Pagels attempts to further the link between Gnosticism and John in disputed terms. Citing Adversus Haereses 3.11.7 Pagels states “Irenaeus complains that Valentinus's disciples were “always quoting the Gospel of John,” while surprisingly prominent “fathers of the church,” including three of his revered mentors, apparently were not.” However, such an interpretive paraphrase sufficiently misrepresents the intention and meaning of Irenaeus as he is not “complaining” that the Gospel of John was the Gospel of the Valentinians, nor does he suggest it was not an orthodox gospel. The purpose of Irenaeus here is an exhortation of the authoritative nature of the four-fold gospel tradition. These gospels are so authoritative that “even the heretics themselves bear witness.” A more sound exegetical approach noting such an exhortation would grant the possibility of an exaggeration on the part of Irenaeus. Irenaeus states that the Ebionites abuse the Gospel of Matthew; the docetics abuse the Gospel of Mark; Marcion abused the Gospel of Luke; and, in the same case, the Valentians abuse the Gospel of John all in “establishing his own peculiar doctrine.” To consistently follow Pagels’ exegesis would similarly mean that Irenaeus’ “complaint” was that everyone but the proto-orthodox were “always quoting the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” Such a position is simply untenable, especially noting the high relative frequency of patristic citations of the Gospel of John by the early Church Fathers.Could it be that Pagels is now quoting Irenaeus as a proof text in "establishing her own peculiar doctrine."
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Pagels' Questionable Readings
In my last post I alluded to Elaine Pagels' questionable interpretation of Irenaeus. Here is an example I wrote last year: