Apr 062015

Apostle-Paul_Humanity-HealingThis post will explore some of the plausible “shorter readings” in the Apostolikon used by the Marcionites. There may be more shorter readings in the Apostolikon that are possible that are not found in this list, but this list is intended to include those that meet a minimum standard of evidence, referencing this list of criteria.

(1) Shorter readings attested as such by the patristic writers.

(2) Unattested readings that have manuscript support or patristic support for their absence.

(3) Unattested readings that were likely to be quoted by Tertullian if they were in the Apostolikon.

(4) Unattested readings that correspond to a scholarly conjecture for interpolation on grounds other than the alleged absence in Marcion’s Apostolikon.

However, this is not a list of interpolations in the letters of Paul, as such a list may be shorter or longer and would have somewhat different contents. It is a list of likely or suspected shorter readings in Marcion’s Apostolikon, compared to most extant manuscripts of Paul. The existence of such shorter readings in the Apostolikon is something mentioned (in a general way and with specific instances) by several of those who comment on Marcion’s text.

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Mar 062015

harnack1851_kHarnack’s book Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God has been translated into English but with the omission of the valuable appendices containing the notes regarding the text of Marcion. So I’d like to go some way towards addressing this. Harnack’s text is actually in three languages (German, Greek, and Latin), so all of them are translated for easier study. I have relied on the translations of others for many of the quotations (Evans for Tertullian, Williams for Epiphanius, and the ESV for the New Testament).

I have re-arranged Harnack’s text in blocks, one block per footnote. The footnotes exceed the text itself and provide the most interesting information, the various references used to support the readings. For accurate comparison of my translations with the original German, please refer to the scanned originals online at Archive.org, thanks to Roger Pearse and Wieland Willker.


For further study, Harnack’s reconstruction and notes can be compared with Detering, van ManenWaugh, Mahar, ClabeauxBeDuhn, and Schmid (Amazon/Google) along with comments by Quispel, Lieu, Moll, Roth, BarnikolCarlson, Eysinga, McGuire, Baarda, Waugh, and Huller.

The work of translation is fairly arduous, but it is also very rewarding, and I hope to release other letters of Paul as found in Harnack’s reconstruction of Marcion’s Apostolikon, as I find time.

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Feb 142015

getI found this article to be of interest and wanted to understand it.

The original article by Rudolf Bultmann appeared in Theologische Literaturzeitung 72 (1947), pp. 197-202. It is found here:


I have added to it the cleaned-up results of a “Google translate” rendition. I hesitate to call it a translation, as its editor has only a couple semesters of German and not very much practice. Even a hatchet job with a short text like this leaves me with enormous respect for the work done by translators.

In summary, Bultmann finds that Romans 7:25b, Romans 8:1, Romans 10:17, Romans 2:1, and Romans 13:5 are marginal notes that intend to summarize the train of thought developed by Paul in brief “sententious” (doctrinal, pithy, gnomic) form, drawn into the body of the text. They may or may not come from a common “Glossator.” Bultmann further finds that Romans 2:16 and 6:17b seem similarly secondary but are simply interpolations, not marginal notes, with the “Editor” that also added the doxology a likely author.

Romans 7:25b. So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 10:17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 2:1. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Romans 13:5. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Romans 2:16. on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:17b. … you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to.

The German text follows the English rendition below.

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Nov 192013

stylo_logo.pngI was wandering around the Internet when suddenly an interesting approach to gender and (assumptions regarding) writing style appeared:

I have to admit that I thought it was a girl too based on the exaggeration and wording…”as if… universe.” Even the introducer sounded like a female because based on my original assumption that the submitter was a girl, I assumed that a man wouldn’t say, “smack some sense into”. Gosh! I had no idea that make such wild subconscious assumptions! actually, thank you for pointing that out. And I agree with the other person, we need a gender neutral pronoun. I usually employ ‘they’ even in the singular sometimes.

Signed “Kim,” a wonderfully ambiguous name that lets us speculate about the author’s own gender.

Sure enough, I decided to google “smack some sense into” and the result of this informal survey is that the first two pages are mostly from female authors. (No, not entirely. No, this is not the main point here; keep reading.) Continue reading »

Nov 122013

The-Seven-Ecumenical-Councils1There is a long history of looking back to the New Testament and other writings of the era for information on leadership positions and their titles. The Reformation took this study up in earnest when attempting to discover the proper hierarchy for the contemporary church. The results have been various. Variety is indeed what comes through in the sources. This table of leadership roles (more properly, of the terms given to them) in the early Christian writings has been compiled in an attempt to capture a sense of this variety.

I have already released A Table of Christological Titles and also A Table of Self-Identifications. These looked at some ways of referring to Jesus, some ways in which early Christian writers distinguished their group from other people, and where these are attested.

This table has a similar purpose. It is a way into the sources. It is also a way to organize a study of the sources so that the student can trace the development of an idea or relate it to other ideas also found in the same texts. Because of the layer of interpretation that takes place in making a table like this one, as well as the possibility of error, I encourage reference back to the sources if there is any question of how a particular entry in the table relates to the texts themselves. Continue reading »

Nov 092013

ChristianSymbolsWhich texts refer to Catholic or Gnostics, to Christians or to Nazarenes? Which texts mention the Gospel, Knowledge, or Belief? Where do we find Synagogues and Churches mentioned? Discussion of the way, of the spiritual, or of the kingdom? Who refers to insiders as brothers, holy ones, or chosen?

Earlier I produced A Table of Christological Titles in Early Christian Writings. This table concerns the kind of references found in these texts to refer to insiders and their distinguishing characteristics. Sometimes I’ve had to note substantial differences in the reference such as, for example, when a term is mentioned in a negative context. Several of the entries involve a layer of interpretation instead of a simple word search, so please compare always against the original texts for an exact sense of what this table is supposed to represent.

The New Testament results were obtained with a search on the Greek lemma in the Bibleworks program. The other results came from a search for the English equivalent or synonyms in English translation. One desideratum, of course, is to found all the results on an original language footing. I may be able to do this when I revisit particular columns for closer examination.

As before, I welcome corrections of my errors quite eagerly, as I know there are mistakes in the table.

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Oct 282013

claudius_etal3Polycrates of Ephesus gives us a description of John:

and there was also John, who rested upon the breast of the Lord, who became a priest who wore the plate, both martyr and teacher; he sleeps in Ephesus.

ετι δε και Ιωαννης, ο επι το στηθος του κυριου αναπεσων, ος εγενηθη ιυρευς το πεταλον πεφορεκως και μαρτυς και διδασκαλος, ουτος εν Εφεσω κεκοιμηται. (from Ben Smith’s Text Excavation)

Many have taken το πεταλον as a reference to the “plate of pure gold” of the high priest’s Tzitz, which in the Septuagint of Exodus 28:36 is translated into Greek as πέταλον (leaf) χρυσοῦν (of gold) καθαρὸν (pure).

And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and engrave upon it, like the engravings of a signet: HOLY TO THE LORD.

καὶ ποιήσεις πέταλον χρυσοῦν καθαρὸν καὶ ἐκτυπώσεις ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτύπωμα σφραγῖδος ἁγίασμα κυρίου

The high priest was to wear it when entering the holy of holies.

This is a possible understanding of the Greek, but there is another image that would come to the mind of hearers among his audience in second century Roman Asia Minor. That image is the dress of Greek priests at the time. When this fact is compared against what we know about John otherwise, which would not suggest his participation in a Greek cult, the description is seen to suit a person who held the distinction of being both a Jewish priest by birth and a Greek elder by rank.

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Oct 222013

Domitian_denarius_sonRevelation 11:8 has a passage that has troubled some interpreters with the conflicting indications of the place mentioned in this verse, which could be taken as Jerusalem or Rome based on the text of Revelation itself. While most interpreters settle on seeing it as Jerusalem out of seeming necessity, this necessity can be obviated with an alternative interpretation of the crucified one being mentioned here.

The alternative interpretation starts from the manuscripts that read “ὁ κύριος αὐτῶν,” i.e., “the Lord of them” or “their Lord,” along with a few premises of convenience better suited to another essay.

Premise (1). The text is a unity. This is possibly wrong, but it did achieve its final form at some point, and I don’t have confidence in recovering a possible original.
Premise (2). The text speaks of a beast in terms of the Nero Redivivus myth and was written between 70 AD and 96 AD (most likely, under Domitian).
Premise (3). The text implies the identification of Babylon as Rome (as both destroyed Jerusalem).

I’m sure there are plenty of people that reject the premises, but let’s follow through on them. Continue reading »

Oct 182013

deteringA conversation between Hermann Detering and one of his critics has been rediscovered and arranged here. It bears the title, added at a later date, “A Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems Regarding Paul,” which must be understood as a dispute arising over the authenticity of the letters attributed to the apostle Paul.

In the middle of a discussion between Detering and one of his students regarding the references to the letters of Paul in 1 Clement and the epistles of Ignatius, the critic steps forward and declaims, “I can’t help but think that all of these points have long ago been hashed out by authorities of the past such as Harnack, Lightfoot, and Zahn. I would want to find these authors in English translation and read their arguments as well before coming to a decision on the authenticity of 1 Clement and the seven Ignatians.”

Noticing the earnestness displayed by his critic, Detering responds, “For a long time I was thinking like you. But when I wrote my dissertation I found that the arguments used by Harnack and Zahn defending the authenticity of 1Clem and Ign are rather poor and superficial. So if you read these authors you should also read the original texts of F.C. Baur, Van Manen, A.D. Loman or G.A. van den Bergh van Eysinga etc. to get an impression of the power of their arguments.”

And Detering adds a cautionary statement, “Generally I think that any kind of scholasticism is dangerous. At least it is better to trust our own eyes and our own rationality than the results of our ‘glorious fathers’.” Continue reading »

Oct 122013

ichthusFor some reason, I’ve never seen a simple table of some christological titles as presented in the early Christian writings, even though it would be very handy to have. So I made my own.

I started out including fragmentary and quoted writings, but midway through I decided to put them in a separate table (incomplete). Both the entries and the blanks in the table are meaningful, but those blanks are much less meaningful with a short, fragmentary text. Some texts with substantial fragments, such as the Gospel of Peter, are shown.

I certainly wouldn’t mind if anybody would like to mention some of my errors of omission and other mistakes. Please do. I would be very happy to improve the table.

Further work to be done could be to add more christological titles, to design different arrangements or charts, to note any difficulties of ambiguous interpretation, to integrate data about presumed dates of authorship, to extend this table to the entire Nag Hammadi Library (not just the texts that are part of the Early Christian Writings site), and of course to add the rest of the fragmentary and quoted writings.

Still, I’d like to release this first draft now, below. Continue reading »

Oct 032013

questionmarkIn my last post, I drew together some lines of thought. (1) The Gospel of Luke’s preface says the writer is putting things ‘orderly’ or ‘in order.’ (2) The central section of the Gospel of Luke exhibits a structure of chiasm (according to some scholars) and disagrees with the order of Mark/Matthew. (3) Some writers in the ancient world used such literary structure to make their text memorable to those hearing it read.

From this, I concluded that the author of Luke-Acts intentionally ordered his narrative to make it memorable, that this is part of the interpretation of the preface, that this explains his treatment of the other synoptics, and lastly that Luke-Acts did all this so that his work could stand on its own, as it were, as an important text to be read widely, without having a claim to apostolic authorship.

  • This short essay moved from premises, stated and unstated, to a conclusion.
  • The conclusion is a plausible but not necessary consequence of the premises.
  • The stated premises are not beyond reproach (e.g., chiasmus or no?).
  • The unstated premises are a bit shaky too (e.g., the text of Luke-Acts, any synoptic problem solution).

To say that a lot of writing on the New Testament follows this kind of pattern is a bit of an understatement.

There is more to the problem of Luke and Acts than first meets the eye… Continue reading »

Oct 032013


Luke doesn’t feel the need to hide behind the pseudonym of an apostle to give his writings authority, as so many other authors of his era do.

What is supposed to be so compelling about the Gospel of Luke, the Acts of the  Apostles, and the orderliness of it all? It’s a good question and one to which the author himself must have had an answer.

The blasé reply is that the author thought that his order was, chronologically, more accurate as to what came first, what came second, and so on. Is this the complete answer? Something like this could definitely be implied by the author for his reader to believe from the preface as a way to impress the reader with the work’s authority. However, I think there’s another answer that’s just as important to the author that has evidence in the text itself. Continue reading »