19 Feb 2013 
#53 Three arguments in favour of proving Marcion's gospel (of the Lord) was written after Luke's gospel

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1) Introduction:
Marcion, active in the Christian world from around 130, had a gospel called 'gospel of the Lord'. For orthodox fathers of the Church, like Irenaeus, Tertullian and Epiphanius, this gospel was the product of a mutilation of gLuke.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies:
- I, XXVII, 2 "he [Marcion] mutilates the Gospel which is according to Luke, removing all that is written respecting the generation of the Lord, and setting aside a great deal of the teaching of the Lord, in which the Lord is recorded as most dearly confessing that the Maker of this universe is His Father."
- III, XI, 7 "But Marcion, mutilating that according to Luke, is proved to be a blasphemer of the only existing God, from those [passages] which he still retains."
- III, XIV, 4 "And if indeed Marcion's followers reject these, they will then possess no Gospel; for, curtailing that according to Luke, as I have said already, they boast in having the Gospel."

Tertullian, Against Marcion:
- IV, II "Now, of the authors whom we possess, Marcion seems to have singled out Luke for his mutilating process."
- IV, IV "For if the Gospel, said to be Luke's which is current amongst us (we shall see whether it be also current with Marcion), is the very one which, as Marcion argues in his Antitheses, was interpolated by the defenders of Judaism, ..."
- IV, V "Luke's Gospel also has come down to us in like integrity until the sacrilegious treatment of Marcion. In short, when Marcion laid hands on it, it then became diverse and hostile to the Gospels of the apostles. I will therefore advise his followers, that they either change these Gospels, however late to do so, into a conformity with their own, whereby they may seem to be in agreement with the apostolic writings (for they are daily retouching their work, as daily they are convicted by us); ..."

Epiphanius, Panarion (III, 42):
- I, III "But I shall come to his writings, or rather, to his tamperings. This man has only Luke as a Gospel, mutilated at the beginning because of the Savior's conception and his incarnation. But this person who harmed himself than the Gospel did not cut just the beginning off. He also cut off many words of the truth both at the end and in the middle, and he has added other things besides, beyond what had been written. And he uses only this (Gospel) canon, the Gospel according to Luke"
- I, III "For the (Marcionite) canon of Luke is revelatory of : mutilated as it is, without beginning, middle or end, it looks like a cloak full of moth holes."
- I, III "This is Marcion's corrupt compilation, containing a version and form of the Gospel according to Luke, ..."
- I, III "I have made this laborious, searching compilation from the scripture he has chosen, Paul and the Gospel according to Luke ...."
- I, III "I am also going to append the treatise which I had written against him before, at your instance, brothers, hastening to compose this one. Some years ago, to find what falsehood this Marcion had invented and what his silly teaching was, I took up his very books which he had < mutilated >, his so-called Gospel and Apostolic Canon ... And in this way I went through all of the passages in which it is apparent that, foolishly, he still retains against himself these leftover sayings of the Savior and the apostle. For some of them had been falsely entered by himself, in an altered form and unlike the authentic copy of the Gospel [of Luke] and the meaning of the apostolic canon. But others were exactly like both the Gospel [of Luke] and Apostle, unchanged by Marcion but capable of completely demolishing him."

This shorter gospel (gMarcion) certainly reflects Marcionites' beliefs: little Judaism, Jesus as Son of the ultimate God (not the lesser (imperfect) creator god of the Jews) and Jesus, when on earth, having an "instant" docetist body.

Of course, Marcion would not say he wrote the gospel, more so because he kept Jesus predicting the fall of Jerusalem (in 70). Also, he was likely to contend his gospel was redacted earlier than the others.

Unfortunately, we do not have a copy of Marcion's gospel, but because of Tertullian's 'Against Marcion' and Epiphanius' 'Panarion', reconstructions had been attempted but cannot be definitive, by reason of not having enough accurate informations.

However, I found three short passages in gMarcion which were fairly well witnessed, and show significant differences with the corresponding gLuke verses. Let's examine them:

2) Lk 16:17 "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail." NKJV
gMarcion "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, ... than one tittle of my [Jesus] words to fail." http://www.gnosis.org/library/marcion/Gospel4.html

Comment by Ben C. Smith: "Marcion apparently has "one tittle of my (Jesus') words", yet a "tittle" (Greek κεραία) is a written mark, a stroke or a serif on certain letters. Such a term makes far more sense when applied to the law, which had been written for centuries, than it does applied to Jesus' own (as yet unwritten) words while he is still speaking them."
Was gLuke, if written later, correcting gMarcion?
A similar saying is in gMatthew 5:18, and therefore would be part of Q; and in it, the tittle is about the Law, as it is in Lk 16:17. So "Luke", most likely, followed the Q saying and did not make a correction on gMarcion.
Furthermore the wording in gLuke makes a lot of sense and avoids the problem in gMarcion, which is explained by Marcion's well documented aversion to the Law (of Moses).

To conclude, it is more likely Marcion modified a verse from gLuke rather than "Luke" changing it from gMarcion.

3) Lk 21:32 "... this generation will not pass away till all has taken place." RSV
gMarcion: "...  The heaven and the earth shall in no wise pass away, till all things be accomplished." http://www.gnosis.org/library/marcion/Gospel5.html

Because gMarcion was written well into the 2nd century, Marcion had obvious reason to make a change: since "all things" included the advent of the Kingdom (21:25-28), it was evident Jesus' generation had died down before the big event. But with gLuke written in the 1st century, some of the generation of Jesus would still be alive. So the author would have no problem for including in the gospel a verse from gMark (13:30), as also did "Matthew" (24:34). Furthermore, "Luke" also copied from gMark (9:1) the following verse:
9:27 "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God." KJV
Note: the same verse also appears in Mt 16:28, but is not reported to exist in gMarcion.
And why would "Luke", if generating his gospel from gMarcion well into the 2nd century, not only would include 9:27 but also switch to the Markan & Matthean version for 21:32, at a time when Jesus' generation had died?
There is no reason, as far as I can see.

Again, in conclusion, it is far more likely Marcion modified a verse from gLuke rather than the reverse.

4) Lk 5:33 "And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?"
Tertullian's 'Against Marcion', IV, 11: "Whence, too, does John come upon the scene? Christ, suddenly; and just as suddenly, John! After this fashion occur all things in Marcion's system."

"Luke" thoroughly introduced John, son of Zechariah, in chapter 1, and in chapter 3, described him as a very popular baptizer & preacher (therefore with his own disciples). So the mention of disciples of John in 5:33 is of no surprise.
However, as noticed by Tertullian, the sudden appearance of disciples of a "John" in gMarcion 5:33, with no further identification (except later at 7:28, which is very odd, because it should be made when a person is mentioned for the first time), is a sure clue Marcion was working from a gospel (gLuke) and truncated it (eliminating all occurrences of John the Baptist before Lk 5:33). And all other canonical gospels described John at their beginning, well before Jesus starts his public life.

This is confirmed by Epiphanius in his Panarion III, 42:
"At the very beginning he excised everything Luke had originally composed - his "inasmuch as many have taken in hand," and so forth, and the material about Elizabeth and the angel's announcement to Mary the Virgin; about John and Zacharias and the birth at Bethlehem; the genealogy and the story of the baptism."

Concluding, this is good argument in favor of Marcionite posteriority.

5) Conclusion:
This should put to rest gLuke being written from (& after) gMarcion. And with gLuke redacted before "the gospel of the Lord", it becomes obvious Marcion got his gospel by truncating (& sometimes modifying) gLuke. Therefore, it is highly probable Marcion did the same for the Pauline epistles, with Paul (as a contemporary of Cephas/Peter, a former companion of Jesus --according to Marcion's Pauline epistles & gospel) existing in the first century (without considering 'Acts' or Marcion's "canon"!) and, at least, writing one letter, as I demonstrated here with '1 Clement'.

Update: now, I have two examples about Marcion doing the same on the Pauline epistles. See here

See this webpage about the dating of the gospels, through the external and internal evidence.

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {dating} {Luke's gospel} {Marcion}
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