Markus Vinzent's Blog

Friday, 26 May 2023

When I am getting a bit quiet ...

 then I am working on something substantial. Hence, sorry about being slow in moderating the blog and posting here. However, I have worked my socks off to produce a reconstruction of pre-canonical Paul, the ten letters of the collection that Marcion of Sinope brought together sometime after the end of the so-called Bar Kokhba revolt, i.e. after the year 135 CE.

The first product of this endeavour is the publication of a comparative "Concordance to the precanonical and canonical New Testament" that is going to be published with NarrFranckeAttempto on

19 June 2023


I hope to finish the reconstruction and the introduction to it sometime later this summer, so watch out for it.

Race, Ethnicity and Family in Late Antique Judaism and Early Christianity

This is a new article, just published as open access article in 

Religions | Free Full-Text | Race, Ethnicity and Family in Late Antique Judaism and Early Christianity (

Friday, 10 March 2023

Was Marcion anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic?

 I have to admit, being trained in conventional terms, for a long time, I did believe so. The reading of his New Testament, however, has taught me a very different lesson.

Here a small section of my forthcoming English version of "Christ's Torah" which deals with the figure of John the Baptist in Marcion's Gospel (please pass on your views and comments which I am happy to integrate into the forthcoming publication - the book will be published by Routledge):

A first, important question is why Marcion mentions John at all in his Gospel. Did he know the non-Christian account of John the Baptist in Flavius Josephus’s Antiquities? Yet, scholarship is becoming more sceptical about the reliability of Josephus.[1] Whatever source Marcion has in mind, his mention of John speaks for his assumption that the Baptist was a historical figure, so that he could use him to mark the boundary between the time of Jewish prophetism and the novelty that was brought by Jesus. From the way he portrays him, Marcion saw him as a prophet and teacher of righteousness,[2] and he must have seen the danger that Jesus's message could either be identified with or at least equated with that of John. As we can see from Marcion's search for and presentation of Paul's letters, which is confirmed in his handling of the Gospel material of the oral tradition, Marcion seems to have been a thorough historian and did not aim at writing historical fiction. This is all the more true since a prophetic figure unknown to his audience and readership could hardly have served Marcion's argument. It is therefore astonishing that Marcion hardly receives any attention in the relevant research on John.[3] Nevertheless, as already the placing of John demonstrates, Marcion sharpened his material and brought it in line with his historical and theological views, outlined by Tertullian in his report about Marcion’s preface, the Antitheses.

The first introduction of the Baptist in *Ev clearly prepares the core antithetical passage of *Ev 16, quoted before with the Baptist being regarded as the border between the Jewish Law and Prophets on the one side, and the Gospel on the other. For it is said in *Ev that the news of Jesus's miracles - preceded by the raising of the young man of Nain (*Ev 7:11-16) - reached John the Baptist, but that John "took offence" "when he heard of his (= Jesus') deeds" (*Ev 7:18), a remark, as we will later see in more detail, has been cut out by the redaction that turned *Ev into Lk.

In *Ev, Jesus's answer to the question of John's disciples whether it was he who was coming or whether they should expect someone else - which in Lk sounds somehow random - reads: "Blessed are you if you take no offence at me!" (*Ev 7:23). The verse refers directly to vers 7:18 and makes clear that John did, indeed, take offence at Jesus. That John is seen as a person who is not blessed by Jesus underlines the gulf that Marcion sees between the Baptist and the Saviour. This is precisely, how Tertullian understands this passage and comments on it: Following Marcion, "John took offence when he heard of Christ's powers, as if Christ were of another",[4] indeed, as if he were "another Christ" who "taught or worked new things".[5] Tertullian contradicts Marcion by emphasising that "John however, both as Jew and as prophet, was quite sure that no one is God except the Creator", hence that the Christ of the Gospel was not sent by another God than the God who is depicted in the Torah as the Creator and who has sent the Jewish prophets.[6] Tertullian’s commentary shows that he understood *Ev to be an expression of Marcion’s antithetical view, a crux which he highlighted, contradicted and which, as we can see from the alteration that the text underwent in the redaction of Lk was eradicated from this Gospel. Just as Tertullian wished to see John not as a division between on the one side Law and Prophets and on the other the Gospel, but rather as a bridge, a parenthesis[7] or an ‘in-between’ between Jewish and Christian traditions, so the canonical editors redacted *Ev to remove Marcion’s edge of John serving as a boundary marker.

Marcion, however, is consistent in *Ev, as can be seen from Tertullian who refers to this consistency when he states his intention to contradict him in his views on John:


"I shall make it my purpose to show both that John is in accord with Christ and
Christ in accord with John, the Creator's Christ with the Creator's prophet, that so the heretic may be put to shame at having to no advantage made John's work of no advantage.


This comment argues against the missing of the verses on Christ’s baptism by John in *Ev. According to Tertullian, *Ev lacked this passage that one can find in Lk 3:21-22,[9] because this act of baptism served Marcion as a justification for the antithesis between John and Christ, and, as the next pericope will show, between John’s disciples and Jesus's disciples. “For”, Tertullian argues,


"if John's work had been utterly without effect when, as Isaiah says, he cried aloud in the wilderness as preparer of the ways of the Lord by the demanding and commending of repentance, and if he had not along with the others baptized Christ himself, no one could

have challenged Christ's disciples for eating and drinking, or referred them to the example of John's disciples who were assidous in fasting and prayer: because if any opposition had stood

between Christ and John, and between the followers of each, there could have been no demand for imitation, and the force of the challenge would have been lost."[10]

From this Tertullian concludes that Christ belongs to John, and John to Christ, and both to the Creator, that both were "preachers of the Law and of the Prophets."[11] In *Ev 5:33-37, on the other hand, it is said:


"33 And they said to him: 'Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast steadily and offer prayers, but yours eat and drink?' 34 Jesus said to them: "Can the wedding guests possibly fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days. 37 New wine is not poured into old wineskins. But if so, the new wine will burst the skins, then the wine is lost, and also the wineskins. 38 Instead, new wine is poured into new wineskins. And both remain preserved.↑36b And no one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth onto an old cloak. But if so, it all tears, and it will be of no use for the old. For it will result in a larger tear.’↓"[12]


What Tertullian read as a criticism of John's disciples and of John's way of life was certainly not without anti-Jewish and -pharisaeic undertone. Yet, was this Marcion’s intention? For to mention the fasting of John's disciples in the same breath as that of the disciples of the Pharisees, and to reproach both of them for practising constantly prayers and accusing the disciples of Jesus of non-asceticism, was certainly no praise of John's piety. Jesus’s answer rejects the Johannean criticism and equates Christ with the bridegroom in whose present celebrations replace ascetic practices.[13] Moreover, Tertullian believes he has discovered an inner contradiction in Marcion, who otherwise insisted on asceticism himself: "Now deny, if you can, your utter madness, Marcion: you go so far as to assail the law of your own god."[14] - for how could he call Christ a "bridegroom", if Marcion otherwise preached marital abstinence and insisted on asceticism?

The following comparison from the quoted verses 36 -37 is no less contradictory, for these angered Tertullian even more, since he did not want to read again Marcion’s contrast between the "best God" and the "Creator" that was laid out in them.[15]

From reading Tertullian it thus becomes even clearer than from mere sight that Marcion used the example of the new wine and the old wineskins to impart his message, that his saviour Christ revealed a new way of life, a series of new commandments and a new form of Scripture, i.e. the new wine that does not fit into the old wineskins of the Law and the Prophets and thus into the Jewish tradition. The reasoning in *Ev is not insignificant: Christ would "tear apart" the Jewish tradition, which would mean a larger gap for both sides with a downfall of both, just as the pouring of Christian novelty into the old frame of Judaism would destroy both – as the novel cult is only served by a novel container or grounding, the older cult will not be threatened by the novel content, and both will have a future.

As this argument reveals, Marcion did not recognise in Christ's appearance an anti-Johannean, anti-Pharisaic or at all anti-Jewish attack directed against Law and Prophets, as Tertullian interpreted Marcion, but Marcion advocated a novel frame for Christ and his new message, which he only saw guaranteed in a new form, based on a new scriptural foundation.

But even though the qualification of the Jewish tradition as "old" could also be quickly misunderstood as a disqualification and devaluation, as happens with Tertullian (and Justin before him), Marcion was also concerned with the fate of the Jewish tradition. For it is clear from the second example of the unrolled patch on an old garment that Marcion was also concerned that neither new nor old should tear when he speaks of the new then being of "no use to the old".

Accordingly, Marcion also saw a benefit of the "Gospel" and Christ for the Jewish tradition. What did this consist of? In the image of the example, it is first of all that there is no "greater rift". Even though Marcion provided Jewish (and non-Jewish) followers of Christ their distinct identity (Christanismus) in setting them in antithesis to a Jewish identity (Judaismus), as he stated in his preface, his intention was the avoidance of a separation or an antagonism between these two cult forms. Hence he was neither anti-Jewish nor did he press for a downfall of the old Jewish tradition. The reflexion upon the possibility, however, that the Christians could be a threat to Jews and Jews to Christians might be mirroring the historical situation after the Second Jewish war, when the identity of both were fragile. The example of the wineskins and the cloak also intimate that despite Marcion’s stressing of innovation, he admits that Christianity was inconceivable without its antithetical counterpart, Judaism. Or, taken it as a political statement, Christianity sailed under Roman-political protection of Jewish privileges which was only possible as long as Christianity and Judaism were further recognized as belonging together and both survived.

Perhaps Marcion had already seen the danger of Christianity going its own way at the cost of Judaism, as it will develop in confrontation with and downright against the position of Jews in the period that followed. For the post-Marcionite history of the Christian-Jewish relationship moved in a completely different direction than the one Marcion had wished for. While Marcion opted for a distinct identity of Christians in antithetical conjunction with Jews, slightly younger scholars like Justin rejected the ownership of Jews of their tradition and prophets and developed a supersessionist Christian theology towards the Jews. Against Marcion's intention, his antitheses have nevertheless set a fuse that has been lit again and again in the course of history by less reflective igniters and led in the 20th century to the explosive catastrophe of the Holocaust.

[1] See the sceptical view in C.K. Rothschild, “Echo of a whisper”. The uncertain authenticity of Josephus’ witness to John the Baptist (2011).

[2] A similar portray is painted by my former colleague at London King’s College, J.E. Taylor, The immerser. John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism (1997).

[3] No mentino of him, for example, is made in ibid.

[4] Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 18,4: Sed scandalizatur Ioannes auditis virtutibus Christi, ut alterius.

[5] Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 18,4: qua alium Christum sperans vel intellegens qui neque [haberet] unde speraret, ut nihil novi docentem vel operantem.

[6] Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 18,5: Ioannes autem certus erat neminem deum praeter creatorem, vel qua Iudaeus, etiam prophetes.

[7] See J. Ernst, Johannes der Täufer - der Lehrer Jesu? (1994).

[8] Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 11,4: Nunc illud tuebor, ut demonstrem et Ioannem Christo et Christum Ioanni convenire, utique prophetae creatoris, qua Christum creatoris, atque ita erubescat haereticus, Ioannis ordinem frustra frustratus.

[9] “21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”

[10] Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 11,5 continuing what has been quoted from Tertullian before: Si enim nihil omnino administrasset Ioannes, secundum Esaiam vociferator in solitudinem et praeparator viarum dominicarum per denuntiationem et laudationem paenitentiae, si non etiam ipsum inter ceteros tinxisset … quia, si qua diversitas staret inter Christum et Ioannem et gregem utriusque, nulla esset comparationis exactio, vacaret provocationis intentio.

[11] Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 11,6: Adeo Ioannis erat Christus et Ioannes Christi, ambo creatoris, et ambo de lege et prophetis praedicatores et magistri.

[12] For the trans. (with minor alterations) see M. Klinghardt, The Oldest Gospel and the Formation of the Canonical Gospels (2021), 1287.

[13] See Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 11,6.

[14] Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 11,6: “Nega te nunc dementissimum, Marcion. Ecce legem tui quoque dei impugnas.”

[15] On Marcion’s “best God”, see, for example, Tert., Adv. Marc. IV 15,2; 16,7 (deus optimus et tantum bonus, patientiae iniuriam facere).

Thursday, 9 March 2023

A first concordance of the canonical New Testament in comparison with the precanonical New Testament

 In due course, the Tübingen publishing house Narr Francke Attempto will publish my comparative concordance where you will be able to find the list of almost all NT terms (over 5.500) and can check, if and where these appear in the precanonical collection of Marcion's New Testament.

The concordance allows for a better understanding of both collections and how best to determine their inter-relations.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Is Luke's Geography all skrewed up? On John Kloppenburg in Jacob Berman's History Channel

 A short time ago, John Kloppenburg featured on Jacob Berman's History Channel with the following interview:

As I am going through the entire vocabulary of the New Testament at the moment, to compare the lexicography of the Marcionite collection to that of the canonical New Testament, the following appears with regards to the mention of city or cities in both collections.

From the list below, it appears that what John Kloppenburg is saying with regards to 'Luke' captures, indeed, the one who is responsible for Acts and also for the redaction of Marcion's Gospel. Marcion himself seems to have been more knowledgeable about the geography than his redactor. Just like 'Matthew' does, Marcion speaks of Kapharnaum as a city (Mt 9,1), but almost all other references to cities are unattested for his Gospel, and neither is the passage that Kloppenburg mentions on Chorazin, Bethsaida and Kapharnaum, Tyros and Sidon when Jesus is already on his way, far away from there.
It seems, therefore, that - wherever Acts was written, this redaction shares the 'citification' of the landscape, not yet known to Marcion's Gospel, and, if we add, his Pauline letter collection. Here, again, it is only in Rom 16:23 (note, that the last two chapters of Rom are missing in Marcion's Rom) that there is explicit mention of 'city', and in 2Cor 12:26, a chapter missing in Marcion's 2Cor, Paul speaks of the perils of the city, after having mentioned in 2Cor 11:32 (another chapter missing in Marcion's 2Cor) the city of Damascus. Except for these mentions, Paul never makes city his concern.

* indicates that the word is present in Marcion's collection



*Ev 4,31. 43; 9,6 (? Adamantius, accepted by Klinghardt and NA28); 14,21

in Lc 8,1. 39; 13,22; 19,41; 23,50; 24,48, verses that are absent from *Ev , then Lc 7,37, where this part is missing in *Ev fehlt, but present in Mt 2,23; 4,5; 5,14. 35; 8,33. 34; 9,1. 35; 10,5. 11. 14. 15. 23; 11,1. 20; 12,25; 14,13; 21,10. 17. 18; 22,7; 23,34; 26,18; 27,53; 28,11; Mc 1,33. 45; 5,14; 6,11. 33. 56; 11,19; 14,13. 16; Lc 1,26. 39; 2,3. 4. 11. 39; 4,29. 31. 43; 5,12; 7,11. 12. 37; 8,1. 4. 27. 34. 39; 9,5. 10; 10,1. 8. 10. 11. 12; 13,22; 14,21; 18,2. 3; 19,17. 19. 41; 22,10; 23,19. 51; 24,49; Jn 1,44; 4,5. 8. 28. 30. 39; 11,54; 19,20; Acts 4,27; 5,16; 7,58; 8,5. 8. 9. 40; 9,6; 10,9; 11,5; 12,10; 13,44. 50; 14,4. 6. 13. 19. 20. 21; 15,21. 36; 16,4. 11. 12. 13. 14. 20. 39; 17,5. 16; 18,10; 19,29. 35; 20,23; 21,5. 29. 30. 39; 22,3; 24,12; 25,23; 26,11; 27,8; Rom 16,23; 2Cor 11,26. 32; Ti 1,5; Heb 11,10. 16; 12,22; 13,14; Jas 4,13; 2Pet 2,6; Jude 1,7; Rev 3,12; 11,2. 8. 13; 14,20; 16,19; 17,18; 18,10. 16. 18. 19. 21; 20,9; 21,2. 10. 14. 15. 16. 18. 19. 21. 23; 22,14. 19