They have nothing to do with my article above. This was particularly the case in times of stress, so the idea that he saw something that he took as a vision and a sign from a particular god before a battle he probably didn't expect to win makes much more sense that the idea that he simply made the whole thing up for cynical purposes. 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. Rome became a Christian empire. As Ehrman notes above, far from being determined by one council and an emperor in 325 AD, the formation of the Christian canon was one of slow development over several centuries. Is it historical, or a Christian legend? Our resident Bible scholar Erin Moon offers a gentle rebuke at the end of every episode. 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”. And Polycarp of Smyrna quotes from all three of the synoptic gospels and he died c. 155 AD. Constantine I - Constantine I - Commitment to Christianity: Shortly after the defeat of Maxentius, Constantine met Licinius at Mediolanum (modern Milan) to confirm a number of political and dynastic arrangements. Kindle e-Readers Free Kindle Reading Apps Kindle eBooks Kindle Unlimited Prime Reading Deals on Kindle eBooks Best Sellers Free Kindle Reading Apps Kindle eBooks Kindle Unlimited Prime Reading Deals on Kindle eBooks 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. Eusebius rejected the deity of Christ and claimed that Christ was a created being . To me it looks like sound policy. If it was just one factor by itself, it could be dismissed. The council condemned Arius and the Arian heresy that Christ is a created being and revised the creed to clarify the equality of God the Father and God the Son. years with no monarchy. Jesus was most probably a real person, but deeds attributed to him (miracles) are most likely recycled, misinterpreted or simply made up. Why not? But it seems fact checking is not high on the priority list of the so-called rationalists over at “Philosophical Atheism”. Whether it would have been a good policy or not is beside the point. People often wonder if the gospels were changed or corrupted, or even selected (in some back-room conspiracy) for inclusion in the Bible at this time. which Christian books and texts could be considered divinely inspired and therefore “Scripture”, which were useful but not scriptural and which were actually “heretical”. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. So he sought his father's God in prayer, pleading for him to tell him who he was and to stretch forth his hand to help him. What’s exactly nefarious about this idea? 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 multi-lingual scholar Jerome, settled on the same twenty-seven books set out by Athanasius. 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. 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. The "hijacking" idea also fundamentally misunderstands the ancient world and people's relationships with gods. The first is a fifth century reference by Jerome in his Prologue to Judith where he notes the Old Testament book of Judith  was “found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures”, which they try to argue means the Council did have some kind of discussion on the make up of the canon. People don’t get talked into being atheists based on bad history. 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… I have no idea what any of that rant has to do with me or anything I’ve said. 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. Do you know anything about that? 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). Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Constantine did change bible by not letting some books in an other books out. Despite the fact that the process of establishing the canon of the Bible began long before Constantine was born and continued after he died and despite him playing no part in it at the Council of Nicaea or anywhere else, the myth continues. Bede called it a a "reprobate" synod, and Paul the Deacon an "erratic" one. I don’t think it’s possible to have politics without ideologues. Indeed, without being aware of the scholarly consensus, it’s obvious the guy(s) did a fine job picking the stuff that comes closest to early christianity. Sad if the validity/credibility of atheism depends on the historicity of one particular guy who lived 2000 years ago. 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. 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. 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. But when we do we find that they are the same. How can we know? 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. Most people either try to determine what is true and follow it, or become enamored with an ideology and interpret everything as if it proved the ideology is true. I quote from the book: “There were indeed references to reincarnation in the Old and New Testaments. And the Synodikon account of Nicaea concludes: “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.”. 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). Also, given the growing popularity of the various Jesus cults, what other options were realistic? A vast majority of atheists, if they believed what is written here, if they did not believe that Constantine created the Bible, that Jesus wasn’t a “myth”, and that no person believed that Jesus rose from the dead, until they aggrandized his story several decades and centuries later, there would be almost no atheists in America. There is no reason to think it didn’t happen. In a most providential twist of events, Roman Emperor Constantine a few years later, enlisted the help of Eusebius, to create 50 copies in codex form, of the entire Bible. Including emperors. Marcion tried to get his radical reassessment of Christianity and his canon accepted by calling a council of the Christian community in Rome. It was only these earliest works which were considered authoritative. No modern scholar accepts a second century date for the gospels. Possibly this is a source of some confusion. Thanks for your good work on this myth (and others too) about Christianity. He never mentions them. The Nicene church became the monster it was attached by 10 times earlier. 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. I’m reminded of an old Dutch proverb: fire engine nr. They are just fanatics who post whatever tickles their emotional and irrational prejudices. They took it into their own hands. The Bible is sufficient, I’m sure, but by no means complete or inerrant. In 313, Constantine and Licinius issued … Far from accepting his teachings, the council excommunicated him and he left Rome in disgust, returning to Asia Minor. In A.D. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, along with his mother, Helena, had deleted references to reincarnation contained in the New Testament. Does is prove that Theodosius sincerely aknowledged the moral authority of the church? The King James Bible is written in English -- a language that only began to appear in A.D. 449 and was totally unlike the 1600's style of speaking the language. Some historians also believe that while he reproduced the New Testament, he considered eighty different gospels and eventually chose only four gospels for inclusion in the final version. In 313, Constantine and Licinius issued … 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. Council of Nicaea. But okay, let’s “look it up”. He was conferred the title of ‘Great’ for playing a crucial role in the advancement of the Christian religion and is remembered as Constantine The Great. 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. Those who doubt he saw some kind of vision and must have been lying also don't seem to realise that people in the ancient world were constantly on the lookout for signs and omens and so "saw" all kinds of things that they invested with divine significance. But the ultimate source seems to be an anonymous medieval Byzantine work, the Vetus Synodikon , which gave an account of the major synods and councils of the Church up to around 887 AD. So the central historical claim in the meme is total and complete garbage, but if that’s so, where did the myth come from? Constantine's Bible: Politics and the Making of the New Testament: Dungan, David L: Amazon.sg: Books 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 is believed by many that it was he who eliminated a large number of other texts penned by the Gnostics and established the New Testament Canon to be considered as Christian Scripture along with the Old Testament. His decision was not unusual in a day when many Christians believed one could not be forgiven after baptism. (Eusebius, The Life of Constantine, chapter 62). So we can confidently say that your favourite Facebook group are even bigger crackpots. And those alleged nefarious purposes include everything from suddenly imposing a divine Jesus on Christianity (according to Dan Brown and his kooky source Holy Blood Holy Grail) to covering up Jesus’ New Age beliefs in reincarnation and Indian mysticism (according to that great scholar, Shirley MacLaine). I was reading the comments on this article, and as one of them mentions the confrontation between Emperor Theodosius and Ambrosius of Milan, I wanted to ask what you think about this episode? Call me naive – I think it’s anti-atheist. While the Catholics affirmed the NT canon in the 1546 as you mention, Wikipedia says "For the Orthodox, the recognition of these writings as authoritative was formalized in the Second Council of Trullan of 692" That seems a little strange to me as they didn't formally split until much later. 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. The New Atheist ideologues at “Philosophical Atheism” don’t care about facts, reason, logic or scepticism. Majority or historical approval mean nothing to me: the way is narrow. an asscrank …. It also continued for a long time after he died. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see how you can know for sure that the memoirs he mentions are actually referring to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because, as you said in your article, there were so many different works floating around at the time that called themselves Gospels. This is crackpot stuff. It seems the “Philosophical Atheism” group on Facebook is going to be the New Atheist bad history gift that just keeps on giving. 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. None of the accounts of the Council from the time give so much as a hint about any such event, so Voltaire was clearly working from much later sources. Yet you claim that Constantine had the King James Version written in A.D. 325. In the latter half of the 2nd century then, between Justin and Papias, and the time of Theophilus and Irenaeus, the four Gospels could have been written or compiled, correct? By that stage a lot of the earlier variants were quite small and many others had ceased to exist. In A.D. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, along with his mother, Helena, had deleted references to reincarnation contained in the New Testament. The key purpose of the Council, however, was the resolution of the Arian Controversy over the status of Jesus as “God the Son” in relation to “God the Father” in the doctrine of the Trinity. These claims are essential to the plot in The Da Vinci Code because the novel claims that the so-called "Gnostic gospels" were the original Christian documents and Constantine replaced them with the New Testament.. 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). Following is a portion of Pliny’s letter… The message of the texts from 200 AD is the same as those from 1200 AD. The Origin of the Myth “Getting history right is crucial, and noone – neither the religious nor the irreligious – should get a free ride when it comes to instrumentalising the past. Of course there is the problem that Constantine spoke Latin since he rule the Roman Empire. I believe you have causation reversed here. Edward Gibbon . People who are already atheists latch on to silly ideas to justify to themselves. That's all well and good, but when do you expect to wrap it all into a book? It's interesting just how much New Atheist bad history is actually just a repackaging of Protestant historiographical tropes. A classic example of this was the dispute over the nature of Christ that led the Roman emperor Constantine the Great to convene the Council of Nicaea (in modern-day western Turkey) in A.D. 325. Question: "Did Constantine decide what books belonged in the Bible?" Textual analysis of Justin Martyr has convinced pretty much everyone that Justin knew both gMatth and gLuke as well as a harmonised form of both. Constantine and the Week The Witty Invention that Changed Times and Laws. During Constantine’s reign, controversy arose over the teachings of Arius, who denied the full divinity of Jesus. Go look it up.” is particularly amusing. And Theodosius was clearly a devout believer, so it makes sense that he would behave as a devout believer of the time would behave to be readmitted to the congregation. Kōnstantînos; 27 February c. 272 – 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was a Roman emperor from 306 to 337. Simple – because it’s anti-Christian. gMark is generally dated to not long after 70 AD, gMatt and gLuke to the 80s AD and gJohn from 90-120 AD. And a quick Google of “Constantine + Bible” turns up a plethora of detailed links debunking the whole idea. The "hijacking" idea makes sense only to people who believe there is no truth. More.. “. The questions whether the guy(s) did a good job and which standard we use seem far more relevant to atheist me. The Fourth Crusade was with the instance of Innocent III along with other French In this dream he supposedly saw the Chi-Rho symbol, the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, which some believed was a symbol of Christ, shining above the sun. As he prayed (it was a little after noon), Constantine had an absorbing vision. a pseudo-atheist shill for Christian triumphalism [and] delusionally insane.” – Dr. Richard Carrier PhD, unemployed blogger. (Constantine actually resisted baptism until he was on his deathbed.) None of your “factors” stands up to scrutiny. For example, prophetic themes about the coming of the Messiah , and the place and day-of-the-year of Jesus’ sacrifice were prophesied in the Old Testament – hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth. You’ve got that backwards. I’m an atheist because I find no evidence for any gods, Christian or otherwise. While historians are yet to have a solid evidence of Constantine's decision of choosing…

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