This post will explore some of the plausible “shorter readings” in the Apostolikon used by the Marcionites. There may be more shorter readings in the Apostolikon that are possible that are not found in this list, but this list is intended to include those that meet a minimum standard of evidence, referencing this list of criteria.
(1) Shorter readings attested as such by the patristic writers.
(2) Unattested readings that have manuscript support or patristic support for their absence.
(3) Unattested readings that were likely to be quoted by Tertullian if they were in the Apostolikon.
(4) Unattested readings that correspond to a scholarly conjecture for interpolation on grounds other than the alleged absence in Marcion’s Apostolikon.
However, this is not a list of interpolations in the letters of Paul, as such a list may be shorter or longer and would have somewhat different contents. It is a list of likely or suspected shorter readings in Marcion’s Apostolikon, compared to most extant manuscripts of Paul. The existence of such shorter readings in the Apostolikon is something mentioned (in a general way and with specific instances) by several of those who comment on Marcion’s text.
Criteria 2 and 4 (manuscripts and conjectural emendations) are more indirect than criteria 1 and 3 (explicit readings and notable silences). They reflect the basic idea that portions of the text that could have been absent otherwise could also have been absent in Marcion’s text, which is quite early in the history of the transmission of Paul’s letters. In some cases criterion 2 is stronger than criterion 4, since it can offer an objective indication of the passage’s absence in some manuscripts, but in other cases it is the weakest criterion, since omissions in the manuscripts (all of them later than Marcion’s publication) can be due to well-understood habits of occasional scribal error. Criterion 2, then, more than any other, is liable to registering some instances of pure happenstance.
Some of the more-idiosyncratic suggestions from those who have offered many suggestions in their books (such as Weisse, Loisy, Hawkins, Schmithals, and O’Neill) are not represented under the fourth criterion (partly because I have not made an exhaustive review of their suggestions and the reasoning). To the extent that the reasoning for interpolation is not sound or that there could be little chance of attestation in any case, criterion 4 may be weaker in some cases (and stronger in others).
Because of the extensive evidence that Marcion did not make any systematic attempt to root out passages that are potentially difficult for his theology (with such examples frequently quoted by Tertullian and other commentators), perceived contradiction with Marcion’s reconstructed theology is not accepted as a confirmatory criterion of omission in the texts of Paul used by Marcionites.
Relatively small phrases (three to four words or less) are not treated here, being considered as more like variations than omissions or shorter readings in character.
This blog post primarily follows the notes on the text of the Apostolikon in Jason D. DeBuhn’s The New Testament: Marcion’s Scriptural Canon, pp. 260-319. It is an excellent book that I recommend highly.
Gal 1:18-24 (criterion 2 weakly, criterion 3 weakly, and criterion 4)
These verses are unattested as being in Marcion. Irenaeus (AH 3.13), Tertullian’s quotation of Marcion (AM 5.3.1), Augustine (Quaestionum Evangeliorum 2.40, Migne PL vol. 35 col. 1355), John Chrysostom (Commentary on Galatians 2.1, Migne PG vol. 61 col. 633), a certain Greek Catena in epistulam ad Galatas (e cod. Coislin. 204, page 27, line 10), the Bohairic Coptic version, and a manuscript of the Vulgate have Galatians 2:1 without the word “again.”
There is some level of expectation that Tertullian would have quoted it in an attempt to show subordination of Paul to Peter and James.
Some or all of these verses are considered an interpolation on other grounds by J. C. O’Neil (The Recovery of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, p. 25), Frank R. McGuire (“Did Paul Write Galatians?“), Hermann Detering (“The Original Version of the Epistle to the Galatians,” p. 20), David Oliver Smith (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul, p. 72), Robert Price (The Amazing Colossal Apostle, p. 415), and in some comments online.
Gal 2:7-8 (criterion 3 weakly, criterion 4)
These verses are unattested as being in Marcion. There is some level of expectation that Tertullian would have quoted it against Marcion to show the harmony of Paul with Peter as apostles. Some or all of these verses are considered an interpolation on other grounds by C. P. Coffin (“Peter or Cephas in Pauline Usage“), Ernst Barnikol (“The Non-Pauline Origin of the Parallelism of the Apostles Peter and Paul“), William O Walker Jr. (“Galatians 2:8 and the Question of Paul’s Apostleship“), J. C. O’Neil (The Recovery of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, p. 37), and Hermann Detering (The Original Version of the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 33).
Gal 3:6-9 (criterion 1)
Jason BeDuhn comments, “Both Harnack (Marcion, 72*) and Schmid (Marcion und sein Apostolos, 106) conclude that Marcion’s text lacked Gal. 3.6-9. Jerome, Comm. Gal. 3.6 says, ‘In this passage all the way to where it is written, “who from faith are blessed together with the faithful Abraham,” Marcion erased from his Apostle’ … Tertullian, who jumps from Gal. 2.18 to 3.10 in his comments without saying anything about an omission, goes back to note one when he comes to comment on Gal 3:26, contending that the logic of the latter verse is ruined by the absence of the connection to the faith of Abraham … Later (5.4.8), he seems to suggest that Marcion’s text of Galatians lacked any mention of Abraham except Gal 4.22.” (The First New Testament, p. 264)
Gal 3:15a (criterion 1 and criterion 2)
This is omitted in its current location. It is found instead immediately before Gal 4:3 instead. BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian, Marc. 5.4.1. Tertullian attests a transposition of 3.15a, adding ‘still’ (‘I still speak,’ Latin adhuc > Gk eti), to the beginning of this verse and omitting 4.3a ‘thus also you’ in agreement with Clement of Alexandria. Ephrem Syrus omits the clause at 3.15, but does not place it at 4.3.” (The First New Testament, p. 267)
Gal 3:15b-25 (criterion 1)
Harnack and Detering regard Gal 3:15b-25 as absent. BeDuhn regards Gal 3:22 as present in the Apostolikon because of “an allusion to Gal 3.22” found in a discussion of Romans 12 (Tertullian, AM 5.14.11). On the other hand, Detering argues, “As we have seen, the evidence is clearly provided by Tertullian who switches immediately over from 3,14 to 3,26 (s. above) and ironically refers to the haeretica industria which he blames for the omission of the passage 3,15-25.” (pp. 53-54)
Schmid regards Gal 3:15b-18 as absent, with 3:18 considered absent because of its reference to Abraham and because of the indication in Tertullian that Gal 4:22 was the only reference to Abraham. BeDuhn answers such an argument by saying that the Greek manuscripts 056 and 0176 show how the phrase containing Abraham in that verse could have been omitted due to scribal error.
BeDuhn regards only the omission of Gal 3:15b-16 as secure. This much is explicitly identified as an omission by Tertullian. Tertullian quotes these verses and writes, “Let Marcion’s eraser be ashamed of itself! Except it is superfluous for me to discuss the passages he has left out, since my case is stronger if he is shown wrong by those he has retained.” (AM 5.4.1-2)
Gal 3:29 (criterion 1)
BeDuhn writes, “Harnack and Schmid think the mention of Abraham in v. 29 must have been omitted – Harnack on ideological grounds, Schmid on the basis of Tertullian’s apparent indication that Abraham was absent from Marcion’s text of the letter except for 4.22.” (The First New Testament, p. 267)
Detering writes, “A survey of the discussion on passage 3,27-4,2 shows that an overall consensus is limited to v. 29: all scholars acknowledge that because of the mention of Abraham (cf. Tertullian V,4), this verse cannot have occcurred in the Marcionite Apostolikon. There can indeed be no doubt that this verse was missing in the Marcionite version of the epistle to the Galatians. ” (The Original Version of the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 62)
Gal 4:1-2 (criterion 1 weakly, criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Harnack, Marcion, 74*, suggests that these verses probably were present as the referent of 3.15a, which was transposed to the beginning of 4.3. But Tertullian complains that 3.15a makes no sense because what follows in 4.3ff. is not an analogy from human practice, but a statement of actual spiritual fact; this criticism would lose its cogency if 4.1-2, with its analogy from human practice, immediately preceded, in which case 3.15a would be taken to refer back to it, just as Harnack supposes.” (The First New Testament, p. 267)
Following Bruno Bauer, Detering draws attention to the differences between Gal 4:1-2 and what follows, i.e., “that in 4,1-2 the heirs are acknowledged to be children even while still minors, whereas in 4,3ff they only become children and receive the quality of being children through Christ” and “that the heir as a child only has the appearance of a slave in Gal 4,1- 2, while the νήπιοι, of 4,3, are in fact slaves. ” (The Original Version of the Epistle to the Galatians, p. 64) Detering concludes, “The entire passage 4,1-2 obviously seems not to have had any other function than to introduce 4,3ff, rather badly used by the editor to lead from his starting-point, the keyword κληρονόμοι in 3,29, to 4,3. He overlooked the fact that his expositions, intended to lead to 4,3ff, were hardly compatible with the metaphor used there and in principle belonged to a completely different context. By the inserted οὕτως καὶ ἡμεῖς, a context is but very forcibly established — and it misses the mark i.a. because after such an introduction, a reader generally expects not another allegory but its explanation or application.” (p. 65)
Gal 4:4b (criterion 3)
Harnack describes how Tertullian’s citations in Against Marcion stop short just before quoting these particular words (AM 5.4.2-3, 5.8.7):
Tertullian (V, 4): “‘Cum autem evenit impleri tempus misit deus filium suum‘” [But when it came about that the time was fulfilled, God sent his Son]. … Tertullian himself wrote shortly afterwards [quoting the same verse in V, 8]: “At ubi tempus expletum est” [But when the time was fulfilled]. – Erased the words γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός γενομ νον ὑπὸ νόμον [born of a woman, born under the law].”
Detering writes, “There is a consensus of all scholars that the words γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός, γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον were missing in Marcion’s edition. The fact is unambiguously confirmed by Tertullian. He surely would not have omitted the words that showed Christ’s genuine human nature to be true and that therefore could be used as an excellent argument against Marcion’s docetism, if then he had found them in Marcion.” (The Original Version of the Epistle to the Galatians, pp. 65-66)
1 Cor 1:29b-30 (criterion 1)
BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian, Marc. 5.5.10 (vv. 29a, 31); Adam 1.22; Epiphanius, Scholion 10 (v. 31; neither Harnack nor Schmid credit the evidence of Adamantius, and indeed the Apostolikon may not be used here). Tertullian omits v. 30, reading directly from v. 29 to v. 31, and both Harnack and Schmid follow this reading (Adamantius quotes the whole passage). In v. 29, Tertullian ends with ‘that no one may boast’ (=Harnack and Schmid), while Adamantius continues with ‘in his presence,’ a reading found in a number of Greek manuscripts, while most witnesses to the catholic text read ‘in God’s presence.’ The quotation in v. 31 is from Jer 9.23; note again the presence of an unmistakable quote from Jewish scripture.” (The First New Testament, p. 274)
1 Cor 2:6b (criterion 1)
BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian, Marc. 5.6.1-4 (vv. 6a, 7); Epiphanius, Scholion 11 (v. 6c). Our sources are complementary, with Epiphanius supplying one of two clauses that Tertullian skips over. The other (‘but not the wisdom of this aeon, nor’) is unattested. Without it, the sense of the passage would be: ‘We speak wisdom among those who are perfect about the rulers of this aeon who are being nullified.'” (The First New Testament, p. 274)
1 Cor 6:3-6 (criterion 2)
Alexandrinus omits this passage, and it is not explicitly attested. On the other hand, I do not really believe it was absent in Marcion’s Apostolikon.
1 Cor 7:38 (criterion 2)
F, G, 323, 614, 630, 1319, 1352, 1837, 2147, and 2412 omit this verse, and it is not explicitly attested.
1 Cor 9:20a (criterion 2)
The Greek manuscript p46 omits “and unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that,” and it is not explicitly attested as belonging to Marcion’s Apostolikon. However, this seems to be a clear case of homoioteleuton, since the remaining text of p46 appears to lack grammatical sense and also does not have the verb ἐγενόμην (became). I do not really believe it was absent in Marcion’s Apostolikon.
1 Cor 10:27-28 (criterion 2)
The Greek manuscripts 323, 618, 1242, and 1738 omit these verses, and it is not explicitly attested. On the other hand, I do not really believe it was absent in Marcion’s Apostolikon.
1 Cor 15:3a (criterion 1, criterion 2, criterion 3 weakly, criterion 4), 1 Cor 15:4a (criterion 1 weakly)
Epiphanius quotes, in his discussion of Marcion, as follows: «εὐηγγελισάμην γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς καὶ ὅτι τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐγήγερται, κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς» (“For I preached to you that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”) Elsewhere Epiphanius quotes words from the received text of 1 Corinthians 15:3a (ὃ καὶ παρέλαβεν, “that which I received”), which makes it likely that he is quoting from Marcion’s text here. If this is a quote from Marcion’s text, it seems that Marcion’s Apostolikon may have also omitted 15:4a (καὶ ὅτι ἐτάφη, “and that he was buried”).
Note that the paraphrastic summary “that Christ died, and was buried, and rose the third day,” found twice in Epiphanius (once immediately after “brethren, I make known unto you the Gospel ye believed” and once again immediately after “so we preached, and so ye believed”) and contradicting the more exact quote by its omission of “for our sins,” most likely belongs to Epiphanius, as a general indication of the contents of the passage of 1 Corinthians.
BeDuhn writes, “Clabeaux, following Harnack (Marcion, 91*) and Blackman (44 and 168), claims that Marcion’s text omitted ‘that which I received’ (ho kai parelabon) in v. 3a (A Lost Edition of the Letters of Paul, 111), and cites several church fathers with the same omission (111, 119-20). Birdsall, in his review of Clabeaux, 633, corrected him on some of these citations; nevertheless Eusebius [?], Adamantius (using his own biblical text in 5.6), and some OL manuscripts [such as b, Budapestiensis] still show that the omission was found outside of the Marcionite church, and therefore cannot be shown to be an ideological edit.” (The First New Testament, pp. 284-285)
The text of Adamantius is (5.6): παρέδωκα γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν καὶ ὅτι ἐτάφη καὶ ὅτι ἐγήγερται τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ (For I delivered to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins and that he was buried and that he rose the third day). This is not stated to be a Marcionite reading.
Tertullian has the same text (AM 3.8.5): Tradidi enim, inquit, vobis inprimis, quod Christus mortuus sit pro peccatis nostris, et quod sepultus sit, et quod resurrexerit tertia die. (For I delivered unto you, he says, first of all, that Christ died for our sins, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day.) This is not stated to be a Marcionite reading.
Irenaeus (AH 3.18.3) also has a text omitting 15:3a but retaining “according to the scriptures,” in agreement with Epiphanius’ quote (but showing disagreement with Tradidi and et quoniam sepultus est): Tradidi enim, inquit, vobis in primis, quoniam Christus mortuus est pro peccatis nostris secundum Scripturas, et quoniam sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas. (For I delivered, he says, unto you first of all, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.) This is not stated to be a Marcionite reading.
Ambrosiaster has (Migne PL vol. 17, col 275): Tradidi enim vobis in primis, quoniam Christus mortuus est pro peccatis nostris secundum Scripturas et quia sepultus est et quia resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas. (For I delivered unto you, first of all, that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.)
There is some level of expectation that Tertullian would have quoted 15:3a against Marcion, to show some level of subordination of Paul to other apostles, if it had existed in the text of the Apostolikon (indeed, we are not sure that it was in his own text).
In Robert Price’s argument for an interpolation in 1 Corinthians 15:3-11, the contents of 15:3a played a prominent role in his argument. The same arguments could be treated as arguments specifically regarding a possible interpolation in 15:3a. This fulfills the fourth criterion.
1 Cor 15:5-11a (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “1 Cor 15:5-10 is unattested. Harnack considers the verses to have been present, but his case specifically for v. 9 is insufficient.” (The First New Testament, p. 285)
Robert Price has argued that these verses are interpolated (“Apocryphal Apparitions“). Although Price argues for a larger interpolation (15:3-11), his specific arguments actually touch upon the contents of 15:3a and the narrative regarding the appearances in 15:5-10. It is thus a candidate for meeting the fourth criterion.
1 Cor 15:56 (criterion 4)
This verse is not explicitly attested and is maintained to be an interpolation by F. W. Horn (“1 Korinther 15,56 – ein exegetischer Stachel,” ZNW 82, pp. 88-105). On the other hand, BeDuhn comments, “It is possible that our sources pass over this verse in silence, since it seems to support Marcion’s position” (The First New Testament, p. 289). On the verse itself, see Hollander and Holleman and Vlachos.
2 Cor 1:6-7 (criterion 2)
BeDuhn writes, “2 Cor 1:4-19 is unattested; nothing in this passage offered relevant material for Marcion’s critics; on the other hand it supplies a key part of the Marcionite self-image as persecuted on earth. Gk mss 618 and 1738 omit vv. 6-7 for no obvious scribal cause.” (The First New Testament, p. 289)
2 Cor 4:13b (criterion 1, criterion 2)
BeDuhn writes, “Epiphanius, Scholion 27. Epiphanius reads ‘And since we shave the same spirit of trust, and (kai) we trust, therefore also we speak,’ a text which skips over, as he duly notes, v. 13b: ‘according to (kata) what has been written, “I trusted, therefore I spoke.”‘ This shortened reading might be explained by a scribal error (homeoarcton), slipping from kata to kai (harder to explain is the omission of just the words of the quotation by Gk mss 618 and 1738). Epiphanius suspects deliberate excision (‘he excised,’ exekopsen) of a quote from Jewish scriptures.” (The First New Testament, pp. 291-292)
2 Cor 6:14-7:1a (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “2 Cor 5.18-7.1a is unattested. Tertullian might be expected to comment on ‘all things are from God’ in 5.18 or the several quotations from Jewish scripture in this section. Otherwise, it contains little that would be relevant to Marcion’s critics. Adam 2.20 cites 6.14c, but it is doubtful that it is taken from the Apostolikon. Note how 7.1b follows quite logically on 5.16-17.” (The First New Testament, p. 293)
On the passage itself, see Betz, Fitzmyer, Schnelle, Duncan and Derrett, Brooke, Duff, Walker, Goulder, Matera, Zeilinger, McDougall, Wheeler, Rabens, Starling, Barnett, Freeman, Tilling, and Carlson.
2 Cor 8:1-9:15 (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian says nothing about a large gap occurring here in Marcion’s version of the letter, in comparison to the catholic version. But it should be noted that in his works Tertullian has an unusual absence of quotations from this very part of the letter. For most of Paul’s letters, he quotes several passages from each chapter, but he shows a conspicuous void here, with no quotations or allusions to anything between 7.10 (Paen. 2.3) and 10.2 (Res. 49.11). It is a striking anomaly that stands out in any index of his scriptural references. Could it be that Marcion and Tertullian shared a text of this letter that lacked a sizable section found here in what is now the canonical form of the letter? Several scholars have proposed that chapters 8 and 9 constitution originally separate letters (see Furnish, II Corinthians, 30-41, and the literature cited there). Although their content is largely ephemeral, and therefore not very usable to later Christian commentators, it would be highly relevant to Marcion’s critics as testimony to Paul’s close ties to the Jerusalem church and the apostles there, on which Tertullian comments frequently, as well as for the scriptural quote and comment on God as supplier of natural goods in 9.9-10. Adam 2.12 quotes 10.18, but it is doubtful that the Apostolikon is involved in this section.” (The First New Testament, p. 293)
Rom 1:1b-5a (criterion 2, criterion 3, criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “The evidence of Gk ms G is suggestive, reading directly from v. 1a to 5b in an apparently coherent redaction: ‘Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called (to be) an emissary / among the nations on behalf of his name.'” (The First New Testament, p. 295)
Following Detering, Godfrey writes, “Tertullian (Contra Marcion 4.36) relishes the use of Bartimaeus addressing Jesus as ‘Son of David’ to counter Marcion’s assertion that Jesus had no human lineage or social recognition at his coming. Since Tertullian knew Paul was Marcion’s sole apostle it is perplexing that he did not conclusively push his argument against Marcion by citing this passage in Romans if it were known to him. He had opportunity to do so in CM 4.36 when discussing the Bartimaeus passage and again in CM 5.13 when discussing Romans.” (Romans 1:2-6)
BeDuhn writes, “Rom. 1.1-7a is unattested. There must have been something equivalent to v. 1. We would certainly expect Tertullian and Epiphanius to cite vv. 2-3 against Marcion had they been present in the Apostolikon; yet why do they not explicitly note an omission? They would have had the opportunity to do so either here or elsewhere where they discuss Paul’s attribution of Davidic ancestry to Jesus (cf. Tertullian, Carn. Chr. 22.2; Prax. 27.11).” (The First New Testament, p. 295)
If Tertullian knew of this passage, neglecting to point out its absence in the Apostolikon may just be an application of the principle, “it is superfluous for me to discuss the passages he has left out, since my case is stronger if he is shown wrong by those he has retained.” (AM 5.4) Indeed, perhaps noticing this very omission led the weary Tertullian to comment, when beginning on the epistle to the Romans, “The nearer this work draws to its end, the less need there is for any but brief treatment of questions which arise a second time, and good reason to pass over entirely some which we have often met with.” (AM 5.13)
BeDuhn goes on to quote from the Commentary on John 10.4 by Origen that Marcion “rejects [Jesus’] birth from Mary so far as his divine nature is concerned.” But the author is speaking hypothetically in this passage and referring to Romans 1:3 in his own text of Paul: “Marcion, I suppose, took sound words in a wrong sense.” This leaves us to think that what follows is likely only an inference made by Origen, not based on anything other than that Marcion (as was well-known) “made bold to delete from the Gospels the passages” with “His birth from Mary.”
Rom 1:19-2:1 (criterion 1 weakly, criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Rom 1.19-2.1 is unattested. P. N. Harrison has argued that 1.19-2.1 constitutes an interpolation, and that the Apostolikon preserves the original reading of the letter, passing directly from 1.18 to 2.2 (Paulines and Pastorals, 79-85). Yet Tertullian, Marc. 4.25.10, appears to allude to this passage when he says that the Marcionites and ‘other heretics’ argue that the nations knew about the creator from nature. Origen, Comm. Rom. 1.18.2, rhetorically asks how the Marcionites deal with 1.24 in light of their theology. But there is no guarantee that Origen has been careful to cite something actually in the Marcionite Bible; in fact, based on his conduct of this sort of argument, e.g., On First Principles 2.5, he does not take care to cite only passages accepted by the Marcionites.” (The First New Testament, p. 296)
Rom 2:3-11 (criterion 1 moderately, criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “After quoting 2.2, and before alluding to 2.14ff., Tertullian remarks, ‘But how many ditches Marcion has dug, especially in this epistle, by removing all that he would, will become evident from the complete text of my copy. I myself need do no more than accept, as the result of his carelessness and blindness, those passages which he did not see he had equally good reason to excise.’ But did the omission to which he refers occur before or after 2.2? Harnack (Marcion, 103*) interprets it as referring to an omission of 1.19-2.1, and hence as a comment on how in Marcion’s text the two separate passages of 1.18 and 2.2 were read together. Schmid (Marcion und sein Apostolos, 85-87, 110) thinks that Tertullian means to refer to an omission following the verse he has just quoted, 2.2, and before the verse he next quotes, 2.14. Unfortunately, Tertullian says nothing specific enough to settle the question. Both 1.19-2.1 and 2.3-11 contain comments that Tertullian would be likely to cite against Marcion. Yet Tertullian has just said (5.13.1) that he will not repeat points already sufficiently raised before, including the theme of God as judge, which features prominently in 2.3-11.” (The First New Testament, pp. 296-297)
Rom 3:25-26 (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Rom 3.23-4.1 is unattested. Talbert, ‘A Non-Pauline Fragment at Romans 3:24-26?’ presents a persuasive argument that 3.25-26 constitutes an interpolation.” (The First New Testament, p. 298)
Rom 4:6-9a (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Rom 4.3-4.25 is unattested. Harnack considers these verses to have been omitted. Neither Tertullian nor Epiphanius say anything about an omission in Marcion’s text here, but we would expect them to cite some of the content against Marcion. Various proposals for small interpolations in this section of the letter have been made.” (The First New Testament, p. 298)
On this passage, see Weisse and O’Neill (Paul’s Letter to the Romans, pp. 86-87): “The difficulty arises from the interpretation of the last clause of the citation that is put forward in v. 6. The positive of ‘not reckon sin’ in v. 8 is not ‘reckon righteousness’ but ‘reckon as righteousness’, ‘acquit.’ The writer of v. 6 is either playing with words, or he thinks sin is like a black ball which can be cast into the urn against a man, and righteousness like a white ball which the happy man has cast in his favour. His words give rise to the theory that righteousness is imputed; a large sum is credited to the account of the man who really is in debt. The Psalmist did not mean this, nor did Paul mean this. Righteousness in Romans always elsewhere means the goodness which Israel was seeking, that is, a goodness men should try to show in their lives. This meaning is already assumed in v. 5, but will scarcely fit in v. 6. Accordingly, I conclude that vv. 6-8 were written by a later commentator who anticipated and prompted Luther’s doctrine of imputation.” Also, “The first sentence in this verse [9a] comes from the hand of the same commentator. It assumes the question yet to be posed about Abraham in v. 10.”
Rom 4:14-15 (criterion 4)
On this passage, see Weisse and O’Neill (Paul’s Letter to the Romans, p. 88): “These verses clearly exclude Jews from the possibility of being heirs with Abraham. The Law brings God’s wrath, and only those Jews who give up the Law will not be able to transgress God’s will. If this is the meaning of the verses – and I have tried in vain to discover a meaning that will be less antisemitic – Paul cannot possibly have written them, for he consistently argues that practising Jews may also be heirs of the promises. Weisse omits these two verses, and I agree. The author belonged to the same school as the writer of the ‘Epistle of Barnabas’ (cf. Chapter 13), and those Christians at the time of Justin Martyr who would not have any social contact with Jewish Christians (cf. Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 47).” Also, “these words [v. 16, ‘that is why’] refer back to v. 13, another indication that vv. 14 f. were an interpolation into the original text.”
Rom 4:17 (criterion 4)
On this verse, O’Neill (Paul’s Letter to the Romans, p. 89): “it is very difficult to see how this statement fits with anything that goes before. … The solution to this difficulty seems to be that the statementw as originally a gloss against the statement that now follows in v. 18, in hope he believed against hope. The glossator noted in the margin that it was entirely reasonable to believe hopefully, even against what a man could naturally hope, because this belief was belief in the presence of God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”
Rom 6:13, Rom 6:19 (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Rom 6.1-13 is unattested. Harnack (Marcion, 105*) argues for inclusion of vv. 1-2 based on Tertullian’s reference at 1.27.5 to a Pauline absit, which Harnack thinks can only come from this passage, apparently overlooking the absit of Rom 7.7. Harnack also includes vv. 3, 9-10 on the basis of parts of Adamantius where it cannot be shown that Marcion’s text is being quoted (3.7, 5.11-12). None of the content of book 6 offered anything for Tertullian or Epiphanius to use against Marcion; their failture to mention it is therefore neither surprising nor significant.” (The First New Testament, p. 299)
On Rom 6:19, BeDuhn writes, “It is uncertain if Adamantius [3.7] is reading from the Apostolikon here. In this section of the work, he has been debating a Bardaisanite, but suddenly the Marcionite megethius interrupts, and quotes from the Evangelion, to which Adamantius replies in part with this quote. Possibly, then, the author has dropped in a passage from an anti-Marcionite source; but that does not mean that the source has been careful to quote only from the Apostolikon. In place of ‘to impurity and lawlessness’ (te arkatharsia kai te anomia), he has ‘to injustice and impurity’ (te adikio kai te akatharsia), perhaps under the influence of 6.13. In the second clause, he omits ‘now’ (with Gk ms 69), the explicit ‘your’ with ‘limbs’ (implied in the article), and ‘for holiness’ at the end, and adds ‘God’ as the indirect object of the verb ‘supply’ alongside of ‘rectitude.’ Hagen, ‘Two Deutero-Pauline Glosses in Romans 6,’ 364-67, argues that 6.13 and 6.19 are interpolations.” (The First New Testament, pp. 299-300)
Rom 6:17b (criterion 4)
Not explicitly attested. On the possibility of an interpolation here, see Bultmann.
Rom 8:29-30 (criterion 4)
Rom 9:4-10:1 (criterion 1, criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Following a quotation of 8.11, Tertullian says, ‘I overleap here an immense chasm left by scripture carved away (salio et hic amplissimum abruptum intercisae scripturae), though I take note of the apostle giving evidence for Israel that they have a zeal for God, their own God of course, though not by means of knowledge.’ (Marc. 5.14.6) He proceeds to quote 10.2 at the other end of the ‘immense chasm.’ Scmid (Marcion und sein Apostolos, 110) notes the uncertainty over the extent of this gap. Harnack regarded as omitted the entirety of chapter 9, which is not attested for Marcion’s text by any of our sources. Note, however, that the identification of those credited with zeal for God in 10.2 as ‘Israel’ requires either the presence of some of the content of chapter 9 (references to ‘Israel’ occur in 9.4, 6, 27, and 31) or, as Harnack notes (Marcion, 108*), 10.1 in a variant reading (‘my supplication to God on behalf of Israel‘ instead of ‘on behalf of them’) found in a large number of Greek manuscripts. Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, 258, notes an aporia of thought between 9.3 and 9.4: ‘Remarkably, Paul gives no reason for his sorrow, and the lament changes quietly into magnifying the advantages of Israel in salvation history.’ The lament of 9.1-3 picks up only with 10.1, and it seems most likely that the text of Romans in the Apostolikon lacked everything inbetween.” (The First New Testament, p. 302)
On Romans 9:4, O’Neill writes (Paul’s Letter to the Romans, p. 151): “This list of the distinctions of the Jewish people sits very strangely in a letter from a Jew to fellow Jews. It reads much more like an affirmation inserted by a commentator who wished to defend the Jews from the attack of those Christians, like Marcion, who tried to prove that Jewish religion was on a distinctly lower plan than Christianity.”
On Romans 9:5, O’Neill writes (Paul’s Letter to the Romans, p. 153): “I think we must suspect that a glossator has been at work, and his marginal notes have been incorporated into our text. How otherwise can we explain the fact that such a tremendous affirmation about Christ appears so casually in an ascription of praise?”
Rom 10:5-11:32 (criterion 1, criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian says with regard to the words of 11.33: ‘Whence the outburst? Out of his recollection of those scriptures to which he had already referred, out of his meditation upon those types and figures which he had previously expounded as bearing on the faith of Christ which was to emerge from the Law. If Marcion has of set purpose cut out these passages, what is the exclamation his apostle makes, when he has no riches of his god to look upon, a poor god and needy as one must be who has created nothing, prophesied nothing, in fact possessed nothing, one who has come down to another’s property?’ (5.14.9) Harnack (Marcion, 108*) maintains that this remark indicates that the entirety of 10.5-11.32 was lacking in Marcion’s text, and that 11.33 directly commented on 10.4. Schmid (Marcion und sein Apostolos, 111) expresses some doubt that the gap was so extensive. He points to a passage in Irenaeus, Haer. 1.27.3, which referes to a Marcionite belief in Christ’s descent into Hades, and suggests that this belief is based on Rom 10.6-10. It is quite uncharacteristic of Schmid to credit anything outside of the more systematic sources, and to rely, as he does here, on reports about Marcionite interpretation and application of biblical passages should be given tentative credit; but Irenaeus’ remark scarcely rises to that standard, and Schmid’s suggestion cannot be accepted.” (The First New Testament, pp. 302-303)
Rom 13:1-7 (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Rom 12.20-13.8a is unattested. Several researchers have suggested that 13.1-7 is an interpolation, among them Barnikol, ‘Römer 13,’ and J. Kallas, ‘Romans xiii.1-7: An Interpolation.'” (The First New Testament, p. 303)
On this passage, see also O’Neill (Paul’s Letter to the Romans, pp. 207-209), Munro, Käsemann, Friedrich et al., Walker, Stein, Carter, Horsley, Botha et al., Aletti, Herrick, Roark, Mounce, Rosner, Nanos, Littlejohn, Longenecker, and Constantineanu. On Romans 13:5 alone, see Bultmann.
Rom 15:1-16:27 (criterion 1, criterion 2, criterion 4)
BeDuhn quotes from Origen’s Commentary on Romans 10.43.2, which says (regarding Romans 16:25-27): “This section was completely cut from this epistle by Marcion, by whom the evangelical and apostolical writings have been falsified. And not only this, but he also cut out everything from the place where it is written, ‘anything which does not rise from trust is wrongdoing’ [14.23].”
BeDuhn comments, “This statement has been taken by most to mean that Marcion’s text of Romans ended at 14.23. In support of this, Tertullian, Marc. 5.14.14, alluding to the content of Rom 14.10, speaks of it as being in clausula, i.e., ‘in the closing’ of the letter, and he mentions nothing else from the rest of the letter. In fact, his failure to mention the absence of chapters 15 and 16 from Marcion’s version, or to cite anything from those chapters in any of his works, may suggest that he, too, only knew the fourteen-chapter version of the letter. On the other hand, Lagrange (Saint Paul epitre aux Romains, 381) and Scheck (Origen, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, vol. 2, 307 n. 350) contend that the verb desecuit means not ‘cut out’ but ‘cut up,’ and some parts of chapters 15 to 16 may have been found in Marcion’s text, whereas the doxology was ‘completely removed’ (penitus abstulit). But, contrary to their reading of the verb, it ordinarily means ‘cut off, sever’; and why would Origen so precisely refer to 14.23 as the point where Marcion begain to ‘cut up’ the letter? Therefore I have followed the consensus opinion that 14.23 marked the end of Marcion’s text.” (The First New Testament, pp. 304-305)
BeDuhn writes, “There is clear evidence of a fourteen-chapter version of Romans in circulation in the Latin West (see Gamble, The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans), and the ninth-century Greek-Latin bilingual ms G separates 15-16 from the end of chapter 14 by six blank lines. This sort of separation typically represents uncertainty of about the unity of the preceding text with the following, as in cases where a copyist adds material found in another exemplar than the one primarily used as the basis for the copy; but the space is interpreted differently by Corssen (‘Zur Überlieferungsgeschichte des Römerbriefes’) and Dupont (‘Pour l’histoire de la doxologie finale d l’epitre aux Romains’), who consider it to be a sign of the copyist’s uncertainty about whether to place the doxology at this point, somewhere else, or, as the copyist ultimately decided, to omit it.” (The First New Testament, p. 305)
1 Thess 2:15b-16 (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian, Marc. 5.15.1. Tertullian attests the reading ‘the Judeans killed their own prophets’ (occiderant Iudaei prophetas suos; interfecerunt … prophetas suos > Gk tous idious prophetas), which he claims is Marcion’s addition; but the reading is also found in Gk mss Dc, E*, K, L, Ψ, and many others, some versions and some patristic witnesses. Thus, the imaginable ideological motive for Marcion to make the change from ‘the prophets’ to ‘their (i.e., Jewish) prophets’ is beside the point, since the variant was already present in the textual tradition of Paul completely independently of Marcion (cf. Clabeaux, A Lost Edition of the Letters of Paul, 117 and n. 79). On the persecution of Christians in Judea mentioned here, cf. Gal 6.12. Tertullian omits ‘Jesus’ following ‘the Master.’ Harnack also cites the verse from Adam 5.12, but Marcion’s text is not involved here. Pearson, ‘1 Thessalonians 2:13-16: A Deutero-Pauline Interpolation,’ has made a case for interpolation in this passage, to explain several oddities in the grammar and syntax, as well as inconstistencies with Paul’s thought elsewhere (see also Eckart, ‘Der zweite echte Brief’). While the evidence of the Apostolikon does not confirm the entire passage as an interpolation, the most severe anomalies of the text are not attested for Marcion’s text by our sources, in particular v. 15b-16. The Prologue’s reference to the persecution of the Thessalonian Christians by their fellow countrymen comes from 2.14.” (The First New Testament, p. 306)
1 Thess 5:1-11 (criterion 4)
BeDuhn writes, “1 Thess 4.18-5.18 is unattested. Friedrich, ‘1 Thessalonischer 5,1-11,’ has argued that the first eleven verses of chapter 5 constitute an interpolation.” (The First New Testament, p. 307)
Ephesians 1:21 aka Laodiceans (criterion 1 weakly, criterion 2 weakly)
BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian, Marc. 5.4.8. Tertullian seems to signal the inclusion here (in place of catholic v. 25?) of text paralleling catholic Eph 1.21 … (as in codex Montepessulanus; Adversus Marcionem [1954 ed.], 673, prefers the reading that reverses the order of the last two clauses, but see the evidence of Ephrem Syrus below). Harnack (Marcion, 76*) attributes this addition to Marcion’s editorial hand. But a portion of the same combined reading is found in Ephrem Syrus’ commentary on the letters of Paul (135), as first noted by Harris (Four Lectures, 19; cf. Zahn, Der Brief des Paulus, 298; Clabeaux, A Lost Edition of the Letters of Paul, 3, 118-19).” (The First New Testament, p. 269)
BeDuhn writes, “1.17-22a. Tertullian, Marc. 5.17.5-6. On the possible interpolation of Eph 1.21 in Gal, see note to Gal 4.26 above. Tertullian does not quote it here, and it may have been absent from Laodiceans in the Apostolikon.” (The First New Testament, p. 310)
Ephesians 6:2b aka Laodiceans (criterion 1)
BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian, Marc. 5.18.11. Tertullian explicitly mentions the absence of v. 2b (‘which is the first commandment with a promise’), while acknowledging that Marcion’s text still retained the commandment itself (from Exod 20.12; see Schmid, Marcion und sein Apostolos, 94-95, 113).” (The First New Testament, p. 314)
Colossians 1:15b-16 (criterion 1)
BeDuhn writes, “Tertullian appears to say that Marcion’s text lacked vv. 15b-16.” And he quotes: “If Christ is not ‘the firstborn of creation,’ as being the word of the creator ‘by whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made,’ if it is not true that ‘in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominations or principalities or powers,’ if it is not true that ‘by him and in him all things were created’ – for it was really necessary that Marcion would disapprove of this (haec enim Marcioni displicere oportebat) – then the apostle would not have stated so plainly, ‘and he is before all (people),’ for how can he be before all (people) if he were not before all (things)? And how before all (things) if he were not the firstborn of creation?” (Marc. 5.19.3-5)
BeDuhn writes, “While there have been a great many proposals for the original wording of the hymn used by Paul in this part of the letter, and the possibility of various interpolations, I have not been able to find one that exactly corresponds with the form found in the Apostolikon as reported by Tertullian (although suggestions of editorial expansions or interpolations in v. 16 are quite common). For those conditioned by the catholic form of the text, the redundancy of v. 17 with 15b-16 has passed unnoticed; one would expect, at least, a ‘therefore’ (oun) rather than an ‘and’ (kai) at the beginning of v. 17. … It could be argued that the form of the passage attested for the Apostolikon possesses an equally clear structure and coherent meaning without vv. 15b-16 (and with or without v. 18).” (The First New Testament, p. 316)
Summary of Results
Here I will classify the results in a descending order of the power of the criteria that apply.
(1) Shorter Readings in accordance with Criterion 1 (explicit mention or quotation)
Gal 3:6-9 (criterion 1)
Gal 3:15a (1, 2)
Gal 3:15b-16 or 15b-18 or 15b-25 (1)
Gal 3:29 (1)
Gal 4:1-2 (1)
1 Cor 1:29b-30 (1)
1 Cor 2:6b (1)
1 Cor 15:3a (1, 2, 3, 4)
1 Cor 15:4a (1)
2 Cor 4:13b (1, 2)
Rom 1:19-2:1 (1, 4)
Rom 2:3-11 (1, 4)
Rom 9:4-10:1 (1, 4)
Rom 10:5-11:32 (1, 4)
Rom 15:1-16:27 (1, 2, 4)
Eph 1:21 (1, 2)
Eph 6:2b (1)
Col 1:15b-16 (1)
(2) Shorter Readings in accordance with Criterion 3 (use against Marcion expected)
Gal 1:18-24 (criteria 2, 3, 4)
Gal 2:7-8 (3, 4)
Gal 4:4b (3)
Rom 1:1b-5a (2, 3, 4)
(3) Shorter Readings in accordance with Criterion 4 Alone (interpolation hypothesis)
1 Cor 15:5-11a (Price)
1 Cor 15:56 (Horn)
2 Cor 6:14-7:1a (Betz, Fitzmyer, et al.)
2 Cor 8:1-9:15 (Betz, et al.)
Rom 3:25-26 (Talbert)
Rom 4:6-9a (Weisse, O’Neill)
Rom 4:14-15 (Weisse, O’Neill)
Rom 4:17 (O’Neill)
Rom 6:13, 19 (Hagen)
Rom 6:17b (Bultmann)
Rom 8:29-30 (Walker)
Rom 13:1-7 (Barnikol, Kallas, et al.)
1 Thess 2:15b-16 (Pearson, Schmidt, Walker, Okeke, et al.)
1 Thess 5:1-11 (Friedrich)
(4) Shorter Readings in accordance with Criterion 2 Alone (manuscript evidence)
1 Cor 6:3-6 (Alexandrinus)
1 Cor 7:38 (F, G, 323, 614, 630, 1319, 1352, 1837, 2147, and 2412)
1 Cor 9:20a (p46)
1 Cor 10:27-28 (323, 618, 1242, and 1738)
2 Cor 1:6-7 (618 and 1738)
Comparing the lists, there are a few suggestions that are longer than four verses. (All of them are more than four words, but that’s only because this survey has omitted anything less.) These are:
(a) Gal 1:18-24 (so Harnack, Schmid, and BeDuhn)
(b) Gal 3:15b-25 (so Harnack, only Gal 3:15b-16 for BeDuhn and Gal 3:15b-18 for Schmid)
(c) Rom 1:19-2:1 or Rom 2:3-11 (the latter for Schmid, the former for Harnack)
(d) Rom 9:4-10:1 (Tertullian remarks on this)
(e) Rom 10:5-11:32 (Tertullian remarks on this)
(f) Rom 15:1-16:27 (Origen remarks on this, but Tertullian doesn’t say it’s a falsification)
(g) 1 Cor 15:5-11a (Price’s interpolation hypothesis)
(h) 2 Cor 6:14-7:1a (a common interpolation hypothesis)
(i) 2 Cor 8:1-9:15 (a common interpolation hypothesis)
(j) Rom 13:1-7 (a common interpolation hypothesis)
(k) 1 Thess 5:1-11 (Friedrich’s interpolation hypothesis)
Although (a) isn’t explicitly noted as absent by Tertullian, there is general agreement about its absence in Marcion’s text. Only (b) through (e) are explicitly remarked on by Tertullian as being blatant omissions in the text of Marcion’s Apostolikon. Notably, (f) is not, suggesting that Tertullian’s text of Paul shared the omission of the last two chapters of Romans with Marcion’s. The same explanation is offered by BeDuhn for (i), where Tertullian quotes nothing from them in any of his own works, let alone in refutation of Marcion.
The rest of the suggestions may not represent true absences in Marcion’s Paul, as they are basically hypothetical absences in the text of Paul himself. But even if all of them did, they — (g), (h), (j), and (k) — amount to only 30 verses altogether. It’s plausible that Tertullian might pass over in silence this small collection of omissions, together with a larger collection of smaller omissions. On the other hand, some might take Tertullian’s harsh remarks elsewhere over much smaller matters as an indication that their texts substantially agreed regarding (g), (h), (j), (k), and any other stretch of verses so large (whatever merit may remain in the interpolation hypotheses regarding the original text).
Our survey has found that there is indeed some reason to find shorter readings in Marcion’s text of Paul. However, we cannot prove anything regarding an extensively reduced form of Paul’s letters in Marcion. Tertullian’s text actually agrees with Marcion’s regarding some lengthy shorter readings, such as Romans 15-16 and possibly 2 Corinthians 8-9. Apart from the possibility of Gal 3:15-25 suggested by Harnack (but controverted by Schmid and BeDuhn), the lengthiest confirmed differences seem mostly confined to a few passages of Romans (1:19-2:1 or 2:3-11, 9:4-10:1, and 10:5-11:32). Tertullian indeed remarks that Marcion’s omissions were evident “especially in this epistle.” Yet the largest differences that receive comment from Tertullian are all within the same two sections of Romans (1:18-2:29 and chapters 9-11) that have been suspected of interpolations in any case. The same is true for several other, shorter potential omissions.
In agreement with the investigations of other research (regarding the particular textual variants noted as present in Marcion’s text and regarding the various passages retained by Marcion), this study particularly in the shorter readings of Marcion’s text finds some confirmation of the hypothesis that Marcion’s text of Paul can be regarded as a valuable witness to the early stage of transmission with little to no detectable redaction taking place at Marcion’s hands.