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Monthly Archives: December 2022

See You in the New Year!

I will be taking a break from blogging while enjoying the Christmas holidays with my family, so I wish happy holidays to all of my readers. I will see you in the New Year!

Mark was not a Pauline Gospel: Conclusions

In this series, I have concentrated on the differences between Paul and Mark. The similarities between them, on the other hand, may be based on earlier traditions that were widely shared. I have not brought Matthew into the picture, but it seems even less likely that Matthew can be viewed as a Pauline Gospel. Matthew does not think that Torah-observance has become obsolete (5:17-20; 23:2-3), does not explain Jewish customs to assist non-Jewish readers (15:1-2; contra Mark 7:2-5; 23:5, 23), and views non-Jews in general as outsiders to the Jesus assemblies (5:47; 6:7; 7:6; 18:17). I do not read Matthew’s comment on Mark’s parable of the tenants as suggesting that the ethnos that inherits the vineyard are either the Romans or “Gentile Christians” (cf. Matt 21:43), for the Greek term can refer to any collective group and probably means that leadership over the vineyard would be transferred from the temple establishment to Jesus’s Jewish followers. There are hints that Matthew’s non-Jewish other would share in the benefits of the kingdom of heaven that was initially offered to the people of Israel (e.g., compare 10:5 and 15:24 with 2:1-12, 8:10, 15:27-28, 24:14, 25:32, 26:13, and 28:19-20), but Matthew’s Great Commision may envision the disciples from the nations being taught to observe everything that Jesus commanded including his interpretations of the Torah. David C. Sim has argued in a number of publications that Matthew was anti-Paul, while other argues have read Matthew less polemically and as simply un-Pauline (e.g., see further discussion in Foster, Willitts, White, Novakovic, Wong).

What is the payoff to distancing Mark and Matthew from Paul? While Paul’s writings are chronologically the earliest, this does not mean that later texts do not preserve independent traditions that may be contemporary with or earlier than Paul’s letters. I think that this observation is true when we look at the Synoptic tradition. We could also discuss to what extent other texts (e.g., the speeches in Acts, the letter of James, the Didache) preserve older, non-Pauline traditions. Paul also reproduced some creedal formulae about Jesus’s messianic identity, vicarious death, resurrection, exaltation as lord and son of God, and eschatological coming. This is not to say that the ancient Jesus movement was monolithic in its beliefs and practices, that all ancient Jesus followers necessarily held these views, or that Paul did not make distinctive contributions that were not shared across the board, but the assumption that Paul has singlehanded influenced (positively or negatively) all the writers that came after him overestimates the extent of his influence. This is just repeating the tired thesis that Paul was somehow the “founder of Christianity” that needs to finally be laid to rest. Indeed, the differences between the Synoptic writers and Paul gives us a glimpse into the diversity of early Jesus followers as they wrestled with how to articulate who he was (and is for those who accepted his post-mortem vindication), how his teachings should be interpreted, how to explain the difficult fact of his crucifixion, and what are the requirements for non-Jews who wanted to join the Jesus movement. It is the task of the systematic theologian to listen to these different voices that have been included in the canon when constructing a systematic Christian theology. Finally, it seems to me that the Gospels of Mark and Matthew and the letters of Paul were written independently of each other and provide multiple attestation for earlier traditions on the ethic of non-retaliation, divorce, the Lord’s supper, or Jesus’s return like a thief in the night for example. Luke-Acts, on the other hand, does build a bridge between the Synoptic tradition and Paul’s theological legacy. However, I hope that I can persuade readers to return to the older consensus that Mark (and Matthew) is not a Pauline Gospel.


Mark was not a Pauline Gospel: The Term “Gospel”

The term “gospel” (euangelion) could have been derived from either the verb “to bring good news” (euangelizo) in deutero-Isaiah (cf. LXX Isaiah 40:9; 52:7; 61:1) or from Roman imperial propaganda. Note, for instance, the “good news” (euangelia) that was heralded about the birth of the Roman emperor Augustus in the Priene Calendar Inscription. Nevertheless, one of the interesting findings in Steve Mason’s article “Methods and Categories: Judaism and Gospel” over at the website Bible and Interpretation is how rare the singular neuter noun euangelion really is in pre-Christian literature. He also makes the following observations about the usage of euangelion in early Christian literature:

“The genuine and disputed letters of Paul, although they occupy somewhat less than a quarter of the NT (about 32,445 of 138,000 words), account for 60 of the 76 occurrences of the neuter singular. Now, Paul’s letters are the earliest Christian writings to have survived, belonging to the first generation after Christ (roughly 30 to 65 CE). The Gospels belong to the next generation, from 35 [sic] to 100. Of the non-Pauline material in the NT, Mark is the heaviest user with 8 occurrences (including the long ending), all of these with the article. Thus, Paul (including pseudo-Paul) and Mark together account for fully 67 of 72 occurrences of to euangelion. By contrast Matthew, though most scholars think that its author used Mark as a source, taking over more than 90% of the earlier text and adding about 50%, has only 4 occurrences of this noun. Most surprisingly, although it also used Mark as a source, Luke omits the noun altogether and Acts has it only twice, though this “double work” accounts for nearly half (25) of the NT’s 54 occurrences of the cognate verb euangelizōJohn has no trace of the word group in any form, and the hypothetical sayings Gospel Q along with the structurally similar Thomas lack the noun. Hebrews also omits the noun, though it has the verb twice.”

The rest of the paper defends his thesis that to euangelion (uniquely translated as “the Announcement”) was Paul’s proprietary term (e.g., he speaks about “my” or “our” euangelion, sees himself as the distinct messenger of the euangelion, praises congregations for partnering with him in the euangelion, criticizes those who brought a rival euangelion, or defends his euangelion before Christ congregations who he had not founded). He further argues that Mark’s use of euangelion is evidence of its Pauline emphases, that other writers avoided the term euangelion because it was Pauline language, and finally that euangelion began to be stripped of its distinctive Pauline connotations in early second century writings (e.g., Ignatius, Acts). Acts, for instance, places the term on both Peter’s and Paul’s lips.

I am not convinced by the thesis that Paul is the originator of the use of the term euangelion among Christ believers. Paul assumed that this term was a fitting encapsulation of the creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (cf. 15:1). Again, when he begins his letter to the Roman Christ congregations which he had not founded, he starts with the common ground on their shared euangelion about Jesus as David’s royal heir and the resurrected Son of God in Romans 1:3-4. Paul may have seen himself as the unique ambassador of the euangelion to the nations, but he warned the Galatians about messengers bringing a rival euangelion or, rather, drawing different implications from the euangelion for the extension of the Jesus movement to the non-Jewish nations (cf. Galatians 1:6-9). As for Mark, his euangelion focused on the announcement of the incoming kingdom of God (cf. 1:14-15), whereas Paul’s is focused on the proclamation of the crucified and risen lord. One interesting exception is Mark’s opening incipit, in which the euangelion denotes the content of Mark’s “life” (bios) of Jesus. Since Jesus has inaugurated the kingdom through his life, death, and resurrection, perhaps the “beginning of the euangelion” about the advent of the kingdom must be tied to the onset of Jesus’s ministry. Additionally, if euangelion was a distinctly Pauline term, it is odd that Matthew has still retained it four times given Matthew’s insistence on the eternal validity of the Law of Moses and judgment of those who break the least of its commands (Matthew 5:18-19). Three times Matthew qualifies the euangelion by adding “of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14), reinforcing Mark’s focus that the good news pertains to the incoming heavenly kingdom, while not taking over Mark’s distinctive usage of the term euangelion to cover the contents of an entire Jesus book in the incipit in Matthew 1:1.

Mark was not a Pauline Gospel: The Disciples

There is much debate about Paul’s relationship with the “Jerusalem Pillars” since Ferdinand Christian Baur and the Tübingen School sharply differentiated between Jewish and Gentile (Pauline) forms of the Christ movement before they were synthesized in Catholic Christianity in the nineteenth century. Turning to the data in Paul’s letters, Paul recited the creed that identified Cephas, the Twelve, and James as the recipients of resurrection appearances (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5, 7). Three years after his prophetic call, he visited Cephas in Jerusalem and spent 15 days with him, which is where he also saw James “the Lord’s brother” (cf. Galatians 1:18-19). He returned to Jerusalem 14 years later to discuss the question of whether non-Jewish Christ followers had to become circumcised with the ones who were reputed to be “pillars” of the Jerusalem Christ community and claims that he reached an agreement with Cephas, John, and James about their respective missions to the “circumcised” and the “uncircumcised” (2:1-10) There are few traces of controversy over Paul’s Christology, but Paul’s stance towards the Law of Moses was more controversial. For instance, Paul narrates the dispute when Cephas and others, under pressure from “certain people” from James, withdrew from table fellowship with non-Jewish Christ followers (2:11-14). There was a perception, or possibly a misperception if the “Paul within Judaism” perspective is right, that Paul himself was an antinomian figure at least in some Jewish Christ-believing quarters in the first few centuries (e.g., Romans 3:8; 6:1; James 2:14-26; Acts 21:21; cf. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 1.26.2).

Turning to the portrayal of the disciples in Mark, it is initially positive. Peter and Zebedee’s sons James and John instantly stop fishing to follow Jesus’s call (Mark 1:16-20) and become part of Jesus’s inner circle who witness the resuscitation of Jairus’s daughter and Jesus’s transfiguration (5:35-43; 9:2-8). In the middle of the Gospel, Peter has the insight to recognize that Jesus is the Christ (8:29). The Twelve are appointed to minister to the surrounding villages (3:13-18), which they do so quite successfully (6:6-13, but see their less successful attempt to heal in 9:18, 28), and they are given insider knowledge about the meaning of the parables (4:1-20). On the negative side, they have little comprehension about Jesus’s identity and mission. They question among themselves how Jesus was able to still the storm (4:41), they object that it is impossible to feed the crowds who had gathered to hear Jesus twice (6:35-37; 8:4 – you would think that they would recognize Jesus’s miraculous ability to multiply food after the first feeding miracle!), they were astounded that Jesus walked on water because their hearts were hardened (6:51-52), and they were still concerned about not having enough bread due to their hard-hearted condition (8:14-21). They try to forbid an exorcist from delivering people in Jesus’s name (9:38) and prevent children from seeing Jesus (10:13-16). They object to the woman who anointed Jesus for his burial (14:3-9). As for the special three disciples, they fall asleep when Jesus urged them to stay awake while he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (14:32-42). James and John arrogantly request to sit on thrones besides Jesus (10:35-37). Peter foolishly asks to build tents for Jesus’s heavenly visitors on the Mount of Transfiguration (9:5-6), rebukes Jesus after he clarifies that the son of man must suffer (8:31-33), and denies Jesus three times (14:66-72). Indeed, all of the Twelve abandon Jesus when he is arrested (14:43-51). Yet there is good news in the end: Jesus predicts, and the angel at the empty tomb confirms, that the risen Jesus will meet Peter and the Twelve in Galilee even though their reunion is left unnarrated (14:28; 16:7). It should also be noted that the family of Jesus’ hardly surfaces in the Gospel, except when Jesus is rejected in Nazareth because his neighbours have known his family since his childhood (6:1-6) and when Jesus redefines his family around those who obey God’s will (3:31-35).

It is important to note why Paul and Mark criticize the disciples. Contrary to some scholars, I do not think that either writer considered the Twelve to be less than genuine followers of Jesus. Paul does not condemn Cephas, but he does call out his hypocrisy when, in his judgment, Cephas’s actions did not communicate that non-Jewish Christ followers were equal to Jewish Christ followers when they gathered together at the table. That is, the dispute between them revolved around Paul’s approach to ministering to non-law-observant, non-Jewish members of the Jesus movement. Mark never criticized the disciples regarding their interpretations of the Law, for Jesus consistently defends the disciples when others attack their religious piety (2:18, 23-24; 7:5), or for their attitudes towards non-Jews. There are only a few hints that the Jesus movement would be extended beyond Jewish circles in Mark in the story of the Syrophoenician woman (7:24-30) or in the eschatological prediction about the gospel going out to all nations (13:10, 27). Instead, Mark’s criticism of the disciples seems to be that they want to be the leaders and exclusive mediators of the Jesus movement (9:38-39), but Jesus exhorts them to not lord their authority over others and to imitate his example of serving and giving his life for others (10:41-45). The characters who often have true insight are usually outside of the Twelve such as the Syrophoenician woman, the alien exorcist, or the woman who anointed Jesus noted above. Mark’s Christology is quite paradoxical, as it underscores both Jesus’s power and humility, so putting questions on the disciples’ lips is Mark’s way of getting Jesus to clarify what it means to be a powerful Messiah who willingly serves and suffers.

Mark was not a Pauline Gospel: The Law

Many scholars interpret both Mark and Paul as championing a “Law-free” stance. Traditionally, Paul has been read as treating Sabbath observance as a matter of indifference (e.g., Romans 14:5-6; Galatians 4:10; cf. Colossians 2:16) and Mark as insisting that Jesus can set aside the Sabbath’s regulations about work because he is lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). Likewise, there seems to be a parallel between Paul’s deduction that he reached “in the Lord Jesus” that food is not unclean in itself but only unclean for those who deem it to be and Mark’s parenthetical aside that Jesus was “cleansing all foods” (Mark 7:19).

This approach can be challenged on two grounds. For advocates of the “Paul within Judaism” perspective, Paul’s seeming critique of the “works of the law” ought to only be read in the context of addressing non-Jewish Christ followers and assuring them that they do not have to become Jewish proselytes, which would also entail that they observe the Jewish Sabbath and dietary laws and, for males, get circumcised. Paul’s justification for why Gentiles need not observe the Torah like he and other Jewish Christ followers did may be that he believed that the new eschatological age had been inaugurated through the death and resurrection of the Messiah and the nations were now invited to join in the worship of the God of Israel without become Israelites or adopting Israel’s Torah. Alternatively, Paul may have believed that it was impossible for his non-Jewish addressees to become Jewish, but that the Spirit transformed their nature so that they could become adopted into the lineage of Abraham. I think that there are many strengths to this approach including its emphasis on Paul’s eschatological outlook, its contextualization of Paul’s comments on the Law in the context of his “Gentile mission,” and its value for contemporary Jewish-Christian dialogue. Yet I still struggle reconciling it to certain passages in Paul’s letters that seem to suggest that he thought that the Torah was a temporary measure until the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham to create a worldwide family guided by the Spirit (e.g., Romans 8:1-17; Galatians 3:23-4:7) and that Paul felt no obligation to continue to obey it. For those who are more interested in this perspective and how its proponents might read these passages, check out the links to resources that I compiled or a YouTube symposium on “Paul within Judaism” that I was grateful to have attended.

The legal discussions in Mark have also been re-examined. I have discussed the incident of Jesus’s disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath here. As for the debate over ritual purity in Mark 7, I will link to the open access article by John van Maaren entitled “Does Mark’s Jesus Abrogate Torah? Jesus’ Purity Logion and its Illustration in Mark 7:15-23” Journal for the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting 4 (2017): 21-41 that offers to my mind a persuasive alternative reading against the traditional one. The gist is that Jesus and his interlocutors presumed the Jewish dietary restrictions, the objection is that Jesus’s disciples do not observe the Pharisees’ oral tradition of washing their hands before they eat, Jesus’s rebuttals focus on how the Pharisees allegedly develop traditions that contradict the biblical commandments, and the conclusion is that unwashed hands do not render kosher food impure but that impurity arises from within a person (both from bodily fluids and impure motivations that lead to certain vices). Thus, he “cleansed” the food that the Pharisees alleged was rendered impure by eating with unwashed hands. In both cases, Jesus was engaging in intra Jewish debates about what constitutes work on the Sabbath and about the Pharisees’ oral traditions about ritual purity. Paul, on the other hand, was insisting that non-Jewish Christ followers should not be compelled to observe the Jewish Sabbath and dietary laws at all and, more debatably, there is an open question about whether Paul continued to observe them. For some scholars who have re-evaluated Mark’s approach to the Law of Moses, see the work of James Crossley, Daniel Boyarin, Matthew Theissen, John van Maaren, Logan Williams, and so on (note that some other scholars such as Roger P. Booth, Paula Fredriksen, and Cecilia Wassen who have re-evaluated the traditional view of the historical Jesus’s attitude towards ritual purity while not adopting the reading of Mark’s parenthetical aside suggested here).

Mark was not a Pauline Gospel: The Cross

It is undeniable that Jesus’s crucifixion is central to the theological worldviews of Paul and Mark, but there is a question about whether it received the same emphasis among all early Jesus associations in the first century CE. On the one hand, the creedal statement that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 15:3 may have been formulated at an early stage of the Jesus movement, Paul may have inherited the imagery about Jesus’s atoning death in Romans 3:25 from a tradition, and there may have been some kind of pre-Markan passion narrative that had been developed early on to make sense out of Jesus’s ignoble demise.

On the other hand, there is no theological reflection on Jesus’s death in extant Jewish sources such as the epistle of James and the Didache. I go back and forth on whether the common material in Matthew and Luke that they did not inherit from Mark goes back to a second source (i.e. Q) or whether one evangelist was copying the other, but if the Two Source Hypothesis is correct, there may have been a source that primarily consisted of Jesus’s sayings. It is not that hints about Jesus’s death are absent from it altogether, but it may interpret Jesus’s death in light of the Deuteronomistic theme that Jesus is the last in a long line of rejected prophets (e.g., Matthew 23:37-39/Luke 13:34-35) and Jesus’s disciples are encouraged to take up their own crosses (Matthew 10:38/Luke 14:27). Perhaps the lack of attention to Jesus’s death is due to the genre of these three sources (e.g., sayings source, wisdom instructions, church order). Yet, interestingly, the death of Jesus is also interpreted through a Deuteronomistic lens in Luke-Acts (e.g., Luke 9:31; 13:33; Acts 7:52). Luke even omits Mark’s ransom saying, though a statement about the flock that was purchased with Jesus’s blood is put on Paul’s lips in Acts 20:28. Both Matthew and Luke balanced out Mark’s focus on the cross by preserving much more of Jesus’s teachings, with Matthew in particular representing Jesus as a new Moses and organizing Jesus’s teachings in five major discourses.

What I contest is that Mark and Paul concentrated on the cross for the same reasons. For Paul, Jesus defeated the cosmic powers enslaving humanity (Galatians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 2:8; cf. Colossians 2:14-15), liberated persons subject to the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), reconciled the world to God (2 Corinthians 5:9; Romans 5:10), and enabled his followers to die to the power of sin by participating in his death (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 21). He accomplished all this by dying on a cross. Paul may have worked out his theology of the cross by reflecting on how the Messiah could suffer the fate of one who was cursed by the Law by hanging on a tree and by viewing the death of Jesus as the solution to how non-Jewish “sinners” could be reconciled to the God of Israel. Paul thought that the death of Jesus had universal implications.

For Mark, the three passion predictions are accompanied by Jesus’s instructions to his disciples to imitate his example of service and suffering (Mark 8:31-9:1; 9:30-50; 10:33-45), so this emphasis may have been shaped by the evangelist’s own experience of social marginalization and persecution. Mark 10:45 presents Jesus’s death as a ransom for many, but this imagery may be drawn out of the Jewish Scriptures as Yahweh pays a ransom to redeem Israel (e.g., Isaiah 43:3; Zechariah 10:8-11). The Lord’s Supper is also reported in Mark 14:22-25 (cf. Matthew 26:26-28) and 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, but Paul differs in not contextualizing the supper during the Passover (i.e. it is an unspecified night when Jesus was handed over, though Paul identified Jesus as the Passover lamb in 5:7), qualifying the covenant as a “new” one (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6-18), and adding the command to do this in remembrance of me. Paul may have transformed Jesus’s last Passover meal (cf. Mark 14:12-16) into a recurring cultic memorial meal, but even if Paul’s wording was more primitive that Mark’s tradition, it must be remembered that Paul also took the words about the bread and cup from a tradition that he claims to have “received” from the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23). Mark may provide independent attestation for this tradition, which explains the differences in wording, and yet another form of the tradition appears in Didache 9:1-4. Indeed, it is Luke 22:19-20 that has aligned Mark’s wording to Paul’s, though there is debate over whether the longer reading is original (i.e. check out the debate over the so-called Western non-interpolations). Mark thus draws on images of the exodus and covenant renewal to explain the death of Jesus, but his followers must follow him on the way to the cross if they are to share in his vindication and in eschatological salvation.

Mark was not a Pauline Gospel: Christology

Undoubtedly there are points of agreement between Mark and Paul on the subject of Christology. For instance, they both identify Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and the exalted Lord after his resurrection. However, while I would hesitate to claim that these were consensus positions shared by everyone who identified themselves as followers of Jesus in the first century CE, it seems to me that these views were quite widespread in the early Christ movement. Within Paul’s letters, he seems to occasionally cite earlier creedal formula. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, he stresses that he passed on to the Corinthians what he received about how the Christ died, was buried, and was raised according to the Scriptures. When introducing himself to the Roman Christ congregations whom he had neither founded nor met, he begins the letter with another common creedal formulation about how Jesus was descended from David according to the flesh and powerfully appointed as the Son of God (i.e. synonymous with the Davidic king in 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2:7) after his resurrection from the dead in Romans 1:3-4. Jesus is invoked as lord in an Aramaic prayer preserved in 1 Corinthians 16:22 (cf. Revelation 22:20; Didache 10:14). Finally, the Christological proof-texting of Psalm 110 to explain how the god of Israel exalted Jesus to the status of lord at the deity’s right hand is attested all over the place (e.g., Mark 12:36/Matthew 22:44/Luke 20:42-43; Acts 2:34-35; 5:31; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22).

However, the differences may outweigh the similarities. Contrary to some commentators, I do not see any notion of Jesus’s heavenly pre-existence in Mark, while I would maintain that this view is held by Paul (e.g., 1 Corinthians 8:6; 15:47; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:6; cf. Colossians 1:15-17). This latter conceptualization of Jesus may have drawn on the depictions of God’s Wisdom or Logos (e.g., Proverbs 8:22-31; Sirach 24:3-7; Wisdom of Solomon 6:22; 7:25-26; 9:1-2, 9) and other intermediary figures could be envisioned as pre-existent beings (e.g., 1 Enoch 48:6). I largely agree with Daniel Kirk’s assessment, on the other hand, that the depiction of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels fits the category of an “idealized human agent.” Even more spectacular deeds such as walking on water may fit this categorization of the Markan Jesus. Jesus is anointed by the spirit for his messianic office at his baptism and enthroned in heaven after his post-Easter exaltation. Further, the Markan Jesus often refers to himself as the son of man. This may go back to an Aramaic idiom that Jesus used to refer to himself in reference to other humans, but Jesus as Mark describes him may have also been following the script of Daniel 7 in which a human-like figure represents the saints of Israel who suffer under the imperial beasts before being vindicated on the clouds. This seems to me to make sense of Mark’s present, suffering, and eschatological son of man sayings. Paul, however, avoid this terminology even when drawing on a similar tradition in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, where he shifts to his favourite term “lord” when describing Jesus’s parousia or “coming.” Mark’s son of man Christology may be unrelated to Paul’s conception of Jesus as a new Adam. For example, the brief temptation scene in Mark 1:13 likely does not present Jesus as a new Adam peacefully leading the wild animals in a new Eden; the picture that it paints is that of a conflict between Jesus and the angels on the one side and Satan and the wild beasts on the other.

We can also look at the later reception of Mark’s Christology. During the Patristic period, there were a number of reports about Jewish Christ followers who may have designated themselves as Ebionites or “poor ones.” Certain Ebionites rejected Jesus’s divinity and pre-existence, insisting that Jesus was an ordinary human being who had been exalted due to his exemplary obedience to the Law of Moses, and the belief in Jesus’s virginal conception was debated among them. Although the Patristic writers conclude that the Ebionites were readers of Matthew’s Gospel (or were later thought to be readers of the “Gospel according to the Hebrews”), their Christology seems much closer to Mark’s than to Matthew’s as Mark lacks the virgin birth and narrates how Jesus was elected to be the Messiah at his baptism. In forthcoming publications I will suggest that the heresiologists referred to diverse Jewish Christ followers as Ebionites and some of them could have been reading Mark and others Matthew, so the ones who rejected the virgin birth likely did not accept Matthew’s infancy narrative. Furthermore, many of the Ebionites detested Paul and Paul’s literary legacy. Cerinthus and Carpocrates may have also been readers of Mark’s Gospel when they denied that Jesus was pre-existent and zeroed in on Jesus’s baptism as the moment when he received a new Christological identity. In conclusion, there seem to be significant differences between the Markan and Pauline Christologies, but the inclusion of these texts together in the canon alongside other texts such as the Johannine literature assisted later Christian theologians in carving out a more systematic theology about Jesus’s divine and human natures.