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I'm growing increasingly suspicious that Marcion was more of a dispensationalist or "hyper-dispensationalist" who fell victim to misrepresentation by those who either did not understand him or agree with him. Do we have any surviving texts that were written by himself or his proponents? Or by any of his detractors that might put him in a light other than the official view?

Please see this related question and the way the enemies of dispensationalist views characterize it as "gnosticism" etc. to see what my concern is: What is the argument AGAINST the position that only Paul's writings are applicable to the church today?

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As is the case for most non-orthodox authors in the early church, none of Marcion's major writings survive, as the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity writes:

Since his writings have been lost over time, the information that we have on the life and works of Marcion has reached us through indirect sources, from the numerous writings of his opponents.

Thus our primary sources are Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian, particularly Tertullian's Against Marcion, which frequently cites Marcion's Antithesis.

However, we do have several brief texts of "Marcionite" origin, which were likely written by either Marcion or one of his followers. They are the "Marcionite Prologues," short prologues to the Pauline epistles, found in some Latin manuscripts (including a sixth-century codex). They were first argued to be Marcionite by De Bruyne in 1907, and Harnack adopts his position, based on how they describe Paul's efforts in each letter. For example, the prologue to Romans reads:

Romani sunt in partibus Italiæ. hi præventi sunt a falsis apostolis et sub nomine domini nostri Jesu Christi in legem et prophetas erant inducti. hos revocat apostolus ad veram evangelicam fidem scribens a Corintho.

The Romans are in the regions of Italy. They had been reached by false apostles and under the name of our Lord Jesus Christ they were led away into the law and the prophets. The apostle calls them back to the true evangelical faith, writing to them from Corinth. (translation source; emphasis added)

It's by no means certain that Marcion actually wrote these prologues, but Harnack and others believe them to be very old and likely written by followers of Marcion – not his opponents.

  • It certainly appears that his own writings are merely dispensationalism (the idea that Paul's gospel is a different gospel from that of the circumcision) and not "gnostic". Was he murdered? I can't find any information about his death online. – Ruminator Nov 28 '17 at 17:20
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    @Ruminator There simply isn't much information about his life, so it's tough to say how he died, unfortunately. – Nathaniel Nov 29 '17 at 3:24

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