Difference between revisions of "Marcion"

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'''Marcion of Sinope''' (ca. 110-160), was an early teacher whose teachings, known as [[Marcionism]], were condemned by the Church as [[heresy]].
== History ==
Marcion was a native of Sinope (modern Sinop, Turkey), in Pontus, Asia Minor.  He was a wealthy shipowner.  According to St. [[Hippolytus of Rome]], he was the son of a [[bishop]] who [[excommunication|excommunicated]] him on grounds of immorality.  He eventually found his way to Rome (ca. 140) and became a major financial supporter of the Church there. 
In the next few years after his arrival in Rome, he worked out his theological system and began to organize his followers into a separate community.  He was excommunicated by the [[Church of Rome|Church at Rome]] in 144.  From then on, he apparently used Rome as a base of operations, devoting his gift for organization and considerable wealth to the propagation of his teachings and the establishment of compact communities throughout the [[Roman Empire]], making converts of every age, rank and background.
A story told by [[Tertullian]] and St. [[Irenaeus of Lyons]] says that Marcion attempted to use his money to influence the Church to endorse his teaching, but was refused.  His numerous critics throughout the Church include the aforementioned, along with St. [[Justin Martyr]], St. [[Ephraim of Syria]], [[Dionysius of Corinth]], [[Theophilus of Antioch]], [[Philip of Gortyna]], St. [[Hippolytus of Rome|Hippolytus]] and [[Rhodo]] in Rome, [[Bardesanes]] at Edessa, [[Clement of Alexandria]], and [[Origen]].
== Teachings ==
Marcion's teaching, known as [[Marcionism]], was that [[Jesus Christ|Jesus]] revealed to the world a hitherto unknown god, who was different from the god of the [[Old Testament|Hebrew Bible]].  According to Marcion, the god of the Hebrew Bible was jealous, wrathful, and legalistic.  The material world he created was defective, a place of suffering; the god who made such a world was the bungling or malicious [[demiurge]]. Jesus was not the [[Messiah]] promised by [[Judaism]]; that Messiah was to be a conqueror and a political leader. Rather, Jesus was sent by a god greater than the Creator.  His role was to reveal the transcendent god of light and pure mind, different in character from the creator god of the Hebrew Bible.  Jesus's god was free from passion and wrath, wholly benevolent; and Jesus was sent to lead believers out of subjection to the limited, wrathful creator god of the [[Old Testament]].
Marcion produced the first Christian [[canon]], or list of the books of the [[Bible]] that he considered authoritative.  His list, however, was much smaller than that currently recognised as valid by most Christians:  he included only the [[Gospel of Luke]], the [[Acts of the Apostles]], and ten of the [[epistle]]s attributed to the [[Apostle Paul]]. (He omitted Paul's pastoral epistles, addressed to Timothy and Titus.) These books, according to Marcion, were the ones that contained the true teachings of St. Paul.  He completely rejected the [[Old Testament]], believing and teaching that it should not be part of the Christian Bible and was of no value to Christians.
[[Marcionism|Marcion's position]] is not identical to, but is closely related to, the various belief sets together called [[Gnosticism]].  In some sources, he is often reckoned among the Gnostics, but as the ''Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed.)'' puts it, "it is clear that he would have had little sympathy with their mythological speculations" (p. 1034).  Like the Gnostics, his [[Christology]] was [[Docetism|Docetic]].
His thinking, untenable to most Christians throughout history, shows the potential influence of Hellenistic philosophy on Christianity, and the moral critique of the Hebrew Bible from the [[ethics]] of [[Platonism]].  Marcion's proposed canon was a factor that led the orthodox Christian movement to formulate a canon of authoritative [[Scripture]] of its own, and which led to the current canon of the [[New Testament]].
His writings have all been lost, but it is possible to reconstruct and deduce a large part of what he taught based on what other writers said concerning him, especially [[Tertullian]].  He was also known to have imposed a severe morality on his followers, some of whom suffered in the general persecutions of Christians.
==External links==
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09645c.htm Catholic Encyclopedia entry]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/3827/ Center for Marcionite Research]
''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed.)'', pp. 1033-34

Revision as of 11:34, June 10, 2008