The Marcionite Controversey

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The Marcionite Controversy

Marcion of Sinope was one of the most prominent heretics in early Christianity. He was a philosopher and teacher in Rome during the mid second century. Marcion considered Paul to be the one true Apostle and interpreted his letters to provide evidence that the Jewish god of the Old Testament and the god that Paul wrote about were incompatible and therefore two different gods. Christian doctrine believes these two gods to be one in the same and so Marcion was labeled a heretic but the impact of his controversy was felt in many areas of the church.

The first impact he had was on the selection of the Canon Scripture. For hundreds of years before Marcion, Christians had been using the Old Testament as Christian Scripture. With his revolutionary ideas Marcion wanted to completely reject the Old Testament and establish a canon that focused on Jewish roots as much as possible. But his highly selective canon and his mutilation of this Christian scripture only forced the Church to specifically identify its own writings. He accelerated the establishment of an orthodox Christian Canon of Scripture or the New Testament, and as a result, the Christian Canon includes the Old and New Testaments.

Until the time of Marcion, the Church had seen the Old Testament as sacred and thought that Christianity was a continuation of Judaism. Marcion rejected that idea and this affected many different doctrines and beliefs. Marcion basically took apart Pauls letters and eliminated anything positive about Judaism. This rejection of the link between Judaism and Christianity, forced the church to conclusively link the two.

The Marcionite controversy led to the strengthened reliance on Apostolic Tradition. Marcion relied on his belief of ‘secret knowledge’ or secret information that had been passed down to him from the Apostles or Jesus himself. The Church of course rejected this idea and only reinforced its belief in the Apostolic Tradition or the...