Markus Vinzent's Blog

Monday, 3 November 2014

My inaugural lecture on Marcion and the beginnings of Christianity life

Only now has my attention been drawn by Martin Willis to a posting by King's College where my inaugural lecture can be viewed online:
At present I prepare the text in an updated version for publication.


  1. Hi prof Vinzent,

    I would like to have a short explanation about an harassing question:

    A common objection against the priority of Marcion's Gospel is that Gospels are in large part midrashic re-tellings of the Jewish Scriptures: Marcion, who rejected the validity of the Jewish scriptures, would ''never'' have written such a Gospel.

    Do you think that Marcion himself would never have done this — that is, scoured the OT for passages to use as raw material from which to create a narrative about Jesus? Marcion is said to have believed the OT should be understood literally, not allegorically.

    For example, the Centurion’s Child and the Son of the Widow of Nain episodes in Marcion's Gospel are clearly a midrashic rewrite of 1 Kings 17:1-24: whereas Elijah later raises from the dead the widow‟s son, Jesus next comes upon a funeral procession and raises the man about to be buried, again a widow's son, this time from Nain. Luke opens his episode with the same opening from 1 Kings 17:17a: “And it happened afterward” // “after this …” The widow‟s son is dead (1 Kings 17:17b; Luke 7:12b). Elijah cried out in anguish (1 Kings 17:19-20), unlike Jesus, who, however, tells the widow not to cry (Luke 7:13). After a gesture (Elijah prays for the boy‟s spirit to return, v. 21; Jesus commands the boy to rise, 7:14), the dead rises, proving his reanimation by crying out (1 Kings 17:22; Luke 7:15). His service rendered, the wonder-worker “gave him to his mother” (1 Kings 17:24; Luke 7:15b, verbatim identical). Those present glorify the hero (1 Kings 17:24; Luke 7:16-17).

    If I find in a Gospel many subtle and implicit allusions to OT passages (like these above), what would such allusions mean to anyone not familiar with the OT? They can only retain their literary power among readers who know and love the OT.

    If I assume a priori that Marcion was reluctant to scouring the OT for material & allegorical points, I should deny consequently that Marcion interpreted it allegorically as an implicit reference to Elijah (and OT). But the evidence above shows clearly that all these allegorical references are closely inherent to his Gospel.

    Where is the mistake in this argument? Very thanks for pointing out it to me.


    1. Dear Guiseppe,
      sorry, but my answer has become to wordy, hence I cannot post it as a response here, but will post it as a separate new blog.
      Yours Markus