St. Paul, St. Luke, and Gnosticism

Here’s another one to refute. Basically the claim that St. Paul was really a Gnostic, in part due to the heretic Valentinus tracing his episcopal lineage back to him. Also the claim that the Gospel of St. Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were really derived from the works of the heretic Marcion.

I may be no expert in Scripture, but I think I can see right through the second claim claim, for example:

This touching incident, simply and beautifully told in the sixteen Greek words of Marcion (MARCION, 4, 30.), is spun out, by the author of Luke (LUKE, 7.37 and 38.), into more than three times the number, with no improvement in the story.

That could easily mean that Marcion edited the text to simplify and make it sound better. One similar example occurs in Apocalypse 18:2, where scholars believe a later writer omitted ‘unclean beast’ from the text to avoid repetition.

Anyway, leave your thoughts and refutations.

Thanks in advance and God bless.

The biggest refute to claims that St. Paul was a Gnostic was handled by the Catholic Church itself in defining the canon of the New Testament.

Though he considered himself “the least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9) and in fact was not even among the original Twelve, the New Testament is composed largely of Pauline epistles, with only two ascribed to St. Peter, a few minor epistles to St. John, and one to St. James, and one to St. Jude. We hear practically nothing from the others, except St. Matthew in his gospel account and similarly from St. John in the gospel traditionally attributed to him. (The Apocalypse has been widely contested since the beginning whether or not its inspired words belong to the Beloved Apostle, but being a apocalyptic work and series of visions it is not meant to describe a particular personal view that originates with its author.)

Marcion’s canon was developed first and foremost due to the Gnostic belief that true and salvific knowledge could be specifically obtained through studying sacred texts. Holy writ was considered a greater form of revelation than the Epiphany in the Person of Jesus Christ, and Marcion rejected all of the Jewish traditions, both written and oral centering on the Great Theophany to Israel. Thus the canon of Marcion was limited to a very edited form of Luke’s Gospel and only select epistles of Paul that proved absent of “Jewish” influence.

The Catholic Church had not originally considered that any other texts besides the Hebrew Scriptures used by Jesus and the Apostles were inspired and part of salvation history. The Old Testament works describing such things as the Great Theophany to the nation of Israel at Sinai were viewed as written testament to the traditions of the Jewish people who recognized this event as truth. However Marcion rejected the Tradition of the Patriarchs and the Jewish Scriptures, an elemental facet of Apostolic Tradition. In turn, not only did the Church excommunicate Marcion but it seems the addition of many Pauline epistles and the inclusion of the full Lucan gospel into the genuine Christian canon were a means to counter his claims.

Luke is neither an apostle or a even a Jew. However his Gospel is counted with the testimony of the Apostles. His book “Acts” is considered the authoritative work on the Church’s beginnings, one that started with the Jerusalem Church of Jewish Christians.

The works of Paul, as a whole, are very pro-Jewish, Romans in particular. When all of them are read as a whole and not merely selected (as Marcion attempted), one reads that Paul’s objection to demanding Torah obedience of the Gentiles is in fact out of respect for the Mosaic Law, not a rejection of it.

To illustrate: The argument of some early Christians, who were often referred to as Judaizers, aimed to make Torah observance a requisite for salvation in the Church. The full Pauline argument is not against Torah observance for Jews, as he demonstrated in obedience to the full college of Apostles as recorded in Acts 21:17-26. Pauline theology is that the Mosaic Law neither promises nor obtains justification for eternal life to those who follow it. Jews follow the Law because of their faith in the promises of God to Abraham. Claiming that salvation is made apart from the Law supports the Law whereas claiming salvation is by means of the Law sins against the Law.–Romans 3:20-31.

Marcion excised these types of arguments from his canon to make Paul’s arguments look as if he too was rejecting all things Hebrew. But the Church’s final canonization of a larger library of Paul’s works prove that Marcion’s claims were false as Paul was very pro-Torah for Jews and was only protecting its proper use against incorrect claims about salvation in Christ.

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