Julian and Porphyry on the Resurrection of Jesus in the Gospels

In: The International Journal of the Platonic Tradition
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  • 1 LaGrange College, Georgia

Julian, in a Syriac fragment of his Contra Galilaeos, attacked the resurrection narratives in Matthew and Mark, because they were inconsistent with each other concerning the time of the arrival of the women to the tomb, the nature of the being they met in the tomb, and the women’s subsequent actions. Other texts in Syriac and Latin indicate the probability that Julian took over the substance of his argument from Porphyry.

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  • 4

    Severian of Gabala (fl. ca 400), Creat. 6.3 (pg 56:487) made a similar claim (τοῦ θείου δόγµατος πολλοὺς ἀποστήσαντι [causing many to apostatize from the divine religion]) about Porphyry’s Contra Christianos, which was burned by imperial decree on 17 Feb. 448 (the two variant sources are: Codex Iustinianus 1.1.3.1; and [the more accurate and complete version] Collectio Vaticana § 138 [aco 1.1.4:66 Schwartz]).

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  • 5

    Libanius, Or. 18.178 (Opera 2:313,9-314,5 Foerster).

  • 15

    M. Jugie (1922) 293.

  • 23

    S. Morlet (2011b) 48-49.

  • 26

    Morlet (2011b) 48-49.

  • 28

    Macarius, Monogenes 3.16.1-3 (2:142,23-144,10 Goulet) and see, on the Porphyrian origin of the critique, R. Goulet (2011) 225-227.

  • 31

    Cyril, C. Iul. 8.261 (pg 76:900A-B) and cp. Eusebius, E.Steph. [Eklogē ad Stephanum] 1.10 (94-96 Zamagni). I thank Professor Boulnois for this point (personal communication of 19 Dec. 2014). Cyril quotes the entire text (with several variations from the modern editions of the lxx), but Eusebius summarizes the verses. Julian asserts that Matthew and Luke are demonstrably in disagreement concerning the genealogies (ἐλέγχονται γὰρ Ματθαῖος καὶ Λουκᾶς περὶ τῆς γενεαλογίας αὐτοῦ διαφωνοῦντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους). Cf. C. Gal. F. 62 (158 Mas.) and Cook, New Testament, 289-290 (Christians also asked a similar question). Cp. F. 90 where Julian finds a discrepancy between Matt 1:16 and Luke 3:23 (Hier., Matt. 1.3 on 1:16 = 184 Mas.): Jerome calls it an accusation of dissonantia (discord, difference). F. 90 corresponds closely with an objection in Ishoʿdad, which he attributes to Julian and Porphyry (Comm. in Matt. 1:15-16 [Gibson, Commentaries, 1:12 (trans.), 2:20 (the Syriac)]), who “contradict” (ܡܬܕܠܩܒܝܢ) the evangelists. bar Koni notes that Julian wanted to show that the evangelists disagreed with each other (with regard to Jesus’s genealogy) and that Luke does not speak of the “legal” (i.e., Levirate) ancestry of Joseph, since Boaz is mentioned as the father of Obed and not Mahlon (who would be the Levirate father, since as Ruth’s dead husband, he should be named as Obed’s father [according to the law of Levirate marriage; cf. Deut 25:5-6]), thus establishing a contradiction between Luke 3:24 and Matt 1:16. See Liber schol. Mimrā 7.12 (csco.s 69/26:66-67 Scher [Syriac], csco.s 432/188:47 Hesperl/Draguet [trans.]) and Guida (1994) 199-200. Cf. also Cook (2000) 289-290.

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  • 34

    On this last point, cf. M.-O. Boulnois (2014) 128.

  • 36

    Cyril, C. Iul. 3.87 (pg 633A) = Porphyry, Vita Pyth. 27.

  • 37

    Grant, (1964) 269-270 counts eleven quotations from the p.e. and one from the Chronicon (gcs Eusebius Werke v, 10 Karst). Others from Eusebius include Cyril’s quotations of Plato and Plotinus. Both Eusebius’s p.e. and Chronicon contain excerpts from (or allusions to) Porphyr’s C. Christ., but neither includes an objection to the resurrection by Porphyry. See the convenient edition of Ramos Jurado et al. (2006).

  • 40

    The summary by Feltoe (1904) 93 and Dionsyius, Ep. ad Basilidem 1 (96 Feltoe), with ref. to Matt 28:1, John 20:1, Luke 24:1, and Mark 16:2. Dionysius proceeds to harmonize Matt 28:1-6, John 20:1, Luke 23:56-24:2, and Mark 16:1-2 (ibid., 96-99 Feltoe).

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