This is a report on a paper presented by Professor Markus Vinzent, Professor of the History of Theology at King’s College London, at the Patristics Seminar at the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Cambridge, 29th of November 2010.
The programme of the Patristics Seminar in Cambridge will be published here.
Is Marcion ‘Q’ ?
In a recent fascinating and astoundingly controversial patristics seminar held at the University of Cambridge, Professor Markus Vinzent offered a précis of his soon to be published book: Christ’s Resurrection in Early Christianity. The focus of his presentation was the lack of attestation to the resurrection of Christ in early Christian literature between the time of Paul and Marcion.He posited that whilst Christ’s resurrection was a strong belief in Paul, it was of little interest to other early Christians; hence, once interest in Paul’s theology waned, so also did interest in the resurrection.
On his view, after Paul’s death there was a long period in which he was not in vogue and thus the resurrection was largely forgotten apart from notions of a general resurrection of the body but with the writings of Marcion, and the subsequent reaction to these, Christ’s resurrection slowly became a more formalised doctrine. He also states that had Marcion not put Paul’s letter together with a gospel, the resurrection of Christ would not have made it into the creed. In the midst of making this point, Vinzent made some other even more astonishing claims for those in the biblical studies world:
First, he believes that the first gospel to be produced in written form was from the hand of Marcion since there is no mention of the gospels before him.
Second: that the synoptics were written as a reaction to his gospel by rival theological schools at around the same time in Rome in the second century. On his view, if this is correct then the synoptic problem dissolves.
Third: that the other gospel writers embellished their gospels with Judaisms as prior to Irenaeus (Mileto etc) no one claimed that Marcion had shortened the gospel.
Fourth: when asked if he then thought that Marcion was in effect ‘Q’, Professor Vinzent affirmed that he believes this to be the case.
His book will be published in 2012, I, for one, am looking forward to its reception and the reaction produced; it promises to be exciting.
PhD Student, University of Cambridge.