Monday, August 8, 2011

The Complete Silence in Patristic Sources With Respect to the Marcionite Resurrection Narrative

A quick note as I put my son to sleep. I have already noted that Tertullian tells us that the Marcionites did not have a Jesus being dunked by John the Baptist narrative. Yet at the same time the Marcionites practiced a sacrament related to the 'baptism for the dead.' If that isn't enough to pique one's interest with respect to the underlying connection to 'Secret Mark' it is often overlooked that Tertullian skips over what we think of as the 'familiar' resurrection narrative in the gospel. Tertullian's commentary goes from "and having said thus, he gave up his spirit" to the barest of details of women appearing at an empty tomb to this:

But not even after his resurrection did he show them that he was any different from him they said they thought him to be. It is true that he severely rebuked them: O fools, and slow of heart in not believing all the things which he spoke to you [Against Marcion 4.43]

The difficulty with Tertullian's approach is that he often alludes to things that were in our gospels which 'should' have been known to Marcion. Yet the only things which he says were certainly were in their text are the 'giving up of the spirit' and the appearance of the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus (even though this place name is never explicitly named).

Isn't it puzzling that Tertullian simply glosses over the most important section of material in the whole Christian Bible. Surely if you wanted to 'nail' the Marcionites on points of doctrine, this would be the place. So why the silence? Could it be that the Marcionites did not have a resurrection narrative? Could it be that 'the resurrection of Christ' already happened with Jesus's raising of the dead youth as in Secret Mark?

It is a pity we don't know more ...

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