Markus Vinzent's Blog

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Monday, 30 September 2013

Searching for info about Marcion, I found your blog ...

A very kind reader from the Dominican Republic asked me a few questions which, I thought, might also help others writing to me or reading what I have answered to this:
Searching for info about Marcion, I found your blog and I saw many articles about Marcion.
>Check out the latest entries, as I normally post fragments of what I am recently researching, and testing a few topics out. It is nice to have a scholarly discussion before publishing something.
When I read about Marcion and the Early Church, I wonder how many christians know about the historical events and facts of Christianity? People just read the Bible and nothing more.
>This is even true for many scholars. It is astonishing with how little critical understanding scholars in the history of Christianity work, of course, because there is a leading interest behind such reading. Yet, few historians would believe what, for example, many New Testament scholars take for granted. On Marcion and the Dating of the Synoptic Gospels I will have a new monograph coming out in a few weeks (see blog entry of today).
My concern is: Was the Gospel of Luke rewritten? I heard an article about a book (Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle by Joseph B. Tyson) that says Gospel of Luke was rewritten in Rome around 120 CE. And also the Book of Acts. So Luke and Acts were written by the same person and they say many scholars agree with that.
>The latter is what many scholars today believe, that Luke and Acts were written by the same person. But one only needs to compare the two works, and you will see - often when passages from Luke are parallel to Marcion's Gospel, both language and content differ from Acts, but are rather parallel with the Synoptics. In contrast, when passages of Luke are not present in Marcion, the cohere with Acts, but rarely with the Synoptics. I draw from this and many other indications the conclusion that Marcion is the source for Luke (and the Synoptics) and that Acts has been written by the same person who has enlarged Marcion's Gospel to become Luke's.
My question is, (since I do not know if you follow a Christian religion, in case you do or did) how this historical information of Marcion affected your view on the Bible as an inspired word of God? 
>This is for me an open question. Marcion was an extraordinarily gifted person, I even would call him an inspired writer. He was also diligent, collected Paul's letters, published them. Sat down and wrote, as I think, the very first gospel. Yes, he had developed a provocative theology which set Christianity for the first time as a separate religion, anti-thetical to Judaism. And only in the latter he was criticized by his fellows. If you want to put it in theological terms - God was able to write straight on curved lines.


  1. I'm finding this and also Stephan Huller's intriguing reading, especially only hearing of Marcion the past year.

    The Dominican Republic reader's question is one for all of us discovering the Marcionite earliest New Testament...if there was a first New Testament before the one we're familiar with, we should be thinking what really we've been taught to believe, then it requires a rethink for us.

    It's not a problem for someone who has a faith built around strictly God...but I can see that people who've built their faith around Jesus, the church, what they've been taught do have problems with this.

    However, if it is clear that Marcion AND the Gnostic Christians really were the first Christians...the fact their Jesus or Christ was mythic and not actual changes everything.

    As it is, there isn't any real archaeology or literature of the first century that points to a real Jesus. Accent on the idea of someone called Jesus. On the other hand, half a dozen times Josephus mentions someone with an entirely different name who was the only Galilean rabbi of the first century to start an entire new stream of Judaism that century...but that one founded the Zealots.

    If we value truth and accuracy in our belief, we'd have to recognize it ain't what we've been told.

  2. I'm also really intrigued by what looks to have been the ACTUAL development. First Marcion. Then at some stage later, Tatian's "Diatesseron" which he himself did NOT give the name to. Then around Ireneus' time, the Synoptics. I'm still trying to place John's Gospel in this, but it already looks to have been more attached to the Valentinian group first as opposed to proto-Orthodoxy. It is incredible reading Justin Martyr and seeing concepts espoused by him that hardly any modern Christian would recognize...then having a look at another document Tatian wrote which in no way comes across as anything like Orthodox/Catholic/Protestant. Then to look to Alexandria Egypt and note that there is not one proto-Orthodox type Christian writer there in the early second-century. Or to realize that the proto-Orthodox/proto-Catholic lot were, by their own admission, a small minority...meaning the majority were of a Gnostic bent and that even Jewish Christian groups prior to a certain point were also somewhat Gnostic. That the difference between Jewish Christian and Paulinist Christians was really only over whether it was an allegory about a man or an allegory about a God. I now tend to think Christian literature of the second century looks more like an ancient comic industry. If I had to use some humor...all these years I've been taught to believe an ancient "Superman" was real?

  3. I have questions about Marcion and Josephus. Atheist orgs claim that Josephus mapped his homeland and that Nazareth is conspicuously absent on those maps. While I don't have any firsthand knowledge if this claim is true or not, assuming it's true can then one argue that Josephus would have rejected any stories of a Jesus of a Nazareth that did not exist during Josephus's lifetime? if the whole Nazareth problem is related to a mere translation problem (i.e. should have been Jesus THE NAZARENE) then why do the gospels portray Jesus's life in Nazareth? are the fictionalizing authors of the gospels themselves victims of some earlier mistranslation? As to Marcion if I'm reading correctly elsewhere it is your view that Marcion accused Luke and possibly others of getting hold of his gospel before publication and putting out their own variant gospels based on his but adding a personal history for jesus that was lacking in Marcion? Without yet personally having read Marcion (yes I'm lazy), does Marcion place Jesus (or Isu Chrestos as Marcion would have it) in Nazareth, assuming Nazareth was built between 95 AD (publication of Josephus Antiquities) and the time Marcion wrote/published? thanks for any help!

  4. sorry about the extra post but I forgot another question . . . did Tertullian really say Marcion's Jesus "was not born of woman, was not a jew, was not even a man, but a salutory spirit who came down fully formed at Capernaum to argue against jewish law?" thanks again for your help

  5. I see the invention of Jesus as more political than anything . . . the northern Israelites/Samaritans/Zadokites hated the Judean heirarchy as much as they hated the Romans, and had been trying to get out from under strict Judaism (including circumcision) for 200 years . . . Judea conquered Israel in 150 BC . . . the richest among them (Marcion certainly being rich) had every reason and then the opportunity to invent a messiah and blame the Ju-deans for his murder . . . the irony of jewish proselytes wanting to scapegoat the Ju-deans . . . the Zadokites even wrote a blueprint for the Messiah, Melchizedek Redivivus, which was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (aka The Last Jubilee) . . . but then they factionalized over what Jesus should be, with Marcionism again somewhat ironically emerging as the more humanistic faction . . . this is why Marcion said that including the Old Testament (historification of Jesus) in the religion was dangerous, because he
    knew that risked Jews as a whole being scapegoated and exterminated by future Christians . . . the real aim of the historicists among them in wanting a historical Jesus in the line of David was to make the supposed Ju-dean murder of the Messiah doubly heinous . . . that the Ju-deans would have not only murdered the spiritual son of God, but also doubly the son of God through their own lineage as descended from Adam through David etc . . . that was the real danger of Marcion to the historicist plan, if Marcion had succeeded in making Jesus the non-jewish son of a "better" god, Marcion while achieving the desired separation from Judaism would otherwise be letting bygones be bygones and comparatively letting the Ju-deans off the hook . . .

  6. I have received information that the Roman Army ordered Nazareth built in 90 AD, which was presumably after Josephus mapped the area thus why it does not appear on his maps. . . so any gospel that includes Nazareth as a physical place could not have been written before 90 AD, and probably well after, since it would have taken time for Nazareth to become settled and inhabited . . . if Marcion includes Nazareth in his story, Marcion was writing well after 90 AD and published in 130 or 140 AD depending on the source . . . thus if the other gospel writers indeed plagiarized Marcion before publication and added historical elements, this is where they would have picked up Nazareth as well, which is something I've always suspected that Nazareth would be originally from Marcion . . . how interesting!

  7. Markus may answer some of these questions himself...but from what I gather, Nazareth has no basis in the first century in any archaeology. Even the description of Nazareth in Ireneus' gospels strangely describes more the surrounds of Sepphoris. If we look at other clues, Nararene as a philosophical sect makes more sense. For that we'd have to look at the Essenes, who did have a sub-sect with a similar-sounding name. As it is, the Gospels as we know them are missing two groups Josephus went into detail about...the Fourth/Philosophy which eventually became the zealots and the Essenes. The Fourth Philosophy/Zealots do have a Galilean rabbi founding it, was the only of the four founded that century (the others hundreds of years before, but the general tenets of "Christianity" sound closer to the Essenes.