Marcion’s rules for “Mutilating” the Gospel of Luke

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by Neil Godfrey

Marcion Displaying His Canon
Image via Wikipedia

Marcion was one of the favourite heretics of the second century that “proto-orthodox” Church Fathers like Justin, Irenaeus and Tertullian loved to hate. His “heresy” posed a serious rival to other forms of Christianity, claiming followers from Syria and across Asia Minor (the main base) through to Italy and North Africa. The distinctive marks of his teachings were that he believed that the God of the Jewish Bible was not the highest or the one Good God, but was a lesser being who was responsible for the world and all its evils. He rejected Jewish Bible (Old Testament) on the grounds that it had no relevance for Christians.

One of his enduring claims to fame is that he is sometimes said to have been the first Christian to have come up with the idea of a canon of scripture. It was his canon, it is sometimes said, that was the prompt for what became the dominant catholic church to assemble its own canon that resulted in the New Testament we have today. Marcion’s “canon” consisted of the epistles of Paul. Paul, in Marcion’s view, was the only true apostle. All others were misguided and false apostles. There was one “gospel” in this canon, and it was said to be a mutilated form of the Gospel of Luke. Continue reading “Marcion’s rules for “Mutilating” the Gospel of Luke”