Monday, June 05, 2017

Précis: Walter Bauer and the Apostolic Fathers (Paul A Hertog) (p. 34-59)

A Précis of
Chapter 2 from
Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts: Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis. edited by Paul A. Hartog, Pickwick Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 2015.

Walter Bauer and the Apostolic Fathers (Paul A Hertog) (p. 34-59)
After a brief summary of Bauer and the applicable articles from the above list, Hertog evaluates ten specific claims which Bauer made from Polycarp and two claims made on the basis of I Clement, closing with a discussion on Normativity and Authority in the Apostolic Fathers.
Bauer’s arguments evaluated here:
  1. Polycarp didn’t write a letter to Thessalonica, but he did to Philippi. This must mean that the Thessalonian church had been overtaken by heresy.
  2. Polycarp wrote his inscription: “Polycarp and the elders with him” because, Bauer argued, there must have been some who were “against him.”
  3. Since the address of Polycarp’s letter to Philippi does not include “bishop” there must have therefore been a gnostic anti-bishop present at Philippi.
  4. Since Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians in 2.1 gives a warning against the “meaningless talk and the error of the crowd (ton pollon)” the use of the term “crowd (ton pollon)” must necessarily indicate a majority of church members who are gnostic.
  5. Bauer argues that Polycarp wrote to the Philippians because of his anti-heretical drive, however the epistle states that he only wrote because they asked for particular advice. (ch. 3)
  6. Bauer maintained that the Pastoral Epistles were written at a later date than Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians, however Polycarp quotes I Tim 6:10, and other passages from the Pastoral Epistles.
  7. Bauer maintained that there were no “sure traces of Galatians” to be found prior to Irenaeus, and that “uncertain traces are sharply limited to Polycarp.”
  8. “Bauer emphasized the anti-heretical materials of” Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians, however contextual readings of Bauer’s citations shows no specific doctrinal aberration, but rather moral lapses like greed.
  9. Bauer asserted that when “peace” returned to the church of Antioch this meant “internal peace” from heresy rather than from external persecution.
  10. Bauer (somewhat contradicting his claim in number 5 above) claimed that the letter was requested by “the orthodox contingency at Philippi” to fight against Docetism. But the letter is general and includes notes as to the motivation in Pol. Phil. 13.2.
  11. Bauer argued:
    1. 1 Clement is basically an appeal to the same tradition as other anti-heretical texts (which would imply that the normative faith is wider spread and earlier than the heresies-but that doesn’t bother him),
    2. and since Corinth had division in Paul’s time,
    3. and though there is no explicit mention of gnostic thought in 1 Clement,
    4. therefore 1 Clement is a cleverly disguised anti-heretical document particularly focused on gnosticism.
  12. Now that Bauer has demonstrated 1 Clement is anti-gnostic it can be further proved:
    1. since 1 Clement was sent from Rome,
    2. and we all know that Rome was a manipulative bishopric in the 2nd century with undue political influence (perhaps because it was bad later on at the Reformation?) and
    3. undue financial gifts it therefore
    4. “the undoubted Roman success was surely achieved by the employment of tactics which 1 Clement rather more conceals from us than reveals.” (p. 51--Bauer 111)
  13. Bauer’s framing of the epistles of Polycarp and 1 Clement is evaluated.

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