Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hilgenfeld's Explanation of the Name 'Marcion' as a Diminutive of Mark

I can't believe that I am the only scholar asking 'where the heck did the name Marcion come from?' But then again, let's face it, there are VERY FEW PEOPLE studying early Christianity with an open mind. The field is dominated by the pious who accept everything at face value. What's left are the incompetent and the 'haters' who are much worse. So if we want to get at the truth, let's go back in time when scholarship was actually filled with open minded people who didn't think that everything about the truth has already been discovered. Let's go back to the only culture that ever produced scientific-minded scholars of religion - die Deutschen, wer sonst? Imagine, for a moment people, an agenda driven by the asking of questions! Was für eine Phantasie!

In any event, if you want to try to figure out where the crazy name Μαρκίων came from, you have to be able to read German, my friends.  The Anglo-American world of scholarship is absolutely pathetic in this regard.  I stumbled upon the take of the great Adolf Hilgenfeld (which turns out to be my original guess at what the name Marcion meant before adopting Ruairidh Boid's suggestion that is a backformation from a Semitic gentilic collective plural meaning 'those of Mark').  Anyway Hilgenfeld writes:

Dass Μαρκίων ein Deminutivum von Μαρκος ist, schliesse ich auch aus dem Verhaltniss von Εὐρυτίων zu Εὔρυτος (vgl. Phil. Griech. Gramm. 21. Aufl. S. 119, Anm. 12), κοδράτίων (bei Philostratus vit. sophist. II, 6 p. 250) zu κοδράτος (vgl. W. H. Waddington, Memoire sur la Chronologie de la vie du rheteur Aristide, 1867, p. 32). So möchte ich auch an den von dem Verfasser der Philosophumena so angefeindeten κάλλιστος, romanischen Bishof 217 - 222, denken, wenn Rhodon bei Eusebius KG, V, 13, 8 κάλλιστίωνι προσφωνων genanne wird. Um so mehr werden die Μαρκιανοί welche Justinus Dial. c. Tr. c. 35 p. 253 vor Valentinianern, Basilidianern, Satornillianern, u.s.w. erwahnt, Marcioniten sein. Ebenso wird man in dem Muratorianum Z 82 - 84 zu lesen haben: quia etiam novum psalmorum librum Marciani (= Marcionitae) conscripserunt.

My son is sick with a cold so I didn't have the time to translate the text as carefully as I would like (believe it or not German was my Muttersprache growing up in Canada). But here is a rough translation of what Hilgenfeld is saying:

That Μαρκίων is a diminutive of Μαρκος, I conclude also from the relation of Εὔρυτος to Εὐρυτίων, (vgl. Phil. Griech. Gramm. 21. Aufl. S. 119, Anm. 12), κοδράτίων (from Philostratus vit. sophist. II, 6 p. 250) to κοδράτος (vgl. W. H. Waddington, Memoire sur la Chronologie de la vie du rheteur Aristide, 1867, p. 32). So also I think κάλλιστος, the Roman Bishop (217 - 222) against whom the author of the Philosophumena shows such hostility, is behind Rhodon's reference to κάλλιστίωνι προσφωνων (Eusebius, Church History V, 13, 8). Stronger still is the case for the Μαρκιανοί - which Justin Dial c. Tr. c. 35 p. 253 mentions before the Valentinians, Basilideans, Satornillians, etc - being a reference to Marcionites. Similarly, one will have to read the Muratorianum Z 82-84: quia etiam librum novum psalmorum Marciani (= Marcionitae conscripserunt).

Okay, so I still haven't added the umlauts now have I corrected some of the Greek text. But let's face it, having this guy behind the idea that the name Marcion derives from Mark is a big step forward.

I have to admit, I just can't help beaming with pride that I discovered a reference that eluded Hilgenfeld. Eusebius's citation of Hegesippus which follows:

But Thebuthis, because he was not made bishop, began to corrupt it. He also was sprung from the seven sects among the people, like Simon, from whom came the Simonians, and Cleobius, from whom came the Cleobians, and Dositheus, from whom came the Dositheans, and Gorthæus, from whom came the Goratheni, and Masbotheus, from whom came the Masbothæans. From them sprang the Menandrianists, and Marcionists, (Μαρκιανισταί) and Carpocratians, and Valentinians, and Basilidians, and Saturnilians. Each introduced privately and separately his own peculiar opinion. From them came false Christs, false prophets, false apostles, who divided the unity of the Church by corrupt doctrines uttered against God and against his Christ.”[Eusebius Church History iv.22]

A fuller discussion of this citation appears in my previous post. Let us also remember that Hippolytus references what must be a Marcionite claim that their founder was the author of the Gospel of Mark [Ref. vii.18].

In any event let us acknowledge that we are very, very close to having a respectable theory, my companions in arms. Very, very close indeed ...

Hilgenfeld, Adolf, “Häreseologische Berichtigungen”, Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie,(1888), XXIII, 478—483

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