In an earlier post (here) I outlined the argument of Claire Clivaz that P69 (P. Oxy 2383) should be regarded 'as a witness to a Marcionite edition of Luke's Gospel' (C. Clivaz, 'The Angel and the Sweat Like "Drops of Blood" (Lk 22:43-44): P69 and f13' HTR 98 (2005), 419-440, citation from p. 420).
Here are some critical reflections on her argument.
Firstly, we should admit that the argument that P69 represents a Marcionite version of Luke (stated on p. 420; suggested on p. 429, 432, restated in conclusion, p. 439), is presented by Clivaz as a suggestion (p. 429), a proposal which offers a plausible fit for the peculiar nature of the text represented in P69. There is an appropriate hesitancy in her presentation of this argument.
Secondly, we need to note that by the nature of the evidence Clivaz’s argument is both difficult to prove and difficult to falsify. Marcion’s text of Luke cannot be determined with confidence for several reasons: no text survives; church fathers were not interested in providing Marcion’s text, but in refuting Marcion from his own text where possible. The primary characteristics of Marcion’s text are determined mostly be omissions and absences (minuses). Clivaz has to make an argument for Marcion’s likely text of this section of Luke and then (lo and behold) identify agreement in this minus between P69 and Marcion. So in effect it is a very complicated argument from silence.
Thirdly, perhaps simply stating the previous point a bit more strongly, there is no actual positive ancient evidence for ANY connection between Marcion’s text and P69.
Fourthly, P69 generally exhibits a pretty free or paraphrastic text (with numerous singular readings, numerous agreements with D although clearly independent of that type). Although Marcion does seem to have paraphrase occasionally as well as omitted material, there is no suggestion of a connection between Marcion’s text and the D-type text elsewhere (I stand to be corrected on this point). Focusing on two aspects of P69 without considering the wider evidence of P69’s text may have led Clivaz astray (ironically enough considering the amount of space given in pp. 425-426 to criticising others who have failed to reckon sufficiently with this manuscript).
Fifthly, in relation to P69’s text of Luke 22.61 Clivaz takes it as significant that Jesus is not looking at Peter, but that Peter is looking (p. 431). This she takes as avoiding the idea that Jesus paid attention to Peter, which fits with the supposedly Marcionite idea that Peter’s status would be diminished. Each of these steps are problematic.
- P69 doesn’t contain the required verb ‘look’ in its extant text. It does contain the last four letters of STRAFEIS followed by O P and traces which are plausibly reconstructed as PETR[OS, so there is clearly an implication that Peter turns, but no explicit indication that he looked. Clivaz appeals to the agreement of Turner and Comfort in reading ENEBLEPSEN in the gap, but this is not really an argument at all. We simply do not know what verb may have stood after PETROS and in a short manuscript which such a free text (several singular readings) we cannot simply assume something is there in order to prove a connection with another text.
- Furthermore, there is no actual evidence that Marcion’s text read ‘Peter looked at him’. Indeed there is no ancient evidence that Marcion’s text contained anything of Luke 22.49-62. As Clavez notes, Epiphanius specifically notes that Marcion’s Gospel lacked the section about Peter and the ear of the high priest’s servant (p. 432 note 94). But she fails to note that there is no positive evidence for the presence of the following section (52-62) in Marcion’s version at all. The second page of P69 contains material that is not attested in Marcion (on p. 431 note 92 such a position is taken by Clivaz as evidence of Marcionite omission of material; she doesn’t register the inconsistency in her argument).
- Clivaz attempts to show that the reconstructed text of P69 at Luke 22.61 can be read in a Marcionite manner as undermining Peter’s status because ‘Jesus cannot bear to look at him’ (p. 432). This may well be an imaginative reading, but doesn’t correspond to the normal Marcionite practice which she uses to illustrate the situation here: the omission of material that doesn’t fit with the Marcionite profile (see p431 note 92, which seems to assume re Luke 22.32 and 23.49 that since ‘neither passage is attested in Marcion’ that is evidence of Marcion deleting this material).
Sixthly, a good deal of Clivaz’s case rests on the argument that a scribe, troubled by apologetic difficulties, may have deleted 22.42 by strategy of "negating the objections" by omission; and that this strategy ‘would be practical only in a type of Christianity that preserved a single gospel, as did Marcion.' (p. 429). I don’t see this argument as having much force. Firstly, there is no other evidence for the omission of 22.42 in the textual tradition of Luke. Secondly, there are practically no scribal practices that work consistently over the whole four gospel canon. Thirdly, the evidence (especially from Oxyrhynchus) shows decisively that the gospels were copied predominantly individually right through until the fourth century. Thus the particular connection to a Marcionite redaction doesn't follow. Perhaps we should also note that we have no other evidence of Marcionite material from Oxyrhynchus.
In conclusion I think the suggestion that P69 is a manuscript of Marcion’s Gospel is a very clever idea which is however not proven and not the most plausible context for making sense of this fascinating manuscript.