Docetism Explains Everything

Docetism roughly refers to the extent of Jesus Christ’s humanity and whether he was 1 thing or 2 things.  Docetism (and its predecessor – the idea that the Spirit descended onto Jesus, something like Adoptionism) came in several versions.  My speculation is that the first version of Docetism dictated that practitioners believe the Christ spirit descended onto ordinary man Jesus…then the magic happened.  In other words, there was no virgin birth, and Mary had no compelling insight into her son’s destiny.

This conclusion about early Christianity’s obliviousness to the virgin birth is obvious in the context of Mark 3:21:

Then Jesus went home, and once again a crowd gathered, so that He and His disciples could not even eat. When His family heard about this, they went out to take custody of Him, saying, “He is out of His mind.”

If his family was aware of Jesus’ divine origins, why on earth would anything he did seem insane?  (I’ll leave that question to the apologists).

This early version of Christianity was implemented in various flavors.  The major point of contention was whether Yahweh was the highest God, or whether Yahweh was an inferior angel – there were subsequent divergences about whether the most high created the Earth, or whether Yahweh (the inferior angel) did it.  The Ebionites thought Yahweh was the highest God, while the Cerinthians and Carpocratians did not (Against Heresies i.25-26).

In Against Heresies iii.11.7, Irenaeus indicates that the Cerinthians were adherent to the Gospel of Mark (Epiphanius and other church fathers elaborated to say Cerinthus used a virgin-birth-less copy of Matthew), and in the same paragraph, as well as others, we learn the Ebionites used (a version of) the Gospel of Matthew, while the Carpocratians used Luke and Romans (perhaps other Pauline epistles, as well).  This makes the Carpocratians likely proxies between the Cerinthians and the Marcionites.

Using this framework as a starting point, it becomes easy to understand the Basilidian view, and an idea within it which carried through into Islam; this view was that the Christ escaped Jesus’ body prior to crucifixion, and subsequently inhabited other bodies, advancing the agenda of whatever God it served.  The Spirit which Jesus housed was transient – Jesus was simply a temporary vehicle, as was Simon of Cyrene, who bore Jesus’s cross.

One interesting sidenote is that this theological underpinning makes the trinity simpler and less obtuse.  The father was the highest God, the Spirit was the “operating system” which directed the person encapsulating it, and the son was whoever the Spirit inhabited.

Consider Mark 3:28-30

Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”

He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.

When read through the lens of this Cerinthian theology, this curious passage makes more sense.  Crimes up to and including blaspheming against the man who currently possesses the Spirit is allowed; blaspheming against the encapsulated Spirit is unforgivable.  This is because the man is simply a dumb vehicle; the Spirit is the Earthly proxy to God.  In the Gospel of John 14:6, this core tradition remains:  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

simon_magus
Simon Magus and Peter

Echoes of this belief are carried into various canonical and apocryphal texts.  For example, when the father of all heresies, Simon Magus, in Acts 8, attempts to buy “the spirit”, current owners of “the spirit”, John and Peter, rebuke Simon, and condemn Simon to perish with his money.

Takeaway:  Simon Magus (*cough*, Paul, *cough*) does not have the spirit, despite the hint in the Gospel of Mark that it may have been a Simon of Cyrene (also see Acts 13:1) who inherited it.

According to the apocryphal Acts of John, the Apostle John later traveled to Ephesus (western Roman Asia) where he traversed the city and countryside, healing the sick and bringing Christ to the heathens there.

One encounter John had involved a young man who came to John complaining of his dead friend.  The young man pleaded with John to raise his friend from the dead.  John said “I say unto thee, child, go and raise the dead thyself…”.

Any early reader would have recognized the unnamed young man as Polycarp, who Irenaeus claimed inherited the spirit from John in Against Heresies iii.3.4.

It was through this apostolic inheritance that Irenaeus was authorized to put forth his own canon which combined the Yahweh friendly Gospel (Matthew), the anti-Yahweh Gospel (Mark), the Jesus-as-a-phantom Docetic Gospel (Luke), and the Gnostic Gospel (John).

Thus was born a New Testament brimming with inconsistency, full of sanitized versions of dissonant underlying Christianities, eventually giving rise to tens of thousands of denominations, all entirely convinced of their own correct theological interpretation of this hodgepodge of incompatible philosophies.

See also:  The Christ Myth Theory

Last Updated: 20170530

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Author: Tim...Stepping Out

Tim Stepping Out

23 thoughts on “Docetism Explains Everything”

      1. You don’t want to talk to “deplorable” Flavius Josephus?😄

        If I can travel to a time machine I’d like to meet Marcion of Pontus himself and save his works like the unsanitized epistles and the Gospel of the Lord from the deplorable Church Fathers.

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  1. What do your think about Mark 14:52-53? My impression is that this was originally where the spirit had left Jesus. It’s also curious how Polycarp’s martyrdom is similar to Christ’s execution in John: bound to a post, pierced through the side, something emerging from the wound.

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    1. My view is that the young naked man is a reference to the young man dressed in white who we see in Mark 16, who was a reference to the old man dressed in white in Revelation (1:12). All these extra cameo figures I think posit possible destinations for where the spirit went after it left Jesus’ body.

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  2. It’s also curious how Polycarp’s martyrdom is similar to Christ’s execution in John: bound to a post, pierced through the side, something emerging from the wound.

    Polycarp as in one of the apostolic fathers? In Joseph Wheless’s “Forgery in Christianity”, he made a very good case that the alleged writings of these apostolic fathers arepseudepigraphical and forged including his purported martyrdom. You can buy a print version from Amazon or download the free ebook from Internet Archive.

    What do your think about Mark 14:52-53? My impression is that this was originally where the spirit had left Jesus

    Unless the young man who ran away naked was a spirit because his role was more of a cameo. Given that our canonical Mark is a judaized/historicized version of the docetic gnostic gospel (could be a latin Marcionite gospel, or from Basilides, or Cerinthus?), it’s probably possible and Jesus wasn’t crucified in Calvary but it’s more of a heavenly crucifixion. Having a deity in a cross form isn’t something introduced by Christianity but has existed for centuries, probably couple millennia before the common era as admitted by Church Fathers including Justin Martyr (1st Apol, Ch 21), Tertullian (Apol, 16; Ad. Nationes, 12) and Minucius Felix (Octavius, 9, 12, 28). In Tertullian’s remarks, he remarked that a lot of the pagan gods are crucified but not in the sense of being nailed in the cross but affixed as a cross. The late DM Murdock (d. 2015) in her ebook “A Pre — Christian God on a Cross? The Orpheos Bakkikos Gem Reexamined, 16-17ff”, she points out the relationship between Plato’s world soul shaped as the greek letter “chi/X”:

    In his Timaeus (36bc), Greek philosopher Plato (429-347 BCE) wrote about a “world soul” in the shape of a cross or X, hanging in space.51 As I write in Christ in Egypt, Plato’s cross-like “world-soul” also represented the orbits of the sun and earth’s ecliptic intersecting. This Platonic figure in turn was commonly taken to be a “foreshadowing” of the Christ character and cross. As theologian Rev. Dr. Hugo Rahner states:

    …Adapting an old Pythagorean notion, Plato had written in the Timaeus of the world soul revealed in the celestial X; to the early Christian this was a pagan imitation of the world-building crucified Logos who encompasses the cosmos and causes it to revolve around the mystery of the Cross.

    One of the early Christians who saw the Cross and Son of God revealed in Plato’s writing was Justin, who in his First Apology (60.1), in a section entitled “Plato’s Doctrine of the Cross,” remarked:

    And the physiological discussion concerning the Son of God in the Timæus of Plato, where he says, “He placed him crosswise in the universe,” he borrowed in like manner from Moses…

    The Church fathers insisted that the cross, although pre-Christian, nevertheless was biblical, appearing in the story of the Israelite prophet Moses when he raised his arms and supernaturally directed Israel’s victory over the Amalekites. Centuries before the common era, Plato also discussed a “just man” who is “crucified” (Republic 2.361-362), as related by Pope Benedict XVI (Cardinal Ratzinger):

    …according to Plato the truly just man must be misunderstood and persecuted in this world; indeed, Plato [2.362a] goes so far as to write: “They will say that our just man will be scourged, racked, fettered, will have his eyes burned out, and at last, after all manner of suffering will be crucified.” This passage, written four hundred years before Christ, is always bound to move a Christian deeply. (Introduction to Christianity, 353ff)

    The ex-pope used a translation of Plato specifically rendering the Greek as “crucified” in describing the fate of the “just man,”56 who was given essentially the same treatment as Lycurgus described in Diodorus. This Platonic passage much resembles the “man of sorrows” and “suffering servant” found at Isaiah 53:4-12 and, along with that OT “messianic prophecy,” likely was used as a blueprint in the creation of the Christ character. Again, in Platonic philosophy, the “world soul” or “Son of God,” as Justin styles it, is impressed upon a cross in the vault of heaven, representing the sun crossing over the ecliptic.

    Given that Platonism is one of many pieces in Christian gnosticism, it could may well be that the young man was originally a spirit.

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      1. After posting that, I got excited and bought Plato’s works from the nearest bookstore. Too bad it doesn’t have “Timaeus” but I’m still reading it. I don’t know about you but when I was a kid studying in a Catholic school, I asked the priest teaching us what does the “Chi-Rho” mean. All he said it has something to do with Jesus.

        In fact, Platonist accused the Christians of plagiarism (CIE, 344-345ff) especially when they saw their master’s world soul in the shape of the uppercase Greek letter chi and the Christian’s having a cross in a circle symbols. Of course, there is no way that Platonists are the ones who copied since their master’s writings preceded Jesus by centuries. I might be wrong in this but given that a lot of diasporic Jews are cognizant of hellenizing philosophies (Alexandria or Asia Minor?), they probably mixed Judaism with the hellenizing ideas and later on became a Gnostic variant of Judaism. Of course, Christianity is a combination of a lot of ingredients including pagan gods, OT midrash, and gnosticism, and Jewsish sects. I just don’t know just yet what Jewish sect did just that.

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    1. @Adversus Apologia, I’m already familiar with the influence of Platonism on Christianity, especially in regards to Plato’s notion of the two celestial bands coming together to form a chi ( X ). According to the Timaeus, this is where the demiurge manifests and orders the universe by mixing together both the material and heavenly realms. Justin Martyr’s latter comments about a God being placed cross-ways, while juxtaposing this with the brazen serpent Moses placed upon a staff, and Christ lifted up upon a cross, just proves that when Christianity was taking hold the ecclesiastical writers did not at all care about the finer details, but focused only on the generalities. So apologists like Mcllhenny, White (both of them), and Holding are just grasping at whatever straw they can clasp at.

      Going back to the celestial cross, such an ideal was in existence long before Christianity strolled onto the scene and appears in various iconography with Urania, Apollo, Helios, Mithras, and Horus. So the ideal was widespread and just not limited to Plato. Indeed reading the Acts of John would indicate that Christians (or some Gnostic sect) were well aware of this concept, as the text both compares and contrasts Christ’s crucifixion with a heavenly cross of light.

      As for Polycarp, my suspicion is that, after breaking with Marcion, Apelles (whom I believe Polycarp and Valentinus were latter names attributed to) either established the Johannine Christian sect that was popular in Syria and the eastern part of the empire, or become a major player in a pre-existing Johannine community. Whether or not he was actually martyred (which I doubt), the comparison between his martyrdom and Christ’s crucifixion in John would be rather conspicuous and that who ever wrote the Martyrdom of Polycarp, was letting on more than they should have.

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      1. As for Polycarp, my suspicion is that, after breaking with Marcion, Apelles (whom I believe Polycarp and Valentinus were latter names attributed to) either established the Johannine Christian sect that was popular in Syria and the eastern part of the empire, or become a major player in a pre-existing Johannine community. Whether or not he was actually martyred (which I doubt), the comparison between his martyrdom and Christ’s crucifixion in John would be rather conspicuous and that who ever wrote the Martyrdom of Polycarp, was letting on more than they should have.

        It’s also possible that after Polycarp left Marcion, he is the one who took Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord and he either became the editor who expurgated the docetic elements and added OT midrash or he is the final redactor of it and later became to what we know as the canonical Gospel of Luke. I don’t know if you subscribe to the alternate dating of the four gospels (I do) which places the dates of all four gospels post 150-165 AD/CE, but it could also be possible that Polycarp and Theophilus (Luke 1:3) are acquaintances. Of course, a lot of apologist would scramble that it was just a title of Christians meaning “lover of God” but that contention is easily refuted.

        So apologists like Mcllhenny, White (both of them), and Holding are just grasping at whatever straw they can clasp at.

        I just looked into Mcllhenny and just like any other apologist, they’re quite dishonest. Holding is probably one of the most despicable Christian apologist in the internet. I’m wondering what happened to him after being sued. I think Tim himself debated a Christian apologist named Prof. James McGrath. That didn’t went well I think. Well for Chris White, he can lick Jesus’s abs for all his life lust for it just like Ezekiel 23:20. Who would have thought that the Bible is pornography for the entire Christian household? 😉

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    2. “It’s also possible that after Polycarp left Marcion, he is the one who took Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord and he either became the editor who expurgated the docetic elements and added OT midrash or he is the final redactor of it and later became to what we know as the canonical Gospel of Luke. I don’t know if you subscribe to the alternate dating of the four gospels (I do) which places the dates of all four gospels post 150-165 AD/CE, but it could also be possible that Polycarp and Theophilus (Luke 1:3) are acquaintances. Of course, a lot of apologist would scramble that it was just a title of Christians meaning “lover of God” but that contention is easily refuted.”

      At the moment I believe that Apelles, Polycarp and Valentinus were all one and the same person. I have various reasons to think this, but it explains why Apelles/Polycarp went to such lengths to discredit Marcion, and why Valentinus would be accepting of Paul. Polycarp also appears to be himself Gnostic, as Irenaeus notes that Polycarp’s star pupil, Florinus, was a Gnostic with doctrines similar to Valentinus. It’s circumstantial evidence but I believe there is enough of it to lean in a particular direction.

      Yeah, I’m kind of on the same boat when it comes to Gospel dates. The Gospels as we have them are clearly later works, but do think that the were built upon a already existing foundation. To break it down:

      Ur-John… 75-85ce
      G-Hebrews… 90-110ce
      G-Peter… 100-120ce
      G-James… 118-130ce
      G-Marcion… 120ce
      “Paul”… 120-140
      Marcion’s New Testament… 140-145ce
      G-Mark… 150-170ce
      G-Matthew… 150-170ce
      G-John… 150-170ce
      G-Luke… 150-190ce

      I assume Luke to be a complete invention of Irenaeus. The Address to Theophilus in Luke, I believe, originally belonged to John. I was made aware by George Hall of a codex in which the Address to Theophilus appeared before John. This just fueled my belief (credit goes to Xoroaster) that Theophilus and Tatian were one and the same, and that he was attempting to harmonize his teacher’s Gospel harmony, with that of the Syrian church’s Gospel, John. This also fits with the Address to Theophilus in Acts, as the first half is Johannine, and I suspect written by “Polycarp”. (Polycarp also wrote several of the general epistles, and the Pastorals as a middle finger to Marcion).

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      1. @ Danile Livers

        This just fueled my belief (credit goes to Xoroaster) that Theophilus and Tatian were one and the same, and that he was attempting to harmonize his teacher’s Gospel harmony, with that of the Syrian church’s Gospel, John.

        Hmm. Which video is it? I thought he said that Theophilus in the Lukan prologue is Theophilus the bishop of Antioch (fl. 160-183 AD/CE)?

        It’s good you mentioned the Syrian church. This reminded me of an article from the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ watchtower:

        By about 170 C.E., the Syrian writer Tatian (c. 120-173 C.E.) combined the four canonical Gospels and produced, in Greek or Syriac, the work commonly called the Diatessaron, a Greek word meaning “through [the] four [Gospels].” Later, Ephraem the Syrian (c. 310-373 C.E.) produced a commentary on the Diatessaron, thus confirming that it was in general use among Syrian Christians.

        The Diatessaron is of great interest to us today. Why? In the 19th century, some scholars argued that the Gospels were written as late as the second century, between 130 C.E. and 170 C.E., and thus could not be authentic accounts of Jesus’ life. However, ancient manuscripts of the Diatessaron that have come to light since then have proved that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were already in wide circulation by the middle of the second century. They must therefore have been written earlier. In addition, since Tatian, when compiling the Diatessaron, did not make use of any of the so-called apocryphal gospels in the way he did the four accepted Gospels, it is evident that the apocryphal gospels were not viewed as reliable or canonical.

        I’m doubtful for the authenticity of the diatessaron for a couple of reasons:

        1. The diatessaron is commonly dated from 160-170 AD but why is it that prior to Eusebius, no other Church Father is mentioning it in their writings? Irenaeus is the first Church Father to cite the gospels by name, but he makes no mention of it.
        2. Even if it’s that early, there’s no way that it is based on the four gospels but more likely based on earlier gospels like G-Hebrews, Thomas, etc. Even Justin Martyr is not naming the gospels he cites.
        3. It’s very doubtful that Tatian is the one who wrote it because in his earlier work “Oration to the Greeks”, he doesn’t do verbatim citations of the canonical gospels (see Waite’s History of the Christian Religion to the Year Two Hundred).
        4. Since Christians already believe that the gospels is the word of their lord and savior, why would Tatian need to make one mega-gospel?
        5. Even if it’s based on our canonical gospels, it’s probably written much later like middle of the 3rd century and is not written by Tatian.

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      2. Good call on Huller. I’ve looked his cite up occasionally but never really dug into it. Maybe I’ll need to change that.

        One point on contention with him though is that he (as per the page you linked to) seems to dismiss a historical Marcion, or that the real Marcion was in actuality Marcus Julius Agrippa, who proposed the ideal of two powers in heaven, and who was more accepting of Hellenized Jews and Samaritans than the Torah abiding Jews. It was also he who wrote Ur-Mark and seven Pauline epistles. (George Hall brought these points up, and I looked them up I found links to Huller’s cite).

        I’m not sure how much stock I take with this. I’m sure Marcus Julius Agrippa is an important player in all of this; but there’s really nothing about Marcion that makes me suspicious of his historicity. George brought up the fact that in Aramaic “Marcion” means ‘Those of Mark’. But Marcion is Greek and means ‘Mark the Lesser’, indicating that his father was probably a Marcus as well.

        But one thing I’m curious about is the character of John Mark, and all the other Johns that appear in early Ecclesiastical history. Cerinthus, Polycarp, Papias — even Marcion! — were believed to have a had some doings with a man named John.

        Just brain storming with this one, but maybe Marcus Julius could be this John Mark character, fictionalized by the author of Acts? Only he couldn’t have been the same John who was doing business with second century church figures. (Did Marcus Agrippa have a son, by any chance?)

        Any way, I’ll need to go over his cite proper someday soon.

        Apelles (aka Polycarp) was pretty much going all out to besmirch Marcion’s reputation (another reason why I think Marcion was, at least to an extent, historical and active during the early second century). Apelles had a modified version of Marcionism, which accepted that Christ was flesh, (a la John 1:14), but that he hadn’t been born from a woman (a point neglected by Polycarp in his Epistle). I suspect that he was attempting to unify his sect and other Jewish Christian sects against Marcion and thus that stuck with him. Hence writing all sorts of texts to harmonize varying and divergent Christianities. It didn’t even matter if he actually held these views. As long as they brought everyone together against Marcion: in the end, that’s all that mattered.

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    3. It was in his last video he did, titled Slight of Hand, close to the end. He made the video you linked to a few years back and I’m not sure he is aware of this codex, or the possibility that Luke 1:1-4 could’ve introduced Theophilus to John. Given that the passage references the “word” makes it all the more likely. George Hall has said that there is a (single, sole, lone) codex in which these verses indeed precede John and not Luke. Something to consider at least.

      Yeah, Tatian’s text is mostly Justin’s “Memoirs of the Apostles” with John mixed in. The reason for constructing this, I suspect, was to make connections between the Roman church and Syrian church more harmonious. After all, if Tatian and Theophilius are the same, he would have been a student of Justin, and later bishop of Antioch. But Justin’s “Gospel” is itself a harmonization of several texts, like the Gospel of the Nazarenes, Marcion’s text and Gospel of James. I suspect he may also have, or know, of the Gospel of Peter, as it was this text that the ideal of Mark noting Peter’s dictation’s came about. To be one hundred percent blunt, I have half a mind to call Justin, Hegesippus, Papias, Ignatius, and Peregrinus all the same person.

      Irenaeus is definitely sending these texts through the meat grinder, pretty much creates Luke, and he is complicating matters further by duplicating people to separate their Gnostic leanings from what could be recognized as orthodox. This is proven with his back handed way of calling his own teacher a Gnostic, yet focusing almost all of his attention on the Valentinians.

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      1. That sounds good, considering it was the Valentinians who were “copious” users of Johns’ Gospel (AH 3.11.7). To me, it gets to look like Justin was a Valentinian, like his “student” Tatian…if this is the case, and Tatian=Theophilus, then it is interesting that Luke’s introduction is addressed to Tatian, considering that Luke was heavily used by the Carpocratians (AH i.25), who I think were probably very similar to the Marcionites…who also used Luke

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      2. I definitely need to bone up on Carpocrates, but the little I’ve been able to gleam from him is that he had a doctrine similar to Marcion’s, which made the Torah and Levitic Law obsolete, and had an affinity for Gentile philosophers.

        I’m on the fence about him using Luke, however, as prior to Irenaeus no one seems to know of this text. They only know of Marcion’s text; and how similar to “Luke” that was I’m beginning to question. I’m not sure of your views on Secret Mark, but the Mar Saba letter mentions that Carpocrates had copied this text and that his followers were using a corrupted version of it. This sounds like Irenaeus’s and Tertullian’s accusation of Marcion ‘circumcising’ Luke.

        There could be more to Justin than meets the eye, as he at once seems “orthodox” on some views, but Gnostic on others. He very well could have been a follower of Apelles who went his own way, but if my guess on him and Hegesippus being the same person, Justin was attempting to unify the divergent Christian sects throughout the western empire (at the time there were those who followed Marcion, those who followed Apelles/Valentinus, and the Ebionites and Nazarenes). Now one area of this hypothesis that is kind of working against it is that, if Justin was a follower of Polycarp, and I’m correct in suspecting he, Apelles and Valentinus, were the same, then why didn’t Justin incorporate John into his “Memoirs”, leaving it up to Tatian to finalize his end goal? At the moment I don’t have a satisfactory answer to that. I think Apelles was writing so many different texts to screw with Marcion, and with differing ideals that John simply got lost in the shuffle, or that Justin only knew of John second hand and could never obtain a hard copy.

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      3. RE: Carpocrates. Are you familiar with Stephan Huller’s work? I’d think he’d be right up your alley

        http://stephanhuller.blogspot.com/2011/12/after-twenty-five-years-of-thinking.html

        “I’m on the fence about him using Luke”
        It would have been a proto-Luke. Could’ve been something between Matthew and Luke – who knows. I’m not sure if there’s much to take from Irenaeus except that he seems to have used Romans and cared about the “very last farthing” passage, which leads me to Marcion…therefore, something like Luke.

        I think I got Basilides/Secret Mark from Birger Pearson in Gnosticism, Judaism and Early Christianity. The rest I think I derive from Clement of Alexandria…Basilides was also known to have “secret revelations”

        Justin Martyr was clearly aware of multiple gospel traditions (virgin birth+Logos – see 1st Apology), which makes him seem to me to be a consumer of the Diatessaron; in that sense, Justin Martyr starts looking a lot like a Valentinian, as Tatian (supposedly) became one too. It seems to me like the Valentinians were the ones who would have been driving this harmonization…which makes them quite the contrast to Marcion.

        That’s interesting that you mention Apelles was writing a lot of texts. Basilides was known to be a prolific writer – 23 meta-texts on the Gospel(s)

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  3. Here’s an interesting discussion from Stanford University about Plato’s Timaeus.

    The universe, he proposes, is the product of rational, purposive, and beneficent agency. It is the handiwork of a divine Craftsman (“Demiurge,” dêmiourgos, 28a6), who, imitating an unchanging and eternal model, imposes mathematical order on a preexistent chaos to generate the ordered universe (kosmos). The governing explanatory principle of the account is teleological: the universe as a whole as well as its various parts are so arranged as to produce a vast array of good effects. It strikes Plato strongly that this arrangement is not fortuitous, but the outcome of the deliberate intent of Intellect (nous), anthropomorphically represented by the figure of the Craftsman who plans and constructs a world that is as excellent as its nature permits it to be.

    As Plato tells it, the beautiful orderliness of the universe is not only the manifestation of Intellect; it is also the model for rational souls to understand and to emulate. Such understanding and emulation restores those souls to their original state of excellence, a state that was lost in their embodiment. There is, then, an explicit ethical and religious dimension to the discourse.

    It does reek of Gnosticism.

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