Markus Vinzent's Blog

Friday, 7 September 2012

James Carleton Paget, 'Marcion and the Resurrection: Some Thoughts on a Recent Book'

James Carleton Paget, 'Marcion and the Resurrection: Some Thoughts on a Recent Book', Journal for the Study of the New Testament 35 (2012), 74-102.

When one writes a book like "Christ's Resurrection in Early Christianity and the Making of the New Testament" - quite different from the two others which I have published since then ("The Art of Detachment", 2011, and "Meister Eckhart's On the Lord's Prayer", 2012) which touches so many's personal convictions, the basis of a belief system and existential engagements - one can only hope for a scholarly detached readership that proves reason and judgement - though in conflict with conviction and engagements - being above partiality. It is a great sign of encouragement to me when I read James Carleton Paget's review, a 27 pages detailed and thorough study of my work that scholarship prevails. Even more, as I will reflect on what he argues not here or at least not now - as I have to digest his own arguments and efforts at least twice as long as he shows to have deeply pondered upon mine, only to give back to him my thanks for such a gift - it moves me to read in his conclusion that despite him trying 'to show that there are grounds for thinking that his [mine] revisionist views are based upon highly contentious conclusions, whose disputed character is dealt with in a sometimes misleadingly sweeping manner, and are dependent upon questionable methodological assumptions and procedures', he modestly adds that 'it is, however, difficult to see how one could disprove what he [me] has argued, that is, show it to be wrong beyond reasonable doubt' (99).
If anything at all this book achieves to present a thesis which cannot easily be disproved by a scholar of a rank and standing of this reviewer whom I have admired for years since we have met in Cambridge and continue to admire now even more, it was worth putting my pen to paper and my fingers to my laptop. If he as a New Testament scholar believes that it is difficult to see how 'beyond reasonable doubt' my interpretation cannot be disproved, it gives hope to me as Patristic scholar that my further work in this area is not futile. But, again, I'd like to take time to reflect on what he suggested and only want to add one note here, because - if I have not overlooked something, but I will check again - it is the only one 'misreading' which he indicates and which has been picked up by another scholar in the field, Frederik Mulders, in his impressively well documented and carefully edited blog ( In response, I posted two answers, the more important one follows here:

Frederik agrees with James on the reading of Tertullian, that he (Tertullian) never asserts that Marcion claimed the thesis I am arguing. And he that 'the Latin clearly states that Marcion accused the "upholders of Judaism" of having falsified Luke, not of having falsified his own Gospel' (Frederik Mulders quoting James Carleton Paget, 94 note 47). Even if this were the right interpretation which I doubt on the basis of the Latin text below - how could Marcion have said this, by having asserted first that his Gospel is the true, Tertullian's (Matth., Luke) the falsified? (Ego meum dico verum, Marcion suum. Ego Marcionis affirmo adulteratum, Marcion meum). After Marcion had claimed that Tertullian's is the falsified, Tertullian adds (I give Evans translation so that nobody can claim that I am doing up my own translation), that (to him, Tertullian, it would be absurd) that 'Marcion's be believed to have suffered hostility from ours before it was even published' (Marcionis ante credatur aemulationem a nostro expertum quam et editum). Leaving aside here what 'et editum' means (I have dealt with it this week in my paper to the British Patristics Conference in Exeter), I cannot see, how Evans' could be proven wrong in his translation. Marcion believed that his (Marcionis!) Gospel 'suffered hostility' from 'ours' (= Matth., Luke). On the basis of this claim by Marcion, that his own Gospel suffered hostility, Tertullian continues with an 'if'-sentence (again Evans' translation): 'If that gospel which among us is ascribed to Luke—we shall see <later> whether it is <accepted by> Marcion—if that is the same that Marcion by his Antitheses accuses of having been falsified by the upholders of Judaism ...' (Si enim id evangelium quod Lucae refertur penes nos (viderimus an et penes Marcionem) ipsum est quod Marcion per Antitheses suas arguit ut interpolatum a protectoribus Iudaismi...). Again, Tertullian is of course aware that Marcion would NOT accept that this Gospel which he just had called his own (without ascription to an author! A sign for Martin Hengel that yet no competing aemulatio or text existed) should carry the ascription to Luke. The muddle of interpretation derives from two problems: a) Interpreters in the past (including James and Frederik now), ignored the above quoted sentence that Marcion spoke about his own Gospel (Marcionis - correctly translated by Evans); and b) that subsequent when Tertullian claims this to be his own (penes nos), it is again overlooked that he admits that it is his claim, not necessarily shared (he refers to the later discussion) by Marcion.
In consequence - my interpretation is not only literally and grammatically correct, it is the only one that renders the text as given (and correctly translated by Evans).

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