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Re: Formation of canon

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  • Larry Swain
    ... You re right, I didn t proof read before I sent. I wanted a section out of section 9 of this chapter where I says that the Montanists make copious use of
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 28, 1998
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      Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
      >
      ...
      >This section 7 Irenaeus does not talk about the Montanists. Above, you
      > quoted a passage re: followers of Valentinus, but I don't see how this may
      > relate to Montanists, necessarily.
      > But you actually seem to be right about the Montanists. It appears that
      > they did use Jn a lot. Irenaeus seems to be a bit confusing (or confused?)
      > in what he wrote, and I've interpreted him as if Montanists rejected Jn.
      > As you've indicated, he probably meant Montanists rejecting The Gospel
      > (all 4) as opposed to rejecting just Jn.
      >

      You're right, I didn't proof read before I sent. I wanted a section out
      of section 9 of this chapter where I says that the Montanists make
      copious use of John. I think he meant though that the Montanists didn't
      reject the 4, but rather their theology and hence their "gospel" was
      sufficiently different that Irenaeus' received tradition that in effect
      he says that they reject the Gospel-not to be confused with rejecting
      the 4 gospels.


      > Nevertheless, I've found a couple of other groups who clearly rejected Jn,
      > and they will do just as well instead of Montanists. These were the Alogi,
      > of 2nd c, and also the followers of someone named Gaius, who was active at
      > the turn of the 2nd c -- early 3rd c.

      Quite so, I had forgotten about Gaius although I don't recall that I
      mentions the Alogi, but Epiphanius does if memory serves. I should
      check that out.

      > I would have never set out to show that ALL such groups were producing and
      > using "heretical" texts, Larry. Why would I try such a thing?

      > > Some were, some weren't.
      >
      > Sure, this is what I meant. Enough were for sure. The fact that Irenaeus
      > didn't write about that in that particular instance is pretty meaningless
      > in my view.

      Then I think we're argueing pretty close to the same thing, I mistook
      some of your statements as blanket statements.
      >
      > I still find Jeremy's argument rather weak. Is there any doubt at all
      > about the extent of heretics' literary production?

      It is rather weak, but it is valid if I may make that distinction. And
      while there is a good deal of literary production going on it is also
      somewhat surprising that there wasn't more and that so much (by no means
      all or even the "greater" majority) of the discussion in the 2nd and
      early 3rd centuries revolves around the 4 and interpreting the 4. I
      don't think it a stretch to interpret some of these documents as
      conscious interpretations of the Tradition. The question is whether
      this literary output on the part of these groups means that they
      questioned the authority or the canonicity of the 4-some groups
      obviously did reject some of the gospels but it is interesting to note
      that those groups (such as the Ebionites) don't replace them with other
      gospels. Still other groups accept the four and produce others. But
      what place those others? Just because they wrote them doesn't not mean
      that they were intended to take the place of what became the canonical
      4.

      Another perspective here too is that by Irenaeus' time the 4 are far
      more settled than in the earlier part of the century when Marcion and
      Valentinus and Basilides are active.

      To illustrate what I mean: there are groups of Christians who follow
      the dictates of the Hebrew Bible in so far as legally possible (can't
      exactly offer up burnt offerings and slaughter animals these days) and
      as a result all but ignore Paul's letter to the Galatians, which however
      remains in their canon.
      Other Christians look to say, C. S. Lewis as authoritative but would
      certainly never put his work on a par with Scripture even though they
      would know Lewis' ideas more than the Bible.
      So what I'm asking to a degree is unanswerable but I'm also attacking a
      position: because a particular group produces a work in the 2nd century
      it does NOT follow that the work gained canonical status in that group,
      it may have only been highly influential. But ultimately it is
      unanswerable, we don't at the current time have enough evidence and I
      try to shy away from assumptions.

      Another way to look at this is I himself. He produces quite a bit of
      literature defining the "true faith" and tradition, as do many other
      writers of the period. But do you think for a second that anyone,
      including I himself thinks that the Demonstratio is as authoritative as
      John? I don't.


      PS: Peraps you're right that I should tone down some of my replies a
      little.
      > Point well taken.

      It is just that you have so much to offer, I hate to see it lost because
      of how it is packaged. You've made me rethink a number of things in
      this exchange and remember things I had forgotten, for which I thank
      you.

      Larry Swain
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