The apostle Paul insisted on the utter newness of what God had done in Christ (e.g. 2 Cor. 5: 17). A reader of Galatians 4. 24-6 would naturally deduce that the Mosaic law was a bondage into which no Gentile Christian, perhaps not even Jewish Christians, ought to be tied. Freedom from that law was a priceless gift of Christ in response to faith. By faith Gentile believers had deliverance from the 'elements of the world', the planetary powers of fate which also determined when Jewish feasts, such as new moon, were celebrated. If they listened to teachers telling them now to observe circumcision, sabbaths, and Jewish feasts, they would be returning to bondage (Gal. 4: 9). Such utterances could easily produce a radicalized Paulinism which put a negative interpretation on the Old Testament.
A root-and-branch separation of old and new was proclaimed about 140 at Rome by Marcion, a shipmaster from Pontus on the Black Sea coast, who was struck by the partly gnostic ideas of a certain Cerdo. Marcion was disturbed by the problem of evil in a world said to be created by a God wholly good, all-powerful, and possessing foreknowledge, who must have known that human nature would lapse into sin. If this fall could have been simply averted by the intervention of divine grace and that grace was withheld, does not the God who failed to give help bear ultimate responsibility? Marcion further reasoned that an environment containing scorpions and other noxious insects or poisonous plants must reflect some deficiency of goodness in its Maker. And then the sexuality of the animal and human parts of creation seemed particularly repulsive and humiliating.
These shortcomings discerned in nature and in human society appeared to Marcion strikingly similar to the moral imperfections of the God of the Jews who in their scriptures is revealed to be the Creator of this unhappy world. Marcion saw the God of the old covenant as a stern judge severely punishing transgressions of the Mosaic Law even for trivial matters, contrasting with the kindness and mercy of the God revealed in Jesus. Paul had taught that love transcended law, goodness was more than strict justice. Marcion drew a drastic conclusion: the Creator-god who gave the Law is inferior to a higher, supreme God of goodness and love first revealed by and incarnate in Jesus. The Creator was indeed divine, but far from supreme. Gnostic teachers liked
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Publication information: Book title: The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great. Contributors: Henry Chadwick - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 89.
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