Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:24 pm Posts: 5186 Location: 3rd rock from the sun
The Gospel Dates: A 2nd Century Composition?
The Gospel Dates | When Were the Gospels Written?
"What are the most accurate dates for the canonical gospels in the New Testament as we have them? Are these texts really the faithful accounts of eyewitnesses written shortly after Jesus's advent? Or does the evidence point to the gospels as anonymous compositions dating to the late second century?...."
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:24 pm Posts: 5186 Location: 3rd rock from the sun
Prior to the end of the second century, there is no clear evidence of the existence of the canonical gospels as we have them.
The Canon: A Second-Century Composition
"...With such remarkable declarations of the Church fathers, et al., as well as other cogent arguments, we possess some salient evidence that the gospels of Luke and John represent late second-century works. In fact, all of the canonical gospels seem to emerge at the same time—first receiving their names and number by Irenaeus around 180 AD/CE, and possibly based on one or more of the same texts as Luke, especially an "Ur-Markus" that may have been related to Marcion's Gospel of the Lord. In addition to an "Ur-Markus" upon which the canonical gospels may have been based has also been posited an "Ur-Lukas," which may likewise have "Ur-Markus" at its basis.
"The following may summarize the order of the gospels as they appear in the historical and literary record, beginning in the middle of the second century:
1. Ur-Markus (150) 2. Ur-Lukas (150+) 3. Luke (170) 4. Mark (175) 5. John (178) 6. Matthew (180)
"To reiterate, these late dates represent the time when these specific texts undoubtedly emerge onto the scene. If the canonical gospels as we have them existed anywhere previously, they were unknown, which makes it likely that they were not composed until that time or shortly before, based on earlier texts...."
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:24 pm Posts: 5186 Location: 3rd rock from the sun
"The only definite account of his life and teachings is contained in the four Gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other historical records of the time are silent about him. The brief mentions of Jesus in the writings of Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius have been generally regarded as not genuine and as Christian interpolations; in Jewish writings there is no report about Jesus that has historical value. Some scholars have even gone so far as to hold that the entire Jesus story is a myth…"
- The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (v.6,83) - "Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ" (WWJ) 84
"The gospels are in fact anonymous"
- Dr. Craig L. Blomberg - WWJ (60)
"The Gospels are neither histories nor biographies, even within the ancient tolerances for those genres."
- Dr. John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus - WWJ (24)
* Dr. Crossan, a professed Christian, is a major figure in the fields of biblical archaeology, anthropology and New Testament textual and higher criticism. He is especially vocal in the field of Historical Jesus studies
"Additionally, even though many times in the gospels Jesus was claimed to have been famed far and wide, not one historian of the era was aware of his existence, not even individuals who lived in, traveled around, or wrote about the relevant areas. The brief mentions of Christ, Christians or Christianity we possess from non-Christian sources are late and dubious as to their authenticity and/or value. Nor is there any valid scientific archaeological evidence demonstrating the gospel story to be true or even to support the existence of Jesus Christ. Despite this utter lack of evidence, Christian apologists and authorities make erroneous and misleading claims that there are "considerable reports" and "a surprisingly large amount of detail" regarding the life of Jesus and early Christianity."
When were the canonical gospels first claimed to have been written in the first century by eyewitnesses?
That is a good question. The dating of the gospel story itself came into being at the point when the general rumor of Pontius Pilate executing Jesus began to be circulated. At first glance, the earliest mention of Pilate in any Christian text would appear to be the "Pauline" epistle 1 Timothy 6:3:
In the presence of God who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession...
This verse holds the only mention of Pilate in any biblical text other than the four gospels and Acts. Interestingly, Acts mentions Pilate only three times, while the gospels discuss him 52 times. One could therefore suspect the passage as an interpolation.
However, 1 Timothy is one of the "pastorals," the three epistles (1 Tim, 2 Tim, Titus) that appear not to have been written by Paul in any capacity and that do not appear in the historical record until the middle of the second century or so. Thus, we have no record of Paul himself mentioning Pilate in the first century.
The gospels and Acts as we have them do not appear in the literary record until the end of the second century, at which time this story has become very detailed, with many mentions of Pilate. In my opinion, the gospel story is woven around Josephus's discussion of Pilate and other sources, thereby anchoring it in "history." The gospels/Acts serve as the end product, rather than the beginning, of the traditions that were being strung together during the decades from the end of the first to the end of the second century. It is perhaps around this time, the end of the first century at the earliest, that the story of Pilate executing the Jewish messiah began to be circulated.
The Epistles of Ignatius
The epistles of Ignatius to the Magnesians, to the Trallians and to the Smyrneans, as well as other supposedly Ignatian writings, mention Pilate in a statement of faith that is obvious in its rote programming, e.g.:
...be fully instructed in the birth, and sufferings, and resurrection (of Christ), which was accomplished in the time of the government of Pontius Pilate...
The figure of Ignatius is rather nebulous, the dates of his birth and death mere guesses, ranging from around 50 to in between 98 and 117. Ignatius was, as Wheless says in Forgery in Christianity (133), "the subject of very extensive forgeries." Wheless reviews the scholarship casting doubt on the genuineness of various and all of these epistles. Thus, we cannot be certain that Ignatius even existed, much less whether or not he wrote all these epistles, and we cannot rely on them as proof of the Pilate story as "early" as the end of the first century.
In his First Apology, Justin Martyr repeats this article of faith, about "Jesus Christ, who as crucified under Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, in the time of Tiberius Caesar..." It seems that by Justin's time, this part of the gospel story had been established, anchoring the supposed events in history at that time. So, it would be 150 AD/CE at the latest when the Gnostic and mythical Jesus was set into "history."
As to when the canonical gospels themselves were first claimed to have been written during the first century, I imagine it could not have been too much later than when they first appear in the literary record and are first discussed. Again, that appearance does not clearly occur until the last quarter of the second century. At that time, the gospels were not named with the familiar monikers of "According to..." None of the gospel writers actually asserts he was an eyewitness, so it can't be automatically assumed that the first readers of these texts presumed that the writers had witnessed the supposed events and that the texts had been written relatively shortly thereafter.
Sometime in the second century, proto-orthodox Christians claimed that the Gospels had been written by two disciples-Matthew and John-and by two companions of apostles-Mark and Luke. Scholars doubt the historicity of these traditions because
none of the Gospel writers claims to have been an eyewitness; the disciples were likely uneducated peasants without writing skills; the disciples and Jesus spoke Aramaic, but the native language of the Gospel writers seems to have been Greek.
It's amazing that Ehrman knows the rampant fraud of the Christian "historical" tradition, yet still can't see how patently fictional is the gospel account.
In any event, I'm guessing that it was not very long after the gospels first emerged - at the end of the second century - that they were being foisted upon the unsuspecting public as first-century creations by eyewitnesses of the life of a supernatural Jewish man who supposedly walked the earth decades earlier.
_________________ Why suffer from Egyptoparallelophobia, when you can read Christ in Egypt? Try it - you'll like it:
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:24 pm Posts: 5186 Location: 3rd rock from the sun
So, it appears that the claim that the canonical gospels were written in the first century by eyewitnesses, was assumed, a prior i, from the very beginning, which equals the late second century. I wonder, who was the first scholar or historian to really investigate these claims objectively? However, in bringing up that question I'm reminded of all the mass destruction of everything that told the truth about Christianity (i.e. put Xianity in a bad light). So, meh.
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:11 pm Posts: 85 Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Your second century dates for the biblical gospels are all AFTER the date for the first New Testament written by Marcion of Sinope, which would indicate that the biblical gospels were only modified copies of the Isu Chrestos, Gnostic saviour stories written by Marcion.
Joined: Sat Aug 26, 2006 9:24 pm Posts: 5186 Location: 3rd rock from the sun
Hello and welcome to the party here, Tellurian.
It sounds as if you've been reading the "History Hunters" site. We accept the premise that Marcion's collection was the first "New Testament," so to speak, and that Marcion's non-Judaized Jesus was one of the major aspects of the Christ myth.
If you read through the article you'll notice Marcion was explained thusly (I've put each first mention of "Marcion" in bold):
Who are the "Many?"
"The fact that Luke is superseding "many" narratives also fits in with the idea that his gospel was composed at the end of the second century, as there were many gospels by that time.2 Trying to fit Luke into the middle or end of the first century, however, is an endeavor rife with problems, including that there certainly were not "many" gospels in circulation or even in existence by that time. This suggestion also presents us with some clarity on the tradition beginning in the late second century that Luke's gospel supposedly had been corrupted by Marcion during the middle of the second century. In reality, it seems the author of Luke may have based his gospel on Marcion's "Gospel of the Lord," rather than vice versa. Furthermore, in determining which texts Luke may be referring to, a number of Church fathers, including Origen, Epiphanius and Jerome, as well as other Christian authorities such as the Venerable Bede (8th cent.), evidently named books from authors of the second century such as the Gospels of the Egyptians and the Twelve Apostles, as well as the writings of the Gnostic-Christian heretic Cerinthus.3"
- Who Was Jesus? (2007), pages 73-4
The Canon: A Second-Century Composition
With such remarkable declarations of the Church fathers, et al., as well as other cogent arguments, we possess some salient evidence that the gospels of Luke and John represent late second-century works. In fact, all of the canonical gospels seem to emerge at the same time—first receiving their names and number by Irenaeus around 180 ad/ce, and possibly based on one or more of the same texts as Luke, especially an "Ur-Markus" that may have been related to Marcion's Gospel of the Lord. In addition to an "Ur-Markus" upon which the canonical gospels may have been based has also been posited an "Ur-Lukas," which may likewise have "Ur-Markus" at its basis.
The following may summarize the order of the gospels as they appear in the historical and literary record, beginning in the middle of the second century:
Ur-Markus (150) Ur-Lukas (150+) Luke (170) Mark (175) John (178) Matthew (180)
I'd be curious to hear your thoughts after reading the case put forth in Who Was Jesus?, of which this article is an excerpt.
167 of 169 people found the following review helpful 5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive effort by a respected New Testament scholar, May 24, 2011 By Acharya S aka D.M. Murdock
This review is from: The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts (Hardcover)
"The first word that comes to mind when reading Dr. Robert M. Price's opus "The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts" is "massive." It is a massive undertaking, a massive amount of research and a massive volume of writing, comprising over 1200 pages. With TPNNT, Price has produced a book that could literally serve as a weapon in the pummeling of logic into the human mind. To review properly such an enormous and effective endeavor could in itself constitute the pursuit of a lifetime. Having said that - somewhat in jest - I have nonetheless put pen to paper to provide a proper analysis of a worthy effort.
There can be little doubt that Dr. Price is one of the leading luminaries in New Testament studies, bringing with him not only an impressive amount of erudition but also a fresh perspective of an old and festering dilemma, which is the probable condition of the New Testament prior to the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD/CE. Price does well to start off his exegesis of some 54 early Christian texts, both canonical and non, with a discussion of Christian bishop and Gnostic "heretic" Marcion (c. 110-160 AD/CE), as it is universally accepted that Marcion was the first producer of a "New Testament" canon. Indeed, in between Price's impressive translations of these texts, as well as in the footnotes, appear nuggets of material that help fill out the overall thesis of the work: To wit, the pre-Nicene New Testament essentially originated with Marcion, as was related in ancient times. This fact I also asserted in The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (1999), following the scholarship of other individuals over the centuries. Using virtually entirely different sources, including foreign-language sources as well, Price comes to the same logical conclusion. Why? Because this fascinating area of study is evidently more widespread and these facts more well known than mainstream academia lets on.
When these facts are clearly understood, it becomes abundantly evident that, rather than representing a free-flowing transmission of mystical and divine origin, the New Testament is a highly contrived text worked over numerous times for the specific purpose of establishing iron-clad dogma and doctrine. Fortunately, with this Marcionite recognition, the deconstruction and resurrection of the NT is all downhill from here, which is, of course, not to say that Price doesn't have his work cut out for him in disentangling centuries of intricately and often badly woven webs. Knowing such facts, one is struck by the gargantuan responsibility of possessing vision clear enough to see the project both as a whole and in its myriad details as well.
I did find myself perplexed at Price's definitive statements as to what Marcion thought, felt and believed as he created and circulated the first New Testament, particularly since we do not possess any original writings of the man in which he thus expressed himself. In my own studies, I did not gather several of the impressions Price did regarding Marcion, particularly since the pertinent data are not composed of Marcion's own writing and words but constitute reportage from his detractors and enemies. Hence, we are on shaky ground as to what Marcion truly thought, felt and believed. In any event, although I am uncertain as to these speculative conclusions, I was intrigued enough to let the evidence brought to light by Price speak for itself. Naturally, the pursuit is quite fruitful, as Price immediately steps into risky territory by making numerous other definitive statements that turn the orthodox history of the formation of the canon on its ear.
First of all, while discussing the non-canonical Christian texts that were presumably considered in some circles also to be divinely inspired, when Price emphasizes that the history of the formation of the New Testament canon is underestimated in importance, he is not exaggerating. For example, upon inspection the various Nag Hammadi texts must not be dismissed merely as the weird rantings of some bizarre Gnostic sect, as they were evidently as "orthodox" as any others prior to the decrees of Pope Athanasius of Alexandria in 367 AD/CE. These texts, then, must be factored into what constituted early Christianity, not just as examples of Gnosticism or even as "Gnostic Christianity." The fact that they were hidden indicates their concealers were squarely considered part of the Christian church and only "heretical" if they had belligerently retained these texts. Many of Price's conclusions, such as that the canonical Gospel of John itself was likely a Gnostic text, will come as a surprise to some, but such assertions are based on logic founded upon the evidence, not on irrational and prejudicial belief with no scientific basis. Concerning John's gospel, Price writes: "As for the vexing question of gospel authorship, we may immediately dismiss the claim that it was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus." (p. 667)
Other of Price's more interesting and surprising conclusions appear under the section exploring the date and authorship of the Gospel of Mark, concerning which Price states:
"Like the other gospels, Mark seems to come from the mid-second century CE. Probably the crucial piece of evidence for dating the book is the Olivet Discourse, or the Little Apocalypse as Timothee Colani dubbed it, constituting chapter 13 of the gospel. It appears to have been an independent apocalyptic pamphlet circulating on the eve of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Mark picked it up and made it part of his text; but which destruction and which temple were portrayed? As Hermann Detering has shown, the warnings of dangers and dooms outlined in the text fit better the destruction of city and temple during the Roman campaign against the messianic King Simon bar-Kochba in CE 136 than in CE 70 as is usually assumed. This means that Mark has absorbed an earlier document that already stemmed from the third of the second century CE." (p. 69)
Thus, the suggestion arises that the gospel of Mark - considered by many to be the earliest of the canonical gospels - must have been composed after the destruction of 135 AD/CE. In supporting this late dating of the canonical gospels, Price cites various anachronisms within Mark, such as "the depiction of synagogues scattered throughout Galilee when in fact they seem to have been largely confined to Judea before 70 CE..." (pp. 69-70)
Dr. Price further makes the startling but logical connection between the "heretic" Marcion and the evangelist Mark. In his association of Marcion with Mark, Price comments:
"We may also note the clear Marcionite tendency of the gospel, with its unremittingly scathing portrayal of the disciples of Jesus as utter failures to carry on the Christian legacy. Indeed, it is not unlikely the subsequent choice of the ascription 'Mark' reflects the name of Marcion, the early-to-mid second century champion of Paulinism." (p. 70)
It is interesting that the word for "Mark" in Greek is "Markos" and in Latin "Marcus," the latter being the name of "three leading Gnostics," one of whom is depicted by Church father Adamantius (4th cent.) as a Marcionite defender. Moreover, in his "Dialogue" Adamantius concurred with the assertion of early Church father and bishop Papias (fl. c. 130 AD/CE) that the evangelist Mark had never heard or been a follower of Christ. (Catholic Encyclopedia, "St. Mark")
After discussing the connection and confusion between the New Testament characters Simon Peter and Simon Magus, Price clarifies this suggestion of a Marcionite derivation for the gospel of Mark:
"This need not mean that Marcion the Paulinist was himself the author of the present gospel, but it very likely does preserve the memory of the Marcionite/Gnostic milieu in which it was written. A better candidate for authorship would be Basilides, a Gnostic who claimed to be the disciple of Glaukias, interpreter of Simon Peter, unless this too was a confusion with Simon Magus/Paul." (p. 70)
This theory of Mark being a product of the early Gnostic Basilides (fl. c. 120-140 AD/CE), rather than Marcion himself, may explain why Marcion's Gospel of the Lord differs from that of Mark, possessing more of a connection to the gospel of Luke. Indeed, several scholars and researchers over the centuries have posited that, rather than Marcion having "corrupted" Luke, as was charged by Church fathers such as Irenaeus (fl. 180 AD/CE), the author of Luke interpolated and edited Marcion's gospel. In another surprising move, after discussing a possible root text for Luke, an "Ur-Lukas" that possessed the same function of its more famous cousin "Ur-Markus," Price mentions research demonstrating a possible authorship by the early Church father Polycarp (69-155 CE). (p. 498)
Hence, Price shows that the canonical gospels date from a much later era than is currently believed, from the mid-second century in his analysis - and that their authors were in no way eyewitnesses to the events, apostles or disciples of apostles, as they are purported to be. These facts are not only singularly astounding to the average person but, after examining all the evidence, they clearly represent the only sensible starting point from which we may progress in order to discover who really wrote the gospels.
Price thus lifts the New Testament puzzle out of its current historical milieu, where it has always been ill-fitting, and places it smack dab in the next century, where it fits much better. A few things are still out of joint, but unraveling such a phantasmagoria as the NT has always proved itself too much for any one individual, no matter the intelligence or erudition.
In reality, despite all the wishful thinking of conservative Christian scholars and writers, the fact will remain that the canonical gospels do not clearly emerge in the historical/ literary record until after the Marcionite New Testament around the middle of the second century, a fact that I have discussed in detail in my books The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold, Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled (2004), and Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ (2007).
As concerns his impressive and significant translations of the texts that make up the pre-Nicene New Testament, Price employs an innovative and clever technique of translating the words "God" and "Lord" as, for example, "Adonai" and "El Elyon," so as to distinguish between God and Jesus. (p. 72) Moreover, Price's writing is witty and engaging enough that what could be deemed a dull subject matter becomes more interesting to many, especially specialists in New Testament history.
In the final analysis, Dr. Robert Price's translations of the pre-Nicene New Testament are important and worthy of study by all parties interested in the history of the New Testament, New Testament scholarship, and subtle but germane meanings associated with the "original" texts as best they can be reproduced.
All in all, I enjoyed reading "The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts," as, again, in addition to Price's intriguing rendition of the NT texts themselves, the book possesses gems of interesting data in the commentaries and footnotes along the way. I was also pleased by the unusual "bibliographic essay" at the end - particularly since Price mentions me and my book Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled:
"Acharya S ('Suns of God,' 2004) rehabilitated the older approach of boiling all mythology down to ancient sun worship and astrology as the only way of accounting for the global, ancient, spontaneous occurrence of the same mythemes, rituals, and symbols. It must have been a way of representing something everyone could see, not needing to borrow from other cultures. (p. 1179)"
While this synopsis of my work could use clarification, I appreciate the nod, Bob - and thanks also for the rest of your hard work in "The Pre-Nicene New Testament."
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:11 pm Posts: 85 Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Thank you for information on the History Hunters. I had not heard of them before, but looking them up on Google led me to their website where I found information that deserves further investigation in the future to add to the information on Isu Chrestos that I obtained from Gnostic sources.
I am curious as to where Marcion of Sinope obtained the stories he wrote about in his Euangelion gospel. Did he get them from someone like Apollonius of Tyana, Gnostic sources like Saul/Paul, a writer like Lucian of Samosata, or did he create the composite Chrestos stories himself from stories in the Talmud and the works of Josephus?
Well, if, as most scholars say, Luke is dependent on Mark, and if, as you and I and a few scholars agree, Marcion's version was the original (or at least closer to the original) then does it follow that Marcion was dependent on Mark? Perhaps that is one possible answer to your question?
I know a few people out there, such as Stephen Huller, have speculated that Marc-ion IS Mark and thus Marcion's gospel was actually the original version of Mark, and hence all the synoptics descend from it.
It is interesting that in Joseph B. Tyson's book Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle, he has some interesting tables of comparative data showing that most of the material that is unique to just Luke and not in any of the other canonicals, is actually likewise missing from Marcion's gospel, and most of the material Marcion has in common with Luke, is synoptic material, meaning that Marcion likewise had that in common with Matthew & Mark as well. This then raises the question- why would Marcion have even used Luke if he was just going to cut out most of the material that distinguished Luke from the other gospels in the first place? Why not just use another gospel that was already missing that material?
Things like that make me wonder if Marcion's gospel even resembled Luke as much as the Church fathers claim it did.
The First 'New Testament': Marcion of Pontus and the Gospel of the Lord
In my books The Christ Conspiracy (1999) and Suns of God (2004), I have written somewhat extensively about the issue of Marcionite priority, which posits that the "Gospel of the Lord" published by the Gnostic-Christian "heretic" Marcion of Pontus around 150-160 AD/CE is the basis of an "Ur" text, especially that of the gospel of Luke, which does not show up until the last quarter of the second century. Rather than representing a "corrupted" version of Luke in which Marcion had removed Judaizing and historicizing passages, as early Church fathers contended, it appears that Marcion's gospel was first and that Luke added to it.
It may also be that Marcion's "Gospel of the Lord" or "Paul's Gospel," which he published at Rome along with 10 of the "Pauline" epistles, minus Hebrews and the pastorals, in the middle of the second century, was the basis of "Ur-Markus" as well. Marcion published his "New Testament" - the first such text - in Latin and Greek, and it is possible that Ur-Markus was the Latin one, while Ur-Lukas was the Greek. An in-depth study with these premises in mind needs to be done.
In Christ Con (33-34), I write:
In "The Myth of the Historical Jesus," Hayyim ben Yehoshua evinces that the orthodox dates of the Pauline epistles (c. 49-70) cannot be maintained, also introducing one of the most important individuals in the formation of Christianity, the Gnostic-Christian "heretic" Marcion of Pontus (c. 100-160), a well-educated "man of letters" who entered the brotherhood and basically took the reins of the fledgling Gnostic-Christian movement:
We now turn to the epistles supposedly written by Paul. The First Epistle of Paul to Timothy warns against the Marcionist work known as the Antithesis. Marcion was expelled from the Church of Rome in c. 144 C.E. and the First Epistle of Paul to Timothy was written shortly afterwards. Thus we again have a clear case of pseudepigraphy. The Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy and the Epistle of Paul to Titus were written by the same author and date to about the same period. These three epistles are known as the "pastoral epistles." The ten remaining "non-pastoral" epistles written in the name of Paul, were known to Marcion by c. 140 C.E. Some of them were not written in Paul's name alone but are in the form of letters written by Paul in collaboration with various friends such as Sosthenes, Timothy, and Silas. . . . The non-canonical First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (written c. 125 C.E.) uses the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians as a source and so we can narrow down the date for that epistle to c. 100-125 C.E. However, we are left with the conclusion that all the Pauline epistles are pseudepigraphic. (The semi-mythical Paul was supposed to have died during the persecutions instigated by Nero in c. 64 C.E.) Some of the Pauline epistles appear to be have been altered and edited numerous times before reaching their modern forms. . . . We may thus conclude that they provide no historical evidence of Jesus.
On pp. 35-36 of CC, I further state:
The first gospel of the "narrative" type, in actuality, appears to have been the proto-Lukan text, the "Gospel of the Lord," published in Rome by the Gnostic-Christian Marcion, as part of his "New Testament." As Waite relates:
The first New Testament that ever appeared, was compiled and published by Marcion. It was in the Greek language. It consisted of "The Gospel," and "The Apostolicon." No acts—no Revelation, and but one gospel. The Apostolicon comprised ten of Paul's Epistles, as follows: Galatians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Romans, except the 15th and 16th chapters, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians; arranged in the order as here named. This canon of the New Testament was prepared and published shortly after his arrival in Rome; probably about 145 A.D. Baring-Gould thinks he brought the gospel from Sinope... [Marcion's] gospel resembles the Gospel of Luke, but is much shorter.
It is interesting to note that the two missing chapters of Romans are historicizing, whereas the rest of the epistle is not. Furthermore, the gospel referred to by Paul in this epistle and others has been termed the "Gospel of Paul," presumed lost but in reality claimed by Marcion to be a book he found at Antioch, along with 10 "Pauline" epistles, and then edited, bringing it around 139-142 to Rome, where he translated it into both Greek and Latin.
The Gospel of the Lord
Originally in the Syro-Chaldee or Samaritan language, Marcion's Gospel of the Lord, which predated the canonical gospels by decades, represents the basic gospel narrative, minus key elements that demonstrate the conspiracy. Although much the same as the later Gospel of Luke, Marcion's gospel was Gnostic, non-historical, and did not make Jesus a Jewish man, i.e., he was not born in Bethlehem and was not from Nazareth, which did not even exist at the time. In Marcion's gospel there is no childhood history, as Marcion's Jesus was not born but "came down at Capernaum," i.e., appeared, in "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar," the very sentence used in Luke to "prove" Jesus's historicity. Marcion's original, non-historicizing and non-Judaizing New Testament was a thorn in the side of the carnalizing conspirators, who were compelled to put a spin on the facts by claiming that the "heretic" had expurgated the gospel of Luke, removing the genealogies and other "historical" and "biographical" details, for example. Thus, Marcion was accused of "purging the letters of Paul and Luke of ‘Jewish traits,'" an allegation that served as a subterfuge to hide the fact that Marcion's Jesus was indeed not a Jewish man who had incarnated a century before. However, as demonstrated by Waite and others, Marcion's gospel was first, and Luke was created from it. Thus, it was not Marcion who had mutilated the texts but the historicizers who followed and added to his.
At that point, I discuss differences between Marcion and Luke, showing that in some instances Luke's gospel has added "historical" or "biographical" material. If Marcion's gospel preceded Luke, as I am convinced it did, we can see the process right here of the Judaizing and historicizing efforts to the spiritual, allegorical, mystical and mythical savior stories of the Gnostics.
The Gospel of Luke is a compilation of dozens of older manuscripts, 33 by one count, including the Gospel of the Lord. In using Marcion's gospel, the Lukan writer(s) interpolated and removed textual matter in order both to historicize the story and to Judaize Marcion's Jesus. In addition to lacking the childhood or genealogy found in the first two chapters of Luke, Marcion also was missing nearly all of the third chapter, save the bit about Capernaum, all of which were interpolated into Luke to give Jesus a historical background and Jewish heritage. Also, where Marcion's gospel speaks of Jesus coming to Nazareth, Luke adds, "where he had been brought up," a phrase missing from Marcion that is a further attempt on Luke's part to make Jesus Jewish.
Another example of the historicizing and Judaizing interpolation of the compiler(s) of Luke into Marcion can be found in the portrayal of Christ's passion, which is represented in Marcion thus:
Saying, the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be put to death, and after three days rise again.
At Luke 9:22, the passage is rendered thus:
Saying, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."
The inclusion of "elders and the chief priests and scribes" represents an attempt to make the story seem as if it happened one time in history, as opposed to the recurring theme in a savior-god cult and mystery school indicated by Marcion.
I also include an entire section on Marcion (pp. 68-70):
Marcion of Pontus
The Cappadocian/Syrian/Samaritan Marcion had an enormous impact on Christianity, publishing the first New Testament, upon which the canon was eventually based. Although he was considered a Christian even by his adversaries, Marcion was one of those "heretics" who vehemently denied that Christ had come in the flesh, died and been resurrected. Marcion was "anti-matter," and his Gnostic god was not the same as the violent, angry YHWH of the Old Testament, a book Marcion rejected. Like others before and after him, Marcion viewed as evil the "god of this world," a notion reflected in the works of Paul, whom Marcion considered the truest apostle.
As stated, the one "historical" fact from Marcion's gospel used by the later historicizers was: "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Jesus came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days." This "coming down at Capernaum" was not considered a historical event by Marcion, who denied the incarnation, so it was interpreted through the minds of Christian historicizers as meaning that Marcion claimed "the Lord" had been a "phantom" or spiritual being who literally "came down from the heavens" at that time. Massey interprets this passage in its proper mythological, allegorical and Gnostic context:
Tertullian says, "According to the gospel of Marcion, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius, Christ Jesus deigned to emanate from heaven, a salutary spirit." But, he also says, according to this "Great Anti-Christian," the Christ was a phantom, who appeared suddenly at the synagogue of Capernaum in the likeness of a full-grown man for the purpose of protesting against the law and the prophets! But it is certain that the Lord or Christ of Marcion is entirely non-historical. He has no genealogy or Jewish line of descent; no earthly mother, no father no mundane birthplace or human birth.
In his "On the Flesh of Christ," spinmeister Tertullian repeats his charges that Marcion expurgated Luke by removing historicizing and Judaizing elements:
Marcion, in order that he might deny the flesh of Christ, denied also His nativity, or else he denied His flesh in order that he might deny His nativity; because, of course, he was afraid that His nativity and His flesh bore mutual testimony to each other's reality, since there is no nativity without flesh, and no flesh without nativity...
He will not brook delay, since suddenly (without any prophetic announcement) did he bring down Christ from heaven. "Away," says he, "with that eternal plaguey taxing of Caesar, and the scanty inn, and the squalid swaddling-clothes, and the hard stable. We do not care a jot for that multitude of the heavenly host which praised their Lord at night. Let the shepherds take better care of their flock, and let the wise men spare their legs so long a journey; let them keep their gold to themselves. Let Herod, too, mend his manners, so that Jeremy may not glory over him. Spare also the babe from circumcision, that he may escape the pain thereof; nor let him be brought into the temple, lest he burden his parents with the expense of the offering; nor let him be handed to Simeon, lest the old man be saddened at the point of death. Let that old woman also hold her tongue, lest she should bewitch the child." After such a fashion as this, I suppose you have had, O Marcion, the hardihood of blotting out the original records (of the history) of Christ, that His flesh may lose the proofs of its reality...
In actuality, Marcion did not "do away with" these various historicizing and Judaizing elements, as they were not attached to the story until after Marcion's death.
Tertullian continues his fact-bending and illogical diatribe:
Chapter V.—Christ Truly Lived and Died in Human Flesh. Incidents of His Human Life on Earth, and Refutation of Marcion's Docetic Parody of the Same. There are, to be sure, other things also quite as foolish (as the birth of Christ), which have reference to the humiliations and sufferings of God... But Marcion will apply the knife to this doctrine also, and even with greater reason... Have you, then, cut away all sufferings from Christ, on the ground that, as a mere phantom, He was incapable of experiencing them? We have said above that He might possibly have undergone the unreal mockeries of an imaginary birth and infancy. But answer me at once, you that murder truth: Was not God really crucified? And, having been really crucified, did He not really die?
Here Tertullian is actually conceding that Jesus's birth and infancy may have been imaginary and "unreal mockeries."
To repeat, the Gnostic texts were non-historicizing, allegorical and mythological. In other words, they did not tell the story of a "historical" Jewish master. As a further example, regarding the Gnostic texts dating from the fourth century and found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt, Frank Muccie exclaims, "Still another interesting fact recorded in this same Coptic collection of Gospel fragments is that the disciples did not refer to themselves as Jews, but were from other nations—and that Jesus was also not a Jew!"
Several other Gnostic texts were non-historicizing and non-Judaizing, such as the Diatessaron of the Marcionite-Christian Tatian (fl. 170), a gospel purportedly compiled from the four canonical gospels and of which 200 copies were in use in Syrian churches as late as the time of "church superintendent" Theodoret (435), who removed them, no doubt violently, because they had no genealogies and did not declare Jesus to be "born of the seed of David." Thus, following Marcion, Tatian did not believe that Jesus Christ was a historical person, nor did he perceive of "the Savior" as being Jewish. In reality, Tatian's gospel was compiled not from the four canonical gospels but in the manner of the four Egyptian books of magic, using the same sources as the evangelists. This episode concerning Theodoret and the 200 texts in the Syrian churches also reveals that well into the 5th century there were still plenty of Christians who did not believe in the incarnation.
In Christ Con (117-118), I surmise that Marcion's Gospel, originally found at Antioch, is derivative from a text or texts purportedly brought from the East by Apollonius of Tyana, whose letters, I further propose, were the basis for the 10 "Pauline" epistles. Marcion supposedly edited these letters, which would explain some of their characteristics. This subject also needs an in-depth study from this perspective. Much of this research will remain the same in my upcoming second edition of Christ Con.
This term, Chrestus, is thus traceable to Samaria, where Gnosticism as a movement took shape and where it may have referred to Simon Magus, whom we have seen to have been a god, rather than a "real person." Hence, these Chrestiani were apparently Syrian Gnostics, not followers of the "historical" Jesus of Nazareth. Confirming this assertion, that the first "Christians" were actually followers of the "good god" Chrestus, the earliest dated Christian inscription, corresponding to October 1, 318 CE, calls Jesus "Chrestos," not Christos: "The Lord and Savior, Jesus the Good." This inscription was found above the entrance of a Syrian church of the Marcionites, who were anti-Jewish followers of the second-century Gnostic Marcion. The evidence points to "Jesus the Chrestos" as a Pagan god, not a Jewish messiah who lived during the first century CE.
In Suns (425ff), I further state:
Marcion of Pontus (c. 100-160 CE)
One important member of this Gnostic-Therapeutan-Christian brotherhood was the Syrian-Samaritan bishop Marcion of Pontus, who possessed and reworked a book called "The Gospel of the Lord." A Docetic who did not believe in the literal incarnation of the savior god, Marcion was one of the powerful influences in the early church—a pre-existing organization that changed into Christianity only around Marcion's time. In other words, possibly the most powerful member at Rome during the middle of the century had established Gnostic/Docetic doctrine among his following, adamantly denying the "corporeal reality of the flesh of Christ." Marcion and the Docetics insisted that God could not incarnate, that the "Christ" of which they wrote was a disincarnate figure, "not of human substance" and "not born of a human mother." Hence, the Savior's "divine nature was not degraded by contact with the flesh." The Docetic viewpoint expressed here, of course, is simply a fancy way of stating that Gnostic Christians did not believe in an historical Jesus. In reality, some of these Christians never knew there were claims of an historical Savior in the first place, as they died before he was placed into history.
According to Epiphanius, Marcion was the son of the bishop of Sinope in Pontus on the Black Sea. Marcion was thus a "Cappadocian"; however, as Herodotus (I, 72) says, the Greeks considered the Cappadocians to be Syrians. As a Syrian, or Samaritan, Marcion was well acquainted with the Jewish religion and scriptures, and he was not fond of either, rejecting the Old Testament god as a wicked demiurge.
A wealthy contributor to the Church at Rome, as well as a bishop himself (in its article "Marcionites" CE says, "it is obvious that Marcion was already a consecrated bishop" when he arrived at Rome), Marcion was one of the first to fight the efforts of the historicizing and Judaizing faction of Christianity. Although he was subsequently violently disparaged and his importance reduced, he was one of the most influential early Christians, nearly attaining to the bishopric of the Roman Church. (Concerning Marcion, German theologian Harnack stated that "no other religious personality in antiquity after Paul and before Augustine can rival him in significance.") Marcionism, in fact, became one of the most popular forms of Christianity, with Marcionite churches springing up in "Italy, Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, Syria, Asia Minor and Persia." Again, Marcion's "heresy," which, according to Justin Martyr, "spread everywhere," included the rejection of the incarnation, or the denial of the Christ's "corporality and humanity," i.e., he did not believe in an historical Jesus. Eventually, he was excommunicated in 144 by Pope Pius I (d. 155).
Marcion was the first Christian to develop a "New Testament," publishing at Rome in Greek and Latin a "canon" or collection consisting of one gospel and 10 of the so-called Pauline epistles, excluding Hebrews and the Pastorals. It is evident that the three pastoral "Paulines," 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus, either did not exist at the time or were of little importance. The two Timothys, it appears, were written for an audience in Asia Minor, while Titus targeted Crete. Marcion's canon was non-Jewish, with the gospel containing little to identify its main hero as a "Jew," and with few or no Jewish references in the included Pauline epistles. Later writers claimed that Marcion had mutilated the original texts, removing from them anything Jewish (i.e., "Old Testament references and analogies"). However, it is not only possible but likely that Marcion's texts were closer to the originals and that they were, after Marcion's death in 160, Judaized with the pertinent material interpolated.
Thus, the Docetic Marcion's gospel, which was part of the first "New Testament" collection, was non-historicizing and non-Judaizing, in reality predating the canonical gospels and evidently used by the writers of the synoptics. The early Church fathers, anxious for an earlier date for the canonical gospels, pretended that Marcion had plagiarized his Gospel from Luke; yet, several scholars have discerned the opposite to be true. Among these are Cassels, Loffler, Corrodi, Eichhorn and Semler, the latter of whom "asserted that Marcion's Gospel was the genuine Luke, and our actual Gospel a later version of it…" Waite likewise shows that Marcion was first and that Luke was created from it, along with 32 other texts. Johnson calls the discussion of Marcion's "canon" an anachronism and remarks that Tertullian's comments regarding Marcion's gospel "means that Marcion's Evangelion was the substratum of 'our Luke.'"
The fact is that the existence of Marcion's gospel is attested to decades before the canonical gospels make their appearance in any of the early Christian writings. And, as Cassels says, even the internal evidence would "decidedly favour the priority of Marcion's Gospel." Cassels argues that the gospels become increasingly more elaborate as they proceed, with "the introduction of elements from which the more crude primitive Gospels were free." One such primitive gospel was Marcion's Gospel of the Lord, and whenever there are two manuscripts of the same book—and, per the fathers, Marcion's was a shorter version identical to Luke's—"the shorter is generally the older."
Cassels also points out that Justin, Marcion's ardent and contemporaneous opponent, never once even intimates that Marcion had plagiarized his gospel from an existing canonical gospel, whether Luke or any other. If Marcion had committed this literary crime, Justin surely would have assailed him at least somewhere in his writing; indeed, he likely would have made the alleged deed one of his major points of attack on this "heresiarch." The lack of such an attack and accusation by Justin against Marcion, to wit that Marcion had plagiarized the Gospel of Luke, is a very important point: It reveals that Marcion did not plagiarize Luke's gospel and that the latter wasn't even in existence in Justin's time. Because Justin lived during the same time as Marcion, he was in a much better position to know the facts than Marcion's later Christian accusers, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Epiphanius. In reality, rather than "plagiarizing" Luke's Gospel, it is evident that Marcion knew of none of the four canonical gospels.
A major question concerning this debacle is how a hated "heretic" could not only possess but also publish what eventually became the NewTestament, before the orthodox church did likewise. The answer is, of course, that the powerful, rich and connected Marcion was the orthodoxy before the Judaizers and historicizers moved in and took over his operation. Hence, Marcion's docetic, non-historical Jesus was turned into a Jewish man who allegedly "walked the earth" a century earlier.
It is apparent that Marcion's gospel preceded the canonical synoptics and that the author of Luke, at least, used it as a core text. It may be that Luke and Matthew used Marcion's Greek translation, while Mark used the Latin. Obviously, an in-depth study would be desirable; however, because we do not possess the original of Marcion's gospel, which probably has some relationship to an "Ur-Markus," if it is not itself that source text, such a study would likely be inconclusive. The text of Marcion's gospel, nevertheless, was reconstructed by August Hahn and James Hamlyn Hill, and reproduced by Waite. The reconstructed "Gospel of Marcion" is also available online.
As concerns who created the Lukan version of Marcion's text, Dr. Carroll Bierbower, in "Was Jesus Virgin Born?" avers that it was Bishop of Antioch Theophilus who, about the 160, edited and added to Marcion's gospel, "doubled its size and then named, it, 'The Gospel according to Luke.'" Interestingly, per Epiphanius one of Marcion's more prominent followers was called "Lucanus" or "Lucianus," essentially the same as "Luke."
As we can see, the plot is thick: During the middle of the second century, a Syro-Samaritan Gnostic-Christian Marcion (Mark?) publishes the first "New Testament" at Rome, composed of a "Gospel of the Lord" and 10 "Pauline" epistles, in both Latin and Greek. A decade or two later, the Syrian bishop Theophilus, a Christian convert, publishes a commentary on Marcion, while during the same era, a book suddenly emerges addressing a Theophilus and serving as a proselytizing tract to him. This book is eventually called the "Gospel According to Luke," and it is supposedly nearly identical to Marcion's gospel, except that the latter has purportedly "removed" parts that make of the savior a Jewish man and place him in a certain "historical" setting. Those who know the practice of editing or redacting, however, also know that it is more common to add to a text than to remove, and the evidence points to Marcion's text being first and Luke's being second.
Moreover, it is interesting to note that one of the "heretic's" most prominent followers was "Lucanus," a name close to the Λουκᾶς or Loukas of the New Testament. We also discover that Theophilus is one of, if not the, first commentators on the canonical gospels, a fact that would be extremely peculiar if they had been in existence decades before his time. (For an analysis of the value of Justin Martyr, see my article "Does Justin Martyr quote the gospels?")
After all these years, although a few details here and there may be changed, this overall thesis remains the most satisfactory according to the evidence.
As part of this thesis, we find intriguing correspondences between the Syrian sage Apollonius, the apostle Paul and the Christian messiah, as I have highlighted in my article "Apollonius, Paul and Jesus." Another subject that would require an indepth study - see also the forum thread.
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:11 pm Posts: 85 Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Thank you for the information on the Marcionites. It seems you and I have reached many of the same conclusions. Some day I will have to read your books. I expect they will have much useful information as you seem to go into detail on the historical information you provide, and the conclusions you have reached from your research seem to be quite rational and well supported.
I have been investigating the origins of Christianity for only a few years. From the number of books you have written and the information you have discovered and accumulated I imagine you have been doing this for quite a while. Has your work always centered on this type of research. or was this a personal interest that you turned into a professional career? I considered writing books on this subject, but then I discovered your work and realized you had already written the books I had thought about writing. Thanks for destroying my fantasies of becoming an author.
"In the midst of addressing the testimony to an historical Jesus in epistles both canonical and outside the New Testament, Bart Ehrman devotes several pages to the “Jesus Tradition in Acts.” In introducing Acts he fails to enlighten his readers that there is great uncertainty within mainstream scholarship over the historical reliability of the content of this document. Furthermore, he accepts without question that the author of Luke was the author of Acts, and thus what was known to the former was known to the latter. Is Acts reliable history?
Ehrman fails to question any aspect of this ‘history’ of the spread of the faith. He treats everything from Acts as though it were part of known Christian tradition, and as reliable as anything else. . . .
– No matter that the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is nowhere mentioned in the epistles (despite their focus on inspiration and revelation).
– No matter that the figure and martyrdom of Stephen is nowhere attested to outside Acts.
– No matter that in Acts the settling of the issue of requirements for gentile converts is presented in an Apostolic Council which the authentic Pauline letters seem to know nothing about.
– Nor is the dramatic shipwreck episode at the end of Acts mentioned by early writers who talk about Paul, inviting us to see it as sheer fiction, emulating a popular element in second century Hellenistic romances. (The so-called “we” passages, often alleged to be from a Lukan journal, have also been identified as a common literary feature in recounting travel by sea, such as is found in earlier parts of Acts surrounding such travels.) When and why was Acts written?
There is also no discussion about the dating of this document.
Ehrman places it in the most traditional position, some time in the 80s of the first century, shortly after the most traditional dating of the Gospel of Luke, c.80 CE. No mention is made that much critical scholarship has moved toward a date at least a couple of decades, sometimes more, into the second century (Townsend, Mack, O’Neill, Tyson, Pervo). And, of course, no mention that the first attestation to Acts comes around 175 in Irenaeus, with possibly an allusion to it a decade or so earlier in Justin. That such a ‘history’ could have lain unnoticed for so long if it had been written a century earlier (or more, for those who maintain it was written before Paul’s death), is not considered worthy of note.
As long ago as 1942, John Knox (Marcion and the New Testament) presented a compelling case that Acts was not written until the 140s or 150s, an ecclesiastical product to counter Marcion’s appropriation of Paul in which he used the letters to demonstrate that Paul operated independently of the Jerusalem apostles and with a very different view of Jesus.
Thus, Acts was written and designed to show the opposite, that Paul immediately upon his conversion subordinated himself to the pillars and subscribed to their teachings, lock, stock and circumcision. Which is why the speeches in Acts, clearly composed by the author, show the identical content between those of Peter and those of Paul. (Neither does Ehrman discuss the considerable discrepancies between Acts and the Pauline epistles.) "
Obviously the red emphasis is mine. It's good to finally see Doherty on par with Acharya S and Dr. Price on the late dating of the Gospels as well as the Book of Acts.
Apparently, the Westar Institute is about to publish its study on the Book of Acts so, we'll need to keep an eye out for that when it comes out. However, at their website I found a couple books, one titled Marcion and Luke-Acts: A Defining Struggle By Joseph B. Tyson where he argues for a: second-century date for the book of Acts.
Here's another book cited at the Westar Institute entitled Dating Acts where Richard I. Pervo acknowledges a: second-century date.
Another great scholar to read is Dr. Robert Eisenman.
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