Christology and Marcionism

We’re have on our hands this awkwardly uncomfortable situation: we’d often like to be Marcionists (that is, drop the Old Testament), but truth compels us to keep the Old Testament in some way – ah, and these very terms ‘Old Testament’ and ‘New Testament’ were invented by the heresiarch Marcion. As for the New Testament, we see it as more discontinuous with the Old Testament than continuous, and thus the Old Testament sometimes seems more than anything to be a foil to the New, not the revelation that Christ and his way fulfil.

Hermeneutically, as we often see it, Christ fulfils some prophecies in Scripture, and then in some vague sense his Passion ‘fulfils’ the Old Testament in a grand wash-out that erases every theological importance of the sacrifices ordered in the Law of Moses except for their inconvenience – because God forbid that humanity keep having to do such inconvenient things as sacrifices when it’s all really just a matter of the heart (since our hearts are good and pure whenever we want to obey God). As I’ve said before, though, Jesus didn’t BS exegesis for the sake of teaching a true doctrine and a true life: even when his reading went far beyond the original human intent in the Scriptures, it was legitimate by more than divine fiat.

But statements made by Jesus and Paul, even about loving enemies, were truly rooted in the Old Testament, in the God who inspired the writing of its books: they were reading and rereading the Scripture in light of eschatological reality, and they were reading themselves by the words of Scripture. What about those parts that we’re tempted to excise and call inapplicable to the present age? The Old Testament teaches hatred because it teaches love. Though we dare not simply flatten the thought of the Old Testament books, we must come to grips with the fact that they testify about the Christ.

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2 responses to “Christology and Marcionism

  1. “The Old Testament teaches hatred because it teaches love. ”

    That is a really stupid statement. The Old Testament teaches what Jesus said it taught in the Sermon on the Mount: “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” – obviously defining neighbor as a coreligionist, since the OT commands killing your own family members if they leave Judaism.

    “But statements made by Jesus and Paul, even about loving enemies, were truly rooted in the Old Testament” in the sense that they viewed the OT negatively and decided to be better than it. Thus Jesus says, “You have heard it said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say, love your enemies also.”

    “Though we dare not simply flatten the thought of the Old Testament books, we must come to grips with the fact that they testify about the Christ.” Like in Isaiah 7–8, which is about Mahershalalhashbaz? Or Micah 5 about Zerubbabel? Or Jeremiah 31 about Babylonian exile, not infants being killed by Herod? Hosea 11:1 about Israel the nation being called out of Egypt in the Exodus?

    What we must come to grips with is that Jesus is the Better God who came to defeat the OT god by the cross, but the Catholics have interpolated the NT with all sorts of OT affirming corruption. And Jesus prophesied this would happen in the Parable of the Tares, for the enemy has sown tares in the field of NT Scripture at night while men have slept.

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    • Jesus himself says that the Scriptures testify about him. If he makes the point that even the Torah of Moses testifies about him, we can see what he means: that the Old Testament as a whole, as represented by its seminal centre, points to the work of the Christ.

      But I have question for you too: if the NT God is a different God, or as much as a different God (for the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent), what’s the point of having the OT? It seems, on the basis of what you say, that the OT has value only as a historical piece.

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