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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

9 - Marcion and the ‘canon’

from Part III - Community Traditions and Self-Definition


Marcion is an intriguing figure in early Christian history. He has commanded attention on two topics: the church's appropriation of the scriptures of Judaism, and the emergence of a canon of specifically Christian scriptures. A major corollary of Marcion's ditheism was a sharp disparagement of the creation. His disdain for the material order found two principal expressions, namely docetic Christology and moral rigorism. Ditheism, docetism and devaluation of the material world and the body, Marcion's teaching is in other ways distinct from Christian Gnostic systems. Beyond his ditheism, what drew the strongest fire of Marcion's critics was his view of Jewish scripture. Marcion's rejection of the scriptures of Judaism amid the challenges posed by the Christian employment of Jewish scriptures, it had some appeal within the Gentile church. Marcion's activity was the sine qua non of the formation of the New Testament, and that the New Testament canon arose principally or even exclusively as a reaction to him.

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