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Friday, March 28, 2014

Comparing the farewell addresses in Acts and the Clementine Homilies

I wrote this a long time ago. It's a section on an article about the reception of the canonical Acts of the Apostles within the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies. This section focuses on a comparison in the Farewell Address narratives. 

Though it has long been suggested that the Homilies’ vision of the Gospel is essentially anti-Pauline, what invites commentary is the strong anti-Paulinism in Peter’s farewell speech to the church in Tripolis in Hom.11, which consequently contains several allusions and challenges to Paul’s farewell address to Ephesian presbyters in Acts 20. Let us now brusquely summarize the narrative in Acts 20. Paul extols the Ephesian presbyters to walk by the Gospel he has proclaimed. He recounts his own experience with the church as proof of his divine mission (20:18-27). In Acts 20:29, Paul warns his disciples to be on guard for false apostles: ἐγὼ οἶδα ὅτι εἰσελεύσονται μετὰ τὴν ἄφιξίν μου λύκοι βαρεῖς εἰς ὑμᾶς μὴ φειδόμενοι τοῦ ποιμνίου. “I myself know that after my departure, savage wolves will enter among you, not sparing the flock.” Finally, after Paul exhorts the presbyters to follow his example of self-denying toil, he recalls a saying of Jesus: Μακάριόν ἐστιν μᾶλλον διδόναι ἢ λαμβάνειν. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (20:35). Luke uses this narrative to explain the apostolic origin and situation of the Ephesian church in his own day, as well as to magnify Paul’s character. 

In the Homilies, Peter gives his own farewell address, albeit much briefer than Paul’s in Acts. The first parallel with Acts is obvious: a farewell address by an apostle to the church. Admittedly farewell addresses are not uncommon in ancient narratives, so the Homilies’ address in itself would not suggest a literary dependence on Acts. However, the specific contents of Peter’s farewell address show unmistakable allusions to the Acts account. 
Peter turns to the presbyters of his own church and reminds them of the tenets of keeping the true Gospel. Peter makes explicit reference to the deceptive work of Simon, who arguably represents Paul in this speech, who pretends to work in Jesus’ name, but who truly works in the service of Satan: “…νῦν ἡμῖν τὸν Σίμωνα ὑπέβαλεν προφάσει ἀληθείας ἐπ’ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν κηρύσσοντα, πλάνην δὲ ἐνσπείροντα. “…now he (Satan) has thrust Simon upon us, by a façade of truth preaching by the name of our Lord, sowing deceit” (Hom.11.35).22 This warning alludes to Paul’s own address to the presbyters in Acts, as well as to a doctrinal struggle of the apostolic church; for Peter next details to the presbyters how to distinguish a true apostle from a false one. He explains that one must judge self-proclaimed teachers by how closely their teaching coheres with the teaching of James the Brother of Jesus, who holds preeminence in the universal Church because of his fraternity with Jesus, his role as Bishop of Jerusalem, and of course, the truth of his doctrines: 
διὸ πρὸ πάντων μέμνησθε μηδένα δέχεσθαι ἀπόστολον ἢ διδάσκαλον ἢ προφήτην μὴ πρότερον ἀντιβαλόντα αὐτοῦ τὸ κήρυγμα Ἰακώβῳ τῷ λεχθέντι ἀδελφῷ τοῦ κυρίου μου καὶ πεπιστευμένῳ ἐν Ἱερουσαλὴμ τὴν Ἑβραίων διέπειν ἐκκλησίαν. 
(“On this account, above all remember to accept no apostle or teacher or prophet who has not beforehand exchanged his kerygma with James, the one called the brother of my Lord, and who has been entrusted to manage the church of the Hebrews in Jerusalem” (Hom.11.35).23 
This saying essentially draws upon Paul’s self-promotion to the Ephesian Church based on his righteous conduct, but it says that works can be decieving; what matters is apostolic approval, which the Homilist denies Paul possesses. Instead of Paul, the Homilist contends that he has received the more orthodox teaching through Peter, James, and ultimately, Jesus himself. However historical this contention may be is a matter for separate discussion. 
Next follows the clearest allusion to Paul’s address to the Ephesian presbyters. In addition to the apostolic criterion of discernment, Peter reminds his presbyters of Jesus’ own prophetic words concerning false teachers: 
οὗ χάριν ὁ ἀποστείλας ἡμᾶς ἔφη· «Πολλοὶ ἐλεύσονται πρός με ἐν ἐνδύματι προβάτων, ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσι λύκοι ἅρπαγες· ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς.» 
(“For the sake of which, he who has sent us (Jesus) said: ‘Many will come to me in sheeps clothing, but inside are ravenous wolves. From their fruits you will know them’” (Hom.11.35).24 
The prophecy of the “wolves” is found in both apostles’ farewell addresses. The Petrine address in the Homilies seems directly opposed to its Pauline predecessor in Acts, which it in effect turns upside down. It is now Paul, along with the story and theological message of Acts, who typifies the wolf. It is a bold expression of superiority by a competing orthodoxy in the early Christian world. After this warning, Peter departs to Syrian Antioch. The Homilist sums up Peter’s activities: he cured diseases, exorcised demons, preached the Gospel, appointed a bishop and twelve presbyters, and bid he adieu (Hom.11.36). To sum up the case for the Homilies’ use of Acts in this section, we have parallels of a farewell address, injunctions to the presbyters, warnings about wolves coming in among the congregation, coupled with a saying of Jesus. In essence, these clear allusions to Acts represent the Homilies’ rejection of the popular narrative of Christian origins in favor of what the Homilist argues is more apostolic and genuine. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Weirdsdom of the ages...

"All good men are gods."--Apollonius of Tyana