Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

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rgprice
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Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by rgprice » Sun Feb 14, 2021 5:51 am

I've been doing a lot of research on Paul's letter collection and Marcion and while I would like to be able to believe that the orthodox version of Paul's letters are independent of Marcion, I'm having increasing trouble supporting that conclusion.

Multiple scholars now support the conclusion that Marcion's letters are not redactions of the orthodox letters. I'm not sure if this is a consensus now or how you even define a "consensus" in NT studies anyway, given that 90% of the field is Christian theologians. But there is now agreement among "many" scholars that Marcin's letters aren't a redaction of the orthodox ones.

But the main proposal I've seen, which tries to hang on to the integrity of the orthodox letters, is that Marcion's letters and the orthodox letters derive from a common source that went into circulation and had variation within it. Marcion's letters come from one set of copies while the orthodox letters come from a different set of copies, with the differences between the two largely (though not entirely) accounted for based just on scribal variation, etc.

The problem I have with this is that it implies that the "orthodox" Christians (proto-Catholics, etc.) had some set of Paul's letters in hand before Marcion and that when Marcion came out with his letters, then they went to their own sets of Paul's letters and pointed out differences between their copies and Marcion's.

This pill is increasingly hard to swallow. For one thing, Tertullian et.al. all seem to be reading from very comparable sets of letters. How is it that prior to Marcion no orthodox Christians showed knowledge of a Pauline letters collection, but then after Marcion they all had a Pauline letter collection that different from Marcion's in the same way?

Also, why does the orthodox letter collection have all of the exact same letters as Marcion's, plus 3 more anti-Marcionite letters?

Why would the orthodox collection have the Gnosticizing Colossians and Ephesians/Laodiceans?

If there were really independent Pauline letter collections prior to Marcion, how would those forgeries have gotten into the orthodox collection?

The fact that the orthodox collection is the exact same as Marcion's + 3 is a big red flag. Surely if there were independent collections this wouldn't be so. It almost requires that the orthodox collection is derived from Marcion's.

However, Romans 15 and 16 pose a bit of a wrinkle. I can see Romans 15 being an orthodox addition, but Romans 16 doesn't look that way. Romans 16 looks like a very off thing to fabricate and add on to a letter. I can see why, if Marcion had a copy of Romans with Romans 16 in it, that he would have dropped 16 for innocent reasons, it being mostly cover letter with a big list of greetings. But then the question remains, where did the orthodox get their copy of Romans then?

I think this is solvable. I think that Romans actually was in circulation independently and was most likely the most well known letter. It also appears that the letter of James comments on Romans. So my theory of what happened is this:

There were real letters of Paul. The letter to the Romans was in independent circulation. After all, it is the only letter of the "authentic" letters that appears to have been an open letter. The other letters were all part of a private collection, which Marcion was the first to make public. The orthodox then built on Marcion's collection and used a public copy of Romans, which included chapters 15 and 16. But the rest of the collection really all just derives from Marcion. I guess the other big thing to explain is why they renamed Laodiceans to Ephesians, especially given that Laodiceans is the more appropriate title. Ephesians is clearly a mis-naming.

If this is true, then it means Marcion's letters are the authentic ones, with the possible exception of Romans, and the orthodox letters are all revisions of Marcion's.
Last edited by rgprice on Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:10 am, edited 2 times in total.

Bernard Muller
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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by Bernard Muller » Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:45 am

I have arguments about the orthodox Paul's epistles predated Marcion's rendition of them:
http://historical-jesus.info/73.html

Cordially, Bernard

rgprice
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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by rgprice » Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:20 am

I generally agree with what you said regarding Romans. It makes sense to me that Romans really circulated on its own, and thus multiple versions of Romans were possible. Marcion, for some reason, was just using a shorter version, possibly just because the endings weren't all that meaningful from a theological perspective.

But I seriously doubt that orthodox Christians had Colossians and Ephesians in hand prior to Marcion.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:07 pm

rgprice wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:20 am
But I seriously doubt that orthodox Christians had Colossians and Ephesians in hand prior to Marcion.
What do you think the origins of these two epistles are, then?
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:09 pm

I even think the Pastorals in parts go back to Marcion.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:58 pm

Trobisch points out the following epistolary word counts:

Romans, 7111
1 Corinthians, 6830
2 Corinthians, 4477
Galatians, 2230

Ephesians, 2422
Philippians, 1629
Colossians, 1582
1 Thessalonians, 1481
2 Thessalonians, 823

1 Timothy, 1591
2 Timothy, 1238
Titus, 659
Philemon, 335

Hebrews, 4953

One can see that the word counts tend to drop, but then they "reset" at certain points. From this and other data Trobisch and others, including Gamble, deduce the existence of Pauline collections which were ordered by descending word count:
  1. The Hauptbriefe edition: just Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Galatians.
  2. The Seven Churches edition: the Hauptbriefe expanded by the addition of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians.
  3. The Thirteen Letter edition: the Seven Churches edition expanded by letters to individuals: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
  4. The Fourteen Letter edition: the Thirteen Letter edition expanded by Hebrews.
Notably, the letters to the seven churches in Revelation seem to me to be reacting to the Seven Churches edition of Pauline epistles.

The Marcionite collection obviously stands outside of these editions based upon word count. The Marcionite order may be an attempt, sans Acts, to put the letters into a chronological order. For example, if you read the so called Marcionite Prologues in this order, the "prison epistles" are all at the end of the sequence.

The Marcionite collection is also identical to the Seven Churches collection except that it adds Philemon.

It seems quite unlikely to me that the Marcionite collection stands as the source for the other collections.

rgprice
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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by rgprice » Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:00 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:07 pm
rgprice wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 11:20 am
But I seriously doubt that orthodox Christians had Colossians and Ephesians in hand prior to Marcion.
What do you think the origins of these two epistles are, then?
I'm not sure. But let's just say for sake of argument that Marcion first went public with his "New Testament" in 144, and that's the first time that anyone saw Marcion's version of Paul's letters.

There is no account of anyone knowing of a collection of Paul's letters prior to that.

Then, about 40-60 years later, critics start saying, "Hey wait, you're letters don't agree with our letters, and our letters are original. And by the way, we have all of the exact same letters as you, plus three more."

Now, if it were the case that Tertullian et.al. said, "We have Romans, Galatians, Corinthians, a letter to the Athenians, and a letter to the Samaritans, and our letters that overlap with your letters look different," then I'd be includes to think, "Hmm maybe there was a different intendent collection of Paul's letters, etc."

But to come out later and say, "Well have all the same letters" that's odd, especially when we now know that several of those letters were forgeries.

In other words, if the orthodox only had the authentic letters that would be one thing, but that they also have the forgeries? Where would they have gotten the forgeries from if not from Marcion?

Are we really to believe that orthodox Christians were sitting on collection of Paul's letters all along but made no mention of it until after Marcion came out with his?

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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:04 pm

rgprice wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:00 pm
But to come out later and say, "Well have all the same letters" that's odd, especially when we now know that several of those letters were forgeries.

In other words, if the orthodox only had the authentic letters that would be one thing, but that they also have the forgeries? Where would they have gotten the forgeries from if not from Marcion?
The idea seems to have been to collect all of the extant Pauline epistles. The collections match in contents because they shared that same goal. At some point, obviously, the idea of canon froze this process, but before that freezing took place the collection process looks like it was meant to be exhaustive. Marcion's collection would, then, postdate the Hauptbriefe but predate the Thirteen Letter collection.

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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Feb 14, 2021 2:28 pm

I think it'd be worth considering (critically of course)

Robert M Price's 2012 The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul, eg., -

The Pauline epistles began, most of them, as fragments by Simon (part of Romans), Marcion (the third through sixth chapters of Galatians and the basic draft of Ephesians), and Valentinian Gnostics (Colossians, parts of 1 Corinthians, at least). Some few began as Catholic documents, while nearly all were interpolated by Polycarp, the ecclesiastical redactor who domesticated John (as Bultmann saw it), Luke (as per John Knox), and 1 Peter, then composed Titus and 2 Timothy. The result is that in the end we stand, almost uncomprehendingly, before a pile of literary scraps. (Kindle Locations 11693-11701)

Previously, Price wrote

Somewhere between 100 and 150 CE, Paulinism as a theological system arose out of a mystical and speculative circle. Van Manen speaks of the Paulinist movement and Gnosticism arising from the same circles ... Tertullian called Paul “the apostle of Marcion and the apostle of the heretics,” and both Irenaeus and Tertullian noted how much 'the heretics' cherished Paul’s writings. The first commentators on the epistles were the Gnostics Valentinus1, Heracleon?, and Basilides2 [c. 100 - c. 139 e.v.].

Price, The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul (Kindle Locations 937-942)

  1. Theudas is said to have imparted to Valentinus the secret wisdom that Paul had taught privately to his inner circle, including his visionary encounter with the risen Christ (we may only 'know' that from Clement of Alexandria Stromateis bk 7, chap 27).
  2. Basilides is supposed to have been vested with secret revelations from Paul through his “interpreter” named Glaucius; by others from the disciple Matthias; by others from the now unknown and possibly fictitious prophets Barcoph and Barcabbas (He also wrote 24 commentaries on 'the Gospels', called Exegetica; there are fragments) https://hermetic.com/sabazius/basilides

Other scholars who have looked closely at Pauline authorship to consider reviewing are Edgar J. Goodspeed and Norman Perrin, though finding or getting access to their works may prove tricky.

As would be the case for the written arguments of the Dutch Radicals starting with Allard Pierson, who denied Pauline authorship of Galatians. He was fiercely attacked by his colleague Abraham Dirk Loman, but two years later Loman had also abandoned the historicity of Paul. Similarly, Willem Christiaan van Manen, who had written a doctoral thesis defending the authenticity of 1 Thessalonians, wrote in 1889 that he had come to the same conclusions as Loman.

rgprice
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Re: Paul's letters all derived from Marcion?

Post by rgprice » Sun Feb 14, 2021 2:33 pm

Are you proposing that Marcion & the orthodox collections both start from a common Hauptbriefe collection, but then independently add the rest of the letters. Marcion adding 6 more letters and some orthodox group adding those same 6 plus 3 more?

If so, I'm highly skeptical of that. Not least of all because I think there is good case that the Pastorals were written much later than the rest, perhaps even after Acts of the Apostles or along with Acts.

1 Timothy is clearly post-Gospel. It explicitly mentions Pilate. Yet all of the non-Pastorals appear pre-Gospel.

I think that Luke + Acts + the Pastorals is a cohesive story line, all written either by the same person or that the Pastorals were written as an extension of Acts.
Last edited by rgprice on Sun Feb 14, 2021 3:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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