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Thread: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

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    Default The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    The Myth

    About once every six months we get someone here make some reference to how "the Bible" was "chosen" at the "Council of Nicea" in AD 325. This is often accompanied by some stuff about how the Emperor Constantine "adopted Christianity for political reasons" and some statements like how "the original Bible" was "edited" with all sorts of books being "taken out".

    This is all nonsense.

    But what did happen and why is this idea so prevalent?

    Let's take the most recent manifestation of this persistent myth:

    Quote Originally Posted by IPA35 View Post
    Some of the crazy christians here deny that the pope changed the bible, and that most texts are not in it, lol.
    Denying that the Pope and the Council [of Nicea] selected a hand full of Gospels/texts from many that suited them best to rule over the people is stupid and it's denying the truth
    .

    People who insist on this myth vary on who was behind this "editing" of the Bible and choice of which texts went into it. Here IPA35 insists it was "the Pope" who was behind this nefarious deed, though usually it is the Emperor Constantine who is the villain of this piece of cartoon history. The idea that the Bible was "chosen" at the Council of Nicea is so prevalent that you find this so-called "fact" mentioned in History Channel documentaries and various conspiracy theory books, but it was recently given a huge boost by my old friend Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code:

    Teabing cleared his throat and declared, "The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven."

    "I beg your pardon?"

    "The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. .... "More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion--Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them .... "Who chose which gospels to include?" Sophie asked.

    "Aha!" Teabing burst in with enthusiasm. "The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great." .... "The twist is this," Teabing said, talking faster now. "Because Constantine upgraded Jesus' status almost four centuries after Jesus' death, thousands of documents already existed chronicling His life as a mortal man. To rewrite the history books, Constantine knew he would need a bold stroke. From this sprang the most profound moment in Christian history." Teabing paused, eyeing Sophie. "Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned."

    (Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, pp. 231-234)

    The idea is that there was either (a) an "original Bible" that the Council of Nicea "edited" to "take out" works like the Gnostic gospels or (b) the Bible was created wholesale by some kind of "vote" at the Council of Nicea for political or other nefarious purposes. The upshot, according to either version of the myth, is the Bible we have today is the result of some kind of tampering/political shenanigans at this Council in the early Fourth Century.

    This is total garbage.

    The fact is that the Council of Nicea did not establish the canon of the Bible and did not even discuss the question of which works were to be regarded as scriptural. I'll get to how this myth arose in a moment, but first let's look at how the canon of the Bible was established.

    **Warning*** - This next part is long and requires brain cells to read and understand. Sorry, but that's just how real history - as opposed to simplistic nonsense - actually is. Morons should turn back now.
    (But for those with ADD, I'll put a summary at the end )

    The Formation of the New Testament

    The long process by which Christianity settled on the canon of the New Testament - the books which were included in the Bible and regarded as definitive, authoritative and divinely inspired - began long before the time of Constantine the Great and continued for some time after he died. Contrary to the myth, Constantine and the Council of Nicea was not involved in this process in any way whatsoever.

    The earliest Christian communities of the First Century relied entirely on the memories of Jesus' first followers. As these people died, an oral tradition of stories and sayings of Jesus developed and began to be written down in books. The four gospels which are now found in the modern Bible - the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - were amongst these earliest collections of accounts of Jesus' life and teaching. Other early writings also circulated amongst these early communities, including the letters or 'Epistles' of Paul to various early churches, letters by Peter and James and letters attributed to them but probably written by other people. Some accounts of the earliest followers, like the 'Acts of the Apostles', also came to be used as sources of information, inspiration and authority by these earliest communities.

    But, at this stage, there was no definitive list or 'canon' of these writings. Any given isolated Christian community may well have known of some of them but not others. They may also have had copies of a few of them, but have only heard of others (since copies of any books were expensive and precious). And they may also have used a variety of other writings, many of which did not find their way into the Bible. There was no single, central 'Church' which dictated these things - 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.

    But the idea of such a definitive list was not totally foreign to early Christianity. Its parent religion, Judaism, had already wrestled with the problem of a large number of texts all being claimed to be 'scriptural' and inspired by God. Judaism generally agreed on the heart of its canon: the Torah, also called the 'Pentateuch', or 'five scrolls' because it was made up of the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Judaism later developed a wider canon called the 'Tanakh': twenty-four books, including the five books of the Torah and adding the books of the prophets, the Psalms and the historical books that can be found in the Old Testament of Christian Bibles today.

    Long before Christians began to go through a similar process of determining which texts were 'Scripture' and which were not, it is clear that they already regarded some Christian texts as being on par with those of the Jewish books of the Torah and the Tanakh. The Second Letter of Peter was probably not written by Peter at all and was most likely written in his name by someone around 120 AD; about 60 years or so after Peter died. But its author refers to certain 'false teachers' who misinterpret 'the letters of Paul' he says, 'just as they do with the rest of the Scriptures' (2 Peter 3:16). So, as early as the beginning of the Second Century, the letters of Paul were being regarded as 'Scripture', or divinely inspired and authoritative works on the same level as the books of the Jewish Bible.

    As the Second Century progressed there was more incentive for early Christianity to define precisely which Christian texts were 'scriptural' and which were not. In the Second Century a wide variety of new and different forms of Christianity began to develop. The various Gnostic sects were one prominent example, but it seems that it was the Marcionites which gave the impetus for the first formulation of a Christian canon of Scripture.

    Marcion was born around 100 AD in the city of Sinope on the southern coast of the Black Sea. After a falling out with his father, the local bishop, he travelled to Rome in around 139 AD. There he began to develop his own Christian theology; one which was quite different to that of his father and of the Christian community in Rome. Marcion was struck by the strong distinction made by Paul between the Law of the Jews and the gospel of Christ. For Marcion, this distinction was absolute: the coming of Jesus made the whole of the Jewish Law and Jewish Scriptures redundant and the 'God' of the Jews was actually quite different to the God preached by Jesus. For Marcion, the Jewish God was evil, vengeful, violent and judgemental, while the God of Jesus was quite the opposite. Marcion decided that there were actually two Gods - the evil one who had misled the Jews and the good one revealed by Jesus.

    This understanding led Marcion to put together a canon of Christian Scripture - the first of its kind - which excluded all of the Jewish Scriptures which make up the Old Testament and which included ten of the Epistles of Paul and only one of the gospels: the Gospel of Luke.

    Marcion tried to get his radical reassessment of Christianity and his canon accepted by calling a council of the Christian community in Rome. Far from accepting his teachings, the council excommunicated him and he left Rome in disgust, returning to Asia Minor. There he met with far more success, and Marcionite churches sprang up which embraced his idea of two Gods and used his canon of eleven scriptural works. Alarmed at his success, other Christian leaders began to preach and write vigorously against Marcion's ideas and it seems that his canon of eleven works inspired anti-Marcionite Christians to begin to define which texts were and were not Scriptural.

    By around 180 AD the influence of Marcion, the growth of the various Gnostic sects and the circulation of radical new 'gospels' began to be recognised as a genuine threat to those Christians who considered these groups fringe sects and heretical. It is around this time that we find Irenaeus declaring that there are only four gospels which derive from Jesus' earliest followers and which are Scriptural. These are the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John: the ones found in the Christian Bible today. Irenaeus makes it clear that these four had always been regarded as the earliest and most authoritative and were therefore the ones to be trusted as true accounts of Jesus' life, works and teachings. Interestingly, after two centuries of sceptical analysis, the overwhelming majority of historians, scholars and textual experts (Christian or otherwise) actually agree with Irenaeus and the consensus is that these four gospels definitely are the earliest of the accounts of Jesus' life.

    Not long after Irenaeus' defence of the four canonical gospels we get our first evidence of a defined list of which texts are scriptural. A manuscript called the Muratorian Canon dates to sometime in the late Second Century AD and was discovered in a library in Milan in the Eighteenth Century. It details that the canonical four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - along with most of the other books found in the modern New Testament, as well as a couple which are not (the Wisdom of Solomon and the Apocalypse of Peter) are 'scriptural' and authorative. It also gives some approval to other, more recent works like The Shepherd of Hermas, but says they should not be read in church as scripture.

    The Muratorian Canon document accepts twenty-three of the twenty-seven works which now make up the New Testament in the Bible. It also explicitly rejects several books on the grounds that they are recent and written by fringe, heretical groups and it specifically singles out works by the Gnostic leader Valentius and by Marcion and his followers.

    It seems that the challenge posed by Marcion and other dissident groups caused the early Christians to determine which books were scriptural and which were not. 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. It was only these earliest works which were considered authoritative.

    t is 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. It also continued for a long time after he died. 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. He lists the works which are generally 'acknowledged' (Church History, 3.25.1), including the four canonical gospels, Acts, the Epistles of Paul, 1 John, 1 Peter and the Apocalypse of John/'Revelation' (though he says this is still disputed by some). He gives other texts which he says are 'still disputed'; including James, Jude, 2 Peter and 2 and 3 John. He gives other books which are probably 'spurious' and then lists others which are definitely considered heretical, including the Gospels of Peter, Thomas and Matthias and the Acts of Andrew and John.

    So not only did the process of deciding the canon begin long before Constantine, there was still debate within the Church about the canon in his time.

    And it continued. In 367 Athanasius wrote his 39th Festal Letter in which he laid out the current twenty-seven books of the New Testament - the first time this canon had been definitively stated by any churchman. A synod convened in Rome by Pope Damasus in 382 AD also considered the question of the canon and, with the help of the great scholar Jerome, settled on the same twenty-seven books set out by Athanasius. At this stage there was still no central authority which could compel church communities in any way (despite Dan Brown's frequent anachronistic references to a central 'Vatican'), but councils and synods in Hippo and Carthage in north Africa and later ones in Gaul also settled on the same canon.

    Despite the myth that the canon was determined by Constantine in 325 AD, there was actually no definitive statement by the Catholic Church as to the make-up of the New Testament until the Council of Trent in 1546: a full 1209 years after Constantine died. The full development of the canon took several centuries, but the basics of which gospels were to be included was settled by 200 AD at least.

    Summary

    • The canon was not even discussed at Nicea and was not set at that Council
    • The idea of what books were to be included in the New Testament was actually reached by a process of discussion and consensus over 200 years, not at one council or meeting.
    • The general shape of the canon was established by 200 AD, with only a little debate about some of the minor works from then on.
    • The four gospels were established as the most early and definitive works very early in this process.
    • Politics and "power" played no role in the process. At the time this subject was being debated Christianity was a small, marginalised, illegal and often persecuted faith. The idea that the books of the Bible were chosen for any political reasons is complete nonsense.


    The Origin of the Myth

    So how did this idea that the Bible was created at the Council of Nicea get started?

    It seems the myth can be traced back to Voltaire, who popularised a ridiculous story that the canon was determined by placing all the competing books on an altar the the Council and then keeping the ones that didn't fall off:

    Il est rapporté dans le supplément du concile de Nicée que les Pères étaient fort embarrassés pour savoir quels étaient les livres cryphes ou apocryphes de l’Ancien et du Nouveau Testament, les mirent tous pêle-mêle sur un autel; et les livres à rejeter tombèrent par terre. C’est dommage que cette belle recette soit perdue de nos jours.

    (It is reported in the supplement to the Council of Nicaea that the fathers were quite embarrassed by the apocryphal books of the Old and New Testament, put all pell-mell on an altar, and the books that fell to the ground were rejected. It is a pity that this beautiful recipe is lost today.)
    (Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1767)

    Voltaire never let the truth get in the way of a kick at the Church, and this silly story of how the Bible was selected was the kind of thing he found amusing. It's likely he didn't actually believe it, but it seems to be where the myth began. But where did Voltaire get the story?

    It seems he found it in a book he published in 1765 - La Religion chretienne analysée ('Christianity Analyzed) by César Chesneau Dumarsais. Dumarsais, in turn, found it in Sanctissima concilia (1671-1672, Paris, vol II, pp 84-85) by Pierre Labbe, which in turn cites the Sixteenth Century scholar Baronius. And when we track down Baronius' source for this story we find it's a pseudo-historical account of early Church councils from AD 887 called Vetus Synodicon. It states in its summary of the Council of Nicea:

    The canonical and apocryphal books it distinguished in the following manner: in the house of God the books were placed down by the holy altar; then the council asked the Lord in prayer that the inspired works be found on top and--as in fact happened--the spurious on the bottom.
    (Vetus Synodicon, 35)

    So this miracle story - recorded a whole 562 years after the Council - seems to be the ultimate source of the myth. Thanks to Voltaire and constant repetition over the last 240 years, this obviously fictitious story has taken on the mantle of "fact".

    As ever, real history is much more complicated and requires much more hard work and brain power than silly myths, which is why myths are so prevalent and real history is understood by so few. If you've read this far, give yourself a pat on the back and give me some rep for writing all this.

    Bibliography

    Dungan, David L. Constantine's Bible: Politics And the Making of the New Testament, (Fortress Press: 2006)

    Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, (Oxford University Press: 2003)

    Ehrman, Bart D. Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, (Oxford University Press: 2004)

    Fredriksen, Paula From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, (Yale Nota Bene: 2000)

    Metzger, Bruce M. The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, (Oxford University Press: 1997)

    McDonald, Lee Martin and Sanders, James A. , The Canon Debate (Hendrickson Publishers; 2002)

    Pearse, Roger, "The Council of Nicaea and the Bible" (kudos to Roger for finally pinning down the origin of the myth)

    Rubenstein, Richard E. When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome, (Harvest Books: 2000)
    Last edited by ThiudareiksGunthigg; February 06, 2009 at 09:00 PM.

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    basics's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    And of course as the churches grew what was not put into letter was delivered personally by them sent out to bolster, if that is the correct word, the new groups as word of their existence reached Jerusalem.

    My beef with the authorities that date these things is that we cannot, just as they cannot, verify that what is available are the original works of the writers. I cannot bring myself to believe that these men only got round to telling of Jesus' ministry in print all these years later.

    Why so, because if Pentecost is an example, they couldn't wait to get out there to proclaim the Gospel? So why should it take to the later years of their lives to say in writing what we already know they did on plenty of occasions, the things now accepted as Scripture.

    I find it hard to believe that when they visited the outlying assemblies that none recorded on paper or whatever the things such a visit would bring to the thirsty seeking more about Jesus Christ. Why it took so long for the gathering together is another question.

    However we also know that from the beginnings Paul warned of false gospels and not without reason for so there were. By the time of the meetings mentioned many who took on the titles of bishops did not even know what or who Jesus Christ was/is.

    I may be wrong here but I understand that it was Athanasius who held ground in the rather heated debate ensuing to establish that Jesus was God within the Trinity that with some inspiration and persuasion was accepted as fact. Some, perhaps many, of these bishops just didn't know.

    And it should be known that what was gathered as divine work was the Bibles of all the religious factions, Apocrypha excluded, from it's first printings until only last century. Even the Jewish religious people I have discussed the Bible with admit that according to the texts they have poured over the translations are correct but for some grammatical error.

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    cfmonkey45's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Very intersting compilation, as usual. +Rep for the post, and I'll be watching this thread if it develops into a worth-while, intelligent discussion, rather than the mudslinging that usually occurs in these parts of the board.

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    Civis
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    ThiudareiksGunthigg- Nicely done. Many thanks.

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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    A very interesting and informative post. +Rep
    Any community that gets its laughs by pretending to be idiots will eventually be flooded by actual idiots who mistakenly believe that they are in good company.

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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    ThiudareiksGunthigg what sources did you use?
    'When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything. '

    -Emile Cammaerts' book The Laughing Prophets (1937)

    Under the patronage of Nihil. So there.

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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    ThiudareiksGunthigg what sources did you use?
    Dungan, David L. Constantine's Bible: Politics And the Making of the New Testament, (Fortress Press: 2006)

    Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, (Oxford University Press: 2003)

    Ehrman, Bart D. Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, (Oxford University Press: 2004)

    Fredriksen, Paula From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Christ, (Yale Nota Bene: 2000)

    Metzger, Bruce M. The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, (Oxford University Press: 1997)

    McDonald, Lee Martin and Sanders, James A. , The Canon Debate (Hendrickson Publishers; 2002)

    Pearse, Roger, "The Council of Nicaea and the Bible" (kudos to Roger for finally pinning down the origin of the myth)

    Rubenstein, Richard E. When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity during the Last Days of Rome, (Harvest Books: 2000)

    I've edited the original post to include this bibliography.

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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Excellent. Thankyou.
    'When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything. '

    -Emile Cammaerts' book The Laughing Prophets (1937)

    Under the patronage of Nihil. So there.

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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    It's also funny that they use the term "the pope did this and that." Well first off pope or "papa" meaning father is a term of respect in the Church that even the Bishop of Alexandria had. In my language for example we say "popa" at the priest although we also use "preot". But my point is the "pope" as we know him today did not have the same role in the Church then. So the "pope" from Rome had no way of telling the other 4/5ths of the Church what to do with what books.
    "Mors Certa, Hora Incerta."

    "We are a brave people of a warrior race, descendants of the illustrious Romans, who made the world tremor. And in this way we will make it known to the whole world that we are true Romans and their descendants, and our name will never die and we will make proud the memories of our parents." ~ Despot Voda 1561

    "The emperor Trajan, after conquering this country, divided it among his soldiers and made it into a Roman colony, so that these Romanians are descendants, as it is said, of these ancient colonists, and they preserve the name of the Romans." ~ 1532, Francesco della Valle Secretary of Aloisio Gritti, a natural son to Doge

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    Claudius Gothicus's Avatar Petit Burgués
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Plus rep, very consistent, fun to read and informative.

    EDIT: I have to spread some first, I would rep you as soon as possible

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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Quote Originally Posted by Carpathian Wolf View Post
    It's also funny that they use the term "the pope did this and that." Well first off pope or "papa" meaning father is a term of respect in the Church that even the Bishop of Alexandria had. In my language for example we say "popa" at the priest although we also use "preot". But my point is the "pope" as we know him today did not have the same role in the Church then. So the "pope" from Rome had no way of telling the other 4/5ths of the Church what to do with what books.
    Even more ridiculous is people who have "the Vatican" doing things in ancient or Medieval times. Dan "Idiot" Brown has his characters rattle on and on about "the Vatican" doing this or that in the Fourth Century, for example. The papacy didn't move its headquarters to the Vatican Hill until its return from Avignon in the Fourteenth Century. In the Fourth Century "the Vatican" was a largely vacant hillside dominated by a graveyard.

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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    That's true, they take a medieval and even 18th and 19th century notion of theology such as the role of the pope in Rome and try to apply it to the 300s. Uninformed people tend to eat the non sense all up and those with intentions to criticize Christianity quickly throw this micky mouse story in other people's faces.
    "Mors Certa, Hora Incerta."

    "We are a brave people of a warrior race, descendants of the illustrious Romans, who made the world tremor. And in this way we will make it known to the whole world that we are true Romans and their descendants, and our name will never die and we will make proud the memories of our parents." ~ Despot Voda 1561

    "The emperor Trajan, after conquering this country, divided it among his soldiers and made it into a Roman colony, so that these Romanians are descendants, as it is said, of these ancient colonists, and they preserve the name of the Romans." ~ 1532, Francesco della Valle Secretary of Aloisio Gritti, a natural son to Doge

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    MaximiIian's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Very good post, Thunder-Dick. I'd rep you if I could, but the mods won't let me until March.

    I am often as exasperated as you are over the idiotic statements about the Council of Nicaea made by the common man. As one of my responses in that thread you posted will show.

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    Treize's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    So what happend to the other gospels??
    Who decided they were not part of god's word...
    ---
    I can't stand the amazing faith christians have in the fact the modern day bible is the same as Jesus said...
    Miss me yet?

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    basics's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    " I can't stand the amazing faith christians have in the fact the modern day bible is the same as Jesus said... "

    IPA35,

    What is so important and worthy of great question is does the message do for people that which it says? My answer is yes it does. Were the writers to the books of the Bible exact in every word perhaps contrivance would be the natural question but warts and all Scripture by it's message does deliver.

    Why Christians have faith is quite another question altogether because quite simply not all that calls itself Christian actually is. This is seen by the other gospels that are no gospels at all as spoken of by Paul. Is this so important? Yes it is, of course it is.

    God is a God of order and not chaos which false gospels introduce and frankly do nothing for them that follow whatever they may be. In many cases they put the cart before the horse in this case Gospel truth which is the measure of all things religious or not.

    But faith comes not by feelings or persuasion, rather something, in this case Jesus Christ, being revealed to them that do not believe, never have and do not necessarily want to. It is a gift from God to all them that do believe yet delivered only after regeneration. That was what the gathering at Pentecost found out when the Holy Spirit fell on them.

    These men and women didn't know what was going to happen next. They could record His words but most of that was just gobbledygook to them, but once that Spirit baptised them with the fire of God what was not known became known and they couldn't wait to express it to all and sundry in languages they had never understood before.

    That is what is known as justification by faith. It was the faith of Jesus Christ that took Him to the cross and that same faith given unto all and upon all them that do believe. How so? Because when on that cross God saw not His Son, but only sinners being punished for their sin. And when the punishment was complete faith could be given to them whence before it couldn't.

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    Treize's Avatar Dux Limitis
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    That leads to the first:

    So what happend to the other gospels??
    Who decided they were not part of god's word...
    So the bible might just be a small part of god's word...
    Christians deny this.
    Miss me yet?

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    MaximiIian's Avatar Comes Limitis
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Quote Originally Posted by IPA35 View Post
    So what happend to the other gospels??
    Who decided they were not part of god's word...
    As said, they gradually were abandoned and left out. No one person decided it, nor did any single synod or ecumenical council.

    I can't stand the amazing faith christians have in the fact the modern day bible is the same as Jesus said...
    No one said it was.
    We're just telling you the facts: there was no single council, and especially no single bishop, that devised the modern biblical canon. It happened gradually, over a long period of time.

    PS) Use proper grammar, for 's sake. >:[

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    Tankbuster's Avatar Analogy Nazi
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Very good post, Thiu.

    If I understand correctly though, it is still correct to say that the gospels that were to be put in the bible, where still "chosen" by debates, and that many gospels and stories were rejected and eventually treated as being heretic...
    The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath
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    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Caustic introduction aside, this is your finest post.

    The development of the current contents of the Bible was organic and not decided by any one person, or at any Synod or Council. One could probably argue that the essence of said Councils were only to centralize the growing power of the Church. A series of acts that would lead to its doom.
    To be governed is to be watched, inspected, directed, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, and commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, wisdom, nor virtue to do so. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, taxed, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, admonished, reformed, corrected, and punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted, and robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, abused, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, and betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, and dishonored. -Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

  20. #20

    Default Re: The Council of Nicea, the beginnings of the Biblical Canon and some historical myths and nonsense

    Quote Originally Posted by IPA35 View Post
    That leads to the first:

    So what happend to the other gospels??
    Some of the works that were rejected stayed in use because they were considered authorative, though not "scriptural" because they were too late in composition. The Shepherd of Hermas is one of these. Others declined into obscurity because they represented late variant offshoots of Christianity that dwindled and died, like Gnosticism. On the whole, historians agree that the process of working out which works were early and original to the first generations of Christians which weren't was highly accurate - scholars still agree that the four canonical gospels are clearly the earliest ones and the ones closest to Jesus' early followers

    Who decided they were not part of god's word...
    Read my article. A consensus of Christians decided this.

    So the bible might just be a small part of god's word...
    Christians deny this.
    I leave those who believe in "God" to argue about what is and isn't his "word". What the Bible represents is the earliest Christian texts and the ones that show us what the earliest Christians believed. That means that the texts that were left out represent a much later set of beliefs and are of little to no usefulness for giving us information about the historical Jesus.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nietzsche
    Caustic introduction aside, this is your finest post.
    I make no apology for my "caustic introduction". Anyone with half a brain cell and access to Google could check if Nicea had anything to do with the formation of the canon. Some people just don't check their "facts" if those "facts" happen to suit their prejudices.

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