Constantines involvement in editing the bible
It was easier just to start a new thread.
Originally Posted by SenorGato
Sorry for the delay Senor Gato….I have three papers and a critical exegesis due by the end of the month, and I had to put the old nose in the books for awhile.
I am presuming that this question (correct me if I am wrong) comes from the writings of world-renowned scholar Dan Brown. What I have done is researched the question and found some good answers, and I will use some of my thoughts as well, but I will intermix the ideas.
Dan Brown claims that the Bible, written by man, was used by the council of Nicea and the Emperor Constantine in 325 AD to control the masses.
Did the Bible go through revisions and editing before being accepted into the New Testament as we have it today? Can the Gospel's in the Bible be trusted?
Scholars have found that the Bible is 98.5% authentic, the 1.5% of discrepancy is based on grammatical differences, not doctrine. So how do they test the ancient documents we have in order to come up with 98.5% accurate? Scholars look at how many copies of the original document there are and compare them to identify discrepancies. Today there are more than 5000 ancient copies of the original gospels. The oldest of which was copied 55 years after the original in the early 100s AD. While this is true, we cannot dismiss that these “1.5%” discrepancies are not important. When you translate from Greek, the words could look like this:
Is this a statement of what someone saw( last night I saw abundance on the table) or did they actually see a supernatural act
(last night I saw a bun dance on the table).
Likewise, with this statement:
Is God now here, or is he nowhere?
I would check out an author by the name of Bart D. Ehrman regarding this stuff. He was a fundamentalist turned agnostic because of this. His one book I have is called Misquoting Jesus.
So, to get to the nitty gritty about the question: Do the copies support Dan Brown's claim that Constantine edited the Gospels to make Jesus divine?
It is important to clarify exactly what role the Emperor Constantine played in the Council of Nicea, what the purpose for the council was, what happened at Nicea, and briefly how the canon (the Bible as we know it) was formed. Constantine was a Roman Emperor who lived from 274 to 337 A.D. He is most famous for becoming the single ruler of the Roman Empire converting to Christianity. It is debated whether or not Constantine was actually a believer (according to his confessions and understanding of the faith) or just someone trying to use the church and the faith to his own advantage. I believe he converted, but that is beside the point.
Constantine called the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., primarily because he feared that disputes within the church would cause disorder within the empire, of which he had just brought some stability after his military victory at Milvian Bridge.
The dispute in mind that was causing religious upheavel was Arianism, which was the belief that Jesus was a created being. The famous phrase they were disputing was, "There was when He was not." This was in reference to Jesus and was declared heretical by the council and thus resulted in the following words about Christ in the Nicene Creed: "God from true God…from the Father…not made." It was determined by the council that Christ was homoousia (meaning, one substance with the Father).
Concerning manuscripts that were burned at the order of Constantine, there is really no mention of such a thing actually happening at the order of Constantine or at the Council of Nicea. The Arian party's document (about Christ being a creature) was abandoned by them because of the strong resistance to it and was torn to shreds in the sight of everyone present at the council (Check out a guy by the name of Eusebuis. He is one of THE best Xian historians, and ironically enough, thought more like the Arians did on this subject).
Constantine (and the Council of Nicea, for that matter) had virtually nothing to do with the forming of the canon. It was not even discussed at Nicea. The council that formed an undisputed decision on the canon took place at Carthage in 397 (60 years after Constantine's death. Long before Constantine, 21 books were acknowledged by all Christians (the 4 Gospels, Acts, 13 Paul, 1 Peter, 1 John, Revelation). There were 10 disputed books (Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, Ps-Barnabas, Hermas, Didache, Gospel of Hebrews) and several that most all considered heretical (Gospels of Peter, Thomas, Matthaias, Acts of Andrew, John, etc.)
While I read the Davinci Code, and it made me wonder as well about a few things, I would put some of Mr. Brown’s “research” up there with the conspiracy theories equal to that of the U.S. faking the moon landing, and George Bush allowing the attacks on 9/11.
Constantine had an important role however in Christianity. Paul realized that for the word to spread to the Gentiles, they needed to break from Judaism, so what better thing to work with than the power structure already existing known as the Roman Empire. When Constantine signed the Edict of Milan (which proclaimed religious tolerance within the Empire) and later declared Christianity the religion of the Empire….THIS is how Constantine’s involvement in Christianity was huge…
Did that help, and feel free to critique the above.