Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

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MrMacSon
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Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

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iiuc,
Arianism was/is a Christological doctrine which held/holds that the Son is distinct from and subordinate to God the Father: the Son is not 'of God'.

It was an interpretation of Jesus's divinity and relationship to God the Father that was opposed by others. Besides the issues of Jesus' relationship with the Father and his essence, there was a chronological aspect. Arius is said to have stated: "If the Father begat the Son, then he who was begotten had a beginning in existence, and from this it follows there was a time when the Son was not."

(Arianism (Ἀρειανισμός, Areianismós) and Arian were not descriptions that followers of Arian (c. AD 256–336, a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt), used of themselves ie. they were designations applied by others.


Controversy over Arianism arose in the late 3rd century and persisted throughout most of the 4th century. It involved most church members—from simple believers, priests, and monks to bishops, emperors, and members of Rome's imperial family. Two Roman emperors, Constantius II [r. 337-61] and Valens [r. 364-78], became Arians or Semi-Arians, as did prominent Gothic, Vandal, and Lombard warlords both before and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire [~476 or before]. Such a deep controversy within the early Church during this period of its development could not have materialized without significant historical influences providing a basis for the Arian doctrines.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arianism#Origin


A corollary of this doctrine was firming of the different Nicene doctrine cemented at the Council of Nicea of describing Jesus (God the Son) as "same in being" or "same in essence" with God the Father (ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί)
  • homoousion / ὁμοούσιον = 'same in being, same in essence'

The term ὁμοούσιος had, however, been used before its adoption by the First Council of Nicaea: some so-called Gnostics are said to have first used ὁμοούσιος. There is apparently no trace at all of its existence beforehand. Oμοούσιος was/is used with the following meanings:
  • Identity of substance between generator and generated.
  • Identity of substance between things generated of the same substance.
  • Identity of substance between the partners of a syzygy.

Basilides is said to have been the first known Gnostic thinker to use ὁμοούσιος (in the first half of the 2nd century AD) to speak of a threefold sonship consubstantial with the god who is not. The Valentinian Gnostic Ptolemy says in his Letter to Flora that it is the nature of the good God to beget and bring forth only beings similar to, and consubstantial with, himself.



Valentinus's name came up in the Arian disputes in the fourth century when Marcellus of Ancyra, a staunch opponent of Arianism, denounced the belief in God existing in three hypostases as heretical. Marcellus, who believed Father and Son to be one and the same, attacked his opponents by attempting to link them to Valentinus ... Marcellus of Ancyra declared that the idea of the Godhead existing as three hypostases - hidden spiritual realities - came from Plato through the teachings of Valentinus, who is quoted as teaching that God is three hypostases and three prosopa (persons) called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:
Now with the heresy of the Ariomaniacs, which has corrupted the Church of God... These then teach three hypostases, just as Valentinus the heresiarch first invented in the book entitled by him 'On the Three Natures'. For he was the first to invent three hypostases and three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he is discovered to have filched this from Hermes and Plato.
While this accusation is often [referenced or cited] in stating Valentinus believed in 'a Triune Godhead,' there is in fact no corroborating evidence that Valentinus ever taught these things. Irenaeus makes no mention of this in any of his five books against heresies, even though he deals with Valentinianism extensively in them. Rather, he indicates that Valentinus believed in the pre-existent Aeon known as Proarche, Propator, and Bythus who existed alongside Ennœa, and they together begot Monogenes and Aletheia: and these constituted the first-begotten Pythagorean Tetrad, from whom thirty Aeons were produced. Likewise, in the work cited by Marcellus, the three natures are said to have been the three natures of man, concerning which Irenaeus writes:
"They conceive, then, of three kinds of men, spiritual, material, and animal, represented by Cain, Abel, and Seth. These three natures are no longer found in one person, but constitute various kinds [of men]. The material goes, as a matter of course, into corruption." [Against Heresies, 1.7.5]
According to Eusebius, Marcellus had a habit of mercilessly launching unsubstantiated attacks against his opponents, even those who had done him no wrong.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentinu ... c)#Trinity





The previous accounts notwithstanding - to show other pre-Nicene doctrines such as Valentinianism, at least, were invoked in doctrinal disputes -

Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

I can't find any references to it being involved
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Leucius Charinus
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Re: Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

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MrMacSon wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:28 pm
The previous accounts notwithstanding - to show other pre-Nicene doctrines such as Valentinianism, at least, were invoked in doctrinal disputes -

Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

I can't find any references to it being involved
If it's anywhere it would have to be in the bread basket. The problem I found in the past was in having access to English translation of Epiphanius' entire "Panarion". That's where I'd seek Marcionism as a 4th century dispute / controversy.

WIKI confirms Epihanius mentions Marcion:
WIKI wrote:Epiphanius records in his Panarion that Marcion was born the son of a bishop in Pontus (modern-day Turkey), likely Philologus of Sinope.[12]

///

Irenaeus writes that "a certain Cerdo, originating from the Simonians, came to Rome under Hyginus [...] and taught that the one who was proclaimed as God by the Law and the Prophets is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Against Heresies, 1, 27, 1). Also, according to them, Marcion and the Gnostic Valentinus were companions in Rome.[15]

In 394, Epiphanius claimed that after beginnings as an ascetic, Marcion seduced a virgin and was accordingly excommunicated by his father, prompting him to leave his home town.[16] Some scholars have taken this "seduction of a virgin" as a metaphor for Marcion's corruption of the Christian Church, with the Church portrayed as the undefiled virgin,[17] and that Marcion apparently has become "the victim of the historicisation of such a metaphor, even though it contradicts the otherwise firm tradition of his strict sexual probity".[18]: 

///

The Marcionite church expanded greatly within Marcion's lifetime, becoming a major rival to the emerging Catholic church. After his death, it retained its following and survived Christian controversy and imperial disapproval for several centuries.[20]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcion_of_Sinope
So according to the above "Marcion's Church" or the Marcionites survived through the 4th century. There is an inscription dated to 318 CE, which is the oldest known surviving inscribed reference, anywhere, to Jesus ("IS"] the Good:

The meeting-house of the Marcionites, in the village of Lebaba, of the Lord and Saviour Jesus the Good - Erected by the forethought of Paul a presbyter, in the year 630 Seleucid era[3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deir_Ali

It is a good question. IF Marcionism persisted through and past the 4th century then it should have been picked up by the master heresiologist Epiphanius. If Epiphanius does not mention the Marcionites (string search the Panarion) except to slander their (and Marcion's) 2nd century existence then why is he silent on the 4th century Marcionites?
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Re: Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

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Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 8:13 pm Marcionites survived through the 4th century
  • Yes, I know. And probably much later

Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 8:13 pm
There is an inscription dated to 318 CE, which is the oldest known surviving inscribed reference, anywhere, to Jesus ("IS") the Good:


The meeting-house of the Marcionites, in the village of Lebaba, of the Lord and Saviour Jesus the Good - Erected by the forethought of Paul a presbyter, in the year 630 Seleucid era

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deir_Ali
.

  • Thanks. I'm pretty sure there's other Marcionite archaeology in the 5th century (and likely later)

Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 8:13 pm It is a good question. IF Marcionism persisted through and past the 4th century then it should have been picked up by the master heresiologist Epiphanius. If Epiphanius does not mention the Marcionites (string search the Panarion) except to slander their (and Marcion's) 2nd century existence then why is he silent on the 4th century Marcionites?
  • I'm interested in whether Marcionism was mentioned in relation to the disputes about Arianism or other disputes about Jesus' 'essence' or relationship with the Father or God (or both ie. God the Father) as opposed to commentary about Marcionism

    ( and, if not, I wonder if Marcionism was seen as part of then orthodoxy - part of 'homoousion Christians' - or not much different to it? )
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Re: Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

Post by mlinssen »

MrMacSon wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 9:12 pm
Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 8:13 pm Marcionites survived through the 4th century
  • Yes, I know. And probably much later

Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 8:13 pm
There is an inscription dated to 318 CE, which is the oldest known surviving inscribed reference, anywhere, to Jesus ("IS") the Good:


The meeting-house of the Marcionites, in the village of Lebaba, of the Lord and Saviour Jesus the Good - Erected by the forethought of Paul a presbyter, in the year 630 Seleucid era

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deir_Ali
.

  • Thanks. I'm pretty sure there's other Marcionite archaeology in the 5th century (and likely later)

Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 8:13 pm It is a good question. IF Marcionism persisted through and past the 4th century then it should have been picked up by the master heresiologist Epiphanius. If Epiphanius does not mention the Marcionites (string search the Panarion) except to slander their (and Marcion's) 2nd century existence then why is he silent on the 4th century Marcionites?
  • I'm interested in whether Marcionism was mentioned in relation to the disputes about Arianism or other disputes about Jesus' 'essence' or relationship with the Father or God (or both ie. God the Father) as opposed to commentary about Marcionism

    ( and, if not, I wonder if Marcionism was seen as part of then orthodoxy - part of 'homoousion Christians' - or not much different to it? )
I have an interesting factoid for you: even Sinaiticus doesn't have "IS XS, son of God"

https://www.academia.edu/5675974/The_Ea ... el_of_Mark

Commentary 2.1.1.
Mark 1:1 (Q.76-f.2v-c.1-l.2)28
ぐ*: αρχη του ευαγγελιου ιυヌ χυヌ (Θ 28 l2211 sams Or)29
ぐ1: αρχη του ευαγγελιου ιυヌ χυヌ υυヌ θυヌ (B D L W Γ latt sy co Irlat)

It would seem that the son of God thing dates to 4th-5th CE at best, and the funny thing is that we have MSS attesting against the early dating of the FF

I for myself I'm absolutely convinced that John saw father and son as one, as did Thomas (yet in an entirely different context).
Philip still seems to equate the both, and what we really need to know is: what the hell was Chrestianity selling, what was their USP? Was it just the combination of self salvation combined with hate against Judaism / authority that made it so much fun?
They had no business with creating a complicated second god, the father was good enough just like that - and IS "AXIOS" to him
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Re: Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

Post by Leucius Charinus »

This article mentions a number of 4th and 5th century sources on Marcionism however Arianism is not mentioned.

The 'Rise and Fall' of Marcionism

Eventually, the orthodox variant of Christianity became the state religion of the Roman empire in the fourth century. When we combine all the mentioned disadvantages of Marcionism with the fact that all 'heresies' were now combated by Roman authorities, it is not hard to see how Marcionism eventually declined. To map out this decline is once again virtually impossible. However, we can map out the mentioning of Marcionites in the writings of the fourth and fifth century. Applying this produces Map 2.

Image

First of all, what we can clearly see is that all the testimonies of a Marcionite presence come only from the east of the empire. This does not necessarily mean that there were no Marcionites in the west, but it can be an indicator that Marcionites were probably only present in the east. We have the hard evidence of a Marcionite church in Lebaba, near Damascus. Then we have Theodoret of Cyrrhus who mentioned in the early fifth century that he had converted several Marcionite villages in his diocese, which apparently were present there. Then we have Epiphanius of Salamis and Ephrem the Syrian who wrote against Marcionites in the early fourth century, Cyril of Jerusalem who warned against Marcionite churches in his vicinity in c. 348 CE, and at last Eznik of Kolb who refuted Marcionism in the fifth century. Combined, this shows that Marcionism was only really mentioned around the area of Syria after the fourth century. All the the above mentioned disadvantages of Marcionism probably diminished Marcionism, until it was only present in the east, where it eventually died out after the fifth century.

http://mediterraneannetworks.weebly.com ... onism.html

As I mentioned before, I reasonably suspect that Epiphanius would have made reference to existence of 4th century Marcionism in his "Panarion" but any confirmation of this suffers from the fact I cant find the full text. I doubt whether there exists an online and freely available English translation of the "Panarion" IN FULL. There are extracts and some versions of some of its books.

If anyone knows of an online English translation in full of the "Panarion" please link to it. Many thanks.
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Re: Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

Post by GakuseiDon »

Leucius Charinus wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 7:48 pmAs I mentioned before, I reasonably suspect that Epiphanius would have made reference to existence of 4th century Marcionism in his "Panarion" but any confirmation of this suffers from the fact I cant find the full text. I doubt whether there exists an online and freely available English translation of the "Panarion" IN FULL. There are extracts and some versions of some of its books.

If anyone knows of an online English translation in full of the "Panarion" please link to it. Many thanks.
The link below is for Book 1 of Epiphanius's Panarion, which has Chapter 42, his chapter on Marcion:
https://web.archive.org/web/20170916133 ... bk1.htm#42.

I've quoted some passages that might be of interest:

1:1 Marcion, the founder of the Marcionites, taking his cue from Cerdo, appeared in the world as a great serpent himself and became the head of a school by deceiving a throng of people in many ways, even to this day.

1:2 The sect is still to be found even now, in Rome and Italy, Egypt and Palestine, Arabia and Syria, Cyprus and the Thebaid—in Persia too moreover, and in other places. For the evil one in him has lent a great deal of strength to the deceit.
...
3:1 But he took his cue from that charlatan and swindler, Cerdo.7 For he too preaches two first principles. But adding something to him, I mean to Cerdo, he exhibits something different in his turn by saying that there are three principles.8 One is the unnameable, invisible one on high which he likes to call a 'good God,'9 but which has made none of the things in the world.10

3:2 Another is a visible God, a creator and demiurge.11 But the devil is as it were a third god and in between these two, the visible and the invisible.12 The creator, demiurge and visible God is the God of the Jews, and he is a judge.13
...
3:5 He denies the resurrection of the flesh like many of the sects; he says that resurrection, life and salvation are of the soul only.17
...
4:2 And he says that Christ has descended from on high, from the invisible Father who cannot be named, for the salvation of souls and the confusion of the God of the Jews, the Law, the prophets, and anything of the kind.
...
4:6 As I indicated, Marcion says resurrection is not of bodies but of souls, and he assigns salvation to these and not to bodies. And he similarly claims that there are reincarnations of souls, and transmigrations from body to body.
...
6:8 But as to Marcion's third, evil god. If he has the power to do evil things and master either the denizens of the world who belong to the God on high or the ones who belong to the intermediate, just God—then this god must be stronger than the two whom Marcion calls Gods, since he has the power to seize what is not his.
...
10:1 I am also going to append the treatise which I had written against him before, a your instance, brothers, hastening to compose this one.

10:2 Some years ago, to find what falsehood this Marcion had invented and what his silly teaching was, I took up his very books which he had mutilated, his so-called Gospel and Apostolic Canon. From these two books I made a series of extracts and selections of the material which would serve to refute him, and I wrote a sort of outline for a treatise, arranging the points in order, and numbering each saying one, two, three (and so on).

Epiphanius then appends his treatise of refutation of Marcion constructed from Marcion's Gospels and Marcion's collection of Paul's letters. It takes a while to read.

The heretic Cerdo is mentioned a few times in the Church Fathers as Marcion's predecessor. The Cerdonians can be found in Chapter 41, just above the chapter on Marcion. It's quite short.

Here is part of Epiphanius's description of Cerdo in Chapter 41:

1:5 Cerdo, then, lived in the time of bishop Hyginus, the ninth in succession from the apostles James, Peter and Paul.3 Since his doctrine partakes of the other heresiarchs' foolishness it appears to be the same, but with him it is different and takes the following form:

1:6 He too has proclaimed two first principles to the world, and two supposed gods, one good, and unknown to all, whom Cerdo has called the Father of Jesus—and one the demiurge, who is evil and knowable,4 and has spoken in the Law and appeared to the prophets5 and often become visible.

1:7 Christ is not born of Mary and has not appeared in flesh, but since he exists in appearance he has also been manifest in appearance, and done everything in appearance.6 And Cerdo too rejects the resurrection of the flesh, and repudiates the Old Testament which was given by Moses and the prophets, as something foreign to God.

1:8 But Christ has come from on high, from the unknown Father, to put an end to the rule and tyranny of the world-creator and demiurge here, as many of the sects have declared of course.

1:9 After a short time in Rome he imparted his venom to Marcion, and Marcion thus became his successor.

Bishop Hyginus is traditionally dated to around 130s CE. Epiphanius was thought to have written around the 370s CE.

As I wrote on another thread: the question is around "Creator-as-God" vs "Creator-as-Demiurge". Both revolve around the Old Testament. For Marcion, the Old Testament was as important as it was to the proto-orthodox Christian. After all, it's safe to assume that Marcion didn't believe that Zeus created the world. It was the God of the Old Testament, and many of the stories in it about Adam and Eve, the prophets, were also important. He was as tied to it as many of the Christians.
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Re: Did Marcionism Feature in the Heretical Disputes of the Fourth Century?

Post by Leucius Charinus »

GakuseiDon wrote: Fri Jan 27, 2023 2:16 am
Leucius Charinus wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 7:48 pmIf anyone knows of an online English translation in full of the "Panarion" please link to it. Many thanks.
The link below is for Book 1 of Epiphanius's Panarion, which has Chapter 42, his chapter on Marcion:
https://web.archive.org/web/20170916133 ... bk1.htm#42.

I've quoted some passages that might be of interest
Thanks very much G'Don. I have had problems with that link. Earlier it wanted me to sign in and won't load. ETA: Now loads OK. Thanks again !! The other books don't appear to be available however.
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