Marcion with St. John

“Marcion was a contemporary of the early Christians (c.85-c.160) and was the founder of the Marcionites. … In many ways, Marcion was not a typical Gnostic. He was relatively kind about Jehova, although he did argue that such a god was unworthy of being the progenitor of Jesus. … Marcion taught in Asia minor and then went to Rome where, in AD 144, he was excommunicated from the church. … He then formed a church of his own, which became extremely widespread and powerful. He taught that there were two gods—one the stern, lawgiving, creator God of the Old Testament, ant the other the good, merciful God of the New Testament.” ~Bernard Simon

Marcion

Whether Marcion was or was not a true Gnostic and Gnostic teacher is debatable, yet it is clear that in some important area he totally agreed with the Gnostic sects. It is also interesting that you don’t hear him mentioned often when people talk about the early Gnostics. An important point found in the quote is that his church was, in the words of Simon, “widespread and powerful”. Even if he didn’t completely agree with some Gnostic teachings, if his church was that successful, he did a good job of at least spreading the basics.

The Two Gods

two Gods of Marcion

Two Gods, Light & Dark

Marcion makes it clear that there are two Gods: the Old Testament god who gets angry, is jealous, demanding, and quick to punish; and the New Testament God that Jesus taught of.

Jehovah, the Old Testament God, loved to command people to do things, and punish them severely when they didn’t listen. This is the god who commanded Abraham to sacrifice his own son.

Abraham + Isaac

Abraham + Isaac

This is the god who encouraged war against those who disagreed with him. This is the god who became jealous of those who worshiped other gods, which only makes sense if he wasn’t the true God. This is the god who created the material world, but not the spiritual one that preceded it. This is a fallen angel pretending to be God.

Elohim, the New Testament God is very different. He encourages people to do what is right, but does not demand it under threat of severe punishment. This is the God who sent an angel to stop Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. This is the God who sent Jesus, Buddha, and others to teach the truth when we were trapped in the fantasies of the false god, or those of our own imagination.

So while Marcion may not have been a true Gnostic, he was correct in teaching that there are two different Gods, and two different worlds where they rule. The one difference being that the god of the material world can rule only here and has no say at all in the spiritual world; on the other hand, the true God can push the false God out of this world and take it over anytime He wishes to do so.

Marcion on Gnosis

Most writers on the teachings of Marcion say that he was not a true Gnostic because he did not teach enlightenment by achieving a state of Higher Consciousness in which the person becomes, at least temporarily, one with God and therefore, all-knowing.  The state known as Gnosis. This may be true, but it may also be jumping to conclusions.

We have to remember that in most of the ancient mystery school, including the Gnostic ones, important teaching were kept secret, never written down, never shared with those who were not members of the group. It may be that Marcion did believe in Gnosis, but keep that belief secret, sharing it only with his most advanced students.

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