The Four Living Creatures and the Four Gospels

January 11, 2013

One of Ireneaus’s analogies to the fourfold Gospel was the four cherubim.  Irenaeus seems to be harmonizing descriptions from Rev 4:6-9 and Ezek 1:5-26 (on the question of whether Irenaeus is using a source here see T.C. Skeat, “Irenaeus and the four-gospel canon,” NTS 34 [1992] and response from Annette Yoshiko Reed, “EUAGGELION:  Orality, Textuality and Christian Truth in Irenaeus’ Adversus Haeresis VC 56 [2002]).   So the Lion represents John’s high and confident Christology of the powerful Word, the human Matthew’s opening geneology of Jesus as son of David and Abraham, the calf Luke’s priestly character from its introduction of the priest Zechariah as the father of John the Baptist and the Eagle Mark’s prophetic character with its first reference to Isaiah the prophet followed by the descent of the spirit in the baptism.  However, other patristic writers were quite fond of this analogy, though they depart from Irenaus about which symbolizes which Gospel.  I found this useful chart below in the classic commentary by Henry Barclay Swete, The Gospel According to St. Mark: The Greek Text with Introductory Notes and Indices (2nd Edition; London: Macmillan and Co, 1908), xxxviii.  Guess which Gospel stands out as being assessed differently by Irenaues, Victorinus of Pettau notes on the Apocalypse, Augustine (De cons. ev. 1.9) and the Pseudo-Athanasian Synopsis

Irenaeus Victorinus Augustine Ps.-Athanasius
Matthew [HU]MAN [HU]MAN LION [HU]MAN
Mark EAGLE LION [HU]MAN CALF
Luke CALF CALF CALF LION
John LION EAGLE EAGLE EAGLE

Irenaeus on the Number Four

January 5, 2013

Many people find Irenaeus’s justification for a fourfold Gospel canon to be a real stretch, to put it mildly.  Indeed, Irenaeus scoffs at the Valentinians when they resort to numerology such as seeing the 30 aeons as represented by Christ’s age of 30 (1.3.1; Irenaeus counters in 2.22.6 that Christ was actually 49 years old with John 8:47 “you are not yet 50 years old” as a prooftext!).  However, if we are to enter sympathetically into Irenaeus’s argument, many of his analogies (zones of the world, winds, pillars) undergird the universality of the Church.  So the acceptance of four Gospels is defended as the practice of the true “catholic” Church, as opposed to groups Irenaeus perceives as schismatic “heretics” who especially privilege one Gospel (3.11.7 Ebionites with Matthew, separationists with Mark, Marcionites with Luke, Valentinians with John). Irenaeus also calls attention to the beginnings of each of the four Gospels as summing of the character of that particular narrative, in accordance with the Scriptures and symbolized by one of the four living creatures (cf. Ezekiel, Revelation).

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are.  For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh.  From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sits upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us the Gospel under four aspects, but bound together by one Spirit. As also David says, when entreating His manifestation, You that sits between the cherubim, shine forth.   For the cherubim, too, were four-faced, and their faces were images of the dispensation of the Son of God.  For, [as the Scripture] says, The first living creature was like a lion, symbolizing His effectual working, His leadership, and royal power; the second [living creature] was like a calf, signifying [His] sacrificial and sacerdotal order; but the third had, as it were, the face as of a man,— an evident description of His advent as a human being; the fourth was like a flying eagle, pointing out the gift of the Spirit hovering with His wings over the Church.  And therefore the Gospels are in accord with these things, among which Christ Jesus is seated.  For that according to John relates His original, effectual, and glorious generation from the Father, thus declaring, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Also, all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. For this reason, too, is that Gospel full of all confidence, for such is His person. But that according to Luke, taking up [His] priestly character, commenced with Zacharias the priest offering sacrifice to God. For now was made ready the fatted calf, about to be immolated for the finding again of the younger son. Matthew, again, relates His generation as a man, saying, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham; and also, The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise. This, then, is the Gospel of His humanity; for which reason it is, too, that [the character of] a humble and meek man is kept up through the whole Gospel. Mark, on the other hand, commences with [a reference to] the prophetical spirit coming down from on high to men, saying, The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Esaias the prophet,— pointing to the winged aspect of the Gospel; and on this account he made a compendious and cursory narrative, for such is the prophetical character. And the Word of God Himself used to converse with the ante-Mosaic patriarchs, in accordance with His divinity and glory; but for those under the law he instituted a sacerdotal and liturgical service. Afterwards, being made man for us, He sent the gift of the celestial Spirit over all the earth, protecting us with His wings. Such, then, as was the course followed by the Son of God, so was also the form of the living creatures; and such as was the form of the living creatures, so was also the character of the Gospel.   For the living creatures are quadriform, and the Gospel is quadriform, as is also the course followed by the Lord. For this reason were four principal (καθολικαί) covenants given to the human race: one, prior to the deluge, under Adam; the second, that after the deluge, under Noah; the third, the giving of the law, under Moses; the fourth, that which renovates man, and sums up all things in itself by means of the Gospel, raising and bearing men upon its wings into the heavenly kingdom.(Adversus Haeresis 3.11.7, translated by Alexander Roberts, William Rambaut; for Ireneaus text preserved in Latin and later Greek excerpts see Ben C. Smith)


Mike Bird on Irenaeus’ Fourfold Gospel Canon

January 2, 2013

I will get back to blogging the various patristic traditions about Mark soon, but in the meantime here is Mike Bird’s view on the emergence of the four Gospel canon.  My own view is that the Apostolic Fathers tend to quote either independent oral tradition or, if they reference a written text (e.g., the Didache), it is most likely Matthew (see the studies by Koester, Massaux, Gregory and Tuckett, etc).  The Synoptic Gospels and possibly John (and other sources?) are included in Justin Martyr’s “Memoirs of the Apostles,” memoirs written by the apostles or their assistants (Dial. 103.8).  I think a fourfold gospel canon probably emerged sometime between Justin and Irenaeus; Irenaeus’ curious argument about why there are four and only four Gospels shows that he is defending an already existing fourfold Gospel canon that was popular but may have not yet won the day.  Other Christian groups selected just one Gospel like the Marcionites (some version akin to Luke), the Ebionites (a Hebrew version of Matthew) or the Diatessaron or were willing to use both the New Testament Gospels and their own Gospels such as the Valentinians.  What do you think?


Irenaeus on the Gospels

December 23, 2012

Although a fourfold Gospel canon probably preceded the great late second century heresiologist Irenaeus of Lyons, he was one of the first to explicitly rise to its defense.  Here are the traditions he provides on the evangelists.  Again, thinking back to Papias, how does Irenaeus understand that Matthew wrote among the Hebrews in “their own dialect” and, when he refers to Mark handing down Peter’s preaching in writing after the exodos of Peter and Paul, does he mean their “departure” from Rome or a euphemism for “death”?  Further, where might Irenaeus get the idea that Luke was a companion of Paul (see Adv. Haer. 3.14.1 on combining the “we” of Acts with 2 Timothy 4:11 and Colossians 4:14) and the idea that John the disciple (= Apostle?) leaned on the Lord’s breast (see John 13:23) and resided in Ephesus (see Eusebius, Ecc.Hist. 3.39 on the confusion over whether there were one or two famous Christian leaders named John with memorials in Ephesus)?

Ita Mattheus in Hebraeis ipsorum lingua scrip­turam edidit Evan­gelii cum Petrus et Paulus Romae evange­lizarent et fun­da­rent Eccle­siam. Post vero ex­cessum Mar­cus disci­pulus et inter­pres Petri et ipse quae a Petro annun­tiata erant per scripta nobis tradidit, et Lucas autem secta­tor Pauli quod ab illo prae­dica­batur Evangelium in libro condidit. Postea et Johannes disci­pulus Domini qui et supra pectus ejus recum­bebat et ipse edidit Evangelium Ephesi Asiae com­morans. (Irenaeus, Adversus Haeresis 3.1.1)

ὁ μὲν δὴ Ματθαῖος ἐν τοῖς Ἑβραίοις τῇ ἰδίᾳ αὐτῶν διαλέκτῳ καὶ γραφὴν ἐξήνεγκεν εὐαγγέ­λιου τοῦ Πέτρου καὶ τοῦ Παύλου ἐν Ρώμῃ εὐαγγελι­ζομένων καὶ θεμε­λιούντων τὴν ἐκ­κλη­σίαν· μετὰ δὲ τὴν τούτων ἔξοδεν Μάρκος, ὁ μαθητὴς καὶ ἑρμη­νευτὴς Πέτρου, καὶ αὐτὸς τὰ ὑπὸ Πέτρου κηρυσσό­μενα ἐγ­γράφως ἡμῖν παρα­δέδωκεν· καὶ Λουκᾶς δέ, ὁ ἀκόλο­υθος Παύλου, τὸ ὑπ’ ἐκείνου κηρυσσό­μενον εὐαγγέ­λιον ἐν βίβλῳ κατ­έθετο. ἔπειτα Ἰωάννης, ὁ μα­θητὴς τοῦ κυρίου, ὁ καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ ἀνα­πεσών, καὶ αὐτὸς ἐξ­έδωκεν τὸ εὐαγγέ­λιον, ἐν Ἐφέσῳ τῆς Ἀσίας διατρίβων. (Greek text quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.8.2-4)

Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. (Alexander Roberts, William Rambaut)

Indeed Matthew, among the Hebrews in their own dialect, also bore forth a writing of the gospel, Peter and Paul evangelizing in Rome and founding the church.  But after the exodus of these men Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself also delivered to us in writing the things preached by Peter, and Luke also, the follower of Paul, set down in a book the gospel preached by that man.  Afterward John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned upon his breast, himself also published the gospel, passing his time in Ephesus of Asia. (Ben C. Smith)

So Matthew, among the Hebrews in their own dialect, brought forth a writing of the gospel when Peter and Paul in Rome were evan­geli­zing and founding the church; but after their depar­ture Mark, the disciple and inter­preter of Peter, he too handed what was preached by Peter down to us in writing, and Luke, the fol­lower of Paul, set forth in a book the gospel that was preached by him.  Then John, the disciple of the Lord and also the one who leaned against his chest, also pub­lished the gospel when re­siding in Ephesus of Asia. (Stephen Carlson)


Papias of Hierapolis Part II

December 21, 2012

The next important quote of Papias on Mark (and Matthew) is found in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.15-16.  Again, it is interesting to look at the interpretive decisions of the translators and in what they insert in brackets:  who is the one doing the remembering (Peter or Mark), did Peter adapt his teaching according to the needs of his audiences or in a certain literary form (chreiai or anecdotes), what does it mean that Mark did not write in order(taxis - literary arrangement, chronology, completeness) or only wrote down some things as he (Mark or Peter?) remembered them, what does it mean that Matthew put the sayings/logia/oracles into a Hebrew dialect (the Hebrew or Aramaic language or style?) and that each (who?) interpreted them as were able?

καὶ τοῦθ’ ὁ πρεσβύτερος ἔλεγεν· Μάρκος μὲν ἑρμηνευτὴς Πέτρου γενόμενος, ὅσα ἐμνημόνευσεν, ἀκριβῶς ἔγραψεν, οὐ μέντοι τάξει τὰ ὐπὸ τοῦ κυρίου η λεχθέντα ἢ πραχθέντα. οὔτε γὰρ ἤκουσεν τοῦ κυρίου οὔτε παρηκολούθησεν αὐτῷ, ὕστερον δὲ, ὡς ἔφην, Πέτρῳ· ὃς πρὸς τὰς χρείας ἐποιεῖτο τὰς διδασκαλίας, ἀλλ’ οὐχ ὥσπερ σύνταξιν τῶν κυριακῶν ποιούμενος λογίων, ὥστε οὐδὲν ἥμαρτεν Μάρκος οὕτως ἔνια γράψας ὡς ἀπεμνημόσευσεν. ἐνὸς γὰρ ἐποιήσατο πρόνοιαν, τοῦ μηδὲν ὧν ἤκουσεν παραλιπεῖν ἢ ψεύσασθαί τι ἐν αὐτοῖς.  ταῦτα μὲν οὖν ἱστόρηται τῷ Παπίᾳ περὶ τοῦ Μάρκου· περὶ δὲ τοῦ Ματθαῖου ταῦτ’ εἴρηται· Ματθαῖος μὲν οὖν Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ τὰ λόγια συνετάξατο, ἡρμήνευσεν δ’ αὐτὰ ὡς ἧν δυνατὸς ἕκαστος.

“And the Elder said this also: ‘Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately everything that he remembered, without however recording in order what was either said or done by Christ. For neither did he hear the Lord, nor did he follow Him; but afterwards, as I said, (attended) Peter, who adapted his instructions to the needs (of his hearers) but had no design of giving a connected account of the Lord’s oracles.  So then Mark made no mistake, while he thus wrote down some things as he remembered them; for he made it his one care not to omit anything that he heard, or to set down any false statement therein.’  Such then is the account given by Papias concerning Mark. But concerning Matthew, the following statement is made (by him):  ‘So then Matthew composed the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as he could.’” (JB Lightfoot and JR Harmer, Fragment II)

“And the elder was saying this:  ‘On the one hand, Mark, becoming Peter’s interpreter, wrote accurately as many things as he remembered.  On the other hand, [he did] not [write] in order the things either said or done by the Lord.  For he had neither heard the Lord nor followed him.  But later, as I said, [he had followed] Peter, who was teaching in accord with the anecdotes yet not as it were arranging the Lord’s oracles, so that Mark did nothing wrong by writing some things as he related [them] from memory.  For he was thinking one thing beforehand of one thing, [i.e.] to omit not a single one of the things that he had heard or to falsify anything in them.’  Therefore, on the one hand, these things are related by Papias [or 'to Papias' as the one who heard the tradition]  concerning Mark.  Concerning Matthew, on the other hand, these things were said:  ‘On the one hand, therefore, Matthew did arrange the oracles in Hebrew ‘dialect.’  On the other hand, each one interpreted them as he was able.’” (Robert Gundry, “The Apostolically Johannine Pre-Papian Tradition concerning the Gospels of Mark and Matthew,” page 49-50)

“And this is what the elder used to say, ‘when Mark was the interpreter [or translator] of Peter, he wrote down accurately everything that he recalled of the Lord’s words and deeds – but not in order.  For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him, but later, as I indicated, he accompanied Peter, who used to adapt his teachings for the needs at hand, not arranging, as it were, an orderly composition of the Lord’s sayings.  And so Mark did nothing wrong by writing some of the matters as he remembered them.  For he was intent on just one purpose: to leave out nothing that he had heard or to include any falsehood among them…  And this is what he says about Matthew:  And Matthew composed the sayings in the Hebrew tongue, and each one interpreted [or translated] them to the best of his ability.’” (Bart Ehrman, Loeb, pg. 103)

“The Elder used to say: ‘Mark, in his capacity as Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately as many things as he [Peter?] recalled from memory – though not in an ordered form – of the things said or done by the Lord. For he [Mark] neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him, but later, as I said, [he heard and accompanied] Peter, who used to give his teachings in the form of chreiai, but had no intention of providing an ordered arrangement [suntaxin] of the logia of the Lord.  Consequently Mark did nothing wrong when he wrote down some things just as he [Peter?] related them from memory.  For he made it his one concern not to omit anything he had heard or to falsify anything.  This, then, is the account given by Papias about Mark.  But about Matthew the following was said:  ‘Therefore Matthew put the logia in an ordered arrangement [sunetaxato] in the Hebrew language [hebraidi dialectō], but each person interpreted them as best he could’” (Richard Bauckham, Jesus
and the Eyewitnesses
, pg. 203)

“And the presbyter would say this:  ‘Mark, who had indeed been Peter’s interpreter [hermēneutēs],  accurately wrote as much as he remembered, yet not in order, about that which  was either said or did by the Lord. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but later, as I said, Peter, who would make the teachings anecdotally but not exactly an arrangement of the Lord’s reports, so that Mark did not fail by writing certain things as he recalled. For he had one purpose, not to omit what he heard or falsify them.’  Now this is reported by Papias about Mark, but about Matthew this was said, ‘Now Matthew compiled the reports in a Hebrew manner of speech, but each interpreted them as he could.’” (Stephen Carlson)


Papias of Hierapolis Part I

December 20, 2012

Our first major authority on Mark is Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis, whose writings only survive in fragments quoted by other patristic authorities (see all the fragments or alleged fragments here).  If one asks where Papias received his information, the church historian Eusebius quotes the relevant passage in Papias in Ecclesiastical History 3.39.3-4.  Since every act of translation is also an interpretation, I have provided different translations below for the reader to see some of the interpretive decisions of different renderings of the Greek (also notice what is inserted in square brackets) regarding whether Papias meant to identify the “elders” with the disciples or to distinguish them, whether John in the first list of 7 disciples is to be identified with the elder John mentioned alongside Aristion or distinguished from him (cf. Irenaeus seems to follow the former interpretation and Eusebius the latter) and what Papias means by his preference for the “living & abiding word” over “books.”

Οὐκ ὀκνήσω δέ σοι καὶ ὅσα ποτὲ παρὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καλῶς ἔμαθον καὶ καλῶς ἐμνημόνευσα συγκατατάξαι ταῖς ἑρμηνείαις, διαβεβαιούμενος ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ἀλήθειαν.  οὐ γὰρ τοῖς τὰ πολλὰ λέγουσιν ἔχαιρον ὥσπερ οἱ πολλοί, ἀλλὰ τοῖς τἀληθῆ διδάσκουσιν, οὐδὲ τοῖς τὰς ἀλλοτρίας ἐντολὰς μνηνεύουσιν, ἀλλὰ τοῖς τὰς παρὰ τοῦ κυρίου τῇ πίστει δεδομένας καὶ ἀπ’ αὐτῆς παραγιγνομένας τῆς ἀληθείας· εἰ δέ που καὶ παρηκολουθηκώς τις τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις ἔλθοι, τοὺς τῶν πρεσβυτέρων ἀνέκρινον λόγους, τί Ἀνδρέας ἢ τί Πέτρος εἴπεν ἢ τί Φίλιππος ἢ τί Θωμᾶς ἢ Ἰάκωβος ἢ τί Ἰωάννης ἢ Ματθαῖος ἢ τις ἕτερος τῶν τοῦ κυρίου μαθητῶν ἅ τε Ἀριστίων καὶ ὁ πρεσβύτερος Ἰωάννης, τοῦ κυρίου μαθηταί, λέγουσιν. οὐ γὰρ τὰ ἐκ τῶν βιβλίων τοσοῦτόν με ὠφελεῖν ὑπελάμβανον ὅσον τὰ παρὰ ζώσης φωνῆς καὶ μενούσης.

But I will not scruple also to give a place for you along with my interpretations to everything that I learnt carefully and remembered carefully in time past from the elders, guaranteeing its truth.  For, unlike the many, I did not take pleasure in those who have so very much to say, but in those who teach the truth; nor in those who relate foreign commandments, but in those (who record) such as were given from the Lord to the Faith, and are derived from the truth itself.  And again, on any occasion when a person came (in my way) who had been a follower of the Elders, I would inquire about the discourses of the Elders – what was said by Andrew, or by Peter, or by Philip, or by Thomas or James, or by John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples, and what Ariston and the Elder John, the disciples of the Lord, say.  For I did not think I could get so much profit from the contents of books as from the utterances of a living and abiding voice. (J.B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, Fragment II)

“To confirm the correctness of my interpretations, I shall not fail to link up with them for you, first, all the sayings which I ever learnt carefully from the Elders [Disciples] and carefully drew from my memory. For, unlike the majority, I did not delight in those who have many clever things to say, but in those who teach what is true; not in those who recall the teachings of another [Paul ?] but in those who repeat the teachings given to the Faith by the Lord and springing from the Truth itself.  And, again, if anyone came who had consorted with the Elders [Disciples] I used to ask him about the sayings of the Elders [Disciples]—what Andrew or Peter had said, or Philip or Thomas, or James or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s followers.  And thirdly (I shall link up with my interpretations) things which Aristion and John the Elder [Disciple], followers of the Lord, say. For I have always thought to get more help from a surviving eyewitness than from the Books [i.e. 'The Old Testament'; not 'from books']. (Rupert Annand, “Papias and the Four GospelsScottish Journal of Theology 9 (1956): 46.

“I also will not hesitate to draw up for you, along with these expositions, an orderly account of all the things I carefully learned and have carefully recalled from the elders; for I have certified their truth.  For unlike most people, I took no pleasure in hearing those who had a lot to say, but only those who taught the truth, and not those who recalled commandments from strangers, but only those who recalled the commandments which have been given faithfully by the Lord and which proceed from the truth itself.  But whenever someone arrived who had been a companion of one of the elders, I would carefully inquire about their words, what Andrew or Peter had said, or what Philip or Thomas had said, or James or John or Matthew or any of the other disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the elder John, disciples of the Lord, were saying.  For I did not suppose that what came out of books would benefit me as much as that which came from a living and abiding voice” (Bart Ehrman, LOEB, page 99)

“I shall not hesitate also to put into properly ordered form for you [singular] everything I learned carefully in the past from the elders and noted down well, for the truth of which I vouch.  For unlike most people I did not enjoy those who have a great deal to say, but those who teach the truth.  Nor did I enjoy those who recall someone else’s commandments, but those who remember the commandments given by the Lord to the faith and proceeding from the truth itself.  And if by chance anyone who has been in attendance on the elders should come my way, I inquired about the words of the elders – [that is,] what [according to the elders] Andrew or Peter said, or Philip, or Thomas, or James, or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples, and whatever Aristion and the elder John, the Lord’s disciples, were saying.  For I did not think the information from books would profit me as much as information from a living and surviving voice.” (Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, page 15-16)

But I will not hesitate to supplement at any time for you too the interpretations with whatever I learned thoroughly and remembered thoroughly from the presbyters, since I am confident in the truth on their account. For unlike many I was not delighted with those who say many things but with those who teach the truth, or with those who remember not the commandments of others but those given by the Lord to the faith and derived from truth itself.  But whenever someone who had followed the presbyters came along, I would carefully ask about the words of the presbyters, what Andrew or what Peter had said or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the disciples of the Lord, and which Aristion and the presbyter John, disciples of the Lord say too. For I did not assume that whatever comes from books is as helpful to me as what comes from a living and lasting voice. (Stephen Carlson)


External References to Mark

December 19, 2012

A few posts ago I asked the question of whether Mark was among Justin’s Memoirs of the Apostles and what did Justin mean by “memoirs.”  It got me thinking that it might be useful to compile some of the external references to Mark on the blog, so I plan to do that over the next bunch of posts.


Was Mark’s Gospel Among Justin Martyr’s “Memoirs of the Apostles”?

December 9, 2012

Justin Martyr often calls the Gospels the “memoirs of the apostles” (ἀπομνημονεύματα τῶν ἀποστόλων).  In his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 106.3, Justin refers to the “memoirs of him” (ἀπομνημονεύμασιν αὐτοῦ) which can either be translated “the memoirs about him” (referring to Jesus) or “his memoirs” (referring back to the one whose name was changed – Peter).   Even if one adopts the latter reading, there is a debate about the reference behind “Peter’s memoirs.”  Over at his blog Tim Henderson engages Bart Ehrman’s view that the Gospel of Peter was among Justin’s memoirs and persuasively argues for a reference to Mark instead here, here, here (if interested further, you can check out Tim Henderson’s book The Gospel of Peter and Early Christian Apologetic).  As for the term “memoirs,” see other interesting posts from a few months ago by Joel Watts and Mike Bird.  Both think the clearest parallel is to Xenophon’s Memorabilia of Socraties, though Mike also mentions Helmut Koester’s alternative view that Justin was rather echoing Papias’s remarks that Mark “remembered” the preaching of Peter or rival Gnostic claims of the disciples “remembering” the private teachings of Jesus (cf. Ancient Christian Gospels, pp 37-40).  What do you think:  how well known would the Greco-Roman genre of “memoirs” or the distinction between private notes (hypomnēmata) and published memoirs (apomnēmoneumata) have been known to the evangelists composing the Gospels or their earliest commentators (Papias, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement)?  For a brief bibliography for those interested further:

  • Abramowski, Luise.  “The memoirs of the apostles in Justin.”  Pages 323-35 in The Gospels and the Gospel.  Edited by Peter Stuhlmacher; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991 (“Die ‘Erinnerungen der Apostel’ bei Justin” in Das Evangelium und die Evangelien.  Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1983).
  • Bauckham, Richard.  Jesus and the Eyewitnesses:  The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.
  • Foster, Paul.  “The Relationship between the Writings of Justin Martyr and the So-Called Gospel of Peter.”  Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.
  • Heard, Richard.  “APOMNĒMONEUMATA in Papias, Justin and Irenaeus.” New Testament Studies 1 (1954): 122-29.
  • Hyldahl, Niels.  “Hegesipps Hypomnemata.” Studia Theologica 14 (1960): 70-113.
  • Kennedy, George.  “Classical and Source Criticism.”  Pages 125-55 in The Relationship among the Gospels: an Interdisciplinary Dialogue .  Edited by William Walker.  Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1978.
  • Köster, Helmut.  Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development.  London: SCM; Philadelphia: Trinity International, 1990.
  • Pilhofer, Peter.  “Justin und das Petrusevangelium.”  ZNW 81 (1990): 60-78
  • Stanton, Graham.  Jesus and Gospel.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Evidence for Mark’s Longer Ending (16:9-20) in Tatian’s Diatessaron

November 29, 2012

Although a fourfold Gospel canon is defended by the time of Irenaeus on the basis of numerological arguments (e.g., four zones, four principal winds, four pillars, four faces of the cherubim), some other Christian groups privileged one particular Gospel (e.g., the Ebionites use of a Gospel like Matthew or Marcion of one like Luke).  Another option was to harmonize the four into one consistent account as seen in Tatian’s Diatessaron (dia through/by and tessarōn of four).  In an open-access archaeological journal The Heroic Age: A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe 15 (2012), James Snapp, Jr makes a text critical case for knowledge of “Mark 16:9-20 in Tatian’s Diatessaron.”  This could also be taken as added support for the argument of James A. Kelhoffer, Miracle and Mission: the Authentication of Missionaries and their Message in the Longer Ending of Mark (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2000, pp 170-176) that Tatian’s teacher, Justin Martyr, was also familiar with the longer ending of Mark.  James Snapp left further resources on the longer ending of Mark in the comments of my “student resources” if anyone is interested further in his own take on the text critical issues (note: my own position, however, would be closer to Kelhoffer’s that the longer ending was an addition by a 2nd century scribe trying to correct Mark’s ending at 16:8 by harmonizing it with other Easter traditions).


My Published Review of “The African Memory of Mark”

August 30, 2012

Since James Crossley, Jim West and James McGrath have already mentioned the new edition of Relegere, I want to add that my review of The African Memory of Mark is also published in it.  Overall I greatly appreciated how it introduces readers to the fascinating developments about the evangelist “Mark” as the first bishop of Alexandria and martyr, though I lay out my case for why I believe the author could be more critical with the later sources and why I am not persuaded about a historical core behind these traditions.  I am grateful to Relegere and my friend Deane Galbraith for letting me have the opportunity to review such an interesting book, so let me know what you think of the review.


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