What Others have Written About Galatians – Robert M. Price

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by Neil Godfrey

To freeload off the Gospel of Luke’s prologue, inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order an account of those things which have been written in Galatians, I have decided not to add my own variant to their number, but to set forth one by one the accounts of our predecessors so that ye may understand the breadth of understanding that has gone before us, compare, and ponder.

I hope to cover the views of Bruno Bauer, G. A. van den Bergh van Eysinga, J.C. O’Neill, Joseph Turmel, and any others that come to mind along the way. (Suggestions welcome but not necessarily followed up.) My main focus will be on the first two chapters of Galatians since this exercise is partly an attempt to think more clearly about the questions I raised in my previous post. I should also add a range of commentaries where they focus on Galatians 2:6.

First off the rank will be Robert M. Price’s presentation of Galatians 1 and 2 from The Pre-Nicene New Testament.

In my view, Marcion wrote only what we read as chapters 3-6. The first two chapters, in their first form, were added subsequently by Marcionites as a rebuttal to the story in Acts, which attempts to co-opt Paul, and with him Paulinists (Marcionites, Encratites. Gnostics), for Catholic Christianity. (316)

Price makes some reasonable points, I believe:

Bruno Bauer, Rudolf Steck, W. C. van Manen, and others have observed numerous contradictions and anachronisms implying that the work is multi-layered, having gone through the hands of various redactors, and that even the original form was pseudepigraphical. Van Manen judged that Marcion himself wrote the first draft. I take Marcion as the author, partly because of the striking comment of Tertullian (Against Marcion, 5: chap. 3) that “Marcion, discovering the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians,… labors very hard to destroy the character of these Gospels which are published as genuine and under the names of the apostles.” If we take “discover” in its strongest sense, the comment implies no one had seen the epistle before. (315)

The translation and notes in the right hand column are Robert Price’s. The italics in Price’s translation indicate disputed passages that are not found in all manuscripts. I have added the green-ish shading to make them more easily noticed. I would normally use a more familiar translation (RSV, NIV, etc) but hopefully the publishers will not mind if I copy just the two chapters of Price’s worth-reading translation. Fresh translations, as Price himself points out, help us to read all too familiar passages afresh. I have highlighted in yellow the problematic passage discussed earlier, which agrees with Ken Olson’s explanation.


1Paul, an apostle, not sent from any human authority, neither by human beings, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, the one who has raised him from the dead, 2and with me, all the brothers,a to the congregations of Galatia:

a. “Brothers” denotes itinerant missionaries.
3May you enjoy the favor and the protection of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4the one who has given himself for the sake of our sins, so he might rescue us out of the present evil age in accordance with the will of our God and Father, 5to whom all worship is due throughout ages multiplied by ages. Amen.
6I am astonished that already this soon you are detaching yourselves from the one who called you by the favor of Christ, embracing a different message of salvation, 7which in fact is not another, only that there are some bothering you and intent on perverting the news of Christ. 8As for that, even if we or some angel from heaven should proclaim to you some message of salvation besides the one we proclaimed to you, let him be excommunicated! 9Let me just repeat that for emphasis. If anyone proclaims a message of salvation beside the one you first welcomed, let him be excommunicated!b b. This anticipates the claim that the Mosaic Torah was the gift of angels, not of God (cf. 3:19-20 below); thus a Judaizing gospel must be the creation of angels, too.
10Is that blunt enough for you? Am I ingratiating myself with my audience now or am I calling down God? Or am I mincing words to flatter men? For if I were still concerned to meet the expectations of mere mortals, I would have chosen some other task than being a slave of Christ. 11For I am letting you know, brothers, that the news preached by me is not human in origin, 12for it was not from human beings that I received it, nor was I instructed in it;c on the contrary, it was revealed by Jesus Christ.d 13You are acquainted with my actions while I belonged to Judaism,e how I went to insane lengths persecuting God’s community and laid it waste, 14and progressed in Jewish religion beyond many contemporaries in my race, being many times over a zealot for my ancestral traditions.f c. What lies in the background here is Paul’s instruction by Ananias of Damascus, as in Acts 9:17-19.
d. The same claim is borrowed for Peter in Matt. 16:16-18.
e. As Bruno Bauer and J. C. O’Neill point out, the use of this term is anachronistic, presupposing two distinct religions, which was not yet clear in Paul’s day. The word was used in the first century, but only to offset Judaism from paganism. It had not yet come to be used vis-a-vis Christianity. O’Neill brackets verses 13-14 as an interpolation, veering off the train of argument.
f. Note the seeming equation of Jewish zeal with the persecution of Christians.
15And yet, when God, who had watched over me since my umbilical cord was cut, 16thought it choice irony to reveal his Son to me,g and called me by his favor in order for me to proclaim him among the nations, I paused not to consult with flesh and blood, 17neither did I go up at once to Jerusalem to the apostles previous to me.h No, I took off for Arabia and went back to Damascus.i

18It was only after three years that I went up to Jerusalem to consult with Cephas and remained with him fifteen days.j 19But I did not so much as see any of the other apostles except for James, the Lord’s brother.k 20Now in this recounting, I swear before God: I am not lying!l 21From there I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.

22And still I remained known only by reputation to the congregations in Christ of Judea.m 23They only heard rumors: “The one who persecuted us now preaches the very religionn he was then intent on destroying!”o 24And they worshipped God on account of my case.

g. Here we find the influence of Euripides’ Bacchae, where Dionysus hypnotically compels the conversion of his persecutor, Pentheus, as part of a death trap. See also the irony-laden words of Christ in Acts 9:16.
h. Again, contra Acts 9:26-27.
i. The writer presupposes the narrative of Acts since Damascus has not been mentioned previously, as it is in Acts 9.
j. He remembers the exact duration fourteen years later? This sounds like a narrator simply positing plausible times and seasons for the sake of a story.
k. In Tertullian’s treatise, Against Marcion, he does not mention this first visit, implying the text of Galatians did not yet mention it either. If it had, Tertullian surely would have made hay of it: it would have clearly implied Paul’s subordination to the Jerusalem authorities, a point Tertullian would have used against Marcion. He didn’t, though, implying that he didn’t have it to use. Thus, it is a later insertion designed to abet the notion that Paul did go to Jerusalem to submit himself to the twelve as soon as he was able. “Again” was added to 2:1 at the same time by way of harmonization. Tertullian mentions the visit of 2:1-10 apparently as the visit, not as a second visit.
l. Obviously, this is a rebuttal to another account, widely known, in which Paul was a delegate of mortal agencies and had at once submitted himself to the previous apostles. Either the writer is responding to Acts 9 or that was the common version, which our writer seeks to overthrow, rewriting history in the interests of later sectarian strife.
m. Contrary to Acts 9:28-30.
n. The term here literally reads “the faith,” generally considered to be post-Pauline usage.
o. This is a crucial admission that the whole notion of Paul as a persecutor is the product of popular rumor. In all probability it is a distortion of the Ebionite claim that Paul, as an anti-Torah Christian, had opposed the true Christian religion—theirs. In a later time, when few remembered the sectarian divisions of an earlier generation, this version was misunderstood as if Paul, a non-Christian, had physically persecuted believers in Christianity per se.

1Then, after an interval of fourteen years, I went up to Jerusalem again with Bar-Nabas, taking along Titus, too. 2And I went up, summoned by a revelation.p And I laid out before them the news as I proclaim it among the nations, in private session with those of great repute, for fear I might have been running off course.q 3But my companion Titus, a Greek, was not compelled to be circumcised. He was willing to go along with it voluntarily as a concession.

4But on account of the pseudo-brothers who had sneaked into the sessionr in order to spy on our freedom from the Torah that we gentiles have in Christ, thinking they would enslave us, 5we yielded to them in submission but for an hour in order to preserve the news for you.s 6But as for those esteemed to be something greattwhat they were then makes no difference to me now; God is impressed by no man’s clout—those of repute added no proviso to me. 7On the contrary! Once they saw how I had been entrusted by God with the news for the uncircumcised, just as Peter was for the circumcised, 8the one energizing Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised energizing me also, but to the nations, 9and acknowledging the favor shown me by God, James and Cephas and John, the ones reputed to be Pillars,u offered to me and to Bar-Nabas the good right hand of partnership, dividing the territory: we would henceforth go to the nations, they to the circumcised,v 10except that we should not forget the Poor,w the very thing I was eager to do in any case!

p. Note that he is not making an appearance in Jerusalem at the behest of any human authority, contra Acts 15:2.
q. Here we find a retrojection into imagined apostolic times of Marcion’s own visit to Rome to join the church there and voluntarily disclose his doctrine. Obviously at the time, he took seriously the reputation of the Roman Church for authority, disdaining it only after they had rejected his doctrine. In the same way, Muhammad very often in the Koran retells the stories of Israelite prophets, including Moses, Abraham, and Noah, in terms modeled quite closely upon himself and his conflicts.
r. He thus seeks to hide the fact that this Torah faction was part of the core group of Pillars, “those of repute. ” He implies that no one knew them at that time for what they turned out to be: Judaizing hardliners.
s. The reference is to the token circumcision of Titus, another version of which is told in Acts 16:3, where Timothy has been substituted for Titus.
t. Not coincidentally, in Acts 8:9 we find pretty much the same disdainful phrase characterizing Simon Magus. In Acts we are reading the other side of the same argument.
u. This is cosmic terminology denoting the Atlas-like function of upholding the vault of heaven, perhaps signaling a channel of communication with heaven, much like Jacob’s ladder, the axis mundi. Accordingly, James the Just is said to have served as high priest for the Jerusalem Church. After his death, it was possible for Jerusalem to fall because it no longer retained the protection of his presence. The exalted office of the Pillars would thus have been analogous to the later Jewish legend of the Fifty Righteous, whose presence on earth guaranteed God’s protection no matter how sinful everyone else became (Gen. 18:24-26).
v. As William O. Walker Jr. points out, vv. 7-9 must be an interpolation since they rudely interrupt the sequence of 6 and 10, where the original means the Pillars imposed no condition upon Paul and Barnabas except for the relief collection. Note that the interpolator slips and calls Cephas “Peter,” his more familiar name.
w. The Jerusalem Ebionim, in other words, for whom Paul is constantly raising money in his churches. This is a fictive version of Marcion’s own initial gift of a large sum to the Roman Church, which they refunded after deeming him a heretic. Its refusal is echoed in Acts 8:18-24; 21:20-26; 24:17-18; Rom. 15:16, 30. This proviso, representing tribute money to be paid the Jerusalem Church as the price of recognition of Paulinism, obviously should follow verse 6.
11But when Cephas arrived in Antioch, I stood up to him publicly because he was blatantly out of line.x 12For before a certain party arrived from James,y he used to dine with the gentiles,z but when this one arrived, he stood down, segregating himself, fearing the circumcision faction. 13And the rest of the Jews played hypocrite along with him so that even Bar-Nabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14But as soon as I noticed they were not walking the straight path of the news, I said to Cephas in front of everyone: “If you, being a Jew, nonetheless live like a gentile,a where do you get off forcing the gentiles to Judaize?b 15Physically, we are Jews, not sinners from the nations, 16and since we know that a person is not accepted as righteous by virtue of deeds of Torah, but by belief in Christ Jesus—even we believed in Christ Jesus in order that we might be counted righteous by token of belief in Christ and not by deeds of Torah because no human being will ever be counted righteous by deeds of Torah. 17But if, in the very effort to be counted righteous through Christ, we were found to be sinners no better than the gentiles, does that make Christ a facilitator of sin? Never! 18But if I start to rebuild the very things I demolished, this is what makes me a transgressor. 19For it was by means of the Torah that I died relative to the Torah, escaping its grasp so I might live relative to God. 20I have been crucified alongside Christ. I live no more, but Christ now inhabits my body; as a result, what I now undergo in the flesh I endure by the belief in the Son of God loving me and giving himself up on my behalf. 21I for one do not presume to turn my nose up at the mercy of God: for if it is really through the Torah that salvation comes, then Christ’s death is moot!”c x. This was apparently because Peter signaled” he was promoting a different gospel that would involve Judaizing the gentiles (v. 14), thus incurring the curse of anathema (1:8-9).
y. This party consisted of delegates sent to check on the implementation of the Jerusalem decree dealing with basic kosher laws (cf. Acts 15:30-32).
z. Acts 10
a. Peter behaves like a gentile by eating non-kosher food, something implied here but made clearer in Acts 10:12-15; 11:3. See Frank R. McGuire, “Galatians as a Reply to Acts,” Journal of Higher Criticism 9 (Fall 2002), 161-72.
b. Against his better judgment, Peter decided to acquiesce to James by imposing the stipulations of the Jerusalem decree (Acts 15). The decree remains hidden here but nonetheless lurks in the background, as McGuire points out.
c. This impromptu speech corresponds very closely to that ascribed to Peter in Acts 15:7-11, but with a pinch of Romans added. Which apostle is credited with it turns on which one was the pioneer evangelist to the gentiles, an honor Acts gives Peter, while the epistles give it to Paul. German critics of the Tubingen school say Acts adapted the speech from Galatians, whereas Dutch critics claim Galatians adapted it from Acts.

As I remarked in the earlier post, or at least tried to suggest, that last passage (vv 11-21) does not come across as a realistic account of what Paul would have said in the circumstances. It is an artifice, a sermon, and as Price notes, it is built from other texts. It is not Paul — or at least it seems to me to be the work of a scribe crafting a letter through the character of Paul. A few years ago I posted how another section in these opening chapters appears to be intertextually crafted from Jeremiah: Sowing Doubt That an Emotional Paul Authored Galatians. Of course, we might think that Paul was so immersed in the scriptures that he could not help but express himself in scriptural language — in the same way I used the prologue to Luke’s gospel to open this post. But that would not explain the apparent link with Acts, as noted by Price:

After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

As for Galatians being a rebuttal to the character of Paul as portrayed in Acts, that could potentially make Galatians very much a latecomer. If we accept the arguments of Joseph Tyson (and I am one who has been persuaded by them up to now) Luke-Acts were not completed (taking the canonical form familiar to us) until the 120s CE. Justin writing a little later tells us that Marcion was still active in his day but I cannot think that Justin had ever heard of the book of Acts. The Gospel of Luke was in many respects an answer to Marcionism. Should we think Acts was attempting to refute Galatians and other writings of Paul rather than the author of Galatians taking issue with Acts? That’s something that I would need to take some time to study before reaching a conclusion, if I can at all. Hopefully in the meantime I will encounter publications that have tackled that question.


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21 thoughts on “What Others have Written About Galatians – Robert M. Price”

  1. It seems (but I am not sure) that for Bob Price and McGuire also the earliest draft of Galatians postdates Acts. I think at contrary that, once removed the obvious Catholic interpolations based on Acts, what is left is the scandal for a “different gospel” connected with Peter and who is scandalized may be Marcion. I infer from these two items that the “different gospel” could only be a gospel in use among Judaizers. It can’t be Matthew since Matthew postdates *Ev. It can’t be *Ev because *Ev assumes already that Peter is the first of the apostles. It can’t be Mark because Mark is surely not a Petrinist gospel. The best candidate then is the Gospel of Peter hence confirming that J.D. Crossan is right to consider its earliest draft as the first gospel that introduced the role of Peter/Cephas as the founder of the sect. Note that also Justin knew only a such Gospel (and *Ev) but not yet the Canonical Gospels. Debt to the mythicist Louis Gordon Rylands to have been the precursor of J.D.Crossan as to the priority of the Gospel of Peter in virtue of the arguments resumed by me in this post.

  2. Also the proclamation by an “angel from heaven”, and not only the presumed witness of Peter/Cephas, is connected to the gospel that is going to scandalize the author of Galatians:

    As for that, even if we or some angel from heaven should proclaim to you some message of salvation besides the one we proclaimed to you, let him be excommunicated!

    Not coincidentially, the Gospel of Peter is the only gospel where angels and celestial voices proclaim the good news:

    And whilst they were relating what they had seen, they saw again three men come out from the sepulchre, and two of them sustaining the other, and a cross following them, [10:40] and the heads of the two reaching to heaven, but that of him who was led of them by the hand overpassing the heavens. [10:41] And they heard a voice out of the heavens crying, “Hast thou preached to them that sleep?” [10:42] and from the cross there was heard the answer, “Yea.”

  3. I am put in mind of an argument by Roger Parvus (viewable here: https://vridar.org/2013/10/14/a-simonian-origin-for-christianity-part-4-excursus-on-marcion-valentinians-and-the-pauline-letters/ ) for why those 3 chapers from Galatians are authentic: “One other aspect of this discovery scenario makes me uncomfortable too. If Marcion wrote the core of Galatians but claimed only to have discovered it, would this not—as Price suggests—put him in the same league with Hilkiah who “discovered” Deuteronomy and Joseph Smith who “discovered” the book of Mormon? I am reluctant to put him in that company. To me, he comes across as a refreshingly open and honest character. At a time when so many Christians were engaging in outright forgery, attempting to pass off their writings as belonging to an earlier time, his Antitheses stands out as an honest, straightforward critique put forward in his own name. He did not attempt to pass that work off as a long lost book of Paul. Or even as divinely revealed to him by Jesus or Paul.”

    In all fairness, Parvus does not only use such an appeal to Marcion’s honesty, but the fact that such alleged honesty is invoked at all is noteworthy in this context.

    I am put in mind of SecretAlias’s insistence on the Biblical History and Criticism Forum, when I questioned why we should trust the gospels as reliable accounts of Jesus’s life and teachings despite their being of unknown authorship, unknown intended audience, and unknown date, that the authors of the gospels were honest people striving to present truth.

    When I pointed out that such a conclusion about the honesty of persons recording biograsphical details about a religion’s founder has not been supported in other religions and provided examples of massive forgery of allegedly authentic teachings and deeds by a religion’s founder in the context of Buddhism, SecretAlias, in addition to expressing incredulity that such forgery would have occurred, first tried to dismiss my evidence by claiming that I was violating a rule on the Biblical History and Criticism Forum in terms of how I was citing my evidence. I then publically inquired to Peter Kirby about whether I was violating any rule, and Peter Kirby publically said that I was violating no rules. SecretAlias then refused to address my argument beyond incredulity because he alleged that my citations were not part of any argument. When I explained to SecretAlias how my citations were indeedd part of an argument about the possibility of massive forgery of biographical details about a relifion’s founder, SecretAlias for the first time began complaining about the typoes in my writing, which, SecretAlias alleged, proved that I was not serious in my argument, wherefore he would not reply to my argument.

    Peter Kirby, to his credit, has said that SecretAlias treated me in a bad way, but the result of that discussion was the public exposure of trhe fact that SecretAlias is both fundamentally naive about questioing the reliability of biographies of rteligions’ foundewrs and is both unwilling to investigate information which can disprove his claims and is too cowardly to openly admit that he is unwilling to investigate information which can disprove his claims.

    1. I can only say — as you no doubt have found out for yourself — don’t take SA seriously. He has nothing to offer except ignorance and personal abuse, and even if he gets the odd thing right, remember that a broken clock tells the right time twice a day. As for Kirby, he will protest a few, but only a few, of SA’s most egregious comments, but still go on to compliment him for his other contributions. Kirby is not a fit person to moderate a forum. I even recall some misgivings the day I learned that the old infidels forum was to be salvaged by earlywritings “thanks to Peter Kirby”.

      1. Leaving aside your dislike for certain people, what is your opinion of the fact that not only SecretAlias but also Roger Parvus, in defending early Christian texts’ reliability, appeal to the honesty of their authors and/or discoverers, even though for Parvus it is only a part of his reasoning?

        1. I would have to refresh my reading of Roger’s arguments more broadly before commenting on that, sorry. Right now I’m a bit pressed for time since I’m travelling again and will be more settled later this week when back home. If I don’t reply then remind me. (Forget SA — he is simply ignorant and cannot even comprehend much of what he reads.)

        2. By the way — the posts you see today and next few days were drafted some time ago. So you will see new stuff here but I’ll prefer to be settled again back home before following up other questions.

        3. On re-reading Roger Parvus’s argument, I would give him credit for citing two items of evidence to support his presumption of relative honesty in Marcion vis a vis the various forgers of the time.

          1. The evidence of Tertullian that Marcion claimed to have been the first to have “discovered” Paul’s letters is not strong. The evidence does not allow us to be dogmatic about the idea that Marcion “invented” Paul’s letters. That’s the negative evidence.

          2. The positive evidence is that Marcion, as Roger notes, does publish in his own name. So the question that arises is why would Marcion have invented writings while attributing them to another author who was not well-known or famous at that time? The name of Paul only became prominent after Marcion, so the evidence suggests.

          So I think Roger P does support his claim for Marcion’s relative honesty (in contrast to forgers) with some evidence. That is a different basis for claiming that authors were “honest” with nothing but the tradition of the church to support such a claim.

          1. Yet, the name Paulus makes a lot of sense for the spokesman of Marcion in the light of the variants of it in many Gospel variants (the little seed, the little ones, the little offer by the poor widow, even the divine spark thrown in the matter of the Gnostic myth and possibly seen in the Parable of the Sower, that is also a reference to the Diasporic Jews – and Paul was one): all allusions to the gentilizers. This would be also a good argument to claim that the epistles were going to be fabricated in parallel to the godpels (I think about the wave model proposed by Litwa in his recent book on the gospels).

            1. One needs to beware of confirmation bias. It is easy to find data that supports our hypothesis and list it in vast quantity, but unless we have a means of independently testing our interpretation of the data we have only added to the pool of potential ignorance and misinformation. Alternative explanations remain untested.

          2. “So the question that arises is why would Marcion have invented writings while attributing them to another author who was not well-known or famous at that time? The name of Paul only became prominent after Marcion, so the evidence suggests.”

            Well, the forger may want to have the benefit of having ideas in the original writings which the forger correctly admits to having written supported by an allegedly earlier author – whose words the forger fabricated.

            I am aware of 2 examples of this from Buddhism, but they attributed the allegedly ancient texts to some authority within the religion (Shakyamuni Buddha and Kūkai who founded Shingon Buddhism).

            Marcion may have promoted a letter from Paul which Marcion had forged even though Marcion was not yet famous within the Christian world for 3 reasons, as I see the matter.

            1. Because Paul was famous within the Christian sect which Marcion was a part of – a sect which was opposed by the proto-Orthodox. In the same way, even though Kūkai who founded Shingon Buddhism is very prominent within Shingon Buddhism, he is not a major figure in any other Buddhist sect.

            2. Because Paul, despite not being famous within any Christian sect, was an earlier Christian through whom Marcion could anchor to tradition his ideas.

            3. Because Marcion was so eager to anchor his teachings to an earlier Christian rather than presenting his ideas as his own that Marcion made up an earler Christian, named Paul, and attributed to Paul certain ideas.

            You and I, Neil, would likely disagree about which of these hypotheses is correct if it is accepted that Marcion forged Pauline letters, but I note that the 1st 2 proposals which I make are not incompatible with a fictional Paul – they would merely mean that Marcion was himself believing that Paul was historical even though Paul was not historical.

            1. All options are possible. I am undecided on the question. Roger Parvus has the advantage, it might be argued, of justifying his view on the basis of the fewest number of hypotheses to justify his view. Or am I missing your point?

            2. I tend towards thinking Marcion did not invent Paul, but was likely his curator. I suppose I would compare this to Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn who ‘rediscovered’ JS Bach.

              However, if Ephesians is no longer considered part of the original set, then surely this should extend to the first two chapters of Galatians. The curator is perhaps prone to filling in the gaps!

              The Mozart Requiem is a magnificent work completed by Süssmayr. We still generally refer to the Requiem as Mozart’s!

              The epistles are often described as patched together with discontinuities and splices – I assume this observation is still valid? It would certainly support a curation hypothesis here, but this does not tell us that original works were not written as pseudo-biographical. My inclination now is to think of “Paul” as an anonymous writer using a pseudonym. His fame is probably just local. The use of far-distant audiences in the title (and the name-dropping) is probably just an artistic license being deployed by the writer.

              The ‘evidence’ from Tertullian is not great. If Marcion ‘discovered’ the letters, we really only have the criterion of embarrassment here to give this evidence some sort of elevation over the background of Tertullian’s spurious rant. Nevertheless, it does seem to fit with Justin Martyr seeming to know nothing about Paul. I struggle to read the supposed Marcion theology in the letters except in a very few places. I suppose they were re-written, but I also suspect that Marcion’s theology was nothing like how his detractors made it out. The division between Marcion and Polycarp* may have been simply personal, not theological? (*or John the Elder?)
              Could it have also been an intermittent feud? Did Polycarp and Marcion also reconcile?

              If we hold to the idea that these letters contain allegorical descriptions of the feud between Marcion and the early Roman Church, then we really need a very complex mechanism to explain how these letters gain acceptance into the Roman Church. I would normally posit that Marcion brought these works to Rome and he and his curated works were welcomed before there was any falling out. But if the letters allude to the falling out as well, then did this ‘falling out’ occur before a reconciliation that brought the material into the Church?
              It does seem way too complex, but history does tend to be complex!

              Of course, we have the other Elephant in the room – the gospel that became part of Marcion’s canon. I note that the gospel of Mark seems to borrow heavily from Romans. If Marcion is the only person who knows about Paul up until bringing these letters to Rome, then surely Marcion’s circle must be the prime suspect for the Gospel of Mark as well. It seems unlikely that the person who wrote Romans would have been the same person who wrote gMark as gMark goes beyond the intention of Romans in turning the teachings in Romans into the words of Jesus. It would seem to suggest to me that Marcion is drawing upon an established tradition which goes way back before him here.

              I imagine that if the works of Papias and Hegesippus were to turn up, my theory here would be totally demolished as we would have many of the missing pieces but a million more problems to solve!

      2. I’m a few years past when I last looked at this site…and saw this on one of the Facebook groups.

        I’ve had a few years getting some new insights…and especially working out if in real terms, our “Muratorian canon” NT is really just the next phase along from mid-2nd century made up material by a known forger/huckster with aliases. Sources…Lucian on the Peregrinus, later church on Leucius Charinus. Both attest to a doofus making up stories in that period.

        And perhaps doing a version of “Pauline” material that wasn’t the original “Markan” version.

        So…I’ve had to look at Galatians from that angle.

        Does it SOUND like a mid-2nd century figure having an allegorical WHINE about his OWN problems with a PRIOR group he’d gotten the BOOT from? And is his VENTING of SPLEEN sort of a “you are the first-born of Satan” rant at this prior group…allegorising them as “Pillar apostles?”

        Galatians is where “Paul” sounds more like Lex Luthor slagging off at Pillar friends of Superman, Lois, Jimmy and Perry.

        And the analogy there is deliberate.

        Strip it down to Occcam’s Razor terms, we have the CORE being someone having his OWN personal revelation AGAINST…not necessarily other apostles…but against the JEWISH NATIONAL revelation at SINAI.

        I’m starting to approach allegories from my OWN specialty in comic writing. As long as one knows there is an ALLEGORY at PLAY…to DECODE…you first have to observe the PLOT points and work out the most CORE plot points.

        THEN you get the REAL gist.

        And investigating the whole Peregrinus thing…I arrive at HIM being the one behind especially Galatians. His whinge and whine at the group that gave HIM the boot.

        I also think he had a LOT to do with the writing of Acts…there are internal clues it was written AFTER Bar Kochba.

        But the allegory factor there is STRONGEST with chapters 7 and 21. And stripped down to THEIR core…they are about Herod Agrippa.

        So I would suggest the Peregrinus KNEW who was UNDER his portrayal OF “Paul.”

        Someone Jewish pointing out Genesis 36 and the EDOMITE king Saul REALLY helped there. If the Peregrinus wrote Acts…and he used the Genesis 36 Saul HINT…then he KNEW a lot more about Herod Agrippa than he let on. OUTSIDE of two chapters, though…he OBSCURED what he knew. ESPECIALLY in Chapter 25.

        I’ve also got one other discovery. THe Peregrinus as a FRUMENTARII loose in Iudea between Kitos and Bar Kochba. Even the “Peregrinus” thing…same as one of the offices of the Frumentarii…did ANYONE recently at ALL consider Lucian was satirising Hadrian’s spy network?

        It DOES make a GREATER sense out of Hadrian’s Letter to Servianus…he didn’t trust Alexandria. And for some reason, he was focusing on Alexandria as a “Chrestian or CHristian major centre. I don’t YET know what his Frumentarii in Alexandria got up to…but thanks to Lucian I DO know what the one in IUDEA was doing. And this particular doofus went on to write a whole heap of MADE-UP stories.

        Back to Acts first before Galatians…two chapters with any real data of worth…every other chapter complete fiction.

        Galatians…the flip side of the bit Irenaeus told us.

        Only not “Marcion” there. “Judaisers.” “Pillar Apostles” SPLEEN is vented on. Or the Jewish Torah followers. And what the writer is saying? Wordy way of calling whoever he was ranting against “first-born of Satan.”

        Plot points. DECODE the plot points, the rest is easy.

        Now, someone explain to me how for hundreds of years everyone missed that Lucian described a FRUMENTARII…and DO realize…that Frumentarii INVENTED the church’s APOCRYPHAL information about the various “apostles.”

        1. Surely the problem with the ‘allegory’ theory is that these works somehow became accepted by the very people who are the target of the rant?

          It makes for interesting postulation how this could have occurred.

  4. You have the best sales network covering many markets, which you skillfully develop. It is in your interest to offer the same as the competition, because this is how you use your advantage. You have no incentive to theologically limit your offerings. You use the entire range of available products and choose the best ones to sell.
    This entire discussion about Marcion and the hypothetical impact of his conflict with Rome on the content of the letters, gospels and Acts of the Apostles is completely disconnected from reality and common sense.

    1. Actually, it seems that the best theological sales pitch was (and still is) to produce something new that your competitors are not selling but to dress it up as stemming from “lost/ignored/debased wisdom of the ancients” to make it less obvious that you pulled it out of somewhere the sun don’t shine.

  5. I am thinking about the following words of Rudolf Steck written in 1888 (Der Galaterbrief nach seiner Echtheit untersucht nebst kritischen bemerkungen zu den Paulinischen Hauptbriefen, p. 363, my translation using Deepl):

    As far as the Apocalypse is concerned, the position hitherto assigned to it is beginning to be more and more misunderstood and to be assigned in whole or in part to a later period. And according to our findings, the main Pauline epistles are by no means such old and genuine documents of Paulinism as we have previously thought. We believe we have proved that the Epistle to the Galatians does not specifically precede the Acts of the Apostles, but follows it. Whether the other epistles also presuppose our Gospels is more open to question. We think this is probable, but we also think it is possible that they knew written collections of Jesus’ words, but not yet in the form of our Gospels, which would then only have been edited later in the way we read them now. Then the process of the origin of the Gospels and the Epistles would not simply have taken place one after the other, but would have been intertwined, and individual words in the Gospel text of the last form could well refer back to our Epistles, while in these, as we believe we have shown, some things point back to the older predecessors of our Gospels. But this is not the place to examine this in detail. – Some of what Scholten et al. refer to Paul in the Gospels is very uncertain and unprovable, e.g. that the hostile man in the parable of the tares among the wheat Mt 13:30 is Paul, or that the wolves in sheep’s clothing 7:15 point to Paulines. A less coarse interpretation is just as obvious. But even if some things in the Gospels refer to Paul and Paulinism, this does not necessarily mean that they are the Paul and Paulinism of the main epistles.
    (my bold)

    Hence the proposed solution would be the following:

    collection of sayings of Jesus (and/or some lost proto-gospel) —> forgery of Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians —> Gospels —>> Acts of the Apostles —> Galatians —> Catholic revision.

    Hence the implication is that the problem of the silence about the life of Jesus in the epistles is resolved by Steck by postulating the parallel development of both (the first three) epistles and gospels, with Galatians (the 4° epistle) coming after Acts of the Apostles.

    My current thoughts are the following:

    (Scenario A) if Galatians is genuine then nor Paul neither his enemies knew a written Gospel (Richard Carrier is essentially correct)
    (Scenario B) if Galatians is a forgery and preceded Acts of the Apostles, then the author placed his Jesus in heaven but the his enemies had just introduced a written gospel with the following disturbing features: centrality of Jerusalem, prominence of Peter, absence of the Twelve, proclamation by angels and celestial voices after the resurrection. Three items that fit enough well the description of the Gospel of Peter (that therefore would be the first gospel).
    (Scenario C) if Galatians is a forgery and post-dates Acts of the Apostles, then both the author (Marcion?) and the his enemies knew all the other written gospels and also Acts of the Apostles.

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