The "Heretical" Reception of the Gospel of Mark


  • Joel Kuhlin Lunds universitet
  • Paul Linjamaa Lunds universitet


This article is devoted to the reception of the Gospel of Mark among certain heterodox early Christian groups. It takes its departure in the hypothesis forwarded by some scholars – supported by an interpretation of Irenaeus – that the Gospel of Mark was well received among Valentinians, Basilideans and Carpocrateans. This, it has been claimed, pushed the need for adding a new beginning and end to the Gospel of Mark. The present article begins with a recapitulation of the scholarship on the reception of the Gospel of Mark and then aims to scrutinize the modern interpretations of Irenaeus, which claim that particular heterodox groups were drawn to Mark. The article ends by looking at what can actually be discerned from Valentinian texts as well as the scant sources of Basilidean and Carpocratean theology. The conclusion presented here is that there are some indications that Mark could have been of importance for Basilidean followers, but nothing that would suggest that Mark retained any particular standing among Valentinians or Carpocrateans, a notion chiefly supported by a flawed reading of Irenaeus.