Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Gnostics and Anti-Semitism

Noticed in Irenaeus today several places where the Gnostic doctrine recounted implied anti-Semitism. For example, according to one sect Christ came to destroy the God of the Jews (Bk 1, Chp 24, 4-5). The prominent German "higher criticism" scholar Adolf von Harnack wrote Marcion; The Gospel of an Alien God, about the ancient heretic who reviled the Old Testament. The author looked very favorably on Marcion and apparently adopted much of his view, I have heard recounted, though I have no first hand knowledge of the book.

I have noticed the presence of German "higher criticism" in the Nazi "thought" and wonder about what degree of connection there was.

Here is Wikipedia on this subject:
"Theologian Adolf von Harnack - in agreement with the traditional account of Marcion as revisionist - discusses the reasons for his alterations to Luke. According to von Harnack, Marcion believed there could be only one true gospel, all others being fabrications by pro-Jewish elements, determined to sustain worship of Yahweh. Furthermore, he believed that the true gospel was given directly to Paul by Christ himself, but was later corrupted by those same elements, who also corrupted the Pauline epistles. He saw the attribution of this gospel to "Luke" as another fabrication. Marcion thus began what he saw as a restoration of the original gospel as given to Paul.[1]

Von Harnack writes that:

For this task he did not appeal to a divine revelation, any special instruction, nor to a pneumatic assistance [...] From this it immediately follows that for his purifications of the text - and this is usually overlooked - he neither could claim nor did claim absolute certainty. "

[My question is how much was the scholarship on Marcion friendly to the raging anti-Semitism in Germany at the time Von Harnack was writing?]

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