Subjects (abstracts): Robert Taylor; The Formation of the New Testament; The Canon of the New Testament; Adolph Harnack History of Dogma; Apologetics;
from: The Formation of the New Testament, Robert M. Grant, Harper & Row, 1965.
"The gradual development of the canon, in our view, was primarily the achievement of gentile Christianity, although of course THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO NEW TESTAMENT IF AN OLD TESTAMENT HAD NOT ALREADY EXISTED. Among the earliest Christians there was no New Testament; their Bible consisted of the Old Testament alone. One of the principal problems which the Church had to confront during the second century was the relation between this Bible and the Christian gospel expressed in oral traditions and in writings. Gentile Christians insisted upon the superiority of the gospel to the predictions and prefigurations which they found in the Old Testament, and this insistence finally led to the formation of the New Testament as a collection of books which could be viewed as 'scripture'." .
"Finally, historically valuable though the apocryphal books are in providing information about the ideas of sectarian groups and their ideas of traditionand perhaps in some instances for preserving first-century materialsthose who believe that in general the Church was right as against its opponents cannot reverse its [Church] decisions about these documents. The apocryphal books reflect responses to Jesus, but the kinds of responses they contain are usually severely conditioned [yes!] both by their authors' notions [yes!] that they understand Jesus better than the apostles did and by the view that he really wanted to convey an esoteric spiritual doctrine which the Church's gospels do not set forth. USUALLY THESE AUTHORS DENY HIS HUMANITY [see: 410 (Sandmel); 434 (Hoffmann)], [study the following highly cathected, etc., clause] thus cutting him [Jesus] (and themselves) off both from the historical life of the Church and from the historical life of mankind [?]." .
from: The New Testament Canon, Harry Y. Gamble, Fortress, 1985.
'The Problem of
Even a cursory glance at its contents reveals that what we know as "the New Testament" is not a book at all in the usual sense but a collection of early Christian writings, twenty-seven in all. It is a collection, moreover, which has historically been set apart as possessing a distinctive and indeed unique authority for the faith and practice of the Christian church. As a fixed collection of religiously authoritative literature, the NT constitutes the canon of Christian scriptures.1' .
[(6/98) See: A Short History of the Bible, Being a Popular Account of the Formation and Development of the Canon, Bronson C. Keeler, reprint: The Book Tree (see 375), 1997 (1881) [a Classic!]].
'the NT was not an original or even a particularly early feature of Christianity. Rather, the NT developed only gradually over the course of several centuries, as the result of a complex variety of CONDITIONING [see #3, 46, 216.; #4, 116, 490.] factors in the life of the ancient church, and did not attain the form in which we know it until the late FOURTH CENTURY [see #13, 321]. During the first and most of the second century, it would have been impossible to foresee that such a collection would emerge. Therefore, it ought not to be assumed that the existence of the NT is a necessary or self-explanatory fact. Nothing dictated that there should be a NT at all. Furthermore, even when the idea of such a collection took hold, it remained for a long time uncertain what its substance and shape would be, and it might have taken any number of different forms than the one it ultimately acquired. Many possibilities were open.2 So, just as the existence of a NT was not foreordained, neither were its contents. And our familiarity with the NT should not blind us to the genuine peculiarities of its substance: for example, that it contains four Gospels instead of only one (especially when the first three are so similar and the fourth so different); or that it contains so many letters of Paul [Ecclesiastical Corporation! (see #4, 116, 123, 124, 129)] but so few of any other writer; or that it contains only one prophetic book (Revelation) and only one historical ["historical Fiction"] book (Acts). It is not obvious why the NT embraces just these documents and not otherswhen there were many others which could have been includedor why, conversely, it contains as many and various documents as it does.' .
"Ironically, the more fully the individual documents of the NT have been understood, the LESS INTELLIGIBLE the NT as a whole has become, both historically and theologically." .
'The History of The New Testament Canon
Since the ancient church left no record of how and why the NT was formed, the history of the canon must be reconstructed on the basis of sparse and fragmentary evidence and with a measure of conjecture. There are, generally speaking, three types of useful evidence. The first consists of the use of early Christian documents by Christian writers of the second through the fifth centuries. From the frequency and manner of their citations of and allusions to early Christian writings, it is possible to infer the value they attached to them. Uncertain and unsatisfactory as this procedure often is, such evidence is the best we have up to the end of the second century.1 The second type of evidence is comprised by explicit discussions and judgments, either by individual writers or by ecclesiastical councils, about documents whose authority is either accepted or rejected. This evidence is very helpful but, with a few exceptions, belongs mostly to the FOURTH AND FIFTH CENTURIES. The third sort of evidence is provided by the contents of ancient manuscripts of the NT, together with some "scriptural aids" (concordances, prologues, etc.) variously included in them. This evidence, too, comes mostly from the FOURTH CENTURY and later, since not many [how many?] extensive manuscripts [references?] have been preserved from the earlier period.' .
"A broad uniformity of usage which closely approximates our NT cannot therefore be dated before the close of the FOURTH CENTURY, and even then the Syrian church lagged behind." .
[See: #6, 173 (Constantine, "new copies of the Bible"); #13, 321 (4th century)].
from: The Canon of the New Testament, Bruce M. Metzger, Oxford, 1987.
[a Classic!] [a "Must See" book!] [Note: of course, much Christian apologetics!].
The recognition of the canonical status of the several books of the New Testament was the result of a long and gradual process, in the course of which certain writings, regarded as authoritative, were separated from a much larger body of early Christian literature. Although this was one of the most important developments in the thought and practice of the early Church, history is virtually silent as to how, when, and by whom it was brought about. Nothing is more amazing in the annals of the Christian Church than the absence of detailed accounts of so significant a process." ["1"].
[See: #1, 10, 82., 11, 83., 12, 93. (repeated: see 462, 463)].
"8As von Harnack [Adolph von Harnack 1851 - 1930] has pointed out (The Origin of the New Testament [New York, 1925], p. 5), there were four possibilities open to the Church:  the Old Testament alone,  an enlarged Old Testament,  no Old Testament, and  a second authoritative collection." .
"According to Harnack, the canon constituted one of the three barriers (the other two were the creed and the bishopric) which the Church erected in its struggle with heresy [competition], particularly Gnosticism. The process involved essentially the competition of many books and the survival of those most useful to the Church. Harnack described the role of the Church in canonization as one of selection; Zahn [Theodor Zahn 1838 - 1933], on the other hand, emphasized the idea of growth." .
"Harnack continued to give attention to problems of the canon....Among the theories advocated is the view that the origin of the New Testament is to be found in prophetic-apocalyptic literature; that Marcion [died c. 160] was 'the creator of the Christian Bible'; and that the Muratorian Canon [see Appendix IV (305-307)] was an official document of the Church at Rome." .
"Harnack...developed the thesis that Marcion was the first to construct a formal canon of Christian Scripture and that the Church followed his lead, eventually adopting four Gospels and thirteen Epistles of Paul [Ecclesiastical Corporation! (see #4, 116, 123, 124, 129)], in addition to other books as well.48" .
"It is, of course, not possible in the present context to give even a brief account of all Christian writings regarded at any time as authoritative by believers here and there throughout the Roman Empire." .
"When people are curious, they usually take steps to satisfy their curiosity; so we should not be surprised that MEMBERS OF THE EARLY CHURCH DREW UP ACCOUNTS OF WHAT THEY SUPPOSED MUST HAVE TAKEN PLACE [see #2, 62-63 (Witnesses)].4 Among such apocryphal gospels, produced in the second, third, and following centuries, are the Protevangelium of James, the Infancy Story of Thomas, the Arabic Infancy Gospel, the Armenian Gospel of the Infancy, the History of Joseph the Carpenter, the Gospel of the Birth of Mary, and several other similar gospels which refer to the early years of Jesus' life, while the Gospel of Nicodemus (otherwise known as the Acts of Pilate5) and the Gospel of Bartholomew refer to his visit in Hades. In general, these gospels show far less knowledge of Palestinian topography and customs than do the canonical Gospelswhich is what one would expect from the circumstances and date of the composition of such books." [166-167].
[footnote] "27On the embarrassment felt by the Fathers at the presence of discrepancies among the canonical Gospels, see Helmut Merkel, Die Widersprüche zwischen den Evangelien; Ihre polemische und apologetische Behandlung in der alten Kirche bis zu Augustin (Tübingen, 1971). In the latter part of the second century Celsus [2nd century]' sharp eyes detected a considerable number of real and imagined contradictions in the Gospels, which later antagonists of the Church, such as Porphyry [c. 232 - c. 303], Hierocles [born c. 275], the Emperor Julian [c. 331 - 363 (Emperor 361 - 363)], and certain Manichees, adopted and amplified." .
"The most celebrated theologian of the fourth century, Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296373), had been educated probably at the catechetical school of his native city. He assisted at the Council of Nicea (325) as a deacon and as secretary of his bishop Alexander, and there gained fame by his disputes with the Arians....Athanasius appears to be the first prelate who took advantage of his position at the head of an extensive and important diocese to deal with the question of the Biblical canon....Of the forty-five...festal epistles that Athanasius wrote from A.D. 329 onwards,4 the Thirty-Ninth Festal Epistle of 367 is particularly valuable, for it contains a list of the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments.5 In the case of the Old Testament, Athanasius excludes the deuterocanonical books,6 permitting them only as devotional reading. The twenty-seven books of the present New Testament are stated to be the only canonical ones....
THE YEAR 367 MARKS, THUS, THE FIRST TIME THAT THE SCOPE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON IS DECLARED TO BE EXACTLY THE TWENTY-SEVEN BOOKS ACCEPTED TODAY AS CANONICAL." [210, 211, 212].
"Shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. [1929 - 1968], in 1968, a group of ministers seriously proposed that KING'S 'LETTER FROM A BIRMINGHAM JAIL'10 be ADDED TO THE NEW TESTAMENT. All will appreciate that this letter, written in April 1964 after he had been jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, for participating in a civil-rights protest, conveys a strong prophetic witness, and interprets God's will in the spirit of Christ. At the same time, however, most will recognize that the differences as to age and character between it and the books of the New Testament are far too great to warrant its being added to the canon, and today few if any take the proposal seriously." .
"The discovery some years ago [1945-6] at Nag Hammadi [Upper Egypt ("some 60 miles below Luxor on the Nile.")] of several dozen texts from the early Church, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, the Epistle of Peter to Philip, and the Apocryphon of John, has greatly increased the number of candidates for possible inclusion in a revised form of the canon...How far, for example, does the Gospel of Thomas (which, of all the tractates in the Nag Hammadi library, seems to be closest to the New Testament) meet the criteria of apostolicity and orthodoxy, however narrowly or broadly one defines these elusive standards? ....the evaluation of modern readers will no doubt corroborate that of the early Church, namely, that in the Gospel of Thomas the voice of the Good Shepherd [see #7, 196-197 (shepherd)] is heard in only a muffled way, and that it is, in fact, often distorted beyond recognition by the presence of supplementary and even antagonistic voices." [271-272].
"attempts at the time of the Reformation to set aside certain books that proved to be awkward or embarrassing in ecclesiastical controversy should make us exceedingly wary in assessing our own motives and standards in evaluating the canonical status of the several books in the New Testament. How easily an individual can err in these matters is shown by the untenable judgements of Luther [1483 - 1546] on the Epistles of James, of Jude, to the Hebrews, and the Apocalypse [Revelation]judgements that originated in his inability to appreciate the Christian message conveyed by these books and in his one-sided preference for others." .
"it is legitimate to ask the question why the New Testament should have to be consistent in all its parts. Why should all the writers have to think alike on all subjects in order to be included in the canon? ....the differences that exist among the books of the New Testament, and even within the several writings of the same author, are not so much the cause of divisions in the Church today as reflections of theological pluralism [compare: heresy] within the primitive Christian communities themselves.26" [278, 279].
"there is also truth in what another Reformed theologian, Augusta Lecerf, acknowledges: 'We do not deny that God inspired other writings than those which constitute the canon ["theology insurance"!].'10 Thus, while it is true that the Biblical authors were inspired by God, this does not mean that inspiration is a criterion of canonicity. A writing is not canonical because the author was inspired, but rather an author is considered to be inspired because what he has written is recognized as canonical, that is, is recognized as authoritative in the Church." .
"In most discussions of the canon of the New Testament little or no attention is paid to the basic question whether the canon should be described as a collection of authoritative books or as an authoritative collection of books." .
[solution: delete the word authoritative].
"the canon is invested with dogmatic significance arising from the activity of canonization. In one case the Church recognizes the inherent authority of the Scriptures; in the other she creates their authority by collecting them and placing on the collection the label of canonicity." [Authority! (Presumption!)] .
"The knowledge that our New Testament contains the best sources for the HISTORY OF JESUS [see #3, 41-104] is the most valuable knowledge that can be obtained from study of the early history of the canon. In fact, whatever judgment we may form of the Christianity of the earliest times, it is certain that those who discerned the limits of the canon had a clear and balanced perception of the gospel of Jesus Christ." .
'Joshua [Jewish legendary character] Gk. I_sous, Heb. Yehôshua': "Yahweh saves." The successor to Moses [Jewish legendary character] who brought the Hebrews through to the conquest of the promised land. His history is recounted in the book of Joshua.1
Ex 17:8-13; Nm 11:28; 13:16; Sir 46:1; Acts 7:45; Heb 4:8 _.' .
Excursus: from: The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Edited by Colin Brown, Paternoster, 1976 (1971 German).
"Christ is derived via the Lat. Christus from the Gk. Christos, which in the LXX [Septuagint (first Greek translation of the Old Testament, c. 250 - c. 150 B.C.E.)] and the NT is the Gk. equivalent of the Aram. meîhÆ'. This in turn corresponds to the Heb. mÆîah and denotes someone who has been ceremonially anointed for an office". .
'Among Palestinian Jews and also among the Jews of the dispersion the name Jesus was fairly widely distributed in the pre-Christian period and in the early part of the Christian era. According to Aristeas 48 f. (2nd cent. B.C.; more exact dating disputed), it was borne by two of the Palestinian scholars who were engaged on the translation of the Heb. Pentateuch into Gk. in Alexandria. We are probably led further back still, chronologically, by Jesus ben Sirach, the author of the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus ["Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach" (c. 180 B.C.E.) (Ox. Bible with Apocrypha, 1965, 128)]) in the Apocrypha (cf. Sir. 50:27). The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus [c. 37 - c. 100 C.E.], who lived in the 1st cent. A.D. and came from a Palestinian priestly family, names no fewer than 19 bearers of the name Jesus [see #3, 73-75] in his voluminous writings in Gk. These come both from the ancient and the recent history of his people and about half were contemporaries of "Jesus the so-called Christ" [Forgery! (see #3, 73-76)] whom he also mentions (Ant. 20, 9, 1).' .
"originally NONE OF THE DOCUMENTS NOW INCLUDED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT HAD THE TITLES TO WHICH WE HAVE BECOME ACCUSTOMED in the headings of the different books in traditional English versions....Only after several Gospels or several Epistles had been collected together was there need for separate designations in order to distinguish one from another." .
"There were two tendencies in the Church, the maximists and the minimists. IN ALEXANDRIA [see Addendum D (Schweitzer)], for example, WHERE FOR A TIME A LARGE NUMBER OF 'INSPIRED' BOOKS HAD BEEN CIRCULATING, the process of canonization proceeded by way of selection, moving from many books ["maximists"] to few ["minimists"]. In other areas, such as in Syria, the Church was content for many centuries with a canon of twenty-two books ["minimists"] [compare: 27]. In either case the grounds for the CONVICTION of canonicity involved a variety of considerationswhether literary, liturgical, or doctrinalbearing upon the authorship, content, and use of a given book. IN SHORT, THE STATUS OF CANONICITY IS NOT AN OBJECTIVELY DEMONSTRABLE CLAIM, BUT IS A STATEMENT OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF." .
from: Adolph Harnack [1851 - 1930] History of Dogma, Russell and Russell, Vol. 2, 1958. [See: 414 (Harnack)].
'Addendum.The results arising from the formation of a part of early Christian writings into a canon, which was a great and meritorious act of the Church,1 [see footnote 1, below] notwithstanding the fact that it was forced on her by a combination of circumstances, may be summed up in a series of antitheses. (1) The New Testament, or group of "apostolic" writings formed by selection, preserved from destruction one part, and undoubtedly the most valuable one, of primitive Church literature; but it caused all the rest of these writings, as being intrusive, or spurious, or superfluous, to be more and more neglected, so that they ultimately perished.2'
[see footnote 2, below].
[footnote] "1No greater CREATIVE ACT can be mentioned in the whole history of the Church than the formation of the apostolic [pseudonymous!] collection and the assigning to it of a position of equal rank with the Old Testament."
[footnote] "2]The history of EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITINGS in the Church which were not definitely admitted into the New Testament is instructive on this point. The fate of some of these may be described as tragical. EVEN WHEN THEY ["EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITINGS"] WERE NOT BRANDED AS DOWNRIGHT FORGERIES, THE WRITINGS OF THE FATHERS FROM THE FOURTH CENTURY DOWNWARDS WERE FAR PREFERRED TO THEM." .
"(6) The Fact of the New Testament being placed on a level with the Old proved the most effective means of preserving to the latter its canonical authority, which had been so often assailed in the second century. But at the same time it brought about an examination of the relation between the Old and New Testaments, which, however, also involved an enquiry into the connection between Christianity and pre-christian revelation. The immediate result of this investigation was not only a theological exposition of the Old Testament, but also A THEORY which ceased to view the two Testaments as of equal authority and SUBORDINATED THE OLD TO THE NEW. This result, which can be plainly seen in Irenaeus [c. 130 - c. 200 (St.)], Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220], and Origen [c. 185 - c. 254], led to exceedingly important consequences.1 It gave some degree of insight into statements, hitherto completely unintelligible, in certain New Testament writings, and it caused the Church to reflect upon a question that had as yet been raised only by heretics, viz., what are the marks which distinguish Christianity from the Old Testament religion? An historical examination imperceptibly arose; but the old notion of the inspiration of the Old Testament confined it to the narrowest limits, and in fact always continued to forbid it; for, as before, appeal was constantly made to the Old Testament as a Christian book which contained all the truths of religion in a perfect form. Nevertheless the conception [whose?] of the Old Testament was here and there full of contradictions.1"
[footnote] "1....If the New Testament had not been formed, the Church would perhaps have obtained a Christian Old Testament with numerous INTERPOLATIONS....The creation of the New Testament preserved the purity [sic!] of the Old, for it removed the need of doing VIOLENCE to the latter IN THE INTERESTS OF CHRISTIANITY." [64-65].
"In practice it continued to be the rule for the New Testament to take a secondary [to the Old Testament] place in apologetic writings and disputes with heretics.1"
[footnote] '1We must not, however, ascribe that to conscious mistrust, for Irenaeus and Tertullian bear very decided testimony against such an idea, but to the acknowledgment that it was impossible to make any effective use of the New Testament Scriptures in arguments with educated non-Christians and heretics. For these writings [New Testament] could carry no weight with the former ["educated non-Christians"], and the latter ["heretics"] either did not recognise them or else interpreted them by different rules. Even the offer of several of the Fathers to refute the Marcionites from their own canon must by no means be attributed to an uncertainty on their part with regard to the authority of the ecclesiastical canon of Scripture. We need merely add that the extraordinary difficulty originally felt by Christians in conceiving the Pauline Epistles, for instance, to be analogous and equal in value to Genesis or the prophets occasionally appears in the terminology even in the third century, in so far as the term "divine writings" continues to be more frequently applied to the Old Testament than to certain parts of the New.' .
"(8) BY CREATING THE NEW TESTAMENT and claiming exclusive possession of it the Church DEPRIVED THE NON-CATHOLIC COMMUNIONS of every apostolic [see #15, 338 (Apostles)] foundation, just as SHE had DIVESTED JUDAISM of every legal title by taking possession of the Old Testament; BUT, by raising the New Testament to standard authority, she created the armoury which supplied the succeeding period with the keenest weapons against herself.2"
[footnote] "2The Catholic Church had from the beginning a very clear consciousness of the dangerousness of many New Testament writings, in fact she made a virtue of necessity in so far as she set up a theory to prove the unavoidableness of this danger. See Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220], de praescr. passim, and de resurr. 63." .
[footnote (not referenced above)] "3To a certain extent the New Testament disturbs and prevents the tendency to summarise the faith and reduce it to its most essential content. For it not only puts itself in the place of the unity of a system, but frequently also in the place of a harmonious and complete creed. Hence the rule of faith [which?] ["(Regula Fidei)....statements of Christian belief which circulated in the 2nd-cent. Church...." (Ox. Dict. C.C., 1997)] is necessary as a guiding principle, and even an imperfect one ["rule of faith"] is better than a mere haphazard reliance upon the Bible." [65-66].
from: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Oxford, 1974.
"Apologetics. The defence of the Christian faith on intellectual grounds by trained theologians and philosophers [Apologists]. Historically this work began with the presentation of the case for Christianity to non-Christians by the 2nd-cent. *Apologists....
the scope of Christian apologetics falls into three parts: (1) to show that it is more reasonable [sic!] to have a religion than not; (2) to show that Christianity can give a more rational [sic!] account of itself than any other religion; (3) to show that it is more reasonable [sic!] to profess orthodox Christianity than any other form. It is not generally claimed that the essential truth of Christianity is certainly demonstrable by purely logical or scientific methods, but it is maintained that it is possible to show by these means ["purely logical or scientific methods"] that its acceptance is entirely [sic!] in accordance with the demands of reason." .
from: New Testament Apocrypha, Wilhelm Schneemelcher, Gospels and Related Writings, James Clark & Co, Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991 (c1990 Tübingen).
The concept 'NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA' IS PROBABLY FORMED ON THE ANALOGY OF THAT OF THE 'OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA'. The latter designation is generally given to the writings of which Luther [1483 - 1546] says that 'while they are not regarded as being on an equality with Holy Writ, they yet make useful and good reading'." .
"the 'prophetic-apostolic principle'. 'THE OLD TESTAMENT WAS WRITTEN BY PROPHETS [WRITERS!], THE NEW BY APOSTLES [WRITERS!]....'" .
[See: #15, 338 (Apostles)].
"It is clear from all kinds of quotations and references in early Christian writers that there was a considerable number of apocryphal gospels. Sometimes quotations are given from these works, but elsewhere only the title is mentioned. We may also suspect in some statements in the Church literature that the gospel named by the author concerned never [?] actually existed (e.g. the gospels of Cerinthus, Apelles, Bardesanes).
Some gospels which were formerly known only by name [see preceding 3 lines] have come to light in recent decades through papyrus and manuscript discoveries (e.g. the Gospel of Peter, the Coptic Gospel of Thomas), and are included in the present collection." .
from: The Secret Gospels A Harmony of Apocryphal Jesus Traditions, Edited and Translated by R. Joseph Hoffmann, Westminster College-Oxford, Prometheus, 1996.
'Our long acquaintance with the canonical sources has, to a degree, predisposed us to regard the apocryphal, or "hidden," traditions as evidence of the simplicity of the first age of Christian believers. This preference for canonical stories presupposes that the tales of God's supernatural dealings with the world as recorded in the Bible are somehow truer than the ones that were excluded from the canon, a view which many biblical scholars and historians today find, at best, a SENTIMENTAL ATTACHMENT TO FAMILIAR MYTHS. If the episodes above [from apocryphal stories] possess the incredible sound of the unfamiliar, the stories of Jesus feeding the five thousand (or four thousand), crossing the sea of Galilee on foot (a shallow lake it was, quipped the philosopher Porphyry [c. 232 - c. 303]), changing water to wine at his mother's behest, raising the dead, and casting out a legion of demons at Gadara hardly constitute a sober report against which to measure the accuracy of noncanonical texts.' [10-11]
'It was once said by a German church historian [possibly: Adolph von Harnack 1851 -1930] that the theological problem for the church in the second century was not in getting people to believe that Jesus was God, BUT IN CONVINCING THEM THAT HE [JESUS] WAS A MAN [see: 410 (Sandmel); 422 (Grant)]. The apocryphal or "secret" gospels shed considerable light on the seriousness of that problem.' .
"In dealing with the issue of the canon, therefore, the bishop-teachers of the second and third centuries had one eye on consensus (which meant on each other) and another on rival teachers, heretics, and pagans. The greatest spur to forming a canon other than the rivalry itself was the need to assert clearly to the pagan world [more rivalry!]a world of religio-philosophical sophistication where precedent, antiquity, and historical groundedness mattered considerablywhat body of literature should be considered definitely Christian. The answer was fairly simple: that literature which was commissioned by Christ, dictated through the spirit, written by apostolic men, and EXPLAINED BY THEIR SUCCESSORS. Such logic did not, of course, quell the pagan criticism of the new faith, nor stem the proliferation of dissident opinion (heresy), but the logic itself was perfectly sound." [22-23].
'With respect to attribution, the [apocryphal] books resemble Jewish midrashim and the Old Testament apocrypha. TO SECURE AUTHORITY OR CREDIBILITY, THEY ARE WRITTEN UNDER THE HONORARY NAME OF AN APOSTLE OR SOME OTHER PROMINENT FIGURE. Put flatly, THEY ARE FORGED, but then SO ARE MANY [ALL!] OF THE CANONICAL NEW TESTAMENT BOOKSand for just the same reason. Thus we possess "gospels" attributed to James, Peter, Bartholomew, Mary, and Nicodemus; Acts of Peter, Paul, John, Andrew and Thomas, and Pontius Pilate; apocalypses of Peter, Paul, and Thomas. The list is as impressive as the ascriptions are unconvincing.' [24-25].
'The apocryphal books' theatricality is a feature of the second purpose for which they were written: to be works of religious devotion. It is arguable that many of them started as sermons. We know certainly of their currency among homilists of the fourth century such as Cyril of Jerusalem, Demetrius of Antioch, the ardent heresy-fighter Epiphanius, and Cyril of Alexandria. Whether they "composed" gospels to suit their sermons or sermons that drew on extracanonical gospels we cannot now know. But it is certain that PREACHERS FROM THE SECOND TO THE FOURTH CENTURY KNEW THE VALUE OF FOLKLORE, LEGEND, AND TALL TALE IN SPICING A SERMON, AND MADE FREE USE OF WHAT THEY HEARD OR READ.' .
'in the infancy legends the incidence of the commonplace increases: Zechariah, the husband of Mary's cousin Elizabeth and Joseph's literary "twin," is a laughingstock because he cannot father sons; Elizabeth goes through a period of depression because her husband seems to have deserted her; Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna, despite their promises to God, cannot bear the thought of parting with the two-year-old prodigy God has given them; Joseph openly feels betrayed that Mary has become pregnant by another man in his absence; and the young Jesus grieves publicly by his pseudo-father's beside at Joseph's death. These "human" touches are not prominent in the canonical sources, and their increase in the apocrypha can be explained only by looking to the audience for whom the accounts were composed. On the whole, they were the average Christians of the third and fourth centuries, whose everyday concerns and values found an echo in the tribulations of the family of Jesus.'
[36-37]. [earlier "soap operas"!].
'much of what we find in gospels written in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries [and second and third centuries] would seem to suggest an interest in the "ENTERTAINMENT VALUE" of the story form, and it is that value, finally, which determines the survival of the apocryphal tradition in the Middle Ages [compare: the canonical tradition, to the present].' .
'Luther, who later became a critic of the apocryphal books as "Latin fictions," himself had become a monk "at the summons of St. Anne, mother of Mary."' .
'Oscar Cullmann has said that IN ANTIQUITY, THE MIDDLE AGES, AND THE RENAISSANCE, THE APOCRYPHAL INFANCY NARRATIVES "EXERCISED MORE INFLUENCE ON LITERATURE AND ART THAN THE BIBLE ITSELF."' .
'it is probably impossible to fix a dividing line [no line! (unknown dates)] between the canonical accounts and the earliest of the apocryphal infancy stories. Our earliest references to the latter in the writings of Justin Martyr suggest that a thriving genre existed already in the second century. Second, the genre seems to have flourished both in the Eastern and in the Western Church. The Book of James is mentioned by Origen (185254), who cites the report that the "brothers of the Lord" were sons of Joseph by a former marriage, and Clement of Alexandria (150215) mentions the tradition that a midwife was present at the nativity. These folkloristic elements can perhaps be traced back to the end of the first century and are given a permanent lease on life in the books attributed to James, the son of Joseph, and Thomas, the disciple of the Lord. In the seven centuries between Clement and Hroswitha ["German poet and Benedictine nun" c. 9321002], the genre flourishes throughout the church, as reflected in the variety of languages in which infancy gospels, whole or part, have come down to us: Greek, Syriac ["branch of Aramaic"], Latin, Armenian, Coptic, and Arabic.' [41-42].
[Endnote] '14. ...the Book of James (Protevangelium), written in the early second century (>150 C.E.) was popular with Ebionite (Jewish) Christians, the Greek fathers, and in the Syrian, Coptic, and Armenian churches because of its high regard for Mary's virginity and the "theory" it advances that Jesus' brothers, mentioned in the gospels, were in fact Joseph's sons by a previous marriage. Condemnation of the gospel came from Jerome, who argued that the brothers were, in fact, cousins. The church historian Eusebius [Eusebius of Caesarea c. 264 - 340] (Church History 3.3) doubts the authenticity of 2 Peter (which was finally included in the NT canon) and notes disputes about the Epistle to the Hebrews ("which is spoken against as not being Paul's in the Roman church"), but commends the use of the Acts of Paul (apocryphal) and the Shepherd of Hermas as being good for instruction.' .
[Endnote] "23. Luther, however, uses the story of hell's harrowing in Ein feste Berg and was proudly influenced by monastic RENDITIONS of apocryphal stories." .
[Endnote] '28. The belief that Mary was taken bodily to heaven (Assumption of the Virgin) was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII in the bull Munificentissimus Deus (1950). The sole basis for the belief are the apocryphal works "The Passing Away of Mary" and the "Obsequies of Mary," variously ASCRIBED to John the Evangelist and Melito of Sardis. These works are condemned in the Gelasian Decree (5th century). Only in the sixth century, with St. Gregory of Tours (d. 594) do we find a strong movement in favor of the belief of the virgin's corporal "assumption" into heaven. In the eighth century, John of Damascus, repeating a story from the Council of Chalcedon (451), states that the emperor Marcian's wife Pulcheria had wanted to "possess" (own, purchase?) the body of the virgin, but was told by the bishop of Jerusalem, Juvenal, that the virgin's death had been witnessed by all the apostles and that when her tomb was later opened, it was found empty. Dependence of this tradition on the resurrection accounts of the gospels [and/or other resurrection accounts] is evident.' [178-179].
[See: #17, 360-362 (FICTION AS HISTORY)].
from: Encyclopaedia Biblica, "Old-Christian Literature", W.C. van Manen [1842 -1905], Adam and Charles Black, Vol. III, MCMII.
"the books of the NT were originally COINCIDENT with what subsequently came to be described as Old-Christian literature. They ["books of the NT"] form part of it ["Old-
Christian literature"]an essential and highly interesting and importantnay, the most important part. The old distinction between canonical and non-canonical books as regards this literature must be abandoned; NT Introduction and Patristic must no longer be separate studies, they must be amalgamated in that of Old-Christian literature.
In principle this has been recognised at various times during the course of the nineteenth century, and especially within the last decades, under the influence of a growing interest in the examples of Old-Christian literature which had not attained canonicity". .
from: Ancient Christian Gospels, Their History and Development, Helmut Koester, 1990.
'My Study of the gospel traditions in the Apostolic Fathers had brought me to the conclusion that gospel materials that were not dependent upon the canonical writings might indeed have survived well into the second century. But I was also aware of the PREVAILING OPINION, which saw ALL APOCRYPHAL GOSPELS AS WORKS THAT CAME INTO EXISTENCE AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THE CANONICAL WRITINGS. Attempts to discover in apocryphal materials pre-canonical traditions regularly met with severe criticism....
The publication of the Gospel of Thomas [from the Nag Hammadi discovery,
1945-6 (see 426)] in the year 1959 marks the beginning of a change. Equally important, however, was the rediscovery of Walter Bauer's Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum, which had been published in 1934. The appearance of a second edition of this epochal work thirty years after its original publication and four years after the death of its author1 as well as the publication of an English translation2 ["2Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971)."] signified a fundamental change in the climate of scholarship. It seemed as if almost two millennia of discrimination against those whom the Fathers of the church had labelled as "heretics" would come to an end.' [xxix-xxx].
'In his arguments against the heretics, the early 3d-century apologist Tertullian (De proscriptione hereticorum) insisted that the claims of the heretics were null and void and had to be ruled out of court because they could not prove that they existed in the very beginning. IT IS, however, NOT POSSIBLE TO SUBSTANTIATE THIS CLAIM. The earliest gospel traditions and gospel writings contain the seeds of both, later heresy as well as later orthodoxy. For the description of the history and development of gospel literature in the earliest period of Christianity, the epithets "heretical" and "orthodox" are meaningless. ONLY DOGMATIC PREJUDICE CAN ASSERT THAT THE CANONICAL WRITINGS HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE CLAIM TO APOSTOLIC ORIGIN AND THUS TO HISTORICAL PRIORITY. Whether my own reconstruction of the development of this literature is plausible, should be argued on historical and source-critical grounds.' [xxx].
from: History of the First Council of Nice, A World's Christian Convention, A.D. 325: With a Life of Constantine [280? - 337 (Emperor 306 (312) - 337)], Seventh Edition, Dean Dudley [1823 - 1906], Attorney at Law, and Member of Various Historical Societies, New York, Peter Eckler, 1925 (c1886). [a Classic!] [a "Must See" book!].
[See (Constantine): #6, 171-174 #8, 208; #10, 239; #13, 324; #16, 354; #20, 397].
The words Council, Synod, and Convention are synonymous. There were many Councils held in Christendom before that of Nice [Nicaea A.D. 325]; but they were not Ecumenical, that is, general or universal. At the first Councils the bishops probably represented only their several churches, but they gradually assumed more extensive powers, and claimed to represent larger districts....
In this history of a single Council we shall obtain a glimpse of the condition of the Christian Church of that day, Constantine, the great emperor of Rome, being decidedly the most conspicuous figure in the picture." ["3"].
"IT IS STRANGE NO PUBLIC PRAYERS WERE OFFERED AT THE COUNCIL. Another canon forbids the election of a eunuch to the office of bishop. To degrade manhood was deemed by some the best way to exalt their religion." .
'NO MENTION IS MADE OF THE BIBLE BEING READ PUBLICLY IN THE MEETINGS OF THE "GREAT AND HOLY SYNOD," as it was called. St. Jerome [c. 342 - 420] said that he had heard from one of the fathers that the book of Judith was approved at Nicaea. But no other early writer mentions it. Historians often remark that the fathers had a way of interpreting Scripture different from ours, in these days. Constantine [280? - 337], in his "Oration to the Saints," speaks of the Garden of Eden as being located in some other world; and this was the belief of Tertullian [c. 160 - c. 220] and several other Christian writers, as Tatian [died c. 185], Clement of Alexandria [c. 150 - c. 215], Origen [c. 185 - c. 254], Jerome [c. 342 - 420], &c. We can't help mistrusting the sincerity of some of the early Greek converts, who, immediately upon espousing the new religion, began to write books and sign the names of celebrated apostles or martyrs to their devout productions. The Epistle to the Hebrews, ascribed to Paul, is one of these. But it was so well done that many were willing to accept it as inspired. All the best critics say it cannot be Paul's writing, although it seems to contain his [Ecclesiastical Corporation! (see #4, 116, 123, 124, 129)] ideas, expressed by some other author.' [5-6].
'The Apocalypse [Revelation] is another doubtful book. Modern criticism even rejects portions of the four evangelists. It would be remarkable that an unlettered Galilean, should have introduced into his book the Platonic "LOGOS," [see #15, 338 (Logos)] that is, "WORD," just as the great philosopher used it, and LAID THE VERY BOTTOM FOUNDATION OF THE NICENE CREED. Does any one nowadays undertake to prove that John, the disciple of Jesus, wrote that book, or even dictated it?
Then there was a work called the Shepherd of Hermas, that many early Christians took to be inspired; but they couldn't tell who was the author. IT WAS MADE TO SELL TO THE FAITHFUL, SIMPLE SOULS, who looked only at the surface of such works. THE STORY PLEASED THEM, being in saintly style, although a rather low style.' .
"The Nicene fathers argued that the pagan religion was derived from the poets; and, therefore, was not of divine origin. But how could they deem that an objection, seeing that the prophets of the Old Testament were nearly all poets? And the most ancient religious books of various nations were sacred poems. It seems to me that faith and hope, which are considered the principal parts of religion, are peculiarly poetical themes. They are not scientific deductions, or historical facts. All men have capacity to enjoy them, whereas but few can comprehend or appreciate a logical argument, or even understand what is sufficient evidence to establish great theological dogmas. Most people must, therefore, necessarily found their belief upon the statements and practice of others [see #4, 146 (Schopenhauer)]; and SUCH THEORIES WILL BE CHOSEN, AS ARE PLEASING AND FLATTERING, whether in works of poetry or prose, provided they have been approved by custom and beloved forefathers. This DISPOSITION IN MANKIND [Homo sapiensbehavior!] accounts for the tenacity with which many absurd principles are retained in institutions that have come down to us from the dark ages. It is the duty of science to dispel and discourage such things." .
"Whether Jesus taught the doctrine of an eternal hell for punishment in the after life, is a question among doctors of divinity. Origen [c. 185 - c. 254] denied it. The Roman Catholic Church has adopted purgatory in imitation of the sheol, hades or tartarus. That [Catholic] church has many doctrines, forms and rites similar to those of the older religions [see: Robert Taylor, 421; Augustine, 460]. Jesus seems to have considered doing good deeds and living a pure life the true way to worship God." [End of Introduction] .
'our present legal institution of Sunday was established by this man's [Constantine] authority. "He enjoined on all the subjects of the Roman empire to observe the Lord's Day as a day of rest."
This decree for the general observance of Sunday* [see below] appears to have been issued A.D. 321, before which time both "the old and new Sabbaths" were observed by Christians. Gibbon [Edward Gibbon 1737 - 1794] says he called the Lord's Day "Dies solis," that is, the Day of the Sun, or Sun'sday. "This day," he said, "should be regarded as a special occasion for prayer." And he [Constantine] gave his soldiers the following form of prayer to use: "We acknowledge thee the only God; we own thee as our King, and implore thy succor. By thy favor we have gotten the victory: through thee are we mightier than our enemies. We render thanks for thy past benefits, and trust thee for future blessings. Together we pray to thee, and beseech thee long to preserve to us, safe and triumphant, our Emperor Constantine and his pious sons." He encouraged celibacy, of the old virgin stamp, having a great veneration for it.' [19-20].
'*It was not generally called "Sunday" before this time; probably, never so called. Constantine had claimed Apollo, the sun-god, as his patron, and even after becoming a Christian he stamped Apollo's image on one side of his coin, and the initials [? (complex)] of Christ on the other.' .
[See: #2, 20-22, 38-39 (Numismatics); #13, 263 (Numismatics); #20, 403 (Apollo and Christ)].
'In a great oration addressed by him [Constantine] to the Assembly of the Saints, he declares that Providence rules all things like fate; that justice is ever done, and that men receive here what they merit from Heaven's almighty ruling hand. His precise words are,
"The events which befall men are consequent upon the tenor of their lives. Pestilence, sedition, famine, and plenty are all regulated with reference to our course of life."* [see below ("300,000 men", etc.)]
In regard to the philosophers, who search into the secrets of nature, he [Constantine] remarks, that they often obscure the truth, when the subject of their reasoning surpasses their powers. So Socrates [469 - 399 B.C.E.] played constantly with the subtleties of controversy. And Plato [c. 428 - c. 348 B.C.E.], although he was sound in asserting that the word (logos) is God, and also the Son of God, yet he errs by introducing a plurality of gods. Pythagoras [6th century B.C.E.] lied when he said that his knowledge came directly as a revelation [see #4, 146 (Schopenhauer)] from God, for he received it from the Egyptian priests.
"The soul of man is eternal," says Constantine; "but all things which had a beginning must have an end."
The coming of Christ, he asserts, was predicted by the prophets, the sibyls, and sublime poets. Even Virgil [70 - 19 B.C.E.] refers to the Christians, where he sings,-
"Behold a new, a heaven-born race appears."' [21-22].
[See (Virgil): #3, 65].
"*He [CONSTANTINE] TRUSTED IN PROVIDENCE, like Cromwell, AND HAD A STANDING ARMY OF 300,000 MEN, AND TWENTY-NINE NAVAL SQUADRONS." .
'The principal faults of this founder [Constantine] of the Christian power in Rome were, according to Mosheim [Johann Lorenz Mosheim 1694 - 1755], Gibbon [Edward Gibbon 1737 - 1794] and other historians, very similar to those of our English sovereign Henry VIII. [1491 - 1547], founder of the Protestant ascendency in Great Britain. He was wilful, voluptuous, and self-conceited. His heart was capable of extreme cruelty, as shown by his acts toward several of his near relatives.* Even a son, named Crispus, fell a victim to his jealous resentment. He assumed that he was born to reign, and held his commission from God. The flattery of the prelates might have augmented this conceit; for it was sometimes excessively fulsome.
Eusebius [Eusebius of Caesarea c. 264 - 340] says, that on one occasion a Christian orator asserted, in the emperor's presence, that he would share the Empire of Heaven with Christ in the world to come. See Life of Constantine, book IV. chap. 48; English translation of 1845'. .
'*Gibbon says, that, after Constantine had put his wife's father [Maximian] to death, in Gaul, he gained a victory over the Franks and Allemanni, and gave their chiefs to be devoured by wild beasts in the public ampitheatre of Treves. Another historian says, a great number of the French youth were also exposed to the same cruel and ignominious death. "Yet," says Gibbon, "his reign in Gaul, excepting his destruction of Maximian [c. 250 - 310 (conspired against Constantine; apparently, compelled to suicide) (father of Maxentius, and Fausta)], seems to have been the most innocent and even virtuous period of his life."' .
'JULIAN CHARGED HIS UNCLE, CONSTANTINE, who was also the father of his wife, with being "A VOLUPTUARY, A PROFLIGATE AND A MURDERER." Dean Stanley says, he put to death five of his near relatives, one being his wife, Fausta, and one, an eleven-year old son of Licinius and his wife Constantia, Constantine's half-sister.' .
"Constantine favored the Arians very much in some parts of his life, being under the influence of Eusebius of Nicomedia [died c. 342], by whom he was baptized and other Arian courtiers." [23-24].
"Constantine was peculiar in his dress, looks, and manners. In his later days he had a red complexion, and somewhat bloated appearance. His eyes were bright, and glared like those of a lion. His neck was thick, his voice soft and gentle.
The spear of the soldier was ever in his hand, and a helmet on his head, studded with jewels, and bound round with the Oriental diadem. He wore it on all occasions. His robe, of imperial purple or scarlet, was made of silk, richly embroidered with pearls and flowers, worked in gold. He took much care of his hair, at last wearing wigs of false hair, of various colors. His beard was shorn like that of the early Caesars. His appetite was voracious, gluttonous. His wit was crisp and dry. He never lost his presence of mind. Stanley [Arthur Penrhyn Stanley 1815 - 1881 ("dean of Westminster", etc. [Cam. Bio. Dict.])]." .
"Other writers say that Fausta [second wife of Constantine] was the instigator of the murder of her stepson, Crispus. And they say Constantine so much repented of his cruelty, that he had her killed soon after, by being suffocated in a boiling hot bath. Philostorgius [c. 368 - c. 439] says the emperor murdered two wives, and that his three sons, who succeeded him were the sons of an adulteress. He declares that Fausta was innocent. Helena [c. 255 - c. 330 (St.)], the aged mother of Constantine, lamenting the fall of Crispus, soon revenged it; and Fausta was accused of adultery with a slave.* Her condemnation quickly followed; although she and Constantine had been husband and wife for twenty years, and had four daughters and three sons, viz., Constantine, Constantius, and Constans, who became heirs to the Roman empire." [25-26].
'Mosheim says, "Constantine's life was not [sic!] such as the precepts of Christianity required." He put to death his own son, and his wife Fausta, on a groundless suspicion, and cut off [authored the deaths of] his brother-in-law Licinius and the unoffending son of Licinius, contrary to his plighted word. Nevertheless, the Greek Church has canonized him, and adores the memory of St. Constantine.' .
"HE [Constantine] WAS TAUGHT by the bishops that God sent his only Son to be crucified for the benefit of mankind; therefore a sovereign might order his son to be sacrificed for the good and peace of society. Under the influence of such fanaticism, he perhaps committed all his bloody crimes without feeling their real enormity. But his character and influence cast a dark shade over the Christianity [see #5, 162-163 (The Dark Side of Christian History)] which he established." [27-28].
'Dr. Stanley, of the Episcopal Church, gives some pointed, finishing touches to this sketch. He says the horrors of Constantine's domestic life, which he tried in vain to conceal, occurred about the time he conquered Maxentius [Emperor 306 - 312]. While he was at Rome, an inscription was found one day over the gates of the Palatine, catching at his weak points, Oriental luxury, and cruelty:....[Latin]
Which I translate,
Hosius [c. 256 - 357/8 (Bishop of Córdoba)], the emperor's counsellor in the West, came to Rome about that time with Helena [mother of Constantine], and relieved him of his deep distress, by assuring him that THERE ARE NO SINS SO GREAT, BUT IN CHRISTIANITY THEY MAY FIND FORGIVENESS.
The emperor has been charged with a great many crimes besides these, which are proved. He was said to have sought absolution from the pagan priests, and even had an infant sacrificed and its entrails examined at the suggestion of a Jew. Many suspicions and legends against him are quoted at length by both heathen and Christian historians.' .
[note: quotation marks omitted ]
The Roman Catholic Church recognizes twenty [21?] General Councils,the first A.D. 50, the second, 325, at Nicaea, and the last, 1870; but there was no general council held in the year 50, according to the best authorities, so that the Council of Nice was unquestionably the first that was ever convened, and certainly it is the most celebrated in the whole history of the Christian Church.
"Nice anciently called Nicaea, was a city of Bithynia. It is now called Izneek, or Iznik, and is a village and ruined city on the eastern extremity of Lake Izneek, in Asia Minor, between Ismeed and Brusa. It was the first conquest of the Crusaders in the East, A.D. 1097." .
"Of the ten persecutions, the first [a popular story, but questionable] was that of Nero, A.D. 64; the second, of Domitian, A.D. 95; the third of Trajan, 107; the fourth of Adrian, 118; the fifth of Caracalla, 212; the sixth, of Maximin, 235; the seventh, of Decius, 250; the eighth, of Valerian, 257; the ninth of Aurelian, 274; and the tenth, and most severe, was begun on Christmas [see #13, 271-286, 307-327] Day, A.D. 303, under DIOCLETIAN, when the emperor ordered the doors of the Christian church of Nicomedia to be barred, and then burnt the edifice with every soul within, the number being six hundred [(?) see 447-448, 450 (Diocletian)]. Nicomedia, the chief city of Bithynia, was then the seat of the imperial court, Constantinople not being made such until A.D. 328." .
[See: #13, 322-323 (Delehaye)].
Excursus: from: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, F.L. Cross, Oxford, 1997.
[1997 edition: some problems (size, readability, "spins", etc.). Consult, and compare, earlier editions. Compare, for example: "apologetics".].
"Diocletian (Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus) (245313), Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....Endowed with immense energy, great gifts of organization, and a mind dominated by logic, he made it his main purpose to stabilize and reform the Empire....On 1 May 305 he formally abdicated at Nicomedia, compelling his reluctant colleague Maximian to take the same step. He lived his last years in retirement at his large palace at Spalato [Salona] (Split)." .
"For the greater part of his [Diocletian] reign the Christians seem to have enjoyed the tranquility which had been theirs since the Rescript of Gallienus [Roman Emperor 253 - 268] (260). Only the *Manichees were repressed, by an edict of c. 298 (dated 31 March but without the year), as a sect lately originating in Persia. It was in 303 that the Great *Persecution broke out. An edict issued at Nicomedia on 23 Feb. enjoined the demolition of churches and the burning of Christian books. Some incidents which followed (fires in the palace at Nicomedia, reports of unrest at Melitene and in Syria) led to further edicts. The next two were directed solely against the clergy. The punishment inflicted for resistance was imprisonment, torture, and, in some cases, death. A fourth edict issued early in 304 enjoined sacrifice to the gods on all subjects. The persecution brought a considerable number of martyrs. Its severity varied in different parts of the Empire acc. to the changing fortunes of the Imperial rulers in the next decade. Its final collapse was due to *Constantine's defeat of Maxentius [Roman Emperor 306 - 312] at the *Milvian Bridge on 28 Oct. 312 and the 'Edict of *Milan' [Fiction!] [see #6, 173; #8, 206] (q.v.) early in the next year." .
"Diocletian apparently believed that the piety of the old religion was essential for divine protection, and that men were not entitled to set up their private judgement against traditional wisdom. On the latter principle he banned *Manichaeism c. 298. The execution of the centurion Marcellus in Mauretania for refusing to participate in official cults prob. took place in 298. In 299 he took steps to purge the army and court of Christians, but only in 303, perhaps under the influence of *Galerius [(d. 311) Roman Emperor 305 - 311, with Constantius Chlorus (father of Constantine), joint ruler Roman Empire], did he issue edicts of general persecution. The first, in 303, was designed to avoid bloodshed: churches were to be demolished and the Scriptures seized and burnt, Christians were not to assemble, those of high rank were to lose their social and legal privileges, and sacrificing was required as a precondition of bringing legal suits. Then the Christians were held to have sought his life; and further edicts ordered first the incarceration of the clergy, and then their punishment on refusal to sacrifice; finally sacrifice was enjoined on all subjects. A fearful persecution ensued throughout the empire [?], though only the first edict was given effect in the W., and in Gaul and Britain Constantius Chlorus [(c. 250 - 306) Roman Emperor 305 - 306 (father of Constantine (280? - 337))] was content merely to pull down the churches." .
"Christian emperors, from Constantine [Emperor 306 (312) - 337] onwards, placed the Church in an increasingly privileged position; the anti-Christian policy of *Julian [Emperor 361 - 363], Constantine's only pagan successor, hardly amounted to persecution; and FROM THE TIME OF *THEODOSIUS I [Emperor 379 - 395] THE STATE WAS TO COERCE PAGANS INTO CONVERSION, WITH MORE FERVOUR AND SUCCESS THAN IT ["THE STATE"] HAD SHOWN IN SUPPRESSING CHRISTIANITY." . [See: #18, 374 (McCabe)].
["THE ARMENIANS WERE THE FIRST NATION TO EMBRACE CHRISTIANITY OFFICIALLY. They were converted by *Gregory the Illuminator, who was consecrated bishop by the Metropolitan of Caesarea in Cappadocia ["cen. modern Turkey"] in 314, and who baptized their king Tiridates III (or IV) (reigned 298 ? 330)."
(Ox. Dict. C.C., 1997, 106)].
Excursus: from: A Classical Dictionary; J. Lempriere, D.D., The Eighteenth Edition, Corrected. T. Cadell, Strand; and W. Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh. 1837. [1788 to 1994] ["ix" to xxxii] [note: quotation marks omitted].
A Chronological Table,
'*Stanley says [sources?],"All eyes were fixed on Constantine. He cast round one of those bright glances of which he was master; and then, after a momentary self-recollection, addressed them in a short speech," &c. This suggestion about the "bright glance" might be a little improved [more conjecture (storytelling)] by adding that he slightly winked one eye to Pamphilus [c. 240 - 310 (St.)], his future historian. Stanley further records that the emperor spoke in Latin, because that was the court language; but very few of the HEARERS could understand him, as they WERE MOSTLY GREEKS.' .
'*In the discussions of the [Nicene] Creed, there were curious scenes, according to some writers. One reports that St. Nicholas [(?) 300 - 399], the red-faced bishop of Myra, whom we sometimes call "Santa Claus," got so enraged at Arius, that he slapped him on the jaw. And when a song was repeated out of Thalia, the bishops kept their eyes fast shut and stopped their ears. When the Arian Creed [see second draft, below], signed by 18 bishops was produced, the other 100 bishops tore it in pieces and ejected Arius from the Council. His book, Thalia, was burnt on the spot, and so many copies were soon destroyed, that it became a very rare work. THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN WORLD HAS ALTERED THE NICENE CREED, in some respects, in order to make it conform to common sense, as Stanley thinks.
The statement of Athanasius is, that "Arius was anathematized, and his Thalia condemned." He was then banished into Illyricum, by the emperor, who sent edicts to all parts of his empire denouncing him and his doctrines, and even threatening those who should dare to speak well of the exiled bishops, or to adopt their sentiment. The concealment of any of his writings was made a capital crime, as Constantine's epistles will unmistakably prove.' [69-70].
'Arius [d. 336] and Euzoius ["bishop of Caesarea in the later half of the 4th century."] came, and presented [when Arius was recalled from exile in Illyricum] to the emperor their declaration of faith. It was as follows:"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, and in the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, who was made of Him before all ages; God the Word, by whom all things were made, which are in the heavens and upon the earth; who descended, became incarnate, suffered, rose again, ascended into the heavens, and will again come to judge the living and the dead. We believe, also, in the Holy Spirit, in the resurrection of the flesh, in the life of the coming age, in the kingdom of the heavens, and in one Catholic Church of God extending over the whole earth."' .
[This second draft ("spin") "worked"! Constantine granted Arius a full pardon ].
'Sentences from Thalia [by Arius].
Thalia means "The Banquet." Only fragments of this work are extant, and they are in the works of Athanasius. Thalia was partly in prose and partly in verse.
Athanasius quotes passages, as follows: "God has not always been Father; later he became so. The Son is not from eternity; He came from nothing. When God wished to create us, He first created a being which He called the Logos [see #15, 338 (Logos)], Sophia, and Son, who should create us as an instrument...."
"The Logos does not perfectly know the Father. He cannot entirely understand his own nature. The substance of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are entirely different, the one from the other.
"These three persons are, in their essence, thoroughly and infinitely dissimilar.
"God is ineffable, and nothing (therefore not even the Son) is equal to or like Him, or of the same glory.
"This eternal God made the Son before all creatures, and adopted Him for His Son. The Son has nothing in his own nature akin to God, and is not like to Him in essence." Clark's Hefele.
Sentences from Athanasius.
Athanasius [c. 296 - 373 (St.)], in different parts of his works, above mentioned, expresses the following ideas, which will show how he was accustomed to argue certain points of doctrine, etc. Speaking of Arius, he says,"He vomits forth the poison of impiety." "He trusts in the violence and menaces of Eusebius [apparently, "Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia" [died c. 342]]." "He puts forth the Thalia in imitation of the filthy Sotades." "He draws up a rescript of faith for Constantine, in which he conceals the venom of heresy, by usurping the naked words of Scripture." "He dies by a sudden, miraculous death, on the Sabbath day," and "His death is an argument against the Arian heresy." "Arius, the Sotadeän." "Arius, the Atheist." "Arius is like the serpent that deceived Eve." "The devil is the father of the Arian heresy." "The Thalia is of an effeminate style, being written in imitation of Sotades, an Egyptian poet." "Thalia is accustomed to be sung among tipplers." See the complete extant works of St. Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, edited by J.P. Migne, from which I translate.' .
'This work [Thalia] was written by Arius [d. 336] subsequently to his excommunication by the Alexandrian Synod of A.D. 321, according to some authorities. Philostorgius [c. 368 - c. 439] says, he wrote also a collection of songs for sailors, millers, and pilgrims,an old expedient for spreading religious opinions among the common people, as Neander [Johann August Wilhelm Neander 1789 -1850] observes. Milman [Henry Hart Milman 1791 - 1868 (Dean of St. Paul's, etc.)], in Gibbon's Rome, [as editor] notes the fact thus: "ARIUS APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN THE FIRST, WHO AVAILED HIMSELF OF THIS MEANS [SONGS] OF IMPRESSING HIS DOCTRINES ON THE POPULAR EAR, BEGUILING THE IGNORANT, as Philostorgius terms it, by the sweetness of his music, into the impiety of his doctrines."
According to Sozomen ["early 5th century"], "Arian singers used to parade the streets of Constantinople by night, till Chrysostom [John Chrysostom c. 347 - 407 (St.)] arrayed against them a band of Orthodox choristers." Soz. B., VIII. chap. 8.
St. Ambrose [c. 339 - 397] composed hymns in Latin to the glory to the Trinity, for the people to sing in churches, A.D. 374.See Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church.
An old rhetorician at Rome, named Fabius Marius Victorinus ["4th century"], composed hymns to advance the Orthodox Trinitarian cause.
The following lines are the beginning of one of old Victorinus' hymns, as I find them printed in Patrologiae, VIII. 1159: ....[Latin].
This Victorinus, according to St. Jerome, was the "vice-consul of the African nation," and taught rhetoric, principally at Rome under Constantine. In his extreme old age, he received the faith of Christ, which was not long prior to A.D. 362. He wrote books against the doctrines of the Manichaeans, and commentaries on the apostolical Scriptures. He held a controversy with the Arian, Candidus [c. 354 (friend of Victorinus)], on the divine generation of the Word; and his four books against the Arians, besides several epistles to Candidus, are preserved in Patrologiae, vol. VIII., together with the opposing arguments of Candidus.' [73-74].
'*Dean Stanley says, "The Creed of the Council of Nice [Nicaea, A.D. 325] is the only one accepted throughout the Universal Church, and this Council alone, of all ever held, still retains a hold on the mass of Christendom."' .
"The Creed or Formulary* of Faith Established
['*This is usually called the "Symbol," or the "Confession of Faith." ....The date of the Nicene formulary, inscribed on the document, was the nineteenth day of June, A.D. 325.' ]. [Written in Greek].
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father. He is begotten, that is to say, he is of the substance of God, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten and not made, being of substance with* the Father; by whom all things, both in heaven and on earth, were made. Who, for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and took our nature, and became man. He suffered, and rose again the third day. He ascended into heaven, and will come to judge the living and the dead. And we believe in the Holy Ghost.*" [94-97].
Excursus: from: Early Christian Creeds, J.N.D. Kelly, Third edition, Longman, 1972 (1950).
"Creeds as Tests of Orthodoxy
Prior to the beginning of the FOURTH CENTURY all creeds and summaries of faith were local in character. It was taken for granted, of course, that they [creeds] enshrined the universally [sic!] accepted Catholic faith, handed down from the Apostles [Fictional characters! see #15, 338]. But they [creeds] owed their immediate AUTHORITY, no less than their individual stamp, to the liturgy [imaginations!] of the local church in which they [creeds] had emerged." .
"The custom becomes established, beginning with the council of Nicaea [A.D. 325], for ecclesiastics meeting in solemn conclave to frame formularies giving utterance to their agreement on matters of faith. These new creeds were intended, of course, to have a far more than local authority. Sometimes including ANATHEMAS, they were put forth not merely as epitomes of the beliefs of their promulgators, but as tests of the orthodoxy of Christians in general." .
"There is a FALSE TRADITION handed down to us, that this great first Council [Nicaea A.D. 325] of the Christian bishops decreed what books of the Bible should be held canonical. Other councils passed such decrees." .
"Books of the Bible.
The first Synod at which the books of the Bible were made the subject of a special ordinance was that of Laodicea, but the precise date of this Synod, as well as the integrity of the canon in question, has been warmly debated.See Wescott [Westcott] on the New Test. Canon.
This Synod of Laodicea in Phrygia, held about 363, enacted sixty Canons, which are still extant in their original Greek.See Beveridge's Pandecta Canonum.
The 60th Canon is as follows:
These are all the books of the Old Testament, which may be read aloud: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Esther, First and Second Books of Kings, Third and Fourth Books of Kings, First and Second Books of Chronicles, First and Second Books of Ezra, the Book of the one hundred and fifty Psalms, the Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the twelve Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Baruch, the Lamentations and Letters, Ezekiel and Daniel.
The books of the New Testament are these: Four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; the Acts of the Apostles; the Seven Catholic Epistles, namely, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; the fourteen Epistles of Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon." .
'Against Ordaining a Self-Mutilator.
The language of the Council's decree was, "If any has been deformed by physicians on account of a physical infirmity, or has been mutilated by barbarians, he may, nevertheless, remain among the clergy. But, if any, being sane, has dismembered himself, it becomes necessary, both that he should be prohibited from being established among the clergy, and that no such one should be successively promoted."' .
'"Constantine the Great solemnly confirmed the Nicene Creed, immediately after it had been drawn up by the Council, and he threatened all such as would not subscribe to it with exile. AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE SYNOD [COUNCIL] HE RAISED ALL THE DECREES OF THE ASSEMBLY TO THE POSITION OF LAWS OF THE EMPIRE; DECLARED THEM TO BE DIVINELY INSPIRED; AND, IN SEVERAL EDICTS STILL PARTIALLY EXTANT, HE REQUIRED THAT THEY SHOULD BE MOST FAITHFULLY OBSERVED BY ALL HIS SUBJECTS."' .
Comment: four great motivators: FEARS FICTIONS POWER FORCE
[not forgetting: anger, envy, greed, sadism, tribalism, nationalism, "fascism", Christianism, etc.]. [See: #15, 342 (Darwin)].
'Pamphilus [c. 240 - 310 (St.) (disciple of Origen)] says: "When the emperor held the banquet with the bishops, among whom he had established peace, he presented it, through them, as it were, an offering worthy of God. No one of the bishops was excluded from the imperial table. The proceedings on this occasion were sublime beyond description. The soldiers of the emperor's body-guard were drawn up before the door of the palace with their bare swords. The men of God (the bishops) passed along undaunted between their files into the interior of the palace. Some sat at the same table with the emperor himself; the others at side tables. One might easily imagine that one beheld the type of Christ's kingdom."Life of Constantine, book III. chap. 15.' .
"The heathen writers of his time say, that, having inquired of a Platonic philosopher what he [Constantine] could do to atone for his crimes, it was replied to him, that there was no lustration ["to purify by means of certain ceremonies" (Web. College Dict.)] for such atrocious conduct. However, when he had become very sick and near to death, A.D. 337, he was baptized by Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia [died c. 342], who had influenced him to favor ["switcheroo"!] the Arians in his last years, and to banish many Orthodox bishops." .
"*According to Athanasius [c. 296 - 373 (St.)] and Sozomen ["early 5th century"], Arius was passing through the city with a company of friends, and when near Constantine's forum, he stepped into a privy, such as were for public use, leaving his attendants waiting at the door. But not coming out, they looked in and found him dead, with protrusion of the bowels. It was the opinion of his friends, that he had been killed by sorcery, that is, witchcraft. We should not suspect that, but rather poison, in these days. Such murders were common. When Constantine died, his brothers and two nephews were murdered because the nephews were, by his will, made participators in the government with his three sons.See Tillemont's Hist. Roman Empire." .
'As this history began with Constantine, so it shall end with him....Gibbon...says,"He ever considered the Council of Nice the bulwark of the Christian faith, and the peculiar glory of his own reign." Constantine's name in Latin is given as "Constantinus, Caius Flavius Valerius Aurelius Claudius." He assumed the titles of Caesar, Augustus, Victor, and Maximus at different times. His nephew, Julian [see #16, 352-355], was the last emperor [361 - 363] of this family.'
[End of text] .
Excursus: from: In the Twilight of Christendom, Hegel vs. Kierkegaard on Faith and History, Stephen Crites, Professor of Religion Wesleyan University, American Academy of Religion, 1972.
"Christendom was formed when Constantine, having succeeded in establishing himself as sole Roman Emperor, proceeded to establish Christianity as the new imperial religion....
Only recently has it become clear that the Constantinian era has at last drawn to a close. The primary institutions of our civilization are no longer filial toward Mother Church, the proportion of the population that calls itself Christian is dwindling, and traditional Christian symbols are slowly evaporating from the general cultural atmosphere. Even the church has begun to notice that the keys to the kingdoms of this world are no longer jangling at its girdle. Of course Christendom was not born all at once; its seeds were sown well before Constantine, and it did not come to full cultural maturity; until some centuries after. Nor has it died all at once. Vestigial scars, medallia, and figures of speech recalling the grand alliance will doubtless continue for some time to adhere to both church and culture. Indeed, most Christians are finding it hard to reconcile themselves to their disestablishment. A good deal of the tension within the churches exists between a conservative leadership attempting to perpetuate an earlier model of Christendom and the bold new voices urging that Christendom be founded afresh, in alliance with whatever rough beast may be presumed to be slouching toward Constantinople to be born. Christians are choosing sides, as they have so many times before, between a traditional culture become decadent and new social forces moving to the tune of shrill promises. But the situation may have changed more fundamentally than either party realizes. It seems clear that any desire to revive the grand alliance, on whatever terms, is doomed to disappointment. Christian spokesmen may proclaim their secularity as much as they please. It is quite another matter to suppose that the saeculum ["Christian Latin 'the world'" (O.E.D.)] will ever again call itself Christian. Christendom has had its day." [16, 17].
[compare: #20, 397-399 (The End of Christendom and the Future of Christianity)].
Peter in Rome, The Literary, Liturgical, and Archeological Evidence, Daniel Wm. O'Connor, Columbia U., 1969.
[See: Henry Chadwick; Charles Guignebert; Paul Schmiedel; et. al.].
[note: Peter: a Fictional character! (see #16, 349)].
The Twentieth Century Atlas of the Christian World, The Expansion of Christianity Through the Centuries, by Anton Freitag, S.V.D. in collaboration with Heinrich Emmerich, S.V.D. and Jakob Buijs, S.V.D. With a Foreword by H.E. Cardinal Gregory Peter Agagianian Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, [Imprimatur 1963], Hawthorn, 1963 (1959 France).
[See (maps) ("must see"): 10, 16, 20; etc.].
The Times Atlas of World History, edited by Geoffrey Barraclough, BCA, 1993 (1978).
[See (maps, etc.): "The religious bonds of Eurasia to AD 500" (72-73); "The rise of Christianity to AD 600" (92-93); "The expansion of Christianity 600 to 1500" (100-101)].
from: The Freethought Exchange, #17 (#1), March/April 1995, 73-85 (1-16) passim.
A few references from my researches, which reflect my discoveries.
Subjects and results:
Bible (Old Testament. New Testament.) (was) is Fiction ("historical Fiction", etc.).
Jesus (was)is a Fictional character (not "historical").
Paul (was)is a Fictional character. Etc.
13."for one who is seeking historical truth...a record held sacred is for the most part fundamentally vitiated." [Vitiated (Random House, Unabridged, 1973 ): 1. spoiled; marred. 2. perverted; corrupted. 3. rendered invalid.]."
Thomas Whittaker [1856-1935], The Origins of Christianity with An Outline of Van Manen's Analysis of the Pauline Literature, "3rd." edition, Watts, 1914, xvi.
26."The Bible is, first of all--to use a word no less accurate for being a fashionable term--a mosaic: a pattern of commandments, aphorisms, epigrams, proverbs, parables, riddles, pericopes, parallel couplets, formulaic phrases, folktales, oracles, epiphanies, Gattungen, Logia, bits of occasional verse, marginal glosses, legends, snippets from historical documents, laws, letters, sermons, hymns, ecstatic visions, rituals, fables, genealogical lists, and so on almost indefinitely."
Northrop Frye [1912-1991], The Great Code The Bible and Literature, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982 (1981), 206.
43.'St. Augustine [354 - 430 C.E.] himself wrote (Retractationes 1.12.3): "The very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients also, nor was it wanting from the inception of the human race until the coming of Christ in the flesh, at which point the true religion which was already in existence began to be called Christian."'
Moses Hadas, Jay Professor of Greek Columbia University, Hellenistic Culture Fusion and Diffusion, Columbia U., 1959, 196-197.
51.["Religious Fiction"] "Christian leaders of the second and third centuries, whether they held the standard or the schismatic type of belief, were alive to the values of fiction in religion. Not only was fiction useful in propagating their views of truth but it was valuable as a substitute for the romances current among Greeks and Romans."
Edgar J. Goodspeed, A History of Early Christian Literature, Revised and Enlarged by Robert M. Grant, U. Chicago, 1966 (1942), 64.
60."Christians have never been reluctant to write fiction about Jesus, and we must remember that our four canonical Gospels are only the cream of a large and varied literature."
Randel Helms, Gospel Fictions, Prometheus, 1988, 11.
61."The Gospels are...works of art, the supreme fictions in our culture".
Randel Helms, Gospel Fictions, Prometheus, 1988, 11.
62."The first thing to be ascertained in matters of evidence is the character of the witnesses [Christian writers]; and witnesses more passionate and more fanciful, less informed, or less scrupulous as to matters of fact, can be hardly found."
[Edwin Johnson 1842-1901] [published anonymously], Antiqua Mater: A Study of Christian Origins, London: Trubner & Co., Ludgate Hill, 1887, xvii.
68.'It is true that in all pagan literature there is only one specific reference to the Bible... "God said"--what? "'Let there be light,' and there was light. 'Let there be earth,' and there was earth."' [Longinus, from Caecilius of Caleacte].
Moses Hadas, Jay Professor of Greek Columbia University, Hellenistic Culture Fusion and Diffusion, Columbia U., 1959, 247.
76."In his teaching Jesus [writers] made constant use of the O.T. At times he quoted it with approval. At times he interpreted it and gave to it a new and even opposite meaning as he treated it with his own authority. At times he drew upon the forms of O.T. wording to provide the framework of his instruction. In brief, the O.T. was without question constantly before him in all that he taught. He did not follow it slavishly but used it creatively and with a deliberate selectivity that was rooted in his own experience of God [themselves!]."
Henry Shires, Finding the Old Testament in the New, Westminster, 1974, 96.
77."the O.T. is often treated freely with alterations, substitutions, omissions, additions, and new interpretations." [N.T. use of the O.T.].
Henry Shires, Finding the Old Testament in the New, Westminster, 1974, 81.
79."What Taylor [Robert Taylor 1784 - 1844] thinks of the testimony brought forward by the Church historians can be seen in the following passage:--'The historians of the first three centuries of Christianity have taken so great a license in this way (inventing incidents and names, etc.), as that no one alleged fact standing on their testimony can be said to have even a probable degree of evidence. The most candid and learned even of Christian inquirers have admitted that antiquity is most deficient just exactly where it is most important; that there is absolutely nothing known of the church history in those times on which a rational man can place any reliance; and that the epoch when Christian truth first dawned upon the world is appropriately designated as THE AGE OF FABLE.'"
H. Cutner [1881-1969], The Devil's Chaplain Robert Taylor (1784-1844), The Pioneer Press, c.1950, 49.
81.'The New Testament, in short, claims to be, among other things, the key to the Old Testament, the explanation of what the Old Testament really means.... "In the Old Testament the New Testament is concealed; in the New Testament the Old Testament is revealed."' [plagiarism + presumption!].
Northrop Frye [1912-1991], The Great Code The Bible and Literature, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982 (1981), 79.
82."Thus, for Paine [1737 - 1809], the books of the New Testament are as replete with fable and superstition as are the books of the Old Testament. Although the first Christians lived in a time when certain rays of the light of reason illuminated the Greek and Roman world, they (like the people of classical antiquity) were still the victims of priests in league with rulers, both of whom enforced the worship of idols and gods as a way of [creating and] sustaining their own very human power."
Edward H. Davidson and William J. Scheick, Paine, Scripture, and Authority The Age of Reason as Religious and Political Idea, Lehigh U., 1994, 79.
83."when the New Testament was written, I might say invented, the art of printing was not known...the book was in the hands of very few persons, and these chiefly of the Church. This gave an opportunity to the writers of the New Testament to make quotations from the Old Testament as they pleased, and called them prophecies, with very little danger of being detected. Besides which, the terrors and inquisitorial fury of the Church...stood sentry over the New Testament; and time, which brings everything else to light, has served to thicken the darkness that guards it from detection."
Thomas Paine The Age of Reason Part Three Examination of the Prophecies, Edited and annotated by Frank Zindler, American Atheist Press, 1993 (1807), 66.
88."if all the O.T. influences were to be removed from the N.T., the latter would in many areas consist of little but meaningless shreds. Where the O.T. is not actually quoted, its content and ideas provide subject matter and structure for the Christian author."
Henry Shires, Finding the Old Testament in the New, Westminster, 1974, 15.
91. "The Age of Reason is not likely to be of much interest to the modern reader who, if he makes use of his reason, will find very little in either Testament that he is able to regard as literally true, except perhaps for some brutal and pathetic episodes in early Jewish history. What makes the position worse is that Paine, having rightly identified the Bible as primarily a specimen of mythology, does not go on to appraise it as a work of art."
[Sir] A.J. Ayer, Thomas Paine, U. Chicago, 1988, 141.
93."I here close the subject. I have shown in all the foregoing parts of this work that the Bible and the Testament are impositions and forgeries; and I leave the evidence I have produced in proof of it to be refuted, if any one can do it; and I leave the ideas that are suggested in the conclusion of the work to rest on the mind of the reader; certain, as I am, that when opinions are free, either in matters of government or religion, truth will finally and powerfully prevail."
[End of book ("Part First" and "Part Second")] [Thomas Paine 1737 - 1809].
Thomas Paine [1737-1809], The Age of Reason, Citadel, 1974 (1948) (1794 Paris), 190.
from: The Freethought Exchange, #19 (#3), July/August 1995, 74 (45).
213."Paul could say to the Corinthians that, if the resurrection were not true, and if Christ had not been raised, then his teaching was in vain, and the Corinthians' faith too was in vain, and that of all men Christians were most to be pitied for their false hope [1 Corinthians 15:14-19 (15:12-58)]. For Paul and the writers of the New Testament the resurrection of Jesus was obviously a reality. Our conclusion, though, is that the resurrection of Jesus was an event only in the minds and lives of Jesus' followers [see 102., 126., 260.-263., 288.-289., etc.]. It cannot be described as an historic event, The Easter story is a faith legend, not an objective eyewitness report; but it is a myth that the Christian church through the centuries has found to be a continuing inspiration."
[see 15., 247., 248., 273.].
[note, and review, the psychology (sin, sacrifice, blood, forgiveness, resurrection, etc.)!].
Origins of Christianity, R. Joseph Hoffmann, ed., "The Story of the First Easter", J.K. Elliott, Prometheus, 1985, 324.
from: The Freethought Exchange, #21 (#5), November/December 1995, 80-81 (157-158).
from: Alexander the Great, Peter Bamm, McGraw-Hill, 1968, 120.
"In Cappadocia ["(cen. modern Turkey)" (Webster's New Geographical Dict.)] which was never incorporated in Alexander's empire, Greek and Persian culture met and mingled under conditions of freedom. A great-grandson of the last satrap appointed by Darius III had made himself king who, although Persian, was an enthusiastic philhellene, with the result that a lively and uninhibited exchange of ideas could take place under his aegis. This is one of the reasons why Cappadocia developed into a centre, not only of the Christian faith but also of Christian thought. The sponsors of this spiritual movement were the 'Cappadocian Fathers'. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY, as Harnack [Adolf von Harnack 1851 - 1930 (see my 447.)] once wrote, IS A GOSPEL-BASED [pause] CREATION OF GREEK PHILOSOPHY [see 465: Comment: Impressions:], and the Cappadocian Fathers were among its founders."
from: Albert Schweitzer [1875 - 1965], Paul and His Interpreters, Macmillan, 1951 (1912) (1912 German), 120-122, 122-123:
"It was Bruno Bauer [1809 - 1882] [see 415-418 (Bauer)] who about the middle of the nineteenth century opened the ball with his criticism of the Pauline letters.1
This work is not on the same level as his criticism of the Gospels.1....In what sense Paulinism is to be considered the work of a school with Greek sympathies within Christianity is not explained.
In addition to this, Bruno Bauer complicates [completes!] his task by regarding not merely the doctrine of the Apostle of the Gentiles [Paul], but CHRISTIANITY in general, as a CREATION OF THE GREEK MIND....
It was not Palestine, according to this thesis, but ROME AND ALEXANDRIA [see 284 (Metzger)] which CRADLED CHRISTIANITY. PALESTINE MERELY SUPPLIED THE BACKGROUND [see my 384., 385.] for the picture which the first Evangelist undertook to create of the beginnings of a movement which really originated with Seneca and his adherents. Whether there ever was a Jesus [Bruno Bauer denied an historical Jesus (see my 235.)] or a Paul may be left an open question. It is in any case certain that the one [Jesus] did not utter the sayings which the Gospels put into his mouth [see: #3, 344.-348.; etc.], and that the other [Paul] is not to be regarded as the author of the letters [see: #4, 426.-428.; etc.]."
Comment: Impressions: (one paradigm) Christianity was a Greek-Roman result, with a Jewish (etc.) conglomerate substratum, consisting principally of the "Old Testament", oral traditions (via Aramaic, etc.), etc.
The origins of the elements of the above, "go back", through Mesopotamia, Egypt, etc.
Back through, the humus and humours of humankind.
from: Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World, Edited by Christopher Gill and T.P. Wiseman, U. Texas, 1993. [See: #2, 172.-175. (same source)].
"Set a story in a distant time, or clime, or both, and you are more likely to be believed." [Andrew Laird] . [See: 191-193 (Augustine)].
"The more arbitrary and unfair reality seems, the more people need to believe in some ultimate viewpoint from which the patterns will become clear. The Greek novels offer that, as does much popular fiction still. RELIGION AND THE NOVEL ARE IN THE SAME MARKET....there is an ache for life to make sense as fiction does. If not today, then perhaps tomorrow....To read and believe is a gesture of faith: faith in the possibility that reality could be like a GREEK NOVEL [AND/OR GREEK RELIGIOUS ANTHOLOGYNEW TESTAMENT!]."
[End of essay]  [J.R. Morgan (see #1, 57., 58.; #2, 172.-174.)].
[Samples of previous references to "Greek": #1, 29., 40.; #2, 99., 113., 114.; #3, 206., 215., 216., 233.; #17, 360-362].