The New Testament
Marcion wrote the first canon of the New Testament in AD 140. For centuries Marcion has been maligned as a heretic, since the Church Fathers like Tertullian accused him of taking the razor to the Bible and cutting out several of the Pauline epistles; Acts, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. In addition the only Gospel in Marcion’s Bible is two thirds of Luke. Actually that’s it. One Gospel and ten Pauline epistles, which means no Revelations and no Old Testament.
Christians like to tell us that Marcion changed the Bible to suit his theology. However it appeared to me from the beginning that before Marcion there was no documented history of Christianity as we know it. So for example there are no reliable historical contemporary accounts of Paul, Peter, Luke, Mark or even the Jesus that we think of today. Likewise archaeological New Testament fragments have been dated starting around 190 AD, again consistent with the first New Testament being written 140 AD.
In addition Bible scholars who actually question things have come to the conclusion that some of the Pauline epistles were added later than whoever wrote the first ones. Their conclusions are consistent with Marcion’s Bible being the original text.
Even more important than the fact that Marcion’s Bible was very short are the number of radical political differences between Marcion’s Bible and our modern day Bible. Firstly the hero of Marcion’s Bible was called Isu Chrestos – not Jesus. An important point here is you don’t see “Jesus Christ” in second century texts. So in the Bible of Marcion of Sinope “Isu Chrestos” appears instead of “Christ” and “Jesus”. Also in the archaeological fragments mentioned earlier the scribes used the letters “IS” wherever Jesus Christ now appears. The inscription “Isu Chrestos” can still be seen on the oldest surviving Christian “Synagogue” in Syria.
The next difference is that Isu Chrestos was a ghost. The first three chapters of Luke where “Jesus” was born are missing. When you think about it they are missing in two of the synoptic Gospels too. There were no Gospels of Luke, Mark, Matthew or John in the second century. There was only “Euangelion” – the “Good News” of Marcion’s single Gospel.
The fact is that Paul spoke of “my gospel” singular and warned us of other gospels. Read Marcion. It all takes on a whole new meaning!
Marcion and the Old Testament
When you read Marcion’s Bible you will see that there are none of the references to the Old Testament Prophets, to Christianity being a new dispensation of Judaism, to Angels, Archangels and the Law of Moses. That is apart from those which are used as an example. Even the account of the Transfiguration where “Jesus” spoke to Moses and Elias, was placed very carefully by Marcion in order to point out their inferiority. It is actually through the later interpolations that Judaism and Christianity were entwined. This is not the case in Marcion’s text. It is much simpler to read, and the meaning is much clearer.
Of course, if you don’t know this already, the Old Testament pointers to Christianity like “A virgin shall conceive” and “They pierced my hands and my feet” simply aren’t in the Jewish books from which the Old Testament was taken. This is very strange when you consider that otherwise the texts are very close.