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Canonization

Where does the Bible come from?

(Work in Progress)

Disclaimer: This article is to be read only by people who hold rational humility as a virtue. 

Many people dare not question their core values which they hold to be as divinely sacred, however those core values need to be questioned the most for they form the very foundation of our lives. To not question them would be intellectual dishonesty of the most heinous type. If you are not willing to admit that you may be wrong (rational humility– as defined by Kant) then it’s best you not read this. I take all faiths VERY serious, and they must also all be questioned VERY seriously.

The BRUTAL spread of Christendom…provides context for the spread of early christanity:

http://hunter.apana.org.au/~gallae/QueerStuff/religion/mirror/thtfmw1.html

This is something very few Christians know anything about. Typically even atheists know more about where the bible comes from.

Many Christians view the bible as Gods word. They see it as perfect and infallible. The ‘true’ word of God. The aim of this article is partly to show that the bible is Mans word ON god and thus it is not as perfect as deemed.

When addressing this question it is maybe more important to ask WHO put the bible together rather than WHAT is in the bible. In early Christianity (0AD-325AD) During the early formative years there many groups such as the Jewish-Christian Ebionites, the Marcionites  who all had different view points on which books were part of the bible and which ones weren’t. There were also many different books floating around, up to 96? And this was just for the new testament. Now all these different books give different accounts of Jesus. Some groups thought he was divine others didn’t. Some thought he was god incranted in flesh, others thought he was more of a spirit.

“The books we call the New Testament were not gathered together into one canon and considered scripture, finally and ultimately, until hundreds of years after the books themselves had been produced.” ~ Bart D.Ehrman

“The Canon of the New Testament developed gradually over time and the idea of a complete Canon existing from Apostolic times, has “no foundation in history.” ~ Wikipedia

By and large the actual books in the bible come from multiple sources. The king James is different than the NIV. The NIV contains bible verses that the king James doesn’t. In regards to the Old Testament there also two different versions, with slight differences. One is the J-tradition the other is the P-tradition. Which one is the correct one if they contradict each other? If there are even small contradictions how sure can we be the rest is true and factual?

How many of the actual Original manuscripts survive? Do any? Have they been edited? Who owned these? What were the owners motives?

Because very few original texts even survive, biblical texts were copied numerous times. How good were these scribes? Would they ever manipulate information as to how they understood it? Did they ever make mistakes? How full proof was the process?

It is said: “There are more differences among our manuscripts that there are words in the New Testament.” ~ Bart D. Ehrman Ph.D., M.Div.

Why were the gospel of Thomas, the gospel of Judas, the gospel of Phillip and the gospel of Mary Magdalene not included in the cannon? Some of these gospels are just as old as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The putting together of the biblical cannon was actually done by many groups of people over a time span of about 500 years. This process was done by the roman government in conjunction with the emerging catholic church.

During the early formative years there many groups such as the Jewish-Christian Ebionites, the Marcionites , the Valentinians,  who all had different view points on which books were part of the bible and which ones weren’t. There were also many different books floating around, up to 96? And this was just for the new testament.

Another HUGE problem in early Christianity was that approximately 90% of the population including Christians was completely illiterate. Thus pretty much the only ones who could read were powerful rich elite. This creates a problem in of itself.

“In the history of Christianity, the first seven Ecumenical Councils, from the First Council of Nicaea (325) to the Second Council of Nicaea(787), represent an attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of the Roman Empire.” ~Wikipedia

One of the most important events defining Christian history and therefore the bible, was the council of Nicea at Constantinople in 325 AD. Under the rule of Pagan emperor Constantine  various cardinals decide whether God was a triune being or not. A cote was held  and the 2 who didn’t vote in favour were promptly banished from the then known roman empire. This is how the Christian religion was instituted as the state religion and was the dominating religion of the western world for 2 millennia. By force…..

http://www.torahofmessiah.com/historyrepeat.htm

Wait it was a PAGAN emperor who made Christianity the national religion? He did this in order to keep the peace and in order to keep his kingdom together which was falling apart. You see his reasons were political and sociological. Like so much of the official formation of the bible and Christian doctrine.

The term ‘catholic’ means unity. The catholic religion is the unifying religion. There were many different version of Christianity with radically and fundamentally different beliefs and these needed to be unified. So in essence Christianity is a mishmash of many different religions Christian and pagan. This is clearly apparent as Christmas falls on a pagan holiday, the Christmas tree is a pagan ritual among many other things.

Now a lot of people assume the stories n the bible are unique. But you could be no further from the truth. There is another version of Noah’s flood (the epic of Gilgamesh)that predates the biblical version by several thousand years. The same with the story of Eden. As with the story of Christ, there is the Egyptian version of Horus, and the pagan version of Mithras. These pagan stories far predate the bible and yet the stories are fundamentally the same.

———————-On the Manipulation of the Trinity Doctrine————–

The concept of Trinity was under considerable debate in early Christianity. There were many who were non-trinitarians chief among them Arius.

“The theological warfare between the Arius and Athanasius doctrinal camps became intense. Constantine realized that the his empire was being threatened by the doctrinal rift. Constantine began to pressure the church to come to terms with its differences before the results became disastrous to his empire. Finally the emperor called a council at Nicea in 325 AD to resolve the dispute.

Only a fraction of existing bishops, 318, attended. This equated to about 18% of all the bishops in the empire. Of the 318, approximately 10 were from the Western part of Constantine’s empire, making the voting lopsided at best. The emperor manipulated, coerced and threatened the council to be sure it voted for what he believed rather than an actual consensus of the bishops.

The present day Christian church touts Constantine as the first Christian emperor, however, his ‘Christianity’ was politically motivated. Whether he personally accepted Christian doctrine is highly doubtful. He had one of his sons murdered in addition to a nephew, his brother in law and possibly one of his wives. He continued to retain his title of high priest in a pagan religion until his death. He was not baptized until he was on his deathbed.

The majority of bishops voted under pressure from Constantine for the Athanasius doctrine. A creed was adopted which favored Athanasius’s theology. Arius was condemned and exiled. Several of the Bishops left before the voting to avoid the controversy. Jesus Christ was approved to be “one substance” with God the Father. It is interesting that even now, the Eastern and Western Orthodox churches disagree with each other regarding this doctrine, the Western churches having had no influence in the ‘voting’.
Two of the bishops who voted pro-Arius were also exiled and Arius’s writings were destroyed. Constantine decreed that anyone caught with Arius documents would be subject to the death penalty.”

Source: http://www.angelfire.com/pa/greywlf/trinity.html

It seems HIGHLY convenient that the Trinity became accepted religious dogma, only AFTER Constantine a pagan politically motivated emperor exiled all non-trinitarians after a rigged vote on the matter. Early Christian history is so enlightening when it comes to the formation of the NT and its various ideologies and dogmas. ? It’s so gangsta, it’s so: ‘If you don’t agree with me, I kill you’. History is written by the winners not the losers, and the winners in that day in age was the catholic church in cahoots with the roman empire who gave birth to modern christanity all its creeds, laws, and dogmas.

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Watch the first 30min of this popular online film:

http://zeitgeistmovie.com/

Check this books out:

http://www.amazon.com/Pagan-Christ-Recovering-Lost-Light/dp/0802714498/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-0466678-6450836?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1194538246&sr=8-1

Released film, story of one of the worlds first feminists…the fall of Rome, burning of the Library at Alexandria by Christian mobs.

http://agorathemovie.com/

History is written by the winners, not the losers. And the winners at that time were the roman empire and the holy roman church. It was under their authority that Christian religion was solidified. This also started the dark ages. An age where people were systematically controlled by religion and state. Many hundreds of thousands who did not agree with those in power were promptly persecuted and executed.

This started very early.

Prominent People who decided what books were part of the bible:

Justin Martyr (103-165)

Irenaeus (130-202)

Lets observe by his own words what his reasons were as to why there should only be 4 gospels:

“it is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones in the world in which we live, and four principle winds, while the Chruch is scattered throughout the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel…it is fitting that she should have four pillars…(Against heresies 3.11.7)”

Origen (185-254)

Origen commenting about the gospels he had on hand:

“The differences among the manuscripts have become great, either through the negligence of some copyists or through the perverse audacity of others; they either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please.”

Athanasius Bishop of Alexandria (293-373)

Credited as having been the first person to give a list for the first 27 books that s. This guy is the granddaddy of the modern biblical cannon. He is also known as a ‘hoodlum’ or a ‘mafiaso’.

“Some modern historians suggest that the tactics of Athanasius were a significant factor in his success. He did not hesitate to back up his theological views with the use of force. In Alexandria, he assembled a group that could instigate a riot in the city if needed. It was an arrangement “built up and perpetuated by violence.”[16] Along with the standard method of excommunication he used beatings, intimidation, kidnapping and imprisonment to silence his theological opponents. Unsurprisingly, these tactics caused widespread distrust and led him to being tried many times for “bribery, theft, extortion, sacrilege, treason and murder.[17] While the charges rarely stuck, his reputation was a major factor in his multiple exiles from Alexandria. He justified these tactics with the argument that he was saving all future Christians from hell. Athanasius stubbornly refused to compromise his theological views by stating, “What is at stake is not just a theological theory but people’s salvation.”[18] He played a clear role in making the Constantinian shift a part of the theology of the church.” ~ Wikipedia

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Another case example of manipulation and political motive was the abolishment of the belief in reincarnation. Reincarnation was widely believed by Christians up until 543AD. Then something happened:

“There was a logical reason why the Emperor was opposed to the concept that all of mankind originally came from God and was returning to God via the cycle of birth and death. Justinian had been convinced by high ranking cardinals that it was not in the interest of the empire to allow Origen’s writings to continue to be copied and distributed. A powerful group of Cardinal’s and Bishop’s explained that if every soul had once pre-existed with God, then Christ wasn’t anything special to have come from God. These Cardinals convinced the Emperor that if people realized they were the children of God they might begin to believe they no longer needed an Emperor, or to pay taxes, or to obey the Holy Church. But since they reasoned that only Christ had come from God but God made brand new souls at the time of conception and only the Holy Church could bring these souls to God. Without the protection of the Empire or the guidance of the church, all people would be doomed to be forever cut off from God in Hell. This doctrine was very acceptable to the Emperor. Once Justinian understood the political danger inherent in Origen’s teachings, the rest was simply an Emperor doing what was in his best interest.”

http://reluctant-messenger.com/reincarnation-pope.htm

The above is a perfect example of how many cardinals through their own greedy lust for power changed the course of biblical canonization and the formation of its doctrines. This happened many, many times. You only need to examine the history for yourself.

When people say they have faith in the bible, what they are really saying is they have faith in the people who put the bible together and decided its doctrines. And since majority of Christians are quite ignorant of the founding father of the church and the bible it is safe to say most Christians faith is based ignorance.

A great book on the process of canonization form world-renown scholar Bart D.Ehrman:

http://www.amazon.com/Misquoting-Jesus-Story-Behind-Changed/dp/0060859512/ref=pd_bbs_1/105-0466678-6450836?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1194538369&sr=8-1

If you were to go back in time, at what point would you as a Christian pinpoint the moment in time someone carried the modern bible and believe everything they believed?

Really nice general timeline of canonization: http://ss789.fusionbot.com/b/ss_cache?cch=1122977&ck=4705273631&sn=159227193&k=325&emb

————Bible Canonization Timeline——————

33AD – (April 3rd) Probable date of Crucifixion of Jesus

34.5AD – Apostle Paul converts to Christianity

55AD – Gospel of Thomas composition

65AD(-110AD) – Gospel of Mark, Matthew, Luke, John composed (in that order)

98AD – Probable death of the last Apostle John

160AD – Irenaeus asserts 4 gospel canon (Tetramorph)

325AD – Council of Nicea (1st of the 7 Ecumenical Councils) – Trinity established

367AD – Athanasius 1st person to identify the 27 books of the NT

381AD – 1st Council of Constantinople (2nd Ecumenical Council)

382AD – Pope Damasus promulgated same list as Athanasius (considers it closed)

1517AD – Martin Luther begins the Reformation

1546AD – Official Catholic finalization of the Biblical cannon (Council of Trent)

    • Wayne

      This is an irresponsible synthesis.
      Zeitgeist the movie?
      What kind of suckers do you think we Christians are?

      The anti-clerical author of this article seems hard-bent to collect a biased eclectic collection to do nothing more than sow doubt and cast suspicion on the Bible. How arrogant. What, are you the only one who cares about the truth? You are faithful with details, and THEY care only about “greedy lust for power”?

      Do you think that you know more than ‘most Christians’ in “faith based ignorance”? You have knowledge and they don’t?

      I know scholars who have dedicated their lives to the Bible, to scholarship, to manuscripts, and archeological digs. They are unbelievably dedicated and don’t form their opinions on ‘popular’ garbage and Wiki references.

      As a human being, the author is being quite unfair to others. It is an opinion that surfaces among those who do not embrace the Word of God in community and prayer.

      Please take some studies before discrediting the Bible.

    • admin

      Welcome Mr.Wayne! I welcome your comment, however I wish it contained more substance and less ad hominem attacks so that serious historical events can be discussed.

      What kind of suckers do I think Christians are? The well intentioned kind, that haven’t done much digging into the origins of their faith…..like the kind I used to be for most of my life.

      This article isn’t anti-clergy, it’s anti-manipulation at the most fundamental level. I think everyone cares about the truth, hence why I would hope most people would take a hard critical & analytical look into the systematic origin of their faith. I firmly believe that we should be suspicious and doubtful of all large systems of institutionalized ideologies that have become dogmatically entrenched in society. Wouldn’t you agree?

      The primary scholar that I think has shed the most light on this subject, who is quoted several times above, is Bart Ehrman. A man who lost his faith in Christianity after doing a thorough study of how the Bible & Christianity came to be. He is one of the premier experts on the subject. I defer to his expertise. He is also about as unbiased as a scholar can get. (look into his personal life)

      The word of God and community/prayer that it is based in, comes logically from the people who formed the Bible and the Christian Institution almost 2000 years ago. An honest human being would sincerely question that process, study, read books and come to a well informed opinion. To have faith in the Bible and Christendom is to have faith in the very men who shaped it. And if one doesn’t know anything about those men who shaped it and their processes, then ones faith is fundamentally based on blind ignorance. Many Christians question their Theology….however I find it surprising that few actually seriously question the formative sources of said Theology.

      If you find any of the statements in the article in serious error, or believe you have a more accurate version of history that is more factual I invite you to post here a response. That is if you truly care about truth….I personally am quite willing to admit, I might be wrong on everything I currently believe…..however, are you!?

    • John Sorensen

      Belief “systems” and pre-made ideologies are like training wheels on a bike for children, when we mature we take them off… otherwise they hold us back