Volume 4 (1966-67) Walter Bauer’s Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei


Translation of the Introduction to Walter Bauer, Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei im altesten Christentum [see the published volume by Fortress Press 1971]


4.1, (September 20, 1966)

Walter Bauer: The Man and His Book, J.H.P.Reumann, R.A. Kraft


4.2 (November 08, 1966)

The Montanist Crisis, R.M. Grant


4.3 (January 17, 1967)

Early Egyptian Christianity, D. Hay


4.4 (March 14, 1967)

Old Testament, the Lord, and the Apostles, P. Achtemeier


4.5 (May 09, 1967)

Rome and Orthodoxy, J.J. O’Rourke




PHILADELPHIA SEMINAR ON CHRISTIAN ORIGINS: Minutes, vol. 4, set 1. Topic for 1966/67: Walter Bauer’s Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei September 20, 1966, 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library


After introductions and incidental announcements, the Seminar turned its attention to the topic at hand, “Walter Bauer: The Man and His Book,” as an introduction to the subject for 1966/67. Co-chairman Reumann reported on Bauer’s life and scholarly career (reproduced in extenso below), followed by co-chairman Kraft’s survey of the reception accorded Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei since its first appearance in 1934.




I. Walter Bauer, the Man (J. Reumann)


Walter Bauer was born August 8, 1877 in Konigsberg of Swabian parentage, the son of a professor at the Albertinum University, and died on November 11, 1960, at Gottingen, a university town which in many ways is heir to Konigsberg. He studied theology and classical and oriental philology at Marburg, Berlin, and Straussburg (fellow student with A. Schweitzer), and was especially influenced by Julicher and Holtzmann among his teachers. Externally his career was serene: Privatdozent at Marburg 1902-13; ausserordentlicher Professor at Breslau 1913-15 (correct RGG\3 1, 925 on dates); ausserordentlicher Professor at Gottingen, 1916, succeeding Bousset; and ordentlicher Professor from 1919 until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1945. He was the father of three children and his widow still lives in Gottingen. Poor eyesight (an infection of the iris) made work difficult in later years, though toward the end of his life he was able to read with the help of the magnifying glass. Bibliographies of his work are found in TLZ 77 (1952), 501-504 (on his 75th birthday) and 86 315ff. (tributes by W. Zimmerli and J. Jeremias). NTS 9 (1962), 1-38, is an in memoriam tribute with a bibliographical note and assessment of his lexicographical work by F.W. Gingrich (on which, see also Bauer’s own account in 1955 in the Arndt-Gingrich translation of the Worterbuch , IX-XXV), and surveys of his work as Kirchenhistoriker by W. Schneemelcher and as commentary- writer by Erich Fascher (a photo of Bauer is included).


During his long career Bauer edited TLZ 1930-39, and was made a co-editor of ZNW in 1949. He is one of the few men to write articles in all three editions of RGG . To date, few of his publications have appeared in English, but cf. “The ‘Colt’ of Palm Sunday,” JBL 72 (1953), 220-29. Bauer’s dissertation at Marburg (1902) “Mundige und Unmundige bei den Apostel Paulus” (p. 44), dealt with the “mature” and “babes in Christ.” (See H. D. Betz, Interpretation 19 (1965), 303). His first published study, Der Apostolos der Syrer in der Zeit von der Zeit von der Mitte des vierten Jahrhunderts bis zur Spattung der syrischen Kirche (1903), demonstrated the variety of views in the Syriac church on canon as late as the 4th to 5th century A.D., a variety which Bauer regarded, not as the negative result of a long development, but a fact which was there from the beginning (cf. NTS 9, 15ff). Here we have a foreshadowing of a position developed in Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei.


In 1908 Bauer revised Hotzmann’s commentary on the Johannine literature; in the exegetical sections he limited himself to adding references to new literature, but in other portions he directed the viewpoint more toward that of Wellhausen and Julicher, “without, to be sure, annoying Holtzmann thereby, who was, according to the Foreword to the Third Edition, quite satisfied with this method of reworking” (Fascher, NTS , 9, 28). So successful was Bauer that in 1911 he was asked to revise Hotzmann’s NT theology Lehrbuch . 1910 saw the appearance of a popular commentary on the Catholic Epistles, and 1912 a commentary of his own on the Fourth Gospel in the Lietzmann “Handbuch” series. The second edition (1924) saw this commentary expand from 189 to 244 pages, with much influence from the Mandaean materials and Lidzbarski’s work (1933\3, some 253 pages, shows less change). Fascher (NTS 9, 28-35) describes the work in some detail -- a survey of patristic opinions and religionsgeschichtliche emphasis, not much on formgeschichte or “John’s meaning for today” (which is left to the systematicians); its reliance on Julicher in questions of Einleitung and Holtzmann on theology -- and holds that the book still deserves a place, indeed, alongside Bultmann’s commentary and will come into its own as Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei is appreciated. Another commentary by Bauer which should be read alongside Rechtglaubigkeit is that on the epistles of Ignatius and Polycarp (“Handbuch”, 1920), on which cf. Fascher, NTS , 9, 35-38; Bauer saw gnostic elements in Ignatius prior to Schlier’s study, recognized Docetism and Judaism as twin opponents there (yet related ones), and argued that monarchical episcopacy was by no means as yet established in Ignatius’ day but was rather merely his wish.


On Jesus, Bauer’s long study, Das Leben Jesu im Zeitalter der neutestementlichen Apokryphen , dedicated to Holtzmann and Julicher (1909, reprint proposed by Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft?) is significant as a collection of well-indexed materials from non-canonical sources on Jesus’ life, event by event, his personality and activities, as well as an indication of Bauer’s concern not to limit himself to the canon in his historical reconstructions. His own Jesusbild is indicated in an essay in the Festgage fur A. Julicher (1927, 16-34; cf. NTS 9, 16ff. and Betz, Interpretation 19, 304), where Bauer stresses the pagan contacts and the setting of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem); there is variety and ambiguity in early Christianity because, according to Bauer, there was already variety and ambiguity of views in the historical Jesus. Besides his major work on Rechtglaubigkeit, which unfolds themes implied in these earlier writings, attention ought also be called to Bauer’s Der Wortgotttesdienst der altesten Christen (1930); Heinrich Julius Hotzmann: Ein Lebensbild (1932); and the surprising fact that he edited two Mishnah sections and the Odes of Solomon (“Kleine Texte”), and did Forschungsberichte and reviews on the Gottingen LXX. His widespread reading until the end of his life in Greek sources from classical to Byzantine times amazed even those who knew him well. Professor Gingrich’s judgment about Bauer’s work on the Preuschen lexicon (1910), of which he inherited editorship in 1920 (1925-28\2, 1937\3, 1949-52\4 [Eng. tr., 1956], 1957-58\5), is a fitting tribute -- Bauer is described as “the outstanding scholar in the four hundred year history of New Testament lexicography” (NTS 9, 22).


II. Bauer’s Rechtglaubigkeit, Then and Now (R. Kraft)


The thesis of Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei is that the widely accepted traditional view of the relationship between orthodoxy and heresy in early Christianity cannot be supported historically. Jesus did not concern himself with “orthodox” doctrine, nor did his immediate disciples preach a uniform message, nor were “heretics” always deviants from an earlier “purity” of doctrine. An investigation of the earliest extant evidence from Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor and Greece portrays a process in which orthodoxy only gradually emerges out of a variety of thought predominantly “heterdox” in nature, though the process took longer in some places than in others. It was at Rome that the concept of established orthodoxy was first systematically developed and gradually exported, until Catholic orthodox Christianity emerged as a reality.


Strecker (1964\2 ed.), lists some 27 reviews and notices of Bauer’s book appearing between 1934-37 and alludes to the specific contents of 10 of these. Despite some criticism of particular aspects of the book, the reviewers, on the whole, expressed a positive appreciation of Bauer’s work, and many acknowledged its epoch-making nature. Among these were M. Gougel, H. Koch, E. Lohmeyer, M. Dibelius and H. Leitzmann. On the negative side Strecker cites a review by W. Volker which does not seem to find anything commendable in the book. Roman Catholic reviewers, as we might expect, also tended to be highly critical, although not completely so.


Dibelius’ fairly lengthy treatment (5 cols.) conveniently characterizes the types of general criticism frequently leveled at Bauer’s methodology: 1) he relies widely on the argument from silence to support his theory where evidence is lacking; 2) his interpretations of ambiguous or controversial texts in support of his case are often forced. H. Koch observes that Bauer has paid scant attention to Palestinian Jewish Christianity and has completely ignored North Africa, while other reviewers note his failure to discuss the origin of Roman Christianity as such, and the development of the regula fidei .


James Moffatt, in the only real review to appear in the English language, questions whether Rome’s role was really so central in the early centuries, or whether instead the most important thinking took place outside the Roman Church, especially in Asia Minor. He also argues that so-called “orthodoxy” was not so absent form early Christianity as Bauer seems to suggest, but that there was “the sense of Centre in early Christianity” and that “it was not absent from the early controversies”.


Bauer’s book made a far greater impact on the continent, especially in Germany, than on the English-speaking world. Some of the prominent German scholars acknowledging their debt to Bauer are: 1) H. Leitzmann in a personal note in 1934 in regard to the remaining volumes of his Geschichte [vol. 1 appeared in 1932, (1937\2, tr. 1937]; 2) R. Bultmann in a personal card to Bauer in 1935 and in credit lines in his Theology 2, 1951 [tr. 1955, 137]. 55.4; 3) numerous students of Bultmann’s (Bornkamm, Schmithals, Wilckens, Kasemann, Georgi, and Koester), referred to by Koester at the outset of his article on “Haretiker im Urchristentum als Theologische Problem” in the 1964 Bultmann Festschrift (at this point the impact has come over into the English-speaking context directly via contemporary Bulmannian interests); and 4) W. Schneemelcher in his introduction to the 1959 edition of Hennecke’s N.T. Apochrypha (ET p.23, cf. also p. 33 n. 1), and in his 1962 article on “Walter Bauer als Kirchenhistoriker” in NTS 9, 11-22.


Apart from Moffatt’s review and a brief notice in Church History, Bauer’s study seems to have made little obvious impact on the English speaking world until 1954 when H. E. W. Turner devoted a full lecture to it in his Bampton Lectures, “The Pattern of Christian Truth; a Study in the Relations between Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Early Church.” Turner criticizes Bauer for “his persistent tendency to over-simplify problems, combined with the ruthless treatment of such evidence as fails to support his case” and finds that he makes historical generalizations “too neat to fit with the facts.” However, his basic argument with Bauer is a theological one, that Bauer, with his purely historical approach, “fails to attain an adequate view of the nature of orthodoxy….It [orthodoxy] may appear in different forms at different periods without loss of continuity of life and unity of them. For orthodoxy resembles not so much a stream as a sea, not a single melodic theme but a rich and varied harmony, not a single closed system but a rich manifold of thought and life.”


Prior to the re-publication of Rechtglaubigkeit in 1964, one other fairly extensive English language treatment deserves notice. In his 1962 article on “Christianity before the Apostles’ Creed,” Arnold A.T. Ehrhardt made wide use of Bauer and deplored the relative lack of recognition the book had received in English.


Strecker’s 1964 edition of Rechtglaubigkeit includes, according to the Foreword, “the corrections of misprints and other trivial oversights and the incorporation of corrections intended by the author according to the notations of his manuscript. Apart from these supplements, the text of the work has remained unchanged…” There is also a separate appendix by Strecker which includes “a detailed consideration of Jewish Christianity, and further, a report on the reception of the book.” The appearance of this new edition opens a new era of interest upon which we can only begin to touch, for we are part of it.


Basic to Bauer’s whole endeavor is a clear grasp of the methodological and terminological difficulties which too often obscure, and thus preclude, fruitful communication. These may be described in part as follows:


1) If one chooses, with Bauer, to examine Christian origins from an historical perspective, he must be prepared to enter the struggle to recognize and neutralize the non-historical preoccupation of the sources -- as well as his own -- insofar as that is possible, and attain an honest and consistent perspective towards all of the available sources. Because of a lack of sufficient data he will often be forced to argue from analogy and at times even to “fill in the blanks” with what seems probable to him where evidence and analogy fail. That the picture thus constructed will change as preserved sources are sifted and resifted, often in the light of new discoveries, is taken for granted as part of the game. That at many points Bauer’s estimates must be revised should occasion no surprise. The historian can hardly avoid making generalizations, but he must try to hold in tension his detailed awareness of particular historical “facts” and his synthetic overview of those “facts” in relationship. It is possible that Bauer may have sometimes gone too far in generalizing about the way in which “orthodoxy” and “heresy” were related in early Christianity. Finally, it seems that the point at which Bauer’s presentation has, perhaps unwittingly, left itself open to serious misunderstanding and, from one point of view at least serious criticism, is his willingness to use what is basically non-historical terminology in his allegedly historical investigation, especially in his retention of the words “orthodoxy” and “heresy.” He employs these terms to designate “what traditionally and generally are understood thereby,” hoping to avoid the confusion he feels would only result if he were to redefine them to apply respectively to the majority and the minority of “Christians” at any given time and place. But is the “traditionally and usual” understanding of “orthodoxy/heresy” any less confusing? Moffatt prefers to speak of “a sense of centre” rather than “orthodoxy” in early Christianity; Turner speaks of “orthodoxy” as “a sea”, “a rich and varied harmony”, etc.; Ehrhardt defines orthodoxy as that which conforms to the “rule of faith which is embodied in the Apostles’ Creed” (p. 93). Which of these is the elusive “traditional and usual” meaning of “orthodoxy”?


Bauer proposes to listen to history rather than the victorious party of the church. But it is the church which standardizes, in various ways, this “orthodoxy/ heresy” contrast. Clearly Bauer does not intend to use these terms as value judgments. But historically, traditionally, and generally they are value judgments. We might well to drop these loaded, ambiguous terms and ones like them from our historical discussions except where they are found on the lips of our sources.


Assuming that it were possible to isolate with sufficient historical precision an adequate definition of “orthodoxy” in the 2nd century, can such a theological generalization assist us in our historical investigation of men and documents and movements? The going is already difficult enough without perpetuating the confusion surrounding these and similar terms. What we require is as precise a use of language as possible in the attempt to reconstruct historically the diversity that obtained in early Christianity.




The brief discussion following the evening’s presentations concerned the terms “orthodoxy” and “heresy,” their meaning and their adequacy as historical categories. Various suggestions were made as to the implications of the term “orthodoxy”: 1) that it refers primarily to the kind of early Christianity about which we possess the most data; 2) that “orthodoxy” was the kind of Christianity backed by political power, at least from the 4th century on, and that possibly we should not use the term in reference to any period prior to that; 3) that “orthodoxy” refers to the majority viewpoint (but statistical measurements are not always possible); and 4) that it is used by Turner as by some others, to designate the continuity present in the early Church, despite the great diversity also present.


However, should the historical question properly be one of continuity? Is this the question that flows from the sources? Should we not rather ask the questions that are right for the time with which we are dealing? The Eusebian concern, for example, is not so much with “continuity” per se as with the preservation of traditions that conform to the teachings considered to be “Apostolic.”


It was pointed out that a change in terminology (e.g. “mainstream” instead of “orthodoxy”), would not be an adequate solution to the problem. A historical judgment is made in any event. All history is finally written from the viewpoint of the future -- terms derive their meaning from the context in which they are used and usually imply a retrospective judgment. What is of primary importance is that we should be aware of that and be as lucid as possible in our use of them.


Respectfully submitted, Elaine Magalis, secretary




PHILADELPHIA SEMINAR ON CHRISTIAN ORIGINS: Minutes, vol. 4, set 2. Topic for 1966/67: Walter Bauer’s Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei. 8 November 1966, 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


The Seminar was honored to welcome Professor Robert M. Grant of the University of Chicago, who presented for discussion a paper on various aspects of the Montanist Crisis, as summarized below.




By the end of the reign of Hadrian the explosively creative apostolic age lay in the past and the tendency was towards stabilizing the life and thought of the community through common credal formulas, a common usage of sacred books and a common order of ministers related to common orders of worship. The new Christian century was not to be conspicuous for its tranquility, for the churches lay under the constant threat of persecution by the Roman state. Even though conservative Christian leaders might protest their loyalty to the emperor, the fact that they remained Christians was considered proof of their disloyalty to the state. Under these circumstances the apologetic movement of the second century with its attempts to work out the relationships between Christianity and Greek or Roman culture was bound to have more effect within the Christian communities than upon the government officials to whom the apologies were usually addressed.


It is against this background that the most important crises within the Christian communities can be understood. One of them was connected with the Gnostic movement which, in spite of countless variations, was bound together by a common feeling of alienation from and hostility towards the phenomenal world, and by the desire to escape from it and from the spiritual powers that governed it and held most men in slavery. In essence the Gnostics sought to deal with the historical situation of the church in the world by escaping from the world and by a spiritual ascent through the planetary spheres to the God who was unknown except to them. This was one way of dealing with, or rather avoiding, the problem of the church’s life under hostile Roman rule.


Another crisis concerned the Montanists of Phrygia who, like the Gnostics, laid great emphasis on spirituality, but understood it differently. Instead of advocating escape to the spheres above, the Montanists expected, and even welcomed, martyrdom on earth, for it was on earth that the heavenly Jerusalem would most immediately appear. At the base of Montanism lay alienation from the world and an emphasis on compulsory asceticism. Their prophetess predicted the immediate coming of wars and rumors of wars to be followed by the end. But the Christian leaders who were to some extent concerned with the life of the state could not share her enthusiasm or believe her prediction.


By the latter part of the second century Gnosticism was still flourishing, but at least outside of Egypt and Alexandria, it was generally regarded as a distorted expression of Christianity. An emphasis on common traditions, common organization, and common faith had generally prevailed under the leadership of the bishops of Rome, Ephesus, and Antioch. Several problems had not been fully settled however. Among these were questions related to: the work of the Holy Spirit among individual Christians; and the doctrine of last things, including the descent of the heavenly Jerusalem. Insofar as the church had already begun to draw organizational and doctrinal lines in the conflict with Gnosticism by insisting on the supremacy of the whole community over individuals and upon the importance of the links between past and present, as opposed to speculations about the future, it was almost inevitable that a similar reaction would take place concerning individual prophecy and eschatological doctrines.


Sources of Information . -- In the early fourth century, Eusebius refers to several little works directed of [sic] the sect: 1) an anonymous work (written about 192 A.D. by a bishop, probably Phrygian) in three parts, the first on Montanist origins and addressed to Avircius Marcellus, probably Bishop of Hierapolis and Phrygia, while the second and third were chiefly controversial; 2) a treatise by a certain Apollonius against Montanism which provide our oldest notices of the early development (written about A.D. 12) on the falsity of Montanist prophecy and the immorality of the Montanist prophets; 3) a letter of Serapion , bishop of Antioch about 192/3, which included a letter of Claudius Apollinarius , the late bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, to which various other bishops had appended their signatures, presumably at one of the synodical meetings mentioned by the Anonymous.


History . -- From evidence given us by these sources we may tentatively accept the date of 172 as the time at which the movement started. The Anonymous attributes its origin to a neophyte named Montanus, who at a village at the Mysian-Phrygian frontier, began to go into trances and to utter strange sounds. Two women soon joined him, but synods of Christian leaders in Asia condemned the movement and excommunicated its adherents. The statements of the Anonymous are not altogether consistent for he says both that few were deceived and that synods were held frequently at many places in Asia. The movement seems to have begun as a simple rehabilitation or revival of the ecstatic utterance described by Paul in 1 Cor 14. The Anonymous, as far as Eusebius quotes from him, ascribes no doctrinal or moral errors to Montanus or to the prophetesses. His complaint has only to do with the claim that the spirit was speaking through them, and the consequent minimizing of ecclesiastical authority.


Twenty years later the anti-Montanist, Apollonius, had more ammunition, for the movement had grown and its life had become highly organized. He referred to an attempt to exorcize Maximilla and stated that both she and Priscilla had left their husbands to follow Montanus. On this ground, apparently, he thought that the leader taught dissolutions of marriages. Montanists had also laid down laws on fasting, perhaps as a preliminary to ecstatic utterance, and had given the name “Jerusalem” to the Phrygian villages of Pepuza and Tymion, evidently centers of the movement. Most of Apollonius’ complaints, however, have to do with the extent of the gifts (not spiritual!), bestowed Montanist leaders in his time. Pepuza remained the center of Montanist activity, even though ideas about the precise location of Jerusalem soon varied. Early in the third century Apollonius mentioned not only Pepuza, but also nearby Tymion, and later on Montanists looked not to Phrygia, but to Palestine.


In order to obtain a more adequate picture of Montanus and the prophetesses, we must turn to the fragments of their oracles to be found in the various early writings. Sayings preserved by Epiphanius reflect the claim that Montanus spoke in ecstasy and with God’s own voice. “Behold, man is like a lyre, and I hover over him live a plectrum; man sleeps while I awake. Behold it is the Lord who makes man’s heart ecstatic and gives hearts to men.” Or again, “It is I, the Lord God Almighty, who am present in a man. I am neither an angel nor an emissary; I, the Lord God the Father, have come.” Other sayings of Montanus have to do with the Christian life and its future reward. “Do not desire to die in bed, or in abortions or in debilitating fevers, but in martyrdom, so that he who suffered for you may be glorified.”


Unlike Montanus, the prophetesses did not claim directly to express the voice of God. Both Maximilla and Priscilla evidently laid much emphasis on the fact that it was Christ who had sent them. In Maximilla’s view, for example, she was doing little more than interpret the meaning of Christ. “Do not hear me, but hear Christ,” she said. Like Jesus himself she predicted the future coming of wars and revolutions. The other prophetess, Priscilla, held that prophecy was based on self-denial. “Continence results in harmony, and they see visions, and bowing their heads they hear distinct voices, at once salutary and mysterious.” She herself received a revelation distinctly from Christ: “Christ came to me in the form of a woman clothed in a shining robe, and he placed his wisdom in me and he revealed to me that this very place [Epiphanius says Pepuza] is sacred and here Jerusalem will descend from heaven.”


It is obvious that a movement of this sort could not win the approval of most of the bishops of the late second century concerned with order in the communities and with making a place for the church in the world. However, the opposition to Montanism should not lead us to suppose that all Christians were immediately hostile to it. Irenaeus, for example, was firmly convinced of the importance of miracle and prophetic utterance and claimed that the opponents of Montanism were driving prophetic grace out of the church. Militant opposition to Montanus actually arose only about 192/3 when Serapion became Bishop of Antioch and circulated the earlier work of Apollonarius along with a letter of his own.


The occasion for the anti-Montanist movement around 192 seems fairly clear. Amid incessant conflicts between emperor and senate, the peace that actually prevailed in the provinces during the reign of Commodus, under whom there had been practically no persecution of Christians, was severely threatened by his murder on December 31, 192. The Montanist insistence upon the coming of wars and tumults was dangerous both to the state and to the Church, and at the time of the crisis following the death of Commodus, the Church was anxious to insure discipline from within. In these struggles Christians seem generally to have sides with Septimius Severus, and at least in his early years they were not persecuted.


Eschatological expectations were revived around 198 by a report from the emperor’s Oriental expedition of a walled city in the sky over Judea which had appeared on 40 consecutive mornings. Such signs lent credence to the supposition that at last the persecutions foretold by the Montanists were about to develop. The expectation was realized in 202 or 203 when the emperor forbade Christians, under penalty of death, to make proselytes. Both in Alexandria and Africa, probably Carthage, new converts and their teachers were put to death. There are three excellent pieces of evidence attesting the revival of eschatological expectations at this time: 1) Eusebius tells us that a certain Judas composed a treatise on the 70 weeks in the book of Daniel, tracing the sequence of events fulfilling the prophecy as far as the tenth year of Septimius Severus (202-203), and concluding that the anti-Christ was about to appear; 2) a year or so later Hippolytus of Rome clearly indicated how widespread such expectations were when he compiled his elaborate commentary on the book of Daniel in which he argued that the end was coming but was not imminent, since 500 years must elapse after the birth of Christianity; 3) within a short time Tertullian of Carthage began to express his sympathy for Montanism and by the year 212, when Apollonius wrote his attack, he had definitely become a Montanist. The letter of Apollonius is itself evidence that the movement was continuing to grow.


Reactions . -- We possess no Montanist oracles which definitely run counter to Christian teaching, but the possibility of new revelation, contradictory to what had already been received and was still being interpreted, was not one which the church would accept without ceasing to be itself. It was a question of individual freedom upheld with little sense of responsibility by the Montanists versus the need to maintain a positive and definite faith based upon rational examination of scripture and tradition. The Montanist message was also unacceptable in relation to the church’s “setting” in the Greek or Roman world. A Montanist could not possess “intellectual power” (in the context of Graeco-Roman culture) needed in the mission to educated men. Such a Christianity could not be potentially a universal church. By contrast, Christian leaders insisted more strongly upon the rational nature of prophecy. The Anonymous argued that the false prophet began with intentional ignorance and proceed toward unintentional delirium, unlike any prophet under the Old Covenant or the New. The impulse toward a rational theology at the end of the second century was therefore, in part, a conservative reaction to Montanism.


Another reaction to Montanism was expressed in literary and historical terms. In the early years of the third century the Roman presbyter Gaius attempted to undermine the Montanist claims to fulfill the prophecies of the Apocalypse of John; he also claimed that the apostolic authority of the Roman See was based on archaeological evidence. Since we know that at around this time there was concern in Asia Minor for the tombs of Philip’s daughters at Hierapolis and for John’s tomb at Ephesus, it would appear that Gaius was answering Montanist claims by providing official Roman archaeological data. The theological, literary and historical arguments were presumably addressed primarily to cultivated Christians who might be tempted to approve of Montanist spirituality. The level of the debate also suggest that Montanism itself had moved upward from its crudely apocalyptic origins, a point confirmed by the adherence of Tertullian to the sect.


Conclusion . -- The circumstances under which Montanism arose and under which it was attacked by Christian leaders probably provide us with clues as to its sociological origins. Several oracles of Montanus himself are concerned with the Christian’s attitude in the face of martyrdom, and Maximilla’s predictions of wars to come before the imminent end likewise point to an unsettled society. It is highly significant that the Bishop of Hierapolis attacked the Montanists while praising Christian legionary soldiers and defending Roman liturgical customs, and that the Bishop of Sardis opposed Montanism and professed his loyalty to the empire. Given this setting, it would appear that the theological attacks on Montanist ideas were inevitably consequences of, rather than the starting point of criticism. Irenaeus, militantly opposed to Gnostic theosophy, was by no means hostile toward Montanism. The attack on Montanism around 193 probably reflects the same kind of situation. Christians had enjoyed a relative freedom from persecution during the reign of Commodus and under the leadership of the Bishop of Antioch, perhaps also with the support of the Bishop of Rome, it was thought that Montanism could be suppressed in favor of greater doctrinal and disciplinary unity. A decade later, however, Septimius Severus opened a new era of persecution and apocalyptic prophecies revived. Presumably their acceptance amongst frontier bishops was accompanied by a revival of Montanism, as reflected on the one hand by Tertullian’s conversion and on the other by the work of Apollonius against the Montanists. It almost became the rule that social difficulties, both foreign and domestic, were accompanied and followed by “witch hunts” and that persecution resulted in the intensifying of the apocalyptic hope.




The spirited and lengthy discussion that followed Dr. Grant’s presentation included the following areas: (1) The problem of persecution in the second century; it seems to have been less concentrated but more frequent (for short periods) than in the third century, possibly because there were fewer Christians in the second century; (2) The relationship of Montanism to its religio- cultural environment; e.g., Tertullian’s distrust of current “philosophy” and his arguments against Praexeas, the seeming absence of “Logos Theology” among Montanists (in contrast to the Apologists) and their apocalyptic orientation, the accusations that Montanism is closely related to “pagan” religion (Sibylline type of prophecy, M. as priest of Cybele); (3) The situation concerning church offices and conduct; Montanism adopts a pneumatic organizational principle in reaction to hierarchical developments, with monetary collections (how did Christian ministers support themselves?), excommunication, etc. Some Montanists seem to have had antinomian tendencies, but this was far from dominant (cf. Tertullian, etc.); (4) The question of Christian-Jewish relationships; perhaps they were not everywhere as strained as we are led to believe -- Montanism seems to have an especially close relationship with some types of Judaism; (5) The use of the word “heresy” in connection with Montanism in the early sources; local and individual decisions seem to predominate; “heresy” does not necessarily involve expulsion, depends greatly on one’s point of view.


Respectfully submitted, Elaine Magalis, secretary




PHILADELPHIA SEMINAR ON CHRISTIAN ORIGINS: Minutes, Vol. 4, set 3. Topic for 1966/67: Walter Bauer’s Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei. 17 January 1967, 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


After the usual preliminaries, the Seminar members heard with interest the presentation of by Dr. David Hay of Princeton Theological Seminary on “Some Aspects of Early Christianity in Egypt,” which was concerned to summarize Walter Bauer’s chapter on Egypt in Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei and to discuss the progress of studies dealing with the issues raised by Bauer since the book first appeared in 1934.


Bauer turns to Egypt after his initial treatment of Edessa in order to prove that in Egypt also Christian orthodoxy developed relatively late. He maintains that until far into the second century Egyptian Christianity was predominantly unorthodox (not “unorthodox,” however, in the sense that it was clearly distinguished from an orthodox Egyptian church in that period) and that even into the third century orthodoxy and heresy were not sharply divided.


His conclusion are based on four patterns of evidence. (1) Later historians tell us little (and nothing reliable) about the development of orthodoxy in Egypt prior to about the year 180. Yet this silence is suspicious since there were Christians in that country at least by the beginning of the second century and since Alexandria was too important a center of the Empire for historians to ignore it by accident. (2) We do hear of numerous gnostics and other representatives of heterodoxy in connection with second-century Egypt (e.g. the Pistis Sopia, the Books of Jeu, the Gospel of the Egyptians and that of the Hebrews). (3) We can plot the rise of orthodoxy in Egypt in an upward curve in the persons of Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Demetrius; and the works of Clement point back to an earlier gnostic tradition from which he is anxious to distinguish himself. (4) Various facts evidence the contiguity of heresy and orthodoxy even in the third century (e.g. Origen’s association with the Antiochene heretic Paul and with the Valentinian Ambrosius).


Since Bauer wrote, two new bodies of evidence bearing directly on Egyptian Christianity have become available. The first consists in the second century papyri discussed notably by H. I. Bell (e.g. Cults and Creeds in Graeco-Roman Egypt , 80-81): fragments of seven Biblical papyri, fragments of an unknown gospel (P. Egerton 2), and a papyrus containing a “gnostic psalm” on Christ’s harrowing of hell Fay.2=P.Lit.Lond. 240). Secondly the Nag Hammadi trove has yielded several works which probably originated or were used in second-century Egypt: the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Truth, the Epistle to Rheginus, the Apocryphon of James and possibly the Gospel of Thomas. While controversy over much of this evidence will presumably continue for decades, one may say that its general tendency is to support Bauer’s thesis that heterodoxy reigned in early Egyptian Christianity.


The analysis of evidence available to Bauer has continued since he wrote. Most scholars seem to agree with him that nothing definite about our subject can be gleaned from the NT accounts of Apollos and from Claudius’ letter to the Alexandrians (a prominent exception: S.G.F. Brandon, The Fall of Jerusalem ). L. W. Barnard has recently argued that the tradition of Mark’s founding the Alexandrian church is really evidence that the codex Gospel of Mark was a major influence in that church’s early period. (Morton Smith is reported to be near publication of a recently discovered letter from Clement of Alexandria which refers to that Gospel’s impact on the church). The list of bishops between Mark and Demetrius given in Eusebius is usually dismissed as worthless. H.E.W. Turner (The Pattern of Christian Truth ) disputes Bauer’s theses that Demetrius fought Origen to bring the catechetical school in Alexandria under episcopal control and that the association of Mark with the Alexandrian church implies that it received help from Rome in its struggles with heresy.


One’s conception of the relative orthodoxy of second-century Egypt depends largely on the writings one credits to that country. J. N. Sanders urges that the Fourth Gospel was written in Alexandria; in any case the discovery of P(52) proves its use in Egypt by the early second century. Yet in the light of that Gospel’s popularity with gnostics, can one fully share Turner’s confidence that its early and ready acceptance establishes “a genuine feeling for orthodoxy” on the part of Egyptian Christian? Hornschuh’s recent study of the Epistle of the Apostles (Patristiche Texts und Studies 5) concludes that we cannot use this document as certain evidence of Egyptian Christianity. Recent studies of Barnabas, on the other hand, generally agree on an Egyptian provenance (Turner, Schneemelcher, Kraft). Several scholars have praised Bauer’s view that the Gospel of the Hebrews and that of the Egyptians represent two different Christian groups (Jewish-Christian and Gentile-Christian) in early second- century Egypt; but Turner and Schneemelcher doubt that most Christians in that country belonged to one or the other of the groups which produced those gospels.


Two other archaeological discoveries, or sets of discoveries, have a bearing on our topic. The Jewish art assembled by Goodenough, above all the paintings in the Dura Europos synagogue, suggests that a hellenized Judaism persisted long after Philo. Danielou understates the case when he says “It would be interesting to know whether Alexandrian Judaism in Clement’s day had schools continuing Philo’s work and to what extent Clement was influenced by them.” (The First Six Hundred Years , I, 130). One may at least wonder how far a hellenized Jewish Christianity might have contributed to the heterogeneity of second-century Egyptian Christianity. Finally the Qumran scrolls may reflect a movement which had historical ties with Philo’s Therapeutae (Nock, HarvTR [1964], 277; Hornschuh). J. Hornschuh finds such heterodox Judaism behind the Epistle of the Apostles, and Kraft thinks it may underlie Barnabas.


Ehrhardt (“Christianity before the Apostles’ Creed” HTR 55 [1962], 73-119) believes that Bauer’s views on Egypt comprise “one of the most signal discoveries in early church history,” and Lietzmann also expresses general agreement. Turner, by contrast, finds Bauer on the whole unconvincing: he is, says Turner, guilty of oversimplification, neglect of evidence, and failure to recognize the “richness” of orthodoxy. Turner grants that in Egypt the “full pattern of orthodoxy” developed late, but asserts that we cannot infer that any time there was lacking a distinction between heresy and orthodoxy. His critique is marred by rather vague use of such terms as “orthodoxy” and  “penumbra” as well as a failure to marshal evidence proving the existence of a strong orthodox church in second-century Egypt which clearly differentiated itself from heterodox movements. On the other hand, recent research suggests that Bauer’s position needs revision in the direction of recognizing greater diversity in early Egyptian Christianity (certainly we lack evidence to show that any single brand of Gnosticism was dominant or that all the forms of heterodoxy can be usefully labeled “gnostic”).


In conclusion two hypotheses were suggested with reference to the problem of defining “orthodoxy” and “heresy”: (1) in historical work, the terms should in the first instance be used only where the authors of our sources seem conscious of intolerable movements (of course this canon would not decide which movements were heretical and which orthodox); (2) it may sometimes be helpful to consider the patristic denunciations of the morals of heretics as efforts at defining heresy in terms of deviation from orthopraxy .




In the lengthy discussion at the close of the meeting such issues as the following were raised: It was suggested that one test of orthopraxy might be martyrdom. Charles Talbert (Luke and the Gnostics ) has even used Luke’s stress on martyrdom as evidence that he wrote specifically against Gnosticism. However, such a test can only be used in some instances. Montanist martyrs and even so-called “gnostic” martyrs of the Marcionite variety are attested in a number of sources. It is possible that the criterion of orthopraxy may more readily apply within a Jewish- Christian milieu where interest in practice rather than doctrine might predominate.


The question was raised as to whether consciousness of difference in doctrine could be of help in describing the “orthodoxy” or “heresy” of any group at any particular period since each group in a debate will feel itself to be right and therefore “orthodox.” Nor does the fact that one group might constitute a majority help us in most cases. However, it may be useful methodologically to press the matter of doctrine only where the sources consciously distinguish their doctrine from that of another group, and to otherwise look for differences in praxy though orthopraxis too is a very complicated thing, and especially when one attempts to relate it to belief. It must be recognized that widely variant ideas can exist within ‘orthodoxy’ at different stages of history.


Can we generalize about ‘Egyptian’ Christianity? Isn’t it possible, even probable, that there were considerable differences between the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria and the Egyptian countryside? Do we have sufficient evidence to clearly characterize each? For example may we suppose that apocalyptic groups existed in Alexandria as well as in Egypt generally and helped to foster revolutions such as that of 115-17? It may be that not even Clement helps us to understand Alexandrian Christianity before his time since it is not clear that he was from Alexandria, and thus may not be “Alexandrian” in his thinking.


The relationship between “Gnosticis”‘ and doctrine is difficult to assess. Despite the many varieties of “Gnosticism,” there seems to have been a common approach in which doctrinal debate (and the related phenomenon of expulsion from the community) plays no appreciable role. Perhaps the idea was that doctrinal interest reflected an inferior level of religious appreciation by comparison with gnostic esoteric insights. The ahistorical orientation of “Gnosticism” also rendered appeals to tradition as of relatively little significance, which in turn may have contributed to its apparent lack of interest in doctrine. Indeed, this attitude seems to continue into Origen to some degree, with his willingness to tolerate different opinions. The “doctrine of reserve,” the desire to accommodate one’s hearers and not to get into heated discussions, may have prevailed to a relatively late date in Alexandria. It is likely that it was some time before anything like dogma could even come under dispute.


Some discussion was devoted to Jewish Christianity in Egypt. There is evidence of various types of Jewish Christianity having existed in Alexandria, as for example apocalyptic (e.g., Sibylline oracles, Apocalypse of Peter) and Philonic (Clement). It is uncertain as to how to account for Clement’s use of Philo as against his strong distaste for ‘Jews’ in general. Philo may been already been thought to be “Christian.” There is a radical break in our knowledge of Judaism in Alexandria after the revolt of 115-17, (cf. Tcherikover, V. A. & Fuchs, Corpus Papyorum Judicorum , Vol. 1, Prologomena p. 92ff.). Kilpatrick has recently argued that both Christianity and Judaism were almost completely obliterated in the revolt, and that the kind of Christianity (and Judaism) that came back in later was more ‘orthodox.’ Certainly there seems to be little enough evidence prior to Clement of Alexandria.


Respectfully submitted, Elaine Magalis, secretary




PHILADELPHIA SEMINAR ON CHRISTIAN ORIGINS: Minutes, vol. 4, set 4. Topic for 1966/67: Walter Bauer’s Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei. 14 March, 1967, 7 p.m., Philadelphia Divinity School Library.


The paper for the evening was presented by Dr. Paul Achtemeier, Lancaster Theological Seminary, and commented on several issues dealt with by Walter Bauer in the ninth chapter of Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei, “Old Testament, the Lord and the Apostles.” In this chapter Bauer concerns himself with the writings that ultimately went to make up the canon, and their use prior to that time. After giving a succinct summary of Bauer’s arguments and conclusions in this chapter, Dr. Achtemeier discussed the following issues in particular.


It is worth noting that that characteristic of Bauer’s argument regularly noted by his critics, namely, his argumenta e silentio , is also employed in his arguments in Ch. 9. His whole case for Marcion as the first systematic collector of Paul’s epistles rests on such inferences drawn from the silence of his sources, as does his case, for the most part, for the date of the Pastorals. A second criticism has to do with a certain forced quality of some arguments when the evidence could point in another direction. Strecker, defending Bauer, and answering criticism that his evidence is not always persuasive, or correctly interpreted, answers: “Such criticism, however, affects only individual element, not the total conception of the work.” But on what may the total conception rest but on the elements of evidence, and surely if evidence is wrongly understood, the total conception must be affected. However, in fairness to the book, it must be said that he is normally fair with his evidence, fairer than some who have worked in the field since 1933.


Bauer argues that Marcion made the first collection of Pauline letters, and that the Pastorals were written to rehabilitate the Pauline literature for the Church. Paul, he maintains, did not find universal respect in the Church, largely as a result of the activity of Marcion. A small random collection of some of Paul’s letters may have existed and been cherished by the Church at Rome and her allies, but this collection was surpassed and the Church threatened by Marcion’s more comprehensive collection. Marcion could not have known the Pastoral epistles, Bauer maintains, because he could not have afforded to neglect any material claiming Pauline authority. It could have been a simple matter to accommodate the Pastorals to his own passion. Thus, the Pastorals were not in existence when Marcion made his Pauline collection; a Marcion whom the Pastorals could escape Bauer regards as “an impossibility.” The Pastorals then were written after Marcion published his collection, to win back Paul for orthodox tastes. If the pre-Marcionite Polycarp has material very similar to that found in the Pastorals, then the author of the Pastorals must have been dependent upon Polycarp.


There has been some discussion since 1933, carried on more in periodicals than in books, concerning the date and shape of the first collection of Paul’s letters. Feine, Behm and Kuemmel (Einleitung in das Neue Testament Heidelberg , 353) argue that references to “all of Paul’s letters” (2 Pt 3.15f), or Ignatius’ reference to Paul mentioning the Ephesians in every letter (ad.Eph. 12, 2) point to the existence of a collection of Paul’s letters by the end of the first century and therefore prior to Marcion. This presumes that collections of Paul’s letters, valued form the beginning, are made gradually, with a gradual consensus taking shape that the ten letters of Paul (apart from the Pastorals) included in the collections are the most important. Also adhering to this point of view, though on the basis of other evidence are Aland (Problem of the NT Canon , 9-10), Appel (Kanon und Kirch , 65) and Enslin (Christian Beginnings , 457).


A second view argues that Paul’s collection, formed sometime in the last decade of the first century, was not gradually built up, but was the result of a deliberate effort to assemble all known letters of the Apostle. The chief representatives of this view are E. J. Goodspeed (New Solutions of NT Problems , 1927), John Knox (Philemon Among the Letters of Paul , 1935; Marcion and the NT , 1942); and C.L. Mitton (The Formation of the Pauline Corpus of Letters , 1955: a summary of Knox and Goodspeed). Goodspeed argues that the fragmentary and composite nature of many of the letters shows that they were not in the beginning highly regarded, and that they were deliberately assembled and put together when the desire for a Pauline corpus emerged. Christian literature prior to about 90 shows no influence of Paul’s letters, all writings after that time show influence from all ten of them. The conclusion of these writers, deduced from this and other evidence, is that a Pauline collection, inspired by Acts, was put together in Ephesus between 85 and 95 A.D. with a covering letter (Ephesians). Marcion could not have formed the first collection of Pauline epistles. Another line of argumentation, pursued by Knox and Goodspeed, attempts to prove that Marcion changed the order of the letters in his collection, altering that order from one that had existed prior to him.


What of the Pastorals? Were they in the original list, or are they later additions, as Bauer urges? F. L. Cross (The Early Christian Fathers , points out (64f.) that whereas the Marcionite prologues for the first ten letters of Paul show similarities of style and theology, the prologues for the Pastorals do not, thus attesting these prologues were written later. Goodspeed (in Mitton, p. 39) agrees with Bauer’s conclusion that 1 Tim. 6.20 refers to Marcion, and that the Pastorals were written after the collection of Marcion. P.N. Harrison (Polycarp’s Two Epistles to the Phillippians , 1936) comes to the conclusion that Polycarp knew a collection of Pualine epistles that included the pastorals, which must have reached Smyrna “long before 135 AD” (295). Thus, before “fully developed Marcionism,” the Pastoral Epistles were known and used (315). This argument bypasses Bauer, who maintained that the author of the Pastorals copied Polycarp, and we may ask him two questions: 1) Does not the way in which material also found in 1 Tim. 6.10-7 is used in Polycarp indicate Polycarp’s intention of acknowledging his dependence on another source (the presence of eidotos in Poly. 4.1 -- though the material itself consists simply of two proverbs, worked into the context of 1 Tim., but here simply quoted) and 2) would someone who wanted the Pastorals to be accepted as Pauline use material from Polycarp in the process? Would this not reduce the effectiveness of the intended deception?


In the work of J. Knox, a different kind of influence is claimed for Marcion, that Marcion is the cause not only of a fixed canon, but is also responsible for the form the canon took, i.e. Gospel and apostles. The reaction of the church to Marcion’s appropriation of Luke and Paul was (a) to expand the Gospel to include the other three gospels, (b) to produce Acts to show that Paul was subservient to the other apostles, and (c) to include the writings of other apostles.


Some of the more questionable aspects of Knox’s thesis were pointed out by Prof. Sherman Johnson in a review of the book (AThR 25, 1943, 228f.), namely can Acts be dated as late as 150 AD and can our version of Luke be based on an expended reworking of the original Luke Marcion has taken over? E.C. Blackman developed a counter-thesis in his Marcion and His Influence, 1948, in which he argued that the “weight of probability” is rather on the side of orthodox Christianity having moved toward canonization under the impulse of its own convictions” (39). He argues that whereas Marcion certainly made the first closed canon, the real question is not, how did the Christian canon become so much larger than Marcion’s, but rather, in the light of the many Christian writings known in the second century, “why was the Catholic canon limited so much” (35). He argues that it was Montanism, rather than Marcion, “which was the decisive factor in producing the concept of a closed, “apostolic” canon.” It may also be pointed out that there is considerable evidence that long before Marcion the church had begun to develop the idea of “Lord” and “Apostle” as authorities. The awareness of the authority of the apostolic witness, and of the distinction between Gospel or Lord and apostle thus antedates Marcion by some years, contrary to Knox’s thesis.


Evidence discovered since Bauer would tend to discredit his assumption that the Gospel of John was suspect in orthodox circles until late in the second century. On the basis of P(52) and Egerton 2, this appears not to be true, at least in Egypt. C.H. Roberts (An Unpublished Fragment of the 4th Gospel in the John Rylands Library , 1935) reports that the form of the script is close to that of a roll dated in the closing decades of the first century, and Egerton 2, conservatively dated before the middle of the second century (14). This fragment of John 18 apparently was in a single codex (23) and may well have originated, as did Egerton 2, at Oxyrynchos (24). This would indicate that the Gospel of John was circulating in Middle Egypt in the first half of the second century. That conclusion is given added weight by the content of Egerton 2, which in fragment 1, verso, has language directly related to John 5.39, 45, and, in the remaining fragments, reflections at least of the other three canonical Gospels. The interesting thing about Egerton 2 is that it does not used this material with any noticeable gnostic coloring. It is dangerous to speculate on the basis of the fragmentary nature of Egerton 2, but it does appear to be a non- gnostic writing, clearly reflecting the fourth gospel, which was circulating in Middle Egypt at least by 150. It would seem to show the existence in Egypt of a non-gnostic, virtually orthodox Christianity strong enough to produce an independent Gospel; if it did not originate in Egypt, we must still presume the existence of a Christian community there whose faith would find it amenable.


It’s clear from the foregoing that where evidence is lacking, speculation grows apace. The danger lies in confusing the two. A basic problem lies in determining what constitutes literary allusion. Bauer arrives at his position by refusing it all significance; others treat similarity of one or two words as evidence of familiarity with the written document.


In conclusion, he offered two questions for discussion. Is Blackman’s thesis that Montanism, more than Marcion, provided the decisive impulse which resulted in a closed, apostolic canon, valid? What part did the regula fidei , the regula veritatis , play in determining what writings had canonical authority, and was it already in use prior to any kind of “closed” collection of writings?




In the lively discussion that ensued, the following topics were debated:


There were probably many factors, external and internal, that contributed to the formation of the canon, and not just one or two. There is no real evidence connecting Montanism with the canon. Most probably both Marcion and Montanism acted as catalysts to the forming of a limited canon. The idea of canon depends on the importance attributed to history and the bulk of revelation occurring at one historical period, in contrast to the idea of a timeless teaching of Jesus present under different forms in Gnostic groups and in Montanism. This historical consciousness would cause those of the third generation, after the apostles and their disciples, to draw lines -- what is apostolic is canonical. The canon must also have come about as a practical necessity,. Due to the great number of materials in circulation.


Can we speak of a regula fidei before Irenaeus? Yes, but only as a growing tendency; it seems not to have been a burning issue in the second century. Though the term did not appear before Irenaeus, the content was plainly there, for example in part, in Ignatius and Justin. We get the impression that Ignatius’ oft-repeated confession of faith is a generally acknowledged statement of faith. It is doubtful that the regula fidei was a decisive criterion of canonicity, however. Why were the Pastorals included, but not 1 Clement?


Whatever we may say of collections of Paul’s letters prior to Marcion (and even Bauer seems to have left room for small, informal ones), it does seem to be true that his writings went through a long period of eclipse until the late second century. Then, it seems, Irenaeus and others picked him up again and tried to save him from the Gnostics. What allusions we may have to Paul prior to this time tend to be reflections of moral issues, and not of distinctive aspects of Paul’s thought. However, Christian emphasis on moral issues also seems to have been typical of the time.


Can an argument for the presence of orthodoxy in Egypt be based on Egerton 2 or P(52)? Egerton 2 is very short and very general. All four gospels were after all used by Gnostics. At any rate, Bauer’s main point is that John was suspect in Rome until the middle of the second century. What evidence we have indicated that all the earliest commentaries of John were Gnostic.


There is a lot to be said for Bauer’s insistence on direct quotations, it is dangerous to argue from possible allusions. However, is it fair to assume that the early Christian fathers wrote like German theologians and copied out their sources word for word with the various texts before them? Further, some direct quotations used by Bauer prove nothing, as for example Cor 2.9, which is a proverb appearing in many different sources and incapable of proving Pauline influence. Perhaps a stricter method yet is required, one that looks for direct quotations that are distinctively Pauline? But what is distinctively Pauline?


Respectfully submitted, Elaine Magalis, secretary




PHILADELPHIA SEMINAR ON CHRISTIAN ORIGINS: minutes, vol 4 set 5. Topic for 1966/67: Walter Bauer’s Rechtglaubigkeit und Ketzerei 9 May, 1967; Philadelphia Divinity School Library, 7 pm


The final session of the 1966/67 Seminar opened with the annual business meeting in which basic decisions about the program and personnel for the forthcoming year were made (the results are summarized in the attached letter). Thereafter, Professor John J. O’Rourke of St. Charles Seminary presented some observations based on Bauer, chapter 10, on the role of Rome in the development of “orthodox” Christianity.




In the words of one reviewer, H. D. Simonin, Bauer’s treatment of Rome has, one the whole, “real apologetical value for the Roman Church.” Nevertheless, some specific criticisms are in order, as well as a probe into more recent investigations of the early history of Roman Christianity.


By way of criticism, the following matters may be noted: Was the Roman Church as little inclined to apocalyptic thought as Bauer suggests? The Johannine Apocalypse is mentioned in the Roman lists (Muratorian, Innocent I to Exsuperius, Gelatian Decree), although Eastern discussions often showed hesitation about this book. Indeed, some have recently proposed that the treatment of the Pauline Epistles in the Muratorian fragment presupposes the acceptance of the Apocalypse (Stendahl, Dahl). And why should Justin Martyr, with his apocalyptic sympathies , be considered any less representative of Rome than was the later, anti-millennarian and anti-Johannine presbyter, Gaius (cf. 232 n.1)? Note that Gaius’ attack on the Johannine literature does not seem to be representative, insofar as the Fourth Gospel also has a firm place in Roman usage (cf. the lists, catacomb paintings, etc.), and even Justin Martyr seems familiar with it or with the traditions it employs.


Is there any justification from the history of Roman Christianity before the time of Constantine for the claim that Roman civil authorities viewed the organized Roman church as an ally (cf. 233f)?


Does Bauer’s contrast between the theological “elasticity” of Paul and the relative intolerance of Justin and Polycarp (236f) accurately reflect the NT evidence from Paul? Paul also draws boundaries around the faith, and does not distinguish sharply between theological and moral aberrations.


Bauer took it for granted that Peter and Paul had been in Rome and had died there (232f). Various aspects of this subject have received discussion in re-cent years. It is not known when Christianity first reached Rome or who brought it there, but it seems certain that by the year 49, Christianity had made some impact at least among Roman Jews. Although the tradition that Peter ruled that Roman Church for 25 years seems unlikely, the presence of and death of both Peter and Paul in Rome is still generally admitted (cf. e.g. Dinkler, “Die Petrus-Rom Frage,” TRu 25 [1959], 189-230 and 289-335; 27 [1961], 33- 64; 31 [1966], 233-253).


There has been much recent discussion concerning the excavations under the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, begun during the second world war (cf. B.M.A. Ghetti, et alii , Esplorazione sotto la Confessione di San Pietro in Vaticano Eseguite negli Anni , 1940-1949 [1951], and O. Cullmann, Peter: Disciple, Martyr [1962\2], 138 n. 65). The primary questions today are: Was Peter buried on the Vatican Hill? Are the bones discovered there actually those of Peter? On both matters, there is considerable division of opinion. The marker on Vatican Hill is interpreted by some as the grave site of Peter, but by others as the place of his martyrdom. There is much dispute about the significance and identification of the bones, alleged by some to be those of Peter, since the evidence is open to such diverse interpretations.


The existence of a third-century cult (apparently unofficial in character) of Peter and Paul beneath the present Basilica of St. Sebastian on the Via Appia Anticha also has received discussion recently (cf. A Ferrua in Civilita Cattolica 116 [1965].3, 428-437, and 4, 134-141), but it is not clear what, if any, association the cult may have had with actual remains of the Apostles. With reference to Paul, excavations under the present Basilica of St. Paul Without the Walls would be desirable (cf. Cullman, 131 n. 38). It is interesting to note that, from the third to the ninth centuries, there was a tendency at Rome to overlook Paul’s role in early Roman Christianity in favor of that of Peter (cf. Y.M.J. Congar in Stud. Paul. Cong. Int. Cath. 1961 1 [1963], 491-516; also H. Chadwick in Jerusalem and Rome, ed. C. Lee [1966], 21-36).


Whatever our criticisms of or supplements to Bauer’s treatment, however, it returns us ultimately to the realization that the historian qua historian is in no position to make a general theological judgment on the issue orthodoxy/heresy. What constitutes “heresy” for one person or group may be “orthodoxy” for another. The problem then remains, who or what should or could serve as guide in making such a theological decision.?




The subsequent discussion centered on Roman Christianity and its relationship to early Christianity as a whole, especially in the second century, and included the following queries and suggestions.


Bauer seeks to explain the dominance of Rome amongst the so- called “orthodox” churches from at least the second century on. He seems almost to suppose that the Roman Church, from a very early time, made a conscious and deliberate effort to achieve a position of power, an assumption that sounds suspiciously like a reading back into history of a much later Protestant point of view. At any rate, we may suspect that in the case of Rome, he has too readily acceded to an “orthodox” Heilsgeschichte similar to that elaborated in Eusebius, that there was an ancient and “orthodox” Christian teaching and church that had remained substantially the same from its beginnings and that considered all forms of Christianity differing from it to be later deviations. Still, aspects of such a Heilsgeschichte are to be found in many of our oldest sources, including 1 Clement, Luke-Acts, and even Paul. But this speaks less for its accuracy as historical description than for its use as a preaching device.


Bauer sees Rome as early developing a consciousness of tradition and institutionalizing it, and then imposing it on other churches. He finds the earliest evidence for this thesis in 1 Clement which he sees as attempt to dictate terms of peace to another church. Though this may not be so clearly present in 1 Clement, we know that Rome did, in fact, intervene, and did so successfully.


Bauer sees further evidence in the lack of apocalyptic to be found in Rome (an opinion that can be supported only by arguing from silence), in Rome’s penchant for law, order, and therefore, for organization, and in the numerous early Christian writings associated with Rome. But, for example, does Irenaeus’ attitude towards Rome support Bauer’s contention? Irenaeus sees Rome as a church with a good history, and as a good church to imitate. But it does not seem to be Rome’s order he is praising so much as it is their agreement with his own understanding of the kerygma. And later, when Victor attempts to impose on other churches the date of Easter as celebrated by the Roman Church, Irenaeus criticize him severely. Irenaeus also praises other churches besides Rome. However, Victor’s action at least suggests considerable practical aggression on the part of Rome.


Bauer’s emphasis on Roman orthodoxy may have led him to a distorted view of Eastern Christian approaches. He sees “the church” (orthodox) as a movement taking hold in, and growing in the West rather than in the East, although its form may have been different from that which developed in the West. Certainly there was considerable Eastern unity despite the existence of many more dioceses that in the West, as is seen from the ability of Eastern Christendom in the early centuries to convene eighty to ninety bishops on occasion. Perhaps there is no “orthodoxy” as Bauer sees it in the East simply because it is not the West -- its interests and norms are different in kind from those of the West.


What evidence do we really have relating to the early Roman Church? Paul probably tells us more about Corinth than about Rome in his Romans , and not even very much about Corinth. Ignatius and Hermas do not tell us a great deal, and can we really say that Justin represents Rome (his origins are in the Hellenistic East)? What actually constitutes a “Roman Christian”? Everyone from the outside seems to be coming to Rome. And can we say, on the basis of any evidence we have, that there was a Roman Church in the second century? What about Marcion? Valentius? More likely there were a number of different circles of Christianity in Rome (cf. G. LaPiana in HTR 18 [1925], 201-277).


Major criticisms of Bauer frequently center on two issues: his positing of a recognizable “orthodoxy” in the first centuries of Christianity, and his frequent but highly questionable arguments from silence in favor of his thesis. His treatment of Rome’s role is no exception.


Respectfully submitted, Elaine Magalis, secretary