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Marcion

According to his ancient critics, Marcion of Sinope was a wealthy ship-owner who was excommunicated from the Roman churches when spreading his message in the capital during the reign of Antoninus Pius between 138-161 CE (see Tertullian, Contra Marcion 1.19) and went on to found a threateningly successful rival movement that lasted for centuries (all the more impressive since virginity was a requirement and his churches could not boost their membership through procreation!). As they portray him, Marcion sharply divided the just creator God (the “demiurge” or “craftsman”) of the Hebrew Scriptures from the gracious heavenly Father who sent Jesus into the world to offer salvation from the demiurge’s wrath. He accepted ten of Paul’s Letters and the Gospel of Luke when the alleged Judaizing additions interpolated into them were stripped away. Thus, while Marcion would have agreed with non-Christian Jews that Jesus was not foretold in the Jewish Scriptures and that the literal observance of the Torah cannot be allegorized away, he ultimately advocated for a total break of the brand new revelation brought by Jesus from the Jewish tradition altogether. Neither the Euangelion (Gospel)used by Marcion nor his work Antitheses have survived apart from select citations from Christian writers who opposed Marcion, so it is difficult to measure how accurate the Church Fathers’ perceptions were of him. For more recent reconstructions on Marcion from contemporary scholars, I want to offer the following online articles from the website Bible and Interpretation.

As for the recent scholarship on the relationship between Marcion’s Gospel and the New Testament Gospel of Luke, I have previously posted a bibliography and a post expressing some of my cautions about factoring Marcion’s Gospel into the Synoptic Problem.

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