Has Markus Vinzent been abducted by aliens?

An email draws attention to some remarks, supposedly by Markus Vinzent, here.

… let me just mention, that Marcion could take the place that was previously given to Q, yes, but Marcion provides, of course, not just a sayings source, but a Gospel that includes narratives. Moreover, he seems not only to have cooined the terms ‘Gospel’, as suggested by H. Koester, and ‘New Testament’, suggested by W. Kinzig, but has oriented Christianity towards a literature based new religion. In addition, I suggest that we have to revise our understanding of 2nd century school relations. Instead of reckoning with antagonistic schools, divided along the divides between orthodoxy and heresy, it seems that the various school teachers were more closely related than later apologetic literature wants to have it.

Considering that Tertullian has Marcion’s works before him, and works about Marcion before him, and lives within half a century of the time when the heretic got the bum’s rush from the Roman church, this is all rather cute.  It can only be advanced by ignoring the data in the historical record — selectively, of course — in order to fabricate a fairy-story.

But Dr Vinzent is someone I have met (a rare event).  That Dr Vinzent is a very capable patristic scholar, doing much excellent work, including getting Cyril of Alexandria, Contra Julianum, into a critical edition and modern languages.  It’s hard to imagine such a man peddling such stale old revisionism.   After all, we’ve all seen this kind of trick before, haven’t we? 

It’s always done in the same tired old way.  You take whatever the historical record says, imagine the opposite, then find excuses to selectively ignore the record until you create a vacuum on the subject you want to fake, and then proclaim that the vacuum proves that Jesus was an astronaut (or whatever).  Of course it isn’t very honest, but the faker often hides this from himself by various excuses.  It also tends to bring the humanities into disrepute. 

Can anyone even find this trick interesting these days?  Haven’t we seen it so many times before? 

So I have a theory.  Clearly Markus Vinzent has been abducted by aliens, and replaced with a clone.  The pseudo-Markus is vainly attempting to establish his place as a scholar, but has not realised that revisionism is now old hat.  And obviously we must now all campaign to have the real Markus Vinzent back. 

Some may protest that there is no actual evidence of abduction, and this is true.  But then, it’s more evidence than there is for a first century Marcion!


26 thoughts on “Has Markus Vinzent been abducted by aliens?

  1. I agree fully with the professor based on the statement in Clement that Marcion was converted at the time Simon heard the preaching of Peter

    The evidence is more complicated than many would like to admit

    BTW Tertullian likely never saw the Marcionite gospel. He is copying out a translation of a Syriac comparison of the canon shared by Ephrem in Books 4 and 5 (notice how many times T accuses M of removing things in the gospel which don’t appear in Luke)

    I have posted Casey’s article from the thirties showing the Marcionites used a Diatessaronic gospel based on the testimony of Eznik

    I think Marcion is to Marcus what Herodion is to Herod ie a diminutive form of the name. Hilgenfeld, von Harnack (who calls Marcion a subform) and almost all the other Germans agree

    The Philosophumena dismisses a Marcionite claim to possess ur-Mark and Irenaeus can be read to echo this claim too

    All of what I am suggesting has already out forward by Hermann Rachke a few generations ago

  2. With a bit of digression, what do you guys think of Marcion’s theology? To me, I think his theology regarding the Old Testament makes a great sense ( I say this at the risk of being accused of so many things, not worst being a heretic!), but the rest of his theology I think is rubbish.

  3. doesn’t justin claim that marcion is still preaching around 155ad and doesn’t irenaeus say that polycarp met marcion around that time too? Couple those pieces of data with papias’ Claim about mark and it seems clear that marcion came well after the gospel of mark. (sorry for poor punctuation and no references I am writing from my phone.)

  4. I think so.

    All this reminded me of Harnack’s volume of all the references to Marcion and Marcionism (Marcion: Das Evangelium der fremden Gott?). Someone needs to create a web page of that data, I think.

  5. Dioscorus Boles

    Yes Marcion’s interpretation of the OT makes sense (Eznik notes that he used a Hebrew copy of the Jewish writings rather than the LXX which – of course – the Church Father condemns as inherently heretical!). As von Harnack notes unlike all the contemporary Catholic Fathers he doesn’t fall into the trap of allegorizing every historical event.

    Roger, I have asked Ulrich Schmid to get one of his students to copy Hermann Raschke’s book on Marcion. I was thinking of offering one of them to translate the book. Perhaps I will ask for von Harnack (after the point the existing English translation stops) instead. What is the going rate for commissioning a translation?

  6. Dear Roger,

    thanks for both your comments on this blog here as well as on your own. Let me take them together (that is why I copied your comments from your own blog into this one), and, for clarity and comprehensiveness, let me please answer in between your text (marked by >):

    This theory seems rather perverse.
    >I know of the novelty of my hypothesis, but ‘perverse’ is a strong word, but maybe you are right, as it ‘turns on its head’ our previous understanding of Marcion. But be assured, it is the same old patristic scholar who has diligently (as much as I can) worked in other fields and is not interested at all in any kind of novelty for novelty’s sake, or ideologically inclined towards any form of revisionism. What I propose (and you have only here the very condensed form of an abstract of an abstract, but I am happy to forward you the pdf of the final text which is with the publisher now), has grown out of almost 20 years research on the Resurrection of Christ in Early Christianity.

    It does, after all, contradict every scrap of primary evidence that we have about Marcion.
    >It does, indeed, contradict most of how we read our primary evidence so far, but I think, it does not contradict the primary evidence itself – let me give you a few examples below.

    It also forces us to consider that our best detailed source on Marcion — Tertullian — is rubbish.
    >I know, how well you know Tertullian, and I would be mad if I thought for one moment that Tertullian were rubbish. He is highly intelligent, certainly our best rhetorician in the first three centuries, and because of that – I had already suggested in earlier papers that we have to read him as a rhetorician and apologetic author (which not always is being done).

    If so, then just what do we objectively know about Marcion? Nothing much, I suggest.
    >If we read Tertullian carefully, I think, a lot of knowledge about Marcion can be gained, and I think, slightly more than has previously be seen (especially since a lot of what is being written about Marcion is either taken from Harnack or – as more recent studies show – is read against Harnack, while I think, one has to start by reading the sources, instead.

    At that point, which piece of evidence requires the theory proposed? None, as far as I can tell.
    >That needs to be seen. You will find a very detailed, and hopefully nuanced discussion in the monograph. At least all those colleagues who have read the manuscript so far could not fail the arguments, even if they said that they go against their inner feelings – but these are shaped by our traditional views.

    This whole process all seems very stale to me. We’ve all seen this kind of “logic” so very many times before, and it’s called revisionism. It always works in the same way — it invents a theory which is the reverse of what everyone has always thought, and then selectively debunks the data in order to create “evidence” for it. It’s tedious, to give it no worse name.
    >hopefully not – and let me assure you, instead of having had a theory from which I worked, it was the other way around. The beginning, those many years back, I only wanted to write a conference paper on early Christian narratives of Christ’s Resurrection – and there are a few, though not many, less than I first thought. More important, I discovered that almost nobody had written about Christ’s Resurrection in Patristics. The French scholar Adalbert Hamman, certainly not a revisionist, published two articles on this topic in 1975 and drew attention to the incongruence between New Testament and early Christian studies: ‘While there is an abundant exegetical literature on the question of the Resurrection, early Christian studies are practically inexistent’ or, in short, show a ‘virgin territory’. And although, three years ago, N.T. Wright published his over 700 page monograph on the Resurrection, it is still predominantly a NT-monograph, not a thorough study of Patristics. So, how can we explain this discrepancy? That was the beginning of my journey, not a theory, nor a blow by aliens, but the discovery of an unanswered question which I wanted to answer. I then looked into Aloys Grillmeier and his magisterial work on ‘Jesus Christ in Christian Belief’, a multi-volume encyclopaedia on how early Christians of the first five centuries reflected about Jesus Christ (2nd ed. 1979). Grillmeier discusses the relation between the historical Jesus and the Lord alive in his Church, in prayers, liturgy, creeds and controversies. The index to the first volume, covering the period up to the year 451 AD, notes only five references to the Resurrection: The Gospel of Peter (2nd c.), Eusebius of Caesarea (4th c.), and three texts of the fifth century. Amongst the many Latin terms in the index, resurrectio is missing, and the Greek word ἀνάστασις (‘Resurrection’) refers only to the apostle Paul and to the fourth century Alexandrian presbyter (and ‘heresiarch’) Arius. Or, take another, more recent example, ‘The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies’ (2008): on 1020 pages with chapters on ‘Interpretation of Scripture’, ‘Doctrine of God’, ‘Christ and Christologies’, ‘Doctrine of Creation’, ‘Early Christian Ethics’ and other topics by most eminent scholars, there is not a single reference to Christ’s Resurrection. I hope you get a feeling for the reality of a problem that needs explanation, and see that I was not driven by revisionist energies.

    Let’s have our statements about the past based on the historical record, hmm, and not on attempts to turn that record upside down.

    Considering that Tertullian has Marcion’s works before him, and works about Marcion before him, and lives within half a century of the time when the heretic got the bum’s rush from the Roman church, this is all rather cute. It can only be advanced by ignoring the data in the historical record — selectively, of course — in order to fabricate a fairy-story.
    >Let us move from a Tertullianist form of rhetoric to a close reading of sources. That Marcion ‘got the bum’s rush from the Roman church’ is more than an oversimplification of what Tertullian reports:
    ‘For it is agreed that they [Marcion and Valentinus] lived not
    so very long ago in the reign of Antoninus for the most part, and that at first they were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church in Rome during the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus,
    until, on account of their ever restless speculation whereby they corrupted the brethren also, they were expelled more than once. Marcion, indeed, with the two hundred sesterces that he had brought
    into the Church and when at last banished into perpetual separation from the faithful, they spread abroad the poisonous seeds of their peculiar doctrines. Afterwards, when Marcion had professed penitence and agreed to the condition imposed upon him, namely, that if he could bring back to the Church the residue whom he had instructed to their perdition, he should be received into communion, he was prevented by death.’ (Tert., De praescr. 30)
    According to this text by Tertullian, there was, as S. Moll (The Arch-Heretic Marcion, 2010, 45) comments ‘much vacillation or wavering back and forth as to Marcion’s status of membership of the church’, although Tertullian states that Marcion at first was faithful to the doctrine of the Catholic Church in Rome, and at the end of his life ‘should be received into communion’ which was only prevented by his death. Moll is also reluctant to state that Marcion was expelled by the community of Rome, and I agree, as the above text is the earliest information we have about it (nothing of this is mentioned in Tertullian’s Against Marcion). While Tertullian lived and wrote at a time when communities were more and more directed by a monarchian bishop, developed mechanisms of exclusion, based on a differentiation between orthodox and heretics (although Tertullian himself is a good example that it was not, yet, clear what orthodoxy or catholicity meant, and that one could rather leave one community and join another and think that one lived on the orthodox side), a few decades earlier when Marcion lived, Justin and even after him Irenaeus had great difficulties to single out the wolves from the sheep. That none of the authors prior to Tertullian mention that Marcion had been expelled must make us even more cautious not to overinterpret Tertullian. As late as the sixth century, we know from the Chronicle of Edessa that Marcion was not expelled, but that he simply had left the catholic church. Similarly, authors after Tertullian convey information about Marcion’s life which differs substantially from Tertullian and from each other so that it is hardly possible to create from this evidence a coherent picture of Marcion’s life (see more in S. Moll, ‘Three against Tertullian’, JTS 59, 2008, 169-80). Or shall we believe with Ps.-Tertullian and Epiphanius that Marcion abused a virgin and was already expelled by his own father, a bishop?

    But Dr Vinzent is someone I have met (a rare event). That Dr Vinzent is a very capable patristic scholar, doing much excellent work, including getting Cyril of Alexandria, Contra Julianum, into a critical edition and modern languages. It’s hard to imagine such a man peddling such stale old revisionism. After all, we’ve all seen this kind of trick before, haven’t we?
    >thanks for the flowers, and sorry that I caused you pains. I hope to be able to show that what I am suggesting is far from being old, stale and revisionistic, but on the contrary a close reading especially of Tertullian.
    To give you one example, an important one – the question of circumcision of the Scriptures:
    None of the first authors who engage with Marcion mention him having shortened or circumcised the Scriptures. On the contrary – they only let us know that he put forward awkward interpretations. In contrast, however, we are told by Tertullian that Marcion accused people who upheld the Jewish belief of having combined the Torah, the Prophets with the Gospel which presupposes that these others have produced such a combined, enlarged edition compared to the stand-alone Gospel that Marcion used:
    ‘If that Gospel which among us is ascribed to Luke … is the same that Marcion by his Antitheses accuses of having been falsified by the upholders of Judaism with a view to its being so combined in one body with the Law and the Prophets that they might also pretend that Christ had that origin'(Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 5).
    Already Irenaeus must have known Marcion’s criticism of his fellows, as he rhetorically retorts to Marcion that not Irenaeus and those who use a combined version of Tora, Prophets and Gospel(s) are judaizing, but, on the contrary, that Marcion is circumcising the Scriptures, a particularly fine rhetorical answer, as he accuses Marcion to be nothing else than a Judaizer himself who does what he rejects (Iren., Adv. haer. III 11,7). In one sense, Irenaeus is certainly correct, as Marcion had picked up a number of features from his Rabbinic colleagues, for example the Ketubim (Scriptures, not Torah or Prophets alone) orientation and the belief in the resurrection (of course, not of the body in Marcion). Tertullian follows Irenaeus and advances the same criticism against Marcion. I cannot see, how else one should read Tertullian’s admission of Marcion’s argument, even if, then, Tertullian tries to counter-argue that Marcion’s argument presupposes that not Marcion produced the first edition, but that the ones he accuses must have produced a product prior to Marcion’s accusation. What Tertullian, of course, omits is that publications even in the second century were a multi-staged process. The first stage was often a publication of memoranda or memorabilia (apomnemoneumata) for the classrooms (this is what Justin, for example, talks about when he speaks of the so-called Gospels). As I explain in the monograph in more detail – and as I will explain in another forthcoming monograph in even more detail – the discourse between the various teachers in Rome (also their competition and disagreements) was intimate, intense and by far not as antagonistic as writers like Irenaeus and Tertullian later try to make us believe. Recent scholarship has shown to what extent Irenaeus, for example, builds on Valentinian theology, and similar adaptations and adoptations are shown in my book of other teachers in the second century.

    It’s always done in the same tired old way. You take whatever the historical record says, imagine the opposite, then find excuses to selectively ignore the record until you create a vacuum on the subject you want to fake, and then proclaim that the vacuum proves that Jesus was an astronaut (or whatever). Of course it isn’t very honest, but the faker often hides this from himself by various excuses. It also tends to bring the humanities into disrepute.
    >again, strong language. Having gone through all the first, second and third century evidence, and concentrated on the first two centuries, I hope that I have not overlooked anything and present everything of relevance. I asked and ask colleagues to point out where I missed something – already the reviewers have highlighted a few omissions which, on reflection, however turned out to have strengthened the argument of the book.

    Can anyone even find this trick interesting these days? Haven’t we seen it so many times before?
    >Writing a book is a means of transparency, presenting arguments and being ready for criticism. Where there are counter-arguments, I will engage with them.

    So I have a theory. Clearly Markus Vinzent has been abducted by aliens, and replaced with a clone.
    >Not every theory is correct. Whether mine is, the discussion will show. Whether or not I have been abducted by aliens and replaced with a clone, only the ones who know me and have met me will be able to judge. Know yourself – as we know – is the biggest challenge in life.

    The pseudo-Markus is vainly attempting to establish his place as a scholar, but has not realised that revisionism is now old hat.
    >This, at least, is an argument which needs little disproval. I have got my third chair in the course of my life, do not aim for another one, nor for any other position, accolades or similar things, and simply follow the scholarly interests in the best ways to find out how best to make sense of the evidence we have.

    And obviously we must now all campaign to have the real Markus Vinzent back.
    >Dear Roger, your detailed blog entry is part of the compaign, as it allows me to respond and engage with your concerns.

    Some may protest that there is no actual evidence of abduction, and this is true. But then, it’s more evidence than there is for a first century Marcion!
    >First century Marcion? We know, he is called the old man amongst the teachers in Rome, but I would not go too far back, rather move the dating of other texts.

    Best yours Markus

    PS to Tom on Papias, Justin, Irenaeus etc.

    We do not know when Papias wrote. Scholars like T. Rasimus place him in the 140s, hence make him a contemporary of Marcion and cannot be taken as evidence for a priority of Mark or Matthew to Marcion. In my book I have a few paragraphs on Papias, and it is certainly interesting to see that Papias (of course in the fragmentary state of his work) does not mention those authorities that are dear to Marcion (Paul, the Gospel which we know as Luke), while he refers to those that Marcion does not use (Mark, Matthew …, the Jewish Scripture). Who reacts to whom?

  7. Hi Markus,

    Just a quick note because I have a job interview tomorrow so can’t even spare the time to read your comment properly! Appreciate the comment — if it is really you! More tomorrow.



  8. Hi Stephan,

    If you could do something about that book of Harnack’s, it would be a benefit to everyone. I don’t think US academics really read books in German. Prices — well, it depends what you can negotiate! First find your translator! Perhaps 10c a word?



  9. Markus,

    Thank you for your courteous and measured reply! Well let me say that I have not read your monograph, so I am not entirely sure

    what your claims are (Marcion wrote Mark? Mark used Marcion as a source?) and so I think I will simply limit my comments about

    Papias, the gospels of Mark and Luke in patristic sources, and also the resurrection.

    Yes it is true some scholars date Papias to the 140s, but the only reason for this is one comment by Philip of Side who

    associates Papias with Hadrian (117-138). Philip is rather untrustworthy and he contradicts Eusebius (and also Jerome and

    Prosper of Aquitania) who place Papias within Trajen’s reign. Furthermore Eusebius, as we all know, did not like Papias, yet he

    associates him with men of “the apostolic era” (Ignatius, Clement of Rome, and Polycarp). Irenaeus also associates Papias with

    the “Apostolic era.” For example he seems to think that Papias predated Justin by how he speaks of the two men.

    Even if we date Papias to the 140s, he actually quotes that mysterious “elder” about the composition of the gospel of Mark, which

    would push the date to at least the 120s if not earlier.

    There is also evidence that Papias did know the Gospel of Luke (1) a fragment from Andrew Caesarea exists in the Armenian

    translation in which Papias quotes a passage that is only found in Luke. (2) Papias frequently mentions people that only occur in

    the book of Acts, which all (I think) acknowledge is a sequel to the gospel of Luke.

    I suppose to sum up what I am saying is that, yes there is evidence that Papias wrote in the 140s, but there is more evidence

    that he wrote before that. Also, there is evidence that he was aware of the Gospels of Mark Matthew and Luke, and according to

    Eusebius he also quoted from 1 John which is linguistically linked with the gospel of John. None of this is rocksolid evidence,

    but it is indeed evidence.

    Lastly, aside from Mark, there is also evidence that the gospel of Luke was written well within the first century. 1 Timothy 5:18

    quotes from a Scripture passage that only appears in Luke. And 1 Timothy appears to be known by Polycarp (to the Phillipians

    4:1) and Clement of Rome appears to know of 1 Timothy and the other Pastorals (for example 1 Tim. 3:10 and Clem 42.4 also Titus

    3:1 and Clement 2.7 see http://christianthinktank.com/clemntx.html for 32 allusions to the Pastorals). This chain of reference

    points to a composition well within the first century.

    As for the resurrection of Jesus, Clement of Rome says (42.1-4)

    “The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from

    God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a

    charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with

    full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching

    everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and

    deacons unto them that should believe.”

    Ignatius of Antioch says (Magnesians 11):

    “attain to full assurance in regard to the birth, and passion, and resurrection which took place in the time of the government

    of Pontius Pilate, being truly and certainly accomplished by Jesus Christ, who is our hope, from which may no one of you ever be

    turned aside.”

    Perhaps I have misinterpreted your comments about the resurrection in early patristic sources, please let me know if I have.

    Again however, thank you for your remarks, they are appreciated and thought provoking.


  10. Maureen,

    If Professor Vinzent lived in ancient times and we were his intimates we would likely be addressing him as ‘Marcion’ because Marcion is the Greek diminutive of the Latin name Marcus. Having Greek friends, it is amazing to see how common the diminutives are used in that language. The -ion suffix was quite common in ancient times.

  11. And from what I remember the diminutive -ion suffix was taken over by the Coptic language. I should ask Mr Boles if he knows of any Coptic hymns where the apostle Mark is addressed in the diminutive form? If not in Coptic then in Arabic (I don’t know what the Arabic form would take – the Aramaic form is Marqona)

  12. Hi Stephan, thanks for your earlier response, and for asking me this question. I am not aware of any Coptic hymn that uses the diminutive form of Mark for St Mark, but I will ask others who are more versed in Coptic hymns, and if I find it used I will come back to you.

    In Arabic Marcion is written as Marqueon while Mark is written as Morqos.

  13. Re: diminutive, I thought that was the case. But the chance to make the obvious joke (not to mention the conviction that many of Roger’s readers know more about it than me!) seemed more important. 🙂

    Marcus names and derivatives were pretty common in the Roman Empire, and this Markus must have a visceral knowledge of what it’s like to have a common name. So it’s odd that his theory would be to conflate these guys. But I suppose that it’s a reaction to all the theories that separated single works into multiple authors, and then separated them some more.

  14. Thanks Mr. Boles

    It might interest you to learn that while the Catholic tradition ignores Alexandria and Egypt, the Marcionite Church had a Pauline letter ‘to the Alexandrians’ mentioned in the Muratorian Canon. The Apostolikon of the Marcionite Church seems to have given different names to the same epistles. The anonymous epistle (sometimes called ‘to the Ephesians’) is identified as ‘to the Laodiceans’ among the Marcionites.

    The reference is “There are also in circulation one to the Laodiceans, and another to the Alexandrians, forged under the name of Paul, and addressed against the heresy of Marcion; and there are also several others which cannot be received into the Catholic Church, for it is not suitable for gall to be mingled with honey.” (Muratorian Canon 3)

    The reports of the Church Fathers were often misinformed about the Marcionites. While there is a short epistle to the Laodicaeans that circulated in the early Church, it cannot be argued to have been an ‘anti-Marcionite’ treatise. The fact that ‘to the Alexandrians’ is cited alongside a well known ‘rebaptizing’ of a canonical text (i.e. Laodiceans) makes me suspect that another of the canonical epistles in the Apostolikon was renamed.

    Indeed as I am sure you would agree it is very strange that the illustrious city of Alexandria have been completely ignored in the first century and a half of Christianity? Stranger still is why Clement and Origen so ashamed to trumpet the apostolic legacy of a city whose greatness was equal – if not greater than Rome?

    As you know, the injustice against St. Mark’s apostolic status continues to this day.

    BTW we have uncovered more of the Martyrium of St. Mark in Chatby. A synthronos, two capitals. In April I will be there to see what else we can find …

  15. Just for comparison here is Bruce Metzger’s translation of the Latin original from the Muratorian canon:

    There is current also [an epistle] to (64) the Laodiceans, [and] another to the Alexandrians, [both] forged in Paul’s (65) name to [further] the heresy of Marcion, [6b] and several others (66) which cannot be received into the catholic Church (67)— for it is not fitting that gall be mixed with honey.

  16. Dear Markus,

    Many thanks for your note. It is unfortunate that I simply don’t have time to engage with this at the moment, which is why I wrote a quick humorous note rather than a detailed discussion!

    All the best,


  17. Stephen, your note is very interesting, and opens other possibilities for a reinterpretation of early Christianity in Egypt up to 180AD. I look forward to hearing more about your important work at the Martyrium of St. Mark in Chatb.

  18. Dear Stephen,
    thanks so much for the joke – which really made me thinking about the relation between Mark and Marcion, given that I am exploring at the moment how the canonical Gospels would read, if they were a recast of Marcion.

    To Tom (and Roger – as you will have an English translation of Papias’ Armenian Fragment 1):

    just a short note on whether Papias knew Luke. Here something which, because of space restriction, had to be cut out from the monograph, and has to feature in the new one on Marcion’s Gospel text in comparison with the other Gospels:

    Did Papias of Hierapolis knew the Gospel of Luke?

    Papias’ profile according to Eusebius has been challenged not too long ago by Folger Siegert who drew attention to long-neglected quotes of Papias in the Armenian tradition.

    The first of this quotes from Andrew’s of Cesarea Commentary on Revelation runs as follows:

    And Papias in his books [writes] as follows:
    ‘The heavens did not bear his [man’s] earthly thoughts. He fell on the earth, to live; and when the human being came to this place, where he was, he did not let him live in natural passions, but misled him into many evils. Michael, however, and his hosts who are guardians of the world, helped humankind, as also Daniel learned; they gave laws and made the prophets wise’.
    And all this was a fight against the dragon, who led human beings into temptation. Now, their war continued into the heavens up to Christ. But Christ came; and the law, which ‘could not achieve anything’ by somebody else, he fulfilled ‘in his flesh’, according to the Apostle. He wiped out the sin, judged Satan and spread justice to all through his death. When this happened, the victory of Michael und his hosts, the guardians of humankind, was achieved and the dragon could no longer resist. Because the death of Christ crushed and smashed him on the floor, as Christ said: ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’. The teachers interpreted this verse not as his [Satans] first fall, but as his second, the one caused by the Cross; and this one does not consist in a spatial fall like the first one, but is judgement and waiting of future punishment. He definitely lost the battle, as he himself said, when he admitted to Antony the fulfilment of the Psalm that was foretold about him: ‘The arms of the enemy were harmless until the end’. Because Christ who has judged him, is the real fall for him. As we have heard from the teachers that he had hoped to be able to return to the first glory, through it [the fall], however, he fell away from it. On this Irenaeus picks up the Justin’s martyr words …

    Folker Siegert pointed out that the quote of Papias, given by Andrew of Cesarea, could not have run from the beginning to ‘On this Irenaeus …’, because in the midst of the second paragraph, the text refers to Athanasius’ Vita Antonii, hence this part cannot have been written prior to the fourth century A.D. So the question arises, where does Papias’ quote end. Siegert, without further argument and reflection suggests that Papias included the quote from Luke 10:18 and drew the far reaching conclusion that Papias therefore must have known this canonical Gospel.

    Now, the first problem arises that Papias could as well have read this verse in Marcion’s Gospel, as we have neither a note that this verse was not part of it, nor is the verse attested. More important, however, for establishing where Papias’ quote in the text ends, we have to compare the second paragraph with the first one – the paragraph structure is already present in Siegert’s translation and in his edition (based on three manuscripts), supported by quotation marks both in the edition and translation that run from the beginning to the end of the first paragraph. It is therefore, astonishing that despite the quotation marks he thinks of the second paragraph still being part of Papias’ quote. There are additional arguments against this:

    The first part with Papias’ quote is an interpretation of Gen. 2 – man’s fall from paradise and his condemnation to live on earth and his continuous struggle with passions and temptations. This Papias reads in the light of a tradition that we know from the Book of Enoch: Michael and his hosts, the defenders and guardians of the world and helpers of humankind (Enoch 20:5: ‘Michael, one of the Holy Angels, namely the one put in charge of the best part of humankind, in charge of the nation’). This typology of Michael can also be found, indeed, as the text correctly states, by Daniel (Dan. 12:1: ‘12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who watches over your people, will arise’). Different to the mentioned references to Genesis, Enoch and Daniel, Papias connects the fall of humankind and humans being guarded by Michael with the angels’ giving of the Torah and the Prophets. This interpretation is closely linked to the discussion of the mid second century about who gave the Law and the Prophets, the supreme God who is also just, or a just God who has to be differentiated from the supreme God (so Marcion), or the fallen angel, Satan (so Apelles, Marcion’s pupil), or some laws by Moses, others by the Prophets and the Elders (so the Valentinian Ptolemy). Suggesting that it were the angels, Papias had developed his own solution. The Jewish Scriptures are interpreted as the means by which Michael (not Moses) guards the people and prevent them from being misled ‘into many evils’. His interpretation, therefore, centres entirely backwards on the Jewish past.

    Very different is the application and use of Papias’ interpretation of the fall with reference to Michael in the second paragraph, as this part turns Papias upside down. The ‘and’ in the beginning of the paragraph signals the new approach and indicates the significant move away from Papias, as, now, the text speaks of ‘all this fight’ no longer referring to the fall, but to what Andrew of Cesarea was discussing before, namely ‘the war in heaven’ from Rev. 12:7-18 which opens in Rev. 12:7: ‘Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back’. Hence, Papias serves Andreas only to introduce Michael and his hosts. Andreas consciously read Papias’ opening (‘The heavens did not bear his earthly thoughts’) with reference to the dragon, although Papias quote does not even mention the dragon, but instead discussed man’s fall from Paradise. The second paragraph, then, makes a double transfer – it relates the story of the fall of man to the eschatological fight of Michael against the dragon, and reads Papias in the light of Paul, Rom. 8:3:
    ‘For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh’
    and Rev. 12:8:
    ‘But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail, so there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels. 12:9 So that huge dragon – the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world – was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him. 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the ruling authority of his Christ, have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, the one who accuses them day and night before our God, has been thrown down.’

    None of these texts are referred to in Papias’ quote, while the second paragraph does no longer speak of the angel’s gift, the Law and the Prophets. On the contrary, Andreas disputes Papias’ interpretation that the angel’s gift achieved a positive result (‘made the prophets wise’), and introduces his Christocentric view, based on Paul, Rom. 8:3, that the law ‘could not achieve anything by somebody else’, but through Christ ‘in his flesh’ – a Christological view as part of the post-Chalcedon discussions of the 5-7th century. The incarnation, then, becomes ‘the victory of Michael and his hosts’, supported by the quote from Luke 10:18, and Andreas adds further teachers that Satan’s ‘fall like lightening from heaven’ cannot be referred back to the first fall from Paradise, but that also ‘the teachers interpreted’ it with regards to the second fall, Satan’s end, ‘caused by the Cross’, the ‘judgement’ and ‘future punishment’. As proof, he refers to Athanasius’ Vita Antonii, Irenaeus and Justin, no longer to Papias.

    We can add another formal argument: Despite the explicit reference in the Papias’ quote to Daniel and the two implicit ones to Genesis and Enoch, none of these writings are literally quoted by Papias, whereas the second paragraph quotes his three Scriptural texts literally (Rom. 8:3; Luke 10:18; Ps. 9:7) – with the second paragraph, we have entered a different time (6th c.), a different theological setting, it fits the bigger frame of Andrew, and content and form only support the external manuscript based editorial evidence that the Papias quote closed with the end of the first paragraph.

    The conclusion, therefore, is that Papias, as we know him today through his fragments, does not display any knowledge of a Lukan text.

  19. One obvious query: do Armenian manuscripts of this period really use quotation marks? Or are these the work of the modern editor?

    I suspect the latter, because that explains why they are treated as optional. Indeed these sorts of elements tend not to be well reported in critical editions of any kind, in my experience.

    I can’t comment on the theories about which bits of Papias are or are not genuine, of course.

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