A number of readers have asked the same question based on my posts on Marcion:  Was Marcion a Gnostic?   Here’s one reader’s way of asking it, and my response.


Marcion’s “previously unknown God” of Jesus vs Israel’s creator sounds a bit like some of the gnostic beliefs, particularly Jesus coming from the realm of Barbelo in the gospel of Judas. Was Marion an early Christian Gnostic?


Marcion was sometimes considered a Gnostic by ancient heresiologists (“heresy-hunters”), such as Irenaeus; and in modern times scholars used to consider him a Gnostic, or at least Gnostic-like.  And one can see why.  Like Gnostics, Marcion had more than one God, the Creator was not good, and part of the goal of the religion was to escape his clutches.  But there are a lot more differences than similarities between them; the differences are so numerous and deep, that scholars simply don’t think of Marcion as a Gnostic these days.

Was Marcion a Gnostic?

I won’t review Marcion’s teachings at length here: for more information see these earlier posts:  More on Marcion’s Theology and A Phantom Jesus: The Teachings of the Second-Century Marcion;  for the teachings of Gnosticism, see the video on March 30.

I’m giving these brief assessments with the understanding that “Gnosticism” was not a single thing, but a group of religions with broad similarities to one another.  But even in these broad terms, Marcion is quite different.  I should also stress that I’m simplifying things here through broad generalizations to provide some pegs to hang your thoughts on.

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