Evolution and the Gospels

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:20 am

But the German-thing is not completely without merits. Nietzsche for instance noted that Christianity (or 'God') was dead specifically because of the German theological POV. That making religion rational 'killed' it for his audience. There are many ways that the study of early Christianity could have taken. But it was dominated by German Protestant scholarship which embraced the Church Fathers definition of Marcion and ran with it. That's my point in bringing up Germanness. That Marcion is embraced because he becomes the antecedent for Harnack's refutation of the Tubingen school. This our Marcion. This is how Marcion is introduced to us. It because Protestants found it useful to believe in the lies of Irenaeus.1 In the same way we embrace canonical Mark because it makes the gospel a 'biography.' Theology embraced Harnack's Marcion because he was the first Protestant. I wish we could just go beyond what's good for us - beyond utility - in all essential things. That's a German trait, that's an English trait too though. Maybe a northern European approach, a Protestant approach.

But one can harp morning noon and night - jeden Tag morgens, mittags und abends - about this. The facts are quite clear that the Church Fathers are not truth seekers. They displaced a system or systems with a fourfold gospel. Why the fourfold gospel? Clearly it was designed as a hermeneutic tool. The way Origen uses it in his Commentaries (especially on Matthew) was the intended purpose of the technology. Irenaeus uses it this way too. Now think about that. The fourfold gospel was put out as Ammonius's Diatessaron. No doubt about that. It was a piece of ancient technology used to limit discussion about acceptable readings in the same way the Mishnah limits acceptable halakhah at about the same time in history and at the same time the apostle's creed is being first promulgated (by the same 'guy' - Irenaeus. Indeed at the same time as Irenaeus makes 'knowledge' a crime. Someone is trying to limit discussions in Christianity. How is this not part of the discussion about the manner that Mark, Matthew and Luke agree? I find myself dumbfounded at the sheer blindness and lameness of the discussion.

The way Matthew and Luke 'agree' with Mark was part of a broader pattern of the totality - the fourfold gospel - outlawing other readings, other agreements, other gospels. Does anyone disagree with this? It's ridiculous that this isn't THE FIRST THING said about the canonical gospels.

1. When you look back at earlier German scholarship of Schelling for instance, his doctorate, he had an amazingly critical appraisal of the value of the Church Fathers - i.e. what they say about Marcion is completely useless.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:37 am

Ulan wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:57 am
94% is nearly the complete gMark. It gets even clearer when you look at what gMatthew left out, like the one parable in Mark that nobody seems to know of what it is supposed to mean, including Matthew it looks like.
Matthew also left out (A) the exorcism of the Capernaum demoniac and (B) the healing of a blind man with spittle. What is of extreme interest to me is that he seems to have compositionally accounted for both of these miracles by (A) adding an extra demoniac to the Gadarene incident and (B) adding an extra blind man to the healing just outside of Jericho. In this manner every single miracle attested in Mark is represented in Matthew (along with other miracles that Matthew adds on top of the Marcan collection). If my interpretation here is correct, then Matthew's intention to absorb virtually all of Mark becomes even more apparent.

Also, I presume that the parable you are referring to is Mark 4.26-29, the parable of the seed. I would suggest that Matthew has either rewritten this parable as or replaced it with Matthew 13.24-30, the parable of the tares. Both have a man planting seed; both have the seed growing while people sleep; and both have a harvest. Matthew's version, though, incorporates some popular Matthean motifs, such as the last judgment and separating the good from the evil.
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Ulan
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ulan » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:45 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:20 am
The way Matthew and Luke 'agree' with Mark was part of a broader pattern of the totality - the fourfold gospel - outlawing other readings, other agreements, other gospels. Does anyone disagree with this? It's ridiculous that this isn't THE FIRST THING said about the canonical gospels.
Well, yes, many scholars still write their disagreements - not that I find them convincing. The situation may have been a bit more complex. As far as I can see this, gMatthew was the gospel of the branch of the church that were to become the "orthodox" one. It makes up the bulk of manuscript finds and is the most cited one. gJohn arose from some proto-gnostic movement in Asia Minor and was sanitized by splicing it with some different text. It became the most popular gospel much later. gMark is pretty much absent from the record, and gLuke has this connection with Marcionism, that was supposed to be hauled back into the fold by incorporating its gospel into the fourfold canon. gMark basically served to add a +1 to the more orthodox voices.

I guess it depends on how much influence you see with Irenaeus or his teachers. Irenaeus himself is quite clear about his intentions regarding the fourfold gospel.

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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ulan » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:49 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:37 am
Ulan wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:57 am
94% is nearly the complete gMark. It gets even clearer when you look at what gMatthew left out, like the one parable in Mark that nobody seems to know of what it is supposed to mean, including Matthew it looks like.
Matthew also left out (A) the exorcism of the Capernaum demoniac and (B) the healing of a blind man with spittle. What is of extreme interest to me is that he seems to have compositionally accounted for both of these miracles by (A) adding an extra demoniac to the Gadarene incident and (B) adding an extra blind man to the healing just outside of Jericho. In this manner every single miracle attested in Mark is represented in Matthew (along with other miracles that Matthew adds on top of the Marcan collection). If my interpretation here is correct, then Matthew's intention to absorb virtually all of Mark becomes even more apparent.

Also, I presume that the parable you are referring to is Mark 4.26-29, the parable of the seed. I would suggest that Matthew has either rewritten this parable as or replaced it with Matthew 13.24-30, the parable of the tares. Both have a man planting seed; both have the seed growing while people sleep; and both have a harvest. Matthew's version, though, incorporates some popular Matthean motifs, such as the last judgment and separating the good from the evil.
Yes, that sounds like a reasonable suggestion. I think gMatthew was always meant to replace gMark, and I think it initially (although that's practically also true today) succeeded in this task. gMark got a second lease on life for its usefulness in religious politics.

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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Jan 29, 2020 12:35 pm

And here Ulan is another thing I find odd about Matthew. As you know, Judaism and Samaritanism have established positions. There are established traditions of exegesis. Part of Schiffman's brilliance (sorry John2) is that he connects the Qumran documents to things said about the halakhah of the Sadducees. My problem with Matthew is that it isn't 'Jewish' in any identifiable POV. I don't see Matthew's 'Jewishness.' Compare for example Justin Martyr, Tertullian Against Marcion and the two powers tradition in M. Sanh. 4:5, Dial. 62, M. Ber. 5:3, M. Meg. 4:9, M. Ber. 9:5, T. Sanh. 8:7 etc. There is nothing connecting Matthew and its position to anything found in early Jewish sources. I get the distinct impression - as with the 'Ebionites' and Acts - that the orthodox simply invented a Jewish Christian position.

So if that is conceded then you have to take a second look and consider (a) that the only 'Jewish Christian' position we know of is the two powers tradition and (b) this is explicitly denied to be a 'Jewish Christian' tradition by the Church Fathers. Instead they argue that it is the position of Marcion (cf. the number of times he is condemned for 'introducing' two powers) and Marcion 'hates' Judaism. I see the arbitrariness of assigning Luke to Marcion is paralleled by the implausibility of making the 'two powers' anti-Jewish. It all seems to me to be an assault against the truth, asymmetrical warfare against the actual sources, the actual reality of the early second century.

How can Marcion - the epitome of 'two powers' doctrine - be 'anti-Jewish' when Philo the most Jewish Alexandrian Jew, the epitome of Judaism for the Alexandrian fathers anticipates many of the two powers doctrine? If the Church Fathers managed to turn truth on its head here, why not so with their invention of the fourfold gospel and its fourfold sectarian association - i.e. Matthew with the Ebionites, Luke with the Marcionites and John with the Valentinians? It's just too systematic for me. Too neat. Like a novel .
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:29 pm

Ulan wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:57 am
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:36 am
Mmh, maybe it's just a question of our pov's. My impression from GMatthew is – under the assumption of Marcan priority - that even „Matthew“ (author) did not want to write a new version, which replaces the old GMark, but an separate gospel, which in his opinion was more appropriate as a Christian gospel. In the case of „Luke“ and „John“, that seems to me pretty clear. I don't think Matthew had any hope that his Jesus-story could completely oust GMark, just that his own gospel might be preferred by others.
Oh come on, it actually did oust gMark. I'm not even sure where Irenaeus pulled that one from.
94% is nearly the complete gMark. It gets even clearer when you look at what gMatthew left out, like the one parable in Mark that nobody seems to know of what it is supposed to mean, including Matthew it looks like.
...
A gospel that incorporates pretty much a whole other gospel is not independent of the one it wholly incorporates. I agree with Ben here that this is a logical error.
It seems to me that you decide the question like a scholar of the 19th or 20th century.

I think the following is one of Joe's favorite examples.
Mark 16 Matthew 28
8 καὶ ἐξελθοῦσαι ἔφυγον ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου εἶχεν γὰρ αὐτὰς τρόμος καὶ ἔκστασις καὶ οὐδενὶ οὐδὲν εἴπον ἐφοβοῦντο γάρ 8 καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ταχὺ ἀπὸ τοῦ μνημείου μετὰ φόβου καὶ χαρᾶς μεγάλης ἔδραμον ἀπαγγεῖλαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ.
8 And having gone out, they fled from the tomb. Had seized for them trembling and amazement. And to no one nothing they said. They were afraid for. 8 And having gone away quickly from the tomb with fear and great<->joy, they ran to report (it) the disciples of him.

You and I may agree that Mark 16:8 was the source of Matthew 28:8 and the Greek text shows to what extent Matthew used Mark's text. In some formal sense we could say that Matthew 28:8 incorporates Mark 16:8. But I doubt that a reader or hearer of the 2nd century would agree with us. It is not only that Matthew sometimes contradicts Mark openly, but that he manages with minor changes to push the meaning in many pericopes in a different direction. With regard to the message I can't see a logical error in the assertion that these are different texts. Some readers may find it rather crazy to see it as versions or editions of the same text.

Ulan wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:57 am
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:36 am
There was also no replacement, but the NT shows that the canonical gospels were perceived as four different texts.
We have four gospels, because it was a magic number for Irenaeus. That was the sole reason why gMark was saved. As Irenaeus said, because Earth has four corners.

Edit: Irenaeus actually also mentions the more reasonable explanation: he associates each gospel with specific heresies, and the goal was to drown out each of them with the three others.
I disagree. If there were three Gospels, Irenaeus would say something about the father, the son and the Holy Spirit, and if it were five, then something else. imho it is only the theological justification of the situation and not its cause.

The tradition that GMark is associated with the apostle Peter is apparently older than Irenaeus. GMark was protected as the memories of Peter and not even Irenaeus could have wiped out GMark.

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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ulan » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:49 pm

@Secret Alias: The symmetry is certainly embellished. I don't think gMatthew had anything to do with heretics. Those claims were just added to not single out the actual target(s) too much. The situation with gMark is a bit more complicated. There is still the possibility that it was the text of some church more organized like a mystery cult. However, there's really not much evidence of such a church. Also, use statistics are not really very reliable, given the scarcity of surviving pre-Constantine manuscripts. The spread of Diatessaron-like texts would also have been nice to know. A pity they have all been burned.

There are lots of difficult questions connected to early Christian history. Everyone is zoomed in onto the synoptics, because having three canonical versions of the same text is such a treasure trove for tracing developments. It lets us forget that the surviving Christian doctrine is largely dominated by gJohn, the odd child in the corner.

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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by perseusomega9 » Wed Jan 29, 2020 3:14 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:29 pm

The tradition that GMark is associated with the apostle Peter is apparently older than Irenaeus. GMark was protected as the memories of Peter and not even Irenaeus could have wiped out GMark.
Do you think the earliest association was with Peter, or with a Kephas, or with a SIMON peter?

Remembering of course that all we have of Papias is second hand reporting of what he actually wrote
The metric to judge if one is a good exegete: the way he/she deals with Barabbas.

Who disagrees with me on this precise point is by definition an idiot.
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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Ulan » Wed Jan 29, 2020 3:21 pm

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:29 pm
You and I may agree that Mark 16:8 was the source of Matthew 28:8 and the Greek text shows to what extent Matthew used Mark's text. In some formal sense we could say that Matthew 28:8 incorporates Mark 16:8. But I doubt that a reader or hearer of the 2nd century would agree with us. It is not only that Matthew sometimes contradicts Mark openly, but that he manages with minor changes to push the meaning in many pericopes in a different direction. With regard to the message I can't see a logical error in the assertion that these are different texts. Some readers may find it rather crazy to see it as versions or editions of the same text.
Turning the meaning of a sentence in its opposite doesn't make it a different text. It's obviously the same text, just edited by someone who wanted to make it say something different. That's what an editor does.

I'm not sure how many books you have written, but that's what editors still do today with the manuscripts you submit. It's the core meaning of editing. Editors want to improve on the text they work with. That's why they started editing the text in the first place.
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:29 pm
Ulan wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:57 am
Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:36 am
There was also no replacement, but the NT shows that the canonical gospels were perceived as four different texts.
We have four gospels, because it was a magic number for Irenaeus. That was the sole reason why gMark was saved. As Irenaeus said, because Earth has four corners.

Edit: Irenaeus actually also mentions the more reasonable explanation: he associates each gospel with specific heresies, and the goal was to drown out each of them with the three others.
I disagree. If there were three Gospels, Irenaeus would say something about the father, the son and the Holy Spirit, and if it were five, then something else. imho it is only the theological justification of the situation and not its cause.

The tradition that GMark is associated with the apostle Peter is apparently older than Irenaeus. GMark was protected as the memories of Peter and not even Irenaeus could have wiped out GMark.
There's nothing to disagree with a statement Irenaeus made himself about his motives. In this specific point, I believe his motives, even if not the specifics behind his accusations.

I know that the notion that these were just the four popular texts is itself popular among scholars. Irenaeus is the first to mention the four gospel authors. Yes, Papias mentioned two, but I'm sure Papias would have mentioned John or Luke if he had known of their texts. It's not an unreasonable assumption that it wasn't Irenaeus who did all this by himself - scholars have tried to pinpoint the single editor of the fourfold gospel tradition for a long time now, and Polycarp or someone in his environment have come up time and again - but we are looking at the work of an editor who chose the texts and gave them the traditional names. Of course, Irenaeus belonged to Polycarp's environment. It doesn't change anything about the point that gMark and gLuke both lack any evidence of widespread use.

Irenaeus had a deep interest in number magic. Maybe, my somewhat flippant mention of the four corners of the Earth threw you off, but the centerpiece of the imagery he rose is the throne wagon of God from Ezechiel, the wagon with the four faces that have been associated in the art of the evangelists ever since. Still, I see your argument, and in this case, four was just enough. Three may have been nice as well, but that wouldn't have brought the number of orthodox texts up to two. There's also the possibility that the choice was made by whoever wrote the first Diatessaron.

But this is just a side show. My main beef is with your idea that the three synoptics are not edits of the same text. Even the example you yourself brought proves you wrong. You yourself say that the changes are drastic. That's the point: Antique authors had no qualms with mutilating their vorlage to such a degree.

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Re: Evolution and the Gospels

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Jan 29, 2020 5:58 pm

I am not understanding KKs point. Is it her position that Irenaeus was a faithful transmitter of manuscripts? That he had no agenda? I find this baffling. I can't think of a more inflexible, worse possible candidate to put one's trust to faithfully preserve manuscripts than Irenaeus.

Is it KKs point that:

1) Irenaeus had no biases or was no more biased than a modern scholar
2) Irenaeus's biases whatever they were had no influence on his transmission of texts
or that
3) Irenaeus biases whatever they were had no influence on our received of the four gospels which he first mentions as a set (the same 'set' mentioned by Irenaeus 'coincidentally')?

I am not getting this at all. Also:

4) Ammonius of Alexandria https://www.academia.edu/6816607/Ammoni ... cholarship a pagan who does not seem to have ever held strong Christian beliefs is said to have been intimately associated with the explicit 'side by side' arrangement of the four gospels. I do not know what relationship existed between Irenaeus's citation of the fourfold gospel and Ammonius's arrangement of the fourfold gospel but clearly there is some relationship. They were near contemporaries. Celsus seems to allude to the establishment of the fourfold gospel:
After this he [Celsus] says, that certain of the Christian believers, like persons who in a fit of drunkenness lay violent hands upon themselves, have corrupted the original text of the Gospel (τῆς πρώτης γραφῆς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον), to a threefold (τριχῇ), and fourfold (τετραχῇ), and many-fold degree (πολλαχῇ), and have remodeled it (μεταπλάττειν), so that they might be able to answer objections (ἵν' ἔχοιεν πρὸς τοὺς ἐλέγχους ἀρνεῖσθαι)." [Origen, Contra Celsum 2:27]

Two of the three people who are the first to attest to the existence of the fourfold gospel are non-Christians. This is very strange. Celsus goes so far as to witness a motivation to for the development. Do we just dismiss Celsus's observation as uniformed because it is adversarial? ἀρνεῖσθαι actually means to deny or disown. I think with Ammonius's involvement there is an implication at least of shrugging off a previous belief or opinion. That the fourfold arrangement was constructed to deny or disown a previous understanding, which can only be the Marcionite understanding.


μεταπλάσσω
μετα-πλάσσω, Att. μεταπλάττω, A mould differently, remodel, Pl.Ti.92b, Iamb.Myst.3.28; τι εἴς τι Pl.Ti.50a (so in Med., AP9.708 (Phil.)); βίον μ. ἄλλοι ἄλλως Melinnoap.Stob.3.7.12.
2 counterfeit, τὸ θεῖον νόμισμα Ph.1.220.
II Gramm., in Pass., to be formed by metaplasm, A.D.Adv.184.11, Arc.129.6, Eust.58.38.

ἔλεγχος = argument of disproof, refutation. Who is it that Celsus thinks are making this refutations? Surely this is a lead to follow up on. Who made these 'refutations'' that led to the reshaping of the gospel into a fourfold composition? Clearly Origen implies it was pagans. He sees his work as such a refutation:
But that certain Christians and (all) Jews should maintain, the former that there has already descended, the latter that there will descend, upon the earth a certain God, or Son of a God, who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous, is a most shameless assertion, and one the refutation of which does not need many words (καὶ οὐδὲ δεῖται μακροῦ λόγου ὁ ἔλεγχος). [4.2]
He speaks also about 'refuting' the Christian text Jason and Pascipus:
Of such a nature do I know the work to be, entitled Controversy between one Papiscus and Jason, which is fitted to excite pity and hatred instead of laughter. It is not my purpose, however, to confute the statements contained in such works (Ἔμοιγ' οὖν οὐ ταῦτ' ἐλέγχειν πρόκειται); for their fallacy is manifest to all, especially if any one will have the patience to read the books themselves. Rather do I wish to show that Nature teaches this, that God made nothing that is mortal, but that His works, whatever they are, are immortal, and theirs mortal. And the soul is the work of God, while the nature of the body is different. And in this respect there is no difference between the body of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog, and that of a man; for the matter is the same, and their corruptible part is alike [4.52]
And again:
I do not know, indeed, how he could conjoin things that do not admit of union, and which cannot exist together at the same time in human nature, in saying, as he did, that the above treatise deserved to be treated both with pity and hatred. For every one will admit that he who is the object of pity is not at the same moment an object of hatred, and that he who is the object of hatred is not at the same time a subject of pity. Celsus, moreover, says that it was not his purpose to refute such statements, because he thinks that their absurdity is evident to all, and that, even before offering any logical refutation, they will appear to be bad, and to merit both pity and hatred ( ∆ιὰ τοῦτο δὲ μὴ προκεῖσθαι
ἐλέγχειν φησὶ ταῦτα ὁ Κέλσος, ἐπεὶ οἴεται αὐτὰ παντί που δῆλα εἶναι καὶ πρὸ τοῦ ἐπαγομένου λογικῶς ἐλέγχου ὡς φαῦλα καὶ ἐλέους καὶ μίσους ἄξια.) [4.53]
Celsus clearly implies that the fourfold gospel came about as Christians tried to deny 'refutations' of pagan critics like himself. As such it was a recent phenomenon.

This is clearest when he makes specific mention of a series of 'refutations' made specifically against Marcionism:
Let us then pass over the refutations which might be adduced against the claims of their teacher (Καὶ δὴ παραλείπομεν ὅσα περὶ τοῦ διδασκάλου διελέγχονται), and let him be regarded as really an angel. But is he the first and only one who came (to men), or were there others before him? If they should say that he is the only one, they would be convicted (ἐλέγχοιντο) of telling lies against themselves. For they assert that on many occasions others came, and sixty or seventy of them together, and that these became wicked, and were cast under the earth and punished with chains, and that from this source originate the warm springs, which are their tears; and, moreover, that there came an angel to the tomb of this said being — according to some, indeed, one, but according to others, two — who answered the women that he had arisen. For the Son of God could not himself, as it seems, open the tomb, but needed the help of another to roll away the stone. And again, on account of the pregnancy of Mary, there came an angel to the carpenter, and once more another angel, in order that they might take up the young Child and flee away (into Egypt). But what need is there to particularize everything, or to count up the number of angels said to have been sent to Moses, and others among them? If, then, others were sent, it is manifest that he also came from the same God. But he may be supposed to have the appearance of announcing something of greater importance (than those who preceded him), as if the Jews had been committing sin, or corrupting their religion, or doing deeds of impiety; for these things are obscurely hinted at.[5.52]
Notice Origen's paraphrase of this section in 5.53:
He says, indeed, that he has omitted the refutations which have been adduced against the claims which Christians advance on behalf of their teacher, although he has not omitted anything which he was able to bring forward, as is manifest from his previous language, but makes this statement only as an empty rhetorical device. That we are not refuted, however, on the subject of our great Saviour, although the accuser may appear to refute us, will be manifest to those who peruse in a spirit of truth-loving investigation all that is predicted and recorded of Him [Φησὶ δὴ παραλιπεῖν ὅσα περὶ τοῦ διδασκάλου Χριστιανοὶ διελέγχονται, οὐ παραλιπών τι ὧν ἐδύνατο λέγειν· ὅπερ ἐστὶ φανερὸν ἐκ τῶν ἀνωτέρω αὐτῷ λελεγμέ νων· ἄλλως δὲ ῥητορικῇ ἐγχειρήσει κατακολουθῶν τὸ τοιοῦτο ποιεῖ. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅτι οὐ διελεγχόμεθα περὶ τοῦ τηλικούτου σωτῆρος ἡμῶν,
κἂν δοκῇ ὁ ἐγκαλῶν διελέγχειν, δῆλον ἔσται τοῖς φιλαλήθως καὶ ἐξεταστικῶς ὅλοις τοῖς περὶ αὐτοῦ προφητευομένοις καὶ ἀναγεγραμμένοις ἐντυγχάνουσιν].
And later in 6.74:
After this he returns to the subject of Marcion's opinions (having already spoken frequently of them), and states some of them correctly, while others he has misunderstood; these, however, it is not necessary for us to answer or refute (ἐλέγχειν). Again, after this he brings forward the various arguments that may be urged on Marcion's behalf, and also against him, enumerating what the opinions are which exonerate him from the charges, and what expose him to them; and when he desires to support the statement which declares that Jesus has been the subject of prophecy — in order to found a charge against Marcion and his followers — he distinctly asks, How could he, who was punished in such a manner, be shown to be God's Son, unless these things had been predicted of him? He next proceeds to jest, and, as his custom is, to pour ridicule upon the subject, introducing two sons of God, one the son of the Creator, and the other the son of Marcion's God; and he portrays their single combats, saying that the Theomachies of the Fathers are like the battles between quails; or that the Fathers, becoming useless through age, and falling into their dotage do not meddle at all with one another, but leave their sons to fight it out. The remark which he made formerly we will turn against himself: What old woman would not be ashamed to lull a child to sleep with such stories as he has inserted in the work which he entitles A True Discourse? For when he ought seriously to apply himself to argument, he leaves serious argument aside, and betakes himself to jesting and buffoonery, imagining that he is writing mimes or scoffing verses; not observing that such a method of procedure defeats his purpose, which is to make us abandon Christianity and give in our adherence to his opinions, which, perhaps, had they been stated with some degree of gravity, would have appeared more likely to convince, whereas since he continues to ridicule, and scoff, and play the buffoon, we answer that it is because he has no argument of weight (for such he neither had, nor could understand) that he has betaken himself to such drivelling.
And similarly at 7.24:
After this Celsus relates at length opinions which he ascribes to us, but which we do not hold, regarding the Divine Being, to the effect that he is corporeal in his nature, and possesses a body like a man. As he undertakes to refute opinions which are none of ours, it would be needless to give either the opinions themselves or their refutation. Indeed, if we did hold those views of God which he ascribes to us, and which he opposes, we would be bound to quote his words, to adduce our own arguments, and to refute his. But if he brings forward opinions which he has either heard from no one, or if it be assumed that he has heard them, it must have been from those who are very simple and ignorant of the meaning of Scripture, then we need not undertake so superfluous a task as that of refuting them.
And again at 7.33
As Celsus supposes that we uphold the doctrine of the resurrection in order that we may see and know God, he thus follows out his notions on the subject: After they have been utterly refuted and vanquished (Ὅταν δὴ πάντοθεν ἐξείργων ται καὶ διελέγχωνται), they still, as if regardless of all objections, come back again to the same question, 'How then shall we see and know God? How shall we go to Him?'
My point is clearly that Celsus doesn't just 'witness' the remolding of the gospel to a fourfold form, he actually gives us the reason why it happened. The original Christianity - Marcionism - withered under the assault of 'refutations' from pagan philosophy and so the gospel was remade in a new form.

Irenaeus's use of μεταπλάσσω in AH 3.5 might imply he blamed the Valentinians for the fourfold gospel or it was a reflection of contemporary culture.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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