Marcion, Jews and Christians
As a student, Adolf [von] Harnack wrote a prize-winning thesis on Marcion, the influential preacher condemned by the church in Rome as a heretic in 144 CE. Basically a collection of sources and never printed, the work kept occupying Harnack until he finally published it half a century later, in 1920. It had become a monograph which not only offered a reconstruction of Marcion’s life and work based on exhaustive source study, but also an interpretation of his importance. Harnack, having become one of the most important historians of Church and doctrine, brilliantly situated Marcion in a crucial phase of the history of the early Church. Joining in with the anti-Semitic spirit of the age, he also propagated Marcion’s radical rejection of the Old Testament as a recipe for healing twentieth century Christianity.