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Marcionism

From Academic Kids

Marcionism is a sect founded in AD 144 at Rome by Marcion of Sinope. It continued in the West for 300 years and in the East some centuries longer, especially outside the Byzantine Empire. After the Roman-Jewish Wars of 66-73, 115-117 and 132-135 anything Jewish was very unpopular in Rome. Into this context stepped Marcion.

The premise of Marcionism is that many of the teachings of Jesus are incompatible with the Old Testament. Marcion, according to Tertullian and Epiphanius, using Luke 6:43-45 (a good tree does not produce bad fruit) and Luke 5:36-38 (nobody tears a piece from a new garment to patch an old garment or puts new wine in old wineskins), set about to recover what he considered the authentic teachings of Jesus. The result was probably the first Christian Bible Canon outside of the Septuagint and it consisted of parts of Luke and the Letters of Paul and Marcion's Antithesis which contrasted the teachings of Jesus with the teachings of the Old Testament.

Because of the rejection of the Old Testament which originates in the Jewish Bible, the Marcionites are believed by some Christians to be anti-Semitic. Indeed, the word Marcionism is sometimes used in modern times to refer to anti-Jewish tendencies in Christian churches, especially when such tendencies are thought to be surviving residues of ancient Marcionism. For example, on its web site, the Tawahedo Church of Ethiopia claims to be the only Christian church that is fully free of Marcionism.

The Marcionites also taught that the tetragrammaton did not represent an all-encompassing God, but rather the Hebrew perception of God which was either imperfect, or reflective of an entirely separate deity. According to the Marcionites, Christ was not the Son of this god, but was sent by Elohim, the name they gave to an all-encompassing and omnibenevolent God. The Marcionites associated the tetragrammaton with the demiurge. In distinguishing this deity from an omnibenevolent God, they took a dualistic stance shared by many religions of the Middle East, including the faith which grew to absorb Marcionism: Manichaeism. Chiefly for these reasons, the Roman Catholic Church and other orthodox churches consider Marcionism to be a heresy.

They arose in the infancy of Christianity and adopted a strong ecclesiastical organization, parallel to that of the Church of Rome. The Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09645c.htm) claims that they are considered by the Roman Catholic Church to have been the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known. Understandable if you consider that the Church of Rome itself discarded some things as Judaizing: (Sabbath, Quartodecimanism) while at the same time keeping other Jewish things (Messiah, Old Testament). Marcionism is undergoing a revival, as part of the larger Gnostic revival inspired by the discovery of the texts at Nag Hammadi and popular works by authors such as Elaine Pagels and Dan Brown.

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