Marcion of Sinope

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Marcion of Sinope 2nd century heretic (84 - c.160 AD). He was born the son of a Christian bishop at Sinope in Pontus.

In A.D. 134 at the age of 50 he moved to Rome. He rejected the theology of the Old Testament, and taught that the god of Israel was not the true God, but rather that the true and higher God had been revealed only with Jesus Christ. Marcion wrote his primary work Antitheses to demonstrate differences between the god of the Old Testament and the true God.

Marcion is often credited as the first to establish an explicit biblical canon. Marcion's canon consisted of "the Gospel", or "the Gospel of the Lord", apparently an edited and abbreviated version of Luke with additional textual content supporting his heterodox theology and ten epistles of Paul (excluding the pastorals 1-2 Timothy and Titus).

Marcion also rejected the entire Old Testament. After pruning and editorial adjustment, he accepted the following Christian writings in this order:

  • Gospel according to Luke (edited)
  • Galatians
  • I Corinthians
  • II Corinthians
  • Romans
  • I Thessalonians
  • II Thessalonians
  • Ephesians (which Marcion called Laodiceans)
  • Colossians
  • Philemon
  • Philippians

Marcion provoked a strong reaction among the leaders of the Apostolic Churches. He was excommunicated by the church at Rome circa A.D. 144.

He succeeded in establishing churches of his own, which aggressively rivaled the catholic orthodox Church for the next three centuries in the west, but somewhat longer (about five centuries) in the Byzantine east, constantly condemning catholic orthodoxy as a perversion of the truth. The movement finally died out, in accordance with the word of Jesus in John 15:6.

Marcion’s abbreviated canon stimulated the more precise defining of the NT canon by the orthodox catholic Church, not to supersede but to supplement the canon of the OT. His doctrinal teaching led the Catholic Church to define the Christian faith more carefully in dogmatic terms which exclude a Marcionite interpretation. His contemporaries, the apologist Justin Martyr and the heresiologist Irenaeus of Lyons make only derogatory references to him. His writings have been reconstructed from quotations and references in Tertullian's Adversus Marcionem and Epiphanius' Panarion.

See also





Great Apostasy

Sexual revolution: Early historical roots and parallels

Third Council of Carthage (397)

External links