and Justin Martyr all were active in Rome before 150 and must have known the teachings of each other and of the Gnostics. Working in the 'fractionated' environment of Roman Christianity, which lacked a single authoritative church structure able or concerned to manage diversity, each developed responses to the teachings of the Gnostic sect that not only attacked that group but also set in motion new patterns of self-differentiation that shaped Christian identities for centuries.22

Because none of his works survive, it cannot be proved that Marcion knew and responded to Gnostics, but such contact seems highly probable in the very small subculture of 'Christians'. Marcion's teachings offered a dramatically streamlined alternative to the Gnostic system - a Creator God who was not demonic, but merely oppressively righteous, and a Bible that excluded (rather than rewrote) the Septuagint.23 Marcion advocated a reform that, in contrast to the Gnostics' conflicted yet engaged relationship with Jewish tradition, would more fully separate Christianity from emerging Judaism and, in response to Christian diversity in Rome, would articulate clear criteria for distinguishing true from false Christian teaching. Unable to persuade the leaders of Rome's varied Christian groups ('presbyters and teachers') to follow his programme in the summer of 144, Marcion formed his own organisation, and Marcionite churches spread throughout the Roman empire and persisted for centuries.24

Valentinus likewise articulated a theology that was more distinctly Christian than that of the Gnostics, but did so in part by adapting and transforming the Gnostic myth.25 The few works that survive from this brilliant thinker suggest a less elaborate and more christocentric myth than that of the Gnostics.26 Two fragments in particular show Valentinus in dialogue with Gnostic accounts of the creation of Adam (Clem. Al. Str. 2.36; 4.89-90; Layton's fragments C and D); in comparison, Valentinus emphasised the role of the Son or Word (logos) in depositing a share of the higher essence in Adam, and he ameliorated the antagonism between the first human being and his creators.27 Likewise, he made more extensive use of the writings that were coming to form the canon of the New Testament: Valentinus' language, especially in his sermon The gospel of truth, is saturated with New Testament citations and allusions. Unlike

22 On 'fractionation' in second-century Roman Christianity and its effects, see Lampe, Paul to Valentinus, and Thomassen, 'Orthodoxy and heresy' and pt iv, ch. 22, below.

23 The classic study is Harnack, Marcion. Few scholars continue to call Marcion a 'Gnostic'; see ch. 9, above.

24 So Epiph. Pan. 42.1-2, on which see Lampe, Paul to Valentinus, 393, and Thomassen, 'Orthodoxy and heresy'.

25 McGuire, 'Valentinus and the gnoestikee hairesis', Dawson, Allegorical readers, 127-82.

26 Layton, Scriptures, 217-64. On The gospel of truth, see Standaert, 'L'évangile de vérité'.

27 McGuire, 'Valentinus and the gnostike hairesis", 224-30.

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