Marcion of Sinope (ca 85-160 AD), one of the prominent heretics in early Christianity, compiled the first-known version of the New Testament. His bible took extreme measures to exclude references to the Old Testament. The study of Jewish scriptures led Marcion to conclude that many of the teachings of Jesus were incompatible with the actions of the God of the OT. He affirmed Jesus to be the Savior and Paul as His chief apostle. In contrast to the majority of Christians of his day, Marcion declared that Christ’s church was separate from Judaism.
Marcion’s canon consisted of only eleven books grouped into two sections: the Evangelikon, being a greatly abridged version of the Gospel of Luke (to the exclusion of the other three gospels) and the Apostolikon, a selection of 10 letters of the apostle Paul. (Other author’s epistles were rejected since they seemed to suggest that Jesus had simply come to found a new sect within broader Judaism.) Both sections were purged of elements relating to Jesus’ childhood and baptism, and material challenging Marcion’s core beliefs.
According to Tertullian (ca 160-220 AD), an early Christain apologist from Carthage, “Marcion expressly and openly used the knife, not the pen (as had the gnostics), since he made such an excision of scriptures as suited his own subject matter.” Despite Marcion’s heavy-handed editing, Father James Bernstein, a contemporary Orthodox church leader, credits Marcion as being the first person on record who tried to establish a NT canon. . . . ” Many scholars believe that it was partly a reaction to this “distorted” canon that the early orthodox Church eventually decided to create a clearly-defined official canon of its own.
The documents that make up the Marcionite bible have not physically survived to modern times; all known copies were destroyed by the religious authorities when the Catholics gained power in the 4th century. Inspite of this destruction, the Marcionite scriptures can still be surmised. Many ancient Christian writers quoted from it extensively, described the differences between them and the official version of the scripture, and even wrote commentaries on them. By using these quotations and descriptions it is possible to reconstruct the Marcionite text.