Monday, November 5, 2012

Marcionite Redemption

So by now, if you read our previous posts, we have determined that Marcion derived his understanding of 'Chrestian redemption' from Philo and the pre-existent Jewish culture at Alexandria and perhaps other places in the Roman world.  This Jewish interpretation of Jacob 'switching' gods - going from 'the just Lord' to the 'kind God' at Bethel - must have included a specific liturgy for proselytes.  The manner in which Philo and Clement present the theological understanding seems already connected to an establish gradiation within the synagogal community.  One begins with fear of the just Lord and faith and then ultimately progresses to the 'love' of the kind God.

It would be interesting to see if Jacob's experience at Bethel is anywhere described as an 'adoption.'  So too with respect to a specific commemorative date in the liturgical calendar.  For the moment at least it is worth noting that we aren't even close to fully understanding Marcionite redemption.  The major task at hand for us is to explain how Jesus's crucifixion = the redemption.  In the words of Adolf von Harnack:

This much, however, is unmistakable, that Marcion succeeded in placing the greatness and uniqueness of redemption through Christ in the clearest light and in beholding this redemption in the person of Christ, but chiefly in his death upon the cross.

I am presently working on a paper on our discoveries with respect to Marcionite redemption.  The missing piece here however is massively significant.  Anyone who can understand why crucifixion should 'redeem' humanity (= transfer it from the just Lord to kind God) is smarter than I am right now.  It is the ultimate question in the study of early Christianity.  

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