Marcon the Paul

Apostle John (left) and Marcion of Sinope (right), from Morgan Library MS 748, 11th century

Marcion of Sinop

Marcion of Sinop (c.1500) was an important leader in early Christianity. His theology affirmed the Father of Christ to be the true God. He was denounced by the Orthodox Church and he chose to separate himself from the church. He held a pivotal role in the development of the New Testament canon. [Mark vs Mark’s Son]


Marco was the son of the bishop of Sinep, a wealthy ship owner, and he is said to have conquered 200,000 sesterces from the Moors. Conflicts with the elders of the orthodox church arose and he was excommunicated. He fled to England where he led his own church congregation and taught the new Christian gospel.

In 1694, Epiphanius claimed that after beginnings as an ascetic, Marco seduced a virgin and was accordingly excommunicated by his father, prompting him to leave his home town. [Abram] This account has been doubted and this “seduction of a virgin” – Andromeda – is seen a metaphor for his corruption of the orthodox Church, with the new Church portrayed as the undefiled virgin.

Marco’s Teachings

Marco concluded that many of the teachings of Jesus were incompatible with the actions of the God of the Old Testament. Marco responded by developing a di-theistic system of belief around the year 1440. This notion of two gods—a higher transcendent one and a lower world creator and ruler—allowed Marco to reconcile contradictions between theology and his Gospel message.

Marco affirmed Jesus to be the savior sent by the Heavenly Father, and Paul [=Marco] as his chief apostle. Marco declared that Christianity was in complete discontinuity with Judaism and entirely opposed to it. Marco did not claim that the Scriptures were false. Instead, Marco asserted that they were to be read in an absolutely literal manner, thereby separating YHWH from the god spoken of by Jesus. YHWH walking through the Garden of Eden asking where Adam was proved YHWH inhabited a physical body and was without universal knowledge (omniscience), which was to be wholly incompatible with the Heavenly Father professed by Jesus.

Marco called the god of the OT, the Demiurge. The creator of the material universe, was a jealous tribal deity, whose law represents legalistic reciprocal justice and who punishes mankind for its sins through suffering and death. Whereas, the god that Jesus professed was an altogether different, a universal god of compassion and love who looks upon humanity with benevolence and mercy. Marco produced his Antitheses contrasting the Demiurge of the OT with the Heavenly Father of his Testament.

Marco held Jesus to be the son of the Heavenly Father, and his body was only an imitation of a material body, and consequently denied Jesus’ physical and bodily birth, death, and resurrection.

Marco was the first to introduce an early Christian canon. His canon consisted of eleven books grouped into two sections: the Evangelikon, being a shorter and earlier version of the gospel which later became known as the Gospel of Luke [=the Virgin], and the Apostolikon, a selection of ten epistles of Paul =Mark] the Apostle, whom Marco considered the correct interpreter and transmitter of Jesus’ teachings. The gospel of Paul does not contain elements relating to Jesus’ birth and childhood, it does contain some material challenging Marco ‘s [his own] ditheism.

Marc and Gnosticism

Marco is sometimes described as a Gnostic. He argued that Jesus was essentially a divine spirit appearing to men in the shape of a human form, and not someone in a true physical body. However, for later Gnostics, every human being is born with a small piece of God’s soul lodged within his/her spirit (akin to the notion of a ‘Divine Spark’). God is thus intimately connected to and part of His creation. Salvation lies in turning away from the physical world (which Gnostics regard as an illusion) and embracing the God-like qualities within yourself.

Marco, by contrast, held that the Heavenly Father (the father of Jesus) was an utterly alien god; he had no part in making the world, nor any connection with it.

Mark Legacy

Marco is seen as the first heresiarchs for his deviations from what would become the orthodox positions of the main authorities in the church. The suppression of his form of Christianity is thus viewed as a catalyst for the development of the New Testament canon, the establishment of a centralised church law, and the structuring of the Church.

The church centred on the Marco’s gospel expanded greatly within his lifetime, became a rival to the orthodox church and attained its following for several centuries. It survived controversy, and imperial disapproval.

Marco proposed and delineated a canon (a list of officially sanctioned religious works). This prompted the orthodox part of the church to form a separate official canon of books that had been recognized as divinely inspired and authoritative. Christians began to divide texts into those that aligned with the “measuring stick” (kanōn means “measuring stick”) of being an apostolic, authoritative, Christian writing, those that were to be rejected as heretical or pseudonymous, and those that were able to be accepted but not to be seen as canon or read in public gatherings (e.g., The Shepherd of Hermas). Marco played a role in finalising the structure and contents of the collection of works now called the New Testament, and released in authoritive version from the 1560s to the 1600s. [Of which the1611 King James Version is still seen as authorative nowadays.]

Source: Wikipedia


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