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Thread: Constantines involvement in editing the bible

  1. #1
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    Constantines involvement in editing the bible

    [QUOTE=SenorGato;2205254]Quick question: The Bible was edited by Constantine to introduce Christianity as the main religion in Rome, no?[/QUOTE]

    It was easier just to start a new thread.


    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:

    lastnightIsawabundanceonthetable.

    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:
    Godisnowhere
    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.

  2. #2
    Great post, Steve, very interesting as usual. It kind of took my back to my old high school theology classes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. :D

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    [QUOTE=CanadaSteve;2217832]

    The oldest of which was copied 55 years after the original in the early 100s AD.

    [/QUOTE]

    So the Gospels that the New Testament is based upon were written 100 years after Mr. Christ's death?

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    This thread is useless without sackdance calling someone a bible pervert

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    [QUOTE=Buster;2218313]So the Gospels that the New Testament is based upon were written 100 years after Mr. Christ's death?[/QUOTE]

    No way of knowing when originals were written. And if you know anything about history, that is pretty good timing.

  6. #6
    [QUOTE=Buster;2218313]So the Gospels that the New Testament is based upon were written 100 years after Mr. Christ's death?[/QUOTE]

    There are fragments of specific gospels that have been dated much earlier than that ............. one fragment of Matthew I read about is thuoght to have been written between 20 and 30 years after Christ's ressurection.

    And please considser that it is not likely that we have the very first copy or a fragment of the first copy, so the written record has probably existed for significantly longer than one might conclude by the copies we have.

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    Dan Brown's work is sold under the fiction banner for a reason, he's an udder hack. I agree on many of your points Steve and have covered that period of Roman history as well. It's not easy to sum up that much info in such away. there are as many holes in the bible (which i have also studied) as is our defence ( at least Jesus had a good secondary)...It has always came down to belief for me...and i would rather believe in something that i can't prove, would seem impossable to an outsider...which is why i guess i'm a Jets fan

  8. #8
    Constantine was the beginning of a split in the Roman empire. Orthodox vs Roman Catholic. I don't believe his empire ever even controlled 50% of the Christian population

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    [IMG]http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00158/images/knighttemplarwithshield.gif[/IMG]

    I did it. I edited the bible.

    Now...do my bidding.

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    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan;2218743][IMG]http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00158/images/knighttemplarwithshield.gif[/IMG]

    I did it. I edited the bible.

    Now...do my bidding.[/QUOTE]

    I think you missed the point plumb....but I wish that guy you had there was on our d-line!

  11. #11
    [QUOTE=Buster;2218313]So the Gospels that the New Testament is based upon were written 100 years after Mr. Christ's death?[/QUOTE]

    I've heard alot about this too.

    Honestly, the Bible is interesting and all, but my problem has never really been what was edited and what wasn't. I don't even care about the missing Gospels too much.

    The way I look at the Bible...one half is meant to scare you the other half is to tell you how to be a legitimately good person. I value the second half quite a bit though.

    Steve, that was really informative. I'm not sure how much I believed it was edited. The only real reason I did is because it seems like something your typical Roman Emperor would do.

    The Bible's a good book when you don't take it literally.

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    [QUOTE=CanadaSteve;2218757]I think you missed the point plumb....but I wish that guy you had there was on our d-line![/QUOTE]

    Of course I did.....hey.....its me.

    Mr. Templar Knight was more involved than recorded history suggests.

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    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan;2219229]Of course I did.....hey.....its me.

    Mr. Templar Knight was more involved than recorded history suggests.[/QUOTE]

    That was my point that led Klecko to this comment:

    [QUOTE=Klecko73isGod;2205455]I am not trying to bait you here Steve. This answer just feels like a copout to me.

    History is history. Sure, certain historical facts can get blurry but not nearly as much as the Bible.

    If the Bible were released as a novel today, it would be universally panned by critics as being an over-the-top, overblown epic with literally hundreds of plot holes.[/QUOTE]

    This was my point. While I would disagree with his last point, because there are critics that pan the bible today...they are called scholared theologians. But the book still holds up....I don't say this because I am Xian, I say this because it is true. Are there those who critique the bible because they believe it is false...of course. But, their critiques, I don't think, are as valid as those who critique the bible but trust its content.

    But yes, we can never fully know "the truth" about how much Constantine was involved. I don't think he had anything to do with the canonization of the bible, but who did? As a graduate student in Divinity, sure I know the history of the bible, and why things were added and left out. Where we run into problems, is this 20th century, evangelical-fundamentalist viewpoint of the bible.

    For instance, it is commonly believed that science and theology were at odds once Darwins "Origin of Species" was published in 1859. Yet many scientists and theologians of the time had no issues with reconciling differing views. It wasn't until the 20th century fundamentalism did we see this an issue.

    The bible is a valid book. But I do not think it is to be taken literally in its entirety. I think people dismiss it or try and disprove it because they do not like the implications that God exists.

    Anywho, check out a book by David N. Livingstone called "Darwin's Forgotten Defenders: The Encounter between evangelical Theolgoy and Evolutionary Thought"...leafing through it as we speak...

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    [QUOTE=SenorGato;2219178]I've heard alot about this too.

    Honestly, the Bible is interesting and all, but my problem has never really been what was edited and what wasn't. I don't even care about the missing Gospels too much.

    The way I look at the Bible...one half is meant to scare you the other half is to tell you how to be a legitimately good person. I value the second half quite a bit though.

    Steve, that was really informative. I'm not sure how much I believed it was edited. The only real reason I did is because it seems like something your typical Roman Emperor would do.

    The Bible's a good book when you don't take it literally.[/QUOTE]

    Again, literalism compared to allegory...was there a flood that covered the earth, or was it a flood that covered a certain area....just the other day, there was a report of scientific evidence of a flood that covered a large area in biblical land....was it just the area, or again, was it an allegorical explanation.


    I think this was the story I read:
    [url]http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071118213213.htm[/url]

    Interesting too, that many cultures from around the world have large/worldwide flood stories within their history.

    I think, although many would disagree with me (including classmates), that the bible was never intended to be taken literally in its entirety.

    The biblical account of Genesis for creation? Check out the Mesopotamian creation myth "Enuma Elish"...Was the Hebrew explanation of creation an answer to this?

    Keep thinking about this stuff. Don't take an Evangelical's word for it (the bible is the word of God because the bible says it is) and don't read Dawkin's "God Illusion" without cross-referencing with some well-known theologians.

    It really is a fascinating topic....God. And the possibilities are very, very intriguing if that JC guy was who he says he was.
    Last edited by CanadaSteve; 11-20-2007 at 10:43 AM.

  15. #15
    [QUOTE=CanadaSteve;2217832]Did that help, and feel free to critique the above.[/QUOTE]

    all of thise 98.5% accuracy stuff assumes that the original gospels were free of human intervention

    pretty tough when we know they were written by man. what does "accuracy" really mean in that context?

    exactly 0.0% has been proven to be written by God!

  16. #16
    [QUOTE=CanadaSteve;2219396]Again, literalism compared to allegory...was there a flood that covered the earth, or was it a flood that covered a certain area....just the other day, there was a report of scientific evidence of a flood that covered a large area in biblical land....was it just the area, or again, was it an allegorical explanation.


    I think this was the story I read:
    [url]http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071118213213.htm[/url]

    Interesting too, that many cultures from around the world have large/worldwide flood stories within their history.

    I think, although many would disagree with me (including classmates), that the bible was never intended to be taken literally in its entirety.

    The biblical account of Genesis for creation? Check out the Mesopotamian creation myth "Enuma Elish"...Was the Hebrew explanation of creation an answer to this?

    Keep thinking about this stuff. Don't take an Evangelical's word for it (the bible is the word of God because the bible says it is) and don't read Dawkin's "God Illusion" without cross-referencing with some well-known theologians.

    It really is a fascinating topic....God. And the possibilities are very, very intriguing if that JC guy was who he says he was.[/QUOTE]

    The thing about Jesus and his beliefs is that many of them existed already...in Buddhism.

    Actually one of the books that helped me understand the Bible is a comedy...Lamb by Christopher Moore.

    And you're right, many events in the Bible...the star from the nativity tale...the great flood...Jesus the preacher (I'm not sure what I make of the many miracles but I got time)...all probably happened.

    I still think the overall message is to be a good person...you are your own church make sure you cherish yourself, your life, and everything and everyone involved in it.

    I'm one of those people who thinks that Jesus didn't mean it literally when he did the whole Peter you are the rock thing.

    I don't even think Jesus was very into organized religion.

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    [QUOTE=bitonti;2219433]all of thise 98.5% accuracy stuff assumes that the original gospels were free of human intervention

    pretty tough when we know they were written by man. what does "accuracy" really mean in that context?

    exactly 0.0% has been proven to be written by God![/QUOTE]

    That wasn't the question Bit....he was talking about the involvement of Constantine in the canonization of the bible.

    And there is a difference between "God inspired" and "written by God."

    One of the difficult things we have in talking about the bible is the issue of its accuracy. Many times I have heard the example of the phone game. If you start with one sentence, you end up with something different by the end of the line.

    While true, this is not an accurate portrayal of these cultures. We cannot fathom a literacy rate of about 4 percent of the population. Oral tradition was how they passed things on. Could you memorize a book by it being read to you? These cultures, in many ways, could. They could also translate history through story, and be completely accurate. We cannot understand this, because if we need to know something, we look it up. We don't memorize like cultures did 2-7 thousand years ago.

    But I know what you are getting at, and I cannot give you an answer. Somewhere down the line, with anything in history, you have to weigh the evidence, and either believe or not believe. There will come a time when this will be said of the Holocaust, 9/11, etc....even with our modern means of recording history, they will be completely out of date two thousand years from now...and people will question the truth of these things, like we question the validity of evidence from 2 thousand years ago...

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    [QUOTE=SenorGato;2219590]The thing about Jesus and his beliefs is that many of them existed already...in Buddhism.

    Actually one of the books that helped me understand the Bible is a comedy...Lamb by Christopher Moore.

    And you're right, many events in the Bible...the star from the nativity tale...the great flood...Jesus the preacher (I'm not sure what I make of the many miracles but I got time)...all probably happened.

    I still think the overall message is to be a good person...you are your own church make sure you cherish yourself, your life, and everything and everyone involved in it.

    I'm one of those people who thinks that Jesus didn't mean it literally when he did the whole Peter you are the rock thing.

    I don't even think Jesus was very into organized religion.[/QUOTE]


    Jesus was, and I want to emphasize this, was NOT NOT NOT into organized religion. He was most critical of the religious leaders of that time frame (Pharisees and the Sadducees).

    When you really study Christs teachings, they are like an onion....layers and layers of understanding. The whole concept of truly finding self by losing self is quite....interesting when you really study it.

    Also, no one will deny that there is truth in all religion (well, actually, that is not true, but they ought not deny that). What I like about Christ's teachings is the concept that God became man....If you wanted to communicate with ants, what better way to communicate than to become an ant. This of course has separated the Christian "church" (especially from many forms of Gnosticism) and other religions. This is one of the major sticking points between Christianity and Islam....the idea that God could become man. That is a blashemy in Islam, the notion could would become and taken on, sinful flesh.

    I look at it as what a better way to see God as a suffering God right along with us. I also like the notion that Jesus was the word that took upon flesh. I believe there is truth to be discovered as to how we ought to be amongst each other. And I like the idea that this is what Christ represents (attributes, wisdom, etc...)

    Can you find these truths elsewhere? I think you can, but I also think Christ has the full package...it just gets lost in the troubling ramblings of the Xian right-wing. To me, they best exemplify today what the Pharisees and Sadducees represented back then.

    Again, don't take my word for it....keep readings, keep searching and keep asking questions. I might suggest an author by the name of Brian McLaren. He is an author really focusing on the church and postmodern culture. He has a book called "A search for what makes sense: finding faith" that is absolutely brilliant (in my opinion).

    We live in a society that wants to believe AFTER they see. Faith in God is akin to a backward principle..belief in ORDER to see.(A Priori knowledge). He associates it with sitting in a dark room, calling out into the darkness if there is anyone there. You need to believe there is possibly someone there in order to call out to see if they are there.

    Again, if you are searching for the truth, honestly searching, how can you go wrong?

  19. #19
    [QUOTE=CanadaSteve;2219911]One of the difficult things we have in talking about the bible is the issue of its accuracy. Many times I have heard the example of the phone game. If you start with one sentence, you end up with something different by the end of the line.

    While true, this is not an accurate portrayal of these cultures. We cannot fathom a literacy rate of about 4 percent of the population. Oral tradition was how they passed things on. Could you memorize a book by it being read to you? These cultures, in many ways, could. They could also translate history through story, and be completely accurate. We cannot understand this, because if we need to know something, we look it up. We don't memorize like cultures did 2-7 thousand years ago.
    [/QUOTE]

    Homer's odessey suffers from the same type of 'inaccuracies' due to oral tradition but the difference is that 2 billion people don't currently worship a religion based on the odessey.

    my problem with the writing of the bible is it's rife for human agenda. it's real easy to make edits. for example there is a passage lev 11:22 where it says the israelites can't eat bugs... except for locusts. Why? maybe because after the locusts showed up thats all they have to eat. But did God make that addendum. I just can't see an all powerful all knowing God dropping in weekly to dispense addendums.

    we laugh about the book of mormon but how do we know something like revelations isn't the book of mormon of the 5th century? It's all relative and maybe 3000 years from now the book of mormon is considered part of the Bible?

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=CanadaSteve;2219956]Jesus was, and I want to emphasize this, was NOT NOT NOT into organized religion. He was most critical of the religious leaders of that time frame (Pharisees and the Sadducees).

    When you really study Christs teachings, they are like an onion....layers and layers of understanding. The whole concept of truly finding self by losing self is quite....interesting when you really study it.

    Also, no one will deny that there is truth in all religion (well, actually, that is not true, but they ought not deny that). What I like about Christ's teachings is the concept that God became man....If you wanted to communicate with ants, what better way to communicate than to become an ant. This of course has separated the Christian "church" (especially from many forms of Gnosticism) and other religions. This is one of the major sticking points between Christianity and Islam....the idea that God could become man. That is a blashemy in Islam, the notion could would become and taken on, sinful flesh.

    I look at it as what a better way to see God as a suffering God right along with us. I also like the notion that Jesus was the word that took upon flesh. I believe there is truth to be discovered as to how we ought to be amongst each other. And I like the idea that this is what Christ represents (attributes, wisdom, etc...)

    Can you find these truths elsewhere? I think you can, but I also think Christ has the full package...it just gets lost in the troubling ramblings of the Xian right-wing. To me, they best exemplify today what the Pharisees and Sadducees represented back then.

    Again, don't take my word for it....keep readings, keep searching and keep asking questions. I might suggest an author by the name of Brian McLaren. He is an author really focusing on the church and postmodern culture. He has a book called "A search for what makes sense: finding faith" that is absolutely brilliant (in my opinion).

    We live in a society that wants to believe AFTER they see. Faith in God is akin to a backward principle..belief in ORDER to see.(A Priori knowledge). He associates it with sitting in a dark room, calling out into the darkness if there is anyone there. You need to believe there is possibly someone there in order to call out to see if they are there.

    Again, if you are searching for the truth, honestly searching, how can you go wrong?[/QUOTE]

    See, the thing that Jesus preached was that the truth is *inside us.* The Truth in the preachings of Jesus is that a man of God is a good man, not a man that says he is good and goes to church to show everyone just how good he is.

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