Marcion of Sinope

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Apostle John (left) and Marcion of Sinope (right), from Morgan Library MS 748, 11th century Apostle John and Marcion of Sinope, from JPM LIbrary MS 748, 11th c.jpg
Apostle John (left) and Marcion of Sinope (right), from Morgan Library MS 748, 11th century

Marcion of Sinope ( /ˈmɑːrʃən, -ʃiən, -siən/ ; Greek: Μαρκίων [1] [note 1] Σινώπης; c. 85 c. 160) was an important figure in early Christianity. Marcion preached that the god who sent Jesus into the world was a different, higher deity than the creator god of Judaism. [2] He considered himself a follower of Paul the Apostle, who he believed to have been the only true apostle of Jesus Christ. [3]

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BC to the 6th century AD

The ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BC to the 6th century AD. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by Medieval Greek.

Early Christianity Christianity up to 325 CE

Early Christianity developed in the period from Christian origins to the First Council of Nicaea (325). Church historians typically subdivide this period into the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period.

Jesus The central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

Contents

Church Fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian denounced Marcion as a heretic, and he was excommunicated by the church of Rome around 144 CE. [4] He published the first known canon of Christian scriptures, [5] [6] which contained ten Pauline epistles (omitting the Pastoral epistles) and a shorter version of the Gospel of Luke. [7] This made him a catalyst in the process of the development of the New Testament canon by forcing the proto-orthodox Church to respond to his canon. [8]

Church Fathers Group of ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers

The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers. There is no definitive list. The era of these scholars who set the theological and scholarly foundations of Christianity largely ended by AD 700.

Justin Martyr 2nd century Christian apologist and martyr

Justin Martyr was an early Christian apologist, and is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century. He was martyred, alongside some of his students, and is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Irenaeus Bishop and saint

Irenaeus was a Greek bishop noted for his role in guiding and expanding Christian communities in what is now the south of France and, more widely, for the development of Christian theology by combating heresy and defining orthodoxy. Originating from Smyrna, now Izmir in Turkey, he had seen and heard the preaching of Polycarp, the last known living connection with the Apostles, who in turn was said to have heard John the Evangelist.

Life

Epiphanius records in his Panarion that Marcion was born the son of a bishop in Pontus in modern-day Turkey. Rhodo and Tertullian, young men in Marcion's old age, described him as a "mariner" and a "ship-master" respectively. Some time in the late 130s CE, Marcion traveled to Rome, joined the Roman church, and made a large donation of 200,000 sesterces to the congregation there. [4] [9] Conflicts with the church of Rome arose and he was eventually excommunicated in 144 CE, his donation being returned to him. [10] After his excommunication, he returned to Asia Minor, where he continued to lead his many church congregations and teach the Gospel of Marcion.

Epiphanius of Salamis Christian bishop and saint

Epiphanius of Salamis was the bishop of Salamis, Cyprus at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy. He is best known for composing the Panarion, a very large compendium of the heresies up to his own time, full of quotations that are often the only surviving fragments of suppressed texts. According to Ernst Kitzinger, he "seems to have been the first cleric to have taken up the matter of Christian religious images as a major issue", and there has been much controversy over how many of the quotations attributed to him by the Byzantine Iconoclasts were actually by him. Regardless of this he was clearly strongly against some contemporary uses of images in the church.

In early Christian heresiology, the Panarion, to which 16th-century Latin translations gave the name Adversus Haereses, is the most important of the works of Epiphanius of Salamis. It was written in Koine Greek beginning in 374 or 375, and issued about three years later, as a treatise on heresies, with its title referring to the text as a "stock of remedies to offset the poisons of heresy." It treats 80 religious sects, either organized groups or philosophies, from the time of Adam to the latter part of the fourth century, detailing their histories, and rebutting their beliefs. The Panarion is an important source of information on the Jewish–Christian gospels, the Gospel of the Ebionites, and the Gospel of the Hebrews.

Pontus (region) region in north-eastern Anatolia

Pontus is a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region and its mountainous hinterland in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος Εὔξεινος Pontos Euxeinos, or simply Pontos.

According to anti-Marcionite sources, Marcion's teacher was the Simonian Cerdo. Irenaeus writes that "a certain Cerdo, originating from the Simonians, came to Rome under Hyginus ... and taught that the one who was proclaimed as God by the Law and the Prophets is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" ( Against Heresies , 1, 27, 1).

The Simonians were a Gnostic sect of the 2nd century which regarded Simon Magus as its founder and traced its doctrines, known as Simonianism, back to him. The sect flourished in Syria, in various districts of Asia Minor and at Rome. In the 3rd century remnants of it still existed, which survived until the 4th century.

Cerdo was a Syrian gnostic who was deemed a heretic by the Early Church around the time of his teaching, circa 138 AD. Cerdo started out as a follower of Simon Magus. He taught at about the same time as Valentinus and Marcion. According to Irenaeus, he was a contemporary of the Roman bishop Hyginus, residing in Rome as a prominent member of the Church until his forced expulsion therefrom.

Pope Hyginus 9th Pope

Pope Hyginus was the Bishop of Rome of the Catholic Church from c. 138 to c. 142. Tradition holds that during his papacy he determined the various prerogatives of the clergy and defined the grades of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

In 394, Epiphanius claimed that after beginnings as an ascetic, Marcion seduced a virgin and was accordingly excommunicated by his father, prompting him to leave his home town. [11] This account has been doubted by many scholars, who consider it "malicious gossip". More recently, Bart D. Ehrman suggests that this "seduction of a virgin" was a metaphor for his corruption of the Christian Church, with the Church portrayed as the undefiled virgin. [12] Similarly doubtful is Tertullian's claim in The Prescription Against Heretics (written ca. 200) that Marcion professed repentance, and agreed to the conditions granted to him—that he should receive reconciliation if he restored to the Church those whom he had led astray—but that he was prevented from doing so by his death. [13]

Bart D. Ehrman American academic

Bart Denton Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar focusing on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, the origins and development of early Christianity. He has written and edited 30 books, including three college textbooks. He has also authored six New York Times bestsellers. He is currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Marcionite church expanded greatly within Marcion's lifetime, becoming a major rival to the emerging Catholic church. After his death, it retained its following and survived Christian controversy and imperial disapproval for several centuries. [14]

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.

Teachings

Study of the Hebrew scriptures, along with received writings circulating in the nascent Church, led Marcion to conclude that many of the teachings of Jesus were incompatible with the actions of Yahweh, the belligerent god of the Hebrew Bible. Marcion responded by developing a ditheistic system of belief around the year 144. [note 2] This notion of two gods—a higher transcendent one and a lower world creator and ruler—allowed Marcion to reconcile his perceived contradictions between Christian Old Covenant theology and the Gospel message proclaimed by the New Testament.

In contrast to other leaders of the nascent Christian Church, however, Marcion declared that Christianity was in complete discontinuity with Judaism and entirely opposed to the Tanakh. Marcion did not claim that the Jewish scriptures were false. Instead, he asserted that they were to be read in an absolutely literal manner, thereby developing an understanding that Yahweh was not the same god spoken of by Jesus. For example, Marcion argued that the Genesis account of Yahweh walking through the Garden of Eden asking where Adam was, had proved Yahweh inhabited a physical body and was without universal knowledge, attributes wholly incompatible with the Heavenly Father professed by Jesus.

According to Marcion, the god of the Old Testament, whom he called the Demiurge, the creator of the material universe, is a jealous tribal deity of the Jews, whose law represents legalistic reciprocal justice and who punishes mankind for its sins through suffering and death. In contrast, the god that Jesus professed is an altogether different being, a universal god of compassion and love who looks upon humanity with benevolence and mercy. Marcion also produced a book titled Antitheses, which is no longer extant, contrasting the Demiurge of the Old Testament with the Heavenly Father of the New Testament.

Marcion held Jesus to be the son of the Heavenly Father but understood the incarnation in a docetic manner, i.e. that Jesus' body was only an imitation of a material body, and consequently denied Jesus' physical and bodily birth, death, and resurrection.

Marcion was the first to introduce a Christian canon. His canon consisted of only eleven books, grouped into two sections: the Evangelikon , a shorter version of the Gospel of Luke, and the Apostolikon , a selection of ten epistles of Paul the Apostle, which were also slightly shorter than the canonical text. Early Christians such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Epiphanius claimed that Marcion's editions of Luke and the Pauline epistles were intentionally edited by Marcion to match his theological views, and many modern scholars agree. [15] However, some scholars argue that Marcion's texts were not substantially edited by him, and may in some respects represent an earlier version of these texts than the canonical versions. [2] [16] [17] [18] Like the Gospel of Mark, the gospel used by Marcion did not contain elements relating to Jesus' birth and childhood. Interestingly, it did contain some Jewish elements, and material that challenged Marcion's ditheism- a fact that was exploited by early Christians in their polemics against Marcion. [19]

The centrality of the Pauline epistles in Marcion's canon reflects the fact that Marcion considered Paul to be the correct interpreter and transmitter of Jesus' teachings, in contrast to the Twelve Disciples and the early Jerusalem church. [3]

Gnosticism

Marcion is sometimes described as a Gnostic philosopher. In some essential respects, Marcion proposed ideas which aligned well with Gnostic thought. Like the Gnostics, he believed that Jesus was essentially a divine spirit who appeared to human beings in human form, but did not actually take on a fleshly human body. [3]

However, Marcionism conceptualizes God in a way which cannot be reconciled with broader Gnostic thought. For Gnostics, some human beings are born with a small piece of God's soul lodged within their spirit (akin to the notion of a Divine Spark). [20] God is thus intimately connected to and part of his creation. Salvation lies in turning away from the physical world (which Gnostics regard as an illusion) and embracing the godlike qualities within oneself. Marcion, by contrast, held that the Heavenly Father (the father of Jesus Christ) was an utterly alien god; he had no part in making the world, nor any connection with it. [20]

See also

Notes

  1. Genitive: Μαρκίωνος
  2. 115 years and 6 months from the Crucifixion, according to Tertullian's reckoning in Adversus Marcionem, xv.

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Gnosticism variety of religious ideas and systems, originating in Jewish Christian milieux

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Marcionism was an Early Christian dualist belief system that originated in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope in Rome around the year 144.

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References

Citations

  1. First Apology of Justin Martyr , XXVI.5
  2. 1 2 BeDuhn 2015, p. 165.
  3. 1 2 3 Knox 1942, p. 7.
  4. 1 2 Harnack 1921, p. 17.
  5. Bruce 1988, p. 134.
  6. Knox 1942, p. 19.
  7. BeDuhn 2015, p. 166.
  8. Knox 1942, p. 3.
  9. Knox 1942, p. 5.
  10. Harnack 1921, p. 18.
  11. Refutation of All Heresies , XLII, ii.
  12. Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Christianities
  13. The Prescription Against Heretics 30:3. Tertullian.org.
  14. Evans 1972 p. ix
  15. Robert J. Wilkinson (5 February 2015). Tetragrammaton: Western Christians and the Hebrew Name of God: From the Beginnings to the Seventeenth Century. BRILL. pp. 120–. ISBN   978-90-04-28817-1.
  16. Klinghardt 2008, p. 6-10.
  17. Knox 1942, p. 164ff.
  18. Hoffman 1984.
  19. Klinghardt 2008, p. 7.
  20. 1 2 Harnack 1900, pp. vol. I,  267313; vol. II,  119.

Sources

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  • Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Canon of Scripture. InterVarsity Press. ISBN   978-0-8308-1258-5.
  • Clabeaux, John James. The Lost Edition of the Letters of Paul: A Reassessment of the Text of Pauline Corpus Attested by Marcion (Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series No. 21) 1989 ISBN   0-915170-20-5.
  • Dahl, Nils Alstrup. "The Origin of the Earliest Prologues to the Pauline Letters", Semeia 12 (1978), pp. 233–277.
  • Epiphanius of Salamis. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book 1 (Sects 1-46) Frank Williams translator, 1987. ISBN   90-04-07926-2.
  • Evans, Ernest (comments and translation): Tertullian, Against Marcion (Oxford University Press, 1972). E-text of Adversus Marcionem and Evan's introduction "Marcion : His Doctrine and Influence"
  • Francis Legge, Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity, From 330 B.C. to 330 A.D. (1914), reprinted in two volumes bound as one, University Books New York, 1964. LCCN   64-24125.
  • Grant, Robert M. Marcion and the Critical Method Peter Richardson & John Collidge Hurd, eds., From Jesus to Paul. Studies in Honour of Francis Wright Beare. Waterloo, ON, 1984. pp. 207–215.
  • Harnack, Adolf (1900). History of Dogma. Translated by Buchanan, Neil.
  • Harnack, Adolf (1921). Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God. Translated by Steely, John E.; Bierma, Lyle D. Grand Rapids: Baker. ISBN   978-1-55635-703-9.
  • Hoffman, R. Joseph. Marcion, on the Restitution of Christianity: An Essay on the Development of Radical Paulist Theology in the Second Century (1984) ISBN   0-89130-638-2.
  • Knox, John (1942). Marcion and the New Testament: An Essay in the Early History of the Canon. Chicago: Chicago University Press. ISBN   978-0404161835..
  • Klinghardt, Matthias (2008). "The Marcionite Gospel and the Synoptic Problem: A New Suggestion". Novum Testamentum. 50 (1): 1–27. JSTOR   25442581.
  • Moll, Sebastian, The Arch-Heretic Marcion, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 250, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2010 (Spanish translation: Marción. El primer hereje, Biblioteca de Estudios Bíblicos 145, Ediciones Sígueme, Salamanca 2014)
  • Livingstone, E. A. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed.), pp. 1033–34, 1997 ISBN   0-19-211655-X.
  • Riparelli, Enrico, Il volto del Cristo dualista. Da Marcione ai catari, Peter Lang, Bern 2008, 368 pp. ISBN   978-3-03911-490-0.
  • Sproul, R.C., How Then Shall We Worship?. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2013. ISBN   978-1-4347-0424-5 p. 16.
  • Williams, David Salter. "Reconsidering Marcion's Gospel", Journal of Biblical Literature 108 (1989), pp. 477–96
  • Wilson, R. S. Marcion: A Study of a Second-Century Heretic (London: Clarke) 1933.

Further reading