I am discussing the relationship between Jesus and the Law of the Jews, and to get to that question I am dealing with how Christians about a century after Jesus’ life understood this relationship. I began with Marcion and his followers, who thought that Jesus had nothing to do with the Law, since he represented a different God from the one who gave the Law. The Law was given by the Creator of this world who called Israel to be his people and then judged them, and all people, harshly, for not obeying his law, leading to universal condemnation. Jesus came from a different God, a previously unknown God, who was not the God of the Old Testament, but a higher spiritual being who intervened on behalf of people to save them from the wrath of the Creator.
There are many, many things about Marcion’s system of belief that we would love to know that we simply do not. The main reason is that Marcion’s own writings have not been passed down to us from antiquity. That should not be a huge surprise. Other Christians considered Marcion to be an arch-heretic, an evil representative of the Devil come to deceive the faithful. They censored his writings and simply refused to copy them. That was the easiest way to destroy books in antiquity. You didn’t have to have a public book-burning. If you simply didn’t copy a book, it wouldn’t survive.
We know of two books from Marcion. The first was his own composition, the Antitheses, which I mentioned in the previous post, a book that appears to have laid out in stark contrast the differences between the God of the Jews who gave the Law and the previously unknown God of Jesus who provided salvation. Marcion claims he learned of this contrast from the writings of the apostle Paul, his hero, who did indeed differentiate between his “gospel” and the law.
His second book was his canon of Scripture, an edited collection of ten of Paul’s letters and a version of the Gospel of Luke.
Because we don’t have either writing, we have to …
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