Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tertullian "lays violent hands on scripture" not Marcion

Just from reading Tertullians 'Against Marcion' book 4, chapters 4 thru 9 it becomes quite evident that Tertullian relies soley on his training in rhetoric to condemn Marcions Gospel of the Lord. He uses a Greek word which I will transliterate for the sake of ease: Katerchiomai. This word means "to come down; go down" and is a reference to descending from a higher altitude. Jesus came down to Capernaum from a place that was physically higher. Tertullian uses this to claim that Jesus descended from Heaven and even dares make such a silly claim so as to say that he is censoring the part of the passage that says he came down from Heaven. It is quite revealing that Tertullian considers Heaven to be the sky. One could apply this same interpretation to passages in Matthew that speak of the kingdom of Heaven and say it means kingdom of the sky. It is purely a semantic rhetorical argument. It is a logical fallacy to say that Marcion believed that simply from reading his gospel.

Tertullian uses this same rhetoric to define Marcion's view on Marriage and baptism. He bases it on his own reading of Luke 20:34-36 which is often labeled as 'Marriage at the Resurrection'. In this same passage it speaks of 'this aeon' in opposition to 'that aeon'. Thus, he goes on to attack Marcion's view in an invisible realm and a visible realm as well. One can play the same game against Tertullian by saying that any instance of the phrase 'I am' as in John means to declare divinity.

Tertullian does some even more silly things when he claims Marcion erased the prophecy from Isaiah 9:1-2 found in the Acts of Pilate referring to the Harrowing of Hell, and found in Matthew to apply to Jesus coming to Capernaum. Tertullian in his 'Against the Valentinians' claims to have gotten his knowledge from Irenaeus, Justin, Proculus the Montanist Modalist, and Miltiades the sophist Marcionite. He of course leaves out the detail of these mens affiliations to major heresies condemned by him and Irenaeus. He also claims that Matthew 5:17 was erased from Luke. Not one copy of Luke has either of these passages. So one must ask how it is that Marcionites who were expelled from the church in the mid 2nd century could have passed down the scriptures approved by the Fathers at the council of Nicaea and Carthage. Why do we not have a copy of Luke containing these? It is an easy answer: Tertullian is a liar and a deceiver.

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