Did Constantine the Great compose the bible, vote on Jesus' divinity... etc?

I read a fiction book that I'm sure most of you also read. It told a story of how Constantine the Great lived ~600 yrs after Jesus' death. He was himself a pagan and wanted to unite his country with one religion; Christianity. He had text burned, and added other text to exemplify Jesus' godliness. He then composed a book for the masses to learn from and called it the bible. It tells of how he and the other politicians of the time voted on whether or not he was the son of god, and he almost didn't win the position. I understand some of this book is fiction and some is not. I want to focus on this part and learn the truth. Also, how do you know, where did you get your information.

Views: 907

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The Greek Scriptures, whoever wrote them, seem to portray a Jesus that's subordinate to the Father. The original divide on the nature of Jesus was concerning his substance, Arius teaching that Jesus, as a created being, differed in substance from the uncreated Father. In the end, the Athanasian view won, clearing the path to the modern orthodox concept of the Trinity.

You may find Jonathan Kirsch's God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism interesting.
The Bible is too awkwardly put together to be 'intelligently designed'. I think Constantine must have set certain standards and told his people to do whatever they needed to do, AS LONG AS certain ideas were put in there and as long as certain matters were decided on conclusively.

Also, there is the matter of the 'correctores', which were scribes that looked at the final product and made 'corrections' under the guidance of Constantine, so he was more of an editor. But apparently he wasn't directly involved, but more of an overseer of the whole process at Nicea.

This resonates with the fact that Constantine was praying to Apollo shortly before he died. He never truly believed in any of that Christian nonsense wholeheartedly, like his mother apparently did. He simply used it to unify his empire and to try to reconcile those troublesome Jews (who had caused Emperor Hadrian so much trouble and were unwilling to offer obeisances to the Emperor and his Gods) to the rest of the empire by claiming that they now had one and the same God. He was a politician using religion's hypnotic powers.
I know this is an old thread, but seeing as it's just been "ressurected" I thought I'd share something I happened to run across the other day.

"Constantine decided to use Christianity as a way of unifying his fragmented empire but before doing so he had to organize the religion its self. Using his powers to directly influence Christian doctrine, Constantine introduced and presided over the first ecumenical council at Nicea in 325 to settle ideological disputes in the Church. Constantine treated religious questions solely from a political point of view and assured that his decisions were unanimous by banishing all the bishops who would not sign the new profession of faith."

Click the link to read the rest. I also found a few other articles on the net corroberating this.
You may also enjoy Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance by H. A. Drake.
Hi Ray. I'm not sure where you got the 600 figure, but The Da Vinci Code has inserted a shitload of historical misconceptions into popular culture. Constantine had absolutely nothing to do with the New Testament, nor was it finalized at the Council of Nicaea (that council had nothing to do with discussions of which books were to be canonical).

For an excellent treatment of the misinformation in The Da Vinci Code, get yourself a copy of Bart Ehrman's well-written and easy to read book, Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code. Ehrman is a professional New Testament historian (teaches at UNC Chapel Hill, and happens to be an ex-fundamentalist agnostic). And for much more detail on that period of history, see Robin Lane Fox's Pagans and Christians. Not an easy read, but well worth it.
Thanks Dan, that's exactly why I refer to it as a fiction book. It had been awhile since I read it so 600 might be from my memory skewing it.
Hi Ray. I'm not sure where you got the 600 figure, but The Da Vinci Code has inserted a shitload of historical misconceptions into popular culture.

Ummm, don't know where you get that DaVinci Code claimed Council of Nicea at 600 CE, because when I read it it correctly put it at 325 CE.

Actually, many of the facts in DaVinci Code were correct. Thing is, there are very few actual facts in the book and a whole lot of character-interpretation-of-theory-and-facts, that is in turn mistaken by the readers (especially the paranoid religious ones) as supposed facts.

It's like putting together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle with 450 of the pieces missing. Those remaining random 50 pieces can be molded to make any number of pictures, which is what the various characters in the book do.

As for Constantine having anything to do with the composition of the bible, he had quite a bit to do with it. The Council of Nicea, convened by Constantine, was to determine which Christian sect would be declared the official or 'true' version of the religion. With that sect, with those sect leaders, came their approved documents which would be canonized into the bible.

So, did Constantine and the Council sit around saying "This gospel is in, that one is out?" No. But they did have a direct influence on what was to be in and out by deciding who would be the deciders.
Uh, yeah, some of the facts in the Da Vinci Code were correct. For example, there is indeed a city in France called Paris, and there is a museum called the Louvre. So Brown didn't get everything wrong.

But on the historical side of things, he got literally everything wrong. You can't go 3 pages without that idiot making at least one howling historical error. Everything he said about the Gnostic gospels, the Council of Nicea, Constantine, the Vatican, the Inquisition, the Priory of Sion (which is an imaginary organisation conjured up by the antisemitic Pierre Plantard), the process how the Bible was composed, Da Vinci and the Canonic gospels is horribly simplified at best or catastrophically wrong at worst (and it's usually the latter).
Not very surprising considering he didn't even take the trouble to do proper research. Yet he still had the audacity to claim that his book was "100% fact". Brown is a category-five moron.

And yet you still seem to have bought into his ideas. The Council of Nicea had nothing to do with which sect would be declared the official version of the religion. It also had nothing to do with what documents were canonized into the Bible, because that process had already been completed several decades before Constantine was even born. It was not discussed, let alone determined, at Nicea.
The Council of Nicea, as I keep repeated, was about some minor theological niceties like whether Jesus was one with God or whether he proceeded from God (which is really just about the same).

For a good account of everything else Brown got completely wrong (from an atheistic perspective) check out History Versus The Da Vinci Code
All the Books of the Bible are distinct and should not be read as if they are all saying the same thing. They are decidedly not saying the same thing – even when talking about the same subject.

Mark is different from Luke, and Matthew is different from John, as you can see by doing your own horizontal reading of their respective stories, say, of the crucifixion. The historical approach to the Gospels allows each author’s voice to be heard and refuses to conflate them into some kind of mega-Gospel that flattens the emphases of each one.

The New Testament consists of 27 books.

It was written by maybe sixteen or seventeen authors over a period of seventy years.

The Books of the New Testament were not written by the people whose names are attached to them.

All the Gospels were written anonymously, and none of the writers claims to be an eyewitness.

Commenting on the authorship of the New Testament, Professor Bart D. Ehrman said that “Names are attached to the titles of the Gospels, but these titles are later additions to the Gospels, provided by editors and scribes to inform readers who the editors thought were the authorities behind the different versions.” Then Ehrman goes on to explain the tradition eventually arouse that these books were written by apostles and companions of the apostles in part to assure readers that they were written by eyewitnesses and companions of eyewitnesses. Mark was said to be not a disciple but a companion of Peter, and Luke was a companion of Paul, who also was not a disciple.

With John it is even more clear. At the end of the Gospel the author says of the “beloved Disciple”: “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24). Notice how the author differentiates between his source of information, “the disciple who testifies,” and himself: “we know that his testimony is true.” He/we: this author is not the disciple. He claims to have gotten some of his information from the disciple.

The conclusion? None of the writers was an eyewitness, and none of them claims to be. What we learn stands completely at odds with what we know about the disciples of Jesus. Who were Jesus’ disciples? They were lower-class, illiterate, Aramaic-speaking peasants from Galilee. The authors of the Gospels were highly educated, Greek-speaking Christians who probably lived outside Palestine.
I had heard of a lot of this before, but you went into further detail. Thanks!
The now sadly defunct magazine Archeaology Today did a wonderful article about 20 yrs ago, and I have never found any of it online. A team of archeaologist gave pretty sound reasoning that jesus was a construct of mystic Jews, Dionysian Greeks, freethinking Romans and probably Zoriastrians. There is zero first hand evidence that jesus existed, and only one minor piece of evidence that Pontius Pilot ever walked the planet. Constantine picked up on the tale to unite the Eastern Roman Empire. Most of the historical sites and martyrs relics were fabricated by his mother.
Then it's a good thing that Archaelogy Today is now defunct, because that thesis is absolutely garbage. There is a reason why there are only TWO (yes, TWO) scholars on the planet who still support the Jesus Myth Hypothesis. Everyone else has abandoned it because the fact of the matter is that there is as much evidence for Jesus as there is for most historical figures, even very important ones.
Tell me: where is the first hand evidence that Hannibal existed? Where is the first hand evidence that Boudicca existed? What about Arminius? I'll tell you: there's none. Zip. Nada. And these are three of the most important characters in Roman history. So why expect there to be any for some Galileen preacher on the back end of nowhere?
There is no contemporary evidence for practically any Jewish preacher in history, so why on Earth would you expect there to be contemporary evidence for Jesus?
Don't let our atheist objectives stand in the way of true historical objectivism, please.

Ditto for the idea that Constantine picked up the tale to unite the ERE. The amount of Christians in the empire was about 10%. Must have been one hell of a master plan for unification...

For Christ's sake (actually: for OUR sake) people, don't get your history from fiction writers like Dan Brown and popular archaelogical magazines!!

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service