Thursday 30 October 2014

Marcion and the gnotty problem of Gnosticism

Marcion is one of the truly under appreciated (and I would argue most misrepresented) characters in early Christian history. Good news, Daniel Gullotta (Australian Catholic University) has just posted his Masters' project - Marcion, a Gnostic without Gnosis - on

If that sounds daunting, it's just 37 pages long, and written without an oversupply of technical verbiage, which definitely makes it worth a look despite an occasional typo.

There's more available from the writer's WordPress page.


  1. Finely one other person sees it my way!

  2. Most of the truly thoughtful early Christian thinkers/threats were overwhelmed by the crazy conservative orthodox "fathers." No wonder they are misrepresented, since their works were systematically destroyed. Seriously, when you read the patristic anthologies it reminds one of the American religious right. Conservative Roman Catholics in the vein of "resourcement" continue to muffle the good conversations the liberals want to have about dogma. But with more time and more young scholars opening up this kind of insight -- there is hope for movement -- maybe some generation not too far away, the big sea change can happen.

  3. Grant Daniel that Master's Degree!


    Oh, great! Sifting through the ashes of Christendom has produced more ashes: There are absolutely, positively no documents written by Marcion available and we get everything second and third hand from his enemies and detractors. So sifting through said ashes, we extrapolate as best we can what we might know of Marcion from hearsay which would never hold up in a court of law. Great. Just great.

    Furthermore and moreover, we can't even necessarily agree on what Gnosticism actually means in light of Marcion, where, apparently, it is a mixture of Christian and pagan thought. As nearly as I can tell, Gnosticism is much like Christianity which comes in so many flavors, practices and belief system as to be beyond definition as a monolithic eschatology. I would also add, beyond belief.

    As best as I can tell, Marcion apparently believed in dualism, akin to having a bipolar god whose Old Testament was written on his bad day and the New Testament was written on his good day, if a bit manic in spots. I'm impressed with the statement, "the association of Marcion of Sinope and second century Gnosticism has been an error of categorization and identification". The "error of categorization and identification" within Christianity itself has been a problem across the board, leading up to, but not exclusively so, British Israelism.

    It never ceases to amaze me how one man can come up with a silly idea and it becomes rooted in the thinking of society by virtue of its longevity. My observation is that once it becomes embedded in the thinking of portions of society, it becomes extremely difficult to dislodge from the minds of the believers, no matter how daft the idea might be.

    And it's really bad when it's an idea which is not examined critically in the light of rational though, science and logic, because in general, people are chaotic and irrational and the problem keeps getting worse.

    I think I'll go watch a 3D science fiction movie now.

  4. I found the paper helpful. Modern evangelical Christianity is essentially Marcionite - like Tkachism: How much (discredited)OT is there Ted Johnston's ramblings?--it's all Pauline theology!

  5. The fact that Marcionism could make such headway in 2nd century Christianity demonstrates what a marketplace of ideas the whole thing was.
    Just like how Paul's brutal wrested interpretations of Jewish scripture (Galatians 2,3) became orthodox.