Nazareth, Capernaum, and Tabor

The issue of Jesus’ hometown in early Christian literature is revealing. In the Gospel of Marcion (Mcn) the hometown of Jesus is Capernaum, as it is also in the Gospel of Mark. “Nazara” is only briefly mentioned in Mcn (corresponding to Lk 4:16–30). But the place does not really fit Marcion’s gospel, which locates Jesus in Capernaum both before and after a brief ‘visit’ to Nazara. Now, we know from the Gospel of Philip (Nag Hammadi) that in gnostic tradition Nazara meant “truth” (GPh 62). This interpretation fits the earlier spirit-Jesus christology, but not the new theios aner Jesus of Marcion, for which Jesus also requires a physical ‘hometown.’ Marcion’s gospel thus was apparently trying to fuse two different christologies … Continue reading

H. Detering confronts R. Carrier—Pt. 3

Paul, Mark, and other substitutions: Richard Carrier on The Fabricated Paul by Dr. Hermann Detering Edited and translated by René Salm   Division theories Finally, Carrier broaches an important view—one that many New Testament scholars discuss with self-assurance but for which they rarely give substantiation. On the basis of internal contradictions in the seven alleged authentic epistles, even conservative scholars have long adopted various ‘division theories’ whereby larger epistles are composed of several smaller ones. While they gladly assert the existence of a ‘stable common basis’ consisting of seven authentic epistles, they somehow argue the existence of a corpus consisting of more than seven epistles (thus, J. Becker). For example, most scholars today consider that Philippians consists of three authentic … Continue reading

The Hebrew Gospel—Pt. 3

A second pre-synoptic gospel layer We must now add another source—and another layer—to the ongoing synoptic schema recently investigated on this blog. We recall that Matthias Klinghardt has elaborated a revolutionary schema of synoptic gospel development in his exhaustive 2015 volumes. His conclusions are summarized in graphic form below (left). Klinghardt proposes that the Gospel of Marcion (Mcn) preceded all the synoptic gospels, including that of Mark. For him, then, Mcn is the first pre-synoptic gospel layer (below). Klinghardt allows a rather generous chronological window to Mcn (90–150 CE). He also leaves the door open to the possibility of one or more gospels having preceded Mcn. Now, in the previous post I observed that a textual Gospel of Marcion probably … Continue reading

“Jesus has a Nazareth problem” (interview transcript)—Pt. 2

René: There was a claim of a house from the time of Jesus… Brian: Yeah, in 2009, I believe. René: I devote a long chapter [in the book NazarethGate] to that. Actually, it’s a wine-making installation. Very clear… There’s no doubt about it.      [This might be a good time to] address a common criticism: that I’m not an archeologist. You know, people say, “Well, René, how can you have an opinion?” And what I say is that I don’t have an opinion. I don’t make any judgments myself. I am scrupulously careful to quote the opinions of the experts, of the archeologists who have studied the stone vessels, who have studied the oil lamps, who have studied the pottery, who … Continue reading

Part 4—Towards a new synoptic solution

This is one of the longer and more significant posts on this website. Here we will look at the recent work of two German patristics specialists, both of whom propose that Marcion of Pontus (fl. c. 130–c. 160 CE) presented the world with a gospel that predated all four canonical gospels. This in itself is mind-boggling, for it not only dates the canonical gospels much later (well into the second century) than is presently thought, but it also means that the heretic Marcion is critically implicated at an early stage of the canonical gospel tradition. According to this view, all our canonical gospels (written in fairly quick succession towards the middle of the second century) are Catholizing adaptations of Marcion’s … Continue reading

Did the arch-heretic Marcion author the first gospel?

In a prior post we began looking at the increasing evidence that the New Testament is a product of the second century, rather than the first. We continue now by examining the role that the arch-heretic Marcion of Pontus played in gospel formation, a role that is becoming ever more astonishing as scholars finally realize that Marcion is certainly implicated in the earliest stratum of canonical gospel formation. That stratum is normally associated with the Gospel of Mark. Can there be any historical connection here between the names “Mark” and “Marcion”? If so, how ironic that would be, since one is a Christian hero and the other an arch-villain! No gospel is mentioned by the Church Fathers before the appearance … Continue reading