Monday, September 4, 2017

Were Clement and Origen Friends?

What evidence is there that Clement and Origen knew one another?  Very little direct evidence in fact.  As Morton Smith noted over forty years ago:
Apparently he [Origen] never mentioned Clement, since Eusebius, attempting to prove that Clement was Origen's teacher, is forced to argue by inference from their temporal proximity (HE VI. 6) and to quote a letter of Alexander of Jerusalem to Origen in which Alexander refers to Clement (then deceased) as formerly known to Origen and as one through whom he himself had made Origen's acquaintance (HE VI. I4.8f). But this only makes Origen's silence about Clement more significant. It would seem that the two were not close, and that if Clement ever was Origen's teacher, it was only for a short period when Origen was fifteen or sixteen. Consequently Origen's ignorance of the longer text [of Mark] is understandable. [Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark p. 285]
The fact that both are said to have been from Alexandria, the fact that both men shared a similar Platonic orientation, the fact that many of their core beliefs and assumptions about Jesus and the gospels are similar - all leads to the same conclusion that they must have known one another.

I am not as optimistic about the state of manuscripts for either man.  I think many of Clement's works have been heavily interpolated - most especially the Instructor.  I think Jerome and Rufinus seem to know something about Eusebius 'correcting' the writings of both men to avoid charges of heresy.  The fact that both Jerome and Rufinus are so willing to continue correcting the writings of Origen lends me to believe that it will be very difficult to explain why Clement never mentions Origen and Origen never Clement.

It is difficult to penetrate the wall of silence which surrounds early Alexandrian Christianity.  The one thing that we can determine with some degree of certainty is the fact that Clement's Quis Dives Salvetur (Can the Rich Man be Saved) seems to have been written with Origen's interpretation of the 'rich man' narrative (Mark 10:17 - 31 and equivalents) from his Commentary on Matthew in mind, and vice versa.  While they do not directly name or confront one another they spend a great deal of time 'correcting' the other's interpretation.

Clement famously does not believe that the gospel should be read as saying that the rich have to give up all their possessions to enter into the kingdom of God/heaven.  While it may seem a forced interpretation he has a text of the Gospel of Mark which seems to support his allegorical or 'spiritual' arguments.  On the other hand, despite bringing forward this particular gospel he spends most of the homily attacking arguments which develop from the words and terminology of our canonical gospel of Matthew.  His opponent or opponents claim that only a literal reading of Matthew makes sense - Jesus demanded that those who want to get into heaven sell all their property and join a monastery sharing the proceeds with their brothers.

In time there will be an Origenist monastic tradition.  The followers of Origen were so numerous and so despicable that much of the surviving literature from the fourth and fifth centuries deals with the problem of stamping our 'Origenists' from the Church.  Origenists like Jerome had to recant their association with his writings.  But who was Origen?  A castrated Christian teacher of some kind who was forced out of Alexandria into Palestine seems to be the consensus from antiquity.  But was Origen already living with a monastic order at that time?

While the question is never asked as far as I can tell I find the existence of some sort of proto-monastery at that time very appealing.  We know that the books of Origen were collected into a rich Christian believer's library in the port city of Caesarea.  Eusebius eventually presided over this collection.  Yet in Origen's time the great Christian library was located in Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem).  It was established by a shadowy figure named 'Alexander' who seemed to be close to Clement.

Eusebius recorded that he used the library, with its extensive archives, to write his The Ecclesiastical History He said: "Now there flourished at that time many learned churchmen, and the letters which they penned to one another are still extant and easily accessible. They have been preserved to our day in the library at Aelia, equipped by Alexander, then ruling the church there; from which also we have been able ourselves to gather together the material for our present work"  This library must have already existed in Origen's time; how odd again that we don't see Clement and Origen intersecting.

We know less than nothing about Clement.  Origen as noted seems to have been born in Alexandria but was eventually forced to flee.  We hear it repeatedly mentioned that he fell into some sort of dispute with the future Pope or bishop of Alexandria, Demetrius.  Indeed he seems to have shaken up the entire world as Jerome later remembers:
So you see, the labors of this one man [Origen] have surpassed those of all previous writers, Greek and Latin. Who has ever managed to read all that he has written? Yet what reward have his exertions brought him? He stands condemned by his bishop, Demetrius, only the bishops of Palestine, Arabia, Phoenecia, and Achaia dissenting. Imperial Rome consents to his condemnation, and even convenes a senate to censure him, not -- as the rabid hounds who now pursue him cry -- because of the novelty or heterodoxy of his doctrines, but because men could not tolerate the incomparable eloquence and knowledge which, when once he opened his lips, made others seem dumb.(Epistle 33)
What could have caused this upheaval?  Origen revealed a previously secret doctrine.  This has to be the bottom line.

Of course this conflict is framed in terms of Origen's 'innovation.'  Yet this is standard propaganda in early Christian literature.  The apostles were venerated to such a point that everything associated with them represented nothing short of a 'perfect golden age.'  This was the epoch when all Christians allegedly 'got along' on issues of doctrine.  But surely we can't believe these myths any longer.  The beginning of 'real history' in Christianity has to be timed to Origen's 'escape' from Alexandria.  Everything before that are just manuscripts divorced from any 'meta-relationships' with mainstream Roman history.

For whatever reasons we choose to develop, Origen revealed a previously unheard of doctrine which turned the world upside down.  His own bishop lined up against him.  In the aforementioned history of Jerome, the grouping of Palestine, Arabia and Phoenicia makes some sense - this is the 'Semitic' Church.  But Achaia seems the odd one out. 54) tells us that it was on account of heresies which were troubling the churches of Achaia (propter ecclesias Achaiae, quae pluribus haeresibus vexabantur). Photius (Cod. 118) reports that Origen went to Athens without the consent of Demetrius, but Demetrius's anger might well have been related to Origen's ordination in Achaia.

Eusebius tells us that Origen traveled through Palestine and ultimately made his way to Greece from certain letters of Alexander in the old Jerusalem library.  He is the same Alexander from whom we learn certain interesting tidbits about Clement.  But was this Clement of Alexander, Clement of Alexandria?  Many have doubted the association.  It is Eusebius who steers us in this direction because of his overall efforts to line up 'Clement' and 'Origen' as intimates because of their mutual association with Alexander of Jerusalem.

It is odd our evidence for their relationship should be so weak.  Epiphanius doesn't seem to know anything definitive about Clement other than what Eusebius tells us.  If we assume that Alexander's Clement was not the actual author of the Stromata the obvious question is - why would Eusebius have went to such lengths to pretend the two were friends?  The answer has to be that he was hiding or obscuring their acrimonious relationship.  Perhaps even the historical 'Clement' was actually Demetrius ...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Co-Authored Paper Published in Vigiliae Christianae

Quentin Quesnell’s Secret Mark Secret 
A Report on Quentin Quesnell’s 1983 trip to Jerusalem and his inspection of the Mar Saba Document
Authors: Stephan Hüller and Daniel N. Gullotta
Source: Vigiliae Christianae, Volume 71, Issue 4, pages 353 – 378 Publication Year : 2017
DOI: 10.1163/15700720-12341305 ISSN: 0042-6032 E-ISSN: 1570-0720
Document Type: Research Article Subjects: Biblical Studies Keywords: Mar Saba; papyrology; early Christian apocrypha; Quentin Quesnell; Morton Smith; Letter to Theodore; Secret Mark
Unbeknownst to most, in June of 1983, Quentin Quesnell made a visit to Jerusalem in order to personally inspect the Mar Saba document known as the Letter to Theodore. This is significant because it adds Quesnell to a small group of people who have testified to have seen the Letter to Theodore in person, and an even smaller group who have commented on its appearance and contents first-hand. Following Quesnell’s death in 2012 many of his personal belongings were acquired by Smith College (Northampton) and recently released to the public for viewing. Among Quesnell’s belongings was a journal full of notes, along with photos and letters to his wife Jean Higgins, all relating to Morton Smith’s discovery of the Letter to Theodore at Mar Saba and to Quesnell’s 1983 visit to Jerusalem. On the basis of these documents the following article offers a summary of Quesnell’s part in the debate over Smith’s discovery and a report of his inspection of the manuscript. 
I tell my son how important hard work and discipline are.  The fact that I only possess the former quickly led me to seek out someone who possessed the latter.  So it was that I brought Daniel into this project.  I had meticulously tracked down all the loose threads related to this story.  Daniel brought a few more, like interviewing Adela Yarbro Collins - the most important link in this bizarre chain.  In the end we produced a work which I believe is one of the few academic papers that is truly universal in its appeal.

There really is a fascinating story at the heart of this paper.  I think someone could even make a movie - admittedly an 'art house' film - about the situation described in Jerusalem in 1983.  Here you have three pivotal characters in scholarship - Morton Smith, Quentin Quesnel, Helmut Koester - engaged in what is perhaps the final chapter of the story of the Letter to Theodore.  Two of them on the outside of the real story; one on the inside holding back his secret - his great secret - about the very document the other two are struggling to understand.  They say that truth is stranger than fiction.  Here certainly is one such example of that saying.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Confirming My Grandfather was a Resident of Paris

Gundelfinger, Gaston
wohnhaft seit, Ort: Paris

Holocaust Information for Moritz Gundelfinger


Date of Birth: 29 Sep 1877
Place of Birth: Ichenhausen Occupation: Viehhändler
Image Number: Foto CD-ROM 1276
Notes: Moritz Gundelfinger, Viehhändler, Geboren am 29.9.1877 in Ichenhausen, Kr. Günzburg, Deportiert am 20.11.1941 nach Kaunas, Ermordet in Kaunas am 25.11.1941 (5. Kislew 5702), Eltern: Elias Gundelfinger, Kaufmann, und Jeannette Gundelfinger, geb. Hamburger, Zuzug nach München am 1.12.1900, Adresse: Goethestraße 34/II (seit 31.3.1925), Hermann-Lingg-Straße 11/I (seit 27.3.1938), Rumfordstraße 28/IV (seit 15.7.1939), Blumenstraße 48/III (seit 20.3.1940), Moritz Gundelfinger betrieb in der Goethestraße 34/II einen Viehhandel, der am 14.9.1938 abgemeldet wurde., Foto CD-ROM 1276

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Certainly Relatives (Because of the Surname and the Connection with Munchen)

Max Gundelfinger wurde im ersten Transportzug mit Münchner Juden deportiert und am 25. November 1941 bei den Massenerschießungen in Kaunas umgebracht.

Max Gundelfinger was deported on the first transport train with Munich Jews and on November 25, 1941, he was killed in massacres in Kaunas.  
Moritz Gundelfinger (born) 29.9.1877 (dead) 25.11.1941 Kaunas Moritz Gundelfinger hatte seit 1926 Viehhandel angemeldet mit seiner Wohnung in der Goethestraße 34/II als Firmenadresse. Auch Gundelfinger wurde vom Bayerischen Viehwirtschaftsverband Ende 1937 die Viehhandelskarte entzogen mit der auch hier behaupteten allgemeinen Unzuverlässig- keit. Zugleich forderte der Verband das Gewerbeamt auf, dem jüdischen Viehhändler die Gewerbelegitimationskarte zu entziehen. Das Gewerbeamt folgte natürlich auch im Fall Gundelfinger ohne weitere Nachprüfung diesem Ansinnen.[source] Something is quite odd here.

UPDATE: Actually it is a well-established historical fact that the first Jews deported from Germany died in the massacre at Kaunas before the death camps were constructed.  For some reason I strongly suspect this was my mother's grandfather.

Wow.  Reading about this massacre (and knowing how proudly German my great-grandmother was) this must have been particularly devastating for my great-grandfather.  The words of a Nazi officer arguing against the massacre oddly enough would have been shared by my dead great-grandfather:

Among these Jews are front veterans with the Iron Cross first and second class, war wounded, half Aryans, and even a three-quarter Aryan ... In repeated official visits in the ghetto I have discovered that among the Jews, who distinguish themselves from Russian Jews in their personal cleanliness, are also skilled workers, who are perhaps five times as productive as Russian Jews ... I am certainly tough and ready to help solve the Jewish question, but human beings who come from our own cultural sphere are something other than the native bestial hordes. Should one assign the Lithuanians and the Latvians, who are even rejected by the population here, with their slaughter? I could not do it

A Start

Gundelfinger, Gaston, geb. am 10. 11. 1912 in Saarbrücken

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Gaston Gundelfinger Frank

A little bit of a change here at the blog.  My mother passed away earlier this year and we had a memorial for her.  I always knew that she was writing a journal which among other things would have details of her fascinating and yet ultimately melancholic childhood in Switzerland during WWII.  I used details from her journal for my speech at the memorial.  I was told by many there that I should publish it in some form.  This was something my mother always wanted but oddly she avoided discussing these details with me while she was alive.

In any event, having already transcribed a dozen or so pages for the memorial I started toying with the idea of writing a longer narrative.  The basic gist of the story was that my mother and her mother fled to Switzerland where - thanks to some trickery on the part of my then 4 year old mother - my grandmother, who had lost her Swiss citizenship owing to her marrying my grandfather who was a stateless German Jew, managed to squeeze into the country and avoiding being put in the ovens.

During the course of her recounting the circumstances of their escape from Paris c. 1940 the love affair between my grandmother and grandfather came up.  My Opa was always revered as something of a god in our household - this even though he didn't have a penny to his name and died anonymously in an irrelevant corner of Scarborough, Canada (Scarborough, itself being an utterly irrelevant part of Canada up until recently where it now can claim the rapper the Weeknd as its most famous resident).  I can remember my step-grandmother still laying a empty plate and place mat at the dinner table until the day he died.

As it was I knew very little about my grandfather other than the awe and reverence that my mother and every member of her family had for him - and paradoxically the warning that was always associated with his 'example.'  My grandfather was an intellectual, a great individual but ultimately - a loser in my mother's eyes.  He was a weak man who womanized too much but was supposedly a weakling owing to his inability to stand up to women.

I guess from my mother's perspective he didn't choose his daughter over his wife (my mother's step-mother) and then in an earlier period he didn't stand up to his mother when he gave in to her poison regarding my grandmother (my mother's mother).  Oddly enough, in other respects my mother passed along incredible stories about his strength.  He apparently resisted cancer right to the end - walking, talking, smoking and carrying on until one day he just dropped dead when the cancer had spread through out his body.  My mother died much the same way.  My wife marveled at how health she looked and acted up to her very last day.

So beginning with this strange dissonant complexity - my Opa as a 'strong, weak man' - and the preservation of countless implausible stories about what happened next after he and my grandmother split in Paris at the beginning of WWII - I knew he ended up in a North African concentration camp run by the Vichy regime - I did a bit of research even while my mother was still alive.  I told her for instance that my grandfather is credited with being the first to discover mass graves at Dachau.

It was well known in my family that after being liberated from North Africa by the British he joined an American army unit and fought his way through Italy.  This is where he met and married my step-grandmother Vanna.  She was apparently some great beauty - though when I was growing up I only remember her thinning dyed blond hair held together with hairspray a top her petite frame.  In any event, he continued fighting and apparently had some role in the post-Nazi reconstruction government in Germany.  I shared the information with my mother and told her that there were apparently many more correspondences in the archives of some agency in Germany.

As I said, after my mother passed away, I decided to recheck my original research on Google.  I knew that he had two surnames - Frank which was the name of his actual biological father and then Gundelfinger which was the name of his stepfather, the man his mother Betty Marx married after her first husband died in a car accident getting a blowjob from his mistress.  As is often the case with Google, the material I discovered in 2016 disappeared from the web and instead I came across a completely different page - and then several pages - which made reference to his time in North Africa.

Not much is made of the Jewish experience in Djelfe and other camps in Algeria.  The sheer magnitude of the barbarity of the holocaust in continental Europe has eclipsed what others experienced.  Even in my family the fact that Gaston was taken to the Velodrome and shipped to North Africa rather than Bergen Belsen where his mother ended up was considered something of a 'lucky stroke.'  This even though my mother often recounted how devastated Gaston appeared when he and my father - a fifteen year old German POW who was sent to Siberia after the war.

Indeed in a manner that replicated the final days of my mother's struggle with cancer, he became delusional - with the disease apparently spreading to his brain.  He was back at the camp, only now a old man.  'Please don't take my children, please don't take my wife - they aren't Jewish!'  He was in a hallucinatory haze that sucked him out of this world but not before taking him back to his three years in hell.  If anyone cared to look in retrospect the signs were there that the camps broke him.  He emerged from the camp eager to shed his Jewish identity.  He purposefully baptized his two children by his new Italian wife as Catholics.  'If this (the Nazi regime) happens again, they won't experience what I went through.'

But what did he go through?  Oddly enough my mother never delved that deeply into matters.  Perhaps it was owing to her marrying a German man - who my Opa apparently liked very much.  Perhaps it was owing to my father's mother living in our house, she still remained an ardent supported of Hitler to the day she died.  Whatever the case, she got the sense that his experience in North Africa was bad whenever he and my dad exchanged 'concentration camp' stories.  But the world at large didn't know much or make much of a big deal about 'camps in North Africa' and she was wrapped up in abandonment issues with her father.  It was more or less a dead end.

I was utterly shocked to discover with a new Google search that my grandfather's experience in Djelfa (the location of the 'North African concentration camp' I had heard the subject of so many anecdotal references all my life) was so bad it was the subject of a famous writer's book.  Apparently during my grandfather's internment he befriended a prominent ambassador of the Republican government of Spain who happened to a fellow German Jew - Max Aub.  Aub ultimately made his escape from the camp before the arrival of the British but in the years after the war made my grandfather the subject of his books.  Here is what I discovered:

Outre ceux dont témoignent plusieurs poèmes de Journal de Djefa, Aub en fournira deux exemples significatifs dans dans « Situation des réfugiés qui se trouvent en Afrique ». Le premier renvoie aux cachots de Caffarelli, le deuxième révèle l'existence de sévices racistes : Que pense des Nord- Américains le procureur de Bucarest [...] emprisonné dans les oubliettes mortifères de Djelfa pour avoir écrit à sa femme qu'il y avait des scorpions dans le camp ? Que pense des Nations unies Isaac Guldenfïnger juif de bonne souche que l'on obligeait à travailler les samedis, à coups de crosse, le corps brisé après avoir résisté de façon incroyable criant que sa religion le lui interdisait ?49 Des manifestations d'antisémitisme sont bien perceptibles à Djelfa.

Au nombre de 179 en mai 42, les juifs font généralement l'objet d'un décompte spécial, sont jugés « dans l'ensemble dangereux et indésirables » et nécessitant une étroite surveillance50. Interdits de travail, ils ne pouvaient bénéficier des suppléments alimentaires fort nécessaires51. Les sévices racistes à l'encontre du dénommé Isaac Guldenfinger, Aub les racontera à nouveau dans « Le cireur de chaussures du Père Éternel ». Guldenfinger y devient le Parisien Godman, victime des mêmes violences, enfermé quasiment en permanence dans les cachots de Caffarelli : « mais il ne meurt pas, ne tombe même pas malade. Il supporte tout. Il rêve de retourner régenter son magasin de fourrures, boulevard des Capucines52. » Dans le contexte également fictionnel du « Cimetière de Djelfa », sans le nommer, Pardinas (l'épistolier narrateur) lui attribue un autre destin et parle de « ce juif », resté à Djelfa, associé avec le bijoutier Mohamed ben Cara, et « qui ne voulait pas travailler le samedi »53. Peut-être le relevé nominatif des internés juifs d'Afrique du Nord dressé par Jacob Oliel, en signalant à Djelfa un Gaston Gundelfinger de nationalité allemande54, désigne-t-il le même personnage. Quant au périmètre restreint, là où se trouvent relégués « les idiots, les fous, les plus sales, les soi-disant voleurs », Aub révèle que « [la] nuit le responsable du camp spécial — un Espagnol vendu — [entrait] sous les tentes pour y [frapper] les tristes bougres avec une chaîne de fer55 » et qu'il eut lui-même l'occasion de connaître de l'intérieur ce sinistre endroit : La police interne du camp, remplie de mouchards, prenait grand soin de renseigner l'administration sur la filiation politique de chacun.

Tu te souviens de ce juif qui ne voulait pas travailler les samedis ? Celui qu'on envoyait trois fois sur quatre au camp disciplinaire ? Celui-là est aussi resté ici. Il avait changé trop de fois de camp, à force de travailler " sous le fouet - disait-il - beaucoup de samedis ". Il s'est mis à le faire avec Mohamed Ben Cara, le joaillier. Celui qui fut condamné à six ans de prison, ce fut Gribouille - son nom importe peu -, ce sergent qui frappait n'importe qui avec sa cravache : parce qu'on s'était trompé de nom, parce qu'on avait répondu " présent " en avance ou en retard, parce qu'on avait donné de l'argent à un type qui s'était échappé (sans le savoir : ce fut Barbena qui a payé les pots cassés, tu te souviens ?). Le même qui a pendu le Malagueno à l'envers et est monté sur lui à califourchon, tandis qu'il le battait sur la plante des pieds. Pour les tortures le monde n'avance pas de grand-chose. C'est incroyable avec la quantité d'inventions que l'on voit. Mais est-ce que ça peut faire autant de mal que de t'arracher les ongles? et c'est vieux comme le monde.

Quick English translation:

In addition to those shown in several of the poems in the Diary of Djefa, Aub will provide two significant examples in the "Situation of Refugees in Africa". The first refers to Caffarelli's dungeons, the second reveals the existence of racist abuses: What do North Americans think of the prosecutor of Bucharest ... imprisoned in Djelfa's deadly forgetting for writing to his wife that there Had scorpions in the camp? What is the opinion of the United Nations Isaac Guldenfïnger Jew of good strain who was obliged to work on Saturdays with his rifle butt, the body broken after having resisted in an incredible way, shouting that his religion forbade it? 49 Demonstrations of anti-Semitism are Well perceived in Djelfa.

Numbering 179 in May 2004, Jews are generally the subject of a special count, are considered "generally dangerous and undesirable" and require close supervision50. Forbidden to work, they could not benefit from the very necessary nutritional supplements51. The racist abuse against the man named Isaac Guldenfinger, Aub will recount them again in "Shoe shiner of the Eternal Father". Guldenfinger became the Parisian Godman, the victim of the same violence, locked almost permanently in the dungeons of Caffarelli: "but he does not die, does not even fall ill. It supports everything. He dreams of returning to regiment his fur store, boulevard des Capucines52. In the fictional context of the Djelfa Cemetery, Pardinas (the epistolary narrator) attributes to him another destiny and speaks of "this Jew", who remained in Djelfa, associated with the jeweler Mohamed ben Cara, and "Who did not want to work on Saturday" 53. Perhaps the nominative statement of the Jewish internees of North Africa drawn up by Jacob Oliel, pointing out to Djelfa a Gaston Gundelfinger of German nationality54, designates the same personage. As for the restricted perimeter, where "idiots, fools, dirtiest, so-called thieves" are relegated, Aub reveals that "[t] he night the head of the special camp - a Spaniard sold - [entered] The tents to hit the sad bugger with an iron chain, "and that he himself had the opportunity of knowing from the inside this sinister place: The internal police of the camp, full of spies, took great care To inform the administration of the political affiliation of each.

Remember this Jew who did not want to work on Saturdays? Who was sent three times out of four to the disciplinary camp? This one also stayed here. He had changed too many times, by working "under the whip," he said, "many Saturdays." He began to do so with Mohamed Ben Cara, the jeweler. The one who was sentenced to six years' imprisonment was Gribouille - his name does not matter - that sergeant who struck anyone with his whip: because they had erred in name because they had answered " Present "in advance or late, because money had been given to a guy who had escaped (without knowing it: it was Barbena who paid the broken pots, do you remember?). The same who hanged the Malagueno upside down and stood on him astride, while he beat him on the soles of his feet. For torture the world does not advance much. It's incredible with the amount of inventions we see. But can it do as much harm as tearing your nails? And it is as old as the world.

I have ordered a copy of Aub's original short story and will post it here soon.  The interesting thing here is that my mother did mention Gaston's frequent visits to New York to visit an old friend 'Max' but assumed it was part of some business dealing or failed business venture.  My mother's odd disinterest in her father's life or her inability to see him beyond what he represented to her will likely be the context of the new work.
Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.