RE: Which version of Christianity is the right one?
(28-02-2014 09:15 AM)Drich Wrote:
(28-02-2014 12:14 AM)Mark Fulton Wrote: Let me help you with the English language. I think you would have liked to have written
" You're coming in mid argument, in a discussion that was not intended for you....You should have the courtesy..."
Sorry Drich, you don't get to choose who posts on this public forum. And...I've read the whole post.
Your so-called resources are cursory summaries of a complicated history; just apologetic nonsense, and they don't address the statements you make. I've got a horrible suspicion you're serious.
Here are some decent resources on the topic of the compilation of the New Testament, not that I think you will read them, because you're obviously too lazy to truly examine the history.
Bethune, George “The Grounds of Christianity Examined by Comparing The New Testament with the Old” (http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/15968/pg15968.html)
In fact I'll make life easy for you. Here is my chapter on the compilation of the New Testament. It took me 2 months of research to put this together, and it's a boring read on a boring topic, yet you just might maybe have some idea if you can understand all the big words.
How the Bible was Compiled
Early Gentile Christians used the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible plus some other books, which dated from around 250 BCE. This became the first Christian version of the “Old Testament” and was similar to, but much longer than, the Hebrew Bible. In later years Jerome made direct translations of the original Jewish writings. This was relatively straightforward. Putting together the New Testament was a whole lot more difficult and complicated.
The legitimacy that the New Testament enjoys in Christian circles is in part provided by the assumptions that early church authorities, who compiled and edited the texts, had good reasons to believe they were the inspired words of God and truthful records of history. I think these suppositions are 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 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.”
In the mid to late second century there was a proliferation of writings about Jesus. Imagine the conundrums early Christians had to sort out or gloss over when compiling a canon. The ethnocentric concept of the Jews’ covenant with God on Mount Sinai had to somehow be sold to a crowd that wasn’t Jewish. Just who was Jesus’ father? The Holy Ghost was said to be his dad, yet he was also a son of David. How could he have a divine and a human father? Was or wasn’t he the messiah? A Jewish messiah was supposed to liberate Israel from the Romans, yet Jesus didn’t do that. Instead, he somehow saved Gentiles from their sins. What was Christ? A god, a spirit, or a human? No lasting agreement was reached until well into the fourth century, when it was decided he was all three, a dimwitted doctrine that barely made it into the Bible. Yahweh and Jesus both said the Law was to be obeyed for all time, but Paul had written that faith in Christ the sacrifice annulled the Law. Then there was 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 Jesus’ story. There were hundreds of inconsistencies and errors in the gospels that had to be glossed over. ( http://www.infidels.org/library/historic...ter_5.html ).
The reconciliation of these polarized themes into a sensible, consistent doctrine was impossible. That the Christians managed to do it on a shop floor, but never on an intellectual level, speaks volumes about how easily the simple people of the time, most of whom couldn’t read, were won over.
Why were the four gospels chosen over others, and how were they related to Yeshua? Did they document real history? How did Paul’s letters and the other epistles become part of the bible?
In the writings of Papias, which survive only as quoted by others, it was stated that he relied only on oral tradition as the source of Jesus’ sayings. That isn’t confidence inspiring.
Polycarp penned a letter that purports to contain some of Jesus’ words, and some of these resemble phrases appearing in the Gospels (and even passages written in epistles, which weren’t attributed to Jesus,) but he doesn’t name any sources.
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 he never referred to a source.
There’s a collection of letters allegedly written by Ignatius while on the road to his trial in 110 CE, which are mainly forgeries (http://www.bible.ca/history-ignatius-for...50AD.htm). They include a few phrases and paraphrases that resemble ideas from Paul’s epistles, but the author doesn’t acknowledge they were Pauline. There are also phrases and ideas also found in Matthew and John, but the sources aren’t named.
In the second century, written and oral traditions ran side by side, distorting one another. There were hundreds of “Gospels” - a mass of inconsistent writings. Books were hand-written and manuscripts replicated one at a time, so thousands of copiers were able to alter, add to, or omit whatever they wanted; remarks written in margins by one transcriber were transferred into the next text, and were then indistinguishable from the original. Myth became overlaid with myth. In the second and third centuries there was no one dominant church to control the proliferation of these writings, just hundreds of different communities scattered throughout the empire, all with their own beliefs, written and oral legends about Jesus.
The first person to attempt to define a Christian canon was Marcion (110–160 CE) in the 140s. He suggested that the “new covenant,” as proposed by Paul, was part of a new religion separate from Judaism. His canon consisted of Paul’s letters and the Euangelion (which was similar to, but shorter than, canonical Luke.) He ignored all other religious literature. He either knew nothing of Mark, Matthew, or John, or neglected to acknowledge them.
The proto-orthodox groups coalesced around the name “Catholic,” and Justin Martyr became their preeminent apologist. He 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. ( http://www.thenazareneway.com/gospels_se...itings.htm ). He 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 hadn’t 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 he knew of them but failed to mention them.
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 an absence of anti-Roman features.
Around this time 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.
Paul’s Letters Become Important
For the first eighty years after Paul wrote his letters they had little influence, other than for, presumably, whoever used them before Marcion in Turkey. Marcion may have introduced Paul’s writings to Rome in the 140’s CE. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcionism, http://confessionsofadoubtingthomas.blog...ers.html).
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. He also promised heaven, a concept convenient for the Catholic Church to promote. His ideas were so suitable it was easy to adopt his scripts, call them scripture, and edit them.
There was, however, a problem. Paul said nothing about priests. He’d 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. They also implied a more human Jesus than the earlier Paulines, so paradoxically, were used as anti-Marcionite propaganda.
Let’s pause to put Paul’s epistles in perspective. They were probably written as pro Roman government propaganda. They were promoted by the so-called heretic Marcion, who clearly thought Christ was a ghost. Catholics then interpolated them, and new letters were forged in Paul’s name to explain the existence of priests. They barely mentioned Yeshua’s exploits. It’s obvious that today’s churches have an unjustifiable reverence for these ramblings.
Peter, John and Acts
No-one knows who wrote 1 and 2 Peter, ( http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/1peter.html, http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/2peter.html ) or 1, 2, and 3 John. (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/go...h20.html). None of the authors mentioned Jesus’ miracles or resurrection, I think because they wrote before these myths became accepted. If they’d known of a miracle working, resurrected idol, they would undoubtedly have documented the fact.
The Book of Acts (discussed in depth in chapter 17,) probably penned around the mid second century, propped up the incorrect impression that Paul had taught the traditions of Yeshua and his disciples. It made Paul, Marcion’s patriarch, the key proponent of what was to become orthodoxy, and refashioned him as an apostle, which he obviously wasn’t (despite his claims.) It served the Catholic purpose, yet was for the most part fictional, and in my opinion a feeble effort to create history.
The Gospels Appear
Irenaeus of Lyons 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 couldn’t compete. Formalizing doctrinal authority so that everyone had the same beliefs was his solution to what he saw as a problem.
His 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. (http://firstnewtestament.com/gospels_ear...yons.htm). Irenaeus gave no good explanation as to who wrote them, 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 interpreter 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 one sentence. It’s woefully inadequate because of the lack of detail, and sounds like a cheap commentary concocted so that the topic of the gospels’ authorship can be glossed over. He implies that Matthew, Luke and John were written independently of Mark’s, which modern scholars know wasn’t the case. The passage can be read in context at http://carm.org/irenaeus-heresies3-1-14.
He made the ridiculous claim that as there were only four directions from which the wind blew, there could only be four Gospels. ( http://ephesians411.wordpress.com/2011/0...anonicity/ ).
He accepted Acts, yet gave no details about its authorship either, and all the Pauline letters. He 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.
Origen, a religious fanatic, was probably the most influential biblical commentator of the first three centuries of Christianity ( http://www.ntcanon.org/Origen.shtml ).
He 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. He 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. His acknowledged books were the four Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Pauline Epistles, I Peter, I John, and Revelations. He may have considered some others canonical, namely “Barnabas,” “Didache,” and “the Shepherd,” because he used the word “scripture” 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 number of books as spurious, such as Acts of Paul, the Teaching of the Apostles, Thomas, Matthias, Acts of Andrew, and others. He considered them to have been written by heretics under the names of the apostles.
The Apocalypse of Peter
The Apocalypse of Peter ( http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/te...berts.html ) deserves a mention, as its influence on the Christian religion was profound, although it never made it into the cannon. It was probably written between 125 and 150 CE, and it remained in various church lists as a canonical text for centuries afterwards. It was the first text to introduce detailed pagan ideas of heaven and hell into Christian theology. It gave accounts—in the words of Jesus as he instructed Peter after the Resurrection—of the pleasures of heaven and the various punishments awaiting sinners in hell. In heaven people had pure milky-white skin, curly hair, and were beautiful. They wore shiny clothes made of light and everyone sang in choral prayer and the ground bloomed with everlasting flowers and spices. In hell, blasphemers were hung by the tongue. Women who used makeup, or dressed in a sexually suggestive manner, were hung by the hair over a bubbling mire, and men who had sex with them were hung by the feet next to them. Murderers were put in a pit of poisoned snakes. Homosexuals were hurled off a great cliff, and then made to climb it again, repeatedly. Girls who weren’t virgins on their wedding night had their flesh torn to pieces. Women who had abortions were set in a lake of blood, up to their necks, and their fetuses shot fire at them. Deceitful people had their lips cut off. Disobedient slaves were burnt in everlasting fire.
This text influenced all medieval visions of heaven and hell. Its eventual omission from the canon was because some church leaders didn’t want it read aloud, as its descriptions were so disturbing.What a shame the equally fantastical and violent book of Revelations didn’t suffer the same fate.
Eusebius rewrote his History of the Church many times as he tried to cover the topic with an orthodox account. He claimed that heresy only developed after the apostolic age, and was then countered by his version of Christianity…Catholicism.
He tried to explain the pedigree of Mark’s gospel thus;
“Having become the interpreter of Peter, Mark wrote down accurately whatever he remembered. However, he did not relate the sayings 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 anything fictitious into the statements.” (Church History 1.155.)
He claimed to be quoting Papias, who somehow (not explained) knew of a Mark, who somehow (not adequately explained) knew Peter. Mark, under pressure from unnamed enthusiasts, documented some of the sayings of Christ 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 allegedly happened. It sounds 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 he too never gave any good evidence of a link with the apostles. He just picked books that were already popular in his parish. 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.) So he didn’t deliver a definitive list. 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. (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3806.htm).
Today’s Bible Emerges
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. This is how the Catholic Encyclopedia describes this most important event:
“The West began to realize that the ancient Apostolic Churches of Jerusalem and Antioch, indeed the whole Orient, for more than two centuries had acknowledged Hebrews and James as inspired writings of Apostles, while the venerable Alexandrian Church, supported by the prestige of Athanasius, and the powerful Patriarchate of Constantinople, with the scholarship of Eusebius behind its judgment, had canonized all the disputed Epistles. St. Jerome, a rising light in the Church, though but a simple priest, was summoned by Pope Damasus from the East, where he was pursuing sacred lore, to assist at an eclectic, but not ecumenical, synod at Rome in the year 382. Neither the general council at Constantinople of the preceding year nor that of Nice (365) had considered the question of the Canon. This Roman synod must have devoted itself specifically to the matter. The result of its deliberations, presided over, no doubt, by the energetic Damasus himself, has been preserved in the document called Decretum Gelasii de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris, a compilation partly of the sixth century, but containing much material dating from the two preceding ones. The Damasan catalogue presents the complete and perfect Canon which has been that of the Church Universal ever since.”
So the definitive canon wasn’t determined at an ecumenical council ( http://mb-soft.com/believe/txs/councils.htm ), which would have had representatives from all the major areas, but at a much smaller synod. There’s no record of who attended this synod, other than Damasus and Jerome, nor any record of their deliberations. So Pope Damasus, brimming over with energy, Jerome, and possibly a few bishops, got together and decided, using undocumented criteria, which books were the word of God and which weren’t! It’s obvious from the above commentary that the primary purpose of the synod was to unite church factions, not to determine the historicity of biblical texts.
Augustine 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 cannon. He must have concluded that after 350 years of confusion it was time to call it a day.
The men who compiled the canon wrote volumes attacking their opposition and arguing with their critics, so would have recorded solid facts to bolster the credibility of their books if they had them. They didn’t because they couldn’t.
Nowhere in the New Testament is there an explanation to vouch for the authenticity of any of the Jesus accounts that could convince an objective historian. Outside the Bible, some church fathers, bishops, and academics pass commentary that has survived, yet it all was written 100 plus years after Yeshua’s death, is very sparse, piecemeal, and always raises more questions than it answers.
The church fathers wrote volumes about the early church’s followers and martyrs, but there is one person conspicuously absent from their exhaustive writings; a flesh and blood historical Jesus.
There was much disagreement about what was or wasn’t 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: firstly, popularity has little to do with historical truth. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are popular books, but no one thinks they’re true history just because they’re well liked. Secondly, it ignored the accounts of Christians who weren’t card carriers in conformist churches. The Gnostics and numerous other Christian groups had no less legitimate beliefs, yet most of their writings were labeled as heretical. Catholics took what they thought was useful from the Gnostics and Marcionites and then destroyed nearly all their writings. To destroy literature one doesn’t like isn’t the conduct of people interested in the truth, but the behavior of narrow-minded empire building bigots.
We find 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. I suspect the real identities of the authors were never recorded, because that would have exposed their lack of credibility. Anonymous authors meant answers didn’t have to be given to difficult questions. It was easier to foster faith than facts.
The church fathers either presumed or pretended the gospels were true, but couldn’t prove it. This leaves a massive hole in Christianity’s legitimacy.
The Integrity of the Early Christians
"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, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celsus)
“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 (mid fourth century, from Jerome's letter 52 to Nepotian, http://catholicism.org/gregory-great.html)
“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)
Were the church fathers reputable scholars? Or honest historians? We can examine their writings to find the answers.
Papias was one of the very earliest “fathers.” As mentioned, he may (if we can believe Eusebius) have claimed to know someone who had known the author of Mark’s Gospel, yet gave no details of who they were. Surely he would have documented something so important if he knew of it. What’s more, the name “Mark” wasn’t 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 him off as stupid, and then admitted he was a significant and early source of dogma!
Papias wrote that Jesus said:
“The days shall come, in which there shall be vines, which shall severally have ten thousand branches; and every one of these branches shall have ten thousand lesser branches; and every one of these branches shall have ten thousand twigs; and every one of these twigs shall have ten thousand clusters of grapes; and everyone of these grapes being pressed shall yield two hundred and seventy-five gallons of wine. And when a man shall take hold of any of these sacred bunches, another bunch shall cry out ‘I am a better bunch, take me, and bless the Lord by me!’” (Irenaeus, Adv. Hær., v. 33, 3.)
He was willing to concoct anecdotes and obviously wasn’t a reliable historian.
Ignatius, or someone writing in his name, 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 astonishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star” (to the Ephesians chapter XIX.) He may have been writing metaphorically, yet to claim something this comical is childish.
He 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.) He had little respect for human intellect or integrity.
Justin was 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 (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/te...pho.html). Trypho didn’t exist; he was a straw-man, Justin’s literary invention he used to argue with.
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, he said (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.
He claimed that Socrates (469–399 BCE) and Heraclitus (535–475 BCE) were Christians, (First Apology Chapter 46, Second Apology Chapter 10,) a statement similar to saying that Galileo was a scientologist.
He believed insane people were possessed by the souls of the wicked, so were proof of the immortality of souls. (First Apology, Chapter 18.)
“Before replying to Celsus, it is necessary to admit that in the matter 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 couldn’t be verified. At least he was candid enough to admit it.
He 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.) He 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, with a free will, that sometimes sinned. One might forgive him for having no understanding of astronomy, but not for imagining that celestial objects had their own opinions. He 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 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.)
He denounced the sin of going to the theatre:
“We have the case of the woman—the Lord Himself is witness—who went to the theater, and came back possessed. In the outcasting (exorcism), accordingly, when the unclean creature was upbraided with having dared to attack a believer, he firmly replied: ‘And in truth I did most righteously, for I found her in my domain” (De Spectaulis.)
He believed the hyena could change its sex every year (De Pallio, Chapter 3,) eclipses and comets were signs of god’s anger (To scapula, Chapter 3) and volcanoes were openings into hell (De Penitentia, 12.)
He advised Christians not to think critically, but to employ blind faith. To him, all kinds of rational thinking became superfluous compared to the gospels:
“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.)
He 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.)
“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?” (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.v.vii.v.html ). He obviously preferred faith to reason, and disliked complexity. In the same work he called Aristotle “wretched” and 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 his contemporary Celsus said:
“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 clearly realized their reasoning was irrational.
Tertullian lacked common sense, was a lazy thinker, justified his own ignorance using religion, and thought he could invent facts to advertise an agenda.
Jerome was an impressive scholar (it was a daunting task to translate the Old Testament,) yet admitted to employing babble to beguile the hoi polloi:
“There is nothing so easy as by sheer volubility to deceive a common crowd or an uneducated congregation.” (Epistle to Nepotian, lii, 8.)
“It is usual for the sacred historian to conform himself to the generally accepted opinion of the masses in his time” (P.L., XXVI, 98; XXIV, 855.) In other words, the historian need not rely on facts, but rather on common opinion.
Eusebius is notorious as the author of numerous falsehoods. He probably created the "Testimonium Flavianum," and may have forged a letter in Jesus’ name. He 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.)
“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!
He 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.
The Catholic Encyclopedia claims Augustine was
“a philosophical and theological genius of the first order, dominating, 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 is conceding there’s not a single theologian other than Augustine whose intellect can compare with great philosophers past and present. Was Augustine a greater theologian than Paul, who more or less invented Christian theology? I wonder if this wording will be changed in future editions.
In my opinion there’s no doubt he was highly influential. Yet he was no world-class philosopher. ( http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/augustine/ ). How can a person who relied on scripture, rather than science, to assess the world, be a great philosopher?
He 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. He was writing in the fourth century, and he didn’t know any better, but he was bone-headed about it and sneered at anyone who didn’t 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.) His “ascertained truth” was the Old Testament, which was wrong about the age of the earth by a factor of close to a million!
Although many Greek philosophers from Pythagorus on had held that the earth was round, and Augustine had heard the theory, he was adamant it 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 devoted two whole treatises to the topic of lying. The first of these, 'De mendacio' ('On Lying,') written in 395, 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 the brethren 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.) He’d evidently thought long and hard before gracing his readers with this conclusion.
The great doctor 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.)
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.”
This highly influential intellect 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 guiltless new-born infant” (De Divinatione Daemonorum, Chapter 3.) I know some superstitious people today who still attribute illnesses to demons.
The great interpreter of scripture accepted the fable of the miraculous translation of the Septuagint, (six-hundred-odd years before his time
“It is reported that there was an agreement in their words so wonderful, stupendous, and plainly divine, each one apart (for so it pleased Ptolemy to test their fidelity), they differed from each other in no word, or in the order of the words; but, as if the translators had been one, so what all had translated was one, because in very deed the one Spirit had been in them all. And they received so wonderful a gift of God, in order that these scriptures might be commended not as human but divine, for the benefit of the nations. Who should at some time believe, as we now see them doing. If anything is in the Hebrew copies and not in the version of the Seventy, the Spirit of God did not choose to say it through them, but only through the prophets. But whatever is in the Septuagint and not in the Hebrew copies, the same Spirit chose rather to say it through the latter, thus showing that both were prophets.” (The City of God, book xviii.) In reality the Septuagint translation was notoriously unreliable, a fact any Hebrew scholar can confirm today. Augustine invented history to justify the traditional text.
This “great pyramid of learning” pondered over
“whether angels, inasmuch as they are spirits, could have bodily intercourse with women?” (The City of God, Book XV, Chapter 23.) After much deliberation over an entirely imaginary subject, he 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.)
This “philosophical genius” wrote
“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.) He thought “the gospel” wasn’t believable, but that the church knew better. Today the Vatican claims Augustine was their number one authority. Does anyone else sense a circular argument?
He too 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.
Augustine was a reasonably intelligent man, although his great rival Pelagius was far more sensible. His teachings on original sin, women and sex were despicable. He claimed to be an authority on history and scientific subjects he knew very little about, and invented facts to fill in the gaps. He wasn’t honest enough to admit the deficiencies of his religion.
The men discussed here were the more educated members of the early Christian churches. Yet they were narrow-minded, superstitious, and mendacious. Some of them forged documents. They 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. They thought it was permissible, and even commendable, to assert falsehoods for the sake of selling faith. They were the tabloid journalists of their day. It’s on their testimony and others of their ilk that today’s Christian assumes the Gospels are truthful.
These characters, and others with the same attitude, edited and interpolated the New Testament. Some altered quotations from the Septuagint to create phony prophecies concerning Jesus. Someone added a resurrection story to the Gospel of Mark (discussed in chapter 15.) 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 wrote literature in Paul’s name. Someone wrote Acts to try to link Yeshua’s disciples with Paul’s theology. Some incorporated traditions from other cults into the new one. There are countless other examples of their dishonesty. There was a corrupt culture in the early Christian church.
There are no excuses for this. Fiction touted as truth, uncritical scholarship, and appeals for faith are unacceptable to an educated audience.
They were using the type of arguments that some groups in that era considered acceptable. Yet there were men of their time and before them such as Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Celsus, Cicero, Philo, Seutonius, Tacitus and others, who employed much higher standards of scholarship. Their compositions are believable, consistent and still read well, whereas most of these Christian writings don’t.
None of these church fathers were honest enough to publicly admit what their peers such as Celsus pointed out; 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 characters had to contend?
It’s crystal clear to me why they concocted lies and denigrated honest commentators such as the Gnostics. Promoting Christian dogma fortified their own power and status, and that of the institutions they represented.
Consider the writings attributed to Ignatius. He emphasized the importance of bishops to bolster the power of his church and counter all opponents. 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.”
In his 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” (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0106.htm), and
“...Let us be careful not to resist the Bishop, that through our submission to the Bishop we may belong to God...We should regard the Bishop as the Lord Himself.” Ignatius was advocating an earthly monarchy with a bishop on the throne. Paul had said much the same thing 50 years earlier, with himself as the equivalent of a king. The Vatican still mimics a monarchy today, with the pope as god’s mouthpiece.
Tertullian too claimed bishops were at the top of the tree.
“The supreme priest (that is the Bishop) has the right of conferring baptism: after him the presbyters and deacons, but only with the Bishop's authority.” (http://www.therealchurch.com/articles/th...hers.html)
St. Augustine wrote,
“Neither in the confusion of paganism, nor in the defilement of heresy, 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 didn’t believe exactly what Augustine believed. He wrote,
“There is no salvation outside the church” (De Baptismo. IV, cxvii.24.) Anyone who didn’t go to his church was denied heaven.
These men 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 beneath the bishop, deacons or servants below the elders, and the common plebs at the bottom of the pile. The people were poorly equipped to detect dishonesty, or to tell the difference between truth and fiction. Bishops had little real respect for them. They 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.
It’s sad, wrong and ironic that generations of trusting Christians have wasted their time dissecting the New Testament, expecting to be enlightened, when the characters who created it were so cavalier with the truth. Priests have always insisted people believe the bible was divinely inspired. By forcing faith on children and adults too busy to carefully consider it, they’ve ruled over human reason.
Times have changed. We mustn’t let these writings have an authority they don’t deserve. It’s high time bibliolatry and theology were replaced with open-mindedness, pragmatic thought, and genuine empathy. The era in which uninformed people blindly believe dogma and bow down to those promoting it should now be over.
The first thing I am responding to is you comment about who is allow to post here.
You either missunderstand what I wrote or your just creating something you can argue. I did not say mocking bird could not post. i said I was not oblidged to read anything he has written. The fact that I do is a courtesy I have extended to him despite his in ablity to follow any common courtesy practices.
Second, you do understand that ALL Of your references you listed in your two month compilation are considered to be tertiary sources. You do understand what this means right??? That the commentary and speculation based on the known facts are no more valid that the tertiary sources I listed.. (which still leaves the secondary sources I listed.) They may conflict but such is the nature of commentary and speculation. To defeat any of the sources i listed you need primary source material or secondary source material in abundance. Otherwise all you hard work can be sumarially dismissed as being a fallacy of argumentum verbosium. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_verbosity Otherwise, you are free to go line by line and disprove my tertiary sources with the correct secondary or primary source material.
"A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. Some types of primary sources include:
ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records
CREATIVE WORKS: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
RELICS OR ARTIFACTS: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings" (Prineton University)
"What is a secondary source?
A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Some types of seconday sources include:
PUBLICATIONS: Textbooks, magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries, encyclopedias
Examples of secondary sources include:
A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings
A history textbook
A book about the effects of WWI " (Princeton University)
Yes, my references are secondary sources, yet they quote primary sources.
If you actually read my article, you'll see there are at least 50 primary source quotes.
Most of your secondary source references are inferior in quality and, what's more, don't back up your claims.
"Argumentum verbosium is a form of Argument from Intimidation - in this case, by being incredibly verbose, using a plethora of complex words to make one's self sound incredibly smart, and dazzle the opposition. The opposing side will struggle to understand what is being said, and appear to "lose" the debate."
My article is a five minute read on what is a complicated topic. If you feel intimidated by it, that's only because you lack the intellectual capacity to digest anything complex.
So much for your pathetic effort at "raising the bar" by doing a few random google searches!