Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
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11-05-2015, 02:52 PM
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 10:23 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(08-05-2015 05:54 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Q, you write
"Mark... I hope you don't mind me pointing out the clear disconnect between sending me to an article that claims (falsely) there was no NT or Christianity until the third century, and then to say here that the gospels were edited for 200 years before that time. And do you have any textual evidence of such edits?

Some TTA'ers like to say mean things like "cite some evidence or GT()O and ST()U". PLEASE, Mark, I've asked you a half-dozen times now, for textual proof. Show us all some different versions of the heavy edits of the NT you keep claiming, or please, stop. I might grant you the end of Mark, what is that, 10 verses out of 23,145? Please.
"

Okay Q, this is going to be long.

You're asking for evidence that the new Testament was interpolated and edited.

Firstly, as you admitted, Mark 16 9-20, the original account of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, is well recognised as an interpolation.

Secondly, you must appreciate the fact that Matthew and Luke were basically rewrites of Mark. So whoever originally wrote Matthew and Luke was obviously sitting at a desk putting in their own spin about and over the events in Mark. Strictly speaking that is not an edit or an interpolation as they were writing new gospels, but in reality that is what they were. Matthew and Luke were obviously spin doctors cutting and pasting bits of information. The bits in Matthew and Luke about the virgin birth, the three wise men, and the trip to Egypt, for example, are obviously all editions.

Bear in mind that there was no one church and there were no printing presses. So there were hundreds of gospels which were hand copied, multiple times, over hundreds of years, before anyone had the means or the power to create definitive versions. There was no one overseeing authority that make sure all copies were exactly the same... that only happened with Constantine in the fourth century. To imagine all these hundreds, perhaps thousands, of copiers did not add and subtract and change bits of the writings is ridiculous. We have numerous commentators, both secular and Christian, who admit that this was the case. The evidence for this follows.

Quite obviously the men who were leaders of early churches would never have admitted that they edited and interpolated the early writings of the church, so I can't produce actual writings of theirs saying "I edited or interpolated this this or that."

And, there are no significant surviving parts of the new Testament from the first second or third centuries. So we cannot be sure what the church fathers read. Some of them quote from "their" gospels, and some of these quotes resemble what's written in "our" gospels, yet many other of these quotes bear no resemblance to what is in "our" New Testament now.

There is no doubt they were spin doctors, and they were basically dishonest, as judged by the literary standards of today. Evidence follows.

Here is my chapter on the compilation of the new Testament. Yes.. it is long, and yes, there are some opinions in it that may not be correct, but if you take the trouble to read it, you'll understand the atmosphere of the times in which the gospels were created, and hopefully you'll develop an awareness that the gospels are nonsense ie not based on historical truth.

The Compilation of the New Testament

Most Christians today assume that the Church Fathers, who compiled and edited the New Testament texts, had good reasons to believe that these texts were the inspired words of God and truthful records of history. A case will be made that this assumption is totally unfounded.

The process of compiling a New Testament canon was a protracted and complicated affair. It started in the late second century and only finished toward the end of the fourth. The following summary provides only a brief overview.

It was over a century after Jesus’ death before the concept of a New Testament was even thought of. Most groups at this time considered only the Septuagint to be Scripture, so nascent Christianity, except for the Marcionists, was quite “Judaeo-Christian.”

Why were the four Gospels chosen over others, and how were they related to Yeshua? Did the canonical Gospels document real history? What did the Church Fathers know about the historical Jesus? How did Paul’s letters and the other epistles become part of the Bible? Was the Catholic Church the key beneficiary of promotion of the stories and the selection of books that make up today’s Bible? Were the so-called Church Fathers honest men?

Modern investigators can, and should, examine the writings of the Church Fathers to find out the answers to these questions. If we have evidence that Church Fathers were willing to simply fabricate stories and invent ideas, and they were the very people who compiled the Bible, that evidence throws serious doubt on the Bible’s legitimacy.

In the following section the key players and events are discussed in temporal order.

First century

Clement’s first epistle, traditionally dated to 95 CE, but more likely written decades later, did “quote” Jesus, and some of these quotations resemble sayings from the Gospels, but Clement never referred to a source. Someone writing about sixty years after Jesus’ death should have mentioned something about what he knew about the origin of his beliefs. The fact that Clement did not, strongly suggests he was unaware of any historical facts about Jesus.

Paul’s original letters, and James, Jude, 1,2 John and 1,2 Peter were probably all first written in the first century, yet were not commented upon by contemporary writers. James and Jude may have been Yeshua’s brothers, yet neither of their letters documents any details of Yeshua’s life. Paul barely mentions what Yeshua may have said or did. Unknown authors wrote John and Peter and the book of Revelations, yet they also failed to discuss Yeshua’s teachings or exploits. Their Christ was, like Paul’s Christ, a spirit.

So there is no legitimate first century commentary apart from what is written in the Gospels to tell us anything about Yeshua.

Second Century

In the second century, written and oral traditions about Jesus ran side by side, distorting one another. There were hundreds of “Gospels” - a mass of inconsistent writings. Books and manuscripts were hand-written, so hundreds of copiers were able to alter, add to, or omit whatever they wanted. Remarks written in margins by one transcriber were often transferred into the next text, and were then indistinguishable from the original. Myth became overlaid with myth.

There was no one dominant church to control the proliferation of these writings. There were hundreds of different communities scattered throughout the Empire, all with their own beliefs, written and oral.

Imagine the conundrums Christians had to sort out or gloss over when compiling a canon. The ethnocentric concept of the Jews’ ever-lasting covenant with God made on Mount Sinai had to some- how be sold to a crowd that was not Jewish. Paul put forward an entirely unprecedented idea of a new covenant for everyone, including Gentiles. How to correlate that with Jewish Scripture? Then the Gospel’s Jesus appeared. The Holy Ghost was said to be Jesus’ father, yet Jesus was also supposed to be a son of David. How could Jesus have a divine and a human father? Was or was not Jesus the Jewish Messiah? A Jewish Messiah was supposed to liberate Israel from the Romans, yet Jesus did not do that. Instead, Jesus somehow saved Gentiles from their sins. Just who was Jesus Christ? A god, a spirit, a human, or something in between? No lasting agreement was reached until well into the fourth century, when it was decided he was all three, a doctrine that barely made it into the Bible. Yahweh in Scripture and Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel both said the Law was to be obeyed for all time, but Paul had written that faith in Christ’s sacrifice annulled the Law. Then there was the author of the book of James, maybe the brother of Jesus, who contradicted Paul’s doctrine of salvation by faith. There must have been a lot of head scratching and “cutting and pasting” to morph Paul’s Christ into the Jesus stories in the Gospels so that they appeared to be the same character.

Mark’s Jesus unfortunately did not appear to anyone, so something had to be done about that. There were hundreds of other inconsistencies and errors in the Gospels that had to be glossed over.

To reconcile these polarized themes into a sensible, consistent doctrine was impossible. It was achieved on a “shop floor,” but not on an intellectual level, which speaks volumes about how easily the simple people of the times, most of who could not read, were won over.

Letters allegedly written by Ignatius in 110 CE include a few phrases and paraphrases that resemble ideas from Paul’s epistles, but the author does not acknowledge that they were Pauline.

There are also some phrases and ideas in Ignatius’ letters similar to those found in today’s Matthew and John, but Ignatius’ sources are not named. Hence it is very apparent that Ignatius, writing in 110 CE or later, was not aware of the existence of four authoritative Gospels, or of a body of Pauline works.

Ignatius wrote of the “star of Bethlehem:”
“A star shone forth in heaven above all other stars, and the light of which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with aston- ishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star” (to the Ephesians chapter XIX.)

Ignatius may have been writing metaphorically, yet to claim something this comical is childish. I suspect he wrote this in all seriousness, and expected his readers to believe it.

Ignatius emphasized the importance of bishops to bolster the power of his church. In the letter to the Ephesians he wrote:

“Wherefore it is fitting that ye should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also ye do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung.”

Ignatius was telling the people to obey the bishop.

In Ignatius’ letter to the Trallians he paralleled the position of bishop with the position of Christ:

“For, since you are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, you appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, you may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as you indeed do, so without the bishop you should do nothing,” and

“... Let us be careful not to resist the Bishop, that through our sub- mission to the Bishop we may belong to God... We should regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself.”

According to Ignatius, a Bishop was God’s equivalent.

Some Church Fathers claimed that Papias (70–163 CE) quoted Jesus. Yet Papias wrote that he relied only on oral tradition as the source of Jesus’ sayings, which casts immediate doubt on the veracity of what was written, as quotes derived from an oral tradition are unreliable.

Eusebius claimed Papias knew someone who had known the author of Mark’s Gospel, yet gave no details about this. Surely Papias would have documented something so important. The name “Mark” was not associated with the authorship of a Gospel until about twenty years after Papias’ death, which means the claim is untrue.

Unfortunately for Papias’ reputation, Eusebius expressed serious reservations about the caliber of his intellect:

“I guess he got these ideas from a misinterpretation of the apostolic accounts. For he did not understand what they said mystically and in figurative language. For he obviously was a man of very little intelligence, as one can tell judging from his sayings. Nevertheless, it was due to him that so many churchmen after him adopted a similar opinion, basing their position on the fact that he was a man of the earliest era” (Eccles. Hist. 3.39.12–13.)

Eusebius had to guess where Papias got his facts from, wrote Papias off as unintelligent, and then admitted Papias was a significant and early source of dogma!
Polycarp (70–155 CE) penned a letter that some modern commentators claim contains Jesus’ words, yet Polycarp did not claim that these words came from Jesus. Some of them resemble phrases appearing in today’s Gospels, (and even passages written in epistles, which were not attributed to Jesus). If Polycarp had intended to quote Jesus, he would have written that that is what he was doing.

In the mid second century the proto-orthodox groups coalesced around the name “Catholic.” Justin Martyr became their preeminent apologist. Justin was unaware of the concept of a New Testament canon, or that there should only be four Gospels, or of the existence of any of the four now canonical Gospels. Justin used more than three hundred quotations from the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from now - apocryphal books, but none from the four Gospels. One of four things must be true; either the Gospels had not been written yet, or they were in a very different state from what they are today, and unnamed, or they existed but he had never seen any of them, or that Justin knew of them but failed to mention them.

Justin was, at times, unscrupulous. He interpolated the Septuagint with a number of phony prophecies concerning Jesus, which were weak, clumsy, and dishonest. They can be found in the dialogue of Justin with Trypho the Jew. Trypho did not exist; he was a straw man, Justin’s literary invention he used to argue against Judaism.

Justin justified his belief in Jesus as follows:
“When we say also that the Word, which is the first birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified, died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter” (First Apology, chapter 21.)

Instead of discussing evidence, Justin claimed (quite correctly) that the Jesus account was similar to myths about other gods, and should therefore be equally true. Yet Jesus, if he ever existed, had died only one hundred years earlier.

Justin claimed that Socrates (469–399 BCE) and Heraclitus (535– 475 BCE) were Christians, (First Apology Chapter 46, Second Apology Chapter 10) an assertion similar to saying that Galileo was a scientologist.

Justin believed insane people were possessed by the souls of the wicked, so were proof of the immortality of souls. (First Apology, Chapter 18.)

Marcion (110–160 CE) may have introduced Paul’s writings to Rome in the 140’s CE. Marcion was the first person to attempt to define a Christian canon in the 140s.

Marcion suggested that the “new covenant,” as proposed by Paul, was part of a new religion separate from Judaism. Marcion’s canon consisted of Paul’s letters and the Euangelion (which was similar to, but shorter than, canonical Luke.) Marcion ignored all other religious literature, including Jewish Scripture. Marcion either knew nothing of Mark, Matthew, or John, or neglected to acknowledge them.

In the mid to late second century, the canon first began to take shape. The Catholics in Rome did with Marcionism/Paulinism what they often did with other social or cultural or religious beliefs and practices: absorbed them. Paul had (probably) thought up the theology of individual salvation - “justification by faith” - that dispensed with the difficult dictates of Mosaic Law. Paul also promised heaven, a concept convenient for the Catholic Church to promote. Paul’s ideas were so suitable it was easy for the Catholic Church to adopt his scripts, call them Scripture, and then, (almost certainly) edit them.

There was, however, a problem. Paul said nothing about priests. Paul had claimed the end of the world was imminent, so why would clerics be required? Anonymous authors forged three more “Pauline- styled” epistles: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, which made a case for a Church structure, and promoted obedience to priests. These epistles also implied a more human Jesus than the earlier Paulines, so paradoxically, were used as anti-Marcionite propaganda.

It is interesting to put Paul’s epistles in perspective. They were probably first written as pro Roman government propaganda by someone who had never met Yeshua and who was in opposition to Yeshua’s family and original disciples. The so-called heretic Marcion, who clearly thought Christ was a ghost, promoted them. Catholics then interpolated them, and new letters were forged in Paul’s name to explain the existence of priests and make Christ appear more human, yet even so, they barely mentioned Yeshua’s exploits. It seems that today’s churches have an unjustifiable reverence for Paul’s letters.

Moving into the later second century, Irenaeus of Lyons praised ignorance as a virtue:

“It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unlettered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skilful” (Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter 26.)

Irenaeus obviously had little respect for human intellect or integrity.

Irenaeus attempted to list the first known Catholic canon in 180-190 CE, although he never compiled a definitive list of books. He knew that many people were attracted to Gnosticism and feared that his account of Christianity could not compete. Formalizing doctrinal authority so that everyone had the same beliefs was his solution to what he saw as a problem.

Irenaeus’ list included the four canonical Gospels. This was the first record of anybody mentioning the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, over 150 years after the events they purported to record. Irenaeus gave no good explanation as to who wrote the Gospels, or how the authors were connected to Yeshua. He did write

“Matthew published his Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the church in Rome. After their departure Mark, the disciple and inter- preter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing those things which Peter had preached; and Luke, the attendant of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel which Paul had declared. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also reclined on his bosom, published his Gospel, while staying at Ephesus in Asia.” (“Against Heresies” 3.1.1.)

This is an attempt to legitimize all four Gospels in three sentences. It is woefully inadequate because of the lack of detail, and sounds like a cheap commentary concocted so that the topic of the Gospels’ authorship could be glossed over. Irenaeus implied that Matthew, Luke and John were written independently of Mark, which modern scholars know was not the case.

Irenaeus did claim a work could be accepted as canonical if the early Church fathers had used it, and this established a theoretical basis for determinations of orthodoxy, yet he never provided any such evidence for the books he chose.

Irenaeus made the ridiculous claim that as there were only four direc- tions from which the wind blew, there could only be four Gospels.

Irenaeus accepted Acts, and all the Pauline letters.

All “Christian” groups in Rome were competing with each other and other cults for the favor of the Roman state, so Gospels had to have pro-Roman elements and no anti-Roman features.

Around the later second century the first instances of organized suppression of some Christian texts occurred. So the people whose writings would survive as Christian history labeled the Marcionites and Gnostics as “heretics,” and their ideas were derided. It was largely due to this competition with Marcion and the Gnostics that the idea of a Catholic New Testament canon was born.

Third Century

Origen (185–254 CE), a religious fanatic, was probably the most influential Biblical commentator of the first three centuries of Christianity.

Origen categorized books into three groups: those accepted by all churches he associated with, those disputed, and those not accepted in any of his churches, which he called “spurious.” So the only basis Origen used in practice to determine canonicity was how popular the books were in the churches of which he approved.

Origen does mention that the Gospel of Mark was composed under the instruction of Peter, which he claimed he learned from Papias’ writing, but gives no details about Peter or Mark, which makes it an almost worthless comment.

Origen’s acknowledged books were the four Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Pauline Epistles, I Peter, I John, and Revelations. Origen may have considered some others canonical, namely “Barnabas,” “Didache,” and “the Shepherd,” because he used the word “scrip- ture” for them. Origen’s disputed books were the Apocalypse of Peter, (discussed below) and II Peter, II John, III John, James, and Jude, all five of which are now in the bible. He identified a num- ber of books as spurious, such as Acts of Paul, the Teaching of the Apostles, Thomas, Matthias, Acts of Andrew, and others. He con- sidered them to have been written by heretics under the names of the apostles.

Origen wrote:
“Before replying to Celsus, it is necessary to admit that in the mat- ter of history, however true it might be, it is often very difficult and sometimes quite impossible to establish its truth by evidence which shall be considered sufficient” (Contra Celsum 1.58.)

This was a plain admission that many Christian claims could not be verified. At least Origen was candid enough to admit it.

Origen also wrote:
“As this matter of faith...we accept it as useful for the multitude, and that we admittedly teach those who cannot abandon everything and pursue a study of rational argument to believe without thinking out their arguments.” (Contra Celsum 1.10.)

Origen admitted that “we” turned to faith as a tool to convince a gullible crowd. “We” were his fellow bishops, the men who promoted Christian dogma.

Origen thought the sun, moon, and stars were living creatures, each with a free will, that sometimes sinned. One might forgive Origen for having no understanding of astronomy, but maybe not for claiming that celestial objects had thoughts. Origen clung to the pagan superstition that comets and new stars portend great world events, and thought that this gave credibility to the story of the star of Bethlehem:

“It has been observed that, on the occurrence of great events, and of mighty changes in terrestrial things, such stars are wont to appear, indicating either the removal of dynasties or the breaking out of wars, or the happening of such circumstances as may cause commotions upon the earth, why not then the Star of Bethlehem?” (Contra Celsum, chapter 1.)

Tertullian, also writing in the early third century, was a teller of tall tales. He asserted,
“I know it that the corpse of a dead Christian, at the first breath of the prayer made by the priest, on occasion of its own funeral, removed its hands from its sides, into the usual posture of a supplicant; and when the service was ended, restored them again to their former situation.” (De anima chapter 51.)

Tertullian advised Christians not to think critically, but to employ blind faith. To Tertullian, all kinds of rational thinking became superfluous compared to holy writings:

“For philosophy is the material of the world’s wisdom, the rash interpreter of the nature and dispensation of God. Indeed heresies are themselves instigated by philosophy... What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What has the Academy to do with the Church? What have heretics to do with Christians? Our instruction comes from the porch of Solomon, who had himself taught that the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart. Away with all attempts to produce a Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic Christianity! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after receiving the gospel! When we believe, we desire no further belief. For this is our first article of faith, that there is nothing which we ought to believe besides.” (De Praescriptione, Chapter vii.)

Tertullian claimed, without evidence, that Pilate converted to Christianity:
“All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of Him to the reigning Caesar, who was at the time Tiberius” (The Apology, Chapter 21.)

Tertullian wrote:
“The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it. And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed because it is absurd. And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible. But how will all this be true in Him, if He was not Himself true--if He really had not in Himself that which might be crucified, might die, might be buried, and might rise again?”

Tertullian obviously preferred faith to reason, and disliked complexity. In the same work Tertullian called Aristotle “wretched” and he disparaged the tentative investigative nature of Greek science as

“... self-stultifying...ever handling questions but never settling them.” This attitude was the antithesis of rational thought.

Compare this to what Tertullian’s contemporary Celsus, a Roman second century historian and secular critic of Christianity wrote:

“For why is it an evil to have been educated, and to have studied the best opinions, and to have both the reality and appearance of wisdom? What hindrance does this offer to the knowledge of God? Why should it not rather be an assistance, and a means by which one might be better able to arrive at the truth?” (Excerpts from Contra Celsus by Origen, book 3 Chapter 59.)

Celsus realized the benefits of being educated, and that early Christians were irrational.

Tertullian lacked common sense, was at times a lazy thinker, justified his own ignorance using religion, and sometimes thought he could just invent facts to advertise an agenda.

Fourth Century

Eusebius, the first and greatest historian of the early Church, who wrote in the early fourth century, rewrote his “History of the Church” many times as he tried to cover the topic with an orthodox account. Eusebius claimed that heresy only developed after the apostolic age, and was then countered by his version of Christianity...Catholicism.

Eusebius is notorious as the author of numerous falsehoods. He probably created the “Testimonium Flavianum,” and may have forged a letter in Jesus’ name. Eusebius even admitted on at least two occasions that he was less than honest:

“We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity” (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, Chapter 2.) and

“How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived.” (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, chap. 2.)
So much for integrity and objectivity from Christianity’s most important historian!

Eusebius wrote of a man who was tortured until his body

“...was one continued wound, mangled and shriveled, that had entirely lost the form of man” and then

...recovered the former shape and habit of his limbs” (Ecclesiastical History, book V, Chapter 2.)

These are the words of a man using “falsehood as a medicine.”

Eusebius tried to explain the pedigree of Mark’s Gospel thus:

“Having become the interpreter of Peter, Mark wrote down accu- rately whatever he remembered. However, he did not relate the say- ings of deeds of Christ in exact order. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter. Now, Peter accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s saying. Accordingly, Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For one thing, he took special care not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put any- thing fictitious into the statements.” (Church History 1.155.)

Eusebius claimed to be quoting Papias, who somehow (not explained) knew of a Mark, and Mark somehow (not adequately explained) knew Peter. Mark, under pressure from unnamed enthu- siasts, documented some of the Christ’s sayings that he remembered from Peter, who had fashioned what he taught to be appropriate to his listeners. Eusebius wrote this about 250 years after it all allegedly happened. It sounds very much like nothing but “spin;” a weak attempt to justify the historicity of Mark.
Eusebius had access to Origen’s library and his writings, and copied him by claiming to use the criteria that a book had to have been written by an apostle, or by someone who was acquainted with an apostle. Yet Eusebius too never gave any good evidence of a link with the apostles. He just picked books that were already popular. To the four Gospels he added Acts, 1 Peter and 1 John, and all the Pauline epistles. Among his disputed but not heretical texts he placed James, Jude, 2 Peter, and 2 and 3 John. He stated 2 Peter was not canonical (it now is.)

Eusebius did not deliver a definitive list of books for a New Testament canon. By 327 CE, when Eusebius finished the final draft of his “Church History,” there was still no official Bible.

Eventually church councils were convened to choose a single set of books. The first was the Synod of Laodicea (in Asia Minor) in 363 CE. There were twenty to thirty bishops present. They accepted all of the books of today’s canon except Revelations, which was rejected, possibly because of its anti-Roman prejudice. The official verdict was that:

“No psalms composed by private individuals nor any uncanonical books may be read in the church, but only the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments” (Catholic Encyclopedia.)

The bishops made no comment about what criteria were used to choose this canon, nor why scores of other works were excluded. They must have been very busy, as this was the last of sixty new rules they laid down at the time.

The current cannon first surfaced in a letter written by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in 367 CE. This list was officially accepted by the Church in 382 CE at a synod held in Rome under Pope Damasus, at which Jerome was present. There’s no record of who attended this synod, other than Damasus and Jerome, nor of their deliberations.

Pope Damasus, Jerome, and possibly a few bishops, got together and made the definitive decision, using undocumented criteria, about which books were the word of God and which were not.

Augustine subsequently commanded three synods on canonicity: the Synod of Hippo in 393 CE, Carthage in 397 CE, and another in Carthage in 419 CE, yet none of these changed the canon. They must have concluded that after 350 years of confusion it was time to call it a day.

The Catholic Encyclopedia claims Augustine was
“... a philosophical and theological genius of the first order, domi- nating, like a pyramid, antiquity and the succeeding ages. Compared with the great philosophers of past centuries and modern times, he is the equal of them all; among theologians he is undeniably the first, and such has been his influence that none of the Fathers, Scholastics, or Reformers has surpassed it.

High praise indeed! Yet this sounds like an apology for all other church theologians. The author of the encyclopedia is implying there is not a single theologian other than Augustine whose intellect can compare with great philosophers past and present. That does not say much for the school of theology! Is Augustine thought a greater theologian than Paul, who more or less invented Christian theology? I wonder if this wording will be changed in future editions.

There is no doubt Augustine was highly influential. Whether he was a great philosopher is more controversial.

Augustine was adamant the earth was no more than six thousand years old:

“They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not yet 6,000 years have passed...” (City of God, Bk. xii, Chapter 10.)

Science has proven the great philosopher’s “sacred writings” wrong. Augustine was writing in the fourth century, and he did not know any better, but he was bone-headed about it, and derided anyone who did not believe the creation story:

“For as it is not yet 6,000 years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, so contrary to, the ascertained truth?” (City of God, Bk xviii, Chapter 40.)

Augustine’s “ascertained truth” was the Old Testament, which was wrong about the age of the earth by a factor of close to a million! How could someone who relied so heavily on Scripture, rather than rational thought, be considered a great philosopher?
Although many Greek philosophers from Pythagoras on had held that the earth was round, and Augustine had heard the theory, he was adamant the earth was flat and inhabited on the upper side only:

“As to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men who are on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, is on no ground credible.” (City of God, Chapter xvi.)

This “towering figure of early Christianity” claimed:

“I was already Bishop of Hippo, when I went into Ethiopia with some servants of Christ there to preach the Gospel. In this country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two great eyes in their breasts; and in countries still more southly, we saw people who had but one eye in their foreheads.” (Sermones, xxxiii.)

Augustine invented his own biological facts:
“Frogs are produced from the earth, not propagated by male and
female parents”
(City of God, Chapter xvi) and

“There are in Cappadocia mares which are impregnated by the wind,
and their foals live only three years”
(City of God, Chapter xxi.) 287

This number one theologian attempted to explain how people could survive fire in hell without being consumed, and wrote two chapters in City of God, on the topic, the first entitled

“Whether it is Possible for Bodies to last Forever in Burning Fire,” and the second

“Examples from Nature Proving That Bodies May Remain Unconsumed and Alive in Fire.”

Augustine thought demons caused disease:

“All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to these demons; chiefly do they torment fresh-baptized Christians, yea, even the guilt- less new-born infant” (De Divinatione Daemonorum, Chapter 3.) There are still some superstitious people today who attribute illnesses to demons.

This “great pyramid of learning” pondered over
“...whether angels, inasmuch as they are spirits, could have bodily
intercourse with women?”
(City of God, book xv, Chapter 23.) After much deliberation over an entirely imaginary subject, Augustine concluded that they can and do, and that he had proof:

“Many proven instances, that Sylvans and Fauns, who are commonly called ‘Incubi,’ had often made wicked assaults upon women, and satisfied their lusts upon them: and that certain devils, called Duses by the Gauls, are constantly attempting and effecting this impurity.” (City of God, book xv, chapter 23.)

Augustine devoted two whole treatises to the topic of lying (a topic one might say he knew a lot about.) The first of these, ‘De menda- cio’ (‘On Lying,’) written in 395 CE, discussed the pros and cons of lying. Of the eight kinds of lie that he identified, (each with several sub-types) he excused ‘jocular’ lies, was ‘uncertain’ about others, (depending on motive and the likelihood of being believed) and questioned the morality of the remainder. The second, ‘Contra mendacium’ written in 422 CE, cautioned his readers as follows.

“One never errs more safely, methinks, than when one errs by too much loving the truth, and too much rejecting of falsehood.” (St Augustine, Retractations, Book I.)
Augustine had evidently thought long and hard before coming to this conclusion, yet it is very obvious he frequently failed to follow his own advice.

This “philosophical genius” had some doubts about the legitimacy of “the Gospel,” but was not confident enough to trust his own judgement:

“I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.” (Against the letter of Mani 5,6.)

Augustine thought “the Gospel” was not believable, but that the Catholic Church knew better. Today the Catholic encyclopaedia claims Augustine was their number one authority. The two claims produce a classic circular argument.

Augustine, like Tertullian, derided the value of critical thought.

“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity...It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.” (Confessions.)

This comment denigrates scientific investigation; an attitude that is, in fact, the antithesis of good philosophy. It can be argued that the two greatest theologians of the early church, Tertullian and Augustine, rather than promoting good philosophy, stifled it.

St. Augustine wrote,

“Neither in the confusion of paganism, nor in the defilement of her- esy, nor yet in the blindness of Judaism, is religion to be sought, but among those alone who are called Catholic Christians.” (De Vera Religions, chapter v.)

A heretic was any Christian who did not believe exactly what Augustine believed. He wrote,

“There is no salvation outside the church” (De Baptismo. IV, cxvii.24.)

Anyone who did not go to Augustine’s church was, according to Augustine, denied heaven.

Augustine was a reasonably intelligent man, although his great rival Pelagius was far more sensible. Augustine’s teachings on original sin, women and sex were, judged by today’s standards, inflammatory and even immoral. Augustine claimed to be an authority on history and scientific subjects he knew very little about, and invented
facts to fill in the gaps. Augustine was not honest enough to admit the deficiencies in his religion.

Jerome, also writing in the late fourth and early fifth century, was an impressive scholar, (it was a daunting task to translate the Old Testament) yet he admitted to employing babble to beguile the hoi polloi:

“There is nothing so easy as by sheer volubility to deceive a com- mon crowd or an uneducated congregation.” (Epistle to Nepotian, iii, 8.)

Jerome claimed:
“It is usual for the sacred historian to conform himself to the gener- ally accepted opinion of the masses in his time” (The book of Psalms in Latin, XXVI.)

Jerome thought a historian need not rely on facts, but could consider common opinion as the truth.

Some Conclusions

“It will not appear strange to those who have given any attention to the history of mankind, which will always suggest this sad reflection: That the greatest zealots in religion, or the leaders of sects and parties, whatever purity or principles they pretend to have seldom scrupled to make use of a commodious lie for the advancement of what they call the truth. And with regard to these very Fathers, there is not one of them...who made any scruple in those ages of using the hyperbolical style to advance the honor of God and the salvation of men.”

(Dr. Conyers Middleton, 1844, as quoted by Joseph Wheless in Forgery in Christianity)

The Church Fathers, who, over a period of roughly 300 years, compiled the New Testament canon, wrote volumes attacking their opposition and arguing with their critics, so they would have recorded solid facts about the historicity of Jesus to bolster the credibility of their books if they had them. They did not because they could not. These Church Fathers wrote volumes about the early Church’s followers and martyrs, but there is one thing conspicuously absent from their writings; bona-fide details about a flesh and blood historical Jesus.

Nowhere in the New Testament is there an explanation to vouch for the authenticity of any of the Jesus accounts that could convince a truly objective historian. Outside the Bible, some Church fathers, bishops, and academics pass fleeting commentary in an attempt to justify an historical Jesus. Some of this commentary has survived, yet it was written 100 or more years after Yeshua’s death, is very sparse, piecemeal, and unfortunately always raises more questions than it answers.

There was much disagreement amongst various early Christian groups about what was or was not the word of God, and it took 350 years after Jesus’ death for the canon to be definitively decided.

The criteria used to choose the canon were unscholarly and never strictly applied. The key case for inclusion in the canon was that the scripts were already popular in particular parishes. This standard is obviously flawed, as popularity has little to do with historical truth. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are popular books, but no one
thinks they are records of real history just because they are well liked.

The accounts of Christians who were not card carriers in conformist churches were ignored. The Gnostics, Marcionites and numerous other Christian groups had writings that were labeled as heretical. Catholics took what they thought was useful from them, and then destroyed nearly all their writings. To destroy literature is not the conduct of people interested in the truth, but the behavior of empire builders.

There are falsely signed letters throughout the Bible; rarely in the writings of antiquity are the true identities of so many authors so hidden from the reader. Some of Paul’s epistles are the only works for which we know the author’s real identity, and even then his writings have been interfered with by unknown others. The real identities of the authors were rarely recorded, possibly because to do so would have exposed how fabricated the writings were. Anonymous authors meant answers to many difficult questions did not have to be given. It was easier to foster faith than to discuss facts.
The Church Fathers either presumed or pretended that the Gospels were true, but could not prove it. This leaves a massive hole in Christianity’s legitimacy.

The men discussed here were the more educated members of the early Christian churches. Yet they were often narrow-minded, superstitious, and dishonest, and a few of them even admitted their dishonesty. Some of them forged documents. They repeatedly displayed very little critical faculty; no story was too silly, no falsehood
too glaring, no argument too weak to prevent them teaching it with full confidence of its truth. Time and again the Church Fathers thought it was permissible, and even commendable, to assert falsehoods for the sake of selling faith. It could be said that they were the tabloid journalists of their day.


St Gregory, commenting in the mid fourth century, wrote

“A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors have often said not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity dictated.” (St. Gregory, from Jerome’s letter 52 to Nepotian.230)

Yet it is on the Church Fathers’ testimonies that today’s Christian assumes that the Gospels are truthful.

It is obvious that these Church Fathers, and no doubt others with similar attitudes, would have edited and interpolated the New Testament. If you can claim angels have sex with women, you can promote a virgin birth. If you can say you saw a dead corpse move, why not have an evil spirit enter a herd of pigs? If you can write about men with one eye in their foreheads, you have no reservations about a Jesus walking on water. If you are willing to use falsehood as medicine, then you are pleased to have Jesus rise from the dead. I could go on and on.

Some of these men, or their colleagues, altered quotations from the Septuagint to create phony prophesies concerning Jesus. Someone added Jesus’ resurrection to the Gospel of Mark. Someone attributed the authorship of the Gospels to Jesus’ apostles. Someone probably inserted into Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus wanted to start a new Church with Peter at its head. Someone probably inserted Jesus’ name into Paul’s writings. Some anonymous Christians wrote letters in Paul’s name. Someone wrote Acts to try to link Yeshua’s disciples with Paul’s theology. Numerous other people incorporated traditions from pagan cults into the new one. There are countless other examples of the early Christians’ dishonesty.

There was a corrupt intellectual culture in the early Christian church.

There are no legitimate excuses for this. Fiction touted as truth, uncritical scholarship, and appeals for faith are unacceptable to an educated, modern audience.

These Church Fathers were using the type of arguments that they knew worked, so as to convince groups of mainly common people about the supposed truth of superstitious nonsense.

The human family has always had real thinkers, people who were clearly interested in the truth. Consider men such as Plato, Plutarch, Celsus, Cicero, Philo, Seutonius, Tacitus and others, who employed high standards of integrity and scholarship. Their writings are believable, consistent and still read well. These Church Fathers were not in this group. Celsus wrote

“It is clear to me that the writings of the Christians are a lie, and that your fables are not well-enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction: I have even heard that some of your interpreters, as if they had just come out of a tavern, are onto the inconsistencies and, pen in hand, alter the originals writings, three, four and several more times over in order to be able to deny the contradictions in the face of criticism.” (Celsus, 178 CE).

None of the church fathers were honest enough to publicly admit that their faith was formed on a foundation of manufactured nonsense.

How could anyone today be convinced of the divinity, the miracles, or the teachings of Jesus after considering what these Church Fathers had to contend?

Christianity is not unique in this regard. Jewish and Islamic dogma is also manufactured nonsense. Consider how many of today’s Christians quite readily appreciate how childish, borrowed, concocted and unhistorical the Islamic faith is, yet fail to see similar parallels in their own religion.

It seems obvious why the Church Fathers concocted lies and so vehemently denigrated other commentators such as the Gnostics, Marcion and Celsus. Promoting their version of the dogma fortified their own power and status, and that of the institutions they represented.

These Church Fathers were bishops buttressing their own positions and their Church’s coffers. They were pompous priests who perched themselves in high places in pursuit of power, money and prestige.

Elders or presbyters were lower than the bishop; deacons or servants were lower than the elders, and the common plebs were at the bottom of the pile. These commoners were poorly equipped to detect dishonesty, or to tell the difference between truth and fiction. Bishops typically had little or no respect for them. Bishops had a patronizing attitude towards the common people; the people were to be fooled and manipulated for the Church’s benefit. The clergy regularly referred to the public as “rabble” or “fools” or “the multitudes” or the “crowd,” yet it was the commoners who put cash in their collections.

The Church Fathers were advocating an earthly monarchy with a bishop on the throne. Paul had said much the same thing many years earlier, with himself as an ultimate authority, the equivalent of a king. The Vatican still runs a monarchy today, with the pope as God’s mouthpiece, which is one of the reasons why the men in today’s Vatican have become so unpopular amongst thinking people.

It is sad, wrong and ironic that generations of ordinary, trusting Christians have wasted their time looking for truth and meaning in the New Testament, hoping to be enlightened, when the characters who created it were so cavalier, so casual with the truth. Churches today still insist that people believe that the Bible was divinely inspired, yet they have no facts to back this assertion up. By forcing faith on children and adults too busy to carefully consider it, priests and preachers have ruled over human reason to benefit themselves at the expense of the little people who sit in pews and put money on plates.

The world has moved on, people are better informed, more critical, and much better educated. Modern people, who genuinely care about the health and happiness of our fellow men, and particularly the children, might be best served by not letting these writings and those who advocate them have an undeserved authority. It is time bibliolatry and theology were replaced with open-mindedness, pragmatic thought, and genuine empathy. The era in which uninformed people blindly believe Christian dogma and bow down to those promoting it should now be over.

References:
Besant, A. “The Basis Of Morality.” Theosophical Publishing House. India
Bethune, George “The Grounds of Christianity Examined by Comparing The New Testament with the Old” (http://www.gutenberg. org/cache/epub/15968/pg15968.html)
http://www.infidels.org/library/historic...h_wheless/ forgery_in_christianity/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSYgEsfxyB4
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/r...r/NTcanon. html
http://www.orthodox.net/faq/canon.htm http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/jhcjp.htm
http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/pos...ttp://www. wayoflife.org/index_files/church_fathers_a_door_to_room.html
http://www.cogwriter.com/easter.htm
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2005/0...christian- apocrypha-and-the-historiography-of-early-christianity-nt-apocry- pha-6/
http://www.drazin.com/chap1.htm
http://allanturner.com/magazine/archives...gyLaity04. html
http://acurseonalltheirhouses.net/2011/11/11/how- christianity-was-invented/
http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/dark-age.htm http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/lying.htm http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/064...nFraud.php http://godlessgeeks.com/JesusExist.htm http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...ion/watch/ http://www.angelfire.com/band/kissed/fraud.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0zWbL8Uqfw


Re "I'm already conversant with most of what you shared as a holder of a Bachelor's in Religion majoring in biblical studies..."

Argumentum ad verecundiam.... An argument from authority is one in which a proposition is claimed to be true because an esteemed person says it is true. It is a fallacy in that it relies on the person's fame or reputation, rather than on logical arguments or empirical evidence.
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11-05-2015, 02:58 PM
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 10:23 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(08-05-2015 05:54 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Q, you write
"Mark... I hope you don't mind me pointing out the clear disconnect between sending me to an article that claims (falsely) there was no NT or Christianity until the third century, and then to say here that the gospels were edited for 200 years before that time. And do you have any textual evidence of such edits?

Some TTA'ers like to say mean things like "cite some evidence or GT()O and ST()U". PLEASE, Mark, I've asked you a half-dozen times now, for textual proof. Show us all some different versions of the heavy edits of the NT you keep claiming, or please, stop. I might grant you the end of Mark, what is that, 10 verses out of 23,145? Please.
"

Okay Q, this is going to be long.

You're asking for evidence that the new Testament was interpolated and edited.

Firstly, as you admitted, Mark 16 9-20, the original account of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, is well recognised as an interpolation.

Secondly, you must appreciate the fact that Matthew and Luke were basically rewrites of Mark. So whoever originally wrote Matthew and Luke was obviously sitting at a desk putting in their own spin about and over the events in Mark. Strictly speaking that is not an edit or an interpolation as they were writing new gospels, but in reality that is what they were. Matthew and Luke were obviously spin doctors cutting and pasting bits of information. The bits in Matthew and Luke about the virgin birth, the three wise men, and the trip to Egypt, for example, are obviously all editions.

Bear in mind that there was no one church and there were no printing presses. So there were hundreds of gospels which were hand copied, multiple times, over hundreds of years, before anyone had the means or the power to create definitive versions. There was no one overseeing authority that make sure all copies were exactly the same... that only happened with Constantine in the fourth century. To imagine all these hundreds, perhaps thousands, of copiers did not add and subtract and change bits of the writings is ridiculous. We have numerous commentators, both secular and Christian, who admit that this was the case. The evidence for this follows.

Quite obviously the men who were leaders of early churches would never have admitted that they edited and interpolated the early writings of the church, so I can't produce actual writings of theirs saying "I edited or interpolated this this or that."

And, there are no significant surviving parts of the new Testament from the first second or third centuries. So we cannot be sure what the church fathers read. Some of them quote from "their" gospels, and some of these quotes resemble what's written in "our" gospels, yet many other of these quotes bear no resemblance to what is in "our" New Testament now.

There is no doubt they were spin doctors, and they were basically dishonest, as judged by the literary standards of today. Evidence follows.

Here is my chapter on the compilation of the new Testament. Yes.. it is long, and yes, there are some opinions in it that may not be correct, but if you take the trouble to read it, you'll understand the atmosphere of the times in which the gospels were created, and hopefully you'll develop an awareness that the gospels are nonsense ie not based on historical truth.

The Compilation of the New Testament

Most Christians today assume that the Church Fathers, who compiled and edited the New Testament texts, had good reasons to believe that these texts were the inspired words of God and truthful records of history. A case will be made that this assumption is totally unfounded.

The process of compiling a New Testament canon was a protracted and complicated affair. It started in the late second century and only finished toward the end of the fourth. The following summary provides only a brief overview.

It was over a century after Jesus’ death before the concept of a New Testament was even thought of. Most groups at this time considered only the Septuagint to be Scripture, so nascent Christianity, except for the Marcionists, was quite “Judaeo-Christian.”

Why were the four Gospels chosen over others, and how were they related to Yeshua? Did the canonical Gospels document real history? What did the Church Fathers know about the historical Jesus? How did Paul’s letters and the other epistles become part of the Bible? Was the Catholic Church the key beneficiary of promotion of the stories and the selection of books that make up today’s Bible? Were the so-called Church Fathers honest men?

Modern investigators can, and should, examine the writings of the Church Fathers to find out the answers to these questions. If we have evidence that Church Fathers were willing to simply fabricate stories and invent ideas, and they were the very people who compiled the Bible, that evidence throws serious doubt on the Bible’s legitimacy.

In the following section the key players and events are discussed in temporal order.

First century

Clement’s first epistle, traditionally dated to 95 CE, but more likely written decades later, did “quote” Jesus, and some of these quotations resemble sayings from the Gospels, but Clement never referred to a source. Someone writing about sixty years after Jesus’ death should have mentioned something about what he knew about the origin of his beliefs. The fact that Clement did not, strongly suggests he was unaware of any historical facts about Jesus.

Paul’s original letters, and James, Jude, 1,2 John and 1,2 Peter were probably all first written in the first century, yet were not commented upon by contemporary writers. James and Jude may have been Yeshua’s brothers, yet neither of their letters documents any details of Yeshua’s life. Paul barely mentions what Yeshua may have said or did. Unknown authors wrote John and Peter and the book of Revelations, yet they also failed to discuss Yeshua’s teachings or exploits. Their Christ was, like Paul’s Christ, a spirit.

So there is no legitimate first century commentary apart from what is written in the Gospels to tell us anything about Yeshua.

Second Century

In the second century, written and oral traditions about Jesus ran side by side, distorting one another. There were hundreds of “Gospels” - a mass of inconsistent writings. Books and manuscripts were hand-written, so hundreds of copiers were able to alter, add to, or omit whatever they wanted. Remarks written in margins by one transcriber were often transferred into the next text, and were then indistinguishable from the original. Myth became overlaid with myth.

There was no one dominant church to control the proliferation of these writings. There were hundreds of different communities scattered throughout the Empire, all with their own beliefs, written and oral.

Imagine the conundrums Christians had to sort out or gloss over when compiling a canon. The ethnocentric concept of the Jews’ ever-lasting covenant with God made on Mount Sinai had to some- how be sold to a crowd that was not Jewish. Paul put forward an entirely unprecedented idea of a new covenant for everyone, including Gentiles. How to correlate that with Jewish Scripture? Then the Gospel’s Jesus appeared. The Holy Ghost was said to be Jesus’ father, yet Jesus was also supposed to be a son of David. How could Jesus have a divine and a human father? Was or was not Jesus the Jewish Messiah? A Jewish Messiah was supposed to liberate Israel from the Romans, yet Jesus did not do that. Instead, Jesus somehow saved Gentiles from their sins. Just who was Jesus Christ? A god, a spirit, a human, or something in between? No lasting agreement was reached until well into the fourth century, when it was decided he was all three, a doctrine that barely made it into the Bible. Yahweh in Scripture and Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel both said the Law was to be obeyed for all time, but Paul had written that faith in Christ’s sacrifice annulled the Law. Then there was the author of the book of James, maybe the brother of Jesus, who contradicted Paul’s doctrine of salvation by faith. There must have been a lot of head scratching and “cutting and pasting” to morph Paul’s Christ into the Jesus stories in the Gospels so that they appeared to be the same character.

Mark’s Jesus unfortunately did not appear to anyone, so something had to be done about that. There were hundreds of other inconsistencies and errors in the Gospels that had to be glossed over.

To reconcile these polarized themes into a sensible, consistent doctrine was impossible. It was achieved on a “shop floor,” but not on an intellectual level, which speaks volumes about how easily the simple people of the times, most of who could not read, were won over.

Letters allegedly written by Ignatius in 110 CE include a few phrases and paraphrases that resemble ideas from Paul’s epistles, but the author does not acknowledge that they were Pauline.

There are also some phrases and ideas in Ignatius’ letters similar to those found in today’s Matthew and John, but Ignatius’ sources are not named. Hence it is very apparent that Ignatius, writing in 110 CE or later, was not aware of the existence of four authoritative Gospels, or of a body of Pauline works.

Ignatius wrote of the “star of Bethlehem:”
“A star shone forth in heaven above all other stars, and the light of which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with aston- ishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star” (to the Ephesians chapter XIX.)

Ignatius may have been writing metaphorically, yet to claim something this comical is childish. I suspect he wrote this in all seriousness, and expected his readers to believe it.

Ignatius emphasized the importance of bishops to bolster the power of his church. In the letter to the Ephesians he wrote:

“Wherefore it is fitting that ye should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also ye do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung.”

Ignatius was telling the people to obey the bishop.

In Ignatius’ letter to the Trallians he paralleled the position of bishop with the position of Christ:

“For, since you are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, you appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, you may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as you indeed do, so without the bishop you should do nothing,” and

“... Let us be careful not to resist the Bishop, that through our sub- mission to the Bishop we may belong to God... We should regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself.”

According to Ignatius, a Bishop was God’s equivalent.

Some Church Fathers claimed that Papias (70–163 CE) quoted Jesus. Yet Papias wrote that he relied only on oral tradition as the source of Jesus’ sayings, which casts immediate doubt on the veracity of what was written, as quotes derived from an oral tradition are unreliable.

Eusebius claimed Papias knew someone who had known the author of Mark’s Gospel, yet gave no details about this. Surely Papias would have documented something so important. The name “Mark” was not associated with the authorship of a Gospel until about twenty years after Papias’ death, which means the claim is untrue.

Unfortunately for Papias’ reputation, Eusebius expressed serious reservations about the caliber of his intellect:

“I guess he got these ideas from a misinterpretation of the apostolic accounts. For he did not understand what they said mystically and in figurative language. For he obviously was a man of very little intelligence, as one can tell judging from his sayings. Nevertheless, it was due to him that so many churchmen after him adopted a similar opinion, basing their position on the fact that he was a man of the earliest era” (Eccles. Hist. 3.39.12–13.)

Eusebius had to guess where Papias got his facts from, wrote Papias off as unintelligent, and then admitted Papias was a significant and early source of dogma!
Polycarp (70–155 CE) penned a letter that some modern commentators claim contains Jesus’ words, yet Polycarp did not claim that these words came from Jesus. Some of them resemble phrases appearing in today’s Gospels, (and even passages written in epistles, which were not attributed to Jesus). If Polycarp had intended to quote Jesus, he would have written that that is what he was doing.

In the mid second century the proto-orthodox groups coalesced around the name “Catholic.” Justin Martyr became their preeminent apologist. Justin was unaware of the concept of a New Testament canon, or that there should only be four Gospels, or of the existence of any of the four now canonical Gospels. Justin used more than three hundred quotations from the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from now - apocryphal books, but none from the four Gospels. One of four things must be true; either the Gospels had not been written yet, or they were in a very different state from what they are today, and unnamed, or they existed but he had never seen any of them, or that Justin knew of them but failed to mention them.

Justin was, at times, unscrupulous. He interpolated the Septuagint with a number of phony prophecies concerning Jesus, which were weak, clumsy, and dishonest. They can be found in the dialogue of Justin with Trypho the Jew. Trypho did not exist; he was a straw man, Justin’s literary invention he used to argue against Judaism.

Justin justified his belief in Jesus as follows:
“When we say also that the Word, which is the first birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified, died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter” (First Apology, chapter 21.)

Instead of discussing evidence, Justin claimed (quite correctly) that the Jesus account was similar to myths about other gods, and should therefore be equally true. Yet Jesus, if he ever existed, had died only one hundred years earlier.

Justin claimed that Socrates (469–399 BCE) and Heraclitus (535– 475 BCE) were Christians, (First Apology Chapter 46, Second Apology Chapter 10) an assertion similar to saying that Galileo was a scientologist.

Justin believed insane people were possessed by the souls of the wicked, so were proof of the immortality of souls. (First Apology, Chapter 18.)

Marcion (110–160 CE) may have introduced Paul’s writings to Rome in the 140’s CE. Marcion was the first person to attempt to define a Christian canon in the 140s.

Marcion suggested that the “new covenant,” as proposed by Paul, was part of a new religion separate from Judaism. Marcion’s canon consisted of Paul’s letters and the Euangelion (which was similar to, but shorter than, canonical Luke.) Marcion ignored all other religious literature, including Jewish Scripture. Marcion either knew nothing of Mark, Matthew, or John, or neglected to acknowledge them.

In the mid to late second century, the canon first began to take shape. The Catholics in Rome did with Marcionism/Paulinism what they often did with other social or cultural or religious beliefs and practices: absorbed them. Paul had (probably) thought up the theology of individual salvation - “justification by faith” - that dispensed with the difficult dictates of Mosaic Law. Paul also promised heaven, a concept convenient for the Catholic Church to promote. Paul’s ideas were so suitable it was easy for the Catholic Church to adopt his scripts, call them Scripture, and then, (almost certainly) edit them.

There was, however, a problem. Paul said nothing about priests. Paul had claimed the end of the world was imminent, so why would clerics be required? Anonymous authors forged three more “Pauline- styled” epistles: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, which made a case for a Church structure, and promoted obedience to priests. These epistles also implied a more human Jesus than the earlier Paulines, so paradoxically, were used as anti-Marcionite propaganda.

It is interesting to put Paul’s epistles in perspective. They were probably first written as pro Roman government propaganda by someone who had never met Yeshua and who was in opposition to Yeshua’s family and original disciples. The so-called heretic Marcion, who clearly thought Christ was a ghost, promoted them. Catholics then interpolated them, and new letters were forged in Paul’s name to explain the existence of priests and make Christ appear more human, yet even so, they barely mentioned Yeshua’s exploits. It seems that today’s churches have an unjustifiable reverence for Paul’s letters.

Moving into the later second century, Irenaeus of Lyons praised ignorance as a virtue:

“It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unlettered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skilful” (Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter 26.)

Irenaeus obviously had little respect for human intellect or integrity.

Irenaeus attempted to list the first known Catholic canon in 180-190 CE, although he never compiled a definitive list of books. He knew that many people were attracted to Gnosticism and feared that his account of Christianity could not compete. Formalizing doctrinal authority so that everyone had the same beliefs was his solution to what he saw as a problem.

Irenaeus’ list included the four canonical Gospels. This was the first record of anybody mentioning the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, over 150 years after the events they purported to record. Irenaeus gave no good explanation as to who wrote the Gospels, or how the authors were connected to Yeshua. He did write

“Matthew published his Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the church in Rome. After their departure Mark, the disciple and inter- preter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing those things which Peter had preached; and Luke, the attendant of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel which Paul had declared. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also reclined on his bosom, published his Gospel, while staying at Ephesus in Asia.” (“Against Heresies” 3.1.1.)

This is an attempt to legitimize all four Gospels in three sentences. It is woefully inadequate because of the lack of detail, and sounds like a cheap commentary concocted so that the topic of the Gospels’ authorship could be glossed over. Irenaeus implied that Matthew, Luke and John were written independently of Mark, which modern scholars know was not the case.

Irenaeus did claim a work could be accepted as canonical if the early Church fathers had used it, and this established a theoretical basis for determinations of orthodoxy, yet he never provided any such evidence for the books he chose.

Irenaeus made the ridiculous claim that as there were only four direc- tions from which the wind blew, there could only be four Gospels.

Irenaeus accepted Acts, and all the Pauline letters.

All “Christian” groups in Rome were competing with each other and other cults for the favor of the Roman state, so Gospels had to have pro-Roman elements and no anti-Roman features.

Around the later second century the first instances of organized suppression of some Christian texts occurred. So the people whose writings would survive as Christian history labeled the Marcionites and Gnostics as “heretics,” and their ideas were derided. It was largely due to this competition with Marcion and the Gnostics that the idea of a Catholic New Testament canon was born.

Third Century

Origen (185–254 CE), a religious fanatic, was probably the most influential Biblical commentator of the first three centuries of Christianity.

Origen categorized books into three groups: those accepted by all churches he associated with, those disputed, and those not accepted in any of his churches, which he called “spurious.” So the only basis Origen used in practice to determine canonicity was how popular the books were in the churches of which he approved.

Origen does mention that the Gospel of Mark was composed under the instruction of Peter, which he claimed he learned from Papias’ writing, but gives no details about Peter or Mark, which makes it an almost worthless comment.

Origen’s acknowledged books were the four Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Pauline Epistles, I Peter, I John, and Revelations. Origen may have considered some others canonical, namely “Barnabas,” “Didache,” and “the Shepherd,” because he used the word “scrip- ture” for them. Origen’s disputed books were the Apocalypse of Peter, (discussed below) and II Peter, II John, III John, James, and Jude, all five of which are now in the bible. He identified a num- ber of books as spurious, such as Acts of Paul, the Teaching of the Apostles, Thomas, Matthias, Acts of Andrew, and others. He con- sidered them to have been written by heretics under the names of the apostles.

Origen wrote:
“Before replying to Celsus, it is necessary to admit that in the mat- ter of history, however true it might be, it is often very difficult and sometimes quite impossible to establish its truth by evidence which shall be considered sufficient” (Contra Celsum 1.58.)

This was a plain admission that many Christian claims could not be verified. At least Origen was candid enough to admit it.

Origen also wrote:
“As this matter of faith...we accept it as useful for the multitude, and that we admittedly teach those who cannot abandon everything and pursue a study of rational argument to believe without thinking out their arguments.” (Contra Celsum 1.10.)

Origen admitted that “we” turned to faith as a tool to convince a gullible crowd. “We” were his fellow bishops, the men who promoted Christian dogma.

Origen thought the sun, moon, and stars were living creatures, each with a free will, that sometimes sinned. One might forgive Origen for having no understanding of astronomy, but maybe not for claiming that celestial objects had thoughts. Origen clung to the pagan superstition that comets and new stars portend great world events, and thought that this gave credibility to the story of the star of Bethlehem:

“It has been observed that, on the occurrence of great events, and of mighty changes in terrestrial things, such stars are wont to appear, indicating either the removal of dynasties or the breaking out of wars, or the happening of such circumstances as may cause commotions upon the earth, why not then the Star of Bethlehem?” (Contra Celsum, chapter 1.)

Tertullian, also writing in the early third century, was a teller of tall tales. He asserted,
“I know it that the corpse of a dead Christian, at the first breath of the prayer made by the priest, on occasion of its own funeral, removed its hands from its sides, into the usual posture of a supplicant; and when the service was ended, restored them again to their former situation.” (De anima chapter 51.)

Tertullian advised Christians not to think critically, but to employ blind faith. To Tertullian, all kinds of rational thinking became superfluous compared to holy writings:

“For philosophy is the material of the world’s wisdom, the rash interpreter of the nature and dispensation of God. Indeed heresies are themselves instigated by philosophy... What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What has the Academy to do with the Church? What have heretics to do with Christians? Our instruction comes from the porch of Solomon, who had himself taught that the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart. Away with all attempts to produce a Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic Christianity! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after receiving the gospel! When we believe, we desire no further belief. For this is our first article of faith, that there is nothing which we ought to believe besides.” (De Praescriptione, Chapter vii.)

Tertullian claimed, without evidence, that Pilate converted to Christianity:
“All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of Him to the reigning Caesar, who was at the time Tiberius” (The Apology, Chapter 21.)

Tertullian wrote:
“The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it. And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed because it is absurd. And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible. But how will all this be true in Him, if He was not Himself true--if He really had not in Himself that which might be crucified, might die, might be buried, and might rise again?”

Tertullian obviously preferred faith to reason, and disliked complexity. In the same work Tertullian called Aristotle “wretched” and he disparaged the tentative investigative nature of Greek science as

“... self-stultifying...ever handling questions but never settling them.” This attitude was the antithesis of rational thought.

Compare this to what Tertullian’s contemporary Celsus, a Roman second century historian and secular critic of Christianity wrote:

“For why is it an evil to have been educated, and to have studied the best opinions, and to have both the reality and appearance of wisdom? What hindrance does this offer to the knowledge of God? Why should it not rather be an assistance, and a means by which one might be better able to arrive at the truth?” (Excerpts from Contra Celsus by Origen, book 3 Chapter 59.)

Celsus realized the benefits of being educated, and that early Christians were irrational.

Tertullian lacked common sense, was at times a lazy thinker, justified his own ignorance using religion, and sometimes thought he could just invent facts to advertise an agenda.

Fourth Century

Eusebius, the first and greatest historian of the early Church, who wrote in the early fourth century, rewrote his “History of the Church” many times as he tried to cover the topic with an orthodox account. Eusebius claimed that heresy only developed after the apostolic age, and was then countered by his version of Christianity...Catholicism.

Eusebius is notorious as the author of numerous falsehoods. He probably created the “Testimonium Flavianum,” and may have forged a letter in Jesus’ name. Eusebius even admitted on at least two occasions that he was less than honest:

“We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity” (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, Chapter 2.) and

“How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived.” (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, chap. 2.)
So much for integrity and objectivity from Christianity’s most important historian!

Eusebius wrote of a man who was tortured until his body

“...was one continued wound, mangled and shriveled, that had entirely lost the form of man” and then

...recovered the former shape and habit of his limbs” (Ecclesiastical History, book V, Chapter 2.)

These are the words of a man using “falsehood as a medicine.”

Eusebius tried to explain the pedigree of Mark’s Gospel thus:

“Having become the interpreter of Peter, Mark wrote down accu- rately whatever he remembered. However, he did not relate the say- ings of deeds of Christ in exact order. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter. Now, Peter accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s saying. Accordingly, Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For one thing, he took special care not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put any- thing fictitious into the statements.” (Church History 1.155.)

Eusebius claimed to be quoting Papias, who somehow (not explained) knew of a Mark, and Mark somehow (not adequately explained) knew Peter. Mark, under pressure from unnamed enthu- siasts, documented some of the Christ’s sayings that he remembered from Peter, who had fashioned what he taught to be appropriate to his listeners. Eusebius wrote this about 250 years after it all allegedly happened. It sounds very much like nothing but “spin;” a weak attempt to justify the historicity of Mark.
Eusebius had access to Origen’s library and his writings, and copied him by claiming to use the criteria that a book had to have been written by an apostle, or by someone who was acquainted with an apostle. Yet Eusebius too never gave any good evidence of a link with the apostles. He just picked books that were already popular. To the four Gospels he added Acts, 1 Peter and 1 John, and all the Pauline epistles. Among his disputed but not heretical texts he placed James, Jude, 2 Peter, and 2 and 3 John. He stated 2 Peter was not canonical (it now is.)

Eusebius did not deliver a definitive list of books for a New Testament canon. By 327 CE, when Eusebius finished the final draft of his “Church History,” there was still no official Bible.

Eventually church councils were convened to choose a single set of books. The first was the Synod of Laodicea (in Asia Minor) in 363 CE. There were twenty to thirty bishops present. They accepted all of the books of today’s canon except Revelations, which was rejected, possibly because of its anti-Roman prejudice. The official verdict was that:

“No psalms composed by private individuals nor any uncanonical books may be read in the church, but only the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments” (Catholic Encyclopedia.)

The bishops made no comment about what criteria were used to choose this canon, nor why scores of other works were excluded. They must have been very busy, as this was the last of sixty new rules they laid down at the time.

The current cannon first surfaced in a letter written by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in 367 CE. This list was officially accepted by the Church in 382 CE at a synod held in Rome under Pope Damasus, at which Jerome was present. There’s no record of who attended this synod, other than Damasus and Jerome, nor of their deliberations.

Pope Damasus, Jerome, and possibly a few bishops, got together and made the definitive decision, using undocumented criteria, about which books were the word of God and which were not.

Augustine subsequently commanded three synods on canonicity: the Synod of Hippo in 393 CE, Carthage in 397 CE, and another in Carthage in 419 CE, yet none of these changed the canon. They must have concluded that after 350 years of confusion it was time to call it a day.

The Catholic Encyclopedia claims Augustine was
“... a philosophical and theological genius of the first order, domi- nating, like a pyramid, antiquity and the succeeding ages. Compared with the great philosophers of past centuries and modern times, he is the equal of them all; among theologians he is undeniably the first, and such has been his influence that none of the Fathers, Scholastics, or Reformers has surpassed it.

High praise indeed! Yet this sounds like an apology for all other church theologians. The author of the encyclopedia is implying there is not a single theologian other than Augustine whose intellect can compare with great philosophers past and present. That does not say much for the school of theology! Is Augustine thought a greater theologian than Paul, who more or less invented Christian theology? I wonder if this wording will be changed in future editions.

There is no doubt Augustine was highly influential. Whether he was a great philosopher is more controversial.

Augustine was adamant the earth was no more than six thousand years old:

“They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not yet 6,000 years have passed...” (City of God, Bk. xii, Chapter 10.)

Science has proven the great philosopher’s “sacred writings” wrong. Augustine was writing in the fourth century, and he did not know any better, but he was bone-headed about it, and derided anyone who did not believe the creation story:

“For as it is not yet 6,000 years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, so contrary to, the ascertained truth?” (City of God, Bk xviii, Chapter 40.)

Augustine’s “ascertained truth” was the Old Testament, which was wrong about the age of the earth by a factor of close to a million! How could someone who relied so heavily on Scripture, rather than rational thought, be considered a great philosopher?
Although many Greek philosophers from Pythagoras on had held that the earth was round, and Augustine had heard the theory, he was adamant the earth was flat and inhabited on the upper side only:

“As to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men who are on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, is on no ground credible.” (City of God, Chapter xvi.)

This “towering figure of early Christianity” claimed:

“I was already Bishop of Hippo, when I went into Ethiopia with some servants of Christ there to preach the Gospel. In this country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two great eyes in their breasts; and in countries still more southly, we saw people who had but one eye in their foreheads.” (Sermones, xxxiii.)

Augustine invented his own biological facts:
“Frogs are produced from the earth, not propagated by male and
female parents”
(City of God, Chapter xvi) and

“There are in Cappadocia mares which are impregnated by the wind,
and their foals live only three years”
(City of God, Chapter xxi.) 287

This number one theologian attempted to explain how people could survive fire in hell without being consumed, and wrote two chapters in City of God, on the topic, the first entitled

“Whether it is Possible for Bodies to last Forever in Burning Fire,” and the second

“Examples from Nature Proving That Bodies May Remain Unconsumed and Alive in Fire.”

Augustine thought demons caused disease:

“All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to these demons; chiefly do they torment fresh-baptized Christians, yea, even the guilt- less new-born infant” (De Divinatione Daemonorum, Chapter 3.) There are still some superstitious people today who attribute illnesses to demons.

This “great pyramid of learning” pondered over
“...whether angels, inasmuch as they are spirits, could have bodily
intercourse with women?”
(City of God, book xv, Chapter 23.) After much deliberation over an entirely imaginary subject, Augustine concluded that they can and do, and that he had proof:

“Many proven instances, that Sylvans and Fauns, who are commonly called ‘Incubi,’ had often made wicked assaults upon women, and satisfied their lusts upon them: and that certain devils, called Duses by the Gauls, are constantly attempting and effecting this impurity.” (City of God, book xv, chapter 23.)

Augustine devoted two whole treatises to the topic of lying (a topic one might say he knew a lot about.) The first of these, ‘De menda- cio’ (‘On Lying,’) written in 395 CE, discussed the pros and cons of lying. Of the eight kinds of lie that he identified, (each with several sub-types) he excused ‘jocular’ lies, was ‘uncertain’ about others, (depending on motive and the likelihood of being believed) and questioned the morality of the remainder. The second, ‘Contra mendacium’ written in 422 CE, cautioned his readers as follows.

“One never errs more safely, methinks, than when one errs by too much loving the truth, and too much rejecting of falsehood.” (St Augustine, Retractations, Book I.)
Augustine had evidently thought long and hard before coming to this conclusion, yet it is very obvious he frequently failed to follow his own advice.

This “philosophical genius” had some doubts about the legitimacy of “the Gospel,” but was not confident enough to trust his own judgement:

“I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.” (Against the letter of Mani 5,6.)

Augustine thought “the Gospel” was not believable, but that the Catholic Church knew better. Today the Catholic encyclopaedia claims Augustine was their number one authority. The two claims produce a classic circular argument.

Augustine, like Tertullian, derided the value of critical thought.

“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity...It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.” (Confessions.)

This comment denigrates scientific investigation; an attitude that is, in fact, the antithesis of good philosophy. It can be argued that the two greatest theologians of the early church, Tertullian and Augustine, rather than promoting good philosophy, stifled it.

St. Augustine wrote,

“Neither in the confusion of paganism, nor in the defilement of her- esy, nor yet in the blindness of Judaism, is religion to be sought, but among those alone who are called Catholic Christians.” (De Vera Religions, chapter v.)

A heretic was any Christian who did not believe exactly what Augustine believed. He wrote,

“There is no salvation outside the church” (De Baptismo. IV, cxvii.24.)

Anyone who did not go to Augustine’s church was, according to Augustine, denied heaven.

Augustine was a reasonably intelligent man, although his great rival Pelagius was far more sensible. Augustine’s teachings on original sin, women and sex were, judged by today’s standards, inflammatory and even immoral. Augustine claimed to be an authority on history and scientific subjects he knew very little about, and invented
facts to fill in the gaps. Augustine was not honest enough to admit the deficiencies in his religion.

Jerome, also writing in the late fourth and early fifth century, was an impressive scholar, (it was a daunting task to translate the Old Testament) yet he admitted to employing babble to beguile the hoi polloi:

“There is nothing so easy as by sheer volubility to deceive a com- mon crowd or an uneducated congregation.” (Epistle to Nepotian, iii, 8.)

Jerome claimed:
“It is usual for the sacred historian to conform himself to the gener- ally accepted opinion of the masses in his time” (The book of Psalms in Latin, XXVI.)

Jerome thought a historian need not rely on facts, but could consider common opinion as the truth.

Some Conclusions

“It will not appear strange to those who have given any attention to the history of mankind, which will always suggest this sad reflection: That the greatest zealots in religion, or the leaders of sects and parties, whatever purity or principles they pretend to have seldom scrupled to make use of a commodious lie for the advancement of what they call the truth. And with regard to these very Fathers, there is not one of them...who made any scruple in those ages of using the hyperbolical style to advance the honor of God and the salvation of men.”

(Dr. Conyers Middleton, 1844, as quoted by Joseph Wheless in Forgery in Christianity)

The Church Fathers, who, over a period of roughly 300 years, compiled the New Testament canon, wrote volumes attacking their opposition and arguing with their critics, so they would have recorded solid facts about the historicity of Jesus to bolster the credibility of their books if they had them. They did not because they could not. These Church Fathers wrote volumes about the early Church’s followers and martyrs, but there is one thing conspicuously absent from their writings; bona-fide details about a flesh and blood historical Jesus.

Nowhere in the New Testament is there an explanation to vouch for the authenticity of any of the Jesus accounts that could convince a truly objective historian. Outside the Bible, some Church fathers, bishops, and academics pass fleeting commentary in an attempt to justify an historical Jesus. Some of this commentary has survived, yet it was written 100 or more years after Yeshua’s death, is very sparse, piecemeal, and unfortunately always raises more questions than it answers.

There was much disagreement amongst various early Christian groups about what was or was not the word of God, and it took 350 years after Jesus’ death for the canon to be definitively decided.

The criteria used to choose the canon were unscholarly and never strictly applied. The key case for inclusion in the canon was that the scripts were already popular in particular parishes. This standard is obviously flawed, as popularity has little to do with historical truth. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are popular books, but no one
thinks they are records of real history just because they are well liked.

The accounts of Christians who were not card carriers in conformist churches were ignored. The Gnostics, Marcionites and numerous other Christian groups had writings that were labeled as heretical. Catholics took what they thought was useful from them, and then destroyed nearly all their writings. To destroy literature is not the conduct of people interested in the truth, but the behavior of empire builders.

There are falsely signed letters throughout the Bible; rarely in the writings of antiquity are the true identities of so many authors so hidden from the reader. Some of Paul’s epistles are the only works for which we know the author’s real identity, and even then his writings have been interfered with by unknown others. The real identities of the authors were rarely recorded, possibly because to do so would have exposed how fabricated the writings were. Anonymous authors meant answers to many difficult questions did not have to be given. It was easier to foster faith than to discuss facts.
The Church Fathers either presumed or pretended that the Gospels were true, but could not prove it. This leaves a massive hole in Christianity’s legitimacy.

The men discussed here were the more educated members of the early Christian churches. Yet they were often narrow-minded, superstitious, and dishonest, and a few of them even admitted their dishonesty. Some of them forged documents. They repeatedly displayed very little critical faculty; no story was too silly, no falsehood
too glaring, no argument too weak to prevent them teaching it with full confidence of its truth. Time and again the Church Fathers thought it was permissible, and even commendable, to assert falsehoods for the sake of selling faith. It could be said that they were the tabloid journalists of their day.


St Gregory, commenting in the mid fourth century, wrote

“A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors have often said not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity dictated.” (St. Gregory, from Jerome’s letter 52 to Nepotian.230)

Yet it is on the Church Fathers’ testimonies that today’s Christian assumes that the Gospels are truthful.

It is obvious that these Church Fathers, and no doubt others with similar attitudes, would have edited and interpolated the New Testament. If you can claim angels have sex with women, you can promote a virgin birth. If you can say you saw a dead corpse move, why not have an evil spirit enter a herd of pigs? If you can write about men with one eye in their foreheads, you have no reservations about a Jesus walking on water. If you are willing to use falsehood as medicine, then you are pleased to have Jesus rise from the dead. I could go on and on.

Some of these men, or their colleagues, altered quotations from the Septuagint to create phony prophesies concerning Jesus. Someone added Jesus’ resurrection to the Gospel of Mark. Someone attributed the authorship of the Gospels to Jesus’ apostles. Someone probably inserted into Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus wanted to start a new Church with Peter at its head. Someone probably inserted Jesus’ name into Paul’s writings. Some anonymous Christians wrote letters in Paul’s name. Someone wrote Acts to try to link Yeshua’s disciples with Paul’s theology. Numerous other people incorporated traditions from pagan cults into the new one. There are countless other examples of the early Christians’ dishonesty.

There was a corrupt intellectual culture in the early Christian church.

There are no legitimate excuses for this. Fiction touted as truth, uncritical scholarship, and appeals for faith are unacceptable to an educated, modern audience.

These Church Fathers were using the type of arguments that they knew worked, so as to convince groups of mainly common people about the supposed truth of superstitious nonsense.

The human family has always had real thinkers, people who were clearly interested in the truth. Consider men such as Plato, Plutarch, Celsus, Cicero, Philo, Seutonius, Tacitus and others, who employed high standards of integrity and scholarship. Their writings are believable, consistent and still read well. These Church Fathers were not in this group. Celsus wrote

“It is clear to me that the writings of the Christians are a lie, and that your fables are not well-enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction: I have even heard that some of your interpreters, as if they had just come out of a tavern, are onto the inconsistencies and, pen in hand, alter the originals writings, three, four and several more times over in order to be able to deny the contradictions in the face of criticism.” (Celsus, 178 CE).

None of the church fathers were honest enough to publicly admit that their faith was formed on a foundation of manufactured nonsense.

How could anyone today be convinced of the divinity, the miracles, or the teachings of Jesus after considering what these Church Fathers had to contend?

Christianity is not unique in this regard. Jewish and Islamic dogma is also manufactured nonsense. Consider how many of today’s Christians quite readily appreciate how childish, borrowed, concocted and unhistorical the Islamic faith is, yet fail to see similar parallels in their own religion.

It seems obvious why the Church Fathers concocted lies and so vehemently denigrated other commentators such as the Gnostics, Marcion and Celsus. Promoting their version of the dogma fortified their own power and status, and that of the institutions they represented.

These Church Fathers were bishops buttressing their own positions and their Church’s coffers. They were pompous priests who perched themselves in high places in pursuit of power, money and prestige.

Elders or presbyters were lower than the bishop; deacons or servants were lower than the elders, and the common plebs were at the bottom of the pile. These commoners were poorly equipped to detect dishonesty, or to tell the difference between truth and fiction. Bishops typically had little or no respect for them. Bishops had a patronizing attitude towards the common people; the people were to be fooled and manipulated for the Church’s benefit. The clergy regularly referred to the public as “rabble” or “fools” or “the multitudes” or the “crowd,” yet it was the commoners who put cash in their collections.

The Church Fathers were advocating an earthly monarchy with a bishop on the throne. Paul had said much the same thing many years earlier, with himself as an ultimate authority, the equivalent of a king. The Vatican still runs a monarchy today, with the pope as God’s mouthpiece, which is one of the reasons why the men in today’s Vatican have become so unpopular amongst thinking people.

It is sad, wrong and ironic that generations of ordinary, trusting Christians have wasted their time looking for truth and meaning in the New Testament, hoping to be enlightened, when the characters who created it were so cavalier, so casual with the truth. Churches today still insist that people believe that the Bible was divinely inspired, yet they have no facts to back this assertion up. By forcing faith on children and adults too busy to carefully consider it, priests and preachers have ruled over human reason to benefit themselves at the expense of the little people who sit in pews and put money on plates.

The world has moved on, people are better informed, more critical, and much better educated. Modern people, who genuinely care about the health and happiness of our fellow men, and particularly the children, might be best served by not letting these writings and those who advocate them have an undeserved authority. It is time bibliolatry and theology were replaced with open-mindedness, pragmatic thought, and genuine empathy. The era in which uninformed people blindly believe Christian dogma and bow down to those promoting it should now be over.

References:
Besant, A. “The Basis Of Morality.” Theosophical Publishing House. India
Bethune, George “The Grounds of Christianity Examined by Comparing The New Testament with the Old” (http://www.gutenberg. org/cache/epub/15968/pg15968.html)
http://www.infidels.org/library/historic...h_wheless/ forgery_in_christianity/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSYgEsfxyB4
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/r...r/NTcanon. html
http://www.orthodox.net/faq/canon.htm http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/jhcjp.htm
http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/pos...ttp://www. wayoflife.org/index_files/church_fathers_a_door_to_room.html
http://www.cogwriter.com/easter.htm
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2005/0...christian- apocrypha-and-the-historiography-of-early-christianity-nt-apocry- pha-6/
http://www.drazin.com/chap1.htm
http://allanturner.com/magazine/archives...gyLaity04. html
http://acurseonalltheirhouses.net/2011/11/11/how- christianity-was-invented/
http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/dark-age.htm http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/lying.htm http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/064...nFraud.php http://godlessgeeks.com/JesusExist.htm http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...ion/watch/ http://www.angelfire.com/band/kissed/fraud.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0zWbL8Uqfw



Re What about the 5600 NT pieces extant from before the close of the 2nd century?

They don't exist. You are the one making the claim they do. Prove your claim to us.
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11-05-2015, 03:03 PM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2015 05:24 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 10:23 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(08-05-2015 05:54 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Q, you write
"Mark... I hope you don't mind me pointing out the clear disconnect between sending me to an article that claims (falsely) there was no NT or Christianity until the third century, and then to say here that the gospels were edited for 200 years before that time. And do you have any textual evidence of such edits?

Some TTA'ers like to say mean things like "cite some evidence or GT()O and ST()U". PLEASE, Mark, I've asked you a half-dozen times now, for textual proof. Show us all some different versions of the heavy edits of the NT you keep claiming, or please, stop. I might grant you the end of Mark, what is that, 10 verses out of 23,145? Please.
"

Okay Q, this is going to be long.

You're asking for evidence that the new Testament was interpolated and edited.

Firstly, as you admitted, Mark 16 9-20, the original account of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, is well recognised as an interpolation.

Secondly, you must appreciate the fact that Matthew and Luke were basically rewrites of Mark. So whoever originally wrote Matthew and Luke was obviously sitting at a desk putting in their own spin about and over the events in Mark. Strictly speaking that is not an edit or an interpolation as they were writing new gospels, but in reality that is what they were. Matthew and Luke were obviously spin doctors cutting and pasting bits of information. The bits in Matthew and Luke about the virgin birth, the three wise men, and the trip to Egypt, for example, are obviously all editions.

Bear in mind that there was no one church and there were no printing presses. So there were hundreds of gospels which were hand copied, multiple times, over hundreds of years, before anyone had the means or the power to create definitive versions. There was no one overseeing authority that make sure all copies were exactly the same... that only happened with Constantine in the fourth century. To imagine all these hundreds, perhaps thousands, of copiers did not add and subtract and change bits of the writings is ridiculous. We have numerous commentators, both secular and Christian, who admit that this was the case. The evidence for this follows.

Quite obviously the men who were leaders of early churches would never have admitted that they edited and interpolated the early writings of the church, so I can't produce actual writings of theirs saying "I edited or interpolated this this or that."

And, there are no significant surviving parts of the new Testament from the first second or third centuries. So we cannot be sure what the church fathers read. Some of them quote from "their" gospels, and some of these quotes resemble what's written in "our" gospels, yet many other of these quotes bear no resemblance to what is in "our" New Testament now.

There is no doubt they were spin doctors, and they were basically dishonest, as judged by the literary standards of today. Evidence follows.

Here is my chapter on the compilation of the new Testament. Yes.. it is long, and yes, there are some opinions in it that may not be correct, but if you take the trouble to read it, you'll understand the atmosphere of the times in which the gospels were created, and hopefully you'll develop an awareness that the gospels are nonsense ie not based on historical truth.

The Compilation of the New Testament

Most Christians today assume that the Church Fathers, who compiled and edited the New Testament texts, had good reasons to believe that these texts were the inspired words of God and truthful records of history. A case will be made that this assumption is totally unfounded.

The process of compiling a New Testament canon was a protracted and complicated affair. It started in the late second century and only finished toward the end of the fourth. The following summary provides only a brief overview.

It was over a century after Jesus’ death before the concept of a New Testament was even thought of. Most groups at this time considered only the Septuagint to be Scripture, so nascent Christianity, except for the Marcionists, was quite “Judaeo-Christian.”

Why were the four Gospels chosen over others, and how were they related to Yeshua? Did the canonical Gospels document real history? What did the Church Fathers know about the historical Jesus? How did Paul’s letters and the other epistles become part of the Bible? Was the Catholic Church the key beneficiary of promotion of the stories and the selection of books that make up today’s Bible? Were the so-called Church Fathers honest men?

Modern investigators can, and should, examine the writings of the Church Fathers to find out the answers to these questions. If we have evidence that Church Fathers were willing to simply fabricate stories and invent ideas, and they were the very people who compiled the Bible, that evidence throws serious doubt on the Bible’s legitimacy.

In the following section the key players and events are discussed in temporal order.

First century

Clement’s first epistle, traditionally dated to 95 CE, but more likely written decades later, did “quote” Jesus, and some of these quotations resemble sayings from the Gospels, but Clement never referred to a source. Someone writing about sixty years after Jesus’ death should have mentioned something about what he knew about the origin of his beliefs. The fact that Clement did not, strongly suggests he was unaware of any historical facts about Jesus.

Paul’s original letters, and James, Jude, 1,2 John and 1,2 Peter were probably all first written in the first century, yet were not commented upon by contemporary writers. James and Jude may have been Yeshua’s brothers, yet neither of their letters documents any details of Yeshua’s life. Paul barely mentions what Yeshua may have said or did. Unknown authors wrote John and Peter and the book of Revelations, yet they also failed to discuss Yeshua’s teachings or exploits. Their Christ was, like Paul’s Christ, a spirit.

So there is no legitimate first century commentary apart from what is written in the Gospels to tell us anything about Yeshua.

Second Century

In the second century, written and oral traditions about Jesus ran side by side, distorting one another. There were hundreds of “Gospels” - a mass of inconsistent writings. Books and manuscripts were hand-written, so hundreds of copiers were able to alter, add to, or omit whatever they wanted. Remarks written in margins by one transcriber were often transferred into the next text, and were then indistinguishable from the original. Myth became overlaid with myth.

There was no one dominant church to control the proliferation of these writings. There were hundreds of different communities scattered throughout the Empire, all with their own beliefs, written and oral.

Imagine the conundrums Christians had to sort out or gloss over when compiling a canon. The ethnocentric concept of the Jews’ ever-lasting covenant with God made on Mount Sinai had to some- how be sold to a crowd that was not Jewish. Paul put forward an entirely unprecedented idea of a new covenant for everyone, including Gentiles. How to correlate that with Jewish Scripture? Then the Gospel’s Jesus appeared. The Holy Ghost was said to be Jesus’ father, yet Jesus was also supposed to be a son of David. How could Jesus have a divine and a human father? Was or was not Jesus the Jewish Messiah? A Jewish Messiah was supposed to liberate Israel from the Romans, yet Jesus did not do that. Instead, Jesus somehow saved Gentiles from their sins. Just who was Jesus Christ? A god, a spirit, a human, or something in between? No lasting agreement was reached until well into the fourth century, when it was decided he was all three, a doctrine that barely made it into the Bible. Yahweh in Scripture and Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel both said the Law was to be obeyed for all time, but Paul had written that faith in Christ’s sacrifice annulled the Law. Then there was the author of the book of James, maybe the brother of Jesus, who contradicted Paul’s doctrine of salvation by faith. There must have been a lot of head scratching and “cutting and pasting” to morph Paul’s Christ into the Jesus stories in the Gospels so that they appeared to be the same character.

Mark’s Jesus unfortunately did not appear to anyone, so something had to be done about that. There were hundreds of other inconsistencies and errors in the Gospels that had to be glossed over.

To reconcile these polarized themes into a sensible, consistent doctrine was impossible. It was achieved on a “shop floor,” but not on an intellectual level, which speaks volumes about how easily the simple people of the times, most of who could not read, were won over.

Letters allegedly written by Ignatius in 110 CE include a few phrases and paraphrases that resemble ideas from Paul’s epistles, but the author does not acknowledge that they were Pauline.

There are also some phrases and ideas in Ignatius’ letters similar to those found in today’s Matthew and John, but Ignatius’ sources are not named. Hence it is very apparent that Ignatius, writing in 110 CE or later, was not aware of the existence of four authoritative Gospels, or of a body of Pauline works.

Ignatius wrote of the “star of Bethlehem:”
“A star shone forth in heaven above all other stars, and the light of which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with aston- ishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star” (to the Ephesians chapter XIX.)

Ignatius may have been writing metaphorically, yet to claim something this comical is childish. I suspect he wrote this in all seriousness, and expected his readers to believe it.

Ignatius emphasized the importance of bishops to bolster the power of his church. In the letter to the Ephesians he wrote:

“Wherefore it is fitting that ye should run together in accordance with the will of your bishop, which thing also ye do. For your justly renowned presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted as exactly to the bishop as the strings are to the harp. Therefore in your concord and harmonious love, Jesus Christ is sung.”

Ignatius was telling the people to obey the bishop.

In Ignatius’ letter to the Trallians he paralleled the position of bishop with the position of Christ:

“For, since you are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, you appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, you may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as you indeed do, so without the bishop you should do nothing,” and

“... Let us be careful not to resist the Bishop, that through our sub- mission to the Bishop we may belong to God... We should regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself.”

According to Ignatius, a Bishop was God’s equivalent.

Some Church Fathers claimed that Papias (70–163 CE) quoted Jesus. Yet Papias wrote that he relied only on oral tradition as the source of Jesus’ sayings, which casts immediate doubt on the veracity of what was written, as quotes derived from an oral tradition are unreliable.

Eusebius claimed Papias knew someone who had known the author of Mark’s Gospel, yet gave no details about this. Surely Papias would have documented something so important. The name “Mark” was not associated with the authorship of a Gospel until about twenty years after Papias’ death, which means the claim is untrue.

Unfortunately for Papias’ reputation, Eusebius expressed serious reservations about the caliber of his intellect:

“I guess he got these ideas from a misinterpretation of the apostolic accounts. For he did not understand what they said mystically and in figurative language. For he obviously was a man of very little intelligence, as one can tell judging from his sayings. Nevertheless, it was due to him that so many churchmen after him adopted a similar opinion, basing their position on the fact that he was a man of the earliest era” (Eccles. Hist. 3.39.12–13.)

Eusebius had to guess where Papias got his facts from, wrote Papias off as unintelligent, and then admitted Papias was a significant and early source of dogma!
Polycarp (70–155 CE) penned a letter that some modern commentators claim contains Jesus’ words, yet Polycarp did not claim that these words came from Jesus. Some of them resemble phrases appearing in today’s Gospels, (and even passages written in epistles, which were not attributed to Jesus). If Polycarp had intended to quote Jesus, he would have written that that is what he was doing.

In the mid second century the proto-orthodox groups coalesced around the name “Catholic.” Justin Martyr became their preeminent apologist. Justin was unaware of the concept of a New Testament canon, or that there should only be four Gospels, or of the existence of any of the four now canonical Gospels. Justin used more than three hundred quotations from the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from now - apocryphal books, but none from the four Gospels. One of four things must be true; either the Gospels had not been written yet, or they were in a very different state from what they are today, and unnamed, or they existed but he had never seen any of them, or that Justin knew of them but failed to mention them.

Justin was, at times, unscrupulous. He interpolated the Septuagint with a number of phony prophecies concerning Jesus, which were weak, clumsy, and dishonest. They can be found in the dialogue of Justin with Trypho the Jew. Trypho did not exist; he was a straw man, Justin’s literary invention he used to argue against Judaism.

Justin justified his belief in Jesus as follows:
“When we say also that the Word, which is the first birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified, died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter” (First Apology, chapter 21.)

Instead of discussing evidence, Justin claimed (quite correctly) that the Jesus account was similar to myths about other gods, and should therefore be equally true. Yet Jesus, if he ever existed, had died only one hundred years earlier.

Justin claimed that Socrates (469–399 BCE) and Heraclitus (535– 475 BCE) were Christians, (First Apology Chapter 46, Second Apology Chapter 10) an assertion similar to saying that Galileo was a scientologist.

Justin believed insane people were possessed by the souls of the wicked, so were proof of the immortality of souls. (First Apology, Chapter 18.)

Marcion (110–160 CE) may have introduced Paul’s writings to Rome in the 140’s CE. Marcion was the first person to attempt to define a Christian canon in the 140s.

Marcion suggested that the “new covenant,” as proposed by Paul, was part of a new religion separate from Judaism. Marcion’s canon consisted of Paul’s letters and the Euangelion (which was similar to, but shorter than, canonical Luke.) Marcion ignored all other religious literature, including Jewish Scripture. Marcion either knew nothing of Mark, Matthew, or John, or neglected to acknowledge them.

In the mid to late second century, the canon first began to take shape. The Catholics in Rome did with Marcionism/Paulinism what they often did with other social or cultural or religious beliefs and practices: absorbed them. Paul had (probably) thought up the theology of individual salvation - “justification by faith” - that dispensed with the difficult dictates of Mosaic Law. Paul also promised heaven, a concept convenient for the Catholic Church to promote. Paul’s ideas were so suitable it was easy for the Catholic Church to adopt his scripts, call them Scripture, and then, (almost certainly) edit them.

There was, however, a problem. Paul said nothing about priests. Paul had claimed the end of the world was imminent, so why would clerics be required? Anonymous authors forged three more “Pauline- styled” epistles: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, which made a case for a Church structure, and promoted obedience to priests. These epistles also implied a more human Jesus than the earlier Paulines, so paradoxically, were used as anti-Marcionite propaganda.

It is interesting to put Paul’s epistles in perspective. They were probably first written as pro Roman government propaganda by someone who had never met Yeshua and who was in opposition to Yeshua’s family and original disciples. The so-called heretic Marcion, who clearly thought Christ was a ghost, promoted them. Catholics then interpolated them, and new letters were forged in Paul’s name to explain the existence of priests and make Christ appear more human, yet even so, they barely mentioned Yeshua’s exploits. It seems that today’s churches have an unjustifiable reverence for Paul’s letters.

Moving into the later second century, Irenaeus of Lyons praised ignorance as a virtue:

“It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unlettered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skilful” (Against Heresies, Book II, Chapter 26.)

Irenaeus obviously had little respect for human intellect or integrity.

Irenaeus attempted to list the first known Catholic canon in 180-190 CE, although he never compiled a definitive list of books. He knew that many people were attracted to Gnosticism and feared that his account of Christianity could not compete. Formalizing doctrinal authority so that everyone had the same beliefs was his solution to what he saw as a problem.

Irenaeus’ list included the four canonical Gospels. This was the first record of anybody mentioning the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, over 150 years after the events they purported to record. Irenaeus gave no good explanation as to who wrote the Gospels, or how the authors were connected to Yeshua. He did write

“Matthew published his Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the church in Rome. After their departure Mark, the disciple and inter- preter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing those things which Peter had preached; and Luke, the attendant of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel which Paul had declared. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also reclined on his bosom, published his Gospel, while staying at Ephesus in Asia.” (“Against Heresies” 3.1.1.)

This is an attempt to legitimize all four Gospels in three sentences. It is woefully inadequate because of the lack of detail, and sounds like a cheap commentary concocted so that the topic of the Gospels’ authorship could be glossed over. Irenaeus implied that Matthew, Luke and John were written independently of Mark, which modern scholars know was not the case.

Irenaeus did claim a work could be accepted as canonical if the early Church fathers had used it, and this established a theoretical basis for determinations of orthodoxy, yet he never provided any such evidence for the books he chose.

Irenaeus made the ridiculous claim that as there were only four direc- tions from which the wind blew, there could only be four Gospels.

Irenaeus accepted Acts, and all the Pauline letters.

All “Christian” groups in Rome were competing with each other and other cults for the favor of the Roman state, so Gospels had to have pro-Roman elements and no anti-Roman features.

Around the later second century the first instances of organized suppression of some Christian texts occurred. So the people whose writings would survive as Christian history labeled the Marcionites and Gnostics as “heretics,” and their ideas were derided. It was largely due to this competition with Marcion and the Gnostics that the idea of a Catholic New Testament canon was born.

Third Century

Origen (185–254 CE), a religious fanatic, was probably the most influential Biblical commentator of the first three centuries of Christianity.

Origen categorized books into three groups: those accepted by all churches he associated with, those disputed, and those not accepted in any of his churches, which he called “spurious.” So the only basis Origen used in practice to determine canonicity was how popular the books were in the churches of which he approved.

Origen does mention that the Gospel of Mark was composed under the instruction of Peter, which he claimed he learned from Papias’ writing, but gives no details about Peter or Mark, which makes it an almost worthless comment.

Origen’s acknowledged books were the four Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Pauline Epistles, I Peter, I John, and Revelations. Origen may have considered some others canonical, namely “Barnabas,” “Didache,” and “the Shepherd,” because he used the word “scrip- ture” for them. Origen’s disputed books were the Apocalypse of Peter, (discussed below) and II Peter, II John, III John, James, and Jude, all five of which are now in the bible. He identified a num- ber of books as spurious, such as Acts of Paul, the Teaching of the Apostles, Thomas, Matthias, Acts of Andrew, and others. He con- sidered them to have been written by heretics under the names of the apostles.

Origen wrote:
“Before replying to Celsus, it is necessary to admit that in the mat- ter of history, however true it might be, it is often very difficult and sometimes quite impossible to establish its truth by evidence which shall be considered sufficient” (Contra Celsum 1.58.)

This was a plain admission that many Christian claims could not be verified. At least Origen was candid enough to admit it.

Origen also wrote:
“As this matter of faith...we accept it as useful for the multitude, and that we admittedly teach those who cannot abandon everything and pursue a study of rational argument to believe without thinking out their arguments.” (Contra Celsum 1.10.)

Origen admitted that “we” turned to faith as a tool to convince a gullible crowd. “We” were his fellow bishops, the men who promoted Christian dogma.

Origen thought the sun, moon, and stars were living creatures, each with a free will, that sometimes sinned. One might forgive Origen for having no understanding of astronomy, but maybe not for claiming that celestial objects had thoughts. Origen clung to the pagan superstition that comets and new stars portend great world events, and thought that this gave credibility to the story of the star of Bethlehem:

“It has been observed that, on the occurrence of great events, and of mighty changes in terrestrial things, such stars are wont to appear, indicating either the removal of dynasties or the breaking out of wars, or the happening of such circumstances as may cause commotions upon the earth, why not then the Star of Bethlehem?” (Contra Celsum, chapter 1.)

Tertullian, also writing in the early third century, was a teller of tall tales. He asserted,
“I know it that the corpse of a dead Christian, at the first breath of the prayer made by the priest, on occasion of its own funeral, removed its hands from its sides, into the usual posture of a supplicant; and when the service was ended, restored them again to their former situation.” (De anima chapter 51.)

Tertullian advised Christians not to think critically, but to employ blind faith. To Tertullian, all kinds of rational thinking became superfluous compared to holy writings:

“For philosophy is the material of the world’s wisdom, the rash interpreter of the nature and dispensation of God. Indeed heresies are themselves instigated by philosophy... What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What has the Academy to do with the Church? What have heretics to do with Christians? Our instruction comes from the porch of Solomon, who had himself taught that the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart. Away with all attempts to produce a Stoic, Platonic, and dialectic Christianity! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after receiving the gospel! When we believe, we desire no further belief. For this is our first article of faith, that there is nothing which we ought to believe besides.” (De Praescriptione, Chapter vii.)

Tertullian claimed, without evidence, that Pilate converted to Christianity:
“All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of Him to the reigning Caesar, who was at the time Tiberius” (The Apology, Chapter 21.)

Tertullian wrote:
“The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it. And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed because it is absurd. And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible. But how will all this be true in Him, if He was not Himself true--if He really had not in Himself that which might be crucified, might die, might be buried, and might rise again?”

Tertullian obviously preferred faith to reason, and disliked complexity. In the same work Tertullian called Aristotle “wretched” and he disparaged the tentative investigative nature of Greek science as

“... self-stultifying...ever handling questions but never settling them.” This attitude was the antithesis of rational thought.

Compare this to what Tertullian’s contemporary Celsus, a Roman second century historian and secular critic of Christianity wrote:

“For why is it an evil to have been educated, and to have studied the best opinions, and to have both the reality and appearance of wisdom? What hindrance does this offer to the knowledge of God? Why should it not rather be an assistance, and a means by which one might be better able to arrive at the truth?” (Excerpts from Contra Celsus by Origen, book 3 Chapter 59.)

Celsus realized the benefits of being educated, and that early Christians were irrational.

Tertullian lacked common sense, was at times a lazy thinker, justified his own ignorance using religion, and sometimes thought he could just invent facts to advertise an agenda.

Fourth Century

Eusebius, the first and greatest historian of the early Church, who wrote in the early fourth century, rewrote his “History of the Church” many times as he tried to cover the topic with an orthodox account. Eusebius claimed that heresy only developed after the apostolic age, and was then countered by his version of Christianity...Catholicism.

Eusebius is notorious as the author of numerous falsehoods. He probably created the “Testimonium Flavianum,” and may have forged a letter in Jesus’ name. Eusebius even admitted on at least two occasions that he was less than honest:

“We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity” (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, Chapter 2.) and

“How it may be Lawful and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want to be Deceived.” (Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, chap. 2.)
So much for integrity and objectivity from Christianity’s most important historian!

Eusebius wrote of a man who was tortured until his body

“...was one continued wound, mangled and shriveled, that had entirely lost the form of man” and then

...recovered the former shape and habit of his limbs” (Ecclesiastical History, book V, Chapter 2.)

These are the words of a man using “falsehood as a medicine.”

Eusebius tried to explain the pedigree of Mark’s Gospel thus:

“Having become the interpreter of Peter, Mark wrote down accu- rately whatever he remembered. However, he did not relate the say- ings of deeds of Christ in exact order. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter. Now, Peter accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s saying. Accordingly, Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For one thing, he took special care not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put any- thing fictitious into the statements.” (Church History 1.155.)

Eusebius claimed to be quoting Papias, who somehow (not explained) knew of a Mark, and Mark somehow (not adequately explained) knew Peter. Mark, under pressure from unnamed enthu- siasts, documented some of the Christ’s sayings that he remembered from Peter, who had fashioned what he taught to be appropriate to his listeners. Eusebius wrote this about 250 years after it all allegedly happened. It sounds very much like nothing but “spin;” a weak attempt to justify the historicity of Mark.
Eusebius had access to Origen’s library and his writings, and copied him by claiming to use the criteria that a book had to have been written by an apostle, or by someone who was acquainted with an apostle. Yet Eusebius too never gave any good evidence of a link with the apostles. He just picked books that were already popular. To the four Gospels he added Acts, 1 Peter and 1 John, and all the Pauline epistles. Among his disputed but not heretical texts he placed James, Jude, 2 Peter, and 2 and 3 John. He stated 2 Peter was not canonical (it now is.)

Eusebius did not deliver a definitive list of books for a New Testament canon. By 327 CE, when Eusebius finished the final draft of his “Church History,” there was still no official Bible.

Eventually church councils were convened to choose a single set of books. The first was the Synod of Laodicea (in Asia Minor) in 363 CE. There were twenty to thirty bishops present. They accepted all of the books of today’s canon except Revelations, which was rejected, possibly because of its anti-Roman prejudice. The official verdict was that:

“No psalms composed by private individuals nor any uncanonical books may be read in the church, but only the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments” (Catholic Encyclopedia.)

The bishops made no comment about what criteria were used to choose this canon, nor why scores of other works were excluded. They must have been very busy, as this was the last of sixty new rules they laid down at the time.

The current cannon first surfaced in a letter written by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in 367 CE. This list was officially accepted by the Church in 382 CE at a synod held in Rome under Pope Damasus, at which Jerome was present. There’s no record of who attended this synod, other than Damasus and Jerome, nor of their deliberations.

Pope Damasus, Jerome, and possibly a few bishops, got together and made the definitive decision, using undocumented criteria, about which books were the word of God and which were not.

Augustine subsequently commanded three synods on canonicity: the Synod of Hippo in 393 CE, Carthage in 397 CE, and another in Carthage in 419 CE, yet none of these changed the canon. They must have concluded that after 350 years of confusion it was time to call it a day.

The Catholic Encyclopedia claims Augustine was
“... a philosophical and theological genius of the first order, domi- nating, like a pyramid, antiquity and the succeeding ages. Compared with the great philosophers of past centuries and modern times, he is the equal of them all; among theologians he is undeniably the first, and such has been his influence that none of the Fathers, Scholastics, or Reformers has surpassed it.

High praise indeed! Yet this sounds like an apology for all other church theologians. The author of the encyclopedia is implying there is not a single theologian other than Augustine whose intellect can compare with great philosophers past and present. That does not say much for the school of theology! Is Augustine thought a greater theologian than Paul, who more or less invented Christian theology? I wonder if this wording will be changed in future editions.

There is no doubt Augustine was highly influential. Whether he was a great philosopher is more controversial.

Augustine was adamant the earth was no more than six thousand years old:

“They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not yet 6,000 years have passed...” (City of God, Bk. xii, Chapter 10.)

Science has proven the great philosopher’s “sacred writings” wrong. Augustine was writing in the fourth century, and he did not know any better, but he was bone-headed about it, and derided anyone who did not believe the creation story:

“For as it is not yet 6,000 years since the first man, who is called Adam, are not those to be ridiculed rather than refuted who try to persuade us of anything regarding a space of time so different from, so contrary to, the ascertained truth?” (City of God, Bk xviii, Chapter 40.)

Augustine’s “ascertained truth” was the Old Testament, which was wrong about the age of the earth by a factor of close to a million! How could someone who relied so heavily on Scripture, rather than rational thought, be considered a great philosopher?
Although many Greek philosophers from Pythagoras on had held that the earth was round, and Augustine had heard the theory, he was adamant the earth was flat and inhabited on the upper side only:

“As to the fable that there are Antipodes, that is to say, men who are on the opposite side of the earth, where the sun rises when it sets to us, men who walk with their feet opposite ours, is on no ground credible.” (City of God, Chapter xvi.)

This “towering figure of early Christianity” claimed:

“I was already Bishop of Hippo, when I went into Ethiopia with some servants of Christ there to preach the Gospel. In this country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two great eyes in their breasts; and in countries still more southly, we saw people who had but one eye in their foreheads.” (Sermones, xxxiii.)

Augustine invented his own biological facts:
“Frogs are produced from the earth, not propagated by male and
female parents”
(City of God, Chapter xvi) and

“There are in Cappadocia mares which are impregnated by the wind,
and their foals live only three years”
(City of God, Chapter xxi.) 287

This number one theologian attempted to explain how people could survive fire in hell without being consumed, and wrote two chapters in City of God, on the topic, the first entitled

“Whether it is Possible for Bodies to last Forever in Burning Fire,” and the second

“Examples from Nature Proving That Bodies May Remain Unconsumed and Alive in Fire.”

Augustine thought demons caused disease:

“All diseases of Christians are to be ascribed to these demons; chiefly do they torment fresh-baptized Christians, yea, even the guilt- less new-born infant” (De Divinatione Daemonorum, Chapter 3.) There are still some superstitious people today who attribute illnesses to demons.

This “great pyramid of learning” pondered over
“...whether angels, inasmuch as they are spirits, could have bodily
intercourse with women?”
(City of God, book xv, Chapter 23.) After much deliberation over an entirely imaginary subject, Augustine concluded that they can and do, and that he had proof:

“Many proven instances, that Sylvans and Fauns, who are commonly called ‘Incubi,’ had often made wicked assaults upon women, and satisfied their lusts upon them: and that certain devils, called Duses by the Gauls, are constantly attempting and effecting this impurity.” (City of God, book xv, chapter 23.)

Augustine devoted two whole treatises to the topic of lying (a topic one might say he knew a lot about.) The first of these, ‘De menda- cio’ (‘On Lying,’) written in 395 CE, discussed the pros and cons of lying. Of the eight kinds of lie that he identified, (each with several sub-types) he excused ‘jocular’ lies, was ‘uncertain’ about others, (depending on motive and the likelihood of being believed) and questioned the morality of the remainder. The second, ‘Contra mendacium’ written in 422 CE, cautioned his readers as follows.

“One never errs more safely, methinks, than when one errs by too much loving the truth, and too much rejecting of falsehood.” (St Augustine, Retractations, Book I.)
Augustine had evidently thought long and hard before coming to this conclusion, yet it is very obvious he frequently failed to follow his own advice.

This “philosophical genius” had some doubts about the legitimacy of “the Gospel,” but was not confident enough to trust his own judgement:

“I would not believe in the Gospel myself if the authority of the Catholic Church did not influence me to do so.” (Against the letter of Mani 5,6.)

Augustine thought “the Gospel” was not believable, but that the Catholic Church knew better. Today the Catholic encyclopaedia claims Augustine was their number one authority. The two claims produce a classic circular argument.

Augustine, like Tertullian, derided the value of critical thought.

“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity...It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.” (Confessions.)

This comment denigrates scientific investigation; an attitude that is, in fact, the antithesis of good philosophy. It can be argued that the two greatest theologians of the early church, Tertullian and Augustine, rather than promoting good philosophy, stifled it.

St. Augustine wrote,

“Neither in the confusion of paganism, nor in the defilement of her- esy, nor yet in the blindness of Judaism, is religion to be sought, but among those alone who are called Catholic Christians.” (De Vera Religions, chapter v.)

A heretic was any Christian who did not believe exactly what Augustine believed. He wrote,

“There is no salvation outside the church” (De Baptismo. IV, cxvii.24.)

Anyone who did not go to Augustine’s church was, according to Augustine, denied heaven.

Augustine was a reasonably intelligent man, although his great rival Pelagius was far more sensible. Augustine’s teachings on original sin, women and sex were, judged by today’s standards, inflammatory and even immoral. Augustine claimed to be an authority on history and scientific subjects he knew very little about, and invented
facts to fill in the gaps. Augustine was not honest enough to admit the deficiencies in his religion.

Jerome, also writing in the late fourth and early fifth century, was an impressive scholar, (it was a daunting task to translate the Old Testament) yet he admitted to employing babble to beguile the hoi polloi:

“There is nothing so easy as by sheer volubility to deceive a com- mon crowd or an uneducated congregation.” (Epistle to Nepotian, iii, 8.)

Jerome claimed:
“It is usual for the sacred historian to conform himself to the gener- ally accepted opinion of the masses in his time” (The book of Psalms in Latin, XXVI.)

Jerome thought a historian need not rely on facts, but could consider common opinion as the truth.

Some Conclusions

“It will not appear strange to those who have given any attention to the history of mankind, which will always suggest this sad reflection: That the greatest zealots in religion, or the leaders of sects and parties, whatever purity or principles they pretend to have seldom scrupled to make use of a commodious lie for the advancement of what they call the truth. And with regard to these very Fathers, there is not one of them...who made any scruple in those ages of using the hyperbolical style to advance the honor of God and the salvation of men.”

(Dr. Conyers Middleton, 1844, as quoted by Joseph Wheless in Forgery in Christianity)

The Church Fathers, who, over a period of roughly 300 years, compiled the New Testament canon, wrote volumes attacking their opposition and arguing with their critics, so they would have recorded solid facts about the historicity of Jesus to bolster the credibility of their books if they had them. They did not because they could not. These Church Fathers wrote volumes about the early Church’s followers and martyrs, but there is one thing conspicuously absent from their writings; bona-fide details about a flesh and blood historical Jesus.

Nowhere in the New Testament is there an explanation to vouch for the authenticity of any of the Jesus accounts that could convince a truly objective historian. Outside the Bible, some Church fathers, bishops, and academics pass fleeting commentary in an attempt to justify an historical Jesus. Some of this commentary has survived, yet it was written 100 or more years after Yeshua’s death, is very sparse, piecemeal, and unfortunately always raises more questions than it answers.

There was much disagreement amongst various early Christian groups about what was or was not the word of God, and it took 350 years after Jesus’ death for the canon to be definitively decided.

The criteria used to choose the canon were unscholarly and never strictly applied. The key case for inclusion in the canon was that the scripts were already popular in particular parishes. This standard is obviously flawed, as popularity has little to do with historical truth. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are popular books, but no one
thinks they are records of real history just because they are well liked.

The accounts of Christians who were not card carriers in conformist churches were ignored. The Gnostics, Marcionites and numerous other Christian groups had writings that were labeled as heretical. Catholics took what they thought was useful from them, and then destroyed nearly all their writings. To destroy literature is not the conduct of people interested in the truth, but the behavior of empire builders.

There are falsely signed letters throughout the Bible; rarely in the writings of antiquity are the true identities of so many authors so hidden from the reader. Some of Paul’s epistles are the only works for which we know the author’s real identity, and even then his writings have been interfered with by unknown others. The real identities of the authors were rarely recorded, possibly because to do so would have exposed how fabricated the writings were. Anonymous authors meant answers to many difficult questions did not have to be given. It was easier to foster faith than to discuss facts.
The Church Fathers either presumed or pretended that the Gospels were true, but could not prove it. This leaves a massive hole in Christianity’s legitimacy.

The men discussed here were the more educated members of the early Christian churches. Yet they were often narrow-minded, superstitious, and dishonest, and a few of them even admitted their dishonesty. Some of them forged documents. They repeatedly displayed very little critical faculty; no story was too silly, no falsehood
too glaring, no argument too weak to prevent them teaching it with full confidence of its truth. Time and again the Church Fathers thought it was permissible, and even commendable, to assert falsehoods for the sake of selling faith. It could be said that they were the tabloid journalists of their day.


St Gregory, commenting in the mid fourth century, wrote

“A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors have often said not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity dictated.” (St. Gregory, from Jerome’s letter 52 to Nepotian.230)

Yet it is on the Church Fathers’ testimonies that today’s Christian assumes that the Gospels are truthful.

It is obvious that these Church Fathers, and no doubt others with similar attitudes, would have edited and interpolated the New Testament. If you can claim angels have sex with women, you can promote a virgin birth. If you can say you saw a dead corpse move, why not have an evil spirit enter a herd of pigs? If you can write about men with one eye in their foreheads, you have no reservations about a Jesus walking on water. If you are willing to use falsehood as medicine, then you are pleased to have Jesus rise from the dead. I could go on and on.

Some of these men, or their colleagues, altered quotations from the Septuagint to create phony prophesies concerning Jesus. Someone added Jesus’ resurrection to the Gospel of Mark. Someone attributed the authorship of the Gospels to Jesus’ apostles. Someone probably inserted into Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus wanted to start a new Church with Peter at its head. Someone probably inserted Jesus’ name into Paul’s writings. Some anonymous Christians wrote letters in Paul’s name. Someone wrote Acts to try to link Yeshua’s disciples with Paul’s theology. Numerous other people incorporated traditions from pagan cults into the new one. There are countless other examples of the early Christians’ dishonesty.

There was a corrupt intellectual culture in the early Christian church.

There are no legitimate excuses for this. Fiction touted as truth, uncritical scholarship, and appeals for faith are unacceptable to an educated, modern audience.

These Church Fathers were using the type of arguments that they knew worked, so as to convince groups of mainly common people about the supposed truth of superstitious nonsense.

The human family has always had real thinkers, people who were clearly interested in the truth. Consider men such as Plato, Plutarch, Celsus, Cicero, Philo, Seutonius, Tacitus and others, who employed high standards of integrity and scholarship. Their writings are believable, consistent and still read well. These Church Fathers were not in this group. Celsus wrote

“It is clear to me that the writings of the Christians are a lie, and that your fables are not well-enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction: I have even heard that some of your interpreters, as if they had just come out of a tavern, are onto the inconsistencies and, pen in hand, alter the originals writings, three, four and several more times over in order to be able to deny the contradictions in the face of criticism.” (Celsus, 178 CE).

None of the church fathers were honest enough to publicly admit that their faith was formed on a foundation of manufactured nonsense.

How could anyone today be convinced of the divinity, the miracles, or the teachings of Jesus after considering what these Church Fathers had to contend?

Christianity is not unique in this regard. Jewish and Islamic dogma is also manufactured nonsense. Consider how many of today’s Christians quite readily appreciate how childish, borrowed, concocted and unhistorical the Islamic faith is, yet fail to see similar parallels in their own religion.

It seems obvious why the Church Fathers concocted lies and so vehemently denigrated other commentators such as the Gnostics, Marcion and Celsus. Promoting their version of the dogma fortified their own power and status, and that of the institutions they represented.

These Church Fathers were bishops buttressing their own positions and their Church’s coffers. They were pompous priests who perched themselves in high places in pursuit of power, money and prestige.

Elders or presbyters were lower than the bishop; deacons or servants were lower than the elders, and the common plebs were at the bottom of the pile. These commoners were poorly equipped to detect dishonesty, or to tell the difference between truth and fiction. Bishops typically had little or no respect for them. Bishops had a patronizing attitude towards the common people; the people were to be fooled and manipulated for the Church’s benefit. The clergy regularly referred to the public as “rabble” or “fools” or “the multitudes” or the “crowd,” yet it was the commoners who put cash in their collections.

The Church Fathers were advocating an earthly monarchy with a bishop on the throne. Paul had said much the same thing many years earlier, with himself as an ultimate authority, the equivalent of a king. The Vatican still runs a monarchy today, with the pope as God’s mouthpiece, which is one of the reasons why the men in today’s Vatican have become so unpopular amongst thinking people.

It is sad, wrong and ironic that generations of ordinary, trusting Christians have wasted their time looking for truth and meaning in the New Testament, hoping to be enlightened, when the characters who created it were so cavalier, so casual with the truth. Churches today still insist that people believe that the Bible was divinely inspired, yet they have no facts to back this assertion up. By forcing faith on children and adults too busy to carefully consider it, priests and preachers have ruled over human reason to benefit themselves at the expense of the little people who sit in pews and put money on plates.

The world has moved on, people are better informed, more critical, and much better educated. Modern people, who genuinely care about the health and happiness of our fellow men, and particularly the children, might be best served by not letting these writings and those who advocate them have an undeserved authority. It is time bibliolatry and theology were replaced with open-mindedness, pragmatic thought, and genuine empathy. The era in which uninformed people blindly believe Christian dogma and bow down to those promoting it should now be over.

References:
Besant, A. “The Basis Of Morality.” Theosophical Publishing House. India
Bethune, George “The Grounds of Christianity Examined by Comparing The New Testament with the Old” (http://www.gutenberg. org/cache/epub/15968/pg15968.html)
http://www.infidels.org/library/historic...h_wheless/ forgery_in_christianity/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSYgEsfxyB4
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/r...r/NTcanon. html
http://www.orthodox.net/faq/canon.htm http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/jhcjp.htm
http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/pos...ttp://www. wayoflife.org/index_files/church_fathers_a_door_to_room.html
http://www.cogwriter.com/easter.htm
http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/2005/0...christian- apocrypha-and-the-historiography-of-early-christianity-nt-apocry- pha-6/
http://www.drazin.com/chap1.htm
http://allanturner.com/magazine/archives...gyLaity04. html
http://acurseonalltheirhouses.net/2011/11/11/how- christianity-was-invented/
http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/dark-age.htm http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/lying.htm http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/064...nFraud.php http://godlessgeeks.com/JesusExist.htm http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...ion/watch/ http://www.angelfire.com/band/kissed/fraud.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0zWbL8Uqfw



Re ...What about the really early "fathers" who quoted almost the entire NT in letters written to one another, again before the 2nd century closed (am looking for a source on that last to cite to you)?

This erroneous idea is often quoted in evangelical literature. It is not true. Once again, you are the one making the claim, so the burden of proof lies with you.
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11-05-2015, 03:12 PM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2015 03:24 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 10:25 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  And again, do you have textual evidence I can find re: things like Markan priority? I've heard a number of theories about Matthew and Luke authorship, it sounds good to say they copied from Mark. Is this a provable assertion you're making?

Or again, I'm currently discussing John and Paul with Ebionites and some Messianic Jews who say only the synoptics are valid. I've heard all the Pauline-knocking before. What was new to me was your theory of Paul being a Roman plant of some kind...

Thanks.

"And again, do you have textual evidence I can find re: things like Markan priority?"

YES
It is generally accepted that the original version of Mark was the first Gospel written, because it is copied by Matthew and Luke, sometimes word for word, and sometimes with editorial changes, exaggerations, and additions. Of the 661 verses in Marks’ Gospel, Matthew uses about 607 and Luke about 360. It is a big topic, well summarised here
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/mark.html
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11-05-2015, 03:17 PM
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 03:12 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(11-05-2015 10:25 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  And again, do you have textual evidence I can find re: things like Markan priority? I've heard a number of theories about Matthew and Luke authorship, it sounds good to say they copied from Mark. Is this a provable assertion you're making?

Or again, I'm currently discussing John and Paul with Ebionites and some Messianic Jews who say only the synoptics are valid. I've heard all the Pauline-knocking before. What was new to me was your theory of Paul being a Roman plant of some kind...

Thanks.

"And again, do you have textual evidence I can find re: things like Markan priority?"

YES
It is generally accepted that the original version of Mark was the first Gospel written, because it is copied by Matthew and Luke, sometimes word for word, and sometimes with editorial changes, exaggerations, and additions. Of the 661 verses in Marks’ Gospel, Matthew uses about 607 and Luke about 360. It is a big topic, well summarised here
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/mark.html

Q wasn't aware of Markan priority? Wow, he lives in a peculiar bubble-universe.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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11-05-2015, 03:31 PM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2015 03:41 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 10:25 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  And again, do you have textual evidence I can find re: things like Markan priority? I've heard a number of theories about Matthew and Luke authorship, it sounds good to say they copied from Mark. Is this a provable assertion you're making?

Or again, I'm currently discussing John and Paul with Ebionites and some Messianic Jews who say only the synoptics are valid. I've heard all the Pauline-knocking before. What was new to me was your theory of Paul being a Roman plant of some kind...

Thanks.

Re ...I'm currently discussing John and Paul with Ebionites and some Messianic Jews who say only the synoptics are valid.

Nice to see you're associating with some Jews. It just may help you appreciate that if the Jesus character existed, he was a fundamentalist Jew, and never a Christian. I don't know what you mean by "valid." Perhaps you could explain.
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11-05-2015, 03:38 PM
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 10:25 AM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  And again, do you have textual evidence I can find re: things like Markan priority? I've heard a number of theories about Matthew and Luke authorship, it sounds good to say they copied from Mark. Is this a provable assertion you're making?

Or again, I'm currently discussing John and Paul with Ebionites and some Messianic Jews who say only the synoptics are valid. I've heard all the Pauline-knocking before. What was new to me was your theory of Paul being a Roman plant of some kind...

Thanks.

Re "I've heard all the Pauline-knocking before."

Your cursory dismissal of criticism against Paul is immoral. Paul, as things turned out, was the originator of Christianity, and was therefore indirectly responsible for literally billions of evil atrocities over the centuries. His toxic ideas still pollute modern thinking. He deserves all the derision we can muster, and then some more.
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11-05-2015, 03:50 PM
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 03:17 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  
(11-05-2015 03:12 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  "And again, do you have textual evidence I can find re: things like Markan priority?"

YES
It is generally accepted that the original version of Mark was the first Gospel written, because it is copied by Matthew and Luke, sometimes word for word, and sometimes with editorial changes, exaggerations, and additions. Of the 661 verses in Marks’ Gospel, Matthew uses about 607 and Luke about 360. It is a big topic, well summarised here
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/mark.html

Q wasn't aware of Markan priority? Wow, he lives in a peculiar bubble-universe.

I know some Catholics who are aware of the claim of Markan priority, but dismiss it, because Catholic tradition holds that St. Matthew (that's St. Matthew the Apostle) wrote his Gospel first -- and Catholic tradition couldn't possibly be mistaken, now could it? Any kind of research into the Bible as a historical document is heresy -- you are compelled to just accept whatever the Catholic Church tells you about it. Not that Q would buy into that -- because Catholics aren't True Christians™.
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11-05-2015, 04:06 PM (This post was last modified: 11-05-2015 04:09 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 03:50 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  I know some Catholics who are aware of the claim of Markan priority, but dismiss it, because Catholic tradition holds that St. Matthew (that's St. Matthew the Apostle) wrote his Gospel first -- and Catholic tradition couldn't possibly be mistaken, now could it? Any kind of research into the Bible as a historical document is heresy -- you are compelled to just accept whatever the Catholic Church tells you about it. Not that Q would buy into that -- because Catholics aren't True Christians™.

That's okay, 'cause Qtard ain't a Christian either.

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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12-05-2015, 07:59 AM
RE: Jesus Christ, A Pointless Sacrifice
(11-05-2015 03:17 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  
(11-05-2015 03:12 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  "And again, do you have textual evidence I can find re: things like Markan priority?"

YES
It is generally accepted that the original version of Mark was the first Gospel written, because it is copied by Matthew and Luke, sometimes word for word, and sometimes with editorial changes, exaggerations, and additions. Of the 661 verses in Marks’ Gospel, Matthew uses about 607 and Luke about 360. It is a big topic, well summarised here
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/mark.html

Q wasn't aware of Markan priority? Wow, he lives in a peculiar bubble-universe.

I just said in my prior post that as a degree holder in religion, I was absolutely aware of Markan priority. I like discussing things with you, but less so when you don't bother to read my posts with care.

I'm told atheists on forums like TTA are bitter and angry. If you are not, your posts to me will be respectful, insightful and thoughtful. Prove me wrong by your adherence to decent behavior.
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