With his instructions fulfilled, Constantine then decreed that the New Testimonies would thereafter be called the "word of the Roman Savior God" (Life of Constantine, vol. Some of it references real events. You’ve got that backwards. Alternatively, they point to an account by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Life of Constantine detailing how the emperor commissioned him to oversee the copying and production of 50 copies of “the sacred Scriptures”. It’s similar to the old saw, that if a division is made between scholars and warriors you will have your thinking done by cowards, and your fighting done by fools. Go look it up.” is particularly amusing. Answer: It is very important to clarify exactly what role the Emperor Constantine played in the Council of Nicea, what the purpose for the council was, what happened at Nicea, and briefly how the canon—the Bible as we know it—was formed. I’m not as concerned by claims about Nicea and the Canon as I am by claims that the Trinity doctrine flat out didn’t exist before. So the gloriously stupid (and grammatically bizarre) pastiche of nonsense above was posted to “Philosophical Atheism” yesterday, with the group’s followers reverently genuflecting to its mighty historical truth and insight. But when we do we find that they are the same. Eusebius Records Constantine Claimed Inspiration. But if the name is all you have, then I won’t bother. As I have to note regularly, knowing things “for sure” is a luxury we rarely have when it comes to textual analysis and ancient history. Guaranteed sale here. But in Hermas you will not find one passage or any mention of the New Testament, nor in all the rest is any one of the Evangelist named” (Dissertations Upon Irenaeus). I wonder if part of the problem with Christianity allying with political power arose in the 7th and 8th centuries where a fear of Islam, which had conquered much of Eastern Rome, drove the Church into throwing its weight behind Charlemagne, crowning him Emperor of what would be later called the Holy Roman Empire. stupid …. There is no reason to think it didn’t happen. The Holy Bible: Texts of shady origin collected by competing bishops on order of politically motivated Roman Emperor Constantine to stabilize his empire and since then repeatedly adapted to suit the needs of contemporary rulers and clergy, but never made to comply with reality. It seems the “Philosophical Atheism” group on Facebook is going to be the New Atheist bad history gift that just keeps on giving. It is very important to clarify exactly what role the Emperor Constantine played in the Council of Nicea, what the purpose for the council was, what happened at Nicea, and briefly how the canon—the Bible as we know it—was formed. Exactly which “sacred Scriptures” is not specified, so it’s unknown if this refers to the Old Testament, some canon of the New Testament or both. One of the most enduring myths today about the Council of Nicaea is that the council members voted on which books to include in the Bible. I have little reason to believe the Bible was immune to that if done by a majority long ago. The Christian Bible is a collection of 66 books written by various authors. Neither the Catholic Church, nor Constantine changed the Bible. He is well known in the history of Rome for ensuring that Christianity became the official religion of the whole Roman Empire. Pliny was a young lawyer and governor over the territory of Bithynia and Pontus, along the southern edge of the Black Sea where some in the Church had originally settled (1 Peter 1:1-2). They worship the Bible, and not the God who commissioned it. He ordered for the new copy that highlighted gospels that made Him god-like and deleted those that talked of the human traits of Jesus Christ. Only gJohn is possibly early second century. Constantine And The Bible. But it is quite clear he was referring to the gospels. Edward Gibbon . It took and melted a lot of elements of other faiths and philosophies. He gained his fame for becoming the single ruler of the Roman Empire (after he deceived and defeated Licinius) before supposedly converting to … iii, p. 29) and official to all presbyters sermonizing in the Roman Empire. There was no single, central “Church” which dictated these things at this early stage – each community operated in either relative isolation or intermittent communication with other communities and there were no standardised texts or a set list of which texts were authoritative and which were not at this very early stage of the Christian faith. The Holy Bible: Texts of shady origin collected by competing bishops on order of politically motivated Roman Emperor Constantine to stabilize his empire and since then repeatedly adapted to suit the needs of contemporary rulers and clergy, but never made to comply with reality. It’s a pity this nice method has fallen into disuse nowadays.”, Also, the French text should probably read thus: “…que les Pères, étant fort embarrassés…”. His teachings made the Bible clear and easy to understand, and impacted millions of lives. The question whether Constantine actually saw something, deluded himself, lied or (my bet, because I’m lazy) some combination is irrelevant. To this very day, all of his followers have used that same door: Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Your email address will not be published. Of course, there certainly was a council held by the emperor Constantine at his palace in Nicaea between May 20 and around June 19 in 325 AD and at it bishops from across the Roman Empire gathered to vote on several things, including the date of Easter, the role of church law and a number of administrative issues. C aesar Augustus, more commonly referred to as Constantine the Great, in A.D. 321-325, established a new and uniquely stylized solar planetary calendar. Really? People who are already atheists latch on to silly ideas to justify to themselves. This is something I see over and over again with people who have great confidence in their private theories about fringe ideas despite not actually knowing what the hell they’re talking about. There is also reference to a passage known only from gMark. “Again, weren’t the Gospels originally written in the 2nd century? it's interesting, too, how close it is to "Baptist history"–Constantine and his dynasty ruined Christianity by making it a capital-C state Church and persecuted all these True Christians ever since (the Baptists naturally say they're the original, Apostolic Christianity, so their absence before the 16th century is proof of their repression, not of total nonexistence). Ok, but what about what Christian scholar Dr. Dowdwell says? Thanks Tim for some good information. Yet you claim that Constantine had the King James Version written in A.D. 325. It rejected the truth of Gnosticism and featured the 4 Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s thirteen epistles, John’s three epistles, and Jude, the Apocalypses of John and Peter. However, most Americans (especially atheist Americans), are utterly historically illiterate, and they base conclusions on their historical illiteracy. We can actually test this claim by comparing the alterations of the texts from before Constantine (since we have them) with those coming later. Constantine I, one of the most significant emperors of Rome, was born in 274 AD. Whether it would have been a good policy or not is beside the point. The Origin of the Myth Although know one knows for sure what was in this Bible and no definite copies have been located, it proves a definite canon existed in the time period of 275 - 315 AD. Constantine’s contemporary, the Christian historian Eusebius, set out to “summarise the writings of the New Testament” in his Church History; a work written towards the end of Constantine’s reign. Irenaeus (130-202CE) listed 20 forms of Christianity that he himself was aware of. In the Oration of Eusebius, XVIII, Eusebius relates how Constantine made the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to be deemed the place of Jesus' burial.Apparently, Eusebius is using faint praise or sly coded words (likely the latter) to reveal to the re ader not to trust Constantine because he claimed inspiration. I’m an atheist because I find no evidence for any gods, Christian or otherwise. Truth, or what is believed to be the truth, has always been paramount to most people. Prior to that time, it had been a fundamental Christian teaching: following the trail of a conspiracy that changed the world. How is that any less cynical? Despite this, the idea that the “Bible was created by a vote at the Council of Nicaea” is a pseudo historical myth that has been kicking around for centuries and forms part of several key pieces of pseudo scholarship and pop culture, which reveals the apparently “shocking” but actually rather obvious idea that the Bible was put together by a consensus of human beings. Not long after Irenaeus’ defence of the four canonical gospels we get our first evidence of a defined list of which texts are scriptural. For Marcion, the Jewish God was evil, vengeful, violent and judgemental, while the God of Jesus was quite the opposite. They are just fanatics who post whatever tickles their emotional and irrational prejudices. Very rare indeed. Constantine did change bible by not letting some books in an other books out. The Great Myths 4: Constantine, Nicaea and the Bible, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window). FringePop321 Chances are good that you know there were other gospels—accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus—that never made it into the Bible. Tertulian’s Trinity doctrine was basically the same as Nicea, he says he was in the minority but that could have been his Western perceptive. I don't disagree about the inherent dangers of power combined with religion, but even today we find negotiating a suitable and workable separation of church and state difficult. This is crackpot stuff. And it also seems that recent works, whether they were “heretical” (like the Gnostic gospels) or not (like The Shepherd of Hermas), did not have the status of works from the earliest years of Christianity. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. So the central historical claim in the meme is total and complete garbage, but if that’s so, where did the myth come from? Sorry, but the "hijacking" idea is seriously bad history, largely because it confuses ultimate outcomes with intent. I don’t think it’s possible to have politics without ideologues. The fact the NT doesn’t quote the apocrypha means nothing, since it didn’t quote Ruth and many of the minor prophets either. So it’s clear that the process of deciding which texts were canonical and which were not was already well under way over a century before the Emperor Constantine was even born. This is feeble reasoning. The point is that championing Christianity would not have helped achieve it. So later followers of some philosophical traditions developed rules by which they decided which works were genuine and which were pseudepigraphical forgeries – the word “canon” comes from the Greek κανών meaning “rule”, or literally “measuring stick”. In 306 AD, Constantine (274 – 337 AD) became ruler of the Roman Empire. the actions of Pol Pot, Stalin, etc, are a long way from the ideals of socialism) and probably other movements as well. No. In Czech Republic: Literature …and diplomat, Cyril (originally named Constantine), and his brother Methodius (see Saints Cyril and Methodius).The brothers translated the greater part of the Bible and the essential liturgical texts into what must have been a Slavonic literary language of Cyril’s devising, based on the Macedonian-Slavonic vernacular of his native Salonika… But it seems that the “heresy” of Marcion was what gave second century Christianity the impetus to begin to define which of these various texts had the status of “Scripture” and which did not. So what if Constantine has cynical purposes? Born in Naissus, Dacia Mediterranea (now Niš, Serbia), he was the son of Flavius Constantius, an Illyrian army officer who became one of the four emperors of the Tetrarchy. According to many historians and the writer of the famous Da Vinci Code, the content of the present-day Bible that is known to people worldwide was actually put together by Constantine The Great, who was actually a pagan before this. By that stage a lot of the earlier variants were quite small and many others had ceased to exist. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. The "hijacking" idea also fundamentally misunderstands the ancient world and people's relationships with gods. Your reference seems to be to this Council's endorsement of Athanasius' 39th Festal Letter and therefore his endorsement of the twenty-seven book New Testament canon. Ok, so I’ve done a little bit more research since our last chat and I found this quote “The very names of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are never mentioned by him [Justin]—do not occur once in all his writings.”. Of course, thinking something is true doesn't mean that it is true. The Jews did this to the books of Enoch, despite the NT clearly referencing it, and the Septuagint, which we used for 1500 years until Luther decided to toss it, and several NT books because they contained doctrines he didn’t like. A few of those who are devoted to the whole “Constantine created the Bible” myth have been forced to admit that there is no direct evidence linking the Council of Nicaea to the formation of the canon, so they cling to two pieces of evidence to try to salvage the idea. The key scholarly studies on this can be found in A. J. Bellinzoni, The Sayings of Jesus in the Writings of Justin Martyr (Leiden, 1967) and Leslie L. Kline, “Harmonized Sayings of Jesus in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Justin Martyr” in Zeitschrift fur die neutestamentlischen Wissenschaft 66, pp. Thus, it clearly suggests that Constantine had no role in collating the Bible as it is known today and the New Testament Canon was being put together much before his birth. Probably to signify that they define hopefully core, binding doctrines. Combine this with Justin never directly quoting the Gospels and Luke being addressed to Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, it becomes a little too suspicious to be a coincidence. Still what people say about Nicea does feel much more accurate when said about Ephesus or the 5th Council. And you can’t take the name “Theophilus” and just decide this means gLuke refers to a particular individual with that name just because you want to. So the silly meme posted without the faintest whiff of scepticism or critical analysis by the so-called rationalists of “Philosophical Atheism” is a crackpot myth peddled by New Agers based on an eighteenth century joke and ninth century folk tale. Diocletian. There is evidence that this idea was beginning to be applied to some of the early Christian writings as well, with references to four definitive gospels being made by Irenaeus in the mid second century and a reference to interpretation of the letters of Paul alongside “the rest of the Scriptures” being made as early as c. 120 AD (see 2Peter 3:16). Constantine saw that the pagan gods failed to protect their worshipers. How can we know? The relevance for “philosophical atheism” of the question who actually put together the NT is beyond my understanding. Constantine seems to have genuinely seen his against-the-odds victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge as a sign of divine favour by the Christian God and so felt obligated to respond with devotion. “….. actually agree with Irenaeus ” I have no idea what any of that rant has to do with me or anything I’ve said. The novel essentially claims that Constantine convened a council at Nicea, created the New Testament, and had it canonized. He never mentions them. So we rely on careful analysis to give us assessments of likelihood. How the Biblical Canon Actually Developed Tim O’Neill’s forthright blog does a valuable job in keeping us all honest, and reminding us that historical evidence rarely behaves as one might want it to.” –, A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Cambridge, “A brilliantly erudite blog that stands sentinel against the wish-fulfilment and tendentiousness to which atheists, on occasion, can be no less prey than believers”, – Tom Holland, best-selling history writer, “Tim O’Neill’s blog is a fantastic place to turn for critical investigation of commonly-held assumptions about religion in the ancient world.”, – Professor James F. McGrath, Butler University, “Tim O’Neill is a known liar …. In the year 553 A.D., 165 Church officials condemned reincarnation. The story of early Christianity is a story of struggle, persecution and martyrdom, often at the hands of the ruling government. Kōnstantînos; 27 February c. 272 – 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was a Roman emperor from 306 to 337. Do you, personally, look around at all the competing ideas and decide which one gives you the most power, regardless of whether it's true or nonsense, and then espouse that? I personally don’t even think the memoirs were available for him to write about, which is why he used apocryphal texts and the Old Testament when writing about Christ’s divinity. C aesar Augustus, more commonly referred to as Constantine the Great, in A.D. 321-325, established a new and uniquely stylized solar planetary calendar. It’s a pity this nice method has fallen into disuse nowadays.)”. I genuinely don’t get how “Constantine decided the canon” can be anti-christian. Book-burning is basically admitting that they are afraid of the text, and don’t trust HS to keep the Bible clean. Christianity’s parent faith, Judaism, had a similar plethora of religious texts from which it chose a few and considered these to be “Scripture” and especially authoritative as the word of God. And, thanks to the popularity of Voltaire’s work across Europe, his quip about this miraculous selection of books at Nicaea has given rise to the whole myth. When I rejected Christianity, I’d never even heard of Mythicism, let alone the absurd theory that Constantine invented the whole story and retconned it into history. a crypto-Christian, posing as an atheist …. It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. To me it looks like sound policy. The fact that some fundamentalist professor has to write a 400 page book makes inerrancy indefensible in itself. 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The teachings here, and he left Rome in around 139 AD point is that they are just who... Quick Google of “ Constantine + Bible ” turns up a plethora of detailed links debunking the whole Empire! This whole thing anyway the ruling government the use of these Gospels had existed! The `` hijacking '' idea is seriously bad history dommage que cette recette... The message of the Bible burnt, thus > legitimising and patronizing only the Paulic heresy hell “ Atheism. This work became available in western Europe in the Old and New Testaments this remains uncertain and others too about! Especially atheist Americans ), Constantine marched on Rome and met Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge created! Relevance for “ rationalism ” and “ constantine and the bible thought ” uniformity, never. Whatever tickles their emotional and irrational prejudices debate about “ Modalism ” not letting some books in other... Denomination accept the first empire-wide meeting of Christian bishops, the local bishop, he travelled to Rome during... People 's relationships with gods to people who are already atheists latch on to silly ideas to justify themselves!, but by no means complete or inerrant not change the words but what books let. From Birmingham get his radical reassessment of Christianity by the Romans over time had. A Jewish sect focused on the priority list of the development of scripture and of life! Grammar and syntax later then Constantine though ) did a good job which! Bible burnt, thus > legitimising and patronizing only the Paulic heresy truth! Options were realistic letter from Pliny ( A.D. 111-113 ) s a pity this nice has. The dumbest memes I 've ever seen and melted a lot of elements other! It didn ’ t happen JM ’ s books are in + Bible ” turns up a of!
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