Marcion and Judahite Polytheism

12 Feb

This is from the discussion here (Marcion’s non-Jewish Jesus):

Prof. Neil Godfrey:

We do not know the details of what Marcion’s gospel contained. Tertullian tells us that he writes from memory (his first draft was lost or stolen), and Marcion’s gospel was said to have been regularly being revised even after Marcion’s time. So by the time we are reading accounts of Irenaeus and Tertullian we cannot know what version of Marcion’s gospel they were reading. Nor can we know how much they were paraphrasing accurately from memory.

But there is good reason to think that Marcion’s gospel was closer to the gospel of Luke’s than it was to the other canonical gospels — discussed in Did Marcion Mutilate the Gospel of Luke.

There must have been some overlap between Marcion's gospel and canonical Luke for Marcion's opponents after Justin to have thought it was canonical Luke he had mutilated. Most notably Luke is the only gospel containing that passage so central to Marcionism — the statement in Luke 6 about the 2 trees and fruit of good and evil.


Marcion's Alien (Top) God did not create the physical world, but left this to his subordinate Demiurge, the god of the Jewish bible. It is correct that the idea does not originate with Marcion — Marcion embraced it from well known philosophical speculations.



How are your Old Testament polytheism chops? Are you familiar with the notion that the God in the Old Testament is actually a conflation between Yahweh and the gods of the Canaanite pantheon?

This hypothesis asserts that the original god of Israel was a bull-god called El, and that Yahweh was considered a separate deity. – But that over time these two gods were combined to create one monotheistic god. It involves a divine family, and all kinds of gods and ‘Sons of God’.

I can’t help but wonder if Marcion’s theology is based on that knowledge, or at least based on some naïve screwed up misconstruction related to it. He wouldn’t have to invent a new god with a new son, he would only have to read the OT with a different slant.


Well this makes sense too… maybe Marcion simply read the LXX version of Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (and similar other places):

32:8 When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, When he separated the children of men, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of god.
32:9 For Jehovah's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance

[The god] Jehovah received the tribe of the Jews from the Most High god. Jehovah gave the Jews their law and prophets and will give them their messiah, but the Most High god was a totally different god – and Jesus is the son of this Most High god, not the son of Jehovah.

Notice that this verse is corrected to remove the inherent polytheism and to reflect monotheism in current Bibles.


Just figure out who Melchizadek (sp?) was worshiping and you got it!


The one in Genesis 14 was a high priest of El [Elyon – i.e. the god most high]. He [Melchizedek] never heard of Yahweh. Genesis 14 is an old Canaanite story. The ‘Yahweh’ in verse 22 is a insertion. The entire chapter (14) is an insertion.

Melchizedek was the King of Salem – named after S[h]alim the god of dusk. Shalim was Shahar’s brother. They were both sons of El but Shahar was mothered by As[h]arah and Shalim was mothered by Anat.


Now, just for fun, whose god do Christians actually worship?

The Jewish God or Marcion's?


Marcion called the god of Jesus, god the father, the good god – the god of goodness. 1 John 8:4 (i.e. “god is love”) is closer to Marcionism than Judaism. There's nothing in Jewish scripture that says that YHWH is love. If anything, he's the god of justice — see Isaiah 30:18 — exactly what Marcion said he was.

Of course, I think that Marcionism was assimilated (along with Judaism) by the later Catholics so that we get the contradictory modern Christian god. A god who is both love and justice. Both all forgiving and jealous. One is Marcion’s god, the other is the Jewish god.


4 responses to “Marcion and Judahite Polytheism

  1. beowulf2k8

    February 13, 2010 at 3:52 am

    There's also the Metatron view in Judaism in which all appearances of Yahweh in the OT are really the angel Metatron the “lesser Yahweh” and the real Yahweh never has any direct interaction with the world nor ever truly reveals himself. This is another possible source for Marcionism and the idea of a hitherto unknown higher God who finally reveals himself in Jesus Chrestos. This seems to fit very well with John 1:18. It also fits with the statements later in John that the 'ruler of this world' will be judged. I remember reading somewhere that the word kosmokrator was actually used by the rabbis to describe Metatron.

  2. beowulf2k8

    February 13, 2010 at 3:58 am

    This isn't the source I was thinking of, but here's something and here.

  3. beowulf2k8

    February 17, 2010 at 3:20 am

    It is also the simple logical extension of Paul's arguments here: In Ephesians 6:12 Paul says that our warfare is “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” In Colossians 2 Paul connects the ceremonial law with the principalities and powers not with God. For he says Christ “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us…having nailed it to the cross, having spoiled the principalities and powers, making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through it (i.e. the cross). THEREFORE, let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths” (Colossians 2:14-16) If the ceremonial law is from the principalites and powers (against whom our warfare is directed) and not from God, then so are the genocidal commands and stories from the principalities and powers and not from God. They impersonate God in much of the Old Testament according to this. In a way, therefore, the God of the OT is much of the time not God but a group of angelic impersonators.

  4. J. Quinton

    February 17, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Of course, that makes sense too. Paul complains in Galatians 4:10 that his converts are observing special days and months and seasons and years, and laments that he's lost them. I can't imagine a Jew complaining about that when in Daniel this was a huge point of contention when they were outlawed by Antiochus.

NeuroLogica Blog

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Slate Star Codex



Matthew Ferguson Blogs

The Wandering Scientist

What a lovely world it is

NT Blog

My ὑπομνήματα about religion


Understand your mind with the science of psychology -


Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science

Maximum Entropy

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Skepticism, Properly Applied

Criticism is not uncivil


My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Research Digest

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

Disrupting Dinner Parties

Feminism is for everyone!

My ὑπομνήματα about religion

The New Oxonian

Religion and Culture for the Intellectually Impatient

The Musings of Thomas Verenna

A Biblioblog about imitation, the Biblical Narratives, and the figure of Jesus

The Syncretic Soubrette

Snarky musings from an everyday woman

%d bloggers like this: