Did Marcion Write/Edit Paul's Letters?
The "genuine" letters of Paul first show up as a complete edited set.
Some letters are more than one combined. All have titles Paul didn't
give them. Someone collected and edited them. There are no other sources
other than from that one single editor. The first physical copies of the
Five Gospels are all tiny scraps, but the first physical copy of Paul's
letters, P46, is an almost complete collection, a.most totally modern,
same titles, and like all others, virtually the same order.
So, who was this one single editor that had perfect knowledge of the
letters of Paul, including all the "genuine" ones and none of the
non-genuine ones? Well, who first mentioned them?
MARCION PULLS THE RABBIT OUT OF THE HAT:
The first appearance of the collected set of "genuine" letters of Paul
was in Marcion's Gnostic Bible, in 130AD. We don't have a copy, but so
many early Christian writers quoted it, that they have reproduced the
whole thing. Apparantly the only difference is minor parts about the
Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. You see, Marcion thought the Hebrew God was
a different God than the kindly Father of Jesus. It was the bad creator
god and supported by the suffering he could see around him, this was
hell. But apparantly the changes were minor, and far from clear which
was the original.
These God is the bad god, and this is Hell, second century Gnostics were
serious competition for the early Christians, and it's often claimed the
notion of a Christian Bible was to counter the Gnostic Bible of Marcion.
When the Christians used the letters of Paul in their Bible, it was the
same letters, used in the Gnostic Bible of Marcion two centuries
HOW COME THE GOSPEL WRITERS WERE CLUELESS, & MARCION HAD PERFECT
It's accepted as gospel that Marcion's collected set are the genuine
Paul, and the Paul of Acts/Luke, often in the first person, isn't the
genuine Paul. The reason, it doesn't have that special Paul flavor only
found in Marcion's collected set. It seems only reasonable to wonder of
that special flavor only found in Marcion's set, and always found in
Marcion's set, came from Marcion, not Paul.
Now, if Marcion didn't collect and edit those letters, and he got them
from someone else, that puts it back even further, to the turn of the
century. So, how come no one else knew about them or had a copy of one,
other than Marcion?
Matthew, Luke and John were probably written near the turn of the
century, how come they don't have anything of that special Paul flavor?
And Acts, apparently written shortly after the turn of the century, how
come Luke had no clue about the "genuine" Paul of Marcion's set?
One option sure wins the Occam's razor test. It's Marcion that collected
and edited them, and it's Marcion's ideas that make them "genuine",
"Mark does not use any of Paul's characteristic language, nor does Mark
reflect any substantial and thouroughgoing understanding of Paul's
complex theology. One might list a dozen Pauline themes missing in Mark,
from the idea of justification to the concept of the church as the body
Stephan Davies, New Testament Fundamentals, p.125
Yet, Mark clearly carries Paul's water in other ways. Both's central
theme, that the disciples never get, is that the miracles and sayings
don't matter, the only thing that matters is the good thing of killing
Perhaps we shouldn't assume Mark and Luke and all the others were wrong
about Paul, and Marcion's version was right. Mark was a lot closer to
the original than Marcion.
YEAH, MARCION HAD PERFECT KNOWLEDGE OF ALL TEXT TYPES TOO:
Well, all these New Testament writings were one text type or another.
Subtle differences as they all evolved. Different families. So, what
text type is this amazing 130CE Marcion version? Seems that would be
informative. Sure is. Turns out, it's all of them.
"Another note about Marcion and the text-type issue comes from
Gunther Zuntz in his "The Text of the Epistles." After examining
Marcion's variations, Zuntz said: "The most striking observation is
that more often than not the delimitations of the so-called 'texts,'
whether 'Western' or 'neutral' or 'Byzantine,' are disregarded. The
Western evidence is split in seventeen out of our thirty-seven
instances...in particular D F G [the 'Western' witnesses in the
Epistles] are opposed by the other Western witnesses agreeing with
Marcion in nine instances....Individual manuscripts of no particular
note desert the Byzantine standard to side with Marcion..., and
the 'Alexandrians' are none too often united in supporting....or
opposing....him." (ppg 239-240). In other words, Marcion's text took
in all types of "texts," even the Byzantine which wasn't even in
existence at his time, according to modern scholarship. (Guntz was
not a supporter of the Byzantine text. He believed
the "Ecclesiastical" text was formed much later and that it was
secondary to the "Western" and "Alexandrian" texts.)"
So, unless the Christians got Marcion wrong, in which case his may have
been dead identical, Marcion didn't just have perfect knowledge of all
genuine letters and only genuine letters, with the authors of the
Gospels totally clueless of any of them, but Marcion had numerous copies
of all the letters from all over the Empire!
Occam's razor cries out to us. Far more simple to just say Marcion is
Scholars traditionally judge the Paul of the Gospels/Acts by the Paul of
Marcion's set of letters. The real Paul is staring us in the face. Far
better to try to edit out Marcion's heavy editing, by using the Paul of
the Gospels/Acts as a judge.