Fragments of Marcion
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and Contradictions [antithesis] of gnosis falsley so called.
- from the pseudo-Pauline epistle of I Timothy 6:20 (circ.150 C.E.).
This page represents a short exercise on my part (rather loose and by no means comprehensive)- the purpose of which is to provide a brief glimpse into Marcion's lost work, "Antithesis", which can be best described as a Marcionite commentary on the New Testament, which set forth contrasts on passages( via narrative commentary, or by the presentation of OT and NT scriptures side-by-side) between the Hebrew diety and the Alien God. It is not certain how this work was actually arranged, whether a separate work apart from Marcion's canon, or a commentary incorporated into it. For the first part of this exercise, an attempt is made here to extract and construct from Tertullian's hostile witness (Adversus Marcionem) a Marcionite narrative, so as to allow the marcionite voice to express its views on the following three subjects:
I. The Creator God and the
II. The Inconsistancies of the Creator God, and
III. The Two Christs.
For the second half of this exercise, a simple side-by-side presentation of OT and NT scriptures is given, which demonstrates the contradictions between the OT Creator God and the NT Supreme God. I must emphasize that this is a loose presentation, in that I have not confined myself to citing only passages which appeared in Marcion's canon, but have made free use of other canonical material as well. In any event, this will at least provide the reader a general idea of what Marcion's work "Antithesis" may have been like. For a further in-depth discussion on Marcion's "Antithesis", see Adolf Von Harnack's work, "Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God" (pp.53-63; E.T. Labyrinth Press, 1990).
I. The Creator God and the Supreme God
For an evil tree
bringeth forth not good fruit; neither does a good tree bring forth evil fruit.
For every tree is known by his own fruit. Luke
I am the Lord, and
there is none else; I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and
I create evil
- This god is the author of evil - there must be another God, after the analogy
of the good tree producing its good fruit. In Christ is found a different
disposition, one of a simple and pure benevolence - which differs from the
In Christ a new God is revealed.
The Creator God is judicial, harsh, and mighty
The Supreme God is gentle and simply good and excellent.
The title "God" is a vague one, and applied to other Beings as well; as it is written, " He standeth in the congregation of the mighty"; "He judgeth among the gods" (Psalm 82:1,6), "Ye are gods". Thus as the attribute of supremacy would be inappropriate to these, although they be called gods, so it is to the Creator.
Jesus Christ and none else revealed a new God, who, in the Old world and in the Old time and under the Old God was unknown and unheard of ; Whom is accounted by no one through long centuries back, and ancient in men's very ignorance of Him - even in ancient names He was unknown and concealed. He had remained unknown by any works from the beginning. Even the Creator was unaware of the Supreme God being above himself, Who, although He did not manifest Himself from the beginning and by means of the creation, has yet revealed Himself in Christ Jesus.
To be sure, this world is a grand work, worthy of a god. Yet the Supreme God has a creation of His own, and His own world, and His own sky. One work is sufficient for our God: He has delivered man by His supreme and most excellent goodness, which is preferable to the creation of all the locusts. A primary and perfect goodness is shed voluntarily and freely upon strangers without any obligation of friendship, on the principle that we are bidden to love our enemies, who as such on that very account are strangers to us.
The Supreme God is susceptible to no feeling of rivalry, or anger, or damage, or injury . He inflicts no punishment and takes no offence, and is not feared, as a good being ought not to be an object of fear, as a judicial being, in whom resides the grounds for fear - anger, severity, judgements, vengence, and condemnation.
II. The Inconsistencies of the Creator God
The Creator God is inconsistent, in respect of persons, sometimes disapproving where approbation is deserved; or else lacking in foresight, bestowing approbation on men who ought rather be reprobated, as if he either censured his own past judgements, or could not forecast his future ones.
With fickleness and
improvidence he repented, or on some recollection of some wrong-doing, because
the Creator actually says "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king"
(1 Samual 15:11), his repentence in the sense of an acknowledgement of some evil
work or error. This is also the case in the matter of the Ninevites, when the
Book of Jonah (3:10) states,
"And God repented of the evil that he had said he would do unto them; and he did not."
The Creator called out to Adam, "Where art thou?" as if ignorant of where Adam was; and when Adam alleged that the shame of his nakedness was the reason for hiding himself, the Creator inquired whether he had eaten of the tree, as if he were in doubt (Genesis 3:9-11).
In the case of Sodom and Gomorrha, he says "I will go down now, to see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come to me; and if not, I will know"; another instance of his uncertainty in ignorance.
The Creator God was even mean enough in his very fierceness, when, in his wrath against the people for their consecration of the golden calf, he makes this request to Moses: "Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them; and I will make thee a great nation" (Exodus 32:10). Moses is better than his God, as the deprecatur and indeed, the averter of his anger, "For Thou shalt not do this; or else destroy me along with them" (Exodus 32:32).
III. The Two Christs
The Christ who in the days of Tiberius was, by a previously unknown God, revealed for the salvation of all nations, is a different being from him who was ordained by the Creator God for the restoration of the Jewish state, and who is yet to come.
The Creator's Christ is to be a warrior, a
bearer of arms, and mighty in war.
The Christ of the Good God, who has come, is a far different being from the Creator's Christ.
Isaiah's description of Christ in no point suits the Christ of the Good God. Isaiah's Christ is to be called Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14); then, he takes the riches of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria against the king of Assyria (Isaiah 8:4). But yet, He who is come was neither born under such a name, nor ever engaged in such a war-like enterprise.
A Christ had come who had never been foreannounced, but the Christ predicted had not yet appeared. The Jews were themselves quite certain that it was some other who came; so they not only rejected Him as a stranger, but slew Him as an enemy, though they would have acknowledged Him, and with all religious devotion followed Him, if He had been one of them.
The difference between the two Christs, is that the Jewish Christ was ordained by the Creator for the restoration of the people alone from its dispersion, while our Christ was appointed by the supremely Good God for the liberation of the whole human race. Who among the nations can turn to the Creator, when those whom the prophets name are proselytes of individually different and private conditions?
It is the Christ of the Other, Supreme God Who was driven to the cross by the hostile powers and authorities of the Creator. The suffering of the cross was not predicted of the Creator's Christ; moreover, it should not be believed that the Creator would expose his son to that kind of death on which he himself had pronounced a curse. "Cursed" says he, "is everyone who hangeth on a tree" (Deuteronomy 21:3, Galatians 3:13).
The CREATOR GOD The GOOD GOD of this World Revealed by Christ And out of the ground the Lord "For a corrupt tree bringeth forth not Yahweh made every tree to good fruit; neither does a good tree grow...the tree of the knowledge bringeth forth corrupt fruit." of good and evil . Luke 6:43 Gen.2:9; 3:1ff. ["Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit." Mt.12:33] And the Lord Yahweh called But when Jesus perceived their unto Adam, and said unto him, thoughts, He answering said unto "Where art thou?" them, "Why do you reason in your Genesis 3:9 hearts?" Luke 5:22 Eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, And unto him that smiteth thee on hand for hand, foot for foot... the cheek offer also the other... Exodus 21:24 Luke 6:29 And Elijah answered and said to [Jesus' disciples] :"Lord, wilt Thou the captain of fifty, "If I be a man that we command fire to come of God, then let fire come down down from heaven, and consume from heaven, and consume thee them, even as Elijah did?" But He and thy fifty". And there came turned and rebuked them, and said, down fire from heaven, and con- "Ye know not what manner of spirit sumed him and his fifty. ye are of ; for the Son of man 2 Kings 1:9, 10 is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them" Luke 9:54,55 ...there came forth little children And they brought young children to out of the city, and mocked him Him...and His disciples rebuked [Elisha]...and [he] cursed them those that brought them. But Jesus in the name of the Lord. And ...said unto them "Allow the little there came forth two she-bears children to come to Me, and forbid out of the wood, and tare forty them not, for of such is the kingdom two children of them. of God." 2 Kings 2:23,24 Mark 10:13,14 And if a woman have issue, and if And a woman having an issue of her issue in her flesh be blood, she blood twelve years, which had spent shall be put apart seven days; all her living on physicians, neither whosoever toucheth her shall be could be healed of any, came up unclean until the even... and if a behind [Jesus], and touched the woman have an issue of her blood border of His garment: and immed- ...beyond the time of her separation, iately her issue of blood ceased. ...she shall be unclean. Luke 8:43,44 Leviticus 15:19,25 When a man hath taken a wife, and Whosoever divorces his wife, and married her, and it come to pass that marries another, commits adultery she find no favour in his eyes, because against her (Mk 10:11). he hath found some uncleanness in Moses, because of the hardness of her: then let him write her a bill of your hearts, allowed you to put divorcement, and give it in her hand, away your wives: but from the and send her out of his house. beginning this was not so. Deuteronomy 24:1 Matthew 19:8 Psalm 21:12 Therefore shalt thou make Wherefore take unto you the whole them turn their back, when thou shalt make armour of God, that you may be able ready thine arrows upon thy strings against to withstand the evil one...taking the the face of them (Psalm 21:12).Yea, he sent shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be out his arrows, and scattered them; and he able to quench all the fiery arrows of shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. the wicked (Ephesians 6:16). (Psalm 18:4) Clouds and darkness are For we wrestle not against flesh and round about him... (97:2a) He sent darkness, blood, but against principalities, and made it dark...(Psalm 105a).He cast against powers, against the rulers of upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, the darkness of this Aeon, against and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil spiritual wickedness in high places angels among them (Psalm 78:49). Ephesians 6:12 I form light, and create darkness: I make God is light, and in Him is no dark- peace, and create evil: I the Lord Yahweh ness at all (1 John 1:5b) God is love do all these things ( Isaiah 45:7). Do they (1 John 4:16); [Love] thinketh no not err that devise evil? (Proverbs 14:22a evil (1 Corinthians 13:5d). I the Lord your God am a jealous Love knows no jealousy... God (Exodus 20:5)....for the Lord, 1 Corinthians 13:4 Whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He is a Jealous God; He will not Love is never rude, never irritated, forgive your transgressions nor never resentful (1 Corinthians 13:5) your sins. If you forsake the Lord, Then came Peter to Him, and said, then He will turn and do you hurt, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin and consume you...(Joshua 24:13,14) against me, and I forgive him? Until For I the Lord God am a jealous seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers say not to you, until seven times: upon the third and fourth generation but , until seventy times seven." of them that hate me (Exodus 20:5). Matthew 18:23-22 I am Yahweh, that is my name- And now, O Father, glorify Thou And my glory to another will I Me with thine own self with the not give... Isaiah 42:8 glory I had with Thee before the world was. John 17:5 And the sun stood still, and the moon Be ye angry, yet not committing sin; stayed, Until the people had avenged Let not the sun be going down themselves upon their enemies...for upon your wrath. the Lord fought for Israel. Ephesians 4:26 Joshua 10:12-14 Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast Wherefore He saith, "When He led captivity captive: Thou hast received ascended on high, He led captivity tribute from men. Psalm 68:18 captive, and gave gifts unto men." Ephesians 4:8