Mark

, or Marcus, the founder of the sect of the Marcosians, is said to have appeared about the year 160, or, according to some, about the year 127. Many learned moderns are of opinion that Mark belonged to the Valentinian school, but Rhenford and Beausobre say that the Marcosians were Jews, or judaizing Christians; and Grabe likewise owns that they were of Jewish extract. Irenseus leads us to imagine that Mark, who was an Asiatic, had come into Gaul and made many converts there. Nevertheless, learned moderns think that they were only disciples of Mark, who came into that country, where Irenaeus resided, of whom, in one place, he makes particular mention. Irenaeus represents him as exceedingly skilful in all magical arts, by means of which he had great success. Tertullian and Theodoret concur in calling Mark a magician. Irenseus, after giving an account of the magical arts of Mark, adds, that he had, probably, an assisting daemon, by which he himself appears to prophesy, and which enabled others, especially women, to prophesy likewise: this practice favoured his seduction of many females, both in body and mind, which gained him much wealth. He is also said to have made use of philters and love-potions, in order to gain the affections of women; and his disciples are charged with doing the same. Dr. Lardner suggests some doubts as to the justice of these accusations; and indeed there is considerable obscurity in every particular of his personal history. His followers, called Marcosians, | are said to have placed a great deal of mystery in the letters of the alphabet, and thought that they were very useful in finding out the truth. They are charged unjustly with holding two principles, and as if they were Docetse, and denied the resurrection of the dead; for which there is no sufficient evidence. They persisted in the practice of baptism and the eucharist. As to their opinion concerning Jesus Christ, they seem to have had a notion of the great dignity and excellence of his person, or his ineffable generation: and, according to them, he was born of Mary, a virgin, and the word was in him, When ha came to the water, the supreme power descended upon him; and he had in him all fulness; for in him was the word, the father, truth, the church, and life. They said that the Christ, or the Spirit, came down upon the man Jesus. He made known the Father, and destroyed death, and called himself the Son of Man; for it was the good pleasure of the Father of all that he should banish ignorance and destroy death: and the acknowledgment of him is the overthrow of ignorance. From the account of Irenceus, we may infer that the Marcosians believed the facts recorded in the gospels and that they received most, or all the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Irenaeus also says that they had an innumerable multitude of apocryphal and spurious writings, which they had forged: and that they made use of that fiction concerning the child Jesus, that when his master bade him say, alpha, the Lord did so; but when the master called him to say beta, he answered, “Do you first tell me what is alpha, and then I will tell you what beta is.” As this story concerning alpha and beta is found in the gospel of the infancy of Jesus Christ, still in being, some are of opinion that this gospel was composed by the Marcosians. 1

1 Lardner’s Works. Rees’s Cyclopædia,