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Marcion and the First Christian Heresy. Heresy. From Greek, “to choose” Originally, a more positive term Becomes a term describing rejection of important beliefs Extremely important function: define Christianity and its boundaries Emerges only gradually, in debate

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Presentation Transcript
heresy
Heresy
  • From Greek, “to choose”
    • Originally, a more positive term
    • Becomes a term describing rejection of important beliefs
  • Extremely important function: define Christianity and its boundaries
    • Emerges only gradually, in debate
    • Most heresies were persuasive, had plenty of followers. We need to ask why.
background
Background
  • From Asia Minor (Turkey, born ca. 85)
  • A layperson, went to Rome in 130s or 140s
    • Wealthy, made large donation to church of Rome
  • Controversy erupted in 140s
  • Kicked out of church of Rome in 144
  • Died ca. 160
  • 1st big controversy: people continued to write against his idea for centuries
controversy
Controversy
  • Is the God Jesus talks about really the same as the God depicted in the Jewish Scriptures?
    • What is Christianity’s relation to Judaism? Are they sister religions or different religions?
  • What should the Christian Bible contain?
    • Marcion: a few letters of Paul, about 10 chapters of Luke (out of 24)
    • “Orthodox” (winning) view: All of Jewish Scriptures (OT), all of Luke, other gospels and letters
marcion s beliefs
Marcion’s beliefs
  • Good vs. Creator = 2 gods
  • Goodness and mercy are opposed to justice; why?
  • World is flawed
  • Jesus founded a new religion (antithesis 1)
debate
Debate
  • Question: Is Marcion right? Does belief in Jesus require rejecting the Jewish Scriptures and its Creator God?
    • Embody arguments from the time period, as you can construct them from readings (Chidester, Gospels, Marcion)
    • Use/critique Marcion’s specific claims
    • Do not argue your personal opinion (yet)
does this controversy linger today
Does this controversy linger today?
  • Nazi Germany
  • Contemporary Christians in the U.S.
    • Example: Dead Man Walking
  • Violence vs. peace (antithesis 3)
  • Others?
biblical canon ot
Biblical canon: OT
  • For 1st century Christians (and writers of the 27 books eventually included in the NT), “Scriptures” meant Jewish Scriptures; there was no NT yet
  • OT included some Greek Jewish books used in the 1st c. but not found in Jewish and Protestant canons today
    • Ca. 85CE: Jewish council rejects books not written in Hebrew
    • Reformers in 1500s decide to follow Jewish canon (also advocated by Jerome in 300s, but he does not win out)
biblical canon nt
Biblical Canon: NT
  • Gospels: 4
  • Acts of the Apostles (by author of Luke)
    • Story of the earliest church, after Jesus
  • Letters: 22
    • Really are letters; written to local churches for specific reasons
    • Mostly written by Paul
    • Some attributed to Paul but probably written by his students
    • A few others: James, Peter, Hebrews, Revelation, etc.
canon and criteria
Canon and criteria
  • Most of NT in place by late 100s
    • Formed by consensus: what books did most local churches value and treat as God-inspired?
    • Should have apostolic authorship
    • Should conform to “rule of faith” (proto-creed: belief in God, Jesus, Holy Spirit)
    • Jesus must be really human and Lord
  • First official list that matches our NT: Athanasius’ Festal Letter of 367