Bockmuehl, Baur, and the Presence of Paul in the Pseudo-Clementines

Alongside my BMSEC translations, I am currently co-translating—with Christoph Heilig, Luke Ogden, and David Lincicum—F. C. Baur’s classic work “The Christ-Party in the Corinthian Community, the Opposition of Pauline and Petrine Christianity in the Most Ancient Church, the Apostle Peter in Rome.” This is proving to be a rewarding project, even if I must admit that I was soundly shellacked yesterday by a rather brutal sentence that extended to more than 20 lines! Today, however, I do not want to expose you to that horrible Leviathan but rather to juxtapose several passages from Baur with a passage from Markus Bockmuehl‘s book Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory, which I am reading with great profit alongside my translation of Baur. And with both of these works in mind, I am obviously also excited about Michael J. Kok’s New Series on Peter in Rome.

What I found interesting about today’s key quotations is the extent to which Baur already attempts to respond to the line of criticism that Bockmuehl advances. Therefore, I will first quote Bockmuehl’s criticism of Baur’s paradigm and then provide two quotes from Baur that provide at least a partial response to Bockmuehl’s argument.

Bockmuehl (Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory, pp. 56-57; cf. further The Remembered Peter, pp. 94-113): However, while an anti-Pauline bias is possible, there are a number of impediments to the Simon–Paul equation. First, the texts themselves nowhere make this connection. The one place where there is a clear reference to Paul (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.70-71) presents him as the pre-Christian Saul, who primarily opposes James, and Peter only secondarily. Indeed, in this scene, which to be sure does not portray Saul in a positive light (he is introduced as “a certain hostile man”), Simon Magus and Saul are explicitly differentiated; Saul himself condemns Simon as a sorcerer (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.70.2). This explicit differentiation between Saul and Simon has implications for attempts to find Paul behind the phrase “the man who is the enemy” in Ps.-Clem. EP 2.3, especially if one takes seriously the integrity of the epistle’s placement alongside the Pseudo-Clementine romances that feature Simon Magus as the clear antagonist. Second, Simon’s preaching, opposed by Peter, contains little that could be construed as Pauline. Most of it seems generally Gnostic rather than Pauline and lacks any Jewish apocalyptic framework, so important for Paul, or consistent references to Scripture. Simon rejects basic Pauline positions such as the resurrection from the dead (e.g. Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.54), the goodness of the creator (e.g., Ps.-Clem. Rec. 2.37,53), and the divine sonship of Christ (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 2.49), and he even sets himself up as the Messiah (e.g. Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.72; cf. 2.49; 3.47). These positions are difficult to square with any known picture of Paul, “orthodox” or “heretical.”

Baur (126-128): Specifically, it can be demonstrated that [127] in the teachings that he attributes to the magician Simon the author of the Clementines has especially the Marcionite system in mind and that he regarded this system as the outermost point of the path that the magician Simon had set out upon and that had then been traversed by the heretics that followed.

Namentlich läßt sich nachweisen, daß der Verfasser der Clementinen in den Lehren, die er dem Magier Simon beilegte, vorzüglich das Marcionitische System vor Augen hatte, und dieses als den äußersten Punkt des schon von dem Magier Simon eingeschlagenen und sodann von den folgenden häretikern betretenen Wegs betrachtete.

In view of the exact relationship that the Clementines have to the teaching of the Ebionites and the well-known hate for the apostle Paul with which this sect was filled, no other conclusion is possible except that the teaching of the Clementines is especially meant to oppose the principles that Paul had put forth about the relationship of the Mosaic law to Christianity.

Bei dem genauen Zusammenhange, in welchem die Clementinen mit der Lehre der Ebioniten stehen, und bei dem bekannten Hasse, mit welchem diese Secte gegen den Apostel Paulus erfüllt war, läßt sich nichts anders annehmen, als daß die Lehre der Clementinen insbesondere auch den Grundsätze entgegengesetzt werden sollte, welche Paulus über das Verhältnis des Mosaischen Gesetzes zum Christentum aufgestellt hatte.

Just as in the presentation of the Clementines, Marcion collapses with Simon the magician into a single person, so the magician, through the mediation of Marcion, could also be thought together with the apostle Paul. After all, the Gnosis of Marcion did indeed have a Pauline–anti-Jewish foundation, and for Marcion Paul was regarded especially as Ἀπόστολος.

Wie nun Marcion in der Darstellung der Clementinen mit dem Magier Simon in eine Person zusammenfällt, so konnte durch Marcions Vermittlung der Magier auch mit dem Apostel Paulus zusammengedacht werden, da ja die Gnosis Marcions durchaus eine paulinische-antijudaische Grundlage hatte und Paulus dem Marcion vorzugsweise als Ἀπόστολος galt.

Therefore, I do not shy away at all from claiming that the ἄνθρωπος ἐχθρός who appears with the διδαχη ἄνομος και φλυαρώδης διδασκαλία is nominally the magician Simon in the first instance, but is really Paul as well as Marcion who follows the Pauline direction to the [128] extreme.

Deßwegen nehme ich nun keinen Anstand zu behaupten, jener ἄνθρωπος ἐχθρός, der mit der κδιδαχη ἄνομος και φλυαρώδης διδασκαλία auftritt, ist zwar nominell zunächst der Magier Simon, reel aber ebenso gut Paulus als der die paulinische Richtung bis zum Extrem verfolgende Marcion.

It is the same with the πλάνος in Hom. 2:17. While this false teacher is the magician for the author of the Clementines according to the most natural sense of his words, here the magician nevertheless also represents especially the apostle Paul, whose destructive principles concerning the defunct validity of the Mosaic law or whose false gospel is to be counteracted by the true gospel proclaimed by Peter.

Ebenso verhält es sich mit dem πλάνος Hom II.17. Dieser Irrlehrer ist dem Verfasser der Clementinen allerdings nach dem nächsten Sinn seiner Worte der Magier, aber der Magier repräsentiert hier zugleich ganz besonders der Apostel Paulus, dessen verderblichen Grundsätzen über die erloschene Gültigkeit des mosaischen Gesetzes oder dessen falschem Evangelium durch das von Petrus verkündigte wahre Evangelium entgegengewirkt werden sollte.

Baur (129-130): An objection against accepting a polemical tendency in the Clementines against the apostle Paul cannot be derived from Hom. 3:59, the passage cited on p. 123. In this passage (which can be compared with 3:3) the teaching of the magician is referred to as paganism that has been revived in Gnosticism and also further refined. How, one could say, can the magician Simon, as an apostle of paganism, simultaneously represent the apostle to the pagans/Gentiles, Paul? However, as soon as we see the magician as the bearer of a whole series of phenomena, then the one antithesis does not exclude the other one.

Baur (129-130): Gegen die Annahme einer polemischen Tendenz der Clementinen gegen den Apostel Paulus kann man nicht wohl eine Einwendung aus der S. 123 angeführten Stelle Hom. III. 59. entnehmen, sofern nämlich in dieser Stelle (mit welcher III. 3. zu vergleichen ist) die Lehre des Magiers als das im Gnosticismus wieder auflebende und zugleich verfeinerte Heidentum bezeichnet wird. Wie sollte, könnte man sagen, der Magier Simon als ein Apostel des Heidentums zugleich den Heidenapostel Paulus in sich repräsentieren können? Allein sobald wir in dem Magier den Träger einen ganzen Reihe von Erscheinungen sehen, schließt die eine Antithese die andere nicht aus.

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Christoph Markschies on the need to differentiate between various institutional contexts and levels of instruction in relation to “majority Church” and “gnostic” teachers

In addition to my normal “German Mondays” blog post, I have decided to include a bonus post pertaining to the commendably cordial dispute between Larry Hurtado and April DeConick about whether or not it is appropriate to refer to ancient “gnostic” Christians as “intellectuals” (see Hurtado1, DeConick1, Hurtado2; cf. M.Bird, J. Calaway; J. McGrath; Philip L. Tite). My post will be based around a “key quotation” from my current BMSEC translation project (forthcoming 2015), namely Christoph Markschies’ 2007 book Kaiserzeitliche christliche Theologie und ihre Institutionen. As usual I will begin with the English translation so that the (selective) grammatical commentary directly follows the German text.

Christian Theology and its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire (wmc): “It appears to me, as I have already frequently intimated, that such a differentiation of the various institutions and educational levels of the higher instruction is also of great significance for the history of Christian theology in the second and third centuries. This is the case because for these two centuries we know of both Christian teachers who taught more at the level of a salon philosopher or a popular philosopher with only moderate knowledge of the contemporary professional philosophy and very learned theologians whose philosophical  level of education certainly invites comparison with professional philosophers. As an example of a philosophical instruction that probably corresponds more to that of the salon or popular philosophers, I wish to name at this point the Roman apologist Justin, and as an example of an educational level that corresponds more to that of a professional philosopher, Origen. Finally, one could, in addition, envisage Valentinian Gnosis/Gnosticism as a movement that oscillates in a quite peculiar way between these two levels: some of its representatives, such as, for example, the Roman teacher Ptolemaeus, oriented themselves at a professional philosophical level, whereas many followers are only located at the level of a salon philosopher or even lower.”

Kaiserzeitliche christliche Theologie und ihre Institutionen (p. 88): Mir scheint, wie bereits mehrfach angedeutet, daß eine solche Differenzierung der verschiedenen Institutionen und Bildungsniveaus des höheren Unterrichts auch für die Geschichte der christlichen Theologie des zweiten und dritten Jahrhunderts von großer Bedeutung ist. Denn wir kennen für diese beiden Jahrhunderte sowohl  christliche Lehrer, die eher auf dem Niveau eines Salon- oder Popularphilosophen mit lediglich mäßigen Kenntnissen der zeitgenössischen Fachphilosophie unterrichten, als auch hochgelehrte Theologen, derer philosophisches Bildungsniveau durchaus den Vergleich mit Fachphilosophen nahelegt. Als beispiel eines philosophischen Unterrichts, der wahrscheinlich eher dem der Salon- oder Popularphilosophen entspricht, möchte ich an dieser Stelle den römischen Apologeten Justin nennen, als Beispiel für ein Bildungsniveau, das eher dem eines Fachphilosophen entspricht, Origenes. Schließlich könnte man noch die valentianische Gnosis als eine Bewegung vorstellen, die in ganz merkwürdiger Weise zwischen diesen beiden Niveaus oszilliert: Einzelne ihrer Vertreter wie beispielweise der römische Lehrer Ptolemaeus orientieren sich am fachphilosophischen Niveau, viele Anhänger befinden sich dagegen lediglich auf dem Niveau von Salonphilosophen oder sogar noch darunter.

(Selective) grammatical commentary: the translation of “Gnosis” is difficult since the use of this term is one way that German authors leave room for debate around whether it is proper to speak of “Gnosticism”. Accordingly, I have written Gnosis/Gnosticism here to flag up this issue. I have translated “Denn wir kennen” as “This is because” rather than “For” so that it would be a proper sentence in English. I’m not sure if the force of “merkwürdiger” is best captured by “peculiar”, “strange”, or “noteworthy”.

Substantive commentary: This post obviously does not intend to address the many important questions that have been raised in the discussion between Larry Hurtado and April DeConick, for example the question of whether the term “intellectuals” simply conveys a certain level of education or whether it is also bound up with certain forms of argumentation or with the public nature of such argumentation. Instead, this post merely seeks to highlight one of Christoph Markschies’ emphases that I think needs to be kept in mind when thinking through the question of whether or not is appropriate to speak of “majority church” or “gnostic” intellectuals, namely the fact that we must attempt to differentiate between various institutional contexts and educational levels in relation to both “majority church” teachers and “gnostic” teachers.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! In an effort to provide a sense of regularity and predictability for this blog’s readership, I plan on writing a new post each Monday. So hopefully I will ‘see’ you again in a week’s time. Best, Wayne.