CHAP.VII.--MARCION REJECTED THE PRECEDING PORTION OF ST. LUKE'S GOSPEL. THEREFORE THIS REVIEW OPENS WITH AN EXAMINATION OF THE CASE OF THE EVIL SPIRIT IN THE SYNAGOGUE OF CAPERNAUM. HE WHOM THE DEMON ACKNOWLEDGED WAS THE CREATOR'S CHRIST.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius(19) (for such is Marcion's proposition) he "came down to the Galilean city of Capernaum," of course meaning(20) from the heaven of the Creator, to which he had previously descended from his own. What then had been his Course,(21) for him to be described as first descending from his own heaven to the Creator's? For why should I abstain from censuring those parts of the statement which do not satisfy the requirement of an ordinary narrative, but always end in a falsehood? To be sure, our censure has been once for all expressed in the question, which we have already(22) suggested: Whether, when descending through the Creator's domain, and indeed in hostility to him, he could possibly have been admitted by him, and by him been transmitted to the earth, which was equally his territory? Now, however, I want also to know the remainder of his course down, assuming that he came down. For we must not be too nice in inquiring(1) whether it is supposed that he was seen in any place. To come into view(2) indicates(3) a sudden unexpected glance, which for a moment fixed(4) the eye upon the object that passed before the view, without staying. But when it happens that a descent has been effected, it is apparent, and comes under the notice of the eyes.(5) Moreover, it takes account of fact, and thus obliges one to examine in what condition with what preparation,(6) with how much violence or moderation, and further, at what time of the day or night, the descent was made; who, again, saw the descent, who reported it, who seriously avouched the fact, which certainly was not easy to be believed, even after the asseveration. It is, in short, too bad(7) that Romulus should have had in Proculus an avoucher of his ascent to heaven, when the Christ of (this) god could not find any one to announce his descent from heaven; just as if the ascent of the one and the descent of the other were not effected on one and the same ladder of falsehood! Then, what had he to do with Galilee, if he did not belong to the Creator by whom(8) that region was destined (for His Christ) when about to enter on His ministry?(9) As Isaiah says: "Drink in this first, and be prompt, O region of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, and ye others who (inhabit) the sea-coast, and that of Jordan, Galilee of the nations, ye people who sit in darkness, behold a great light; upon you, who inhabit (that) land, sitting in the shadow of death, the light hath arisen."(10) It is, however, well that Marcion's god does claim to be the enlightener of the nations, that so he might have the better reason for coming down from heaven; only, if it must needs be,(11) he should rather have made Pontus his place of descent than Galilee. But since both the place and the work of illumination according to the prophecy are compatible with Christ, we begin to discern(12) that He is the subject of the prophecy, which shows that at the very outset of His ministry, He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them;(13) for Marcion has erased the passage as an interpolation.(14) It will, however, be vain for him to deny that Christ uttered in word what He forthwith did partially indeed. For the prophecy about place He at once fulfilled. From heaven straight to the synagogue. As the adage runs: "The business on which we are come, do at once." Marcion must even expunge from the Gospel, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;"(15) and, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs,"(16)--in order, forsooth, that Christ may not appear to be an Israelite. But facts will satisfy me instead of words. Withdraw all the sayings of my Christ, His acts shall speak. Lo, He enters the synagogue; surely (this is going) to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Behold, it is to Israelites first that He offers the "bread" of His doctrine; surely it is because they are "children" that He shows them this priority.(17) Observe, He does not yet impart it to others; surely He passes them by as "dogs." For to whom else could He better have imparted it, than to such as were strangers to the Creator, if He especially belonged not to the Creator? And yet how could He have been admitted into the synagogue--one so abruptly appearing,(18) so unknown; one, of whom no one had as yet been apprised of His tribe, His nation, His family, and lastly, His enrolment in the census of Augustus--that most faithful witness of the Lord's nativity, kept in the archives of Rome? They certainly would have remembered, if they did not know Him to be circumcised, that He must not be admitted into their most holy places. And even if He had the general right of entering(19) the synagogue (like other Jews), yet the function of giving instruction was allowed only to a man who was extremely well known, and examined and tried, and for some time invested with the privilege after experience duly attested elsewhere.
But "they were all astonished at His doctrine." Of course they were; "for, says (St. Luke), "His word was with power(20)--not because He taught in opposition to the law and the prophets. No doubt, His divine discourse(1) gave forth both power and grace, building up rather than pulling down the substance of the law and the prophets. Otherwise, instead of "astonishment, they would feel horror. It would not be admiration, but aversion, prompt and sure, which they would bestow on one who was the destroyer of law and prophets, and the especial propounder as a natural consequence of a rival god; for he would have been unable to teach anything to the disparagement of the law and the prophets, and so far of the Creator also, without premising the doctrine of a different and rival divinity, Inasmuch, then, as the Scripture makes no other statement on the matter than that the simple force and power of His word produced astonishment, it more naturally(2) shows that His teaching was in accordance with the Creator by not denying (that it was so), than that it was in opposition to the Creator, by not asserting (such a fact). And thus He will either have to be acknowledged as belonging to Him,(3) in accordance with whom He taught; or else will have to be adjudged a deceiver since He taught in accordance with One whom He had come to oppose.
In the same passage, "the spirit of an unclean devil" exclaims: "What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God."(4) I do not here raise the question whether this appellation was suitable to one who ought not to be called Christ, unless he were sent by the Creator.(5) Elsewhere(6) there has been already given a full consideration of His titles. My present discussion is, how the evil spirit could have known that He was called by such a name, when there had never at any time been uttered about Him a single prophecy by a god who was unknown, and up to that time silent, of whom it was not possible for Him to be attested as "the Holy One," as (of a god) unknown even to his own Creator. What similar event could he then have published(7) of a new deity, whereby he might betoken for "the holy one" of the rival god? Simply that he went into the synagogue, and did nothing even in word against the Creator? As therefore he could not by any means acknowledge him, whom he was ignorant of, to be Jesus and the Holy One of God; so did he acknowledge Him whom he knew (to be both). For he remembered how that the prophet had prophesied(8) of "the Holy One" of God, and how that God's name of "Jesus" was in the son of Nun.(9) These facts he had also received(10) from the angel, according to our Gospel: "Wherefore that which shall be born of thee shall be called the Holy One, the Son of God;"(11) and, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus."(12) Thus he actually had (although only an evil spirit) some idea of the Lord's dispensation, rather than Of any strange and heretofore imperfectly understood one. Because he also premised this question: "What have we to do with Thee?"--not as if referring to a strange Jesus, to whom pertain the evil spirits of the Creator. Nor did he say, What hast Thou to do with us? but, "What have we to do with Thee?" as if deploring himself, and deprecating his own calamity; at the prospect of which he adds: "Art Thou come to destroy us?" So completely did he acknowledge in Jesus the Son of that God who was judicial and avenging, and (so to speak) severe,(13) and not of him who was simply good,(14) and knew not how to destroy or how to punish! Now for what purpose have we adduced his passage first?(15) In order to show that Jesus was neither acknowledged by the evil spirit, nor affirmed by Himself, to be any other than the Creator's. Well, but Jesus rebuked him, you say. To be sure he did, as being an envious (spirit), and in his very confession only petulant, and evil in adulation--just as if it had been Christ's highest glory to have come for the destruction of demons, and not for the salvation of mankind; whereas His wish really was that His disciples should not glory in the subjection of evil spirits but in the fair beauty of salvation.(16) Why else(17) did He rebuke him? If it was because he was entirely wrong (in his invocation), then He was neither Jesus nor the Holy One of God; if it was because he was partially wrong--for having supposed him to be, rightly enough,(18) Jesus and the Holy One of God, but also as belonging to the Creator--most unjustly would He have rebuked him for thinking what he knew he ought to think (about Him), and for not supposing that of Him which he knew not that he ought to suppose--that he was another Jesus, and the holy one of the other god. If,however, the rebuke has not a more probable meaning(1) than that which we ascribe to it, follows that the evil spirit made no mistake, and was not rebuked for lying; for it was Jesus Himself, besides whom it was impossible for the evil spirit to have acknowledged any other, whilst Jesus affirmed that He was He whom the evil spirit had acknowledged, by not rebuking him for uttering a lie.
CHAP. VIII."--OTHER PROOFS FROM THE SAME CHAPTER, THAT JESUS, WHO PREACHED AT NAZARETH, AND WAS ACKNOWLEDGED BY CERTAIN DEMONS AS CHRIST THE SON OF GOD, WAS THE CREATOR'S CHRIST. AS OCCASION OFFERS, THE DOCETIC ERRORS OF MARCION ARE EXPOSED.
The Christ of the Creator had(2) to be called a Nazarene according to prophecy; whence the Jews also designate us, on that very account,(3) Nazerenes(4) after Him. For we are they of whom it is written, "Her Nazarites were whiter than snow;"(5) even they who were once defiled with the stains of sin, and darkened with the clouds of ignorance. But to Christ the title Nazarene was destined to become a suitable one, from the hiding-place of His infancy, for which He went down and dwelt at Nazareth,(6) to escape from Archelaus the son of Herod. This fact I have not refrained from mentioning on this account, because it behoved Marcion's Christ to have forborne all connection whatever with the domestic localities of the Creator's Christ, when he had so many towns in Judaea which had not been by the prophets thus assigned(7) to the Creator's Christ. But Christ will be (the Christ) of the prophets, wheresoever He is found in accordance with the prophets. And yet even at Nazareth He is not remarked as having preached anything new,(8) whilst in another verse He is said to have been rejected(9) by reason of a simple proverb.(10) Here at once, when I observe that they laid their hands on Him, I cannot help drawing a conclusion respecting His bodily substance, which cannot be believed to have been a phantom,(11) since it was capable of being touched and even violently handled, when He was seized and taken and led to the very brink of a precipice. For although He escaped through the midst of them, He had already experienced their rough treatment, and afterwards went His way, no doubt(12) because the crowd (as usually happens) gave way, or was even broken through; but not because it was eluded as by an impalpable disguise,(13) which, if there had been such, would not at all have submitted to any touch. "Tangere enim et tangi, nisi corpus, nulla potest res,"(14) is even a sentence worthy of a place in the world's wisdom. In short, He did himself touch others, upon whom He laid His hands, which were capable of being felt, and conferred the blessings of healing,(15) which were not less true, not less unimaginary, than were the hands wherewith He bestowed them. He was therefore the very Christ of Isaiah, the healer of our sicknesses.(16) "Surely," says he, "He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." Now the Greeks are accustomed to use for carry a word which also signifies to take away. A general promise Is enough for me in passing.(17) Whatever were the cures which Jesus effected, He is mine. We will come, however, to the kinds of cures. To liberate men, then, from evil spirits, is a cure of sickness.
Accordingly, wicked spirits (just in the manner of our former example) used to go forth with a testimony, exclaiming, "Thou art the Son of God,"(18)--of what God, is clear enough from the case itself. But they were rebuked, and ordered not to speak; precisely because(19) Christ willed Himself to be proclaimed by men, not by unclean spirits, as the Son of God--even that Christ alone to whom this was befitting, because He had sent beforehand men through whom He might become known, and who were assuredly worthier preachers. It was natural to Him(20) to refuse the proclamation of an unclean spirit, at whose command there was an abundance of saints. He, however,(21) who had never been foretold (if, indeed, he wished to be acknowledged; for if he did not wish so much, his coming was in vain), would not have spurned the testimony of an alien or any sort of substance, who did not happen to have a substance of his own,(22) but had descended in an alien one. And now, too, as the destroyer also of the Creator, he would have desired nothing better than to be acknowledged by His spirits, and to be divulged for the sake of being feared:(1) only that Marcion says(2) that his god is not feared; maintaining that a good being Is not an object of fear, but only a judicial being, in whom reside the grounds(3) of fear--anger, severity, judgments, vengeance, condemnation. But it was from fear, undoubtedly, that the evil spirits were cowed.(4) Therefore they confessed that (Christ) was the Son of a God who was to be feared, because they would have an occasion of not submitting if there were none for fearing. Besides, He showed that He was to be feared, because He drave them out, not by persuasion like a good being, but by command and reproof. Or else did he(5) reprove them, because they were making him an object of fear, when all the while he did not want to be feared? And in what manner did he wish them to go forth, when they could not do so except with fear? So that he fell into the dilemma(6) of having to conduct himself contrary to his nature, whereas he might in his simple goodness have at once treated them with leniency. He fell, too, into another false position(7)--of prevarication, when he permitted himself to be feared by the demons as the Son of the Creator, that he might drive them out, not indeed by his own power, but by the authority of the Creator.
"He departed, and went into a desert place."(8) This was, indeed, the Creator's customary region. It was proper that the Word(9) should there appear in body, where He had aforetime, wrought in a cloud. To the gospel also was suitable that condition of place(10) which had once been determined on for the law.(11) "Let the wilderness and the solitary place, therefore, be glad and rejoice;" so had Isaiah promised.(12) When "stayed" by the crowds, He said," I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also."(13) Had He displayed His God anywhere yet? I suppose as yet nowhere. But was He speaking of those who knew of another god also? I do not believe so. If, therefore, neither He had preached, nor they had known, any other God but the Creator, He was announcing the kingdom of that God whom He knew to be the only God known to those who were listening to Him.
CHAP. IX.--OUT OF ST. LUKE'S FIFTH CHAPTER ARE FOUND PROOFS OF CHRIST'S BELONGING TO THE CREATOR, E.G. IN THE CALL OF FISHERMEN TO THE APOSTOLIC OFFICE, AND IN THE CLEANSING OF THE LEPER. CHRIST COMPARED WITH THE PROPHET ELISHA.
Out of so many kinds of occupations, why indeed had He such respect for that of fishermen, as to select from it for apostles Simon and the sons of Zebedee (for it cannot seem to be the mere fact itself for which the narrative was meant to be drawn out(14)), saying to Peter, when he trembled at the very large draught of the fishes, "Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men?"(15) By saying this, He suggested to them the meaning of the fulfilled prophecy, that it was even He who by Jeremiah had foretold, "Behold, I will send many fishers; and they shall fish them,"(16) that is, men. Then at last they left their boats, and followed Him, understanding that it was He who had begun to accomplish what He had declared. It is quite another case, when he affected to choose from the college of shipmasters, intending one day to appoint the shipmaster Marcion his apostle. We have indeed already laid it down, in opposition to his Antitheses, that the position of Marcion derives no advantage from the diversity which he supposes to exist between the Law and the Gospel, inasmuch as even this was ordained by the Creator, and indeed predicted in the promise of the new Law, and the new Word, and the new Testament.
Since, however, he quotes with especial care,(17) as a proof in his domain,(18) a certain companion in misery , and associate in hatred with himself, for the cure of leprosy,(19) I shall not be sorry to meet him, and before anything else to point out to him the force of the law figuratively interpreted, which, in this example of a leper (who was not to be touched, but was rather to be removed from all intercourse with others), prohibited any communication with a person who was defiled with sins, with whom the apostle also forbids us even to eat food,(20) forasmuch as the taint of sins would be communicated as if contagious: wherever a man should mix himself with the sinner. The Lord, therefore, wishing that the law should be more profoundly understood as signifying spiritual truths by carnal facts(21)--and thus(22) not destroying, but rather building up, that law which He wanted to have more earnestly acknowledged-touched the leper, by whom (even although as man He might have been defiled) He could not be defiled as God, being of course incorruptible. The prescription, therefore, could not be meant for Him, that He was bound to observe the law and not touch the unclean person, seeing that contact with the unclean would not cause defilement to Him. I thus teach that this (immunity) is consistent in my Christ, the rather when I show that it is not consistent in yours. Now, if it was as an enemy(1) of the law that He touched the leper--disregarding the precept of the law by a contempt of the defilement--how could he be defiled, when he possessed not a body(2) which could be defiled? For a phantom is not susceptible of defilement. He therefore, who could not be defiled, as being a phantom, will not have an immunity from pollution by any divine power, but owing to his fantastic vacuity; nor can he be regarded as having despised pollution, who had not in fact any material capacity(3) for it; nor, in like manner, as having destroyed the law, who had escaped defilement from the occasion of his phantom nature, not from any display of virtue. If, however, the Creator's prophet Elisha cleansed Naaman the Syrian alone,(4) to the exclusion of(5) so many lepers in Israel,(6) this fact contributes nothing to the distinction of Christ, as if he were in this way the better one for cleansing this Israelite leper, although a stranger to him, whom his own Lord had been unable to cleanse. The cleansing of the Syrian rather(7) was significant throughout the nations of the world(8) of their own cleansing in Christ their light,(9) steeped as they were in the stains of the seven deadly sins:(10) idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, fornication, false-witness, and fraud.(11) Seven times,therefore, as if once for each," did he wash in Jordan; both in order that he might celebrate the expiation of a perfect hebdomad;(13) and because the virtue and fulness of the one baptism was thus solemnly imputed(14) to Christ, alone, who was one day to establish on earth not only a revelation, but also a baptism, endued with compendious efficacy.(15) Even Marcion finds here an antithesis:(16) how that Elisha indeed required a material resource, applied water, and that seven times; whereas Christ, by the employment of a word only, and that but once for all, instantly effected(17) the cure. And surely I might venture(18) to claim(19) the Very Word also as of the Creator's substance. There is nothing of which He who was the primitive Author is not also the more powerful one. Forsooth,(20) it is incredible that that power of the Creator should have, by a word, produced a remedy for a single malady, which once by a word brought into being so vast a fabric as the world! From what can the Christ of the Creator be better discerned, than from the power of His word? But Christ is on this account another (Christ), because He acted differently from Elisha--because, in fact, the master is more powerful than his servant! Why, Marcion, do you lay down the rule, that things are done by servants just as they are by their very masters? Are you not afraid that it will turn to your discredit, if you deny that Christ belongs to the Creator, on the ground that He was once more powerful than a servant of the Creator--since, in comparison with the weakness of Elisha, He is acknowledged to be the greater, if indeed greater!(21) For the cure is the same, although there is a difference in the working of it. What has your Christ performed more than my Elisha? Nay, what great thing has the word of your Christ performed, when it has simply done that which a river of the Creator effected? On the same principle occurs all the rest. So far as renouncing all human glory went, He forbade the man to publish abroad the cure; but so far as the honour of the law was concerned, He requested that the usual course should be followed: "Go, show thyself to the priest, and present the offering which Moses commanded."(1) For the figurative signs of the law in its types He still would have observed, because of their prophetic import.(2) These types signified that a man, once a sinner, but afterwards purified(3) from the stains thereof by the word of God, was bound to offer unto God in the temple a gift, even prayer and thanksgiving in the church through Christ Jesus, who is the Catholic Priest of the Father.
(4) Accordingly He added: "that it may be for a testimony unto you"--one, no doubt, whereby He would testify that He was not destroying the law, but fulfilling it; whereby, too, He would testify that it was He Himself who was foretold as about to undertake(5) their sicknesses and infirmities. This very consistent and becoming explanation of "the testimony," that adulator of his own Christ, Marcion seeks to exclude under the cover of mercy and gentleness. For, being both good (such are his words), and knowing, besides, that every man who had been freed from leprosy would be sure to perform the solemnities of the law, therefore He gave this precept. Well, what then? Has He continued in his goodness (that is to say, in his permission of the law) or not? For if he has persevered in his goodness, he will never become a destroyer of the law; nor will he ever be accounted as belonging to another god, because there would not exist that destruction of the law which would constitute his claim to belong to the other god. If, however, he has not continued good, by a subsequent destruction of the law, it is a false testimony which he has since imposed upon them in his cure of the leper; because he has forsaken his goodness, in destroying the law. If, therefore, he was good whilst upholding the law,(6) he has now become evil as a destroyer of the law. However, by the support which he gave to the law, he affirmed that the law was good. For no one permits himself in the support of an evil thing. Therefore he is not only bad if he has permitted obedience to a bad law; but even worse still, if he has appeared(7) as the destroyer of a good law. So that if he commanded the offering of the gift because he knew that every cured leper would be sure to bring one; he possibly abstained from commanding what he knew would be spontaneously done. In vain, therefore, was his coming down, as if with the intention of destroying the law, when he makes concessions to the keepers of the law. And yet,(8) because he knew their disposition,(9) he ought the more earnestly to have prevented their neglect of the law,(10) since he had come for this purpose. Why then did he not keep silent, that man might of his own simple will obey the law? For then might he have seemed to some extent(11)to have persisted in his patience. But he adds also his own authority increased by the weight of this "testimony." Of what testimony, I ask,(12) if not that of the assertion of the law? Surely it matters not in what way he asserted the law--whether as good, or as supererogatory,(13) or as patient, or as inconstant-provided, Marcion, I drive you from your position.(14) Observe,(15) he commanded that the law should be fulfilled. In whatever way he commanded it, in the same way might he also have first uttered that sentiment:(16) "I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it."(17) What business, therefore, had you to erase out of the Gospel that which was quite consistent in it?(18) For you have confessed that, in his goodness, he did in act what you deny that he did in word.(19) We have therefore good proof that He uttered the word, in the fact that He did the deed; and that you have rather expunged the Lord's word, than that our (evangelists)(20) have inserted it.