John2 wrote: ↑
Fri Dec 06, 2019 6:15 pm
But what exactly was Marcion's gospel? That has never been clear to me. I know it was thought to have been a corrupted Luke in patristic sources, but there are arguments against that. And I recall seeing examples of other gospels besides Luke in reconstructions of Marcion's gospel. So this one seems complicated to me.
Marcion's "Gospel" (Evangelion) is a bit of a chimera. Absolutely everything we know about it has come from Christians who objected to it quite strongly.
What Marcion did do was deduce what he thought was a pure gospel preached by Paul by examining antithetical statements in the canonical gospels and the letters of Paul, interpreting them in light of a cosmological theory he had obtained from a philosopher named Cerdo. He then composed a work known as the Antitheses
which drew attention to passages in the Gospels and the letters of Paul that he believed added Judean theology to to a purer form of a single gospel used by Paul.
The church fathers directed all sorts of polemic at Marcion, some of which was based on wild guesses and - perhaps - deliberate misrepresentation. They primarily objected to his cosmology (from Cerdo, or so they claimed). They also claimed that Marcion, a wealthy shipping magnate, had simply "gnawed away" at the Gospel of Luke to remove what he thought were Judean additions. They also claimed that Marcion had published his own edition of his Gospel and ten letters of Paul, with the contaminants removed.
Yet there have been no clear-cut fragments of his Antitheses
, his Gospel
or his Pauline canon
recovered from Egyptian rubbish heaps or other preserved manuscripts. This is strange, considering that Celsus, who Origen claimed was a native of Alexandria, had been aware of Marcionite claims which he thought represented normal Christianity. How could he be familiar with something in his own area that has left no physical trace in the archaeological record? Or was Celsus going by hearsay about the Marcionites of Rome or Asia Minor?
Since Marcion is said to have presented his findings of Judaizing contamination of the pure gospel to the church of Rome, perhaps that is where all the manuscripts of the Antitheses
remained and knowledge of them elsewhere was by hearsay and rumor. The Roman church rejected his claims and Marcion eventually established his own churches, mostly in Asia Minor and Rome. Maybe in this latter period he published his own Gospel and letters of Paul, but we know very little.