Markus Vinzent's Blog

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Ignatius, Epistle to the Romans 7 - when did David and Abraham enter this letter?

Prof. Markus Vinzent,

 

My name is ... and I’m a professor of historical theology at ,,.  I am reaching out to you regarding your work on Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Romans.  Aware that there are at least four Greek manuscripts for this letter as well as various translations, due to limited resources I am unable to track down which manuscript(s) support the reading of Romans 7:3 “I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life” as found in the Ante-Nicene Fathers vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1867 reprinted 1973), 77.  Of particular interest is the wording “and [of] Abraham.”  This wording is not supported in J.B. Lightfoot’s 1889 Greek text and English translation The Apostolic Fathers, eds. J.B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprint 1984), 122 & 152, nor in SC 10:116/17.  Arguably, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson must have had some basis for translating as “the seed of David and Abraham.”  I am presuming it is that of Symeon Metaphrastes as found in PG 114:1281B.  I am hoping you can enlighten me as to which other manuscript(s) support(s) this reading as well as the date of the witness.  According to William R. Schoedel, Cod. Parisiensis-Colbertinus 1451, Cod. Hierosolymitanus S. Sabae 18, and Cod. Sinaiticus 519 date to the tenth century [William R. Schoedel, Ignatius of Antioch Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985), 4].  I confess my ignorance, Is the 10th century text found in PG 114 based on one of the three manuscripts above, or is this yet another text?  Of course, all of them being recensions.

 

From your blogpost 13 October 2017 “The many recensions of the letters of Ignatius of Antioch” I know that you have been studying the recensions and thus must have access to several, if not all.  I would be most grateful if you would enlighten me regarding the wording καὶ Άβραὰμ.  Is it found in any Syriac manuscript, etc ?

 

Knowing the busy life of a professor, I realize you may not have time to even reply, let alone research this (though I am hoping I have piqued your interest). 


Dear colleague,


thanks for your kind email and for reaching out to me. As you may have seen from my recent CUP book on 'Writing the History of Early Christianity', we are lacking an editio maior critica of the Ignatian letters, this is why questions like yours are utterly important and can not be answered by the editions and translations that we have. Although many people write about Ignatius, our studies lack the basis for interpretation.

When we compare the texts with regards to your question, Ignatius to the Romans is the most complex and at the same the most important one. As it is first not transmitted together with the six other letters in the collection that is being called the middle recension, but separately together with one of Ignatius' martyrdoms (see my mentioned book), this letter proves that we are not talking about three different recensions, but rather about at least five or six or rather many more. Now, as one of the most important witnesses for Ignatius' martyrdom and therefore for his letter to the Romans is Metaphrastus - but Metaphrastus has not been critically edited and Obeid (Obeid, Joseph. 1996. ‘Ignace d’Antioche, lettre aux romains’, Parole de l’Orient, 21: 65–109, 66) noted that the transcriptions of the Syriac and Arabic manuscripts of different scholars differ widely and we have no reliable edition of these either (Metaphrastus has far over 100 manuscripts extant), your question can not be fully answered at this time.

Let me, nevertheless, attempt to shed some light on the question.
Perhaps the oldest version of the text is preserved in the Syriac three letters collection which may reflect for this instance a text from shortly after the mid second century. Here we simply read: 'I seek the bread of God, which is the flesh of  Christ.'

In the Greek Codex Colbertinus (10/11th c.) as Metaphrastus in PG (but see my note above!), the Latin and Armenian of the 7-letters collection and the Armenian and Syrian translations of the Martyrdom, then read 'Jesus Christ'. The Colbertinus with Metaphrastus and the Greek mss. of the 13 letters collection (this need to be checked again for all manuscripts) also adds τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, though this reading is missing in the Latin and Armenian translations of the 7-letters collection and in the Armenian and Syrian translations of the martyrdom.
The Colbertinus with Metaphrastus, the Armenian and Syrian translations of the martyrdom then also add τοῦ ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυείδ. The crucial text καὶ ἀβραάμ is only present in the Colbertinus with Metaphrastus, but omitted in the Latin, Armenian translations of the 7-letters collection and in the Armenian and Syrian translations of the martyrdom.
When we add the Arabic translations, though, as noted above, we do not have a reliable transcription to date, it seems that Sinai Arab. 443 reads 'and of Abraham', while we have other Arabic manuscripts which have not even been transcribed.

It seems to me that the simple formula of the three letters collection was broadened with 'Jesus' and, therefore, to enhance his human side, by reference to Rom. 1:3 with the mention of David and, as the further note on Abraham is missing in the important Latin translation of the 13-letters collection, it seems that this addition was even later.

Sorry that all these caveats show the mess that we are in with regards the Ignatian letters at present. Before any further interpretation of these letters can be undertaken, we need to get a proper critical edition done by having reliable transcriptions of all extant manuscripts in all available ancient translations.

Nevertheless, I hope this helps. If you do not mind, I will post the question and answer on my blog to help others and underline the importance of a critical edition

yours Markus

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Adolf Martin Ritter, Rezension zu Markus Vinzent, Writing the History of Christianity, ThLZ 146 (2021), 297-301

Zu dieser Rezension, die von einem meiner eigenen Lehrer geschrieben ist, folglich von besonderem Gewicht für meine eigene Arbeit und Überlegung ist, seien folgende Überlegungen angestellt:

Die Kritik, die Ritter formuliert, bezieht sich auf die herausgehobene Ausschließlichkeit der retrospektiven Methode ("nur sie", S. 300), die er darum als "Zauberwort" (S. 298) stilisiert. Mit Aufklärung hat die Methode der Retrospektion, die ich in diesem Buch entwickle, wohl zu tun - hier hat er richtig gesehen - doch deren Ausschließlichkeit habe ich nicht behauptet. Stattdessen formuliere ich im Buch, dass die herkömmliche chronologisch orientierte Methode, Geschichte zu schreiben "can be deceptive" (Vinzent, Writing ..., S. 79). Wie könnte auch eine historiographische Methode - gleich welche - Ausschließlichkeit erheben? Wissenschaft heißt ja, dass Ergebnisse von verschiedenen Seiten reproduzierbar sein müssen. 

Allerdings gibt es Methoden, die sich für gewisse Einsichten eher von Vorteil erweisen als andere. Und hier hatte der Rezensent, der meine andere Arbeiten bestens kennt, natürlich den Braten gerochen. Das Buch spart ja bewusst jede Diskussion zu Markion aus (das Wort begegnet nur ein einziges Mal in einem Zitat, das ich Lieu entnommen habe), weil es die Methodologie und meine Vorstellungen zur Entstehung der Evangelien nicht miteinander vermischen wollte. Und doch ist das ganze Buch natürlich darauf angelegt, die historiographische Herangehensweise zu erläutern, unter der ich etwa auch das andere, fast zeitgleich erschienene Buch, der "Offene Anfang" (Herder 2019) geschrieben habe, mit dem ich die ideologische Perspektive der neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft erweisen wollte. Deshalb ist diese Rezension auch nicht nur eine solche zu meinem CUP Buch Writing ..., sondern zugleich eine kritische Position zu der positiven Besprechung des "Offenen Anfangs" in derselben Zeitschrift (ThLZ 145,951f. von Christoph Auffarth).

Retrospektion bestreitet also nicht, dass unsere gewöhnliche Herangehensweise zu denselben Ergebnissen kommen kann, doch gehen, wie ich zu zeigen versuche, chronologisch geleitete Historiker daran, aus dem Iststand die Vergangenheit so zu modellieren, dass der Iststand gesichert wird. Darin sehe ich den großen Unterschied zwischen den aufklärerischen Ansätzen, die in der Romantik nicht weiterentwickelt, sondern durch eine positivistische Historiographie der Romantik noch zugearbeitet haben, allen voran die Größen unseres Faches.

Ich schließe also nicht aus, dass man die vier Beispielfälle auch auf herkömmlichem Weg so beantworten kann, wie ich es hier vorschlagsweise versuche, woran Ritter in den Ergebnissen ja keinen Anstoß nimmt (die Amazonhypothese "leuchtet sehr ein", S. 299; Aristides: hätte man "von selbst darauf kommen" können; zu Abercius urteilt er nicht). Wenn er allerdings zu Ignatius schreibt, dass "die 'retrospektive' Betrachtungsweise - und nur sie - zur Erkenntnis führe, dass im 16. Jh. das Ignatiusbild aus einer 12-, statt 3- oder 7-Briefe-Sammlung bezogen wurde ... zwar wirkungsgeschichtlich wichtig ... für die ... Frage nach den 'Origins', in diesem Fall der authentischen Gestalt des Corpus Ignatianum und dessen Einordnung in die Theologiegeschichte des 2. Jh.s ... getrost zu vernachlässigen" (S. 300) sei, so scheint mir dies Wunschdenken zu sein. Das Ignatiusbild, bei dem die Dreierbriefsammlung unbekannt war, und das, wie im Buch gezeigt, tief in die Konfessionsstreitigkeiten eingebunden blieb, wurde von dieser Einbindung während des 19.-21. Jh.s nicht befreit. Ohne Retrospektion und im direkten Zugriff auf das 2. Jh. hat man Curetons Fund und seine Ergebnisse für über Hundert Jahre ins Vergessen geraten lassen. Gewiss hätte man auch ohne Retrospektion ggfls. irgendwann eher zufällig Cureton wieder ausgraben können, doch das andere Beispiel der sog. Aberciusinschrift legt das Gegenteil nahe. Bis in die jüngste Monographie von 2019 (McKechnie, P. (2019), Christianizing Asia Minor Conversion, Communities, and Social Change in the Pre-Constantinian Era (Cambridge)) wird die Inschrift einem historischen Bischof Abercius des 2. Jh.s zugeschrieben, weil schlicht das Zeugnis aus dem 5. Jh. aus den Wunschaugen des 21. Jh.s in das 2. Jh. projiziert werden und nicht - wie in Retrospektive angeraten - historisch korrekter die Vita Avercii im 5. Jh. als prägende Folie für die Interpretation der archäologischen Funde des 2. Jh.s gelesen wird und im Anschluss daran die archäologischen Zeugnisse in ihrem eigenen Licht betrachtet werden. In dieser Hinsicht ist die retrospektive Methode eigentlich nur die Methode, die ich von einem anderen Lehrer gelernt habe und die auch Ritter praktiziert - nicht unter diesem Zauberwort - doch mit der schlichten Aufforderung: Lesen Sie alles, was über Ihr Thema geschrieben wurde, alles, das heißt mindestens alles von heute bis zu Thomas von Aquin. Ich möchte lediglich diese kritische Rücksicht ausdehnen auch auf die formative Zeit der Spätantike.

Friday, 23 April 2021

The first hundred years of Christianity - an answer to Udo Schnelle

 In his 2019 American version, translated by James W. Thompson from the 3rd. rev. edition of the German 'Die ersten 100 Jahre des Christentums', Udo Schnelle discusses 'the formation of the Canon' and claims: 'The formation of the canon was a further step toward the developing independent identity of early Christianity. This process was essentially borne by the churches, defining the specific writings that possessed authority. It was not authoritative statements of individuals, movements, or synods that gave rise to the collectino of Holy Scriptures but rather a process with an inner conistency and necessity: the OT as the established canon, the authoritative claim of the Pauline letters and the Gospels, as well as the growing distance from the original events necessitated a reception of the relevant witnesses for the Christian faith. The formation of canon belongs within this process of the necessary and consistent self-definition of teh church. The intention of the predominant arrangement is obvious: After the fourfold portrayal of teh story of Jesus Christ, the book of Acts forms the transition and orientation for reading the Pauline letters, which were then supplemented by the writings of the other apostles; the reading matter then finally flows into the eschatological perspective of the Revelation of John. Primarily with the letters of Paul and the Gospels, Jesus of Nazareth and Paul stand at the beginning of the tradition; they aree to a certain extent accessible as a "book" and produce an unexpected effect' (ibid. 466-467).

The counterposition that I hold is summarized and rejected in a kind footnote (p. 466-467, n. 41) which reads: 'The common claim that before Marcion (in Rome ca. 140; in his home in Sinope ca. 120 CE) no evidence exists for a Gospel (e.g. Vinzent, Die Auferstehung Christi, 119-20) is not convincing. The Didache (ca. 120) presupposes the presence of the Gospel of Matthew and (indirectly) the Gospel of Mark (cf. Did. 15.3//Matt. 18:15; Did. 8.2//Matt.6:7-13; Did. 9.5//Matt. 7:6a; Did. 7.1//Matt. 28:19; Did. 8.1-2//Matt. 6:2, 5; Did. 11.7//Matt. 12:31-32; Did. 16.1//Matt. 24:42; 25:1-13'. For the detailed argument, cf. Wengst, Didache, 24-32. The Papias fragment (ca. 130) in Eusebius (Hist. eccl. 3.34.15-16) attests Mark and Matthew as writers of Gospels. Justin, the contemporary of Marcion, cites from the written text of Matthew (Matt. 11;17) and presupposes readings from the Gospels each Sunday (1 Apol. 67.3). Moreover, the Lord's Supper tradition in 1 Apol. 66.3 refers explicitly to the tradition of the Gospels (cf. Luke 22:19). The Gospel of John is attested in P52 (middle of the second half of the second century CE) in Egypt and must have been written a considerable time before that. For the Gospel of Luke, Marcion is the first (indirect) witness. However this fact certainly does not preclude its being written considerably earlier. The classic dating of the Gospels (and Acts) between 70 and 100 CE is evident in the situation presupposed in them and the history of early Christianity. Without the Jesus traditions of the Gospels, the expansion of Christianity in this period is not conceivable'.

I do not want to discuss the formation of the canon, as I have just written a chapter on this topic for the forthcoming volume The New Testament Canon in Contemporary Research, edited by Stanley E. Porter and Benjamin Laird, Brill.

Instead, let me concentrate on the arguments that make my position seem 'unconvincing' to Schnelle. Of course, these arguments are not new, but they are nicely condensed in the quoted footnote:

He rejects, that 'no evidence exists for a Gospel' prior to Marcion. As counter-arguments he takes:

1. The Didache and 'the presence of the Gospel of Matthew and (indirectly) the Gospel of Mark'.

2. The Papias fragment that 'attests Mark and Matthew as writers of Gospels'.

3. Justin who 'cites from the written text of Matthew'.

4. P52 as mid-secondary witness to the Gospel of John.

5. Marcion as (indirect) witness for the Gospel of Luke.

6. No expansion of Christianity without 'the Jesus traditions of the Gospels'.


Before I take them one by one, it is obvious that the argument against me pointing out the uncertainty of the dating of the Gospels (and Acts) and the likelihood that they are mid second century products rather than first century products is countered by the early dating of sources which are as uncertain as the creation of the Gospels and Acts (nn. 1.2.4): The Didache, Papias, P52 are uncertain with regards dating, and the early dating of the Didache is usually argued for with the presence of Matthew and the absence of other Gospeltraditions, Papias has been similarly dated, but uncertainty remains. And the dating of P52 by Colin H. Roberts in 1935, to ‘the first half of the second century’ and the further use of this dating by NT scholars has been called by papyrologist B. Nogbri already in 2005 an 'abuse' of this evidence. The conclusion is: Schnelle (together with many others, as he only represents the opinio communis) provides a circular argument and suggests secure datings, based on insecure datings which themselves have been secured by what they are supposed to secure. Who finds this convincing, might stop reading any further.

A further more general note: my argument is shortened to distortion. When I say that no Gospel existed prior to Marcion, I take as Gospel the combination of 'words and deeds' of the Lord, as I say in many places that prior and contemporary to Marcion oral traditions of sayings of the Lord are, indeed, attested. We only need to take the - although few - sayings of the Lord that we find in Paul's letters, then there are other sayings which we find in Ignatius and elsewhere. Two observations, however, need explanation: First, why most of these sayings are Agrapha and do not appear in any of our canonical Gospels, second, why the only elements that are attested are sayings, no deeds of the Lord, hence, no miracle, no narratives asf., a phenomenon that already Kurt Aland had pointed out. This leads us already to the discussion of the items from above:

In more detail:

1. The Didache and 'the presence of the Gospel of Matthew and (indirectly) the Gospel of Mark'.
Before we make a judgement on details, a preliminary fact: The text of the Didache, as Wengst who has been referrred to by Schnelle, points out, was, as the manuscript evidence shows, secondarily gospelized. Wengst, therefore, deviates from other editions, and leaves aside the heaviest gospelized section. Nevertheless, even the text that he gives is based on manuscript evidence that is later than the fourth century. And we just become highly suspicious of any text like the Didache which is preserved in the same manuscript, the Hierosolymitanus, which also contains the 14 letters collection of Ignatius - providing us with a second century collection which - as scholars acknowledge - was not only broadened by additional 6 letters, but also gives us a text that has been through and through gospelized and biblicized. What gives us the assurance that many, if not all of the parallels that Schnelle provides, have been introduced later? Yet, even if we assume, these were original, we have to note that all are sayings, and not a single one refers to deeds of Jesus. To draw from such parallels that the Didache is based on the Gospel of Matthew and indirectly on Mark is only maintained by scholars who also subscribe to the Didache being a terminus ante quem for these two Gospels. Again, we are in a dead ally of a circular argument. Elsewhere I have made a more detailed comparison.

2. That Papias 'attests Mark and Matthew as writers of Gospels' is simply and factually incorrect. Papias, in the fragments that survived and are given by Eusebius, never mentions the term 'Gospel'. The two are mentioned as translator and writer (Mark) and as redactor (Matthew), but what their products were, we do not know. Only because we later have Gospels that are connected with these two names, Eusebius in his framing text calls Mark a 'gospelwriter', Papias does not. Schnelle had better mentioned Papias' other fragment which has come to us not through Eusebius, but through the antimarcionite Western Bible prologues. In there, however, we are told about John's and Marcion's critical engagement which puts both John as well as Papias much later.

3. Justin is of cause not a good witness for Schnelle's argument, as he lives contemporary to Marcion and is seriously engaged with him (as, according to Papias John was). The position that Justin 'cites from the written text of Matthew' is not shared by many Justin scholars.

4. P52 and the NT-misuse of its papyrological dating has been mentioned before.

5. On Marcion as an indirect witness to the Gospel of Luke could be strengthened. As I have shown in various places, Marcion - according to Tertullian - attests to all four Gospels, yet he claims that these are plagiarisms of his own Gospel. Whether Marcion or Tertullian states the truth is the question to decide upon. To uncritically follow Tertullian does not seem a sound apriori position.

6. Expansion of Christianity ... If we acknowledge that even the term 'Christianity' is absent in the first century and appears for the first time with Marcion, it is problematic to retroject this identity claim into the first century. The assumption of rapid expansion only works - again in my view a circular argument - when one dates, as done in Schnelle, all the canonical texts into the first 100 years, and turns those 100 years from a history of the development of Jewish traditions, into one of 'Christianity' vs. 'Judaism'. In this, however, one unconsciously follows Marcion's trajectory. Marcion, however, was more careful than those readers, as he did not disinherit Jews and their traditions, but created a novel form of a Jewish cult which he called 'Christianity'. Only readers of him like Justin and, unfortunately, the plagiarists of Marcion's Gospel, turned his antitheses into an anti-Judaism which left nothing of the genuine tradition to the Jews, but turned it into a Christian Bible in which the core Gospels 'define (negatively) their relationship to Judaism' (p. 426).

Now ten years ago, I tentatively saw good reasons to advocate a turning over of NT studies and an entire revision of the most basic assumptions. Criticism like Schnelle's footnote from 2019 makes me even more aware, how fragile these counter-claims are and that assumptions based on such foundations will not last for very long. 

Friday, 26 March 2021

The oldest titles for Jesus

 I have just received an interesting email with a question on the oldest titles for Jesus:


I would like your views on Mark 5:7 and Luke 1:32. In both of these quotes, Jesus is called Son of The Most High.

There is a Margaret Berker proposal that maybe Jesus is YHWH himself.

“Yahweh was one of the sons of El Elyon; and Jesus in the Gospels was described as a Son of El Elyon, God Most High. In other words, he was described as a heavenly being. Thus the annunciation narrative has the term ‘Son of the Most High’ (Luke 1,32) and the demoniac recognized his exorcist as ‘Son of the Most High God’ (Mark 5,7). Jesus is not called the son of Yahweh nor the son of the Lord, but he is called Lord. We also know that whoever wrote the New Testament translated the name Yahweh by Kyrios, Lord … This suggests that the Gospel writers, in using the terms ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of God Most High’, saw Jesus as an angel figure, and gave him their version of the sacred name Yahweh.” Margaret Barker (1992.  The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God, p. 4-5)

Second option is that we have just a powerful phrase used by the author to elevate Jesus without deep justification copied from M to L or from L to M depends which synoptic model we will use

Third option, maybe we have a profound statement of Marcion's gospel who is Jesus - true Son of the Most High, "hellenistic brother" of YHWH. Statement copied from Mc to L to M ? And Unknown God is Most High.
Kyrios for Jesus in Pauline Corpus is used +100 times. Kyrios for YHWH in LXX is used +500 times.

To this email I replied:

thanks so much for your mail. You are asking an important question. How was Jesus seen and by which titles was he called.
From Marcion, we know that he gave Jesus a series of titles: The "Holy One of God" (*Ev. 3,24),[1] den „Propheten“ (*Ev. 4,24), „the Son of God“ (*Ev. 4,41; 8,28), den „Lord“, „Jesus“ (*Ev. 5,12), „Son of Man“ (*Ev. 5,24) und „Doctor“ (*Ev. 5,31), an angel (*Ev. 24,36-53).
In the verse *Ev. 8,28, taken over by Mark 5:7, Klinghardt rightly reconstructs: 
Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοίἸησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦδέομαί σουμή με βασανίσῃς. [2]
And it is from the Lukan redaction, following Mark that the τοῦ ὑψίστου ("of the Most High") has been introduced.
Hence, I think from the evidence that we have, that Marcion did not call Jesus "Son of the Most High", but simply "Son of God" and "Son of Man", amongst other titles mentioned above. That the "God" of whom Jesus is called "Son", is, however, the "supreme God" ("deus optimus"), not the Creatorgod or the Judge, hence, not the God of the Jewish Scriptures, is highlighted by Marcion. [3]


[1] For the Abbreviation *Ev. for Marcion's Gospel see Klinghardt, M. (2021). The Oldest Gospel and the Formation of the Canonical GospelsLeuven, Peeters Publishers. 

[2] Ibid. 685: "The canonical version of the majority text reads: Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ὑψίστου. The manuscript readings, however, are important: The name Ἰησοῦ is absent in P75 D and in two Old Latin manuscripts(d e)τοῦ θεοῦ is also absent in D and in a series of other manuscripts. On the other hand, τοῦ ὑψίστου is attested almost throughout and absent only in aeth. This attestation situation clearly suggests that the address may have originally read υἱὲ τοῦ ὑψίσ­το υ, if D and the Old Latin manuscripts still exhibited traces of the pre-canonical text. Tertillian's attestation does not quote but only summarize this passage. Nevertheless, it reveals that his copy of *Ev read Ἰησοῦ υἱὲ τοῦ θεοῦ gelesen hat. [4] The trustworthiness of Tertullian's attestation is illustrated by his rhetorical question / as whose God's son did the demon witness Jesus? Again, Tertullian focuses on the uniformity of God's image, which was disputed by the Marcionites 

[4]      Tert. 4,20,5: dei filium Iesum legio testata est. 




Thursday, 25 March 2021

Thomas of Erfurt and Meister Eckhart - a new book just appeared

Thomas of Erfurt is one of the forgotten great masters of the city of Erfurt. A contemporary of Meister Eckhart with a number of parallels and differences in their thinking. For the first time, a monograph, resulted from a workshop of 2013, provides a number of contributions that relate the two masters.

Thomas of Erfurt was one of the most important thinkers about grammar and language, called modists, of the 14th century. With his "Speculative Grammar" he inspired Charles Pierce (1839-1914) and his reflection on semiotics, Martin Heidegger read him - but thought he reads Duns Scotus - and, of course, the question is being raised to what extent Thomas and Eckhart inspired each other.