I said just now that the quotation could not with certainty be referred to Valentinus, but it is at least considerably earlier than the contemporaries of Hippolytus. It appears that there was a division in the Valentinian School upon the interpretation of this very passage. Ptolemaeus and Heracleon, representing the Western branch, took one side, while Axionicus and Bardesanes, representing the Eastern, took the other. Ptolemaeus and Heracleon were both, we know, contemporaries of Irenaeus, so that the quotation was used among the Valentinians at least in the time of Irenaeus, and very possibly earlier, for it usually takes a certain time for a subject to be brought into controversy. We must thus take the terminus ad quem for the quotation not later than 180 A.D. How much further back it goes we cannot say, but even then (if the Valentinian text is correctly preserved by Hippolytus) it presents features of corruption.
That the Valentinians made use of unwritten sources as well as of written, and that they possessed a Gospel of their own which they called the Gospel of Truth, does not affect the question of their use of the Synoptics. For these very same Valentinians undoubtedly did use the Synoptics, and not only them but also the fourth Gospel. It is immediately after he has spoken of the ‘unwritten’ tradition of the Valentinians that Irenaeus proceeds to give the numerous quotations from the Synoptics referred to above, while in the very same chapter, and within two sections of the place in which he alludes to the Gospel of Truth, he expressly says that these same Valentinians used the Gospel according to St. John freely (plenissime) [Endnote 203:1]. It should also be remembered that the alleged acceptance of the four Gospels by the Valentinians rests upon the statement of Irenaeus [Endnote 203:2] as well as upon that of the less scrupulous and accurate Tertullian. There is no good reason for doubting it.
MARCION. [Endnote 204:1]
Of the various chapters in the controversy with which we are dealing, that which relates to the heretic Marcion is one of the most interesting and important; important, because of the comparative fixity of the data on which the question turns; interesting, because of the peculiar nature of the problem to be dealt with.
We may cut down the preliminary disquisitions as to the life and doctrines of Marcion, which have, indeed, a certain bearing upon the point at issue, but will be found given with sufficient fulness in ‘Supernatural Religion,’ or in any of the authorities. As in most other points relating to this period, there is some confusion in the chronological data, but these range within a comparatively limited area. The most important evidence is that of Justin, who, writing as a contemporary (about 147 A.D.) [Endnote 205:1], says that at that time Marcion had ’in every nation of men caused many to blaspheme’ [Endnote