The ‘Watch and Wait Period’—II

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 19 Readers may not be aware that the traditional view of Marcion was my principal reason for fixing the authorship of the canonical gospels to the middle decades of the second century. However, in a recent post I proposed that Marcion was an invention of the Catholics, a useful tool in the fledgling church’s efforts to paint naysayers (those who rejected Jesus of Nazareth as the savior) as heretics (“Marcionites”). Now that ‘Marcion’ is gone, the dating of the 4G to the middle decades of II CE loses a good deal of force. Here I briefly summarize the reasoning that originally led me to connect Marcion’s presence in Rome to the dating of the … Continue reading

The early (nonexistent) Church Fathers

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 13 For hundreds of years scholars have been largely relying on the Church Fathers to reconstruct the history of Christianity. The Fathers tell us when something happened, who did it, what the circumstances were, and also the consequences. Regarding the archheretic Marcion, for example, we learn that he was either a nauclerus (Lat. “ship-owner” or “ship-builder”) or the excommunicated son of a bishop (there are two traditions), that he tried to buy his way into the Church, that he was a disciple of a certain Cerdo, that he had a distinguished disciple named Apelles, that he came to Rome in 144 CE and/or 155 CE (again, there are two traditions), etc. And now let … Continue reading

How late was the name “Mark”?

Note: Since originally writing this post I have concluded that “Marcion” did not exist as a historical figure. He was invented by the fledgling Church and used as a proxy for all the pre-Catholic Jesus followers who clung to the ‘Jesus as spirit’ theology. See here.—RS No doubt readers will be astonished to learn that the name “Mark” is not attested in the Christian tradition before the latter half of the second century CE. While this is explained below, I begin with another name: that of the arch-heretic Marcion. I do this because (perhaps even more astonishing) a survey of Christian writings shows that the invented figure “Marcion” appears (cf. Justin Martyr) before the host of other invented figures that … Continue reading