Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God Paperback – 1 Dec 2007
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About the Author
Harnack is Ordinary Professor of Church History in the University, and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Science, Berlin.
Lyle D. Bierma is Dean of the Faculty and the Jean and Kenneth Baker Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. He is the author of "Covenant Theology of Caspar Olevianus", "The Doctrine of the Sacraments in the Heidelberg Catechism", and "An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism".
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Despite Professor Harnack's enthusiasm for his subject (perhaps inevitable of biographers), the detailed information that the Professor was able to glean from the existing sources is still the standard background for this fascinating period in the early church. A few areas that Professor Harnack could have explored more seem to be Marcion's rejection of church Tradition is practically ignored but obvious in his rejection of the texts accepted for liturgy. Marcion's views of the Eucharist would not have meshed well with the early church fathers who used language extremely suggestive of the real presence. See for instance, Ignatius of Antioch, concerning the Docetists with whom Marcion had so much in common concerning a true presence of Jesus.
Marcion is a reminder of the results in rejecting the authority and tradition of the church in favor of one's own presuppositions ending with an interpretation (and even acceptance) of scripture based on those presuppositions. He is an important topic of the early church, the disunity he sparked led to the church defining itself further in doctrine and in the formation of a canon of scripture. This is the definitive work in the original German language. In this English form it is missing some of the source material referred to throughout the book. It is a shame that the material was left out. At points in the text Professor Harnack's style can be difficult to follow and may require re-reading but there is no text more thorough in coverage of this important topic.
With these restrictions in mind, and considering that we have here a university theses from the early nineteen twenties, the amount of careful research is to be valued. Readers will find many precious references not readily found in other publications based on Tertullians' Contra-Marcion.
Although the translation from German is occasionally difficult to fully understand, the book is well worthwhile our efforts.
I would nevertheless suggest that unprepared readers should first go for more recent studies on Marcion, such as Tyson's "Marcion and Luke-Acts, a Defining Struggle, as well as Hermann Detring's "Fabricated Paul" that holds wide-open the doors to Marcion (even too wide) and gives a lively account on the extent of Christianity's debt toward heretics.