise the whole argument really makes no sense at all.

    Sorry for taking up so much space. It probably sounds incomprehensible but the point is you have helped me immensely here. Thanks again

  12. Sorry I was using my accursed BlackBerry. The first word is “but”. The insomniac “nut” is me!

  13. Heh. This takes the issue away from the precise text and into larger areas. Without getting the Pretty text and reading through it, I really cannot say.

    Do we have specific evidence that the Marcionite gospel was based on Mark? We DO have specific evidence (Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem IV) with citations that it wasn’t.

    Or maybe these Marcuonites have abandoned the Marcionite gospel and are using the corpus of 4 gospels?

  14. Well it’s hard to explain this statement otherwise “[w]hen, therefore, Marcion or some one of his hounds barks against the Demiurge, and adduces reasons from a comparison of what is good and bad, we ought to say to them, that neither Paul the apostle nor Mark, he of the maimed finger, announced such (tenets).” [Hippolytus Book VII, XVIII] Hippolytus’ point is to say that Marcionites have incorrectly used their sources. We know they used Paul and we know they used … the Gospel of Mark? Yes, I think that’s what Hippolytus is saying.

    The Dialogues can’t be saying that the Marcionites used a gospel of four because of other statements in the narrative:

    Meg. I show there to be a false gospel. For the apostle says there is one Gospel, but you say there are four.

    Ad. There are four gospels, but it is one gospel…

    Meg. (5) The Apostle doesn’t say, “according to my gospels”, but “according to my gospel”. You see how he speaks of one. And a second time he says “if anyone should proclaim to you a different gospel, let him be accursed” (Gal.1:9?). How is it that you speak of four?

    Ad. The Gospel which we speak is one, but there are four evangelists.

    Meg. Neither are there four evangelists, for the Apostle says (Gal.1:7) : “which is not another [ according to my gospel , Gk.], but there are some that trouble you and would divert (you) unto a different gospel of Christ.”

    The Marcionite reading is the natural reading of the statements in Paul. The idea that Paul ‘really’ somehow meant a general ‘teaching’ of Jesus or later instructed Luke is a later invention by Irenaeus and Irenaeus himself identifies heretics who deny the name Paul and deny the existence of Luke.

    Also on another subject completely David Trobisch’s observation is worth noting about Mark is worth noting. The title ‘According to Mark’ is just ‘a header’ splashed across the top of the manuscript. The Dialogues have the Marcionites argue over and over again that the text was gospel was written by Christ without intermediary. This certainly means that the confession at the beginning of Luke that the author wasn’t even a witness to the acts of Jesus was certainly not present in the Marcionite unless of course one argues that the Marcionites were moronic or imbecilic, incapable of holding a rational position. In that case they could have held any position.

    As I said when you factor (a) the interest in identify the text as ‘the gospel of (Jesus) Christ’ (b) Tertullian’s statement that the Marcionites don’t even ascribe their gospel to Paul (c) Irenaeus identification of heretics who deny Luke ever wrote Paul’s gospel (d) the apostle identification of ‘my gospel’ and his frequent statements that ‘Christ was in him’ see Acts of Archelaus for further statements and amplifications (e) Hippolytus’ statement rejecting the Marcionite use of Mark (f) Schmid and others observation that many if not most of the Marcionite textual variants can be explained by western reading of Mark and (g) most importantly ‘Marcion’ and ‘Marcionite’ have to be seen to go back to an individual named Mark I think we are allowed to view Irenaeus – an admitted polemical figure – claim that the Marcionite tradition can be written off as using a corrupt version of Luke.

    Also it should be noted that the chapters AFTER his discussion of Marcus the heretic in Book 1 can be argued to have come from a different source. It has never made sense why Irenaeus suddenly introduces Simon Magus and the rest in this manner. But that’s another argument.

    This doesn’t mean that I think that I have the only explanation to the argument in Adamantius’ Dialogues. But I am firm believer that only good can come out discussions and debates about ancient texts and traditions.

    No one in the whole world was more important to the development of this theory than you. That’s what happens when you make ancient texts available online so people can read them in their underwear. I used to have to trudge into the library or make and lose photocopies. For better or worse the easy access to original sources led to the development of this theory.

    Thanks again

  15. Another example of your posting ancient texts on the internet led to the promulgation of heresy:

    I go out of my way to make reference to you and your posting of easy available ancient texts. Detering just asked me to write this down while I was waiting in the hospital for my son to be born. It’s more of a ‘first draft’ than an article but you’ll see the effect your work had on me.

  16. Thanks for the relevant excerpts; clearly the single Marcionite gospel was still in use, then.

    But I don’t see that Hippolytus’ statement involves the conclusion that the Marcionites respected Mark. Hippolytus is listing apostolic sources. Of course the Marcionites would reject Mark, but he doesn’t care about that. Bad logic by Hippolytus, you might say, but ancient authors do these things.

    I’m gratified that my efforts are leading people to use texts that they otherwise would not.

    Thanks for the link to the article.

  17. Your readers might find this as fascinating as I did when I discovered it in Irenaeus. Irenaeus apparently agrees with the rabbinic reports that Jesus’ really name was ‘Yeshu.’

    Irenaeus in Book Two Chapter Twenty Four seems to indicate that the ‘those of Mark’ – i.e. the ‘Marcosians’ – share the same name for Jesus with the Marcionites (i.e. Isu spelled with a samekh rather than a shin):

    Moreover, (the name) Jesus, which is a word belonging to the proper tongue of the Hebrews, contains, as the learned among them declare, two letters and a half, and signifies that Lord who contains heaven and earth; for Jesus in the ancient Hebrew language means “heaven,” while again “earth” is expressed by the words sura usser. The word, therefore, which contains heaven and earth is just Jesus. Their explanation, then, of the Episemon is false, and their numerical calculation is also manifestly overthrown. For, in their own language, Soter is a Greek word of five letters; but, on the other hand, in the Hebrew tongue, Jesus contains only two letters and a half.

    The idea that the name ‘Jesus’ only contains ‘two and a half letters’ is easily explained by the original translators of Irenaeus as they note the name ‘Jesus’:

    being written thus, ישו, and the small י being apparently regarded as only half a letter.

    Yet I have never heard this discussed anywhere. The name “Yeshu” is always the form found in the rabbinic texts but is usually dismissed as a mistake or the result of misinformation. Just thought I’d share it with you.

  18. Well at the very least Irenaeus gives a specific form of the name ‘Joshua’ which is consistently found in the rabbinic narratives:

    Yes these are hostile references but it is yet another example of the manner in which oral traditions CAN preserves bits and pieces of things that literary traditions can bury – in this case the original ‘Hebrew’ form of the name Jesus.

    If you go to Ephraim’s Against Marcion you’ll notice that Ephraim mockingly distinguishes his Jesus from the Marcionite Jesus by using the specific Marcionite form of the name of the Lord – Isu (which a samekh which doesn’t have the ‘sh’ sound of the shin in Yeshu).

    It has been argued that the Marcionite form is a rendering of the Greek Iesous. There is also the Arabic form of Jesus – Isa – which has to be explained. Nevertheless the fact that Irenaeus thinks that Yeshu is the correct form of the name makes a very strong argument that Jesus’ name was originally preserved in a form that was three (or as Irenaeus puts it – two and a half) letters.

    The name Yeshu seems to have been preserved in Syriac as we have prominent Christians of this name as early as the fifth century (including Yeshu the Stylite):

    There is a claim in the literature that this was a specifically Galilean form of the name Joshua but I can’t confirm this:

    There is a lot that amazes me about the state of knowledge of basic facts regarding Christianity (which has unfortunately opened the door to all those so-called ‘mythicists’ who stupidly deny even the existence of a historical Jesus). At the very least I think I can now with Irenaeus’ testimony establish with some degree of certainty what Jesus’ original name was – Yeshu – yod-shin-vav.

    This would seem to me to contradict all those who want to deny that Jesus ever existed. Yeshu is a very specific form of the name ‘Joshua.’ This couldn’t have been ‘made up’ in the second century. The name seems to support what Irenaeus himself tells us on a number of occasions – namely that there was a tradition associated with Hebrews which produced a gospel and which knew of a real, live ‘Jesus’ with a very specifically Palestinian form of the name Joshua.

    This couldn’t have been made up.

    Roger, I notice you have made it a point to attack the mythicists for trying to liken Jesus with pagan gods. Here is some ammunition that from a very early period, to tackle the other side of argument – namely that Jesus wasn’t a real person or didn’t have any historical reality.

  19. The quote you have is a paraphrase rather than an accurate reproduction.

    I looked up what you are referring too. Here is Pretty’s translation of DA 1.8, followed by the Greek and Rufinus’ Latin.
    Megethius = Marcionite Champion
    Adamantius = Catholic Champion

    MEG: I will prove that the Gospel is one.
    Δείξω ὅτι ἕν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον.
    Ostendam quia unum est euangelium.

    AD: Who is the writer of this Gospel which you said is one?
    Τίς ἐστιν ὁ γράψας τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦτο ὃ ἔφης εἶναι ἕν;
    Quis estqui scripsit istud ipsum quod solum ais euangelium?

    MEG: Christ.
    Ὁ Χριστός.

    AD: Did the Lord himself write that he was crucified, and rose on the third day? Does he write in this way?
    Αὐτὸς ὁ κύριος ἔγραψεν ὅτι ἐσταυρώθη καὶ ἀνέστη τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ; οὕτω γράφει;
    Et ipse de se Christus scripsit quia crucifixus est et resurexit a mortuis tertia die?

    MEG: The apostle Paul added this.
    Ὁ ἀπόστολος Παῦλος προσέθηκεν.
    Paulus apostolus hoc addidit.

    AD: Was Paul present at the crucifixion of Christ?
    Παρῆν γὰρ Παῦλος ἐν τῷ σταυρωθῆναι τὸν Χριστόν;
    Aderat enim Paulus, cum crucifigeretur Christus?

    MEG: He himself (Christ) plainly wrote the Gospel.
    Αὐτὸς ἔγραψε τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἁπλῶς.
    Ipse scripsit euangelium.

    Latin and Greek found on this page:

    The conversation is completely artificial, here and everywhere through books 1 and 2. It very much appears that the responses of the heretics is drawn from some source, just their base comments, without deep discussion. On the other hand Adamantius and the Eutropius give long digressions and support in depth for their positions, indicating they are the invention of the author, rather than just built from lines found in a source document. The lack of reply on the challenge about whether Paul was present at the crucifixion, instead repeating that Christ wrote the gospel is an example of that artificiality.

    The Marcionite position is similar to traditional views of the Torah, where Moses is said to have written it, but Joshua wrote the ending about Moses’ death. This tells you it’s a few generations removed from authorship.

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