The History of the Christian Religion to the Year Two-Hundred

by Charles B. Waite

(Chicago, C.V. Waite & Co., 1900). Pp.287-303.


The question of priority, as between these gospels, is one of the most interesting connected with the history of early Christian literature.

From the commencement of the third, down to the beginning of the present century, it has been fashionable to accuse Marcion of corrupting the Gospel of Luke; the emphatic and oft-repeated assertions of Tertullian and Epiphanius to that effect, having been deemed sufficient authority.

Bishop Marsh was one of the first to do Marcion justice. He said there was no proof that Marcion used Luke's Gospel at all [Notes to Michaelis, vol.3, pt. 2, p. 160].

Since then, many of the most intelligent German critics have come to the same conclusion.

Baring-Gould also says: "Marcion was too conscientious and earnest a man, wilfully to corrupt a gospel "[Lost and Hostile Gospels, p.241].

This author thinks that the Church of Sinope, where Marcion formerly resided, had been furnished by Paul with a collection of the records of the life and teaching of Christ; that Marcion thus obtained his gospel, and brought it to Rome [Ibid.].

Again: "Marcion's Gospel contained a different arrangement of the narrative, from the canonical Luke, and was without many passages which it is not possible to believe he wilfully excluded,"[Ibid p. 242].

He afterward speaks of differences of arrangement, which are unaccountable on the theory that Marcion corrupted Luke, and says that Marcion's Gospel was without several passages which apparently favor his views.[Ibid, p.243; referring to Luke 11.51; 13.30, 34, and 29 to I6].

Canon Westcott is equally explicit in acquitting Marcion from the accusation made against him by the early fathers of the church. He says: "Tertullian and Epiphanius agree in affirming that Marcion altered the text of the books which he received, to suit his own views; and they quote many various readings in support of the assertion. Those which they cite from the epistles, are certainly insufficient to prove the point; and on the contrary, they go to show that Marcion preserved without alteration, the text which he found in his manuscript. Of the seven readings noticed by Epiphanius, (in the epistles), only two are unsupported by other authority: and it is altogether unlikely that Marcion changed other passages, when, as Epiphanius himself shows, he left untouched those which are most directly opposed to his system."

-[History of the Canon, p.284].

It is one of the most hopeful signs of the times, that men, even in religious matters, can vindicate the character of an adversary, after it has been aspersed for fifteen hundred years.

Some writers still persist in repeating the old slander. But the more candid and intelligent opinion of Westcott and Baring-Gould, is supported by Semler, Griesbach, Loeffler, Schmidt, Schleiermacher, Hahn, and many others.

These writers, perceiving how little reliance is to be placed upon the statements of the fathers, in matters of critical exegesis, or of authorship, or upon their assertions concerning the heretics, have examined carefully the text of Marcion, and findmg the statements of Tertullian and Epiphamus unsupported by internal evidence, have rejected them altogether.


Let us now see if we cannot ascertain with reasonable certainty which was first written; the Gospel of Luke or the Gospel of Marcion. The question of priority, in this case, is closely connected with that of brevity.

The first three chapters of Luke were entirely wanting in Marcion, except the opening clause in the third chapter, which was the commencement of the Gospel of Marcion: "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar." The balance of the first chapter of Marcion is contained with some variations in the fourth of Luke. About half that chapter is wanting entirely, in Marcion.

After passing this, the different chapters of the two gospels correspond, the 2d of Marcion with the 5th of Luke, the 3d of Marcion with the 6th of Luke, and so on.

The Gospel of Luke is the most copious throughout. The number of verses in Luke in excess of those in Marcion, is as follows: In chapter 7, seven verses: in ch. 8, one; in ch. 11, ten; in ch. 12, three; in ch. 13, seventeen; in ch. 14, five; in ch. 15, twenty-two; in ch. 18, four; in ch. 19, twenty; in ch. 20, twelve; in ch. 21, three; in ch. 22, thirteen; in ch. 23, one, and in ch. 24, four: total 122 verses. To this add the excess of 23 verses in the 4th chapter of Luke, and we have altogether 145 verses, or more than three average chapters. Add the first three chapters of Luke, which are entirely wanting in Marcion, and the result is, more than six chapters, or more than one-fourth of the entire Gospel of Luke, wanting in Marcion.

But this is not all. In a number of places, the verses of Marcion are shorter. Then, again, two or more verses of Luke are contained, in substance, in one of Marcion, and in one place, nine verses of Luke in two of Marcion.


[* accretion = accumulation, build-up, i.e., words or sentences added later].


Leaving out of view, for the present the wholesale accumulation of matter, aggregating 315 verses, the law of accretion will be well illustrated by those cases where one or more verses in Marcion are found swollen into several in Luke, or where a single passage has additions. They are as follows:


MARCION, ch. 1, v.4.

Saying, 'Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, Jesus?

LUKE ch. 4, v.34.

Saying, Let (us) alone; what have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth?

The difference is important. According to Matthew, the parents of Jesus, when they returned from Egypt, being warned of God in a dream, turned aside, (they were going to Bethlehem or Jerusalem,) into the parts of Galilee, that a certain prophecy might be fulfilled. The language does not imply that Nazareth was their residence.

The theory of the author of Luke was, that Nazareth was their residence. Accordingly, in this passage, which, though followed in Mark, has no parallel in Matthew; Jesus is addressed as "of Nazareth," a phrase not in Marcion.


A corresponding variation will be found in

MARCION, 1.10.

And he came to Nazareth, and as his custom was, etc.

LUKE, 4.16.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and as his custom was, etc.

These are probably interpolations, made for the purpose of establishing Nazareth as the birth-place of Jesus.


MARCION, 3.19.

And the whole multitude sought to touch him.

LUKE 6.19.

And the whole multitude sought to touch him; for there went Virtue out of him, and healed (them) all.

There is no reason why Marcion, who had not rejected the miracles of Christ, should omit the closing sentence. It is more probable that it was added in Luke, to give expression to a very natural inference on the part of the writer, as to the object of the multitude in pressing forward toward Jesus, and seeking to touch him.

There is no parallel in the other gospels.



And going into the house of a Pharisee, he ate with him.

LUKE, 7.36.

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.



MARCION, 4, 30.

But a sinful woman, standing near, before his feet, washed them with tears, and anointed them, and kissed them.

LUKE, 7.37 and 38.

37. And behold, a woman in the city, who was a sinner, when she knew that (Jesus) sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,

38. And stood at his feet, be hind (him,) weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe (them) with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed (them) with the ointment.

This touching incident, simply and beautifully told in the sixteen Greek words of Marcion, is spun out, by the author of Luke, into more than three times the number, with no improvement in the story.

The washing of the feet of Jesus, which in Marcion is left as a figurative expression, denoting the great grief of the woman, is stated in Luke as an actual fact. while weeping, "she began to wash his feet with tears." Then, having washed them, she must needs "wipe them with the hairs of her head."

There can be but little doubt, that Marcion was first written, and that the author of Luke drew upon his imagination in filling up the text.

Again, there is a similar variation, in the following reference to the same transaction:


MARCION, 4.36.

And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thy house; thou gayest me no water for my feet. She has washed my feet with her tears, and has anointed them, and kissed them.

LUKE, 7.44 to 46.

44. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house; thou gayest me no water for my feet. But she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped (them) with the hairs of her head.

45. Thou gavest me no kiss; but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kissmy feet.

46.My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

The use here, by Jesus himself, of the figurative expression, "she hath washed my feet with tears," misled the author of Luke into conceiving, and hence expressing, a literal and complete washing of feet, followed by wiping them in the manner described.

This account is not in the other canonical gospels. It is simply a question between Marcion and Luke.



MARCION, 5.22.

He was sleeping with the sailors,

and he arose, and rebuked the wind, and the sea.

LUKE, 8.23, 24.

22. But as they sailed, he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled (with water), and were in jeopardy.

24. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying: Master, Master, we perish! Then he arose, and rebuked the wind, and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.

The language of Marcion, as given by Epiphanius, is highly elliptical. It was probably preceded by some sentence having reference to the storm. The text of the synoptics is more copious; especially Mark, in which a pillow is provided for the head of Jesus.




And a woman, touching him,

was healed of an issue of the blood. And the Lord said, who has touched me?

LUKE, 8.43 to 45.

43.And a woman, having an issue of blood twelve years, who had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed by any,

44.Came behind (him), and touched the border of his garment; and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

45. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they who were with him, said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press [thee], and sayest thou, Who touched me?

If these accounts come from a common manuscript, it had passed through many hands, before reaching the author of Luke.

IX, X.

MARCION, 6.22.

Saying: The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be put to death, and after three days, rise again.

LUKE, 9.22.

Saying: The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

MARCION, 6.30.

And behold two men talked with him; Elias and Moses in glory.

LUKE, 9.30,31.

30.And behold, there talked with him two men, who were Moses and Ellas;

31. Who appeared in glory and spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.


MARCION, 6.34.

From the cloud a voice, saying: This is my beloved son.

LUKE, 9.35.

And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved son. Hear him.

MARCION, 6.40.

And he said to them, O, faithless generation; how long shall I suffer you?

LUKE, 9.41.

And Jesus answering said: O faithless and perverse generation! How long shall I be with you, and suffer you?

MARCION, 7.21.

In that hour, he rejoiced in the spirit, and said: I thank thee, Lord of heaven, that, etc. (balance of the verse substantially as in Luke.)

LUKE, 10.21.

In that hour, Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that, etc.

MARCION, 7.25.

Master, doing what shall I obtain life?

LUKE, 10.25.

Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

The word aioion, (eternal,) was inserted by the author of Luke, to make more clear the meaning of Marcion.

The argument of Tertullian, (adv. Mar. 4.25), that Marcion struck out aionion, so that the question might be confined to this life, is weak and untenable.


MARCION, 7.26.

And he said unto him, what is written in the law?

LUKE, 10.26.

He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou?


And shall go unto him at midnight, asking for three loaves?

LUKE, 11.5.

And shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves.


Ask and it shall be given. (Aiteite, kai dotheesetai.)

LUKE, 11.9.

Ask, and it shall be given you. (Aiteite, kai dotheesetai humin.)

MARCION 8. 7, 8

Who of you, being a father, if his son ask a fish, instead of a fish, will give to him a serpent? Or instead of an egg, a scorpion?

If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more your Father who is in heaven?

LUKE, 11.11 to 13.

11.If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if (he ask) a fish, will he for a fish, give him a serpent?

12.Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

13. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your chudren1 how much more shall (your) heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

MARCION, 8.24.

This is an evil generation; they seek a sign; no sign shall be given it.

LUKE, 11.29.

This is an evil generation; they seek a sign, and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonas the prophet.


I say unto you, be not afraid of

them that kill the body; fear him who has power after killing, to cast into hell. ( eis geenan.)

LUKE, 12.4, 5.

4.But I say unto you, my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do.

5.But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear; fear him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. (eis teen geenan.) Yea, I say unto you, fear him.

The last passage illustrates, throughout, the prevailing practice of verbal accumulation. The language of Jesus, "I say unto you," becomes, when it reaches the author of Luke, "I say unto you, my friends;" "Be not afraid of them that kill the body," becomes, "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do;" etc.



Him shall also the Son of Man confess before God.

LUKE, 12.8.

Him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God. [Similar difference in the next verse.]

MARCION, 9.34.

And if he shall come in the evening watch, and shall find them so, blessed are those servants.

LUKE, 12.38.

And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find (them) so, blessed are those servants.


And the Lord of that servant

will come, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint his portion with the unbelievers.

LUKE, 12.46.

The Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for (him), and at an hour when he is not aware,

and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

MARCION, 13.29.

Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets, let

them hear them. Not after one has risen from the dead, will they listen.

LUKE, 16.29 to 31.

29.Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

30.And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one, went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31.And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

MARCION, 14.10.

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you.

LUKE, 17.10.

So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

MARCION, 15.31, 32.

31. And it came to pass, as he came near to Jericho, a blind man cried out, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

32. And when he had healed him, he said, thy faith hath saved thee.

LUKE, 18.35 to 43.

35.And it came to pass, that as be was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way-side, begging:

36.And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.

37.And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.

38.And he cried, Saying: Jesus (thou) Son of David, have mercy on me!

39.And they who went before, rebuked him, that he should hold his peace; but he cried so much the more, (Thou) Son of David, have mercy on me!

40.And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him; and when he was come near, he asked him,

41.Saying: What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.

42.And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight. Thy faith hath saved thee.

43.And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, etc.


MARCION, 16.9.

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house.

LUKE, 19.9.

And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

MARCION, 19.4.

And he communicated with the captains, how he might betray him unto them.

LUKE, 22.4.

And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.

MARCION, 19.14.

And he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.

LUKE, 22.14.

And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.

MARCION, 19.51.

And striking him, they said Prophesy; who is it that smote thee?

LUKE, 22. 64.

And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face; and asked him, saying: Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?

The account in Marcion, besides being shorter, is the more natural. Being struck from behind, or by a stranger, Jesus was called upon to tell who struck him. It was an impulsive action. But the author of Luke has the Jews deliberately blindfold Jesus, before striking him.


MARCION, 20.45.

And crying out with a loud voice, he expired.

LUKE, 23.46.

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit; and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

These dying words of Jesus are not in either of the other three canonical gospels. They may have been taken by the author of Luke from the Acts of Pilate, or from a later version of the manuscript used by Marcion.


MARCION, 20.49.

And behold, a man named Joseph, taking down the body, wrapped it up, and placed it in a hewn tomb.

LUKE, 23.50 to 53.

50.And behold, (there was) a man named Joseph, a counselor; (and he was) a good man, and a just;

51.(The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathea, a city of the Jews; who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.

52.This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.

53.And he took it down and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher, that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.


MARCION, 20.52.

And returning, they rested the Sabbath day, according to the commandment.

LUKE, 23. 56.

And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day, according to the commandment.

MARCION, 21.6.

He has risen; remember what he said, while yet living.

LUKE, 24.6.

He is not here, but is risen; re member how he spake unto you, when he was yet in Galilee.

MARCION, 21.7.

That it was necessary that the Son of Man should suffer, and be delivered up.

LUKE, 24.7.

Saying: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

MARCION, 21.37.

And he said unto them, why are ye troubled?

Behold my hands and my feet, a spirit hath not bones, as ye see me have.

LUKE, 24.38 and 39.

38. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I, myself; handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.


We will now give the cases where the text of Marcion is the more copious:


MARCION, 5.20. LUKE, 8.21.

According to Volkmar, (though not in the schedule or scholion of Epiphanius), in this verse, after the words, "And he answered and said unto them," is the question, "Who are my mother and my brethren?" Balance of the Verse, same as in Luke.

Volkmar may have taken some of his Variations from the "Dialogues," etc., attributed to Origen, to which he appears to have given too much attention.


MARCION, 9.26.

And your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things of the flesh; (ton sarkikon).

LUKE, 12. 30.

And your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

MARCION, 14.2.

(On the authority of Volkmar.) It would be better for him if he had not been born; or if a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, etc. (This may have been the reading of Luke at that time. See Tertullian adv. Marcion, 4.35.)

LUKE, 17.2.

It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, etc.

MARCION, 17.25.

But they who shall be accounted worthy of God, to obtain that world, etc.

LUKE, 20.35.

But they who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, etc.

MARCION, 20.2.

And they began to accuse him, saying: We found this fellow perverting the nation, and destroying the law and the prophets, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and turning away the women and children.

LUKE, 23.2.

And they began to accuse him saying: We found this (fellow) perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a king.

MARCION, 21.5.

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, those in white clothing said to them, etc.

LUKE, 24.5

And as they were afraid, and bowed down (their) faces to the earth, they said unto them, etc.

Here are six cases in Marcion, against thirty-six in Luke; or 35 new words in Marcion, to 660 in Luke. If to these we add 315 verses of Luke which are not in Marcion in any form, we have a ratio of 1 to 230.

The strength of the argument, then, based upon the principle of accretion, would be 230 to 1, that the Gospel of Marcion was first written.

But there is other evidence of priority. The Gospel of Marcion is more simple and natural, not only in the mode of expression, but in the order of arrangement.

In the fourth chapter of Luke, Jesus is represented as being tempted in the wilderness, immediately after his baptism; thence he returned into Galilee, and came to Nazareth; [Luke, 4. 16]; where his public ministry commenced. But though commencing, at Nazareth, he is made to refer [v. 23], to works which he had done at Capernaum; a place to which he goes, afterward ;[v. 31.]

In Marcion, on the contrary, his public ministry commenced at Capernaum; [Marcion, 1. 1]; whence, [v.10], he came to Nazareth, and preached; and here, in the natural order, [v.13], he refers to the works done at Capernaum.

This accords with the Gospel of Matthew, which represents that Jesus did not commence preaching until after he had taken up his residence in Capernaum. [Matt. 4. 13 to 17.] Mark follows Luke.

Matthew and Marcion were probably from a common manuscript.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is represented as performing his first miracle in Cana of Galilee, after which he went down to Capernaum. [John 2. 11, 12.] This, therefore, is confirmatory of Marcion.

It is probable that in Luke, the manuscripts were put together out of their natural order, and that this disorder was followed in Mark. It was the opinion of Griesbach that the author of Mark had before him the whole of the present Gospel of Luke. Schleiermacher thinks he had some of the manuscripts which comprise the Gospel of Luke [ Schleiermacher on Luke, p.91].

At the same time, the fact that nearly every word of Marcion is in Luke, besides much additional matter, is strongly suggestive of the theory, that the author of Luke had before him, besides other material, the Gospel of Marcion entire. On the supposition that Marcion was last written, it is difficult to conceive why he should have excluded so large a part of the Gospel of Luke, especially as it is now conceded that it was not done for dogmatic purposes. On the other hand, if Luke was written last, the accumulations were in accordance with the spirit of the age, and the practice of the times. Besides, it was necessary to have a gospel different from that of Marcion, who was a heretic. There is no satisfactory evidence that Marcion had seen either of the canonical gospels, or had even heard of them.

The first two chapters of Luke were wanting in the gospels of the first century. They were also wanting in the Gospel of the Hebrews, or Nazarenes, about A. D. 125, as well as in the Gospel of Marcion, A. D. 145. They first appeared in the Protevangelion, about A. D. 125, and were probably not deemed by Marcion, authentic.