The Marcionite Prologues to the Pauline Epistles
(The most ancient authority is Codex Fuldensis, but they also appear in at least thirteen other Codices)
Gal. -- Galatæ sunt Græci[!]. hi verbum veritatis primum ab apostolo acceperunt, sed post discessum eius temptati sunt a falsis apostolis, ut in legem et circumcisionem verterentur. hos apostolus revocat ad fidem veritatis scribens eis ab Epheso.
Cor. -- Corinthi sunt Achaici. et hi similiter ab apostolo audierunt verbum veritatis et subversi multifarie a falsis apostolis, quidam a philosophiæ verbosa eloquentia [better: ad phil. verbosam eloquentiam], alii a secta [better: ad sectam] legis Judaicæ inducti sunt. hos revocat apostolus ad veram evangelicam sapientiam scribens eis ab Epheso per Timotheum.
Rom. -- Romani sunt in partibus Italiæ. hi præventi sunt a falsis apostolis et sub nomine domini nostri Jesu Christi in legem et prophetas erant inducti. hos revocat apostolus ad veram evangelicam fidem scribens a Corintho.
Thess. -- Thessalonicenses sunt Macedones. hi accepto verbo veritatis perstiterunt in fide etiam in persecutione civium suorum; præterea nec receperunt ea quæ a falsis apostolis dicebantur. hos conlaudat apostolus scribens eis ab Athenis.
Laudic. (=Eph.). -- [Laudiceni sunt Asiani. hi præventi erant a pseudo-apostolis . . . ad hos non accessit ipse apostolus . . . hos per epistulam recorrigit. . . .]
Col. -- Colossenses et hi sicut Laudicenses sunt Asiani, et ipsi præventi erant a pseudo-apostolis, nec ad hos accessit ipse apostolus, sed et hos per epistulam recorrigit; audierunt enim verbum ab Archippo qui et ministerium in eos accepit. ergo apostolus iam ligatus scribit eis ab Epheso.
Phil. -- Philippenses sunt Macedones. hi accepto verbo veritatis perstiterunt in fide nec receperunt falsos apostolos. hos conlaudat scribens eis a Roma de carcere per Epaphroditum.
Philem. -- Philemoni familiares litteras facit pro Onesimo servo eius; scribit autem ei a Roma de carcere.
These Prologues were first recognised as really Marcionite by De Bruyne (Rev. Bénéd., 1907, Jan., pp.1-16), who thus made a particularly important contribution to our knowledge of the history of the New Testament. He has absolutely proved that these Prologues belong together (those to the Pastoral Epistles are of a different character); that they are to be ascribed to the Marcionites; and from them came into the Church. The uniform character of the Prologues, taken in conjunction with the fact that |lex et circumcisio| (Gal.) = |lex et prophetæ| (Rom.) = |secta legis Judaicæ,| suffices to assure us on this point. The Prologues accordingly reject as false the Christianity that upholds the Old Testament, and call the great Church a Jewish sect. They evidently identify the original Apostles, or all missionaries of their party, with the Jewish opponents of St Paul, and describe as false every mission before that of St Paul. Where such missions had taken place, Paul must |revocare| or |recorrigere| (Rom., Laod., Col.). Where missions had followed him, he must likewise |revocare| (Gal., Cor.). It is, however, especially characteristic that all the epistles (except the epistula familaris to Philemon) have been searched only for information as to the attitude of the respective Churches towards the |verbum veritatis| (Gal., Cor., Thess., Phil.) or to the |fides veritatis| (Gal.), the |vera evangelica sapientia| (Cor.), the |vera evangelica fides| (Rom.), and the |fides| (Thess., Phil.). Under these suitably varying expressions Pauline Christianity (assumed to be independent of the Old Testament) is always to be understood. This point of view is simply imposed upon Thessalonians and Philippians. In the Prologue to Colossians |verbum| without the epithet |veritatis| probably means the false Gospel.
These Prologues show that the Marcionite |Apostolus| influenced the |Apostolus| of the Church, and one feels that this must have happened at a very early period. They have not yet been found in Greek form; but something can be said in favour of a Greek original. The notices concerning the places where each letter was written deserve attention seeing that they are so ancient. Since Philippians and Philemon are described as having been written from Rome, it is allowable to question whether the words in the prologue to Colossians: |Apostolus ligatus (surely the Roman captivity is meant) scribit eis ab Epheso| are in order, although they do suit an hypothesis that has been revived only lately that Colossians was written in Ephesus. Perhaps we should read |a Roma per Epaphram| (confusion of |Epaphras| and |Ephesus|). These Prologues were not written for the educated, but for quite simple people; the writer even thinks it necessary to write: |Romani sunt in partibus Italiæ.| No Western could have done this. The geographical notices would suit the hypothesis that the Prologues were originally composed for Christians of Pontus.