Marcion the heresiarch.

Heretic and apostate.


Attributed text(s).
Antitheses.
Evangelion.
Apostolikon.
Marcionite prologues.

Available text(s).
Gnosis: Reconstruction of the Evangelion in six parts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), with links to relevant texts of Epiphanius and Tertullian.

Related text(s).
Anti-Marcionite prologues (?).
HTML Bible: Epistle to the Laodiceans (Latin only).
Sacred Texts: Epistle to the Laodiceans (English only).
Comparative Religion: Epistle to the Laodiceans (English only).

Useful links.
Marcion at Early Christian Writings.
Marcion at Early Church.
Marcionites in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Marcion and Luke Compared (Waite).

Marcion, a member of the Roman church toward the middle of century II, created his own canon of sorts that consisted of unofficial recensions of the gospel of Luke and of ten of the epistles of Paul (the missing epistles were the three pastoral epistles and that to the Hebrews). He taught that the creator, the God of judgment from the Hebrew scriptures, was different than the God of mercy of whom Jesus spoke. He therefore excised the Jewish elements of both his gospel (the evangelion) and his epistles (the apostolikon).

The church in Rome likewise excised Marcion, so to speak, excommunicating him in circa 144. A Marcionite church was formed and was considered heretical. Our best information about the evangelion and the apostolikon comes from Tertullian, Against Marcion, and Epiphanius, Panarion, especially chapter 42.

Roger Pearse has made the Latin and English texts of Tertullian, Against Marcion, available online. Book 4 is about the Evangelion (gospel) of Marcion, book 5 about his Apostolikon (apostle).

On the gospel of Marcion:

Justin Martyr, Apology 1.26.5-8; 1.58.1-2.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.25.1; 1.27.2-4; 3.11; 4.6.9; 1.27.
Tertullian, Against Marcion, book 4 (entire).
Eusebius, History of the Church 4.11.10.
Epiphanius, Panarion 42.
Adamantius.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.12.12:

Unde et Marcion et qui ab eo sunt ad intercidendas conversi sunt scripturas, quasdam quidem in totum non cognoscentes; secundum Lucam autem evangelium et epistolas Pauli decurtantes, haec sola legitima esse dicant, quae ipsi minoraveruint. nos autem etiam ex his quae adhuc apud eos custodiuntur arguemus eos, donante deo, in altera conscriptione.

Wherefore also Marcion and his followers have turned themselves to mutilating the scriptures, not acknowledging some books at all; and, curtailing the gospel according to Luke and the epistles of Paul, they say that these are alone legitimate, which they have themselves thus shortened. In another work, however, we shall, God granting, argue against them out of these which they still retain.

Refer also to the similar statement in 3.14.4.

Tertullian, Against Marcion 5.21.1, on the epistle of Paul to Philemon:

Soli huic epistulae brevitas sua profuit ut falsarias manus Marcionis evaderet. miror tamen, cum ad unum hominem litteras factas receperit, quod ad Timotheum duas et unam ad Titum de ecclesiastico statu compositas recusaverit. affectavit, opinor, etiam numerum epistularum interpolare.

To this epistle alone has its brevity profited it so as to evade the falsifying hands of Marcion. I wonder, however, since he accepted this letter made out to one man, why he rejected two composed to Timothy and one to Titus concerning the ecclesiastical system. I suppose it pleased him to tamper even with the number of the epistles.

Jerome, preface to the epistle of Paul to Titus (Latin text from B. F. Westcott, The Epistle to the Hebrews, page lxiii, lacuna his):

Licet non sint digni fide qui fidem primam irritam fecerunt, Marcionem loquor et Basilidem et omnes haereticos qui vetus laniant testamentum, tamen eos aliqua ex parte ferremus si saltem in novo continerant manus suas. ....

Though they should be unworthy of faith who have made their first faith void, I speak of Marcion and Basilides and all the heretics who mangle the Old Testament, nevertheless let us bear with them to some extent if they at least continue [to play] their hands in the New Testament. ....

Ut enim de ceteris epistolis taceam, de quibus quidquid contrarium suo dogmati viderant eraserunt, nonnullas integras repudiandas crediderunt, ad Timotheum videlicet utramque, ad Hebraeos, et ad Titum.

To pass over the rest of the epistles in silence, from which they erased whatever they saw that was contrary to their own dogma, they indeed believed that some were to be repudiated in the whole, clearly both of the two to Timothy, [the one] to the Hebrews, and [the one] to Titus.

From Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.38.5:

Respondit igitur huius quidem aevi filios nubere. vides quam pertinenter ad causam. quia de aevo venturo quaerebatur, in quo neminem nubere definiturus, praestruxit hic quidem nubi ubi sit et mori. quos vero dignatus sit deus illius aevi possessione et resurrectione a mortuis neque nubere neque nubi, quia nec morituri iam sint, cum similes angelorum fiant, dei et resurrectionis filii facti.

He responded therefore that the sons of this age marry indeed. You see how pertinent to the cause this was. Because it was questioned concerning the age to come, in which, he was going to declare, no one marries, he set a foundation beforehand here that they are also given in marriage where they die. But they whom God shall count truly worthy of the possession of that age and of the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, because neither shall they die anymore, since they become similar to the angels, being made the sons of God and of the resurrection.

From Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.4.4:

Si enim id evangelium quod Lucae refertur penes nos, viderimus an et penes Marcionem, ipsum est quod Marcion per antitheses suas arguit ut interpolatum a protectoribus Iudaismi ad concorporationem legis et prophetarum, qua etiam Christum inde confingerent, utique non potuisset arguere nisi quod invenerat.

If that gospel which among us is ascribed to Luke, and we shall see whether it is [accepted by] Marcion, if that is the same that Marcion by his Antitheses accuses of having been interpolated by the upholders of Judaism so as to be incorporated with the law and the prophets that they might also pretend that Christ had that origin, evidently he could only have brought accusation against something he had found there already.

Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.19.6 (text and translation based on those of Evans):

Venimus ad constantissimum argumentum omnium qui domini nativitatem in controversiam deferunt. ipse, inquiunt, contestatur se non esse natum dicendo: Quae mihi mater, et qui mihi fratres? ita semper haeretici aut nudas et simplices voces coniecturis quo volunt rapiunt, aut rursus condicionales et rationales simplicitatis condicione dissolvunt, ut hoc in loco.

We now come to the most strenuously plied argument of all those who call in question the nativity of the Lord. They say that he himself testifies to his not having been born when he asks: Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? In this manner heretics either wrest plain and simple words to any sense they choose by their conjectures or else they violently resolve by a literal interpretation words which imply a conditional sense and are incapable of a simple solution, as in this passage.

Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ 7 (text and translation based on those of Evans):

Sed quotiens de nativitate contenditur omnes qui respuunt eam ut praeiudicantem de carnis in Christo veritate ipsum dominum volunt negare esse [se] natum quia dixerit: Quae mihi mater et qui mihi fratres? audiat igitur et Apelles quid iam responsum sit a nobis Marcioni eo libello quo ad evangelium ipsius provocavimus, considerandam scilicet materiam pronuntiationis istius.

But as often as there is discussion of the nativity, all those who reject it, as prejudging the issue concerning the verity of the flesh in Christ, claim that the Lord himself denies having been born, on the ground that he asked: Who is my mother and who are my brothers? So let Apelles too hear what answer I have already given to Marcion in that work in which I have made appeal to the gospel which he accepts, namely that the background of that remark must be taken into consideration.