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Revelations of Lesser Gods: The Heresy of Christian Anti-Judaism and the Logic of a Demiurge for Nostalgic Israel Open Access


Other title
Apocryphon of John
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Fairen, Glen J
Supervisor and department
Braun, Willi (History and Classics)
Examining committee member and department
Crossley, James (Religious Studies)
Zelyck, Lorne (Biblical Studies)
Arnal, William (Religious Studies)
Religious Studies

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
In the rush to (correctly) reclassify early “Christianity” as “Jewish,” scholars have made a few dubious assumptions. On one hand, while vigorously defending the “Jewishness” of some “Christianities” such as those found in the New Testament, scholars are just as quick to assume others “Christianities,” such as Marcion and the Apocryphon of John, were not, nor ever could have been “Jewish,” despite similarities to figures like Paul or texts such as John or Matthew. Indeed, considering the rhetorical vitriol surrounding the scholarly claims of what was “Jewish” and the lack of evidence that either Marcion or the Apocryphon of John held to any animosity towards “Judaisms” it appears that the relative “pro-” and “anti-Jewishness” of a given discourse is a cipher for more modern issues and concerns. Therefore, by first looking at how Marcion was represented in antiquity, and later reconstructed by scholars such as von Harnack, it will be argued that this early Christian “heretic” was not “anti-Jewish,” (however this is problematically defined) but, because of the vague similarities between his understanding of Jesus and the “Aryan Christ,” Marcion has easily been marginalized by modern scholars as the “heretical” forerunner of the Christian antisemitism. Next, by examining how the Apocryphon of John supposedly misappropriates “Judaisms” and as such can not be properly “Jewish,” (as opposed to Paul or John) it will be argued that this is not as a reflection of the ideological options available to ancient Jews, but is simply a convenient method of rebranding what used to be “heretical,” as that which is now “anti-Jewish.” And finally—after taking into account that ancient “Judaisms” were hardly stable, self- evident or monothetic—it will be shown that, when both Marcion and the Apocryphon of John iiare divorced from the “pro-” or “anti-Jewish” rhetoric of scholars, and then (re)considered in parity with other contemporary “Jews” and “pro-Jewish Christians,” that they were not “antisemitic heretics,” but were simply two possible ways in which the authority of “Nostalgic Israel” was preserved in antiquity for those who identified in someway with its mythic narrative and claims.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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