2009-09-16

Viewing Luke’s “Great Omission” in a context of Marcionite controversy

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by Neil Godfrey

The Gospel of Luke relied heavily on the Gospel of Mark but omits everything in Mark that lies between the miracle of feeding the 5000 to Peter’s acknowledgment that Jesus was the Christ. That is, after following much of Mark closely, Luke omits:

  1. Jesus walking on the sea of Galilee
  2. Healing many at Gennesarat
  3. Controversy with Pharisees over eating with unwashed hands
  4. Exorcising the daughter of the woman from Tyre/Sidon
  5. Healing (with saliva) the deaf-mute in region of Decapolis
  6. Feeding the 4000 in the wilderness
  7. Controversy with Pharisees over a sign and warning of leaven of Pharisees and Herod
  8. Healing the blind man (after two attempts)

I have in the past discussed the Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts within the context of the second century Marcionite controversy (e.g. Tyson’s Marcion and Luke-Acts) and it recently struck me that there are some features in this Great Omission that anyone editing an anti-Marcionite version of a gospel would want to ensure do not get a mention.

Firstly, Mark had written that the disciples thought they were seeing a spirit when they saw Jesus walking past them on water. If Marcion’s Jesus came down directly from heaven and had more the appearance of a man than the reality, this episode might well have lent itself to supporting a view of Jesus more ethereal than fleshy and boney.

Secondly, the events and miracles of this section are in gentile areas. If Marcion emphasized the foundational role of Paul in establishing the truth that the Jewish disciples of Jesus had failed to grasp, and that Paul’s role was directed among gentiles as a result of Jewish rejection of Christ, then Mark’s themes of Jesus working among both Jews and gentiles had to be revised.

Thirdly, the controversy with the Pharisees over eating with unwashed hands contained a message from Jesus condemning certain Jewish laws. It is not impossible that an anti-Marcionite propagandist would easily be persuaded to omit such an episode for its potential to be manipulated by Marcionites who were “anti-Jewish” to the extent that they regarded all Jewish laws as derived from either humans or the Demiurge.

Fourthly, the two-fold attempt to heal a blind man strikes most readers as having a symbolic relationship with the two-fold blindness of the disciples over the two mass feeding miracles (of 5000 and 4000). Once the second of these miracles was removed, being in a gentile area (see “Secondly” above), the Markan miracle lost its significance and merely made Jesus looked like Superman fast fading in the presence of kryptonite. And no-one wanted to advance Mark’s very human Jesus, one possessed by the spirit and who used spit to heal. There were more “spiritual” ways to counter Marcionism’s view of Jesus.

The arguments for canonical Luke-Acts being an anti-Marcionite product of the second century rest on degrees of probability and plausibility. Maybe if the “Great Omission” can indeed by explained in anti-Marcionite terms then we can add one more degree at least to the plausibility of the argument.

33 Comments

  • Evan
    2009-09-16 22:01:57 UTC - 22:01 | Permalink

    Does Marcion’s version of Luke also omit these same details?

    • 2009-09-16 22:18:53 UTC - 22:18 | Permalink

      This question raises many points I have discussed some time ago and on discussion lists. I’ll see if I can dig some of those up and repeat in a post here. In the meantime, I have discussed Tyson’s evaluation of Harnack’s reconstruction of Marcion’s gospel.

      In short, we do not know the details of what Marcion’s gospel contained. Tertullian writes from memory, and Marcion’s gospel was said to have been regularly being revised even after Marcion’s time. So by the time we are reading accounts of Irenaeus and Tertullian we cannot know what version of Marcion’s gospel they were reading. Nor can we know how much they were paraphrasing accurately from memory. But there is good reason to think that Marcion’s gospel was closer to the gospel of Luke’s than it was to the other canonical gospels. See also my earlier “Did Marcion mutilate the Gospel of Luke?

      My Marcion archive contains many discussions about Luke-Acts and Marcion’s theology and “gospel”.

  • Evan
    2009-09-17 00:16:39 UTC - 00:16 | Permalink

    So to clear it up in my head, do you believe the later version of Luke was produced after Marcion’s gospel specifically to answer Marcionite doctrines? If so, was there a proto-Luke which the final author modified that predated both the later version and the Marcionite text, or did both gospels simply work using Mark and other texts independently?

    • 2009-09-17 11:26:50 UTC - 11:26 | Permalink

      Yes, yes and no. 🙂

      “Believe” is a bit strong — but yes, from what I have read about Marcion and Luke-Acts, I find Tyson’s work quite persuasive. He explores reasons for thinking that there was an ‘ur-luke’ or proto luke which Marcion modified as the basis of his gospel. (Recalling that Marcion did not view the gospel narrative as “canonical” — the gospel for Marcion was an unwritten understanding that came through Paul, not any “gospel narrative”.)

      The redactor of Luke-Acts (or redactor of Luke who also wrote Acts), in the mid second century, took the same proto-Luke (or Marcion’s version) and adapted it to rebut Marcionism. (This early Luke was probably a lot like our Gospel of Mark given that gospel’s emphasis on critiquing the Twelve.)

      Following Matson, Shellard et al, I like to think our canonical Luke was the final gospel written, and that it attempted in different ways to blend some of John and the other synoptics.

  • rey
    2009-09-17 07:42:30 UTC - 07:42 | Permalink

    I have recently become convinced that Markion’s gospel is our Mark with the original lost ending. This stuff about Markion editing Luke is garbage like most of what Tertullian says in Against Markion. Tertullian is constantly lying and keeps saying things like the Marcionites don’t believe their god ever created anything, whic he finally acknowledges is not true because they say their god created the third heaven, but then he goes back gto arguing based on the lie that they believed their god never created anything! Tertullian’s Against Marcion is full of this stuff. And what should we make of the preface that Tert’s first two works should no longer be thought of as having even existed and this third work should be considerd to be the first even though it is really the third? The guy is just a liar. Mark is Markion’s gospel with a new ending, period.

    • rey
      2009-09-17 07:45:05 UTC - 07:45 | Permalink

      forgot to subscribe to the thread the first time

    • rey
      2009-09-17 07:48:35 UTC - 07:48 | Permalink

      The name even matches Mark = Mark-ion = little Mark. And he’s supposed to claim to be a disciple of Paul, and we have Paul calling a Mark in along with parchments (in Timothy) for what exactly? To take down a gospel perhaps? The church fathers simply disseminate misinformation about this subject, like making Mark the interpreter of Peter. Yes, First Peter contains a reference to a “Marcus my son” but he is by no mean connected with interpreting or writing, as Paul’s Mark is by being called for along with parchments. A Pauline interpreter Mark makes more sense, and we have that in Markion.

  • 2009-09-17 11:38:16 UTC - 11:38 | Permalink

    At least one or two scholars of Marcionism agree that Marcion’s gospel probably looked closer to our Mark than Luke in some ways, but there are problems with going further and identifying his starting gospel with Mark. Mark’s gospel relies heavily on Old Testament fulfilments and prophecies. As far as we know Marcion rejected this approach or way of viewing Jesus. The John the Baptist scene is particularly problematic as a Marcionite narrative.

    Bear in mind that our Luke contains much of Mark’s gospel, so it is not inconsistent to think of a Mark-like gospel actually being the prototype of our Luke.

    Further, Luke 3:1, as has been famously observed, is an excellent place to start a gospel narrative, and it would fit with Marcion’s view of Jesus coming direct from heaven to Capernaum to begin preaching. Also Luke 6:44 is the most well-known key passage in Marcion’s gospel and is only found in canonical Luke.

    I’ve sometimes been attracted to the notion of echoes between Marcion and Mark but don’t know if there is any basis for interpreting Marcion as meaning “little Mark”. But even if there is a basis, we would need more evidence to establish any genuine link, I would think. — especially given that “Mark’s gospel” is actually anonymous. (I also have come to see Mark not so much as anti-the-twelve as deliberately ambiguous about them, as with many other things.)

    Thanks
    N

    • rey
      2009-09-19 07:10:22 UTC - 07:10 | Permalink

      As to John the Baptist I don’t see the problem. Just remove verse 2 and 3 of Mark 1 and there’s nothing Old Testamenty left about John. As to Tertullian thinking that Markion’s gospel began with Jesus descending to Capernaum, remove John the Baptist’s preaching and the wilderness temptation from Mark and you have the same thing. What you don’t have in Luke but do in Mark is emphasis on casting out many demons in synagogues rather than just one (1:39, possibly implying synagogue worship causes demon possession?) And 1:27 “what New Doctrine is this?” A doctrine of a new god? Also the devils know him as the “holy one of God” not the Christ (1:24). 1:44 “testimony to them” finally makes sense in a Marcionite framework, I.e. A testimony to thje priests that they can’t heal leprosy but he can. One of the most convincing points is 2:22. Tert says that Markion removed “no man after drinking the old immediately desires the new because he says the old is better” (luke 5:39) but Mark never had such a statement. 3:11 it finally makes sense why he doesn’t want the demons to make known that he is the son of God, if it would be misinterpreted as son of the wrong God. But most importantly Tertullian quotes MARK when dealing with Jesus Mother and Brethren in AM 4.19 where he has Jesus ask “who is my mother and brethren?” Jesus only tells in Luke and does not ask! Luke 8:21 “my mother and my brethren are these which hear the word…” Mark 3:33 “who is my mother or my brethren?”. Tert has let slip that Markion’s gospel is really Mark not Luke!!!!! In mark 5:7 demons call Jesus “son of the most high God” rather than just of God which fits well with Marcionism. I will have to analyze this further.

      • rey
        2009-09-19 10:43:25 UTC - 10:43 | Permalink

        When Tert quotes Marcion’s gospel on the section where Jesus casts out several demons and they cry out, he quotes them as saying “Thou art the Son of God” (Mark’s version) rather than “Thou art the Christ the Son of God” (Luke’s version).

    • rey
      2009-09-22 04:28:42 UTC - 04:28 | Permalink

      The good tree bad tree is also in Matthew 7, not just in Luke. Can we really believe Marcion’s sermon on the mount was Luke’s non-antithesis version? Undoubedly Marcion’s book Antithesis was his version of the sermon on the mount. Tertullian even says Marcion’s Antithesis was in his gospel. So, in Marcion’s gospel we have a version of Mark with th Antithesis from Matthew’s sermon on the mount in it. But Luke’s gospel and especially his sermon on the plain with its obvious lack of antithesis could never have been Marcion’s gospel even in a heavily revised form.

  • 2009-09-19 04:54:47 UTC - 04:54 | Permalink

    Hi Neil,

    So what about the argument that the Gospel of Mark has a connection with the OT. No one has ever been more thorough in describing the contents of the Marcionite canon than Ulrich Smidt. He makes explicit what all of us have noted from Tertullians Against Marcion. The Marcionite NT had an abundance of OT references. The ‘Jewishness’ of Marcion is unrecognized because most NT scholars don’t have a clue what Judaism or the varieties of its form. Marcionitism stands closer to Judaism and Samaritanism than anything in the Catholic tradition (other than the Alexandrian Church Fathers). As such your objection is immediately dismissed.

    • 2009-09-19 22:03:19 UTC - 22:03 | Permalink

      What is the evidence supporting the proposition that Marcion’s “gospel” (I have never heard of Marcion having a “NT”) “had an abundance of OT references”. Further, what is meant by “OT references”, exactly?

      I have read a lot of scholarly works about Marcionism, but I admit they are mainstream works. You will have to fill me in on what I have missed by not reading “Ulrich Smidt” (Schmidt?)

      Thanks
      Neil

  • 2009-09-19 05:02:24 UTC - 05:02 | Permalink

    As a follow up let me say that his hostility to the OT is easily explained by a well known heretical position mentioned in the rabbinic literature – namely that only the ten utterances were from heaven. The flip side of this position is that the other 603 commandments were written only on the human authority of Moses. This isn’t something I made up. It is well document contemporary ‘Jewish heresy’ which sees its reflection in the gospels. Anyone who inflexibly emphasized this position would appear ‘Marcionite.’

    Notice also that the majority of ‘accepted’ OT references in the Marcionite canon are from Isaiah. Isaiah is well attested to have been ‘in conflict’ with Moses especially in the apocryphal literature.

    What we are looking then when we search for Marcionite roots is a Palestinian tradition rooted in the ten utterances which argued that now at the end of times Israel (or the new Israel) was sufficiently redeemed from the sin of the Golden Calf to receive the full revelation of glory which was given in the beginning ‘only in part.’

    This is entirely ‘Jewish’ only having been obscured by the imperfect (and ultimately deceptive) reporting of the hostile Church Fathers.

  • 2009-09-19 05:05:00 UTC - 05:05 | Permalink

    The bottom line is again that European scholars who have developed for us ‘what Marcionitism’ are (a) utterly ignorant when it comes to the varieties of Jewish sects (both past and present) and (b) utterly trusting when it comes to the biased (and hostile) testimony of the Church Fathers.

  • rey
    2009-09-19 05:18:01 UTC - 05:18 | Permalink

    On page 47 of “Tatian’s Diatessaron: its creation, dissemination, significance, and history” by By William Lawrence Petersen (preview available on google books), I found a statement from Victor of Capua in the preface to Codex Fuldensis that Tatian “…though self-conceited teaching involved himself in the aberration of the Encratitites, having embraced the heresy of Marcion, the error, rather than the truth of Justin…” Victor claims to be deriving this information from Eusebius’ History, along with the claim that Tatian called his gospel Diapente (not Diatessaron). If Tatian, who is constantly represented as a Jewish legalist was a Marcionite, then clearly Marcion was more Jewish than Tertullian wants us to believe. And if Victor’s version of Eusebius’ History said that Tatian called his gospel Diapente but our versions say he called it Diatessaron, then clearly there has been some editing in our version of Eusebius to cover something up. Perhaps that Tatian’s ‘harmony’ included Marcion’s gospel in it, hence ‘from five’. But really, is it not possible that Tatian made no harmony at all but that his gospel was simply the Marcionite gospel which he began to propagate after joining them?

  • 2009-09-19 22:26:31 UTC - 22:26 | Permalink

    My readings of Marcionism have been of many articles in sholarly journals, unfortunately not readily accessible online, and books by Knox, Blackman, von Harnack, Joseph Hoffman, Tyson, . . .

    I cannot relate to much said that does not seem to have any connection with what these scholars have written.

    Hoffman in particular discusses misunderstandings among orthodox scholarly works regarding Marcion’s attitude to Jews and Judaism. But nothing in the references in the replies above helps me relate even his discussions to authors I have yet to read.

    Maybe you could sum up in a paragraph or so the actual evidence supporting your points — rather than linking to a part passage in a google book etc — that would be a help to me.

  • 2009-09-20 02:36:47 UTC - 02:36 | Permalink

    I don’t where to start the re-education process for Marcion. A summary of Ulrich’s findings is at my blog. The linguistic argument for Marcion being a variant of Mark developed by Boid is there too. Just use the search feature.

    I have a documentary film which will develop the understanding for television.

    Marcionite scholarship is abysmal. It suffers from an embarrassing lack of imagination and as I said before knowledge of what Judaism is and has always been.

    How can people claim that Marcion was “against” Judaism, the Jewish god or Jewish law when they haven’t a clue what nuances and variations exist within these broad categories

    I guess by these statements the Church Fathers are ‘for’ the Jews, Jewish Law and Judaism?

    Please …

  • 2009-09-20 19:04:06 UTC - 19:04 | Permalink

    Not asking for re-education, just some of the evidence to support your claims about Marcionism. I searched your blog for Ulrich and found only one reference to him within your Marcion-posts. But this was only a statement that claims Marcion’s NT contains OT references.

    What is meant by Marcion’s NT? Just his gospel? What is the evidence that this gospel contained OT references? Paul’s letters? If so, what is the evidence Marcion accepted OT references within Paul’s letters?

    I am not implying that Marcion eschewed all OT passages, and at least one mainstream scholars of Marcionism argues that Marcion was not as totally rejectionist of the OT as has generally been thought. But Marcion did say that the OT was for the Jews, and the Messiah it predicted was yet to come — for Jewish benefit in the material realm. And, of course, the god of the OT and this messiah was the demiurge or creator.

    But labelling scholars who have studied in this area as “utterly ignorant” re Jewish sects and “utterly trusting” re Church Father writings is simply an “utterly false” accusation that is not going to go far in persuading others of your views. Have you read the mainstream scholarly milestone works on Marcionism – e.g. Knox, Blackman, von Harnack, Joseph Hoffman, Tyson? You will see how erroneous this charge is if you do.

  • rey
    2009-09-22 04:06:47 UTC - 04:06 | Permalink

    I think what Huller means is that when you read through Tertullian’s Agansit Marcion books 4 and 5 you find Tertullian claiming that Marcion left in a lot of material that makes against him, even occassional an Old Testament allusion. I think there are three ways to interpet this fact; (1) Tertullian is a liar. (2) Marcion was more Jewish than supposed. (3) Marcion wasn’t thorough in his ‘revision’. I say number 3 is out automatically, so it must be 1 or 2. I opt for 1, although 2 may also be somewhat true. For example Tertullian seems to claim that the verse in Luke about women “ministering” to Jesus “out of their substance” was in Marcion’s gospel. But Marcion didn’t believe Jesus was really human, so why would he need such physical support? That verse makes against his incorporeality. Besides, Mark doesn’t contain this abominable foolishness that the one who could multiply a few fish and loaves to feed thousands was an epheminate free-loader who needed women to earn his ‘bacon’ for him. This is clearly a case where the Catholics added something to Luke as an anti-marcionite polemic (not even caring about what it implied about Jesus), and yet Tertullian seems to treat it as if it was in Marcion’s version! This makes me doubt everything Tertullian says about Marcion’s gospel being a variant of Luke. I can no longer even see it as a proto-Luke. It must be a version of Mark, with less material than our present Mark. Omit from Mark what Tertullian says was omitted from Luke, and some other OT material, and I think you’ll have a good idea of what it was. I posted above a few spots where Mark makes better for Marcionism and where Tertullian quotes Mark’s wording even while claiming Marcion’s giospel was based on Luke. I will only re-emphasize one, when Jesus first preaches and excorsizes in Capernaum, Mark emphasizes his authority (perhaps that he doesn’t quote the OT in his sermons but speaks as though he was God Himself) whereas Luke emphasizes his power (his miracle ability). Mark has the people say “what new doctrine is this?” (New god?) And Luke “what a word is this!” (Powerful miracle working word). The argument Tertullian is responding to (that the people understood Jesus as preaching a new god in the synagogue) clearly requires Mark’s wording and cannot in a billion years be taken from Luke’s wording. Marcion is clearly using Mark and Luke was clearly written to destroy Mark’s point. It may very well be by divine intervention that Mark even survived! Obviously the guy that wrote Luke-Acts intended for Luke to become the only gospel. He wanted it to replace, not supplement, Mark. But God works in mysterious ways!

    • 2009-09-24 14:25:45 UTC - 14:25 | Permalink

      Just to address one specific point you offer here, it is Mark’s gospel that says Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors, and Luke’s gospel that avoids actually saying this — Luke only says the disciples with Jesus ate. This is one of several details that you would need to address, given the criteria you use (e.g. Marcion’s Jesus would not need physical support from women) to support your argument that Marcion used Mark and not Luke.

  • rey
    2009-09-22 04:12:30 UTC - 04:12 | Permalink

    After all, what can be meant by “Luke’s” attack on currently existing gospels unless he intends his to replace them all? Luke was a failed attempt to get rid of pesky old Mark(ion) and his gospel that shows the people saw Jesus’ message as anew doctrine rather than “the same doctrine that was foretold int the prophets” (as Tertullian would have it).

  • rey
    2009-09-22 05:41:15 UTC - 05:41 | Permalink

    Another testiment to the obvious falsity of Tertullian’s claim that Markion’s gospel was based on Luke (aside from his saying it “seems” Marcion chose Luke for his “mutilating process” showing his own lack of first-hand experience with Marcion’s text) is that in Against Marcion 4.7 Tertullian accuses Marcion of removing several passages only found in Matthew. Of course, if Marcion’s text was really Mark with Matthew’s sermon on the mount (The Anithesis) then at least one of these accusations finally make some sense. Tertullian accuses him of removing Matt 5.17, Matt 15.24 and Matt 15.26.

  • 2009-09-22 05:58:23 UTC - 05:58 | Permalink

    You limit the ways of interpreting Tertullian’s statements about Marcion to a range of three possible options: Either Tertullian was a liar Or Marcion was “more Jewish” than supposed Or Marcion was not thorough in his revision.

    By setting up these as the only three gateways through which to approach the text of Tertullian we are shutting off an open ended exploration of any and all possibilities that might lie behind the text.

    By reading more widely the mainstream scholarly works on Marcion we will see that there are many other possibilities than the three you have presented here. There are textual reasons for suspecting that Tertullian was writing from memory of his earlier exposure to a Marcionite “gospel”, and memories can be faulty. There is also some evidence that Tertullian may have been working from a gospel further revised by Marcionites after the death of Marcion, and Tertullian may have assumed it was the same as Marcion’s. All of these I have discussed in previous posts on Marcionism and are discussed in the scholarly literature available on Marcion. It is simply not true, as Huller claims, that scholars are “utterly trusting” of anything they read in Tertullian.

    Your argument also makes very dogmatic statements about what must have been and must not have been in Marcion’s gospel — statements that cannot be sustained by the evidence you cite for them. It is presuming a lot about Marcion’s belief to dogmatically claim that Marcion would not accept Jesus having women to care for his physical needs. It may be that in your idea of what Marcion must have believed about a non-physical Jesus that he would not require women to care for him, but you cannot validly impute your assumptions about what Marcion must have meant and implied into the evidence we have for Marcion’s teachings. We need to be guided by the evidence we do have, and if the evidence is too slim to allow us to be sure, we need to accept an agnostic position.

    Your argument also makes an assumption that the phrase, “What new doctrine is this?” refers to a teaching of a second god. This is a huge leap that finds no support in the evidence at all. You may logically deduce that that is what the new doctrine must have been, but there are any number of other possibilities too, and Mark hides many things from us. We can’t bring our presumptions into his text, or use them to reason towards what we think he must have been talking about. That is not respecting the limitations of the evidence.

    To say that Marcion’s gospel must have been similar to our Mark with the addition of Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is to place too much assurance (trust) in the text of Tertullian (by being certain that passages in Matthew really were excised from Marcion’s gospel) and also making an arbitrary decision to limit possible options to at least one of the canonical gospels.

    Your approach to the question is very dogmatic, very black and white, and based on limited options that appear to be quite arbitrarily imposed on the question of the nature of Marcion’s gospel:

    “I think there are three ways to interpret this fact” (Why only three?)

    “Marcion didn’t believe . . . so why would he need physical support?” (I don’t know. But let’s remain open to alternative explanations, and not close down the argument to black and white ‘either-or’)

    “This is clearly a case . . . the argument T is responding to clearly requires . . . cannot in a billion years . . . Marcion is clearly using Mark and Luke was clearly written to destroy Mark’s point. . . . Undoubtedly Marcion’s book Antithesis was his version of the sermon on the mount . . . can we really believe . . . its obvious lack . . . the obvious falsity of Tertullian’s claim . . . ” — These sort of dogmatic claims are more suited to a debate and a need to persuade and point-score by debating techniques.

    But they shut down the options for exploring a range of possibilities to which an open enquiry into the evidence might lead us.

    Scholars of Marcionism are very aware of the need to question the reliability of what they read in Tertullian and Irenaeus (they are not “totally trusting” at all) and are willing to engage in discussions about revising past views in the light of new insights. But these new insights emerge from new ways of reading the evidence itself, and not from imposing blinkers on it by saying it must be either A or B or C.

  • rey
    2009-09-25 00:29:57 UTC - 00:29 | Permalink

    Scholars may not be totally trusting on everything Tert says but they are one point, that Marcion’s gospel was a version of Luke. The one major problem with Tertullian is that he clearly has chosen Luke so he can be ambiguous on whther he’s referring to his version of Luke or Marcion’s gospel, and because Luke is an anti-marcionite work (I think that’s well established by now) he is able to use this ambiguity to convince everyone that Marcion was inconsistent. The problem with scholars (and with the approach you suggest) is that they don’t understand how a guy like Tertullian thinks. Its like Bush going into Iraq without understanding how people in that region fight a war. You can’t pull the truth out of Tertullian’ propaganda without understanding how he formed his lies. But its your site so that’s the last I’ll say on it lest I expend your patience.

    • 2009-09-25 12:36:28 UTC - 12:36 | Permalink

      I think there is a misunderstanding of the scholarly process, here. Hoffmann and others, if I recall correctly, contain lengthy discussions about why they may tentatively accept some version of our Luke as being used by Marcion. They haven’t — or certainly all of them have not — just “trusted” Tertullian on this point.

      As for knowing Tertullian’s mind, you are right on that point. It is not possible to read another’s mind. We can only work as judiciously as we can with the evidence we have, and attempt to make the best judgements from the way Tertullian writes, what he says and does not say, etc. This will always involve some reading between the lines at places, and that will generally be a subjective task. But as for reading his mind — we can’t do that.

      (You’re free to disagree and give reasons for disagreement here. Your comments are not expending my patience at all.)

  • rey
    2009-09-26 00:18:13 UTC - 00:18 | Permalink

    You may be right, because it looks like there’s a lot more to this story. Like in AM 4.7 where Tert says “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar (for such is Marcion’s proposition) Jesus came down to Capernaum…” could that possibly be an indication that the canonical Luke of the time didn’t have the reference to Tiberius Caesar’s 15th year yet? The phrase “for such is Marcion’s proposition” clearly refers to the timing of when Jesus came to Capernaum, not Marcion’s interpretation that Jesus came down straight from heaven. But in our canonical Luke Jesus comes to Capernaum in that year as well, so does Tertullian’s official Luke lack the reference to Tiberius’ reign? Was that reference only absorbed int Luke later from Marcion’s gospel? If so, this does help my theory (I’ll be up front) because the most important detail tying Marcion’s gospel to Luke is the Tiberius reference, so if Luke didn’t contain the Tiberius reference in Tertullian’s day then how do you tie Marcion’s gospel to Luke aside from Tertullian saying it “seems” that Marcion chose Luke to mutilate, which is a claim that Tert may not have even made now that I think of it. The phrase ” of all the authors we possess Marcion SEEMS to have singled out Luke for his mutilating process” could be a later interpolation by someone who didn’t realize Tertullian didn’t even believe that Jesus’ ministry started in the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign! Some scribe could have taken that as a quote of Luke, thus missing the “such is MARCION’s proposition”, and thus ASSUMED Marcion was based on Luke and revised Tertullian to say so. Or better yet, since Tert says in his preface of book I that he’s editing older anti-marcionite material, Tertullian himself can be the one who interpolated the false notion of Marcion’s gospel being based on Luke into someone else’s Against Marcion that he was editing. I have thought for a while now that the statement in Ireneaus that Marcion mutilated Luke was a post-Tertullian interpolation in Ireneaus book. Perhaps the very same concept was interpolated into Tert’s work, or Tert interpolated it into the treatise he was editing, a treatise whic denies that Jesus’ ministry began in the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign “for such is MARCION’s proposition” not that of us orthodox (is this not what it means?).

    • rey
      2009-09-26 02:26:45 UTC - 02:26 | Permalink

      Actually, Hill’s translation “for such is Marcion’s proposition” may be somewhat melodramatic. “Anno quintodecimo principatus Tiberiani proponit eum descendisse in civitatem Galilaeae Capharnaum” probably should be translated something more like “In the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign, he proposes, [Jesus] descended to the Galilean city Capernaum…” Yet, the he proposes, still seems to indicate ownership solely by Marcion.

      • rey
        2009-09-26 02:37:30 UTC - 02:37 | Permalink

        Or should it be “in the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign–his proposition–[Jesus] descended…”?

  • rey
    2009-09-30 06:01:04 UTC - 06:01 | Permalink

    Interesting tidbit in “Fragments of the commentary of Ephrem Syrus upon the Diatessaron” by James Rendel Harris (full book on google books) page 3 concerning Matt. xiii. 54. reveals that in Marcion’s gospel the incident of Jesus almost being thrown off the cliff in response to his teaching in the synagogue took place in Bethsaida, not Nazareth. This should be of interest both to those seeking to know what Marcion’s gospel said AND perhaps also to those who believe Nazareth did not exist during Jesus’ lifetime.

  • Greg G.
    2015-03-25 21:04:21 UTC - 21:04 | Permalink

    Has anyone noted the Great Omission, Jr. in John? John 6 follows Mark 6 from verse 30 on the Feeding of the 5000, the Walking on Water, and the visit to Gennasaret. John’s Jesus talks about the Bread Of Life and then, in John 6:30, the people of Gennasaret ask Jesus for a sign, just as the Pharisees do in Mark 8:11-12.

    Luke 9:18 jumps from Mark 6:45 to Mark 8:27 in mid-sentence. John is near the end of Mark 6 before the Bread of Life discourse and in Mark 8:11 just after it.

    Perhaps it was not uncommon for Christians to rip out Mark 7 and whatever happened to be on the flip side of the page.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-03-26 20:03:26 UTC - 20:03 | Permalink

      That’s interesting. I don’t know if anyone who has argued for John’s dependence in Mark has addressed that, but I will keep a look out for it in the literature. Thanks.

  • James D Williams
    2016-03-24 20:19:21 UTC - 20:19 | Permalink
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