Translated from the French by Frans-Joris Fabri and Michael Conley  © 2002

 LA PREMIÈRE ÉDITION DE SAINT PAUL, 7-31, Premiers Écrits du Christianisme, Paris 1930












In his remarkable book on Marcion[1] Adolf von Harnack partly reconstructed the Apostolicon, that is to say the Marcionite edition of Paul’s Epistles.

This version, assembled by Marcion before the year 140 of the Common Era (C.E.), contained ten epistles placed in the following order: 1 and 2 Galatians; Corinthians; Romans; 1 and 2 Thessalonians; Laodiceans (that is our Ephesians); Colossians; Philippians; Philemon. The two epistles to Timothy and the epistle to Titus were not included. This Marcionite version has not come to us.  Only the catholic or long edition, which includes thirteen epistles has been preserved from antiquity.

Yet the Apostolicon was read, quoted from and rejected by several authors back in antiquity. Tertullian had a quite literal Latin translation in his hands and copied large parts of it out in his Contra Marcionem about the year 210 C.E. About the year 300 the author of the Dialogues of Adamantios, and in 377 Epiphanius in his Panarion cites a large number of passages from the Greek.

[8] Starting from these three sources and also taking into account some allusions by Irenaeus, Origen, Ephrem and Chrysostomus, Harnack has succeeded in re-establishing, either completely or in part, about four hundred and fifty verses of the Apostolicon.

Thanks to this reconstruction we can now compare the Apostolicon and the long edition of the epistles. In the former not only three of the epistles are missing, but those it contains are shorter as well. A question of utmost importance arises. Did Marcion cut off text parts in the long edition or did the long addition add on to the Apostolicon? In other words: which was the first edition of the Paulina?

For the authors of the Church there was no problem. They used the long edition, which had been declared to be the only canonical one. Of course they considered it to be the original version. When they got their hands on the alternate, they already knew it had been stamped heretical. They found three epistles and a lot of passages missing and they couldn’t help but come to the conclusion that the heretical Marcion had cut them out.

Irenaeus (I, 27, 2) declares that Marcion cut off (abscidit) the epistles of the Apostle and eliminated everything concerning the Creator God and the prophecies.

Tertullian says that Marcion carefully erased (industria erasit V, 3; V, 14), suppressed (abstulit V, 13) leaving traces as thieves do (ut furibus solet V, 4); that he dug deep ditches in one place, taking away what he wanted (quantas foveas… fecerit auferendo quœ voluit V, 13); that he made an immense breach in another place (amplissimum abruptum intercisse scripturae V, 14). Tertullian proclaims the integrity of the catholic document (nostri instrumenti integritate V, 13) and with a rude remark causes Marcion’s sponge veritably to blush (erubescat spongia Marcionis! V, 4).

More soberly Epiphanius, too, asserts that Marcion had abbreviated (perite,mnwn Haer. 42, 9) the Apostle’s epistles.

Harnack followed the ecclesiastical authors without critically examining their assertions. He relied on them. If he had been aware of the fact that Irenaeus, Tertullian, Epiphanius could not have thought otherwise than they did without becoming heretic and that their opinion depended completely on their faith, he would have agreed that it made sense to take up the question once again and to handle the question with purely critical method.

Yet critical investigation stands against the assumptions of the ecclesiastical authors. It shows as we will see, that the Apostolicon is not a mutilation of the long edition but, on the contrary, that the long edition is nothing but a reworked and  extended Apostolicon. In other words, the text reconstructed by Harnack is the genuine edition of the Paulina. It is the oldest version available to us.



An initial,  strong argument concentrates on the three additional epistles of long edition. It’s easy to see they come from elsewhere and are written by another hand. Their style is different: it’s  “slow, monotone, clumsy, diffuse, unravelling, in some parts dull and colourless”[2] in complete contrast to the Pauline style. They deviate substantially from the others, particularly in matters of language and, above all, in the vocabulary they employ. When for example in the other 10 epistles, there are 3 to 6 words a page that are not found elsewhere in the New Testament and 7 to 12 words a page that are not found elsewhere in the collection of these ten epistles itself, then there are here 13 to 16 of the former and 24 to 30 of the latter. By contrast, they do show affinity [10] with the apologetic texts of the 2  century CE. When the other ten epistles contain 4 to 6 particular words which are found in the apologists of the 2  century, the three additional epistles have 14 to 16, that is to say three times as many[3] .

Moreover those three additional epistles presuppose a more developed organization of the church and one of them (1 Tim. 6 : 20) actually promulgates the condemnation of Marcion’s Antitheses, which was declared in the year 144.

Being posterior to Marcion, they constitute a manifest addition to the original Corpus Paulinum. So the least that can be said is that the long edition has been enlarged by these three texts.

Concerning the other ten epistles, when the text of the Apostolicon  and the catholic text are juxtaposed, there are a number of cases where one hesitates to decide on which is the original and which the reworked version. The arguments in favour for each of them topple over like the contents in a sandglass. So we have to look for those places where the inversion of the explication is not possible. A few such decisive quotes will suffice to fix the direction for all of them[FJF1] .

I will give three examples that to me seem to be decisive.

1°  Rom. 1 : 17

The Apostolicon treats the human being, whoever he/she may be, who has faith:

dikaiosu,nh ga.r qeou/ evn auvtw/| avpokalu,ptetai
evk pi,stewj eivj pi,stin\
avpokalu,ptetai ga.r ovrgh. avpV ouvranou/
evpi. th,n avse,beian kai. avdiki,an avnqrw,pwn
tw/n th.n avlh,qeian evn avdiki,a| kateco,ntwn(

oi;damen de. o[ti to. kri,ma tou/ qeou/
evstin kata. avlh,qeian

[11] A righteousness from  God is revealed in him,
from faith to faith (as his faith increases),
For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven
against the godlessness and wickedness of men
who hold the truth in captivity through their wickedness,
But we know that God's judgment
is based on truth.

This text is thoroughly homogen. One recognizes the play on words that is so characteristic of the Pauline style: twice avpokalu,ptetai;  evk pi,stewj eivj pi,stin; dikaiosu,nh( avdiki,an( avdiki,a|( twice alh,qeian . The meaning is clear. Whoever has faith is acquitted by God, for (ga,r)  heavenly wrath  strikes those that hold Truth in captivity,  but  (de,) God’s judgement is based on truth. The repetition of the word alh,qeian  is the pivot of the argumentation. For those who disrupt Truth, heavenly wrath will follow. For those who have faith in Truth (that is to say in the mystery preached by Paul) acquittal follows, since God judges according to this Truth.

The long edition adds to the second line a quote from Habakkuk (H, 4): as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. In the third line of God is introduced after the word ‘wrath’. In the fourth line all godlessnes is used instead of  the godlessness. These differences don’t permit us to identify the original. Between the fifth and the sixth lines however, a full half of a chapter has been inserted (1 : 18 – 2 : 1), introduced with the term since (dio,ti).

We are confronted with rhetorical displays regarding idolatry. (The pagans know God but they have honoured creation instead of the Creator. So God delivered them to homosexual and Lesbian lusts, to all kinds of vice). This rather vulgar hors d’oeuvre has no particular Pauline accent. It’s a commonplace of diatribe in Stoicism adapted in a Jewish way. It drags in Wisdom, Philo, Josephus, the Sibylline Oracles and the Christian apologetics like Athenagoras and [12] pseudo-Melito[4] . The result is a string of trivialities within a strophe of high quality.

It’s hard to believe that Marcion, had he held those variegated two pages in his hands, would have managed by means of his sponge and eraser to extract from them seven strong, lucid lines in well order style. On the contrary, it’s obviously the catholic editor who is adding a note to the text in order to fill it up with a paragraph convenient for all occasions. He seems to have misunderstood kateco,ntwn. He attributes to the word which  ought to mean hold in captivity the more conventional meaning of  possess.   He wanted to explain how it can be said that the unjust possess Truth. It’s because they know God but refuse to honour him. He’s tacking on devout commonplaces.

So we have to surrender up the second half of the first chapter of Romans  to the catholic editor. This constitutes no loiss for Paul. Consequently the same fellow must have supplied the quote from Habacuc, adding of God to ‘wrath’ (antimarcionite specification) and replacing the godlessness, a state of being,  with all godlessness, which is a succession of faults.

Rom. 3 : 21  

The Apostolicon has these four concise lines:

to,te no,moj( nuni. dikaiosu,nh qeou
dia. pi,stewj tou/ Cristou\
dikaiwqe,ntej ou=n evk pi,stewj Cristou/( ouvk evk nomou(
eivrh,nhn e;cwmen pro.j to.n qeo.n)


Formerly Law, now righteousness from God,
through faith in Christ:
so justified by faith in Christ,
not through Law, let us achieve peace with God!

[13] The intention is plain. Formerly the Law, and along with it, the impossibility of being acquitted. Now an acquittal obtained by faith and, consequently, peace with God as a result.

Instead of this powerful text the long edition has a long and garrulous dissertation along these lines (Rom. 3 : 21 – 5 : 1)

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known,
to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
A  righteousness from God
through faith in Jesus Christ
to all who believe. There is no difference,
…(Thirty-four lines on Abraham’s faith)…

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have
peace with God …

It is difficult not to see this is a revision of the former version. It pleads for the Law in a context that simultaneously condemns it. The blunt opposition: “Formerly Law, now justice” is wiped away: “independent of Law, cwri,j no,mou.” Then this righteousness from God is said to be attested to by the Law itself and by the Prophets. As a result, the Law itself, in the form of prophecy, does not disappear but is rather confirmed[5] . The inserted phrase: “attested to by…” obliges the author to repeat the trudging formula: “a righteousness from God…”.

Then in a long detailed and bizarre way, it is alleged that righteousness through faith is founded on a passage of the Law itself about Abraham (Genesis 16 : 6). Tying up the argument, it is then asserted: “Therefore, justified through faith”, this time without adding on, “not through Law.”

On the one hand, four solid and forthright lines; on the other hand, three pages correcting those four lines. To pass over from the former to the latter is a natural thing to do; from the latter to the former is unlikely.

[14] 3°  Gal. 3 : 10 — 26

The Apostolicon has this string of ideas:

o]soi ga.r u`po no,mon( u`po. kata,ran eivsi,n))(
Cristo.j h`ma/j evxhgo,rasen evk th/j kata,raj tou/ no,mou)))
evla,bomen ou=n th.n euvlogi,an tou/ pneu,matoj dia. th/j pi,stewj\
pa,ntej ga.r ui`oi. evste th/j pi,stewj)


All who are under the law are under a curse...,
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.
So we received the benediction of the spirit through faith,
Since you are all sons of God through faith.

The intent is clear: Christ, hanging on wood, has become a cursed object, he has taken upon himself the old curse. Instantly we sense a comforting blessing that’s not applicable to the flesh but rather to the spirit since it involves becoming a son of God in a spiritual way.

The Apostolicon  contained no other idea. The benediction of Abraham was not mentioned at all. For that we have the explicit attestation of Tertullian (V, 3) and Origen (in Hieron., Comm. in Gal., at the passage)

Before this passage  the long edition introduces the benediction given to Abraham (3 : 6–9). Then, at the first line, it tones down “All who are under the law, o]soi ga.r u`po no,mon“ into “All who rely on observing the law, o[soi evx e;rgwn nomou.“ Then it separates the term “the benediction” from the phrase “of the spirit”. The benediction is the one that was given to Abraham; the spirit is the Holy Spirit whose descent is related in Acts. Finally the subject of Abraham’s  benediction  is further elaborated in eleven lines of text before the conclusion.

[15] All who rely on observing the law are under a curse…
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law…
in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that, by faith, we might receive the promise
of the Spirit.
(eleven lines about the benediction given to Abraham)…
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Here again one can see that the long version is an enlargement. The benediction of Abraham and the promise of the Holy Spirit are extraneous elements. The short text suffices in itself. The alternate text has simply been made longer. It’s easy to go from the former to the latter but not so the other way round.

Gal. 4 : 24

Concerns itself with Abraham’s two wives: one a slave, the other free; one having a son by the flesh, the other a son by the promise. It’s an allegory explained as follows in the Apostolicon:

a[tina, evstin avllhgorou,mena\
au-tai ga,r eivsin ai` du,o e`pidei,xeij(
mi,a me.n avpo. o;rouj Sina/( eivj th.n sunagwgh.n tw/n
kata. to.n no.mon gennw/sa eivj doulei,an(
a;llh. de. u`pera,nw pa,shj arch/j gennw/sa(
kai. duna,mewj( kai. evxousi,aj kai. panto.j ovno,matoj ovnomazome,nou(
ouv mo,non evn tw/| aivw/ni tou,tw| avlla. kai. evn tw/| me,llonti(
eivj h[n evphggeila,meqa a`gi,an evkklhsian(

This is to be understood figuratively:
they are the two manifestations:
one who from Mount Sinai to the Jews’ Synagogue
bears children by the Law, who are to be slaves;
the other who bears, higher than all Principality,
Virtue, Power, higher than any Name ever named,
[16] not only in this Aeon but in that to come,
the Holy Church promised to us, who is our mother.

And in the catholic edition:

This is to be understood figuratively,
for the women represent two covenants.
from Mount Sinai bears children who are to be slaves:
This is Hagar, for Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia.
This corresponds to  present day Jerusalem,
for it and its children are in the bonds of slavery.
But the Jerusalem that is in the heights is free,

and it is our mother.

Just by comparing those two texts one sees that the latter is a depraved version of the former. The former sets two mystique levels  in juxtaposition to one another, the Synagogue of the Jews and the Holy Church. The latter pretends to temper its remarks about the Jews. It replaces the two radically different manifestations (epi.dei,xeij), by two covenants (diaqh/kai)  and, finally, by two Jerusalems. It gets muddled trying to explain how Hagar, mother of the pagan Arabs, nevertheless represents the Jews. In the end, it’s no longer the Law versus grace, nor even the two covenants that end up at opposite poles, but the Jerusalem which is a slave to Rome and the Jerusalem in the heights, described in the book of Revelation. The perspective has been completely distorted.

Out of this thick and muddy strophe it’s impossible to distil the clear strophe of the Apostolicon. There can be no doubt that the catholic editor had the marcionite version of the strophe at hand and touched it up in a clumsy way. Interestingly he did not want the three lines “higher than all Principality, etc. “ to get lost. He transported them to  Ephes. 1 : 21 and uses them in homage of Christ sitting in heaven “higher than all Principality etc.” Here they are missing in the Apostolicon.

[17] These four examples suffice, in my opinion, to demonstrate that the short edition is more ancient than the long one. The St Paul edited by Marcion is nearer the original than the Paul of the New Testament. The St Paul we can read today is nothing but a second-hand edition, revised, enlarged and adjusted to orthodoxy, some time after Marcion, a century after St Paul[6] .



In the first edition of the Paulina, which  part is Paul’s, which Marcion’s? We don’t have any exterior means from which to draw our conclusions. We can, however, perceive the work of the second editor. He reworks the marcionite edition in three areas: doctrinal corrections; historical corrections; clarifications.

As for doctrine: he is a monotheist in the Jewish fashion and utterly hostile to Marcion’s distinction between the Creator God and the other God, unconnected with creation. He declares the Creator God, the God of the Old Testament and the God of the Christians to be one and the same God and adds that there is no other God in the universe.

Though he lets pass, maybe inadvertently, 2 Cor., 4 : 4 “the god of this age”, who is another god than God, and 1Cor., 8 : 5  “as indeed there are many gods” , he doesn’t allow Paul to say to the Galatians (4 : 8): “ if you are slaves of the gods that are in nature, toi/j evn th/| fu,sei ou=si qeoi/j “. He corrects:  “ You were slaves to those gods who by nature are not gods, toi/j fu,sei [18] mh. ou=sin qeoi/j,”, a very awkward trick, where fu,sei is almost bare of meaning.

He cannot stand Laod. 3 : 9: “the administration of this mystery, which since eternity began has been kept hidden from the God, who created all things; avpokekrumme,nou tw/| qew/| tw/| ta pa,nta kti,santi“. He puts the small word evn in front of tw/| qew. The Christian mystery has been “since eternity began kept hidden in the God, who created all things”. Those two characters ” evn “ make the phrase say the contrary of  what it said before. An elegant conversion to orthodoxy, obtained at the cost of clarity.

He won’t tolerate the assertion –as the Fourth Gospel bluntly does  (7 : 29;  8 : 19; 55 etc.)– that the Jews don’t know God. He is enraged at Rom. 10 : 3: “(The Jews), who do not know God (qeo.n avgnoou/ntej) and seek after their righteousness,  not submitting to God's righteousness.” He alters this to read: “not knowing the righteousness that comes from God …. failed to submit to God's righteousness”. This truism saves the doctrine.

It’s important for him to point out that castigation and retaliation are in God’s own right as the Old Testament teaches. Paul looks for indistinct phrases which leave the identity of the author of the castigations in the dark[7] . The catholic editor exerts himself to remove any possible doubt. 1 Cor. 3 : 17 “If anyone destroys God's temple, he will be destroyed”. Correction: “God will destroy him”.  2 Thess. 2 : 11:a powerful delusion will come upon them”. Correction: “God sends them a powerful delusion”. Rom. 1 : 18: “Wrath is being revealed from heaven”. Correction: “A wrath of God is being revealed from heaven”.

He takes care to distinguish clearly between God and Christ. Paul’s concern, on the contrary, is to mix them up assring us in Col. 1 : 19 that Christ: “… was pleased (eudo,khsen) to have all (Divine) fullness dwell in himself (evn evautw/|) [19],

and to reconcile to himself (eivj e`auto,n) all things”. The orthodox corrector replaces evautw/| and e`auto,n by auvtw/| and avuto,n and, in the second part, adds di´ auvtou. The proposition now has no subject but it should be understood: “ (God) was pleased to have all fullness dwell in him (in Christ), and through him (through Christ) to reconcile to him (to Christ) all things. He ends up in a monstrous kind of theology: a Christ distinct from God but nevertheless with Divine Fullness. Theologians of the future will just have to put up with it.

Another distinction:  Christ, not God has died. 2 Cor. 4 : 10: “the death of God, th.n ne,krwsin tou/ qeou” is corrected to: “the Death of Jesus”. On the other hand, it’s God, and not Christ, who will judge. Rom. 14 : 10: “For we will all stand before Christ’s judgment seat” is corrected to: “ before God's judgment seat. “

According to the editor, Christ is the firstborn of all creation, he created all other creatures, he supports all the universe but nevertheless he is not the first being. The editor read in Col. 1 : 15, 17:

“He is the image of the invisible God, He is before all things.”

The second line seemed dangerous. So he drowned it in an exposition where Christ becomes organizer and conservator of the universe, though remaining a creature, the firstborn of them all:

“He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation
For by him all
things were created:
things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,

[20]whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him.

He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.”

Christ has not risen by means of his own power, he did not rise, he was raised from the dead by God. Rom. 6 : 9: ”since Christ rose (avnasta,j) from the dead, he cannot die again.” The editor corrects: “who was raised, evgerqei,j.” 1 Cor. 15 : 20: “ If it is proclaimed that Christ has risen (avnasth/nai) from the dead…”. Correction: “But Christ has indeed been raised (evghvgegertai) from the dead”. Gal. 1 : 1: “by Jesus Christ who rose (evgei,rantoj auton) from the dead.” Correction: “by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”

The decisive point is the affirmation against Marcion that Christ is embodied in real flesh; he is both a body of flesh and blood. Col. 1 : 22: “But now he has reconciled you by Christ's body, evn tw/| sw,mati auvtou.”  The zealous corrector can’t restrain himself from writing: “ by the body of his flesh, evn tw/| sw,mati th/j sarko.j auvtou”. But this alters the meaning.

He is worrying about that flesh to such a degree that, whenever the word flesh is pronounced he tends to bring in the flesh of Christ. Concerning the fusion of the Gentiles and the Jews Paul says, Laod. 2 : 14 “For he (Christ) himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the wall of hostility in the flesh, to. meso,toicon th/j e;cqraj evn sarki. lu,saj.” It’s about the very fleshly hostility between the foreskin and circumcision. The corrector manages to introduce the flesh of Christ into this text: “ and has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility in his flesh, evn th/ sarki. auvtou.”

In the solemn address to the Romans he introduces the flesh of Christ born of the seed of David. Rom. 1 : 3: “…regarding his Son, declared with power…”

[21] He overloads the statement with: “regarding his Son, who as to the flesh was a descendant of David, declared with power to be the Son of God…”

And again in a passage about the descent of Christ he includes a profession of faith in the birth of Christ in the flesh as a Jew among Jews. Gal. 4 : 4:

“God sent his Son,
to redeem those under law.”

Between those two lines he interpolates: “born of a woman, born under the law,”, a line which comes from the same current as the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke.

Christ’s birth in the flesh stands in contradiction to the passages that proclaim his celestial, not terrestrial birth, e.g. to 1 Cor. 15 : 45; 47:

“The first man became a living being; the last one, the Lord, a life-giving spirit…

The first man is of the dust of the earth, the second man, the Lord from heaven.”

The censor kept this passage. But in both places he erased “the Lord”. The first time he replaced it by Adam: “the last Adam”, the second time by man: “the second man”. The meaning hasn’t really changed. But there is the small advantage of its being more opaque.

An essential doctrinal point  is the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection has to be seen as in the flesh and in future time. It must not be believed to be only spiritual, mystic, something Christians had already achieved . The second epistle to Timothy (2 : 18) condemns those that say the resurrection has already occurred. Paul, to be quite precise, would have to be condemned  here, for the core of his doctrine is that the Christian, through  Christ, is, in point of fact, raised.

[22] The editor contents himself with toning down those negations of the resurrection in the flesh that he considers too unambiguous. Thus in 1 Cor. 15 : 50: “flesh and blood won’t (ovu klhronom,hsousi) inherit the kingdom of God” is corrected into: “flesh and blood cannot (ouv du,natai) inherit…”

Just one character can suffice to do the job.Thus 2 Cor. 5 : 2:

“longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
because being undressed, we will not be found naked.”

 This means that when, at our death, we take off our body in the flesh, we’ll again clothe ourselves with a spiritual, celestial body. The censor didn’t like that phrase being undressed (ekdusa,menoi). He substituted : clothed again (evndusa,menoi), leaving it to later exegetes to be vexed by the tautology.

Elsewhere a well placed word confirms the resurrection of the body in a text that didn’t mention it. 1 Thess. 5 : 23:

“May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless
in the presence of Christ, our Lord and Saviour.”

The corrector thought the presence of Christ (evn th/| paroousi,a|) meant his Second Coming (as if there were eivj th.n parousia,n). In front of  “your spirit, soul and body” he put: “whole, o`loklhron” to teach that the whole human compound, body included, will enter the future Kingdom.

As for ethics, he opposes extreme ascetics which considers the flesh to be polluted and condemns marriage. 2 Cor. 7 : 1: “let us purify ourselves from the pollution of flesh and blood” is corrected into “from pollution of the flesh and the spirit”, which reduces the phrase to trivia.

In a rather quaint way a passage about the [23] mystical marriage of the faithful and the Church is touched up.

Laod. 5 : 31:

avnti. tau,thj katalei,yei a;nqrwpoj to.n pate,ra kai. th.n mhte,ra
kai. e;sontai oi` du,o eivj sa,rka mi,an
to. musth,rion tou/to me,ga evsti,n\
evgw. de. le,gw eivj Cristo.n kai. th.n evkklhsi,an

“For her (the Church) a man will leave his father and mother
and the two will become one flesh."
This is a profound mystery.
I mean in Christ and the Church.”

This means that the true marriage is not that of a man and a woman but that of a man (a;nqrwpoj a human being) and the Church. That is the spiritual framework in the Mystery to which the biblical assertion is referring with the words, make one flesh from the two. This comprehensive unification is realized in Christ and the Church.

Against this text. however, the corrector wanted to re-establish ordinary marriage in its rights. To this end, he substituted “a;nti. tau,thj, for her,” by “ avnti. tou,tou, for this reason”. He polished off the biblical quotation by tacking on yet another sentence to show that it is still about a man and a woman. Thus does he produce a passage, the beginning of which is clear and the end unintelligible:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,

and the two will become one flesh.
This is a great mystery,
I mean for Christ and for the church.



It seemed very much to the point to modify certain historical facts to bring them into line with the correct dogma. . Hence another group of corrections were introduced the most important of which are to be found in the Letter [24] to the Galatians where they aimed at rebutting or weakening Paul’s independence.

Gal. 2 : 1: “Fourteen years later I went up to Jerusalem” “I went up again pa,lin.…”[8] . In this fashion he reveals himself to be the author of the verses 1 : 18–20 where an alleged earlier journey of Paul to Jerusalem is reported: “Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles-- only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie”.

Inventing this first trip the editor wants to prove, against the text, that Paul did not delay entering into contact with the heads of the Jerusalem Church. His fiction is more timid than that of the editor of Acts (9 : 26–30), who informs us that Paul was introduced by Barnabas to the Apostles, a short time after his conversion, and then guided by them in the streets of Jerusalem and preaching there together with them.

Following this up Paul tells us he has not submitted – not even for a moment– to Jerusalem’s Apostles. Gal. 2 : 4: “Because of (Dia. tou.j) the false brothers that had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves, we did not for a moment (oude. pro.j w-ran) give in, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.” The issue at stake here is giving in to the Jerusalem notables in question.

By means of two almost invisible words the transcriber breaks up and wipes out this striking text. He puts de.  behind dia.  and oi-j in front of ouvde Il met de.  après dia.  et oi-j avant ouvde. This matter arose because some false brothers… We did not give in to them for a moment…”

[25] In this fashion, the spying false brothers are separated off from the phrase; they seem to be occupying themselves with what had previousy been said (e.g. that Titus had not been circumcised). And it’s no longer a matter of refusing to submit to the Jerusalem Apostles, but rather to the spying false brothers. The logic isn’t altogether satisfying, but danger has been averted.

A bit further on the result of the meeting is reported. Gal. 2 : 9: “James, Peter and John gave me the right hand (dexia.j e;dwkan evmoi): we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the Poor”.

They shake hands on it: there will be two kinds of preaching the Gospel, one for the gentiles, another for the Jews; the only thing they will keep in common is the maintenance of the holy dervishes of the temple in Jerusalem.

The catholic editor develops the scene. He imagines a providential and distinct mission for each of the two great Apostles of the future Roman Church, Peter and Paul: 7–8 “they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel of the foreskin, just as Peter that of circumcision, for He, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Peter and John gave me…” He mentions James before Peter to avoid the “they saw” being referred to Peter in the first place and to emphasize Paul’s agreement with the most Judaizing of the notables. He does not leave Paul in arrogant isolation. At his side he places Barnabas, whom he had already introduced: “gave me and Barnabas the right hand”. To this phrase he adds “of fellowship, koinwni,aj” to create a fellowship between Paul and the Apostles of Jerusalem. By the addition of Barnabas, the phrase “we’ll continue to remember” is incumbent on Paul and Barnabas, it ceases to be restricted to Paul and the notables. The passage has been utterly modified.

Paul loudly proclaims knowledge of God’s Son by direct revelation. He has his gospel from no human being. (Gal. 1 : 12, 16). The editor, by contrast, wants [26] him to confess that he hasn’t done anything but pass on what the initial Apostles had handed down. He achieves his purpose by way of a detour in

1 Cor. 15 : 3

“For I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried and that he was raised up on the third day”.

At the end of the first line the corrector adds: “what I received, o[ kai. pare,labon”, at the end of the second and the fourth lines: “according to the Scriptures, kata. ta.j grafa,j”. Amended in this way, the declaration is perfectly catholic. The second edition of Paul depends on the tradition and the Old Testament.

The editor of the second version of the Paulina resembles the author of Acts as if a twin brother. To both of them Christianity is the legitimate continuation of Judaism; salvation has first been proposed to the Jews, who then refused it and thereafter to the Gentiles. That’s the reason for the correction in Rom. 1 : 16. Originally one read: “(The gospel) is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: Jew and Greek, Ioudai,w| te kai.  [Ellhni”. But the correction reads: “first for the Jew, then for the Greek, Ioudai,w| te prw/ton.…”. One sees a cliché here which is used mechanically all along in the Book of Acts.[9]

Like his colleague, our editor sees to it that contradictions be softened and conflicts covered up. He jumps in where two antagonistic Gospels are too openly mentioned. Gal. 1 : 6–7: “I am astonished that you … are turning to a different gospel. There no other to set against mine, (o] a;llo pa,ntwj ouvk e;stin kata, to. euvaggelion mou). Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to  seduce you to a second gospel of Christ, qe,lontej metastre,yai to. euvagge,lion [27] tou/ Cristou.” He transcribes this phrase taking away pa,ntwj, kata, to. euvaggelion. What is left is an inoffensive residue, in which the object of metastre,yai, is no longer “you” but “the Gospel”: “There isn’t any other. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” Paul is no longer defending his own Gospel but the Gospel common to all.

Gal. 6 : 17: “Finally, let no one of the others (tw/n de. a;llwn.... ))) mhdei,j) cause me trouble without reason (εική)!” The corrector dampens tempers by suppressing εική and replacing tw/n a;llwn par tou/ loipou: “Finally, let no one cause me trouble!”

Phil. 1 : 16–17: “Some out of love, some out of selfish ambition, some already even in a competitive way (h[dh kai, tinej evk avgw/nej), preach Christ. The corrector calms the matter down by wiping away: “some already even in a competitive way”.

Among the series of historical corrections a last one has to be mentioned. Col. 4 : 14: “Luke and Demas send greetings”. Behind Luke the corrector inserts “the dear doctor, o` ivatro.j o` avgaphto,j” These words surely have their source in a legend about Luke in connection with the attribution of the third Gospel and Acts to him.



Finally, other alterations are made to clarify or adjust the text to accord with the view of the catholic editor.

1 Cor.  4 : 15:

“I became your father through the gospel.” Correction: “in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.”

1 Cor. 1 : 18:

“The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but those that are being saved it is the power of God

[28] Correction:

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God

Phil.  3 : 9:

“having a righteousness … (that comes) through him from God”.

Correction: “That (comes) through faith in Christ, the righteousness( that comes) from God (and is) by faith.

Col. 2 : 8:

“through philosophy, a vain illusion, dia. th/j filosofi,aj w`j kenh/j avpa,thj”.

 Correction: “through philosophy and a vain illusion”. The meaning has been blunted.

2 Cor. 3 : 18:

“And we, who with unveiled faces contemplate Christ,
are being transformed into the likeness
of the glory of the Lord in glory,
which comes from the Lord of the Spirits.”

A flight of poetry, the meaning of which is intelligible. Christ is the visible likeness of God (Col. 1 : 15). We are transformed into him. Our being in glory emanates from him, consequently from God. So we are deified.


“And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord's glory,
are being transformed into his likeness
with ever-increasing
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

The phrase has been wrecked. The editor did not understand the expression “the Lord of the Spirits (kuri,ou pneuma,twn)” which was taken from the book of Henoch, designating God. He replaced it by kuri,ou pneu,matoj which is utterly meaningless.

Rom. 7 : 7:

“I don’t know what sin is except through the law.”

Correction: “I would not have known what sin was…”  The meaning has been diverted.

 [29] Gal. 5 : 14:

“The entire law is summed up among you (evn u`mi/n): "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Correction: “is summed up in a single command (evn evni. lo,gw|)…”. The most important phrase, “among you” has been conjured away.

 The revisor fosters some cherished ideas which he likes to insinuate, e.g. sanctification (a`giasmo,j).

1 Thess. 4 : 4: “that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in honor”. Revision: “in sanctification and honor”.

Rom. 4 : 19: “so now present your members as God’s servants”.  Revision: “so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for sanctification.

Above all he fervently adheres to the Bible. I likes to quote it literally and comment on it where he considers this necessary:

Rom. 13 : 9: “"You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal,"” He adds on a passage from  Deut. 5 : 15: “You shall not covet”.

Laod. 4 : 25: “speak truthfully to the neighbour (pro.j to.n plhsi,on)”. He thinks he’s improving on the translation of Zach. 8 : 16 by putting in: “with the neighbor (meta. tou/ plhsi,ou)”.

Gal. 3 : 10: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse”. He translates Deut. 27 : 26 with: “for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them”.

2 Thess. 1 : 7–8: “(Jesus) coming to take vengeance on those  who do not know God.” He clothes the word ekdikhsin in a quote from Jesaja (66 : 14): “(Jesus) is revealed  in flaming fire taking vengeance on those…”

Rom. 12 : 18–19:

“Do not avenge yourselves.
For: Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
live peaceably with all”

[30] He inverts the logical order to insert another bible quote:

if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men;
, do not avenge yourselves,
but rather give place to wrath (of God);
for it is written
, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord,
But If your enemy is hungry, ...”

A citation from Proverbs (26 : 21–22) is added on.

Finally two examples which document the fashion in which the interpolator adorns Scripture by means of either a commentary or contemporary commonplace.

Laod. 6 : 2:

“Honor your father and mother”. His commentary: “Which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Gal. 4 : 26; 31:

“the other who bears…the Holy Church  who is our mother[10] . Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.”

In between the two phrases the catholic editor first inserts a superfluous quote from Jesaja: “For it has been written: Be glad, O barren woman, etc.” Then, though it be quite irrelevant here, he inserts a reference to the hostility of the Jews to the Christians in his time together with an advice about how to take reprisals: “Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son. Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman…”

The inserted admonition: Get rid of the slave woman and her son… shows how the editor of the revised version manipulates the Bible against contemporary Jews.

[31] Going back again over the fifty-five retouches that have been analysed up to here, one will establish without difficulty that many of them are irreversible and require the precedence of the Apostolicon when compared with the catholic edition of the Paulina.

A critical edition of Paul’s Letters will therefore have to be erected relying on the Apostolicon. The later additions must be expurgated from the text and banned to the footnotes.

The St. Paul of the first edition is the one that is important to the historian of the origins of Christianity. There, he reveals himself to be much more vigorous, frank and daring than the amended and softened St. Paul of the catholic edition, the only version readily available to us.


[1]  Marcion. Das Evangelium vom fremden Gott. Leipzig, 1921. Bei­lage III. 2 erw. Ausg., 1924. In 1891, Th. Zahn had already produced a rough outline of a reconstruction of the Apostolicon (Gesch. d. N. T. Kanons, II. p. 495-523).

[2]  E. Jacquier, Histoire des   livres da Nouveau   Testament,   1,   Paris, 1903,  p. 366.

[3]  Ρ. Ν. Harrison, The problem of the Pastoral Epistles, Oxford, 1921 Diagrams I, II, XI.

[4]  See: H. Lietzmann, Die Briefe   des Apostels Paulus, I  Tübingen, 1910, p. 31.

[5]  A. Loisy, Les livres du Nouveau Testament. Paris, 1922, p. 102.

[6]  H. Delafosse came to the same conclusion by internal critique of the epistles, without using the Apostolicon : Les écrits de saint Paul, quatre volumes, Rieder 1926-1928.

[7]  Cf. H. Delafosse, L'épître aux Romains. Paris, 1926, p.

[8]  'again' is missing in ten important manuscripts and did not occur in the one of Irenaeus (Haer. III, 13, 13, 3)

[9]  A. Loisy, Les Actes des Apôtres. Paris, Rieder, 1925, p. 59.

[10] Text quoted on p. [15]