The Foreign God And The Sudden Christ: Theology And Christology In Marcion’s Gospel Redaction -- By: Peter Head

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 44:2 (NA 1993)
Article: The Foreign God And The Sudden Christ: Theology And Christology In Marcion’s Gospel Redaction
Author: Peter Head


The Foreign God And The Sudden Christ:
Theology And Christology In Marcion’s Gospel Redaction

Peter Head

Summary

This article seeks to establish the extent to which Marcion’s Christology influenced the formation of his gospel canon, the Euaggelion. Marcion’s Christology, as seen in statements preserved in Irenaeus, Tertullian and Epiphanius, has features that can be described as both docetic and modalist. These christological beliefs effect Marcion’s redaction of the Pauline epistles and his omission of material from Luke’s Gospel. In particular the omission of the birth narratives and notices relating to the humanity of Jesus suggest the appropriateness of Tertullian’s slogan: ‘the sudden Christ’.

I. Introduction

Marcion is, at least in general terms if not in detail, a well known figure in second century Christianity. In some circles he is also a popular figure; although not everyone would be happy describing him as a ‘Christian scholar, church leader, and reformer’.1 He is certainly an important figure who, perhaps more than any other, influenced the text and canon of the NT decisively in the early period.2 His work is also of interest in

terms of the influence of theological and christological factors upon his transmission and redaction of gospel traditions and it is this topic which will be explored in what follows. We shall begin with a brief introduction to Marcion and his theology (II); this will be followed by a discussion of Marcion’s Christology (III); which leads into the main part of the article which consists of an assessment of Marcion’s redactional activity in connection with both the Pauline corpus and the gospel of Luke (IV). A brief conclusion (V) summarises the results of the study.3

II. Marcion And His Theology

Marcion was a native of Pontus, born late in the first century, who became a wealthy shipowner. He was brought up in the church (according to Hippolytus he was the son of a bishop),4 and upon arrival in Rome (around A.D. 140) he joined the church there. Tertullian claimed knowledge of a letter written by Marcion to the church at Rome which indicated that Marcion was then ‘orthodox’ (Adv. Marc. I.1; IV.4; de Carne 2). Here he apparently came under the influence of Cerdo,5 a gnostic teacher who ‘taught that the God proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets was not the father of...

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