Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Promise: Marcion vs. Irenaeus and Tertullian

In the early Church there are a lot of accusations made against Marcion and we only have the writings of his opponents. Many people wrote against Marcion according to Eusebius' Church History. He even names all of them! The ones that survive are Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian- these being the closest contemporaries. Irenaeus wrote around 177 and onward, Tertullian wrote around 207 and onward, and Clement of Alexandria wrote about Marcion about 198 onward. Tertullian confirms in his own writings that he used Irenaeus as a source. Clement seems to be independent of the two.

In Genesis there was a promise give to Abraham at Gen 17:5. It reads, "No longer will you be called Abram (exalted father); your name will be Abraham (father of many), for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendents after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendents after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I wll give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendents after you; I will be their God." He then stipulates, "you must keep my covenant". The covenant is that, "every male among you shall be circumcised" even household slaves who were once foreigners. Anyone not circumcised was cut off from the covenant.

The important thing to note here is that the promise is made to Abraham and his descendents; his bloodlines. If they keep the covenant by being physically circumcised then they will dwell in the land. He offers to give them land possessed by another nation of people. Basically this God agrees to steal for Abraham and his offspring! Thus when Tertullian mocks Marcion by saying his God is fickle for giving back in amnesty what he took away, he just seems a fool. Marcion was said to have believed that God would give the land back to the Jews but not to Christians. This is actually true according to the Old Testament.

Key passages and writings are Irenaeus' Against Heresies, Clement's Stromata 5.1, Tertullian's On Patience 6 and 10, On Monogamy 6, On the apparel of Women 2.2, Archelaus' Against Manes 40, the Testament of Benjamin 12, 1Clement 10, Barnabas 13, Justin's Dialogue with Trypho 92, and so on.

Tertullian admits that Marcion did not have Galatians 3:6-3:29 mentioning Abraham but only had Galatians 4:22. Paul speaks here of two covenants in Abraham's offspring. Yet God made one covenant in Genesis. For Paul to have said what is said in Galatians 3:6-29 and then say what he says in Galatians 4:22 is nothing short of contradictory in nature. Romans 4, 9, and 11, but especially Romans 4:1-16 have no leg to stand on against Galatians 4:22!

John 8 presents an even weightier problem. The Jews claim to be Abraham's seed indicating the seed is not singular but plural and then Jesus agress with them that they are naturally his seed. Jesus says his word is not in them. He asks them why they are plotting his murder when Abraham never did such works of Satan. Then in John 8:52-58 they ask how Jesus could have seen Abraham if he was not yet even 50. Irenaeus uses this to say Jesus was around 40-50 yrs old which is total garbage. Jesus often speaks about his witnesses and who testifies to him. John was his only human testimony at the Jordan. The Father, and the Holy spirit, and Christ within Jesus tesified as well.

Thus, he is in line with John 1 in which he claims he is the Logos, not the I AM of Moses. The Jews were awaiting a Messiah of David, an earthly human king, and an eternal kingdom in which no one would ever physically died. So this was a bit disappointing to hear!


No comments:

Post a Comment