Of major theological and philosophical significance
is the gnostic division of spirit and nature, the radical
projection of the divine from the universe, and the
consequent distinction of an unenlightened creator of world
cause from the true God. In the teaching of Marcion this
anticosmic dualism became a particular challenge to the
Church in that he denied the identity of the Father of Jesus
Christ with the God of Moses and the prophets through not
denying the latter’s reality. Later, he also strove to
exclude the Old Testament from the Christian canon.
Claiming to follow St. Paul, he thus separated and
distributed to two mutually exclusive gods that polarity of
justice and mercy whose very togetherness in one God
determines the whole dialectic of Pauline theology. Crypto-
Marcionite tendencies have been recurrent in the history of
Christianity. “In modern times, a modified Marcionite
dichotomy has become tempting to theology by enabling it to
concede to natural science the complete autonomy of the
physical realm and to retain a God dealing merely with the
soul and no longer charged with the role of cosmic
providence” (Pearson, 29).
Dart, John. The Laughing Savior. New York:
Harper & Row, 1976.
Douglas, J.D. “Gnosticism.” New 20th-Century
Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. 2nd ed, 1991.
Eliade, Mircea. “Gnosticism.” The Encyclopedia of
Religion. 1987 ed.
Freedman, David Noel. “Gnosticism.” The Anchor Bible
Dictionary. 1992 ed.
Goehring, James E., et al. Gnosticism & the Early
Christian World. 2nd ed. Sonoma: Poelbridge Press,
Hedrick, Charles W., and Robert Hodgson. Nag
Hammadi Gnosticism, and Early
Christianity. 2nd ed. Peabody: Hedrickson
Pearson, Birger A. Gnosticism, Judaism, and
Egyptian Christianity. Minneapolis: Fortress
April 24, 1996
Intro. to the New Testament
by John Wenzel