Monday, January 30, 2023

Pseudo-Cyril: More Support for Mark 16:9-20

Sometimes it is tempting to dismiss patristic witnesses whose names begin with “Pseudo-.”  After all, “pseudo” means “false,” and such a name might convey that the reader is encountering the work of an imposter.   Yet, just as the devil can quote Scripture for his own purpose, imposters in ancient times could also do so, allowing the reader to get a look at the Scriptural text the imposter was using.

Pseudo-Cyril, the author of Homily on the Virgin Mary and Her Birth and Her Dormition, might initially appear to be one such imposter.  (The Cyril being referenced is Cyril of Jerusalem, who died in 386.)  But he does not describe himself as Cyril of Jerusalem, and he refers to Cyril of Jerusalam in the course of his homily.  Pseudo-Cyril is simply an anonymous writer whose homily is thrown in with the works of Cyril of Jerusalem.

I think that Pseudo-Cyrils homily has been assigned to the first half of the 500s.  (His manuscript of the Gospels, if it was brand new when he used it, was about 225 years younger than Codex Vaticanus.)

E.A.W. Budge translated Pseudo-Cyril’s homily into English in 1915; the translation can be found online here.  Budge used the text in Brit. Mus. MS. Oriental No. 6784 as the basis for his translation.   

After a verbose beginning, Pseudo-Cyril mentions the widow’s two mites, and the fish that Peter was commanded to catch.  Pseudo-Cyril zooms in on the heresies that had been spread by Ebion and Harpocratius (Carpocrates?).  He then presents an account of Mary’s family.  Mary the mother of Jesus is identified as Mary Magdalene.  It must be emphasized that Pseudo-Cyril is not saying that Mary the mother of Jesus is the same individual who is named “Mary Magdalene” in the Gospels.  Pseudo-Cyril is merely claiming that Mary the mother of Jesus was born in the village of Magdala.  Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene are pictured as two distinct individuals in the course of Pseudo-Cyril’s homily.

Pseudo-Cyril proceeds to relate the story of Mary’s birth to her parents Joakim (who is also named Cleopas by Pseudo-Cyril) and Anna (relying in part on the Protevangelium of James).  He then relates a brief account of the childhood of Mary and her service in the temple.  (The veracity or non-veracity of Pseudo-Cyril’s account is not my focus here.)  He then changes the subject and tells about Cyril’s encounter with Annarikhus, a monk who had been mislead by the books written by Ebion and Harpocratius.  Cyril and Annarikhus discuss whether the Gospel of the Hebrews ought to be a fifth Gospel along with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  (Cyril says no; Annarikhus says yes.)

Pseudo-Cyril then attributes to Cyril of Jerusalem a few quotations of New Testament material (Matt 12.24, Second John v. 7 and Second John v. 10) in the course of opposing the Gospel of the Hebrews.  Annarikhus, in the anecdote in Pseudo-Cyril’s homily, promptly repents, and invites Cyril to burn Annarikhus’ books.

Pseudo-Cyril relates that Cyril, after doing so, taught Annarikhus against the Ebionite heresy that Mary had been the incarnation of some kind of mystical force, and then Annarikhus, upon receiving Cyril’s teaching, repented of being fooled by Ebion and Harpocrates’ books.

The Dormition of Mary, as depicted by Jacopo Torriti
in a cathedral-apse in Rome in 1296.

Pseudo-Cyril then turns to the subject of the death/departure/dormition of Mary (quoting Luke 1.36 along the way), and he says that he is informed that John and Mary “lived in the same house in Jerusalem.”  He relates that Mary called for Peter and James to come to her there.  Several passages of the Gospels (and Acts 1) are used in this part of the homily, as Mary is depicted speaking to John, Peter, and James.  Mary Magdalene then enters the picture, “out of whom the Christ had cast several devils.”  After Peter, James, and John have told a group of virgins that Mary the mother of Jesus has announced that she is about to “depart to the Jerusalem of heaven,” Mary Magdalene begins preparations for Mary’s funeral-observance.  Most of the rest of the homily is an account of the dormition of Mary.

Getting back to what Pseudo-Cyril attributed to Annarikhus:  at one point, Pseudo-Cyril says that Cyril asked Annarikhus, “Who sent thee to teach about these things,” and that the answer that Annarikhus gave was, “The Christ said, “Go ye forth into all the world, and teach ye all the nations in my name in every place.”

This is a blended use of Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19.(with possible indirect use of Mark 16:17 (for "in My name") and 16:20 (for "in every place")).

So:  Annarikhus-according-to-Pseudo-Cyril should be added to the list of individuals whose copies of Mark included Mark 16:9-20.  (As a contemporary of Cyril of Jerusalem, Annarikhus lived in the 300s, and his copy of Mark, if it was brand new, would have been about as old as Codex Sinaiticus.) 

Also, Pseudo-Cyril should be included in the textual apparatus’ list of patristic writers who cite Mark 16:15 (or, at least, whose writings affirm Mark 16:9-20).  (Pseudo-Cyril, along with Palladius and Fortunatianus, is one of numerous patristic writers whose names have been overlooked in the UBS and N-A apparatuses - and by Christian teacher Mike Winger, among others.)

(I note, in passing, that if it was known to Mark
s readers that Mary the mother of Jesus was from Magdala, then Mark would have a very good reason for mentioning (in Mark 16:9) that Mary Magdalene was the person from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons:  to avoid giving the impression that Jesus mother Mary was the individual visiting the tomb.) 

(I also note, in passing, that the unnamed companion of Cleopas in Luke 24 may have been Mary herself - which would be a subtle confirmation by Luke of his
use of Marys own testimony as one of his sources.) 


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