Monday, March 30, 2015

John The Baptist: From the Marcionite to the Canonical

John the Baptist, 6th Century Icon 
St. Catherine at Mt. Sinai

John the Baptist appears in every canonical gospel as well as the Marcionite gospel. He is a key character playing a prominent role in each gospel. But there are subtle differences in the portrayal of his role and how it fits or doesn't in each author's presentation. What these differences are and how they came about is what I hope to answer in this survey of each gospels presentation.

The Evolving Character of John the Baptist

The character of John the Baptist figures prominently in the Gospels. We are all familiar with the scene on the Jordan where John is Baptizing, and then when Jesus is Baptized the sky opens and a voice is heard. And we are familiar with the Malachi and Isaiah references that introduce John and his preaching. But this is information that can get in the way of understanding how the character came to be so prominent in the Gospels and understanding how his role started and evolved.

So for this presentation, I am going ask you to forget everything we think we know about John and start with a fresh reading, as if for the first time. Beginning the Marcionite Gospel, and analyzing only what we find in that Gospel to understand John within the context of that writing. From there we will expand into the other Gospels to see how the character developed.

Marcion’s gospel begins with Jesus descending into Capernaum, with no Baptism or temptation story preceding. And yet John is not entirely absent in Marcion. Tertullian (Adversus Marcionem 4.11.4) Concerning Luke 5:33 exclaims
Unde autem et Ioannes venit in medium? Subito Christus, subito et Ioannes.
Whence, too, does John come upon the scene? Christ, suddenly; and just as suddenly, John!  
Tertullian was not exaggerating, it is a surprise to see seemingly out of nowhere and with no introduction, given in Marcion’s Gospel there is no baptism scene nor any birth narratives, that we see a crowd suddenly compare John’s disciples to Jesus’,
And they said to him, "The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, [likewise those of the Pharisees], but yours eat and drink." [1]
It is striking that the Marcionite author feels no need to introduce John, because his audience is presumed to already know who he is – an observation that will become clearer as we survey the rest of the gospel. Who is this John then whom the audience already knows?

The first thing we notice that like Jesus, John has disciples. This indicates that each holds a similar status in their respective communities, essentially comparable to sect leaders complete with disciples, exactly as was common in the fledgling Christian communities of the mid-2nd century.

The second thing we notice is that in Marcion’s gospel [2] John himself never actually appears on the stage, only his disciples. In verse 5:33 it is John’s disciples who are compared to Jesus’ disciples. Next in Luke 7:18-19, it is through his disciples that he asks about Christ. In verses 7:22-28 it is Jesus replying to John’s disciples and then speaking about John. In verses 9:7-8 it is Herod who mentions his beheading of John in passing. In verse 9:19 the disciples mention John among those whom the people think Jesus may be. Again in verse 11:1 one of the disciples asks Jesus to “teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.” Verse 16:16 simply tells us “the Law and Prophets were until John,” as if he is gone. And finally verses 20:1-8 features Jewish religious figures asking Jesus about John’s Baptism. In none of these scenes is John actually present.

The third thing we notice is that John, or his disciples, are always put forward in comparison to Jesus and his disciples. What we can determine about John comes from the contrast to and the replies from Jesus. John is in fact defined by Jesus’ words. So we only know him in the same sense we know of heretics from the writings of their orthodox opponents, where we have to read between the lines of the contrasts to decipher their featured teachings.

John Already Dead

Why is it that John never appears in Marcion’s gospel? And why is it we only see his disciples? One very real possibility is that John is already left the scene when Jesus begins his mission. He is definitely dead before the middle of the Gospel, as the story of Herod’s interest in Luke 9:7-9 tells us this plainly.
Now Herod [the tetrarch] heard of all that was done, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Eli'jah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen. Herod said, "John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?" [3]
Herod’s statement differs slightly from Matthew and Mark, where he declares that Jesus must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. But in all accounts John is dead, and Herod knows of Jesus only after John. And he compares, as others do, Jesus to John, and on the same general terms. But in Marcion, Herod does not know who Jesus is, underscoring the concept of an alien God’s Christ, as opposed to the one Herod knows for John.

Jesus asks the same question, attested in Dialogue Adamantius 2.13 as recorded by the Marcionite Markus,
In the Gospel, Christ says, "'Who do men say that I, the son of man, am?' The disciples said, 'John the Baptist: but some say Elijah, while others claim that one of prophets of old has arisen.' And he said to them, 'But who do you say I am?' Answering Peter said, 'The Christ.' [4]
In addition to having John held in company with Elijah or some ancient prophet having risen, the author makes it clear Jesus is thought of as John by many. This is probably allegorical, but importance is John is widely understood to be a teacher on the same order as Jesus.

Let examine again the question of fasting, specifically what Jesus answers in Luke 5:34-35,
"Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?  The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days."
Jesus’ reply tells us fasting is something to be done when the central person or figure for the feast – which is largely what a wedding party is – is no longer around. It is clearly an illusion to death. Jesus is alive and his disciples eat and drink; but John’s fast often, suggesting none to subtly he is already dead.

One mechanism the Gospel writers used to create separation was to have John imprisoned, which the Canonical synoptic Gospels do around the time of Jesus’ Baptism; Luke 3:20 even before Jesus is baptized(!). And we see in when John is placed off stage in the account of Luke 7:18ff, as recorded in Dialogue Adamantius 1.26,
"Now when he (John) had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent his disciples to him, saying 'Are you he who is to come, or look we for another? '" [5]
From a composition standpoint the text follows more closely Matthew 11:2-3 than Luke 7:18-19, including the detail from Matthew’s account of John being imprisoned. While this wording is from Markus the Marcionite champion, and there is precedent for Marcionite wording to more closely correspond to Matthew’s gospel than Luke’s, [6] I suspect that the words “in prison” (ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ) were not in Marcion, but added to conform to Matthew by the writer of Adamantius, as Tertullian comments on the passage in AM 4.18.4-6 make no mention of John’s imprisonment. For Matthew, explaining John’s distance is handled by his imprisonment in verse 4:12, immediately before Jesus’ ministry begins. Luke 3:19-20 curiously places John’s arrest immediately before Jesus’ is baptized (by whom, himself?). But in Marcion there is neither an imprisonment of John, nor a Baptism scene, nor mention of Herodias marriage, so there seems no reason for the words “in prison” to be in Marcion’s text; and if he words were there, I can find even less reason for Luke to have omitted them in his redaction.

But even without the artificial imprisonment the Matthew reading here creates, John is off the stage, and his disciples stand in and represent him. The question they ask, which is in the “we” form, is for themselves as much as John when they say, “Are you he who is to come, or are we to look for another?” And even though Jesus addresses his response as if to John, he replies the disciples and asks them to judge what they have seen and heard themselves.
"Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have gospel preached to them."
It is really a call for John’s disciples to believe Jesus. Most of these references are to events in prior passages. But the healing of a blind man does not occur until much later, in Luke 18:35-42. [7] This suggests the passage is not chronologically in the correct timeline sequence. It was likely placed here for theological sequencing purposes, as we shall see shortly below.

Of the signs, the most important theologically for the Marcionites was the gospel being preached. This is the key difference with what John had taught, and was the pitch to those who were disciple of John to follow Jesus. This difference John and Jesus is underscored in verse 16:16 when Jesus says,
"The law and the prophets were until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently." [8]
To the Marcionite reader it is clear that John belongs to the Jewish God, his Law and his prophets, but after John came Jesus preaching the gospel, consistent with reply Jesus gave John’s disciples. Again John is placed before Jesus’ time, and is past tense.

Sect Leader

Returning again to the passage in Luke 7:18-19, what is striking about the account of John inquiring about Jesus is that the in having disciples it tells us John is a sect leader (e.g., πρωτοστάτην τῆς τῶν αἱρέσεως, "heresy" in the sense of Acts 24:5), someone of great stature, who is in some ways equal to Jesus here.

John’s role as a sect leader, in Christian terms a bishop, included establishing doctrine and practices for his followers. This is reflected in the question put to Jesus in Luke 11:1, recorded in Adversus Marcionem 4.26.1,
Cum in quodam loco orasset ad patrem illum superioremaggressus eum ex discipulis quidam, Domine, inquit, doce nos orare, sicut et Ioannes discipulos suos docuit
When in a certain place he had been praying to that Father above … one of his disciples came to him and said, "Lord, teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples."
So it was that John, at some time in the past, taught his disciples prayers. It is a challenge the author feels obliged to have Jesus answer with his own prayer (Luke 11:2-4), as any sect leader and teacher – but one who would be above all authority of any bishop – down to explicitly stating a creedal prayer. What the content of John’s creedal prayer was we will likely never know.

Another aspect of John’s teaching was his baptism, discussed in Jesus’ question to the Chief Priests, scribes, and elders, in response to their inquiry about the source of his authority in the passage of Luke 20:1-8. [9]
 "Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?"
This baptism of John’s was to this point previously not mentioned in this gospel. It should be noted Jesus refers to it in the past tense, something which has occurred at some previous time. The response of the Pharisees (using Tertullian’s language) is of no help, as they cannot decide which source was John’s. [10] While no doctrine is explicitly associated with John’s baptism we can infer from the Marcionite Apostolikon on the Baptism of Christ what may have been in common with John’s.

We find in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, speaking of divisions (σχίσματα) in Christianity, tells us these divisions distinguish among themselves by invoking the name of their sect’s Apostle; [11] The Marcionite text for the passage is reproduced here.
I have heard from those of Chloe, that there is strife among you.
One of you says, 'I belong to Paul,' or 'I belong to Apollos,' or 'I belong to Cephas.'
Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? [12]
The sectarian divisions include with them the concept of different baptisms, as attested in Paul’s response. Also associated with the baptism is crucifixion, which we will examine later. The description of Paul and Apollos as sect leaders, where they are ministers or teachers of their followers, is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 3:4-5
For whenever someone says, 'I belong to Paul,' and another, 'I belong to Apollos,'
are you not walking according to men? What then is Apollos, and what is Paul?
Teachers, through who you believed (διάκονοι δι᾽ ὧν ἐπιστεύσατε)
In Paul there is a strong association between baptism in Christ with death. E.g., Romans 6:3-4,
Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death
ἢ ἀγνοεῖτε ὅτι, ὅσοι ἐβαπτίσθημεν εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν,
εἰς τὸν θάνατον αὐτοῦ ἐβαπτίσθημεν;
συνετάφημεν οὖν αὐτῷ διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσματος εἰς τὸν θάνατον
and again in Colossians 2:12, which associates baptism with the circumcision of Christ not made with hands.
'having been buried together with him in baptism'
συνταφέντες αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ βαπτισμῷ
The baptism of Christ is clearly a way to associate symbolically with Jesus’ death and burial. And the death of Jesus, to the Marcionites and others, was how he paid ransom to ruler of the earth to purchase our souls. In short it was the embodiment of his mission. Another baptism is spoken of in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2,  [13] with the same terminology (e.g., ἀγνοεῖν) we find in Romans 6:3-4
For I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers,
that all our fathers were under the cloud and all passed through the sea,
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea
Οὐ θέλω γὰρ ὑμᾶς ἀγνοεῖν, ἀδελφοί,
ὅτι οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν πάντες ὑπὸ τὴν νεφέλην ἦσαν καὶ πάντες διὰ τῆς θαλάσσης διῆλθον,
καὶ πάντες εἰς τὸν Μωϊσῆν ἐβαπτίσθησαν ἐν τῇ νεφέλῃ καὶ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ
This baptism of Moses is metaphorical. It speaks of the baptism of the forefathers into the covenant of Moses, representing circumcision with hands, and the Laws of the creator God given by Moses. This does not go well, as verse 10:5 tells us that the Jewish God "found no pleasure with most of them." The baptism of Moses then is different, but it was synonymous with his mission.

So what was the baptism of John then?  We can assume like Jesus it is associated with his mission. And so the question put to the Chief Priests, the scribes, and the elders, was whether the mission of John was from heaven or men is asking if it was divine or not.

Measuring John

And again returning to the passage in Luke 7:18-19. The author of the text has John admit his inferior status as a teacher and sect leader to Jesus, by having his disciples asking the question. The very question itself is an intriguing one. 'Are you he who is to come, or look we for another?' It tells us that John himself is looking for a Christ to come, one who is predicted. In the 2nd century the Marcionites interpreted this statement as proof that Jesus was from a different God, not the Jewish God of the Law and prophets that John knows, and because of this fact John did not know who Jesus was.

Although Jesus does not say so outright, it appears in Marcion’s text he did not accept John’s mission as from heaven where he came from. This sentiment seems clear enough in Jesus’ follow to his response to John’s question. In verse 7:23, as reported in Epiphanius Panarion 42.11.8 [14]
'Blessed is he who shall not be offended in me,'
μακάριος ὃς οὐ μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί·
The response was directed at John, that he would be offended by Jesus and his God. But really it is a theological statement about the differences between their doctrines. The Catholic editor of Luke was as aware of this as Tertullian and Epiphanius, so added ἐὰν, a word not found in Marcion, to generalize the comment to harmonize rather than divide the competing doctrines. But the Marcionite seems more original, as the lines which follow lay out who he was, when Jesus began to say to the crowds about John:
"What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are in kings' courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, 'Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.' I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." [15]
The initial statement about a reed blowing in the wind is meant as a put down, giving an assessment of John as somebody unimportant. In the next line it is surprising to say the least to have Jesus to then ask if people went out to behold a finely dressed man and living among the king’s courtesans. This runs smack in the face of every preconceived notion we have about John as an impoverished outsider to the powerful. We like to think of these two lines as set up for the punch line to follows, as tongue in cheek, but there are no throwaway lines in the gospel all contain some theological significance. John is shown here to be aligned with the world’s wealth and powers, an alignment with those of the demiurge in Marcionite terms.

And when Jesus says that yes John is a prophet, we already know that it should be aligned with the same powers, the same God of creation and the Law. This is confirmed by saying John is not just any prophet, but the one written about in Malachi 3:1. The significance of this statement in Marcion’s text cannot be understated. This is not the scripture of Jesus’ God but of the Jewish God. Yet Jesus is confirming that John is the last prophet of the Creator before the end times (e.g., Malachi 4:5). But he does not accept him as belonging to him. When he says he is the greatest born of women, he is saying that although he ranks highest among the Jewish God’s elect, he is not in the Heaven of his God, and that even the lowliest follower of Jesus, who would be the least in God’s kingdom, is greater. And they are so because the least of his God is greater than the greatest of the demiurge.

John in the Other Gospels

The Malachi 3:1 association of the final prophet with John [16] brings to the fore the question of whether the Baptism scene was posterior to Marcion’s gospel or if the scene was dropped by the Marcionite author in the composition of his gospel. To determine this we need to look at the presentation of John in the other gospels.

Graphical View of my Synoptic Gospel Model 
A brief digression is in order for those not familiar with the model of composition order I assign the gospels. I am of the opinion there was a proto-gospel which over time and distance morphed into two versions, “L” which was the core document Luke/Marcion was built on, and a slightly more developed “M” which was the core document of Matthew. Mark was created by conflating the two proto-gospels, with a surprisingly minimal editorial content – very valuable for both sequence and original content. Mark’s additions are mostly items dealing with settings, some explanatory comments and such, almost no theological additions. The Marcionite gospel built on “L” and added considerable content (the true Q1 source) and used great freedom with arrangement and adjusted scenes and wording. Matthew was built using “M” and also readings from the Marcionite gospel, generally in opposition its theology. Matthew’s added considerable content (the true Q2 source) and played around freely with the compositional arrangement for his own purposes. John, while not a synoptic gospel was written in layers –five layers is a commonly held critical opinion– the first two of which make up the original version which holds a heretical perspective and I believe was written to oppose specifically Matthew’s gospel. Luke-Acts author took the Marcionite gospel, pulling in additional sources, including readings from Matthew (e.g., Q2) and wrote with some liberty an extended version that is Luke. John underwent a more haphazard series of revisions to come to the form we know today. This is not a defense of my view, merely an explanation of my perspective.

View from Matthew and Mark

Matthew was written after Marcion’s gospel, deliberately modifying both the content and sequence of his gospel. Mark shared a common prototype gospel (“M”) with Matthew, but had the lightest theological editorial layer of any Gospel, with the fewest extraneous expansions added to its sources. As a result Mark in many places represents the earliest version of certain passages. And because Mark shares an underlying prototype gospel with Matthew, it will help identify Matthew’s expansions on the text. So we will examine John’s portrayal in these two gospels together, pointing out differences between them along the way.

Mark opens by showing an awareness of the last prophet association with John, in the famous attribution of Malachi 3:1 to Isaiah in verse 1:2, [17] an addition not found in Matthew’s parallel account. This tells us it was not part of the original narrative from the proto-gospel. This bears some investigating, as it specifically ties John to the last prophet motif in Malachi 4:5. But before we do that we need to look at the common elements in John’s introduction.

Mark’s introduction appears more likely original, setting aside Malachi 3:1 for the moment,
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight--"
Matthew’s appears secondary, because he introduces the passage concerning John’s identity with,
"For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said"
Οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ῥηθεὶς διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος
This betrays contact with the Marcionite text of Luke 7:27 which maps John to Malachi 3:1, "This is he of whom it is written" (οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται). But Matthew is presenting a different picture of John than Marcion’s gospel, one largely shared by Mark –or perhaps their common source–, but with certain specific anti-Marcionite features not found in Mark, as we shall see.

Both gospels portray John preaching in the wilderness immediately prior to the start of Jesus’ mission. Matthew 3:1 adds that the wilderness of Judea, geographically problematic. Matthew 3:2 says that John called people to "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mark 1:4 says that John 'preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.' This seems a conflation of two distinct practices, preaching and baptism. In both accounts John Baptizes in the Jordan, saying that people come from Jerusalem and Judea, which is to the south, to be baptized by him in the Jordan. These accounts have literalized the baptism of John to the Christening act or ritual we know today. This is very different than the Marcionite reading of baptism as symbolic of Christ death and burial, as discussed above with respect to Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:12, implying that John’s baptism is referring to his death. By contrast the Christian baptism, performed by John before Jesus begins his mission strikes me as not right. This is explained (Mark 1:4, Matthew 3:6) as a baptism associated with the confession of one’s sins.

Mark 1:7-8 gives the more plain account of John’s preaching content,
And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
The key point Mark is making is that Jesus, who has not yet arrived, is far mightier than John. John then compares his baptism as mere water, while Jesus’s is with the spirit. Jesus’ baptism is however a reference to his death and burial, as we saw in Romans and Colossians. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore with John’s baptism. And this seems to be confirmed when John Baptizes Jesus in Mark 1:9-11 with the immersion water baptism of Jesus. Here the spirit, which one presumes will be what Jesus baptizes with, descends upon him "like a dove." Jesus never baptizes in Marcion’s gospel, [18] nor is there mention of this baptism in Matthew. For now it is a dangling concept.

Matthew deals slightly differently with John’s baptism and preaching. First before John says a mightier one is to come, in Matthew 3:7-9 he blast the Pharisees and Sadducees who came out to be baptized, saying to them,
"You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
What is it that gives the Pharisees this unworthiness in Matthew’s eyes? The answer is found in Matthew’s rewrite of second woe to the lawyers – that is teachers of Mosaic Law; an allegorical stand-in Jewish Christian opponents for the Marcionite audience – found in Luke 11:47-48 [19] saying that the lawyers build tombs for the prophets whom their fathers killed. In Marcion’s gospel the charge would have been seen building the tombs for the prophets as analogous to venerating the books of the law and prophets. The version in Matthew 23:29-36 see the subject changed from lawyers to instead scribes and Pharisees, when Jesus says,
"Woe to you scribes and Pharisees; hypocrites! For you build the graves of the prophets and adorn the tombs of the righteous, then you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have partaken with them in [shedding] the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you testify that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechari'ah the son of Barachi'ah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation."
Matthew has changed the tombs (μνημεῖα = 'monuments') for the prophets to their graves, and instead assigns the building of tombs to be for the righteous. This breaks the association with the books of the Prophets, just as changing the subject of the woe from the teachers of the Law to the Pharisees, breaks the association the heretics saw with the orthodox "Jewish" Christians who taught the Old Testament books like the Jews. Jesus in Matthew 23:30-31, like John in verse 3:7, does not believe the claim of Jewish religious leaders that they are different than their ancestors, which can only mean they don’t accept Christ. The association with the murder of the prophets is the guilt of the priestly class of Pharisees (and Sadducees) spoken of as "children" of vipers in verse 3:7 is made clear in verse 23:33 where they are called the "offspring" of viper by Jesus. Just as John asked them who warned them of the wrath, so here Jesus asks them "how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?" And what righteous and what prophets were murdered? Matthew tells us one was Abel, the righteous one, who was killed by his brother Cain in Genesis 4:8. The other is Zechariah, the prophet, stoned to death by command of Joash (Jehoash) the king in 2 Chronicles 24. [20]

The final association of the killing of the prophets and John in Catholic thought is found in Romans 11:2-3, referencing 1 Kings 19:10, stating,
Do you not know what the scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 'Lord, they killed your prophets, tore down your alters and left only me behind, and seek my life'
The association of Elijah with John is complete in Matthew 11:14 (see below), so it would be clear that John would be aware of the same guilt association. And returning to John’s preaching in the Jordan, when he addresses the Pharisees and Sadducees that came out to be baptized, he states a winnowing fire is coming, which recalling the last prophet, is the warning of the fire of the last day in Malachi 4:1. So indeed John declares in Matthew 3:11,
"I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one coming after me is stronger than me, whom I am not worthy to remove his sandals. He will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire, of whom his winnowing fork in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." 
We have then the baptism of fire, and it is clearly linked to the passage of Malachi 4:1 (3:19 LXX) in view
"For behold, the day of the lord is coming, burning as a furnace and engulfing them, and all the foreigners and all those acting lawlessly will be like chaff and kindling set afire; and  the day is coming when they will be set ablaze says the lord of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." [21]
The Septuagint reading targets specifically for destruction on the day of the Lord, those who oppose to Mosaic Law (ὁ ποιέω ἄνομος). The description matches with the Marcionites and most Gnostic Christians, who rejected the Jewish God and with him the Mosaic Law. Given the direct challenge Matthew’s gospel puts forth against the Marcionite gospel, it is extremely likely he had this reading in mind when he wrote verse 3:12. [22]

We confirm Matthew’s focus by comparing the earlier Marcionite text in Luke 16:16-17 here
The law and the prophets were until John; since then the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of my word should fail. [23]
But reading Matthew 11:12-14 the emphasis is completely different
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Eli'jah who is to come.
Marcion’s gospel emphasized the difference by stating that while the law and prophets ended with John, it is Christ’s word which continues. Matthew took Jesus’ word out as well as the comment about the gospel being preached after John to remove separation the Marcionite writer put between the Jewish scriptures of the law and prophets and the gospel, which parallels the separation of the Jewish God’s heaven from the previously unknown Christian God’s heaven. Matthew of course has no separation, and that’s is shown in his depiction of the kingdom of heaven suffering violence not only now that Christ has appeared, but also when John was preaching, for Matthew held both were from the same God. And he goes further, making completely clear that indeed John is not just a prophet fulfilling Malachi 3:2 in verses 11:9-11, but is in fact Elijah from Malachi 4:5-6 (LXX 3:22-23)
Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse. 
In Matthew John is Elijah returned and his preaching repentance was saw in verse 3:11 is so that Jews can avoid the wrath to come "of the great and terrible day of the lord" Malachi speaks to. And this is what John refers to when he said to the Pharisees and Sadducees who came out to be baptized, "Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Even though they are Jews who claim Abraham as their father, Matthew singles them out as not worthy of his baptism. He requires that they prove themselves by "producing fruit worthy of repentance," which can only mean accepting Christ.

Mark 1:6 and Matthew 3:4 talk about John’s clothing and diet
And John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather belt around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey
These describe a simple outfit of a prophet of old, and a subsistence diet of insects and bee honey that is gathered wild. This portrayal seems to specifically designed to counter the luxurious portrayal of John as one wearing fine clothes and living, and so dining, among the King’s courtesans from the Marcionite text of Luke 7:25 and its parallel in Matthew 11:8. And that image of a subsistence lifestyle and modest clothing of John’s succeeds in eviscerating the luxurious living mention from our minds even today.

The last element about John not found in Marcion is the beheading scene found in Mark 6:17-29 and Matthew 14:3-12. The original gospel text, as represented by Luke 9:9 simply has Herod, when told that some people had said Jesus was John raised from the dead, responding, "I beheaded John." This was too pregnant a concept not to have been expanded upon in the common source of Matthew and Mark when the character of John took on this much larger role than he had in the Marcionite gospel. It is no surprise both Matthew and Mark place this beheading tale immediately after Herod’s comment.

The beheading account is a highly theatrical one. First the gospel source, borrowed from Josephus Antiquities 18.5.4 its cast, as we can see from this passage
But Herodias, their sister, was married to Herod [Philip], the son of Herod the Great, who was born of Mariamne, the daughter of Simon the high priest, who had a daughter, Salome; after whose birth Herodias took upon her to confound the laws of our country, and divorced herself from her husband while he was alive, and was married to Herod [Antipas], her husband's brother by the father's side, he was tetrarch of Galilee; but her daughter Salome was married to Philip, the son of Herod, and tetrarch of Trachonitis;
These gospels get the story wrong, as it is not Philip (aka Herod Philip) who marries Herodias in contradiction to the laws of the Jews, [24] but rather after her divorce she married Philip’s half-brother Herod Antipas. But the reversal of marriage order may well have been to give Herod a reason to want to silence any Jewish critics of his family’s contravening of the law. And similarly John was then said to have opposed Herodias’ marriage to her living first husband’s brother. And so motive is given for Herod to arrest John. Finally the daughter of Herodias, unnamed in Matthew’s account, is identified in Mark as the same Salome from Josephus’ account. Matthew’s account has her uncle, Herod the Tetrarch, was so pleased with her dance he offered here anything. Mark would add dialogue for Herod – a king for Mark – by quoting Esther 5:3 the offer to Queen Esther from King Mordecai, "whatever you desire, I will give you, even half my kingdom." Although obviously Herod as a Roman appointed Tetrarch would have no such authority over the territory assigned him – another sign Mark mistakes Herod for his father. Although colorful a story, there is no theological significance in it as far as John goes, except he is the representative of the Law.

Rebuke in John’s Gospel

I covered the rebuke of John in my prior article on the authorship of the fourth gospel. But it gets right to the point. Matthew, as stated above, develops on the last prophet when after repeating Malachi 3:1 in verse 11:10, has Jesus state plainly in verse 11:14, that John is Elijah from Malachi 4:5, the last passage of the Old Testament.
"And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come."
This position is outright rejected in the  Gospel of John, and is reflected in verse 1:21 when the Jews, after asking John if he was Christ, then ask if he is Elijah, which he then answers in the negative,
And they asked him, "Who then? Are you Elijah?" and he said, "I am not."
"Are you the prophet?" and he answered, "No."
This position not only contradicts Matthew’s presentation, but also the understanding in the Marcionite gospel, Luke 7:26-27, that John was indeed a prophet, and indeed the last prophet. That is the last prophet of the creator God of the Law and the prophets from Luke 16:16. John however rejects entirely Jewish scriptures, and so his John is somebody else entirely. To see who we go back to the prologue verse 1:6-8 [25]
There was a man (ἄνθρωπος) sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony (μαρτυρίαν), to bear witness (μαρτυρήσῃ) to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.
John is apparently an 'ordinary' man sent by the God of Christ, not the Jewish God. [26] His role to testify about the light, which was previously unknown, but now come into the world; to identify Jesus as the light. And through his testimony as a witness people can believe in him. And in verse 1:15 in identifying the Christ he says,
"This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'"
Now I am ignoring looking back before the event happens in verse 1:15 and the circular reference at verse 1:30 looking back again to this verse, clear sign of later redaction. What we see is both John bearing witness of Jesus as the light, and also his confirming that Jesus existed before he appeared. This is one of many subtle points of departure from Marcionite theology. This role of testimony is critical in John’s complex argument, fulfilling a legal requirement of more than self-testimony. John’s testimony is brought forth in verses 5:33 for this purpose. And we see it is necessary for John to bear witness because Jesus is unknown to the  Jews –as you would expect the alien God’s Christ to be–  as he tells the Pharisees when they ask why he baptizes not being a prophet nor the Christ (of the Jewish God) they expect in John 1:24-27
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, "Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie."
Curiously in this gospel John does not Baptize Jesus. His witness is simply recognizing him in verses 1:29-31
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, "Behold, the Lamb of God ... This is he of whom I said, 'After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.' I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel." [27]
John is thus said to have fulfilled his witness role as defined in 1:6-8, in the passage from verse 10:41-42
And many came to him; and they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there.
As in Marcion’s Gospel, the fourth gospel never refers to John as "John the Baptist." But baptism as we saw above is a key feature as in all the gospels. But in John there is another feature, the transfer of disciples directly from to Jesus [28] as in verse 1:35-37
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
This disciple transfer does not occur in the Synoptic accounts, and we see in fact the differences between the practices of the disciples pointed out in the Marcionite gospel (Luke 5:33; also Matthew 9:14/Mark 2:18). In the Marcionite gospel the dispute is understandable, as these represent disciples of different gods. But in the fourth gospel John is sent by the same God as Jesus. Knowing that, perhaps it’s not so surprising that the dispute the disciples of John find themselves in instead is with a Jew, and instead of fasting it is over purifying in verse 3:25. This leads to the disciples of John asking him about the transfer of his followers’ allegiance to Jesus, presaged earlier by the transfer of disciples, when Jesus is reportedly baptizing, in the passage John 3:22-30.
After this Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Ae'non near Salim, because there was much water there; and people came and were baptized. For John had not yet been put in prison. Now a discussion arose between John's disciples and a Jew over purifying. And they came to John, and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease."
There are several concepts to unpack here as we finish up this gospel. The first is that Jesus baptized. Although we are not told what this baptism involved, it does not seem logical at this stage of the gospel that it involves Jesus’ death and burial. This represents another break with Marcion, as well as with orthodoxy. [29] In contrast to the Marcionite presentation where John was offended at Jesus' rank (Luke 7:23 per Epiphanius), here John embraces Jesus as a friend of the bridegroom, and instead of fasting he is rejoicing. This is not trivial, as a friend is the truest disciple of Jesus in the Gospel of John, and is part of the greatest love commandment in verses 15:11-15, and John’s joy fully embodies the concept which you can read here
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
So it is friendship that allows John to happily accept his role diminished as Jesus’ gains. They are from the same God, so it does not represent the demiurge losing to the good God as in the Marcionite presentation. Finally for completeness there is the mention of John not yet being imprisoned, which seems to confirm the presence of the wording of the Marcionite version of Luke 7:18. John agrees with the more orthodox presentation that John was with Jesus before his incarceration. But like the Marcionite, John leaves it dangling, and even more so because there is no mention of John’s death in the gospel. But this is fitting, for John like all Jesus’ friends, including Lazarus, is alive at the gospel’s conclusion.

An Infancy Story

The Gospel of Luke brings the development of John to its final conclusion, with an infancy story. When Luke took upon himself to rewrite the Marcionite gospel in the spirit of his sect’s version of orthodoxy, he devoted almost the entire first and third chapters – excepting the genealogy of Jesus– to John the Baptist’s narrative. This is in addition to absorbing many of Matthew’s elements concerning John. As we have already covered Matthew account, I will focus here on the presentation in chapters one and three.

In the midst of the pre-birth story is a conversation between John’s father to be, Zechariah and the angel Gabriel who tells him in Luke 1:12-17,
"Do not be afraid, Zechari'ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared."
There are a few interesting concepts here. Luke evokes the passage Numbers 6:2-3 about the special vow of the Nazarites to separate themselves from wine and strong drink, foretelling that his Christ will be from Nazareth. This goes far to explain away the abstinence of John’s disciples in contrast to Jesus’ disciples without accepting the Marcionite analogy in Luke 5:33-35 of a different God. The angel’s statement that John will be possessed with the power and the spirit of Elijah "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children" is Luke’s way of declaring God has chosen John to fulfill the prophecy of Malachi 4:5 and is Elijah returned.

The passage in Luke 1:35-44 is designed to answer the charge of the Marcionites that John did not recognize Christ. In a most emphatic way Luke sets out to destroy this argument, showing that even John’s mother Elizabeth knew the special child Mary was carrying, as she cries out in verse 1:52
"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
His father Zechariah, fill with the holy spirit, gives a speech at John’s circumcision, in verses 1:68-79, evoking images from Malachi 4:2, 5 in which he tells his son
"… And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins"
All the elements of John’s preaching are foretold in this infancy tale. And that preaching is almost identical to Matthew, save a few changes. When he cries out "You brood of vipers!" in verse 3:7 he is directing it at the multitude who came out to be baptized, not merely the ecclesiastical elite represented by the Pharisees and Sadducees in Matthew. Luke is really targeting however the entire audience. So the multitude ask John what to do and he gives a series of decrees in verses 3:10-14 which amount to civic expectation of ordinary people (a late Catholic theme we see in Paul as well):
And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise." Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Collect no more than is appointed you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages."
So by the time Luke’s gospel was written John’s baptism and preaching of repentance is part of the ordinary Christian confessional. Luke also betrays his lateness by echoing the question to put to John by the Pharisees who asked who he was, whether he was a Prophet or Elijah, or perhaps Christ:
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ,
Dependence on Matthew (and Mark’s) account, specifically the beheading story, when telling of John’s arrest
But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Hero'di-as, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he shut up John in prison.
The advancing of John’s incarceration to the baptism scene could explain why mention of it is missing from Luke 7:18 but apparently found in Marcion’s version (per Dialogue Adamantius 1.26), as it would have been redundant. And although Luke kept the Marcionite wording intact in verse 16:16 concerning the Law and Prophets being until John, he modified verse 16:17 to state that rather than Christ’s words, that even should heaven and earth pass away not one letter of the Law would fall out – a mere three letter change τοῦ νόμου for λόγοι μου. By doing this he preserves the Law even after John, the last prophet.

Luke’s presentation then is consistent with his model of possessive spirit, not just with Jesus but with John, and reinforces the Malachi last prophet analogy of Matthew and Mark with rebuttals to key arguments from Marcionite and also the fourth gospel.

Summary and Conclusions

The story of John and the presentation is very much wrapped up and inseparable from each evangelist’s theology. This analysis of the text of each gospel in turn reveals a process of expansion and theological adjustment that went on from one gospel to the next. So it is no surprise John plays a very different role in the gospels of Marcion, John, and the canonical Synoptics.  But this only becomes clear when one separates each account and examines them independent of each other and contrasts their presentation. One thing which did emerge which surprised me somewhat was that the proto-gospel "M" common to Mark and Matthew, appears to have been formed after the Marcionite gospel, as both Matthew and Mark contain certain of the exact same elements of John’s story which are dependent on Marcion’s account and which counter the Marcionite gospel. The development of the beheading of John into the Salome dance story is one such example. The gospel of John, as in so many other elements clearly has refuting Matthew’s gospel in the presentation of John. But the fourth gospel also betrays several elements that while heretical are clearly at odds with the Marcionite sect.

What it tells us about John the Baptist is that the story grew over time and in detail as each evangelist added his opinion. John’s character grew precisely because it addressed the issue of whether Jesus was fore announced. For the Marcionites he represented the end for the old Jewish God’s prophets, as the one called in Malachi, and he showed the incompatibility of the old and the new. While for Mark and Matthew he represented a sentinel prophet promised in Malachi, bringing back Elijah. For John he was a witness for the new God and his Christ, who had nothing to do with Elijah or any of the Jewish God’s prophets. Luke reinforced the presentation of Matthew and Mark, but with his own Holy Spirit emphasis and Adoptionist like elements.

My take away is John seems to represent some current Prophet who was about in the days of Tiberius’ reign, whether real or not, who was known to the audience as having been imprisoned and beheaded. From there the story grew, and the moniker "the Baptist" stuck sometime in the late middle part of the 2nd century.

[1] Adversus Marcionem 4.11.5, ' nobody could have challenged the disciples of Christ, as they ate and drank, to a comparison with the disciples of John, who were constantly fasting and praying' (nemo discipulos Christi manducantes et bibentes ad formam discipulorum Ioannis assidue ieiunantium et orantium provocasset). It’s seems unlikely the disciples of the Pharisees were part of the original verse, but were added later. The Pharisees do not constitute sect leaders like John does, making it a nonsensical addition.
[2] Marcion’s Gospel is missing all Luke 1:1-4:15 entirely, except the mention of Tiberius’ reign from verse 3:1, including all the birth and childhood of John, as well as the Baptism scene on the Jordan. In addition Zahn concludes verses 7:29-35 were not in Marcion, a conclusion which I concur and follow here. John does appear in Marcion in Luke 5:33-35 (5:36-38 should be seen in context), 7:18-19 (possible variance), 22-28,  9:7-8, 9:18-22 (verse 9:20 – τοῦ θεοῦ per AM 4.21.6 and AD 2.13), 11:1-4, 16:16,  20:1-7
[3Adversus Marcionem 4.21.1-2 attests to this passage. I deleted “the tetrarch” ὁ τετραὰρχης from the address of Herod in Luke 9:7 as this is drawn from Luke 3:1 and used to distinguish from King Herod mentioned in Luke 1:5, neither of which is in Marcion’s account. Had it been present in the proto-Gospel it is inconceivable Mark 6:14 would make the error of calling Herod King. While Tertullian does not mention John being killed, and his allusion to his death at Herod’s hands in AM 4.34.8-9 is clearly drawn from the Catholic text not the Marcionite, both Matthew 14:2 and Mark 6:16 have Herod state, “this is John the Baptist … raised from the dead.” In my judgment that was the original text the Marcionite editor changed here.
[4] DA 829c: Ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ λέγει ὁ Χριστός· Τίνα με λέγουσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀθρώπου; λέγουσιν οἱ μαθηταί· Ἰωάννην τὸν βαπτιστήν, ἀλλοι δὲ Ἠλίαν, ἄλλοι δὲ ὅτι προφήτης τις τῶν ἀρχαίων ἀνέστη. εἶπε δὲ αὐτοῖς· Ὑμεῖς δὲ τίνα; ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ Πέτρος εἶπε· τὸν Χριστόν. (2.13 Rufinus) In euangelio dicit Christus: Quem me dicunt esse homines, filium hominis? Dicunt ei discipuli: Alii Iohannem baptistam, alii Heliam, alii quia propheta aliquis antiquus surrexit. Dixit auten ad eos: Uos uero, quem me esse dicitis? Respondens Petrus dixit: Tu es Christus.
The text agrees with Matthew 16:13 with Jesus identifying himself as the son of man, and asking who do “men” say I am (also Mark 8:27), and the answer from Peter as simply "The Christ" is confirmed by Mark 8:29. Adversus Marcionem 4.21.6 supports the reading of simply "Christ" Petrus  ... interrogant domino quisnam illis videretur, ... responderet, Tu es Christus. These were likely original. I question the identification of John as the Baptist (Ἰωάννην τὸν βαπτιστήν) as this moniker otherwise never appears in Marcion.
[5] Dialogue Adamantius 1.26 (Megathius) ἀκούσας γὰρ ἐν τῷ δεμμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἔπεμψε τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ πρὸς αὐτὸν λέγω· Σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν; Cum audisset in carcere positus opera Christi, mittens duos ex discipulis suis ad eum dixit: Tu es qui uenturus es, an alium exspectamus?
[6] Marcion’s reading of  Luke 5:36-38 is one such example which conforms to the text of Matthew 9:17 and 9:16
[7] Luke 5:17-29 the healing of the paralyzed man; Luke 5:12-17 cleansing of the leper; and Luke 7:11-15, the raising of the dead man in Nain. The blind receiving sight does not occur until Luke 18:35-42, the healing of the blind man (Epiphanius, Adversus Marcionem 4.36.9-11, also Dialogue Adamantius 5. 14), prompting the Lukan redactor to insert verses 7:20-21 including the passage και τυφλοις πολλοις εχαρισατο βλεπειν to make the statement of Jesus giving the blind sight had happened before John’s disciples asked.
[8] See Adversus Marcionem 4.33.7-8, Epiphanius Panarion; for its use by Marcionites and other heretics to denote a  break between the past for a new God, see Adversus Marcionem 5.14.6-7 on Romans 10:4, Acta Archelaus 40 for examples.
[9] Tertullian quotes baptisma Ioannis unde esset. Luke 20:1-8 appears to be identical in Marcion, except that Tertullian, per Adversus Marcionem 4.38.1-2, indicates that those questioning Jesus were Pharisees rather than "the chief priests, and the scribes and the elders." However Tertullian speaks the same way in his book On Baptism chapter 10 he also refers to those challenging Jesus in this passage as Pharisees, and he is clearly using the Catholic text. In the Gospel of John the elders (πρεσβυτέροις), scribes, and chief priests are stand ins for the orthodox hierarchy the author of John opposes. I have not investigated if the same is true in Marcion. 
Note wording of the question may match Matthew 21:25 as Tertullian reads unde esset with Matthew (Vulgate unde erat) which conforms to + πόθεν. But this is not at all decisive, as Tertullian paraphrases. 
[10] The internal debate with no answer from the ecclesiastical establishment opponents to Marcion’s Jesus likely reflects confusion over doctrine on the matter of John in the 2nd century. Nearly identical uncertainty is found also in the accounts from Mark and Matthew indicating it was long standing, present even in the proto-Gospel.
[11] Tertullian confirms this understanding of Paul on heresies (sects) in Adversus Marcionem 5.8.3 Saepe iam ostendimus haereses apud apostolum inter mala ut malum poni. 
[12] The Marcionite text is attested in Dialogue Admantius 1.8 (Adamantius) quotes 1 Corinthians 1:11-12, ἤκουσταί μου, φησίν, ὑπὸ τῶν Χλόης ὅτι ἔριδες εἰσιν ἐν ὑμῖν· ὃς μὲν γὰρ ὑμῶν λέγει· ἐγὼ μέν εἰμι Παύλου, ἐγὼ δὲ Ἀπολλῶ, ἐγὼ δὲ Κηφᾶ. μεμέρισται ὁ Χριστός; μὴ Παῦλος ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, ἢ εἰς τὸ ὄνομα Παύλου ἐbαπτισθητε;  Rufinus (DA) reads, perlatum est enim mihi, inquit, de vobis ab his qui sunt Chloes quia contentiones sunt in vobis, et alius dicit: Ego sum Paulis, alius: Ego Apollo, alius: Ego Caphae, Diuisus est Christus? This reflects – ἀδελφοί μου and unmentioned by Clabeaux, without support, but I think correct – ἐγὼ δὲ Χριστοῦ as it makes no sense that there would be such a sect against those of Paul (Marcionite), Apollos (speculatively Appelles), and Cephas (Catholic) represent known camps.  Unlike those you are baptized in Christ name, but not Paul, et al (verse 1:13b)
[13] The passage is quoted in full from Dialogue Adamantius 2.18 and Epiphanius 42 (see footnotes 81-85 of my reconstruction of the Marcionite 1 Corinthians for details)
[14] Epiphanius states the phrase is altered, and we notice it reads - ἐὰν, changing the sense from “blessed is anyone who is not offended in me” to “blessed is  he who is not offended by me.” 'Blessed is he who shall not be offended in me,' making it so the text refers to John (Παρηλλαγμένον τό μακάριος ὃς οὐ μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί· εἶχε γὰρ ὡς πρὸς Ἰωάννην).  Tertullian understands Marcion’s text the same way, reading in AM 4.18.4 that ‘But John is offended,  when he hears of the miracles of Christ, as of an alien god.’ Sed scandalizatur Ioannes auditis virtutibus Christi, ut alterius.
[15This entire passage of Luke 7:24-28, excepting verse 7:25, is explicitly attested in Marcion by Epiphanius and Tertullian. Verse 7:25 fits grammatical form and is was copied into Matthew as well, so I accept it as original.
[16] Thomas Thompson's book, The Messiah Myth, is an excellent resource to understand the imagery in the NT. Of special interest concerning the role of John the Baptist in the gospel, see chapter 2, pages 27--66, Figure of the Prophet 
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[17] Like Marcion’s gospel and John’s gospel, Mark does not quote the Old Testament, and the few quotes he has can be attributed to his source documents.
[18] Luke 12:50 is not attested in Marcion. Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem 4.29.12-13, covers verses 12:49 and 12:51 without mention of 12:50 or Baptism. Dialogue Adamantius, 2.4 has the Catholic champion Adamantius quote Luke 12:49 after Matthew 10:34 with the same sense. Luke 12:50 is likely part of the Catholic redaction in order to map the passage to Matthew 3:11/Luke 3:16.
[19] Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem 4.27.7-9, attests verse 11:47 (also Panarion and 11:48 and confirms that lawyers refer to those who are teachers of the Law of Moses. Epiphanius, Panarion, states Luke 11:49-52 was not present
[20] Neither of these killings truly should fall upon the Jewish religious class represented by the Pharisees and scribes. Abel and Cain were sons of Adam and Eve, predating Abraham and thus the Jewish descendants. The killing of Zechariah could more accurately be pinned on the king and his royal court than either the Jewish people or their priests. But such was the early church’s view. 
[21] Wording is Septuagint, 'all the foreigners and all those acting lawlessly' καί εἰμί πᾶς ὁ ἀλλογενής καί πᾶς ὁ ποιέω ἄνομος, against the Masoretic 'and all the arrogant and every evildoer' והיו כל זדים וכל עשה. The wording fits Matthew’s Jewish Christian opinions.
[22] For examples of Matthew’s use of Marcion see my blog entry, The Antithesis and the Relationship of Matthew 5:3-45 to Marcion.
[23] Marcion reads λόγοι μου for τοῦ νόμου, per Adversus Marcionem 33.9 Transeat igitur caelum et terra citius, sicut et lex et prophetae, quam unus apex verborum domini; also Luke 21:33, Matthew 24:35, and Mark 13:31 also attest to this reading as original.
[24] Per Leviticus 18:16 and 20:21; clear and direct evidence that the Law in Judea province was indeed Mosaic or Torah Law.
[25] I do not include John 1:22-23 in this analysis, as it is a redundant question added by a later redactor to harmonize John with the other gospels, having him proclaim himself the one spoken of in Isaiah 40:3. Nowhere else does John have the OT speak of the characters of Christ’s God, and not used in an antithesis exegesis. 
[26] Irenaues show in Adversus Haereses 3.11.4, that he is fully aware the heretics (Valentinians) argued from this passage in John that John the Baptist was from the high God and not the Demiurge, when he asks, "John, the forerunner, who bears witness of the Light, from which God was he sent?" Praecursor igitur Johannes, qui testatur de lumine, a quo Deo missus estIrenaeus then argues from a harmonized view the position of the Catholic Synoptic Gospels, Luke 1.17 specifically, that despite the explicit rejection in the fourth gospel, that John the Baptist is Elias/Elijah, 
"Truly it was by Him, of whom Gabriel is the angel, who also announced the glad tidings of his birth: [that God] who also had promised by the prophets that He would send His messenger before the face of His Son,  who should prepare His way, that is, that he should bear witness of that Light in the spirit and power of Elias."Utique ab eo cujus Gabriel est angelus, qui etiam evangelisavit generationem ejus: qui et per prophetas promisit angelum suum missirum ante faciem Filii sui, at praeparaturum viam ejus, hoc est, testificaturum de lumine, in spiritu et virtute Heliae.
[27] I have difficulty accepting John 1:32-34 as part of the original, as it is redundant, harmonizing this account to the synoptic gospels. It’s not certain "who takes away the sin of the world!" was present in John’s first version. I wonder also if 'the lamb of God' ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ was not originally 'the holy one of God' ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ (cf Mark 1:24/Luke 4:35). It’s a  mere two letter change.
[28] The most notable of being Simon Peter; whom Jesus refers to as "Simon son of John" (Σίμων ὁ υἱὸς Ἰωάνου). But I do not hold great stock in Simon being a disciple of Jesus in the original version of this gospel. And specifically the association of Simon to John, as this occurs in verse 1:42 and the appended chapter 21 (21:15-16) only, making it suspect. If Simon were added in a later layer, in order to be a first disciple as in the other gospels would require him to have transferred over from John.
[29] The gospel of John having Jesus baptize was enough of an embarrassment that the catholic editor felt compelled to add verse 4:2 parenthetically explaining away issue by saying that Jesus himself did not baptize, rather his disciples. 


  1. Good to see you back at it Stuart!

  2. When he says he is the greatest born of women, he is saying that although he ranks highest among the Jewish God’s elect, he is not in the Heaven of his God, and that even the lowliest follower of Jesus, who would be the least in God’s kingdom, is greater. And they are so because the least of his God is greater than the greatest of the demiurge.

    the least...: ''Paulus''??? (rhetorical question)

    In your view, was the earliest ur-Gospel (L or M) written before the earliest 'pauline' letter ?

    Is it possible to know, from your view, who, between the later authors/redactors, i.e. Marcion and his opponents, remained more faithful to the oldest gospel (M & L)? Coincidentally (!) it seems that your assumption that the oldest gospel are actually two (M and L) is made partially for not answering this question. But prima facie it seems to me that the proto-orthodox versions are always those that occurred after, or to break what the Marcionites united, either to bind what the Marcionites divided. For example, prof Vinzent thinks that the catholic anti-Judaism was a reaction to alter-Judaism of Marcion & company (and what Matthew did about John, in your view, is further confirmation of this). My question is: what if, instead, the embryo of all the stories were already anti-Jewish even before the Marcionites wanted serenely to say farewell to Judaism (therefore with the Catholics restoring de facto, contra Marcion, the old anti-Jewish view of first Christians) ?

    These are my suggestions, by now. Thanks for your inspiring post!


  3. Guiseppe,

    After looking at John the Baptist elements I have come to the conclusion that "M" came together as single document after the Marcionite gospel was in circulation. But it's compositional history is clearly complex, as we can tell simply looking at it mechanically. Specifically the doublet section in Matthew and Mark, which I Farmer referred to as the four thousand loop (from the feeding of the four thousand). This seems to have been stand alone and a source for John, and fused together in "M." (To answer an earlier question, no it does not line up with John's signs - I do not believe "signs" is any more real than quelle). The main part of "M" is derived from "L", perhaps a wild version, with different voice in some passages. That however is merely a mechanical answer to what they proto-gospels were.

    The Pauline letters, even in Marcionite form are a collection, basically tracts, from multiple authors, some of which even in Marcionite form draw pastiches from prior "letters", which were put in letter form. Mechanically the Marcionite collection appears to have come together in one or two prior forms before the ten letter collection form.

    Which came first? Well the collection form and Galatians are definitely after the Marcionite gospel.My suspicion is the Corinthians are also posterior. So if I had to guess I'd say "L" was likely earlier, but not "M" (for mechanical reasons). Both the Paulines and gospels evolved in the same time frame. Galatians knows of at least two Gospel, the Marcionite and either Matthew or Mark.

    This gets back to the core question, what were the gospel for? If you look at the earliest ones, they are basically dialogue form. This makes me suspect they were religious plays, similar to other cults in the Roman Empire. The gospel writings are "book form" which go through the "movie" initiates watched. Remember most people were illiterate, so the play was a favorite form of religious instruction going back to the Greeks. My suspicion is that they weer not performed as plays much if at all, and the literary form as scripture instead took hold.

    Vincent's opinions require a full analysis for me to comment meaningfully. But I think he has jumped to motives and conclusions without collecting all the facts. He's closer than most, but he still missed the bullseye.



    1. ugh, this blog doesn't let me edit my comments to take out typos.

      - "I Farmer" should be "Farmer"
      - "Galatians knows of at least two Gospel" should be "gospels"
      - "weer not performed" should be "were

  4. About Vinzent, I am curious especially about a very specific point raised by him.

    He writes:

    The earliest author after Marcion to relate narratives of the Gospels is Justin, and before him, perhaps, Aristides.
    (Marcion and the Dating, p.227)

    About Aristides, precisely:

    To conclude, the dating of Aristides' Apology is difficult, but the dedication to Antoninus Pius is more likely to be historical than to ones to Hadrianus, especially ad the latter could be influenced by Eusebius' account.
    (p. 234)

    And final observations:

    Without making a decision here, it seems at least dangerous to conclude from this state of textual evidence that Aristides is our first witness for the title 'Gospel' for a written document (S against A), and to draw from what follows (that Jesus was pierced - S - or nailed - A - by the Jews; tasted death - G) that Aristides reflects knowledge of John. He may, but he may not.
    (p. 251)

    according to your views on Aristides, what is your view?

    1) he is basing on one of the gospels already written even if you do not know which one.

    2) he isn't basing on any written gospel, but simply reflects the belief held by earliest Christians.

    3) he is basing on John's Gospel.

    Thanks for any reply,

    1. Your questions on Aristides I'll answer indirectly. But when you read below you'll understand why I would not doubt he had contact with the Catholic revision of John, which is after even Luke, maybe even 3rd century.

      I have become extremely suspicious in recent days about the writings of Irenaeus. There are certain elements in Adversus Haeresies which appear to be from a much later era. There are the incongruities of the material which appears to be about herectics which is first hand and about their systems. And then there are a few heresies drawn from NT texts, which simply makes no sense to be in the same writer - not his style. Also he defends the Trinity some 50-60 years before other writers know of it. My hunch is, there is original Irenaeus writing in there from the later part of Commodious' reign, but a second hand from the late 3rd or early 4th century is in the text we know. This throws all dating of other fathers based on him in doubt. (I think Irenaeus has a legitimate late 2nd century core and a significant 3rd or 4th century rewrite).

      This is important because he is used to date Justin. And that brings me to problems with the two main works of Justin. The apology and the dialogue. The dialogue seems highly fictitous. Justin makes himself the main character and has a stilted conversation full of NT and other quotes from others - not real speech. It's style is similar to Adamantius, which is accurately and tightly dated around 290-305 CE. This makes his dialogue 150 years before any other, when they suddenly became popular in the late 3rd and 4th centuries.

      The second problem with Justin is the Apology. If we look at real letters to the Emperor, such as the first 9 books of Pliny (the 10th a medieval forgery), they are very brief and to the point, as one would expect of any petition. This is no different than a memo to the President today. It had better fit on one 8.5" by 11" sheet of paper double spaced, and take no more than three minutes to read and comprehend. Think of the so called elevator speech. The Apology of Justin, and Aristides for that matter, are long exhaustive tracts. And there is nothing in there of interest for the emperor; no specific person to be released, no tax to overturned or lightened, no request for treasury or temple built. In fact there are even insults of past emperors, which is nothing short of blaspheme of the imperial god cult. They also mention Christian heresies, as if a pagan emperor would care about the internal politics of some obscure cult. These read like a paid op-ed in the New York Times. In short, before Constantine an apology to an emperor is hard to imagine. So I think they are from a later era. I notice that Aristides also has contact with the Apostles creed, itself a post Trinitarian document, which pushes it into the 3rd century.

      - Stuart

  5. Peter Kirby had a post on his blog today i thought you would find interesting.

  6. Hi Stuart,

    the weakest point for me in your solution to the synoptic problem is only the relationship between the letters of 'Paul' and the Gospel of Mark. I'll explain. The recent research has reevaluated not only the gospel of Marcion but also the dependence of the Gospel of Mark on the letters of Paul. But I hear from you that you believe Galatians definitely written by Marcion AFTER Mark and Matthew: how about all literary markan dependencies from Galatians that scholars have reported? Assuming a II CE origins for all the epistles, if it was not Mark copying from Galatians, as claimed for example by Tom Dykstra, then how do you explain all that 'Paulinist' influence in Mark (the fact that the Markan Jesus is paulinized, if not even an allegorized Paul)?

    Thanks for any reply,

    1. Giuseppe,

      I don't see how any relationship to Paul is relevant to intra-Gospel dependencies. It is an independent issue. There has to be an establishment of interaction, and a display of how that would impact the dependency model.

      Dykstra bases his work on Goulder's romp, which while an entertaining fiction is not supported critically at any level. There is a complete failure to account for Marcion, and no discipline in differentiating Pauline texts. Pastoral and Lukan elements as well as Acts, are treated as if original. Paul is supposed to be gentile, yet ascribed many post-Marcionite traits, while Peter is given an strange mix of Jewish and Gnostic positions often contradictory. Without better foundation for this its impossible to take Dykstra seriously.

      None the less I will give a quick once over addressing the supposed Markan dependence on the Paul. Form my handy RSV bible, I see 10 passages noted as having a parallel in Paul, 5 are derived from double/triple traditions, which really is not significant. Still let's go through them one by one: (next reply)

    2. 1) Mark 4:11 has a reference to "those outside" (τοῖς ἔξω). This is Mark's adjustment to Luke 8:9-1/Matthew 13:13ff. It concerns church relations with non-Christians; a pastoral concern, absent from Marcion. 1 Thessalonians 4:12 reflects this post Marcionite concern with church image. The passages in Colossians 4:5 also post-Marcionite Catholic layer, dityo 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (see my reconstruction). See also 1 Timothy 3:7

      2) Mark 7:5 perhaps refers to Jesus being a Pharisee. Galatians 1:14 is a later Catholic addition, marginally related, where the post-Marcionite Catholic redactor shows Jesus as being Jewish. Gospel came first in this case.

      3) Mark 7:18-19 adds "he declared all foods clean" and not in Matthew's account. The cited passage of 1 Corinthians 10:25-27 is part of a Catholic insertion, not in Marcion (see my reconstruction notes on 1 Corinthians). Romans 14:14 is uncertain, might be of Valentinian origins. Mark closely matches Acts 10:15. An indication that Mark is not Jewish, but this position is not at all inconsistent with the understand of post-Marcionite Catholic texts. Possibly its a later addition from margins.

      4) Mark 7:20-23 a pastoral list of ills. It most closely matches Romans 1:28-31 which is a late pastoral addition, not in Marcion. The Marcionite Galatians 5:19-21 concerns the evilness of the flesh against the spirit, and not defilement.

      5) Mark 9:50 on salt and peace is IMO the earlier version of what Matthew 5:13 and Luke 14:34-35 (Marcionite) derived from it. Colossians 4:6 is a pastiche of Mark 9:50, as is 1 Thessalonians 5:13; both are Catholic additions. Dependency is backwards here.

      6) Mark 10:11 on divorce is common with all Christian sects, from the common proto-gospels (Matthew 5:32, Luke 16:18) as well as 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. Romans 7:2-3 is different, purely Marcionite with divorce as allegory for when Law applies. Mark adds to his account a Roman understanding, places same admonition on women as on men - note Roman women could also divorce.

      7) Mark 12:31 concerns Leviticus 19:18. It comes from triple tradition (Luke 20:39-40, 10:25-18, Matthew 22:34-40), doesn't need contact with Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, nor James 2:8. A common position of all Christian sects.

      8) Mark 13:33 "be watchful" is vaguely parallel to Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 4:2. But these passages in the Asiatic letters are more likely to be dependent on the gospels.

      9) Mark 14:22-25 "drinking the cup" is part of the triple tradition (Luke 22:17-19, Matthew 26:26-29). The citation to 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 is part of the post-Marcionite Catholic redaction to 1 Corinthians (see my reconstruction on the secondary nature of 1 Corinthians 11:23-32). Dependence in Paul is on the Gospels here.

      10) Mark 14:36 adds "Abba" (not in Matthew's version) which is identical to Galatians 4:6 (Marcionite) and Romans 8:15 (not attested in Marcion, a pastiche of Galatians). Hum.

      Upon examination almost all the dependencies vanish.

      - Stuart

    3. According to some scholars, the absence of gospel-quoting in epistles is so much of a truism that it is almost possible to give an approximate date to a work simply by how and to what extent it refers to the Jesus life in a biographical sense. Do you find valid that way of dating texts? If not, how do you explain otherwise the deliberate omission of explicit Gospel-quoting (not only implicit, like I see from your list above), in a marcionite epistle?

      For example, prof Robert Price wrote:

      First, it appears to me both that Marcion is responsible for
      significant portions of the epistolary text and that the epistles are
      quite innocent of the gospel tradition of sayings and deeds by an
      earthly Jesus. Therefore, Marcion not only possessed no gospel
      but knew nothing of our Jesus tradition.

      (from his essay Early Date for the Pauline Epistles?)

      It seems clear that you reject explicitly the Price's premise, and therefore his conclusion, too. Even when you consider a reputed mythicist proof-text like Epistle to Hebrews, do you think that his real author knew about a written gospel ? Which marcionite text do you think is surprisingly silent about a Gospel-Jesus?


    4. Even radical scholars like Price have a hard time dropping the notion of the gospels containing some sort of biographical information. But Price is really not that far from my position, except that I do not see it as likely Marcion did not possess a gospel - this position I should note is opposite of Markus Vinzent who holds that Marcion is author of the gospel.

      The gospels tell us about the theology of the writers. They place the most important concepts in the mouth of Jesus as sayings. In this Price is fully correct. And I hope if nothing else my comparative readings of the gospels makes this point clear.

      My view is most of the Pauline Epistles were unnamed tracts from several writers in the heretical camp. They collected together and were given the title of Paul. I believe the collection took shape in at least two forms during the Marcionite phase, and at least two more in the Catholic phase (it is a complicated explanation based on the title and introductory forms of the books themselves as well as manuscript book order). It is my belief that Marcion collected the Apostolikon, sans Galatians, and his Gospel almost at the same time. This alone could explain the minimal interaction.

      The gospels I believe were something like plays originally, that is dialogue plays. Most people were illiterate, and a play was how they understood their religion's key points. It seems almost all cults had them. That the epistles are light on interaction with them indicates that the gospels were not seen as Scripture per se in the early years by the epistle writers, not that they were unknown. The epistles focused on theological points and distinguishing the writer's sect from other sects. Its hard not to notice the polemics in almost all of them.

      Hebrews is a strange bird. It is a composite text of similar themed material -think of it as a smaller "snowball" than say Isaiah. It was unknown before the 3rd century and seems to be related to a sect of Adoptionist Christians. It clearly came together after the gospels, and share much vocabulary with Luke-Acts (also an Adoptionist author). That it does not quote the gospels tells us more about the low level of reverence of the gospels than anything else. Only 1 John makes strong reference to the Gospel of John, and more in theme. Most Catholic epistles are essentially political tracts pounding away at "heretics" who oppose the writers sect.

      The problem mythicists have is they are trying so hard to place everything in the lens of mythicism that they often fail to examine other explanations for the phenomena they see in the epistles. Lack of significant quoting of the Gospels indicates less that they did not know them than that they did not hold them as authoritative. This is why I refuse to get pulled into the mythical vs. historical Jesus debate; it puts blinders on your studies.

      For myself, in the case of Marcion, excepting 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (Marcionite form), there is minimal contact because the collection and gospels are the same era. And because Marcion saw the gospels, as probably all Christians at that time, as allegorical story telling not Scriptural truths, except the point of the cross and resurrection.

    5. Giuseppe,

      One more thing. If we are not quoting the gospels in the Pauline's and we are not quoting Paul in Mark (or other gospels, although I have issue throwing Matthew in this), then how do we say that a given gospel is Pauline? I think the burden of proof would be very high to claim Mark is Pauline. Mark is certainly not Marcionite, and is at variance with the Marcionite position in the Paulines. So what then is the criteria to establish such a claim? And does that in anyway effect the dating or order of Mark in relation to the other gospels?

      In my little examination of the ten passages that show contact one way or the other with the Paulines, after dismissing some as part of a triple tradition, we saw that several of them were actually concerns from the pastoral layer, which is vary late indeed. And also we saw in a few that it was more likely the epistles, especially Colossians and Ephesian contacts, the pastoral concerns went into the epistles after Mark was written. This indicates to me stronger relationship with proto-orthodox concerns than Pauline. So I am left to wonder what criteria and assumptions are being made to claim a Pauline connection to Mark.

    6. Good points, thanks for these.
      There's evidence of low consideration of Gospels during II CE. For example, about a famous passage of Justin's Dialogue with Trypho, often invoked by mythicists - wrongly - as evidence of initial, total negation of a incipient Gospel-Jesus, so Vinzent writes:

      Trypho is critical of Justin's account and sees in his choice a forsaking of God and a reposing of confidence in man. Moreover, Justin's Trypho now launches a criticism which is not an attack on Justin's account of the message of the old man, but, as we will see, the critique of a Marcionite form of Judaism. Trypho does not reject the old man's talk of Christ, who was born, existed and needed the endorsement of the Prophet Elias to anoint and make him manifest, but the invention of a Christ, based on 'empty fables, or words without any foundation', hence a Christ unrelated to the Jewish Scriptures, not predicted by the Prophets, but endorsed by invented narratives. The dialogue unfolds between Trypho and Justin after a short remark about 'the war that waged in Judaea'. Whether or not Justin reports historical data, his narrative reflects the argument that the 'so-called Gospel' that Trypho had read was regarded as fiction and literature.
      (Marcion and the Dating, p. 44, my bold)

      thanks again for your explanations & good continuation,

  7. About the presumed dipendence of Mark on Paul, you are very right when you signal the true problem: discipline in differentiating Pauline texts. Pastoral and Lukan elements as well as Acts, are treated as if original.

    For example, I take the interpretation of Mk 1:9 held by Adamczewski in his 2014 book on Mark:

    The subsequent, quite surprising image of Jesus coming alone from the distant Galilee with the sole aim of receiving the Jewish-style immersion in water (Mk 1:9bc; diff. 1:5) by means of the hypertextual procedure of interfigurality illustrates Paul’s subsequent statement that he advanced in Judaism beyond many of his contemporaries in his people, being far more zealous for the Jewish traditions (Gal 1:14).

    But the entire story of Paul zealous Jew & persecutor was not (very likely) a later proto-catholic interpolation?

    For other ''literary motifs'' of this type, see here. At best, we can talk about a generic influence of a catholicized Paul on Mark, and only in that case, maybe, open us to possibility that Mark was written after the orthodox correction of original marcionite epistles. But are you skeptic even about that last, extreme possibility, too?

    Sorry for my repetitiveness but I'm curious about your views on the matter.

    1. (obviously, when I say ''Paul'' in previous comment I mean the set of original II CE texts named by his name).

    2. Guiseppe,

      You ask good questions. I enjoy answering these. Sometime you guys make me think, and often you make me be more disciplined and focused in my work. All good.

      Mark may be a later book than even I place it, given the pastoral motifs. This secrecy motif is hammered at by the Gospel of John, where Jesus says he preached openly. Marcion's Paul the same. But you may have hit on something there in the parallel with Galatians 2:2(b), which Detering, Mahar, and I all see as a later interpolation.

      The words "among the gentiles" (ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν) were added to show the two missions, that Paul had only one of them. I am not certain if simply the words "in private" (κατ' ἰδίαν) only were added, or if the entire rest of the verse was added (I think more likely). But the key point is a private meeting with those supposedly important, is meant to show Paul as submitting to the Jerusalem council of Acts, and needing approval of an existing leadership. This is the Catholic Paul who is one of multiple Apostles. The same is achieved in the Catholic addition in verses 2:7-8 of Paul's Gospel "for the circumcised as Peter's is for the circumcised." In the Marcionite Paul simply presents his Gospel, not caring what they think, and says in effect, 'hey even those guys you think are important gave their approval to me.' So it could be a reference to Marcion's meetings with Christians in Rome. But that is speculation.

      Now when I look at Mark, I see something else. Mark 7:33 κατ' ἰδίαν seems to be a marker where Mark is saying, I have some words of the Lord nobody else has, he said it privately which is why you never heard it before now. His healing, unlike Matthew's parallel has dialogue with it, including an Amarmaic word Ἐφφαθά and translation ὅ ἐστιν ιανοίχθητι, to show its authentic.

      In Mark 9:28-29 κατ' ἰδίαν is part of a common proto-Gospel with Matthew 17:9 except that Matthew says its faith - I think that is the original wording - rather than prayer which Mark says. The point of both is a marker for exclusive material. Mark's is a curious change, seems from a later Pastoral era where faith (really just means being a Christian) is not sufficient. Hum another marker for even later authorship. Mark 13:3 is also part of common tradition, may have even been in Marcion - not in Luke. Deals with the things to come. Hard to say this is Mark's per se either.

      All the tell no one stuff is also paralleled in Marcion and Matthew, It becomes Markan only if you presume Mark priority. That is my take.

  8. Adamczewski sees even in these passages quoted by you other 'pauline' motives:

    The concluding statement concerning the necessity of prayer (... Mk 9:29; cf. 9:28) illustrates the likewise concluding Pauline idea of the believers as the temple of God (1 Cor 3:16-17), for Mark regarded the temple of God as the house of prayer (proseuké: Mk 11:17). Consequently, the textual addition 'and fasting' ... is evidently a later, ascetic gloss, which has nothing to do with the original...

    whereas Mk 7:33

    ...illustrates Paul's subsequent exhortation to restore such a man not by punishing him, but in a spirit of gentleness, but also in such a way that his temptation might not influence others (Gal 6:1b-d).
    The subsequent, surprising description of Jesus' putting his finger ... , thus expressing pain or weariness under a burden (Mk 7:34ab; cf. 2 Cor 5:4...), in a narrative way illustrates Paul's subsequent idea of bearing the burdens ... of others (Gal 6:2a).
    ...use of the Hebrew (or Aramaic) verb ephphatha ... illustrates the subsequent Pauline idea that the Jewish Law (cf Mk 7:33b) was replaced with the authoritative like Hebrew Scripture, but halachically 'open' law of Christ (Gal 6:2b).

    (p. 101)

    About Mk 13:3 :

    ...illustrates the Pauline idea that he talked to them in private about his Gentile-oriented gospel (Gal 2:2b-d) with a good result (Gal 2:9), but afterwards their behaviour towards the Gentiles was corrupted (Gal 2:12), so that the related saying concerning corrupted habits (1 Cor 15:33b) could also apply to them.
    (p. 157)

    If I understand you precisely, your view is that Mark can be considered a 'pauline' gospel only if we see it, à la Adamczewski, as midrash from catholicized epistles ('pastoral motifs') but only under one condition: that Mark was the first Gospel to be written.

    But you have already
    ''come to the conclusion that "M" came together as single document after the Marcionite gospel was in circulation''.

    Is it possible (and probable) that our 'pauline' catholic Mark (+ other synoptics) was written both after Mcn (your L + marcionite elements) and after the complete correction of marcionite epistles by proto-catholics??? (this is more or less what my modest instinct would feel prima facie given all available evidence to my modest knowledge, and I would like a 'confirmation' :) ...).

    Thanks for any reply,

    1. I maybe overstated when I said that "M" was completed after Marcion's gospel was published. That is speculative. What I am saying is the section covered by Mark 6:17--8:21 and its parallel in Matthew 14:3-16:12 is part of an earlier version of the proto-gospel (its more primitive than the parallels) and it has been fully conflated into the proto-Gospel "M" as testified by the summaries of the section in Mark 8:16-21 and Matthew 16:7-12.

      For technical reasons I think the "M" in Matthew is earlier than that in Mark. But beyond that its hard to say much.

      At this point we are beyond the point of things I am willing to defend. You are going down a speculative path I care not to go.

  9. Last question, but about the book of Revelation.

    You wrote somewhere that you you feel some layers of that book even the only parts of the NT prior to II CE.

    What is Babylon in Revelation? Rome or Jerusalem?

    I think, like wrote a scholar, ''perhaps the most dramatic clue to the identification of Jerusalem as the target city masquerading under the name “Babylon” is the fact that like the Babylon of Jeremiah’s day, Jerusalem had the signal distinction of having destroyed the true Temple of the Lord when she crucified Jesus, whom John understood to be the Temple of the Lord (John 2:19-21).''

    But the parallel is rather imprecise: the strict identity Jesus=Temple of Lord is later notion, found in the paulines and gospels.

    I think that the introduction of Jeshua's death in Revelation serves to explain the fact that was Jerusalem/Babylon responsible for the destruction of Temple (attracting the wrath of God upon himself by Roman intervention). Only in this way the parallel above is correct: like the Babylon of Jeremiah’s day, Jerusalem had the signal distinction of having provoked the destruction of Temple (by killing Joshua).

    Do you think that Bruno Bauer is correct when he saw Revelation as the earliest Judeo-Christian document?

    I suspect that, while Revelation is a typical product post-70, the gnostic dualism anti-YHWH started only after Kitos War (115-117 CE) but prior that time only the Jews, not their God, could be considered eventually responsible for evil (and for Messiah's death).


    1. I am not going to defend anything in Revelation. But I'll give a quick opinion.

      I think it was a book written in a few stages, many layers. It is very anti-Roman. It is based on Astrological observations and interpretations - even Jesus is called Venus in 22:16. Chapter 12 concerns the conception of Christ in the heavens and his birth story in cave (. I am of the opinion the symbolism is drawn from eclipses of 59 CE in chapter 6 and 71 CE in chapter 12. There seems to me to be clear references to the first six Caesars in chapter 6, associating them with astrological symbols and planets (the horses). The Jewish revolt is clearly covered. All these events seems close together in time. But then there is reference to the ten horns of the beast in verse 17:12, seem to map to the ten Caesars after Nero (ignoring the three who were but weren't as they never controlled the beast - that is the Roman army) starting with Vespasian and ending with Commodus (remember to count Marcus Aurelius's brother Lucius Verus). Verse 17:9 refers to the seven hills of Rome.

      Anyway the reference to Emperors through Commodus and in chapter 18 to the Antonine plague and its impact, argue for a late 2nd century author who built upon the 1st century events about the Jewish War of 66-73 CE.

      So I think its a late 2nd century (during Severus, ~195 CE) Christian document written on top of perhaps a Jewish document from the 1st century (~ 75-80 CE)

      I don't see the temple allusion at all. But them again I have not really studied the book in depth. I just think its kind of fascinating its about astrology.

  10. Hi Stuart,

    about Epistle of Barnabas, prof Vinzent wrote:

    The epistle is, however, far from being anti-Jewish; on the contrary, it centres entirely on the Tanak, the Rabbinic canonical writings.
    (Christ's Resurrection, p. 58)

    Very different from Irenaeus in the late second century, who teaches history as a gradual development towards final salvation, history in Barnabas is an open project, while at the same time it is neither a purely dualistic nor an antithetic battle as, for example, in Marcion.
    (p. 59)

    What do you have to say shortly about this epistle? Do you confirm its being not proto-orthodox (but at the same time being not entirely Jewish) and its links with texts like Didache, Revelation, Odes of Solomon, etc. ?

    Thanks for any reply,

    1. I have not looked at Barnabas critically in a decade. My opinions have evolved in that time, and I barely remember this tract. So I am not capable of making an intelligent assessment. I'll get back to you on it. But it may have to wait until Summer.

      I have multiple projects that will consume my time the next six weeks, so this will have to be queued up. Barnabas has no unbiased translation and I will have to evaluate the variants (quite a few considering there are only two major manuscripts, א H and 9 closely related late manuscripts, plus the Latin in some of them), Ping me in late summer if I have not yet replied.

    2. Guiseppe,

      I took some time to read Barnabas and get a handle on the contours of composition. First I want to note that א is a bit of a wild text, similar to say the western text in Act - my hunch is א is western here. Which is curious why that was the text chosen by CCEL for the Greek instead of H.

      This is an orthodox document, which I would date late 2nd century to early 3rd century is most likely. Definitely after the gospel of Matthew, and also after the Catholic revision of Paul, including 1 Timothy, which was the last of the Pastorals written (FYI recognized first by Friedrich Schleiermacher in 1807, but forgotten by most of today's scholars). It also makes reference to errors of certain Adoptionist sects that see Jesus as purely human. So it is clearly not early.

      The compositional form is exegesis, and its purpose, as with most orthodox exegesis of the OT (LXX) is to prove the connection of the Jewish Scriptures (Law and Prophets) to Christ, the NT and give Christianity legitimacy. It is my suspicion that this form of writing, which so dominates Matthew and even Luke, as well as some of the Catholic letters, and the revisions made in Paul, as well as church fathers when confronting heretics, developed in response to the Antithesis. Barnabas falls into this category.

      Orthodoxy represented a much wider array of positions well into the third century than is often recognized by most today. What was agreed upon was the God of Jesus was the Jewish God, and the creator, Law giver, and high God were all one and the same. Barnabas is more in line with Matthew's theology than Luke's.

      Implied in Barnabas is an acceptance of Paul, although he is not quoted, and an attempt to harmonize some of the themes into orthodoxy. It reminds me in this sense of the Epistle of James. It also attempts to justify Christian gentiles having and accepting the Jewish Scriptures as part of the NT. So I do agree it's not anti-Jewish. It is focused on the internal Christian debate concerning the books to accept in the NT - it seems to include some extra Canonical books, a feature of 3rd century writings like Jude.

      Bottom line, it's definitely proto-Orthodox. I do find one thing interesting: it attempts to read Joshua (Jesus -- same name, we latinize it and fail to see the equivalence) son of Nun, who followed Moses, to be read allegorically with respect to Jesus the son of God.

  11. Thanks for this. I would like personally to test progressively your findings with my hypotethical scenario of origins (dates are approximate):

    1) 70-90 CE: some Jew preachers/Spirit-possessed predicted the imminent future arrival of Messiah ‘Joshua’ (Didache, Enochic leterature) meaning generic ‘salvation’.

    2) 90-110 CE: the first Gnostics among them (Cerinthus?) invented the idea of a (only apparent) Messiah Jesus dying by hand of ‘Jews’ on earth and ascending up to heaven.

    3) 110-120 CE: the same Jews of point 1, instead of rejecting the entire concept of Messiah’s death on earth as basically alien to their beliefs, incorporated progressively it into Jewish sacrificial system (evidence in earliest stratum of Revelation, Odes of Solomon, Ascension of Isaiah…) and linking more or less that death to fall of Temple.

    4) 120-140 CE: The Marcionites attempted to armonize Jews and Gnostics with their fictitious leterature (”Paul”) and their Earliest Gospel.

    5) 140-200 CE: But the proto-orthodox Judaizers prevailed after splitting Mcn in our four canonical Gospels, etc.

    I believe that, only if you reject a priori as mere apologetical armonization any scholar suggestion about a presumed basically Jewishness of concept of a dying messiah, then the only possible conclusion is that above.

    I would see the Marcionism and Marcion as response and reaction both to Jewish political crisis (wars of 70, 115 and 135 CE resp.) and to Gnosticism (a previous independent christian church, like theorized recently by Brakke, you find it free online), in a tentative of superseding both with the birth of an embryonic institutional church divorced from Judaism.

    What I find surprising is that every document that others say be 'JudeoChristian' and dating 90-110 CE you denounce as late/orthodox.

    Hence my strong suspect expressed in point 3 above: that what Vinzent sees as expiatory sacrifice linked to Jesus'death into all texts previous Marcion, if effectively previous Marcion (but your words seem disprove continually this), were only first clumsy attempts to see as 'Jewish' what Jewish wasn't and can never be truly: the death of Messiah.


    1. I like to say before Bar Kokhba everything in Christianity is "prehistoric." We have no evidence of anything Christian or even proto-Christian from this era, except maybe the first layer or two of Revelation. No archeological evidence, no writings.

      When Christianity erupted in the 2nd century the first marker is Marcion during the reign of Antoninus. Certainly his literature indicates a gestation period of material collected, various thoughts and theologies present, as it is not completely uniform even in the first presentation. Everything proto-Orthodox (that is written) is subsequent to Marcion, although there is some interaction, as the Antithesis was apparently a living document, evolving and adding arguments to counter orthodox positions – possibly a similar work is the Gospel of Thomas.

      I would suggest that the exegetical proof texts of the orthodoxy developed in response to Marcion's claim that the OT writings were illegitimate and from a God other than Christ's. Before this challenge there was no need to demonstrate the Jewish God was Christ's and that Jesus was predicted. If you notice all the NT and Patristic exegesis is centered on these points. This conclusion about the origins of the orthodox writing styles is why I reject the early dates. The creeds, some called pre-Pauline, also are a response to the challenge. Many radical critics (a name applied since the era odf the “Dutch radicals”) have long concluded much the same. Check out Doughty, Price, Detering, among others.

      Many early dates arrived at by scholars are based on the assumption that the Patristic exegetical style came first. (I used to believe the orthodox exegesis of OT came first. When I first split Romans I thought the Marcionite stuff was inserted in, not the other way around – oops!) But scholars also do not take into account interpolation in the Patristic writers, especially Irenaeus, and they assume a certain historic accuracy in Eusubius that is demonstrably not there. And they latch onto any early markers, ignoring later ones – there is a general ignorance of events in the Roman world in the 2nd century, but this is perhaps understood because their eyes focus is so tight on the 1st century that they fail to look for those markers. Note, Irenaeus being interpolated means we have no clear indication when the works ascribed to Justin were actually circulating, and that dislodges every 2nd century Patristic writer date – that is a major problem, which is largely ignored in scholarship.

      I am not going to speculate on prehistoric Christianity. There certainly was a connection in the distant past to Judaism, but what and when it broke is total guess work. We don’t have enough solid data to reliably speculate – not my game.

      FYI, chapters 17 onward on Barnabas may have been appended at a later date, from another writer.

      - Stuart

  12. Is dr. Detering on the same your position of 'strong' agnosticism about what happened before Marcion? If not, how it differs Detering's view from your (and Price)?

    In your view, Marcion was the last schoolmaster of a literary/religious school who had already created some 'Pauline' letters and a gospel ('Ortas them in Cerdonis vel Marcionitarum Scholis', so the Dutch philologist SA Naber).

    If I understand you well, all what you can be able to 'read' from the writings of this marcionite school is that this school (that provoked as reaction the birth of catholicism and much other things, etc...) conceived itself in opposition to an earlier Jewish cult or even only a particular doctrinal or cultural or political aspect of general Judaism (the most radical possible scenario: the marcionites as pure reaction ex nihilo to only political messianism of Bar Kokhba!), but beyond this you suspend judgment about whatever it was.

    Is this your view about "prehistoric" times before Bar Kokhba, or there are more constraints that put over them? For example: the idea that there had to be securely before Marcionites a Jewish totally obscure cult of Jesus (whatever it was, if à la Van Manen or à la Whittaker) ?

    The latter, you should agree, is more probable, by same construction of Marcionites letters, because I read this:

    Those who follow this line combine whit it the name of Paul. ...
    But they can hardly have derived anything without modifications, because they have before their eyes quite another, greater sublimer image of Paul's life and work. His position must, besides, as now sketched, prove on the one hand that the doctrine connected with his name has its root in an honourable past, while it is not to be denied, on the other hand, that the doctrine which we now conveniently call Paulinism is really new.

    (from van Manen, A Wave of Hypercriticism, edited by R. M. Price, p.21, my bold)


    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. My opinions are my own. And they evolve. Early on I was very speculative, like yourself, trying to paint a complete picture, then try to fit everything in. But the pieces didn't fit and it was the technical details that caused me to start to abandon the picture I built. And like you I kept trying to hold onto pieces of the traditional theories to explain data. But they didn't work, and piece by piece I let go, until I had to build a new model.

      I like that last comment of van Manen which Price quotes. That is not far from my view of Marcion's Paul. I think Marcion was the Bishop who organized a movement. But he was from an existing camp that was diverse, a fact reflected in even the Marcionite form of Paul. The Gospel of John was probably written not much latter than Galatians, and yet the theology is radically different from Marcion's as the examination of John the Baptist shows. So Marcion was not unique.

      One question I have is was Joshua the name of the Christ before the heretics came along and made their proto-gospels? I think it may not have been. John 1:17 suggests the heretics chose the name as allegorical, with Moses associated with the Law, his successor with the new grace and truth. So the concept of pre-Christian proto-orthodox Jesus movement is perhaps an oxymoron.

      I don't mean that as a position I'll defend, but rather an example of how little we know of what was Christianity before Marcion erupted. And also to show how dangerous and tenuous speculation of what first century Christian communities looked like and believed. I don't know enough to speculate, and I know more than most. The lack of knowledge doesn't stop people who should know better and question the foundations of what they say when they speculate on first century Christianity's foundations.

      My friend Dr. Detering has recently gone the other direction on study and has been focusing on the Church fathers out to Augustine, whom he thinks is so interpolated what we have cannot be considered his work, rather later hands. I think he is right to work in that direction, as we have far too long assumed the church father writings were basically sound and correct. But they show many signs of later interpolation, just like the NT. We need to get a handle on them before we can work backwards confidently.

  13. Ok, I don't insist on that.

    I'm curious about a point in 1 Cor 15:8, the famous ektroma referred to Paul. This is a Catholic denigration of Apostle but what seems surprising is that it's using the same gnostic view that sees any human birth as the introduction in world of a new slave of Demiurg. How do you explain the use of that particular term? Ektroma is sometimes referred (if I'm not mistaken), in some gnostic myths, to the same birth of Demiurg as deviant emanation from deity. I would raise a link with 1 Cor 9:5 because, contra Marcion, give to Paul respectively a birth and a desire to perpetuate the rule of Demiurg (giving life to new generations of slaves) like the rest of humanity. The curious effect, calling Paul an abortion, is that I tend to see him - in our interpolated letters - as a kind of hunchback of Notre Dame: i.e. the legend of a person externally miserable, interiorly big (''the last is the first''). I wonder if this image of Apostle was already in intention of his original creators, the marcionites. . .

  14. The Marcionite depiction of Paul is always authoritative, never passive, never delegating, never recognizing any equals.All self-deprecation and belittling are from later Catholic strata, including that statement about Paul being an "abortion." In contrast we have a presentation in the Marcionite text of divinely sanctioned birth of Paul in Galatians 1:15-16 which fits the Marcionite view of this special Apostle.

    "When it pleased God, who separated (ἀφορίσας) me from my mothers womb, to reveal his son in me that I might preach him among the gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood."

    Paul's birth is one so special God separates (ἀφορίσας) him from other men for a special notice, lofty position. This is the same word used in Romans 1:1 (ἀφωρισμένος) by the redactor to announce Paul's now Catholic mission (see also Acts 13:2). It shows an importance of the mission. But for Marcion that importance is from birth.

    Hardly an abortion, and hardly the least of the Apostles, which we see in Galatians 2:6. There is no deference in Paul, no acceptance of any other authority (e.g., 1:8, 1:9, 2:6). And he takes direct action as in Galatians 2:11ff (Marcionite form).

    "But when Cephas came, I stood against him to his face, because he was condemned ..."

    and again in 1 Corinthians 5:5 (verses 5:3-4 are not present in Marcion), there is no delegation to others, it is Paul who acts.

    "I handed this one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh"

    So it is completely impossible that Marcion's Paul could have thought so lowly of himself as to say:

    "and last of all me, accidentally born (or "abortion"), he was seen by me; for I am the least of the apostles, who is not even qualified to be called an apostle."

    So clear a reference to not being one of the twelve who was with Jesus, and whose birth was of no value, no divine notice.

    All of which is not to say the Gnostics were not clever at NT exegesis, even the Catholic texts to turn them to their purpose - frustrating the heck out of the Patristic writers. Elaine Pagel's book, the Gnostic Paul covers that well. That is where you will find support for your example of 1 Corinthians 15:9.

  15. I break the original post in two parts:

    I PART:

    The concept of a sacrifical death of Messiah that would put a end to all old sacrifices (making vain the same presence of a phisical Temple in Jerusalem) is usually considered a very old and entirely concept, ''therefore'' - it's the logic - dating eventually pre-70 period.

    Even Roger Parvus thinks that an expiatory sacrifice of Messiah is seen in earliest stratum of Revelation.

    The relation Jesus/Temple, in this light, is considered so ancient that it would be present in our earliest Gospels (dated usually in I CE) in the form of Jesus as allegory of ''spiritual Israel'' that dies and rises after 70 CE in a Gentile world, the true Temple being the pauline ''body of Christ'' (or the Judeochristian community behind Revelation) and not more the phisical Temple of Jerusalem (which destruction is allegorized in our Gospels by crucifixion of Jesus).

    For example, Neil Godfrey would agree securely with this scholar:

    Already a few generations later the situation had changed, and the fathers of the Church took the fall of the Temple as another proof of the Christian truth. But in the gospels of the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of Mark, we find evidence for just the opposite approach: What had happened in 70 threatened to refute the glad message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Against all this, even if I concede that this concept could be born in Jewish minds, I think instead that a good case can be made that this concept is late, proto-orthodox in origin and born exclusively in reaction to Marcion, and therefore insofar it is given as reaction to Marcion, it's not early and it is not very ''Jewish''. Therefore the same entire book of Revelation is later in II CE, as Witulski thinks.

    In particular, I do not think that the proto-orthodox had not understood the content of those Gospels, misunderstanding, as proof of divinity of Christ, the fact that the temple was destroyed, when that same temple is symbolized in our gospels by Jesus himself! I think that if these Gospels were written by Catholics, then they (at least the elite) knew very well their allegorical meaning.

  16. II PART

    Prof Vinzent wrote in this suggestive post that is present how it is in his more recent book withouth other implications:

    Like Mark and Matthew also Luke sees the destruction of Jerusalem as a prophetic fulfilment of ‘all that is written’, ... Only Marcion’s version without the verses Luke 21:21-2 is consistent, as here, the Daniel-hint of the desolation receives an interpretation which is not a fulfilment of this prophecy, but its correction: Against Daniel, the city and the temple will not and has not been destroyed by the Messiah and his people, but by the Gentiles.

    This is a clear marcionite antithesis because it raises a contradiction in Tanak : the apparent Jewish Messiah comes BUT the temple will be destroyed, against Daniel.

    But then prof Vinzent find true evidence that proto-catholics converted this antithesis in a causal link, by our Gospels: the death of Jesus provoked the fall of Jerusalem because it's both a substitute of all old sacrifices in the old way and an overcoming of old Israel according the flesh to give birth basically to orthodox church. Therefore I find no contraddiction in the idea that :

    It looks like Mark was too successful in the attempt, the Jesus story to tell subversive. The Church rejected his message not because they did not understand. Convinced to have to deal with a document of orthodox theology, the Gospel of Mark was appreciated and even canonized at the end - declared the guiding principle of orthodoxy. Human error, divine providence.

    But then Prof. Vinzent on the one hand must hypothesize that the link Jesus/Jerusalem was born entirely in reaction to Marcion, and on the other he must keep the old conception of consensus that the link find its presence even during the first century, in Paul and in the book of Revelation: clearly this is an idiosyncratic contradiction. But can be resolved only if I put ''Paul'' in II CE.

    I would argue in this comment that what the consensus thinks is ''1st century Christianity'' can (and must) be automatically equated with 2nd century proto-orthodox Christianity, especially about the entire ''Jewish'' idea of a expiatory sacrifice of Messiah and collateral theological effects of that idea.

    What are your views? I apologize for my English and the length of post.


  17. I fear not be sufficiently clear in previous post.

    In practice, there are some who think that to prove the antiquity of Mark in the I century is the fact that in that Gospel ''Jesus'' is a symbol of the spiritual temple that falls and rises again after 70, a reading that Catholics in the second century would not have never done because, preferring literalist readings of the Gospels, not associated prima facie the crucifixion of Jesus to crucifixion en masse of all Israel in 70.

    I rather think that Mark is from II CE because making Jesus a symbol of the Temple is clearly a reaction to the Jesus of Mcn, where the arrival of a Messiah believed erroneously Jewish leads to denial/correction of Daniel and of Tanak (that is, to an antithesis).

    Therefore, in conclusion, the same concept of an expiatory sacrifice of Messiah, that Vinzent have a hard time proving his early dating previous Marcion, is later than Marcion and therefore non very ''Jewish'' (even if born in Jewish minds).

  18. Interesting thoughts.

    Godfrey is a Markan priority supporter and does not accept from what I can tell the concept of a Marcionite Paul or Gospel predating the core Catholic (he accepts some interpolations happened, but indicates he has spent minimal effort to understand later strata). Parvus is stuck on a concept of Simon Magus as founder, and reads late interpolations into Justin and Irenaeus of Simon, as well as Ignatius as legitimate - this unfortunately undermines much of Parvus' work as built on a foundation of sand.

    Vinzent's observation seems the more correct. I had wondered about that. Thanks for pointing it out. I will probably reference it in my reproduction of the Marcionite Gospel.

    I have a different opinion about Revelation, as I think it's based on astrology - or rather a 1st century core is - that was appropriated and built upon in the late 2nd century by some Christian sect. But that is total speculation. Again thanks. BTW, you should just email me at, so we can take this conversation off-line, as we have strayed far from the topic of this post.