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

  • Author / Creator
    Fairen, Glen J
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2015-11
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3CZ32979
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Religious Studies
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Braun, Willi (History and Classics)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Arnal, William (Religious Studies)
    • Zelyck, Lorne (Biblical Studies)
    • Crossley, James (Religious Studies)