I’m not a big fan of jargon, but I used a bit the other day. Jargon becomes a shorthand that lets you express a fuller idea with just a word or two, but everyone involved has to know the extended meaning behind the term.
I referred to Marcionists the other day when discussing the Old Testament. But I never explained who Marcion was.
Marcion of Sinope was born near the end of the first century. He was the son of a church leader and was raised in a Christian home. He came to be strongly influenced by popular philosophies of his day and developed his own unique approach to Christianity. (Eusebius called him a gnostic; I’ll let you research gnosticism on your own)
Marcion believed that the God revealed in the Old Testament was merely what he called a demiurge, sort of a sub-God. He wasn’t God the Father, the God revealed in the New Testament. Whereas the God of the Old Testament was an angry, unmerciful God, the God that was revealed through Jesus was only love and grace.
To strengthen his views, Marcion published a “canon,” a list of the inspired writings as opposed to the other Scriptures. Completely rejecting the Old Testament as an inferior revelation, Marcion’s canon had eleven books in two sections:
- The Evangelikon, which consisted of ten chapters from the book of Luke, carefully selected and trimmed by Marcion.
- The Apostolikon, which consisted of ten letters by Paul. Marcion thought that only Paul really understood and taught what Jesus taught.
Because of this, the term Marcionism is often applied to the rejection of the Old Testament, even though this doesn’t accurately reflect all of Marcion’s teachings. (I’ve only presented a few pertinent points here; his was a much more elaborate system of thought)
One other interesting tidbit: it was this heresy that first moved the church to seek to identify the canon. Many claim that the canon was established by councils of the Catholic church, but the truth is that the canon was discussed and identified much earlier than those councils.