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Anti-Marcionite Prologues to the Gospels


These are short introductions to the gospels of Mark, Luke and John. It is not known whether a prologue for Matthew's Gospel ever existed. These prologues were named by the French biblical scholar, Donatien de Bruyne, who claimed that they were written to oppose the teaching of Marcion. However, specific statements against Marcion are only found in the prologue to John's Gospel.

The prologues were probably originally written in Greek, although the prologues to Mark and John are only found in Latin. The earliest manuscript containing all three prologues is from the eight century. It appears that they were originally circulated separately. Scholars estimate their original writing was between the second and fourth centuries. They support the standard church traditions concerning the authorship of the gospels, however most scholars would not support the claim that Papias wrote the gospel for the apostle John.

Gospel of Mark

Mark recorded, who was called stumpy finger (Colobodactylus), because he had fingers that were too small for the height of the rest of his body. He himself was the interpreter of Peter. After the death of Peter himself, the same man wrote this gospel in the parts of Italy.

Gospel of Luke

Indeed Luke was an Antiochene Syrian, a doctor by profession, a disciple of the apostles: later however he followed Paul until his martyrdom, serving the Lord blamelessly. He never had a wife, he never fathered children, and died at the age of eighty-four, full of the Holy Spirit, in Boetia. Therefore — although gospels had already been written — indeed by Matthew in Judaea but by Mark in Italy — moved by the Holy Spirit he wrote down this gospel in the parts of Achaia, signifying in the preface that the others were written before his, but also that it was of the greatest importance for him to expound with the greatest diligence the whole series of events in his narration for the Greek believers, so that they would not be led astray by the lure of Jewish fables, or, seduced by the fables of the heretics and stupid solicitations, fall away from the truth. And so at once at the start he took up the extremely necessary (story) from the birth of John, who is the beginning of the gospel, the forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ, and was a companion in the perfecting of the people, likewise in the introducing of baptism and a companion in martyrdom. Of this disposition the prophet Malachi, one of the twelve, certainly makes mention. And indeed afterwards the same Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Later the apostle John wrote the Apocalypse on the island of Patmos, and then the Gospel in Asia.

Gospel of John

The Gospel of John was revealed and given to the churches by John while still in the body, just as Papias of Hieropolis, the close disciple of John, related in the exoterics, that is, in the last five books. Indeed he wrote down the gospel, while John was dictating carefully. But the heretic Marcion, after being condemned by him because he was teaching the opposite to him (John), was expelled by John. But he (Marcion) had brought writings or letters to him (John) from the brothers which were in Pontus.