Markus Vinzent's Blog

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Eph. 3:9, Marcion and the Catholic redaction

TJ Lang has presented a fascinating paper on Eph. 3:9, Marcion and Tertullian. When attending this paper at the last Oxford Patristic Conference of 2015, it became clear to me that this is a wonderful example (one of many) where one can see that the apologetics' claim of Marcion being the redactor, whereas the orthodox had the original text can be shown as rather unlikely to be true. As I wrote to a colleague who asked me about this topic:

There are so many places where if you compare the textus receptus with Marcion's attested text you will see that Marcion's text quite often can be interpreted in an orthodox/catholic way, while the textus receptus could not have been subscribed by Marcion or, if one follows the argument below, on should say, is anti-Marcionite.

One example is precisely the passage that TJ Lang dealt with in Oxford, Eph 3:9, as reported by Tert., Adv. Marc. V 18. There Tertullian complains that Marcion left aside the 'in'/ἐν (τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ ἀποκεκρυμμένου ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων ἐν τῷ θεῷ τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι), hence understood the text as saying that the mysteries were hidden 'from' the God who created the all, hence the creator. Yet, without the 'in', one could still have read the text, as it is now being read with the 'in'. Therefore, a redactional striking off of the 'in' by Marcion had made no sense whatsoever, whereas a catholic redaction of adding the 'in' was a unambiguous clarification of the sense of the passage that went against the grain of Marcion's theology.
This, as I say, is just but one example which could be multiplied.

The sole conclusion from all these instances is that if Irenaeus/Tertullian/Epiphanius were right that Marcion redacted the textus receptus, he must have been either a pretty bad redactor turning texts into ambiguous readings which could be used against him (and Tertullian has exactly this opinion and ridicules Marcion for this non-professionalism), or what is more likely, when Marcion published this text, he had his own reading of Paul's text, a reading which in the context of his NT and his Antitheses was too harsh so that the catholic redaction made the text exclusively anti-marcionite.

In my eyes, the job which Ulrich Schmid thought to have done by elaborating on Marcion's Paul needs to be done again, this time, however, not on the unquestioned apologetic position of A. v. Harnack that one would not even question that Marcion was the later redactor.


  1. That sounds interesting. Has TJ Lang's paper been published?

  2. Dear Juan,

    not yet, as far as I know, but as he has given a paper on a related subject a few days ago at Durham University, he is still working on the topic,
    yours Markus