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Bart Ehrman’s latest: How Christianity took over the Western world

“The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World” and author Bart D. Ehrman.

DURHAM, N.C. (RNS) — New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman became a superstar on the heels of his popular trade books debunking long-held assumptions about Christian Scriptures.

With titles like “How Jesus Became God,” “Forged” and “Misquoting Jesus,” he gained a devoted following of fellow agnostics, atheists and ex-Christians.

They may not appreciate the title of his newest book, “The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World,” which is set to be released Tuesday (Feb. 13). In it, Ehrman tries to explain a long-puzzling historical drama: How did 20 or so Jesus followers come to convert much of the world in the space of 300 years? (Sociologist Rodney Stark published a book of the same title in 2011.)

Most of the research into the first few centuries after Jesus’ crucifixion around the year 33, he concedes, is not new. Scholars have been grappling with how Christianity exploded on the scene for a long time. Ehrman’s goal is to bring that issue to the masses in plain English, marshaling the evidence — most of it written in Greek and Latin — and crunching the numbers.

True to form, Ehrman, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, doesn’t exalt in Christianity’s success, despite his new book’s title. “In this book I have tried to explain the triumph of Christianity without making it a triumphalist narrative,” he writes. (As someone who has written 20 books for lay readers, Ehrman may know something about what titles are likely to sell.)

RNS caught up with Ehrman before he left for Washington, D.C., to give four lectures as part of a sold-out Smithsonian Associates program on Saturday. He will also give a reading at Politics and Prose on Sunday.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why did you focus on this particular era of Christian history?

The thing that struck me was how significant this Christian revolution was. Christianity became the most powerful institution in the Western world. My question in the book is: How did that happen?

How do you get from 20 insignificant, illiterate, lower-class day laborers in a remote part of the empire to 30 million people and end up being the most influential power in the West? I’ve always thought it was a very important question and the book tries to answer it.

You conclude that the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity in the year 312 was not the signal event that led to Christianity’s rise. Explain.

What I came to realize is that it probably would have happened whether or not Constantine converted. If you actually plot the growth of Christianity, you realize that it’s an exponential curve. Christianity is gaining a few people early on and they’re gaining massive numbers of people later on. It’s like investments: The rate of growth ends up creating huge amounts of money later when you have a lot of money; earlier, when it was just a little bit of money, it’s little growth.

Christianity appealed to pagans, you write, because of its emphasis on miracles. Why?

One thing (pagans) have in common is that they’re worshipping the gods because of the benefits the gods can provide. The gods can make sure that it rains, that crops grow, livestock reproduces. They can protect women in childbirth, heal people that are sick. It’s all about divine power. If Christians are going to convert people away from the religious practices that they’ve been involved in for millennia, it has to be because your divine power is more effective than theirs. The way you show the Christian God is more powerful than the other gods is by showing that he does miracles — and you have to show people that his miracles are superior. That’s what the Christians do.

Are there any lessons in that about the growth of Christianity in Africa and Asia? 

It is interesting that liberal Christianity in America, as we think of it, tends to be more rational and less interested in supernatural displays of power, healing miracles or speaking in tongues. That kind of liberal Christianity simply doesn’t have much influence on the wider world. The places that are converting are where you get these very conservative Christian groups going in who have no trouble talking about miracles happening. I suspect it’s a similar phenomenon.

You write about how Christianity went from being persecuted to being persecutors (of pagans and Jews). Do you see modern parallels?

A lot of people have the image of early Christianity being a constantly persecuted faith and that Christianity was declared illegal and so they had to go into hiding and hung out in the catacombs of Rome. When you actually look at the evidence you see the persecution was actually very sporadic and fairly rare and regional.

But Christians talk about it as if they were constantly being persecuted. That has a very clear modern analogy. My Christian students in Chapel Hill sometimes talk about how persecuted they are. These are upper-middle-class kids from North Carolina who live in a Christian culture where Christianity has the power and they feel persecuted. It’s interesting that someone doesn’t actually have to be persecuted to feel persecuted. That certainly was the case in early Christianity.

You have a reputation of being the debunker of Christian dogma but now you’re talking about its triumph. Is that a contradiction?

As a historian, I’m neutral on whether it was good or bad. If Christianity hadn’t taken over, something else would have happened. History would have gone on. But history would have been incalculably different. There are certain aspects of the triumph of Christianity that everyone can appreciate. Just in terms of culture: Think of art. If Christianity hadn’t taken over, we wouldn’t have had Leonardo, or Michelangelo or in music, or philosophy, or literature. We’re all grateful we have this fantastic cultural heritage.

On the other hand, a lot was lost when Christianity triumphed. Thousands of pieces of pagan art were destroyed. Pagan literature is lost to posterity. So a lot was gained in the triumph of Christianity and a lot was lost, and certainly effectively it was a triumph, but whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, I think people can have different evaluations of that.

In your books you try to explain historical methods. Why is that important?

I started to think it was important when I first did my work on the historical Jesus. I had (read) book after book published for a popular audience by scholars in which the scholar laid out what he thought we could say about the historical Jesus but he never explained how he got there, how he was using his materials to come to his conclusions, because they weren’t obvious historical conclusions. So when I wrote my book on the historical Jesus I thought, I’m going to explain how exactly I’m getting here.

What’s next for you?

My next step has a very loose connection with “The Triumph of Christianity.” Before Christians came along, most pagans had no idea that their religion was going to affect what happened after they died. A lot of pagans thought that when you died, that was the end of the story. You just ceased to exist.

Christians came along and said, “No. There’s a heaven and hell and you’re going to go to one place or the other. If you believe in Christ, you’ll go to heaven. If you reject Christ, you’ll be tormented eternally.” This was a very effective evangelistic tool and what the Christians did was that they invented a need that pagans didn’t know they had.

This idea of your soul going to heaven or hell is certainly not taught in the Old Testament, and it wasn’t taught by Jesus. So why do Christians have this idea? Jesus didn’t think that when your soul died it went to one place or the other in eternity. But that is what Christians think, so my question is where did that come from? My next book is going to be on the invention of the afterlife.

About the author

Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.

215 Comments

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  • “This idea of your soul going to heaven or hell is certainly not taught in the Old Testament, and it wasn’t taught by Jesus.”

    Hebrews 10 – 26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

  • So how do we know that 20 insignificant, illiterate, lower-class day laborers, were really illiterate lower class day laborers.

    Why was Jesus handed a scroll, if he couldn’t read?

    A tax collector who couldn’t keep records?

    Zebedee who had hired hands?

  • Just two observations:

    (1) I read this just now –

    “[Christian] persecution was actually very sporadic and fairly rare and regional. … Someone doesn’t actually have to be persecuted to feel persecuted. That certainly was the case in early Christianity.” –

    And I go, Yup, Michael R. Licona was right all along: Bart Ehrman’s “thinking is hardly original, as his positions are those largely embraced by mainstream skeptical scholarship”. (Cf. Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, eds., Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics, B&H Publishing Group, 2012.)

    (2) Also I read this –

    “This idea of your soul going to heaven or hell … wasn’t taught by Jesus.”

    And I go, Yup, John Murawski, too, got that right: Bart Ehrman is “prone to profound confusion, botched readings and scholarly fictions.” (Cf. “Bart Ehrman’s ‘How Jesus Became God’ Book Will Be Instantly Rebutted by ‘How God Became Jesus'”, Huffington Post, March 25, 2014.)

  • Re: “What I came to realize is that it probably would have happened whether or not Constantine converted.”  

    With all due respect to Prof Ehrman, it’s not entirely clear that Constantine ever really converted to Christianity. Yes, he attempted to profess being Christian. Yes, he and his co-emperor Licinius granted official tolerance to Christianity. Yes, a tale was told (decades later) of his deathbed baptism. And the very-Christian* bishop Eusebius acted as his secretary for a while.  

    But the degree to which Constantine actually believed in Christianity’s tenets, is not really in evidence in his career (aside from the above). For instance, he ordered the execution of his own son Crispus, and in many ways, after his professed conversion, was the same vicious warlord he’d been before then. Eusebius’s glowing biography of him notwithstanding, it’s safe to say the Christian religion never left a lasting or notable imprint on the character or life of Constantine.  

    Re: “When you actually look at the evidence you see the persecution was actually very sporadic and fairly rare and regional.”  

    Ironically, many Christians who still believe the pseudohistorical legends about their faith having been a virtual death-sentence in Rome, will view this statement by Ehrman — which has been well-known since the time of Edward Gibbon, established by the historical record, and reinforced by scholarship ever since — as a further type of persecution of their faith. Yes, indeed … they actually think their own pseudohistory is something they’re entitled to and expect everyone to believe, no matter how obviously untrue it is.  

    It would be funny, if not for how utterly pathetic and infantile it is.  

    One last thing: I wonder to what extent Ehrman will bring up the widows’ and orphans’ funds that the early churches maintained, as a tool that might have been used to propagate the faith. Both in terms of their intended effect — i.e. visible largesse — and their unintended effect — the bishops’ amassing large funds they could use in order to spread the faith and intimidate or defeat their adversaries (e.g. Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria, to name just a couple examples). This particular aspect of early Christianity wasn’t innovative in the Greco-Roman world; there were e.g. collegia and burial associations that did something similar. But it’s possible Christianity exploited this in a way the other groups that had benevolent funds didn’t; I hope Ehrman discusses this.  

    * Not to mention, very Arian!  

  • Ehrman’s previous book Misquoting Jesus, is clearly mentioned on the front cover of Ehrman’s latest book.

    Here’s two scholarly explanations of Ehrman’s mistakes. The first one, which is not too long, is by Michael Kruger of RTS.
    https://www.rts.edu/Site/Resources/FacultyArticles/Misquoting_Jesus.pdf

    Now if you like really **long**, extensive explanations, this next one will keep you happy all day (Robert Howe of SES).

    http://www.isca-apologetics.org/sites/default/files/papers/Jared%20Martinez/Howe-AResponseToBartEhrman.pdf

  • Prof. Ehrman is a little late to the party. Richard Carrier wrote “Not the Impossible Faith” on the success of Christianity. Christianity is the great co-opter of other’s rituals/practices. It isn’t very original mythology.

  • Re: ” Bart Ehrman’s ‘thinking is hardly original, as his positions are those largely embraced by mainstream skeptical scholarship’ …”  

    That “Ehrman’s ‘thinking is hardly original'” does not, in any way, magically make him wrong about anything he says. Furthermore, in all of his books that I’ve read, he says up-front that — for the most part — he’s not delivering new information, and that a majority of what he says is long-established scholarship. In fact, he says, this is why he’s writing … to convey this well-known information to people outside of Biblical scholarship and who, therefore, haven’t come across it previously.  

    Truth be told, most of what Ehrman says isn’t new. His own innovations are on some of the finer points of the topic, not its general approach.  

  • “But the degree to which Constantine actually believed in Christianity’s tenants is not really in evidence in his career…for instance, he ordered the execution of his own son Crispinus…”

    “He [the Emperor] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute His [God’s] wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Romans 13:4)

    It is a divinely-appointed duty (and one of “Christianity’s tenants”} that Emperors use “the sword” against wrongdoers in order to maintain public peace and order, as well as to ensure the stability of the realm. Constantine’s actions with respect to Crispinus, etc., cannot be taken as evidence that Constantine did not “actually believe” in Christianity’s tenants. They were fully in accord with Christian teachings about the responsibilities of Emperors.

  • You’re telling me Christianity rationalizes rulers being allowed to act like rulers. It’s true that Christians have, in fact, shimmed rationales like this into their faith. Makes it all convenient and everything.  

    But notwithstanding this addition to Christianity — which certainly has absolutely nothing whatever to do with Jesus’ supposed teachings (e.g. the Sermons on the Mount and Plain) — what I said of Constantine remains true: His putative conversion to Christianity never left any imprint on him.  

    So I will repeat: There is no evidence (and yes, I do mean zero) evidence that Constantine ever adopted Jesus’ supposed teachings. I get that a lot of Christians disagree, and won’t like hearing it … but too bad so sad for them, I really don’t freaking care, nor do the historical facts in question. Unless you can point to things Constantine did which aligned with the Beatitudes, and which he did because he sincerely believed in them, it’s illogical to say he ever truly converted to Christianity. Period.  

  • You might want to read “Jesus and the riddle of the Dead Sea scrolls” by Barbara Thiering.

    It’s a fairly interesting explanation of how Christianity spread.

  • I’m familiar with this book. There are some problems with it. The most significant is the assumption that, at the heart of every story (including those in the gospels) there’s a grain of truth. So, she claims — due to the “virgin birth” tales in Luke and Matthew — that Jesus had been born out of wedlock, and that his supposed death and resurrection had been carefully arranged and staged.  

    The problem is, the “grain of truth” assumption is not always valid. Sometimes, people just made up stuff, especially when it suited their purposes. Yeah, even the ancients! They did. Really! Honest. Also, if the “virgin birth” accounts reflected historical events, one would think there’d have been more agreement between them than one finds. (No, the Luke and Matthew accounts are not the same, they differ, and in some key details no less.)  

    What’s more, the idea that the “virgin birth” reflects a historical event is belied by the fact that it is not found in any of the earliest known biographies of Jesus (which would be Mark, and the “lost gospel” of Q, and perhaps mentions of Jesus in Paul’s genuine epistles, which don’t provide any real biographical material about him in any event). The virgin birth was, instead, a later addition to two of the gospels.  

    The idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls have anything to do with Christianity was once in vogue, but has since been dismissed. At one time I had thought Jesus may have been an Essene, and part of the Qumran movement, but I’ve moved away from that, mostly because little of his life has much to do with the ways of the Essenes (who e.g. all got married, and who generally did not randomly proselytize or preach). Some of the content of his teachings reflects Essenism, but that can be explained by influence, not belonging. That is, he may have heard some Essene ideas and preached them, but never belonged to the sect.  

    (Nor, for that matter, do I accept any longer the idea that he was a Cynical sage … but that has nothing to do with Thiering so I won’t go any further down that road.)  

    The reality of Christianity’s beginnings and its early growth remain mostly matters of speculation at this time. About the only thing which does make any sense about it, is that it must have been a diverse movement from the very moment it started. That is, at its inception, it was different things to different people who’d adopted it early on. At no point in its history — at least, after the demise of its founder — has Christianity been unified in any meaningful way. About the closest we can come to a common collection of its teachings are the Beatitudes, but even Paul (whose genuine epistles are the oldest extant Christian documents we have) don’t seem to reflect those. Hence, we can’t even be sure they were honored by all early Christians.  

    I expect Ehrman’s book is his own delving into this speculation. I’ve read most of his stuff so far and much of it makes sense, but even then, I’m unwilling just to take all of his conclusions at face value.  

  • Sorry, but I won’t let you just move the goalposts. You doubted that “Constantine ever really converted to Christianity”. I demonstrated that the belief that the Emperor is ordained by God to punish wrongdoers is part of Christianity, clearly attested to in the Christian Scriptures.

    BUT NOW you would reduce Christianity to the Beatitudes alone. Sorry, but that sleight of hand won’t work. Christianity is much broader, deeper, and richer than your idiosyncratic emendation of it. In exercising his God-given “power of the sword”, Constantine was fulfilling his obligations as both an Emperor and a Christian.

    Of course, He also gave evidence of his Christian faith in other ways. He engaged in personal Bible study. He engaged in daily Christian prayer, both private and corporate. He engaged in Christian acts of mercy so liberally some criticized him for it: helping the poor, the homeless, the destitute, orphans, widows. Prisoners unjustly imprisoned were freed and their confiscated property restored to them.
    Sounds like he was a sincere Christian to me!

  • I agree with most of what you say. The virginbirth thing was common to a lot of religions, as was the savior born in humble circumstances. Not a new story at all.
    What I found interesting about Thiering’s book was her description of the struggle in the early church between the Palestinian jews who became Christians, and the Hellenized jews, led by Paul. This was echoed in Winwood Reade’s “Martyrdom of Man”. In Thierings perspective, the early church spread as it did because it was basically a business model. As it still is.

  • Barbara Thiering, using a technique she calls “pesher”, purports to have uncovered evidence in the Gospels themselves that effectively contradicts the story they narrate of Jesus and his mission. She calls the story the “surface meaning” of the Gospels “for ‘babes'”, while the hidden meaning she has discovered shows that Jesus was a member of the Essene community, survived the crucifixion, and was married twice.

    Those familiar with popular pseudo-science will see echoes of “Chariots of the Gods”, while scripture scholars will see gnosticism (hidden knowledge that only the gnostic can decode).

    The book has been almost universally rejected by the scholarly community. Several writers have compared the book to fantasy fiction. In a critical review of the book’s conclusions and methodology, Ancient Historian and New Testament scholar C. B. Forbes concludes that “Her books cannot be described as history. They are extraordinary fantasy, and have been dismissed as such by historians around the world.”

    Pesher comes from the Hebrew “pesharim” meaning “interpretation”. The authors of pesharim believe that scripture is written in two levels: the surface for ordinary readers with limited knowledge, and the concealed one for specialists with higher knowledge. The prophets, and other readers of the texts, only had a partial interpretation revealed to them.

    Her “interpretation” is easily summarized. Jesus was born out of wedlock to a woman of the Qumran priestly line, the leader of a radical faction of Essene priests. He was not of virgin birth. He performed no miracles. His prominence arose from his connection to the Davidic kingship and his great grandfather, Hillel the Great. He did not die on the Cross where he was crucified with Simon Magus and Judas Iscariot, but survived by snake venom that rendered him unconscious. He married Mary Magdalene, fathered a family, and later divorced her and married Lydia of Philippi, fathering three children. After wandering the Mediterranean, he died in obscurity in Rome sometime after AD 64.

    I can highly recommend “Chariots of the Gods” and “The Da Vinci Code” for those interested in this genre. Both are much better written and a lot more amusing.

  • This is how I know the real Bart Ehrman. By where he has been until now:

    From Conservativism at Moody Bible Institute, BA (1978).

    Through Neo-Evangelicalism at Wheaton College, MDiv (1981).

    To Liberalism at Princeton Theological Seminary, PhD (1985).

    Like it says in Ephesians 4:14, Bart Ehrman has had himself “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming”.

    Good luck with that, dude!

  • Truth was with Jesus & His 1st apostles & disciples. Maybe just for a couple of decades. After that – until now – yup, just “mythology”. Stick to just the gospels, epistles & revelation, I say. The rest is fake news that is Christianity & Christendom.

  • Downloaded them both. Thanks!

    Can you believe this guy came from THE Moody Bible Institute?

    I can understand Wheaton College & Princeton. But Moody?

    Somebody started doubting very, very soon.

  • Please cite for me reliable eyewitness testimonies vouching for you saying these things. You have 24 hours to prove you’re worth my time. GO.

  • Re: “Sorry, but I won’t let you just move the goalposts.”  

    That isn’t what I did, but if it makes you feel better to say I did, I can hardly stop you.  

    Re: “You doubted that ‘Constantine ever really converted to Christianity’.”  

    I did say that, and as I added in my reply to you, I still say that’s the case.

    Re: “I demonstrated that the belief that the Emperor is ordained by God to punish wrongdoers is part of Christianity, clearly attested to in the Christian Scriptures.”  

    I addressed that in my reply to you. I explained that this was a later rationale that was shimmed into the early religion (by Paul, and then by others). It had nothing to do with Christianity at the time of its origin. The gospels do not report that Jesus himself ever said anything of this sort — and no, that’s not what he meant when he said “render to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God’s.”  

    Re: “… Constantine was fulfilling his obligations as both an Emperor and a Christian.”  

    I’m sure Constantine wanted the empire’s Christians to think so, which was why he hired on the blabbering Eusebius to evangelize to his co-religionists on his behalf — a task the bishop took very seriously and appears to have done a good job of. That said, Vita Constantini notwithstanding (it’s a propaganda piece, in case you didn’t know it), as I explained — and continue to stand by — nothing about Constantine’s life and career ever reflected anything resembling a genuine Christian belief. Not. One. Freaking. Thing.  

    Re: “BUT NOW you would reduce Christianity to the Beatitudes alone.”  

    I never said “the Beatitudes are the sum total of Christianity.” You may like to think I said it, but I didn’t. And I dare you to cite where I said so. You won’t be able to because I never did.  

    But … that doesn’t mean the Beatitudes don’t matter. They are — whether or not you wish to admit it — central to Christianity, and have been since its inception. Now, they may not have been convenient for Constantine, and Christians themselves may have done a good job over the millennia of rationalizing them away, but they remain central to Christianity.  

    Either you’re mature enough to accept that reality, or you aren’t. Doesn’t matter to me either way — but if you’re going to insist they’re not, you’re going to remain very, VERY wrong.  

    Re: “Of course, He also gave evidence of his Christian faith in other ways.”  

    No he didn’t.  

    Re: “He engaged in personal Bible study.”  

    Yeah, so Eusebius … and no one else … says.  

    Re: “He engaged in daily Christian prayer, both private and corporate.”  

    And he remained Pontifex Maximus, or the high priest of the Roman (pagan) state religion, including performing all required rites. Yeah, that was real Christian of him.  

    Re: “He engaged in Christian acts of mercy so liberally some criticized him for it: helping the poor, the homeless, the destitute, orphans, widows.”  

    Not one of those behaviors is unique to Christianity, not even in ancient times. Pagans, and Jews and people of other religions all did charitable things, too, you know. Really! I’m pretty sure you won’t accept that … you’d probably say charity never existed until your precious Jesus came along … but that’s just how it was. Again, it makes no difference to me if you won’t accept it or not.  

    Re: “Sounds like he was a sincere Christian to me!”  

    Sounds like a vicious warlord who managed to do a few nice things now and again … not one of which has the slightest thing to do with having been Christian and does nothing to prove his Christianity.  

    Again, and to be clear: Constantine ordered the execution of his own son Crispus. There is no way on earth you can ever say that has anything to do with Christianity. Not. One. Single. Freaking. Thing. What’s more, as I just explained, Constantine remained the head of Rome’s pagan state religion and maintained that religion throughout his career. That, too, is as un-Christian a thing to do as one can find.  

    I really don’t care if you don’t accept these historical realities. They remain true, without regard to whether or not you have the maturity or courage to accept them.  

  • Can you believe a graduate of THE Moody Bible Institute actually said that about Jesus? Whatever happened to this brother of ours? No more cross of Christ for him, that’s for sure.

  • “I explained that this was a later rationale that was shimmed into the early religion (by Paul, and then by others). It had nothing to do with Christianity at the time of its origin.”

    Since you are unable to source Christianity at the time of its origin, that would be rather difficult to establish with any authority.

    It actually comes from the natural law, the law which Paul refers to as the law written in the hearts of the gentiles, which describes humans living in society.

    “”He engaged in personal Bible study.””

    “Yeah, so Eusebius … and no one else … says. “

    But you had just written “No he didn’t. “

    “And he remained Pontifex Maximus, or the high priest of the Roman (pagan) state religion, including performing all required rites. Yeah, that was real Christian of him.”

    But earlier you wrote “No he didn’t.” Apparently he did as Father Schick wrote.

    “Not one of those behaviors is unique to Christianity, not even in ancient times.”

    But he still did it.

    Perhaps what you meant to write rather than “Again, it makes no difference to me if you won’t accept it or not.” was “I have an opinion and pay no never mind to anyone else’s”?

    Re: “Sounds like he was a sincere Christian to me!”

    “Again, and to be clear: Constantine ordered the execution of his own son Crispus. There is no way on earth you can ever say that has anything to do with Christianity.”

    Nor did Fr. Schick suggest he did.

    He may have been a lousy Christian.

    “I really don’t care if you don’t accept these historical realities. They remain true, without regard to whether or not you have the maturity or courage to accept them.”

    Now we’re getting closer to your position:

    “I really don’t care if you don’t accept my opinions. They remain true, without regard to whether or not you accept them because I hold them.”

  • Poet and philosopher George Santayana’s 1900 essay “The Poetry of Christian Dogma” shows how and why Christianity prevailed replacing the sinking Pagan gods being consumed by neo-platonism and stoicism.

    Chapter IV of Interpretations of Poetry and Religion (1900)
    http://www.iupui.edu/~santedit/sant/

  • Re: “Since you are unable to source Christianity at the time of its origin, that would be rather difficult to establish with any authority.”  

    Christianity at its origin should be what Christians themselves have said it was: The teachings of Jesus, as written by them in the gospels.  

    Re: “It actually comes from the natural law, the law which Paul refers to as the law written in the hearts of the gentiles, which describes humans living in society.”  

    And this “natural law” has what, exactly, to do with Christianity? Nothing I know of. Are you saying this “natural law” is placed above what Christianity teaches in the hearts of Christians? If so, why? And how would one even call them “Christians,” if they place this “natural law” of yours ahead of Jesus’ own teachings, as they recorded them?  

    Re: “But you had just written “No he didn’t. “”  

    The idea that Constantine ever read a Bible is ridiculous on its face. Mostly because, during his reign, there was no such thing as “the Bible”! The nature of canon was under discussion in places, but not widely, and in the early 4th century there was no clearly identified body of scripture known as “the Bible.”  

    Thus, to contend Constantine engaged in “Bible study” is anachronistic on its face. No serious student of history could ever say such a thing with a straight face.  

    What’s more, nothing in the Christian scripture of the time (or later) is exhibited in Constantine’s behavior. I already explained this, but apparently Christians are having a hard time with it. I get that you don’t like it, but veracity is a harsh taskmaster and it doesn’t really care what you do or don’t like, it simply is what it is.  

    Re: “He may have been a lousy Christian.”  

    Either he obeyed the teachings of Jesus, or he didn’t. The historical record is clear that he didn’t. You can call him “a lousy Christian” if it makes you feel better to do so, but too bad so sad for you … Constantine never was “a Christian” in any identifiable sense.  

    Re: “‘I really don’t care if you don’t accept my opinions.'”  

    That Constantine never behaved in accordance with Jesus’ teachings is not merely my “opinion.” It is historical fact. That you dislike this reality is not something I really care about. Either you and Fr Schick and the other sanctimoniously-enraged Christians are mature and courageous enough to accept that you’ve been wrong about Constantine, or you’re not. The truth is on my side, not yours. Most Christianists are whiney and infantile, so if you’re anything like them, I expect you’ll continue denying the reality I’m explaining to you. As I’ve said repeatedly, if it makes you feel better to be wrong, go right ahead. Be wrong! It’s your right to be ignorant. Just stop demanding that I be ignorant with you.  

  • Re: “Good luck with that, dude!”  

    I get that you subjectively dismiss Ehrman, but what — exactly — does that have to do with me? Or the rest of Biblical scholarship?  

  • Re: “What I found interesting about Thiering’s book was her description of the struggle in the early church between the Palestinian jews who became Christians, and the Hellenized jews, led by Paul.”  

    Oddly enough, this struggle was evinced in antiquity … by Paul himself! Virtually the whole of his epistle to the Galatians is about it. He reported it from his own angle, of course, leaving us with a skewed account of it, but that such a struggle happened is not disputed, and hasn’t been for a long time.  

    Re: “In Thierings perspective, the early church spread as it did because it was basically a business model. As it still is.”  

    Yes, Christianity spread in a manner similar to other localized collegia of the time. It was both a social adaptation to life in the Greco-Roman world and a religion. This is why we see earliest Christianity developed in the way it did: Regionally, and in some places locally, unlike the Roman state religion or Judaism which ostensibly had “top-down” structures. Christianity was the opposite, at first, and its “top-down” hierarchy was a later innovation meant to give a widely-fractured movement an appearance of unity. Even then, however, only the bishops of Rome were able to place themselves at the top of the Church within their own milieu; in other places, regional church princes, usually called “patriarchs” now, became an association of equals, never becoming unified in any way.  

    At any rate, other collegia gathered as associations or guilds based on profession, or as burial societies, or sometimes as ethnic collectives; Christianity’s “glue” and raison d’ete was the religion it taught. Since its members came to believe this religion was for all humanity, this opened up potential membership to everyone, unlike other collegia which were limited by profession, ethnicity, or ability to contribute to funeral funds. This allowed the Christian congregations to expand in ways that other collegia literally never could.  

    And collegia were nothing if not businesses of their own. So in many ways, you’re right that Christianity grew as a business: As many of them, in and around cities large and small, through the Empire (mostly its eastern half).  

  • If Christianity at its origin should be what Christians themselves have said it was it should be more than the teachings of Jesus as written in the Gospels. The Gospels themselves say that he said and taught more than was recorded, and we see that in reading the epistles.

    In the two major Christian communions, Orthodoxy and Catholicism, sacred Tradition continues the unwritten revelation.

    The “natural law” has something to do with Christianity, whether you know it or not. It was inherited from Judaism sans the modern social contract theory.

    Paul writes about it as the law written in the heart, and apparently he was an authoritative Christian.

    The canonical Old Testament in the main was well-developed at the time of Constantine. In 331 Constantine commissioned Eusebius to deliver fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople. He had no problem at all obtaining both the Old and New Testaments. No serious student of history could ever deny such a thing with a straight face.

    The suggestion that “Either he obeyed the teachings of Jesus, or he didn’t.” is absurd on its face. “Loud” is not a synonym for “correct”.

    While you and other anti-Christians(ists) like to shout “truth is on my side, not yours”, the facts don’t support you. If it makes you feel better to be wrong, go right ahead. It’s obvious why in you’re in favor of a right to be ignorant.

  • Personally, I think her story is far more likely than the gospels. But then, I don’t believe in Magic, miracles, god having a son, and all the rest of it,. I also find her business model of Christianity far more likely from a sociological viewpoint than everyone being thrilled thrilled thrillled at the new message and the magic and the miracles.

    But that’s the great thing about faith. You can believe whatever you like.

  • Also, if you take the magic and the miracles out of the gospels, what you have is exactly the story she described. Jesus, born of Mary and Joseph, descended from David on both sides, priest and king, was supposed to be the promised messiah. He turned out not to be. The people turned on him.

    That also makes much more sense an all of the magic and the miracles. Simon magus especially.

  • My favorite was Constantine and Maxentius. Maxentius didn’t live very long, and conveniently died, apparently of murder.

  • “Since you are unable to source Christianity at the time of its origin, that would be rather difficult to establish with any authority.”
    and yet, we keep seeing the super-duper Christians tell us exactly that.

  • ” The Gospels themselves say that he said and taught more than was recorded, and we see that in reading the epistles.”

    Except that we don’t know what those things were. Or even if the assertion is true. But given the hyperbole describing it– “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. -John 21:25—
    Well! the sheer unlikelihood of that even being remotely true pretty much indicates that it is false. We have all of Harry Potter in seven books, if nothing else. The entire war of the rings in four volumes. And the entire Ring of the Nibelung is some 20 interminable hours.

  • Re: “If Christianity at its origin should be what Christians themselves have said it was it should be more than the teachings of Jesus as written in the Gospels.”  

    So you’re saying the gospels were purposely left incomplete. OK. Fine. But that doesn’t entitle you — or any other Christian — to just go ahead and make up stuff, then ram it into your religion as though it belonged there from Day One. That’s disingenuous. Did your Jesus tell you to be disingenuous? Somehow I don’t think he did.  

    Re: “The “natural law” has something to do with Christianity, whether you know it or not.”  

    It’s a post-Jesus rationale for ramming extra stuff into the religion Jesus supposedly founded.  

    Re: “The canonical Old Testament in the main was well-developed at the time of Constantine.”  

    But not the New Testament. Even if Constantine had read the Old Testament, that wouldn’t have told him much about Christianity. It would, however, have told him a lot about Judaism. Unless you’re positing that Constantine was more Jewish than Christian, this claim doesn’t make your case … at all.  

    Re: “The suggestion that ‘Either he obeyed the teachings of Jesus, or he didn’t’ is absurd on its face.”  

    It’s not “absurd” at all. In fact, no matter who we’re talking about. either a person obeys Jesus or s/he doesn’t. I can’t imagine why you’d say this is the least bit “absurd” … unless it’s because you’re desperate to revise history in favor of Constantine having been some kind of model Christian or something. (Which he wasn’t.)  

    Re: “While you and other anti-Christians(ists) …”  

    I’m not “anti-Christian(ist).” I am, however, done being lied to about history by Christians who think they have credentials in the field — and know more about it than people who do, like Ehrman — merely because they have certain metaphysical beliefs. Historiography doesn’t actually work that way. To think so is infantile. I will no longer put up with Christianist history-revision. I have a degree in history myself and understand the field far better than 99% of Christians … who only know what they know, ’cause’n deir preacherman dun’ tol’ ’em so.  

    Re: “If it makes you feel better to be wrong, go right ahead.”  

    I’m not wrong, and what’s more, I have the sheepskin to back it up. It’s YOU who’s wrong. You have no freaking clue what you’re talking about … at all.  

    Re: “It’s obvious why in you’re in favor of a right to be ignorant.”  

    I know why you’re ignorant: You want your history to be a certain way — the truth be damned — ’cause’n yer preacherman dun’ tol’ ya so. That doesn’t fly with me.  

  • Re: “Except that we don’t know what those things were.”  

    Let’s call this thinking out for what it is: A rationale for making up stuff and ramming it into the religion as though it belonged there from Day One. It’s a recipe for dishonesty. Christianists are nothing if not dishonest — and in their Jesus’ name, no less!  

  • I’ve heard people say they’d have preferred Maxentius had won at Milvian Bridge and Constantine had perished instead; that, supposedly, would have prevented Christianity from exploding across the Roman Empire and would have changed history for the better.  

    Although this may well be true — it could be said of virtually any historical “if only it had been” — I doubt it. Christianity already had become the dominant religion in some eastern cities, and for decades had been the plaything of the intelligentsia in places like Egypt, Syria, and several parts of Anatolia, to name just a few districts. There’s a reason Constantine AND Licinius (who was never said to have become a Christian) jointly declared tolerance for Christianity, shortly after Milvian Bridge — it was already to the Roman rulers’ political advantage to give it space and indulge its followers. We have no reason to assume Maxentius might not have done the very same thing Constantine did, in this regard.  

    And if that’s the case, then history wouldn’t very likely have unfolded differently than it did.  

    Lastly, I suppose Maxentius may have been murdered, but the traditional story — which history doesn’t overtly contradict — is that, in his army’s retreat, he (and probably some others) fell into the Tiber and died. It’s possible that, in the wake of defeat, his own men hurled him into the Tiber or otherwise executed him, perhaps to make peace with the victor. But if so, none of them ever claimed it (which is what other Roman soldiers had done in similar positions). So I’m not entirely certain that’s how it went.  

  • It’s even simpler than that.

    The Gospels are all they ever purported to be. As an obvious apostate from one of the 16th century “sola scriptura” denominations, that entire concept is foreign to you.

    Christians are certainly entitled to define their religion and themselves, and as a non-participant you do not get a vote in the process.

    If you “will no longer put up with Christianist history-revision”, you’ll have to zero in on posting on “Raw Story”, or ‘Miscellanea Agnostic”, or “Friendly Atheist”, or one of those other venues where they know even less than you.

    Your “either a person obeys Jesus or s/he doesn’t” also comes from whatever 16th century “sola scriptura” denomination you sprang from. In the Orthodox, Catholic, and “Oriental” Orthodox churches – the vast majority of Christians and the oldest, confession is one of the sacraments, because Christians know that the flesh is weak, and that we may be forgiven seven times seventy. You will hear “Lord, forgive me a sinner” rather than “Are you saved?” because life is a journey, not an event.

    And by the early 200s, Origen was using essentially the same books as in the Catholic New Testament canon.

    And I know why you’re ignorant: you start with “I’m not wrong”. You have an axe to grind, and your while your mouth is wide open, your ears are muffled. “I have the sheepskin to back it up” – I have four – do I win?

    History, like science, is the wrong tool for assessing religion.

    No one but you cares what flies with you.

  • Except that YOU don’t know what those things are.

    In fact you’ve made it clear you know almost nothing at all about Christianity, its practices, its theology, nada.

    But, you are snotty. That comes with the mind maven training I suppose.

    This response also applies to:

    “’Since you are unable to source Christianity at the time of its origin, that would be rather difficult to establish with any authority.’ and yet, we keep seeing the super-duper Christians tell us exactly that.”

  • Yes, everyone knows you hate Christianists because they want to spoil your fun.

    If you take the magic and miracles out of the gospels, the following in her story are not to be found:

    “Jesus was born out of wedlock to a woman of the Qumran priestly line, the leader of a radical faction of Essene priests. His prominence arose from his connection to the Davidic kingship and his great grandfather, Hillel the Great. He did not die on the Cross. He survived by snake venom that rendered him unconscious. He married Mary Magdalene, fathered a family, and later divorced her and married Lydia of Philippi, fathering three children. After wandering the Mediterranean, he died in obscurity in Rome sometime after AD 64.”

    That’s pretty much her entire story. That’s the way fiction goes.

  • Of course you do. The gospels seem to interfere with your lifestyle.

    You may not know anything about religion, but you sure know what could spoil your fun.

    And whether it’s religion, or natural law, you’re again’ it.

    So you get an “A” in knowing what you want to go with your “F”s in religion and natural law.

  • Nope. The gospels don’t interfere with my life at all. Nothing in them about me or anyone I know. Moralizing busybodies with a theocratic bent, on the other hand…

  • Her particular story,? Probably not. The story as you pretty much outlined? Sure.
    As for Christianists? Glad you admit to the term. It’s about time.

  • It probably wouldn’t have changed much had maxentius survived. It was Rome, after all.
    As for murder being part of the story, it was Rome, after all.

  • Re: “As an obvious apostate from one of the 16th century “sola scriptura” denominations, that entire concept is foreign to you.”  

    I have no idea what this is about. None. I will only say that I was raised Catholic, later converted to Protestant evangelical, then became agnostic. If it makes you feel better to castigate me as an “apostate,” go right ahead. I truthfully am a Christian apostate — twice over! — and am proud to bear that title.  

    Re: “Christians are certainly entitled to define their religion and themselves …”  

    … but they shouldn’t lie about history. Nothing about their religion entitles them to force others to adopt pseudohistory they tell each other to make one another feel better about being part of their faith. I am not required to accept your lies, and nothing you say can ever force me to do so. Ever.  

    Re: “Your “either a person obeys Jesus or s/he doesn’t” also comes from whatever 16th century “sola scriptura” denomination you sprang from.”  

    No it doesn’t. I get that you’ve got your panties in a wad about something, but this repeated yammering about “sola scriptura” has nothing to do with me. I don’t abide by that principle, nor any other Christian sect’s slogans.  

    Re: “And by the early 200s, Origen was using essentially the same books as in the Catholic New Testament canon.”  

    Uh, you’re aware, I hope, that Origen considered some books, now considered apocryphal, as divine in origin? Like, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Gospel according to Peter? Yeah, he did. Oh, and did you forget he was posthumously condemned as a heretic? Yep, that happened too. Woops! There you go, rewriting history again … ! Please, keep it up. I love correcting you.  

    Re: “And I know why you’re ignorant: you start with ‘I’m not wrong’.”  

    I’m not wrong about Constantine, so I have no idea what could be wrong with me saying so. I’m also not wrong when I say the sky is blue or water is wet … do you intend to argue that those things are false, too, and that I’m wrong to assert that I’m correct about them, as well?  

    Re: “You have an axe to grind …”  

    No, I don’t, but you Christianists certainly do! You don’t just have one axe to grind; you have an entire armory full of them! And you dive right into your persecution complex whenever someone dares correct you about your historical lies. Poor, poor little you … actually having to deal with some insolent non-believer who dares tell you you’re wrong about your Christian pseudohistory! Boo hoo hoo! How dare this horrid PsiCop fellow not immediately crumple to your demand that he accept your lies.  

    Re: “‘I have the sheepskin to back it up’ – I have four – do I win?”  

    Given that you were factually incorrect about what Origen considered “canon,” and treated him as an authority on Christianity when in reality the Church counted him a heretic … no. You don’t “win.” You don’t actually know what you’re talking about … at all. You just proved it — again. But, by all means, keep going. Keep digging yourself deeper into a hole. With every shovelful, you’re living down to all my expectations of Christianists.  

  • Most of Constantine’s attempts at meddling in Christianity didn’t produce the results he’d wanted. What he did for the religion is, mainly, to grant it tolerance so that it could come out in the open, and by the 320s granted the Church a certain amount of autonomy in governing its affairs. There had already been a Christian presence in Rome (though not a large one) and in some other western areas, but in his time — and even for the next several decades — it remained mostly an eastern phenomenon and Christianity was dominated by its eastern wing.  

    In other ways, Constantine’s interactions with Christianity were abysmal. He’d hoped to unite Christians behind his banner, but their endless bickering (with each other, and outsiders) was something he could never resolve. Certainly the Council of Nicaea (which he’d convoked, but didn’t involve himself with) failed to do this: It ended with the Church terminally fractured into an “orthodox” faction (which later became the churches we know, i.e. Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and the Protestant sects), an Arian faction (which survived a few centuries, mainly among Germanic peoples, until it was overwhelmed) and the various sects now referred to as Gnosticism, which likewise survived for a while but later mostly died out (although it did crop up later as Paulicianism, Bogomilism, and Catharism).  

    Constantine himself was so angry at the results of the Council that he granted sanctuary in his home region of Illyria to its chief bogeyman, Arius of Alexandria (who, being old by then, died soon after), thus flashing a metaphorical finger at the Council’s putative victor, Patriarch Alexander of Alexandria.  

    This is something modern Christians, who’re used to the legends of Constantine being a supposedly devout Christian who united Christianity — which was invented by Eusebius of Caesarea — is quite simply false. It just didn’t happen that way. But it clearly angers some of them to be told it’s not true, and they get all sanctimonious about it.  

    That said … I don’t deny the grants of tolerance and autonomy did a lot for Christianity, all by themselves. Those were pivotal, and they drove subsequent history. There’s no doubt about that.  

  • Being away from the keyboard for a while, I have missed this conversation. But I am glad to see Bob Arnzen has made many excellent points that I agree with, leaving me with little more to say than a few brief remarks.

    Psi: “He [Constantine] remained Pontifex Maximus…performing all required rites.”

    Yes, he retained the traditional imperial nomenclature on his coinage. He moved very cautiously and slowly against paganism, but move against it he did, prohibiting many sacrifices, banning the construction of new temples, and destroying some old ones.

    As for performing “all required rites”, what corroboration is there for this? Constantine himself wrote that he shunned “the abominable blood and hateful odors” of pagan sacrifices. How can one who banned “the madness of sacrifice” (as he called it) be said to have performed “all required rites” of the pagan religion? Sacrifice was the “required rite” par excellence.

    Psi: “I explained that this was a latter rationale shimmed into the early religion (by Paul, and then by others). It had nothing to due with Christianity at the time of its origin”.

    And it is precisely here that your argument fails, for “Christianity at the time of its origin” is Jesus AND his Apostles. While you may conjure up fantasies of some sort of “religion of Jesus” alone, back in the real world, Christianity in its historical manifestation never existed apart from Jesus’ Apostles. He chose them, taught them, and sent them forth to proclaim the Gospel. The is no Christianity without the Apostles. To maintain otherwise is simply pseudo-history.

  • OK, so, one more time:  

    Constantine AND Licinius (this cannot be overstated) granted tolerance, and some autonomy, to Christianity. That’s all THEY did for it. Jointly.  

    The reason THEY gave Christianity tolerance and some autonomy is that the religion already offered them political advantage they hoped to exploit.  

    As for everything else that happened afterward, Constantine had nothing to do with it. Any other emperor in his position might very well have done the same thing (as, in fact, his co-emperor Licinius did).  

    It’s possible to give Constantine too much personal credit for what happened. To a large extent he and his associates and co-emperors were men of their time and environment, forced to use only the tools they had available to them. A lot of what Constantine did failed to work as he’d expected (not just with Christianity but in other areas of governance too). Most of that, also, was not due to his personal failing but the forces at play in the Greco-Roman world.  

    I’m not sure how much clearer I can be, about this, than I have been. Simple answers like, “Constantine changed history forever,” are — as far as I’m concerned — vastly too simplistic to be of any value. Really, every leader of a major regime, like the Roman Empire, is going to do things that change history forever. This is not worthy of note, in and of itself. What matters is how they innovate. Constantine did innovate in some ways, particularly with dividing the empire, but with regard to Christianity, what he did was try to exploit the religion for his own political, social and economic advantage … which is something many emperors may well have done, had they been in his position. In fact, Licinius was literally in his position (as his co-emperor) and they acted jointly to grant Christianity tolerance.  

    That should be your answer. If it’s not adequate, I don’t know what to say, other than you’re looking for a formula that’s just too simple for me to deal with.  

  • Re: “Yes, he retained the traditional imperial nomenclature on his coinage.”  

    So you admit this supposed Christian Emperor — who, as a Christian, was obligated to shun any and every association with pagan deities — perpetuated the pagan Roman state religion. QED.  

    Re: “As for performing “all required rites”, what corroboration is there for this?”  

    He declared the festivals of Sol Invictus every year, among other things. Those were all part of the pagan Roman state religion ritual process. Again, this supposed Christian Emperor — who, as a Christian, was obligated to shun any and every association with pagan deities — continued to actively participate in the pagan Roman state religion. QED.  

    Re: “Sacrifice was the “required rite” par excellence.”  

    It was important, yes, but by no means the ONLY rite. Other ritual events were part of it, too, and this supposed Christian Emperor — who, as a Christian, was obligated to shun any and every association with pagan deities — continued to participate in them. QED.  

    Re: “And it is precisely here that your argument fails, for ‘Christianity at the time of its origin’ is Jesus AND his Apostles.”  

    Uh, no. Not so. At all. There was no “Christianity” at all until Jesus’ career began. His career — not those of his apostles! — is “Christianity at the time of its origin.” Again, I know what Christians’ game is, here, which is to figure out ways to make up stuff, then shim it into their religion so they can pretend it had all been there since Day One, when it wasn’t.  

    Re: “While you may conjure up fantasies of some sort of ‘religion of Jesus’ alone, back in the real world …”  

    It is not a “fantasy” that I have “conjured up” when I point out the obvious truth, which is that there was no “Christianity” at all until Jesus began his career. He, and he alone, is “the origin of Christianity.”  

    Re: “The is no Christianity without the Apostles.”  

    Of course there was! There were Jesus’ teachings, themselves. What part of this is not stunningly obvious? Why are you trying to tell me something you know to be untrue? Your claim is as idiotic as it would be to say the sky is red, not blue.  

    Re: “To maintain otherwise is simply pseudo-history.”  

    Again, YOU are the one hurling pseudohistory around.  

  • I’ve never claimed to be superior.

    However, it is clear that in the areas of religion and natural law, you start with an empty gun and go downhill from there.

    Don’t bring your pointer finger with your thumb in the air to a gunfight.

    I’ve consistently noted you use the term “Christianists”, I have never shied from it. Perhaps I should start cross-posting some of your comments on JoeMyGod so everyone understands where you’re coming from. In that aspect zaagitoon is a bit more forthright.

    Where everyone else runs into a problem is with anti-religious gits who think the First Amendment bans natural law or anything else that might interfere with their fun, or that the Constitution was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

    also responding to:

    “Her particular story,? Probably not. The story as you pretty much outlined? Sure.
    As for Christianists? Glad you admit to the term. It’s about time.”

    “Nope. The gospels don’t interfere with my life at all. Nothing in them about me or anyone I know. Moralizing busybodies with a theocratic bent, on the other hand…”

  • If you were raised Catholic, someone did a lousy job.

    One rarely encounters this level of ignorance about Christianity outside of one-man denominations which meet in a garage or Jack Chick’s website.

    You are, however, correct when you write “I have no idea what this is about.”.

    If you believe Christians have a pseudo-history, don’t join them. Nothing in your animosity against religion entitles you to force others to adopt your pseudo-analysis. So far I’ve counted over a half dozen errors in your version of “history”, and you just keep adding to the pile.

    If you don’t abide by sola scriptura, then the fact that the Gospels are not a thorough history, or an instruction manual, but a theological outline would not have gotten your “panties in a wad”.

    Yes, you’re wrong about Constantine. Get over it.

    Yes, you do have an axe to grind as your use of “Christianists” demonstrates. I don’t expect you to “crumple”, I expect you to get louder. That’s your MO.

    No, I was not factually incorrect about what Origen considered the New Testament (Noll, Mark A. (1997), “Turning Points”, Baker Academic. pp 36–37). The question was whether the New Testament Canon was available to Constantine. It was.

  • The first and second Councils of Nicea preceded by centuries the fracturing of Western Christianity into Catholic and Protestant camps.

    The break between Orthodoxy and Catholicism took place hundreds of years later, and in stages rather than an “event”.

    The break between mainline Christianity, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Assyrians took place in between Nicea and the later Western schism, in the 5th century.

    Constantine deferred to the decision of the bishops. The bishops first pronounced Arius’ teachings to be anathema, formulating a creed as a statement of correct doctrine. When Arius and two followers refused to agree, the bishops excommunicated them from the Church. Respecting the clerical decision, and for his own reasons, Constantine also pronounced civil judgement, banishing Arius into exile who, being old by then, died soon thereafter.

  • Re: “The first and second Councils of Nicea preceded by centuries the fracturing of Western Christianity into Catholic and Protestant camps.”  

    Yes, but the wing of Christianity which produced (later) the Catholic Church, and then the Protestant sects, was established at Nicaea.  

    Re: “The break between mainline Christianity, Oriental Orthodoxy, and the Assyrians took place in between Nicea and the later Western schism, in the 5th century.”  

    Yes, but the wing of Christianity which became (later) the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, was established at Nicaea. It was the same wing which would, in the 16th century, lead to the creation of Protestant sects.  

    I have no idea why you’re forcing me to repeat myself, but you are. Is there any reason for that? Just wondering.  

    Re: “Constantine deferred to the decision of the bishops.”  

    True, but that’s only because there was no longer any way for him to get what he’d originally wanted … which was for all the squabbling princes of the Church to settle their differences, form one single “Christianity,” then line up behind him.  

    (Little did he know how juvenile and petty the Church’s princes were. Oh well.)  

    Re: “The bishops first pronounced Arius’ teachings to be anathema, formulating a creed as a statement of correct doctrine.”  

    Correct. Rather than settle their differences at the Council, the Council decided to set those differences in concrete; it ejected, nominally, the Arians (and also the Gnostics) from their Church.  

    I say they did this “nominally,” because despite the Council’s denunciations of them, both the Arian church and the various Gnostic sects continued to exist — much to the chagrin of the architects of the Council’s decision. None of them ever got over it. One of them, Athanasius, spent the rest of his career being harassed by Arians (after he’d succeeded his mentor as Patriarch of Alexandria, Christians who sympathized with Arians drove him from the city a number of times. That’s how real the Arian church remained, even after Nicaea ostensibly “banned” it.)  

    Re: “Respecting the clerical decision, and for his own reasons, Constantine also pronounced civil judgement, banishing Arius into exile who, being old by then, died soon thereafter.”  

    And a few months later, he allowed the supposedly-exiled Arius to take refuge in his own home province of Illyria. As I explained earlier, the Emperor was flashing a metaphorical finger at the obstinate, and divisive, Patriarch Alexander (who’d been egged on by his even-more-militant-and-sanctimonious protege, Athanasius).  

    See how that worked? It’s not hard to figure out.  

  • Re: “If you were raised Catholic, someone did a lousy job.”  

    Ah. So you’re saying I never was “a ‘Real’ Catholic.” Is that it? Woops! You just stumbled into the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.  

    Re: “You are, however, correct when you write “I have no idea what this is about.”.  

    Yes, that’s true. Because YOU have no clue what you’re talking about.  

    Re: “If you believe Christians have a pseudo-history, don’t join them.”  

    I don’t merely “believe” they’re pseudohistorians: They actually are pseudohistorians.  

    Re: “Nothing in your animosity against religion …”  

    Correcting the anti-factual statements of religious believers does not constitute “animosity against religion.”  

    Re: “So far I’ve counted over a half dozen errors in your version of ‘history’, and you just keep adding to the pile.”  

    The only historical errors in our discussion have come from YOU. Yes, you … a liar for Jesus.  

    Re: “Yes, you’re wrong about Constantine. Get over it.”  

    No, I’m not. You are. Why do you lie for your Jesus?  

    Re: “Yes, you do have an axe to grind as your use of ‘Christianists’ demonstrates.”  

    Boo hoo hoo, poor sniveling, whiney you! Oh the terrible oppression I’ve weighed you down with, by using a single little word — “Christianist” — that you dislike. Boo freaking hoo, little Christian martyr.  

    To be clear, “Christianist” is a valid word that applies to certain people. That you disapprove of it is not my problem. It’s yours, and yours alone.  

    Re: “No, I was not factually incorrect about what Origen considered the New Testament …”  

    Yes you were. Origen cited the Gospel of Peter as authoritative in his Commentary on Matthew (specifically in his comments on Mt 10:17). He cites Barnabas as “a Catholic epistle” in Contra Celsum (vol I) as well.  

    I have no idea why you, or Noll, says otherwise … but I don’t have to account for your or his errors. I only need point out what the truth is. Either he, or you, are both mature and courageous enough to admit your errors or you’re not. To date you have never demonstrated either. You remain the whiney crybaby Christian martyr that I’ve come to expect all Christianists to act like (ooooooh, there’s that really bad word again … boo hoo hoo, little baby, go cry about it to someone who cares about your persecution complex).  

  • You realize, I hope, you’re quoting the epistle to the Hebrews … a New Testament document … as proof of what the Old Testament says.  

  • Re: “Uh, no, YOU are the one hurling pseudo-history around.”  

    Coming as it does from a sanctmonious pseudohistorian … I’ll take that as a compliment! Thank you.  

  • What a simplistic view you have of the life.

    Constantine was wise enough to know that it would not be a simple matter to bring the Empire to Christianity. He moved very cautiously and slowly at first; over time greater and greater progress could be made. That is why he succeeded, following an incremental but inexorable path that culminated with Theodosius. Rome was not built in a day; neither was the Christian Roman Empire.

    That Constantine permitted the pagan establishment to trundle on for a time (under his ultimate overseership of all things as emperor) was something he in no way favored (as his own words testify), but was tactically necessary to tolerate at first. When he felt the time was right, then gradually the temples started coming down, and sacrifices were prohibited. It proved to be the right path. “Wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matthew 11:19)

    As for sacrifice, I must disagree with you. Although there were many rites, sacrifice was the life’s blood (pun intended) of Classical Greek and Roman religion. That is why its prohibition was so important to Christian Emperors, and why Julian the Apostate was so keen to see it restored.

    You really should try familiarizing yourself with the New Testament sometime. Jesus called his Apostles at the BEGINNING of his ministry. They were present with him and were taught by him throughout his ministry. They were present with him and were taught by him after his resurrection. At no stage was there any Christianity without the Apostles. They guided and formed the early church. They wrote the writings we now call the New Testament. We (and that includes YOU) have no knowledge of Jesus Christ apart from the Apostles.

    It is patently obvious that there would be no Christianity today -or at the time of Constantine – were it not for the Apostles.

    So let me ask you, how did you learn about Jesus Christ? Where did you learn of his teachings? Where did you learn of his life, death, and resurrection? From the witness and writings of the Apostles.

  • Re: “Constantine was wise enough to know that it would not be a simple matter to bring the Empire to Christianity.”  

    What does that have to do with Christianity being an exclusive religion? One cannot follow or propagate another faith while also being a Christian. What happened to the First Commandment? Did he not know of it?  

    Re: “That Constantine permitted the pagan establishment to trundle on for a time … but was tactically necessary to tolerate at first.”  

    So he placed his own personal expediency above the tenets of Christianity, which require him to serve one God and one God only, to the exclusion of any and all others. If so, how did he differ, in any regard, from (say) the traditores who’d been denounced by Majorinus, bishop of Carthage, and his successor, Donatus? Go ahead. Tell me all about it. Please.  

    Re: “You really should try familiarizing yourself with the New Testament sometime.”  

    I can quote parts of it from memory in the original Greek. One of those portions is the opening of the gospel of John, the so-called “Hymn to the Logos.” As such, I could discuss — at length — how this passage reflects Hellenic thought (particularly Neoplatonism) and what it meant at the time it was written, as well as how λογος was understood by near-contemporaries, e.g. Philo of Alexandria.  

    So yeah, go ahead and tell me what I don’t know about the NT. Yeah, you who knows so much more about it than an insolent, cynical, godless agnostic heathen who only happens to know κοινη Greek and can read NT books in their oldest available forms. Yeah, your knowledge of it quite obviously TOWERS far above mine.  

    Or, you can grow the heck up already and stop with your repeated whining that I know more about this subject than you.  

    Re: “Jesus called his Apostles at the BEGINNING of his ministry.”  

    Nevertheless, Christianity started with him. It was, at first, HIS teachings. Not theirs. The apostles never (to my knowledge) corrected him or told him something he should teach that he hadn’t thought of first. While he was alive, Christianity was Jesus and vice versa. Period.  

    Re: “At no stage was there any Christianity without the Apostles.”  

    To repeat: While Jesus was alive, he was Christianity, and Christianity was Jesus. I can’t imagine why this isn’t clear to you, but I guess it’s not.  

    Re: “It is patently obvious that there would be no Christianity today -or at the time of Constantine – were it not for the Apostles.” &nsbp;

    And there’d have been no apostles if not for Jesus. Am I wrong about that? Are you seriously trying to tell me the apostles would have established Christianity anyway, had Jesus not come to earth at all?  

    Re: “So let me ask you, how did you learn about Jesus Christ? … From the witness and writings of the Apostles.”  

    Uh, no. As far as we know, the apostles never left anything in writing. One might say Paul (a few of whose writings we do have) was an apostle, but in truth, he never knew Jesus while he was alive and was not an apostle in the way the other 12 were (or 13 if one includes Matthias).  

    So no, I didn’t get anything about Jesus from the apostles.  

  • As a mythist, Christianity borrowed a lot from Mythic themes that were poplar during ancient times. So part of the appeal was a combination of that, the ethical frame work that developed around the Christ concept.

  • Yes, I see how that worked.

    You did a dump of erroneous comments, and then attempted to amend them in various ways to make some sense out of them.

    I particularly enjoyed “the Emperor was flashing a metaphorical finger at the obstinate, and divisive, Patriarch Alexander (who’d been egged on by his even-more-militant-and-sanctimonious protege, Athanasius)” which reads like it came from a comic book.

    It certainly is not the work of a historian.

    Well, I am sure there is an area you know – perhaps the American Civil War? The War of the Roses?

  • No, I am saying if you were raised Catholic it left no discernable trace.

    “You remain the whiney crybaby Christian martyr that I’ve come to expect all Christianists to act like (ooooooh, there’s that really bad word again … boo hoo hoo, little baby, go cry about it to someone who cares about your persecution complex).” fairly summarizes your entire approach

    Noll is actually a professional historian of Church history, a professor in fact.

    Yes, not only was there some minor slack in the canon of the New Testament, if you compare that of the Oriental Orthodox, the Assyrian Church, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and various Protestant denominations today, there is still some disagreement. But it is minor.

    Quibbles do not make your case.

  • Perhaps you might define what you mean by “reliable eyewitness testimonies”. Considering how many copies we are away from other ancient original documents, one could say that the works of Thucydides & Xenophon are imagined, & Julius Caesar never set foot in Gaul. However, let’s make the assumption the Bible got it right.

    Jesus was raised in a household that was not quite as poor as some would make out. Joseph is described as a “τέκτων”, as noted in the
    earliest manuscripts. That is Joseph was a skilled worker, builder, who could work in wood, & most likely stone, given the meleke limestone in Israel. With Herod building his capital city Sepphoris, 6 miles from Nazareth, Joseph, & later Jesus would have very steady work. In addition, being a “τέκτων”, a carpenter & mason would have to know how to plan or execute building construction. As such, Jesus may not have been able to have a formal penmanship course, it’s most likely he could read, especially as noted, he was handed the scroll, along with being exposed to Greek & Latin conversations in Sepphoris .

    Formal writing was left for scribes.

    Since my time is also valuable, I’ll pick up questions 2 & 3 tomorrow.

    God Bless.

  • Re: “No, I am saying if you were raised Catholic it left no discernable trace.”  

    What do I care what you think about me and my experiences? Obviously you only have contempt for me and of course you want to deny I might ever have been Catholic. So, what makes you think I’m supposed to be impressed by your bald assertion?  

    Re: “Noll is actually a professional historian of Church history, a professor in fact.”  

    He remains factually wrong. It’s not my fault, and it’s easy to check. You and he can verify Origen’s writings on the subject. Go ahead. I’ve told you where to look.  

    And yes, even professional historians can make mistakes. The question is, how do they deal with refutations? I’d expect a professional historian would handle correction much better than you have.  

    Re: “Yes, not only was there some minor slack in the canon of the New Testament …”  

    Irrelevant to the point under discussion, which was your claim that Origen had accepted the current prevailing 27-book NT as “canon.” I explained to you — and provided citations — that this is not true. Either you’re mature and courageous enough to admit you (and Noll) was wrong, or you’re not.  

  • Re: “It certainly is not the work of a historian.”  

    I never said I was a “historian.” I said I have a degree in the subject. Those are two different things.  

    Re: “I particularly enjoyed … which reads like it came from a comic book.”  

    Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed my attempt at entertainment.  

    Re: “Well, I am sure there is an area you know – perhaps the American Civil War? The War of the Roses?”  

    My degree is in medieval history, which necessarily requires study of the ancient world, not to mention a thorough grounding in ecclesiastical history (i.e. the history of Christianity). As such, I know some ancient languages (Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and a little Coptic) in addition to some medieval languages. I do know about the Wars of the Roses, which came at the end of the period, but am not a scholar of the Civil War. I did have to take a university course in US history in order to get my degree but this hardly makes me any kind of expert in the Civil War.  

    I have no idea what the point of this is, however.  

  • So, for Constantine to have been a “real Christian” according to your interpretation, he should, from day one, have closed down the pagan temples, banned all rites, sacrifices, and festivals, disbanded the priestly colleges, etc.? Because that is the alternative to what he actually did, moving slowly but inexorably to extirpate paganism, while in the meantime devoting himself to the Christian God by keeping himself free from the taint of pagan sacrifice, tirelessly promoting Christianity, and preparing himself for Baptism. Oh yeah, your plan would have worked out just fine (not)! Though it does have a certain childlike innocence about it that is almost endearing.

    “I didn’t get anything about Jesus from the apostles”, he said, while holding in his hands the writings of the Apostles that told the world about Jesus. Priceless.

  • Re: “So, for Constantine to have been a “real Christian” according to your interpretation, he should, from day one, have closed down the pagan temples, banned all rites, sacrifices, and festivals, disbanded the priestly colleges, etc.?”  

    Not necessarily. He could have dropped the title of Pontifex Maximus and declined to promulgate and fund the religion. That’s the least he ought to have done as a Christian who supposedly followed the First Commandment.  

    Re: “Because that is the alternative to what he actually did …”  

    No, the alternative is that the Roman state religion could endure for a while, just not in his name as a Christian who supposedly followed the First Commandment.  

    Re: “Oh yeah, your plan would have worked out just fine (not)!”  

    You have no way to know if it wouldn’t have “worked out” if Constantine had simply declined to involve himself in the pagan Roman state religion.  

    Re: “‘I didn’t get anything about Jesus from the apostles’, he said, while holding in his hands the writings of the Apostles that told the world about Jesus.”  

    What part of “Christianity’s source is Jesus the Christ” do you not comprehend? Why are you denying that reality. Oh wait, I get it! You’re not a “Christian,” you’re an “Apostlian!” Yeah yeah, that’s it!  

    In your zeal to claim I’m wrong, you’ve gone completely off the rails. As I’ve noted previously, that’s precisely the kind of infantile stunt I’ve come to expect of Christianists. You people are consistent, and never disappoint. You are your own demonstration of your catastrophic lunacy and irrationality.  

    Oh, I forgot. You’re not a “Christian,” you’re an “Apostlian.” I guess that makes you an “Apostlianist.” Or something. I suppose.  

  • “one could say that the works of Thucydides & Xenophon are imagined, & Julius Caesar never set foot in Gaul”

    Your analogy begs the question as to why would you think the Gospels were written as historical narratives?

    Xenophon and Caesar wrote first hand accounts and Thucydides deliberately avoids invoking supernatural or religious elements.

    Nothing about the Gospels indicates it was written with an eye towards a recollection of events. It is loaded with miracles, parables, religious teachings, directives. It was written and edited to inculcate religious belief, not impart factual biographical history.

  • Also following the growth of Empire helped a great deal. From the Roman’s to Byzantines to Europeans, Christianity followed with conquest, enslavement and genocide.

  • Missed the point, as usual.

    The point was, even those recognized historical figures’ & original writings, have long since disappeared. We depend on copies of copies, etc., to have some idea these people ever existed, & wrote what we now read.

    Looking at the New Testament, there are existing manuscripts within 150 years of Jesus’s life. That’s a lot closer to when Jesus lived, then the other historical mentioned figures .

    If you read John’s gospel, you will note that the pool of the 5 porticos was standing when John was writting. It was destroyed in 70 AD. Its existence was verified about 10 years by archaeologists.

    A strong hint that the gospels were written much closer to the time of Jesus, then many would credit.

  • Arguing about whether Constantine was a “real” Christian or not is a waste of energy. It really doesn’t matter at this point. He obviously knew how to manage? or exploit? people and used whatever tools he felt would work best in the situation.

    Christian leaders have been using the same tools to manipulate (control) people to this day.

  • Want to save some book money? Read the following instead:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • Except for the fact that those people wrote first hand narratives. People discussing their own experiences. The authorship has never been in question.

    Jesus in the Gospels is always a second hand account to begin with whose authorship was more of an assumption and declaration. Moreover, none of your examples have religious belief interfering with objective study of their origins.

    “That’s a lot closer to when Jesus lived, then the other historical mentioned figures .”

    Except for the miracles, deliberate mythical references, parables, parts dealing with religious/moral/ethical lessons.

    None of the Gospels were written as a historical narrative as it was known even back then. Historical writing had been around for centuries prior to Jesus and was well recognized by the Grecco-Roman culture which dominated 1st CE Judea. The Gospels were written for rhetorical purposes. To describe a religious faith and its beliefs. Facts were secondary to its narrative to begin with.

    You are more willing to handwave or makes excuses for the lack of evidence and support because of your religious belief. It undermines your credibility and objectivity.

    ” Its existence was verified about 10 years by archaeologists.”

    Hence the reason why “Biblical Archaeology” is largely regarded as a joke. Confirmation bias abounds in such conclusions. Its alot like saying Spider-Man comic books are true because they reference areas of New York City we know exist.

  • Why the growth of Christianity? : another view free of charge:

    Christian economics 101:

    The Baptizer drew crowds and charged for the “dunking”.

    The historical Jesus saw a good thing and continued dunking and preaching the good word but added “healing”/miracles as an added charge to include free room and board. Sure was better than being a poor peasant but he got a bit too zealous and they nailed him to a tree. But still no greed there. (or were all the healing and miracles invented by the M, M, L and J? Probably based on rigorous historic testing).

    Paul picked up the money scent on the road to Damascus. He added some letters and a prophecy of the imminent second coming for a fee for salvation and “Gentilized” the good word to the “big buck” world. i.e. Paul was the first media evangelist!!! And he and the other Apostles forgot to pay their Roman taxes and the legendary actions by the Romans made them martyrs for future greed. Paul was guilty of minor greed?

    Along comes Constantine. He saw the growing rich Christian community and recognized a new tax base so he set them “free”. Major greed on his part!!

    The Holy Roman “Empirers”/Popes/Kings/Queens et. al. continued the money grab selling access to JC and heaven resulting in some of today’s richest organizations on the globe i.e. the Christian churches (including the Mormon Church) and related aristocracies. Obvious greed!!!

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    “Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God’s hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus’ failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing.”

  • ” These are upper-middle-class kids from North Carolina who live in a Christian culture where Christianity has the power and they feel persecuted. It’s interesting that someone doesn’t actually have to be persecuted to feel persecuted. That certainly was the case in early Christianity.”

    THIS……just THIS

  • Been there done that…very sloppy attempt at apologetics….lot of cherry picking and ignoring evidence.

  • Nah. Paul wrote 7 of the 14 epistles attributed to him (at least that is the scholarly consensus).

    The authors of the gospels remain anonymous.

    I agree with the spirit of your comment however in that evangelicals seem to reply more on Paul’s theology than Jesus’ alleged teachings.

  • Hp0, what exactly are you trying to say by illustrating Ehrman’s increasingly liberal academic history? That someone becoming more liberal makes him wrong?

  • Your experiences should inform your behavior. Contempt for you is not on the table, it’s your positions that are on the table.

    Noll is an expert, you are not.

    You are factually wrong, but that comes about because you are focused on debunking Christianity rather than getting your facts straight.

    Reread what I wrote and then your “Origen had accepted the current prevailing 27-book NT as ‘canon.’“

    I wrote “And by the early 200s, Origen was using essentially the same books as in the Catholic New Testament canon.”

    “Essentially”, not “the current prevailing 27-book NT”. Your lack of precision kills you.

    You’re bogged down in indefensible quibbles because kicking Constantine in the kneecaps, apparently an opinion you learned on the lap of some self-appointed critic disguised as a “professor” who taught you, is your goal, not considering the matter objectively.

    It is matter of record that Constantine had 50 Bibles assembled. The fact this apocryphal gospel is present, or that canonical epistle is absent, in the main is irrelevant.

  • One of the most bigoted anti-Catholics I ever encountered earned his Ph.D. in ancient history.

    History is NOT the tool for considering religion, anymore than architecture or biology is.

    Unfortunately for those of us familiar with the period being discussed and the topic, your facts are not all in order and your fervor for a position overwhelms the facts you do assemble.

    In short, you’re armed with an opinion.

    Leave it at that and all is well.

  • Europeans followed with conquest, enslavement, and genocide. Most of those Europeans were nominal Christians.

  • Well, at least you were able to distinguish between a history and a religious text.

    And, given your posts, you should be intimately familiar with confirmation bias.

  • Which “gospels” specifically, or are you using the term generically for “Judeao-Christian morality” and/or natural law?

    You might ask Ben. He’s the anti-Christianist.

  • Dishonest apologetic response, as expected

    “Nominal Christians” being Christian enough to count them when you want to pretend vast numbers of those in the faith allegedly agree with you, but not Christian enough to take blame for horrible deeds done in the name of the faith. Christians like yourself love to

    They were Christian enough to bring churches and missionaries to spread the word and reinforce colonial/imperial rule as they conquered various peoples.

    Do you need another kilt to go with those “No True Scotsmen”?

  • Re: “One of the most bigoted anti-Catholics I ever encountered earned his Ph.D. in ancient history.”  

    What has that got to do with me?  

    Re: “History is NOT the tool for considering religion, anymore than architecture or biology is.”  

    Certainly it is! Especially when religious believers construe their metaphysical beliefs as a historiographic credential.  

    Re: “Unfortunately for those of us familiar with the period being discussed and the topic, your facts are not all in order …”  

    That’s not true. You haven’t refuted a single fact I’ve presented. For instance, that Origen considered the epistle of Barnabas — long dismissed as “apocryphal” — as authoritative, after you told me his own canon was the 27 accepted books of the New Testament. In other words … you said something that wasn’t true.  

    But you refuse to admit it, and you also refuse to show I’m wrong. Instead, you just snivel and whine that that my “facts are not all in order.” Waaaah wah waah!  

    Re: “In short, you’re armed with an opinion.”  

    No, I’m armed with “fact.” Such as the “fact” that, despite your claim that Origen’s canon was the 27 currently-accepted NT books, he viewed Barnabas as authoritative. That is a fact. That you can’t handle being corrected, only further demonstrates your lack of maturity and fortitude.  

    Re: “Leave it at that and all is well.”  

    Enjoy your pseudohistory!  

  • “…if Constantine had simply declined to involve himself in the pagan Roman state religion.”

    Repudiating, mocking, and banning the pagan Roman sacrificial system was a sufficiently powerful statement of his declination to be in any meaningful way involved in the system. Emendment of official nomenclature would, in time, catch up (as it did).

    Your illusory dichotomy between “Christian” and “Apostolic” does not exist here in the real world outside of your imagination.

    ” infantile…catastrophic lunacy…irrationality… Christian…Apostlian…Apostlianist…”

    Try switching to decaf, please. That often helps.

  • Re: “Noll is an expert, you are not.”  

    Nevertheless, he is factually wrong. That’s not my fault, it’s his. And if you’re not mature or courageous enough to admit your own error, that’s also on you. Not me. I’ve borne the burden of showing otherwise, having cited the precise document in which Origen referred to the epistle of Barnabas as authoritative. There’s no longer any argument on this point: You are, quite simply, dead wrong. I really don’t give a you-know-what about Noll. I have no idea who he is. For all I know he’s just some name you invented to impress me or something.  

    I don’t need to be impressed by the names of historians, however. I know what Origen wrote, myself, and don’t need to take anyone’s word for it. That’s YOUR problem. YOU have never read Origen. YOU can only take someone else’s word for what he said. YOU stumbled headlong into someone else’s error, but YOU are too infantile and cowardly just to admit it. YOU are ignorant. Period.  

    Re: “It is matter of record that Constantine had 50 Bibles assembled.”  

    According to Eusebius. But even if it happened, that doesn’t tell us anything about what Constantine himself did or didn’t believe.  

  • Prescinding for a moment from the fact you’re stating that a professor who wrote the book is factually wrong, which transcends chutzpah, here a little something anyone can verify simply by reading the exchange.

    I did NOT claim “that Origen’s canon was the 27 currently-accepted NT books”. I did not claim it when I wrote what I did write, and THEN I actually quoted what I wrote.

    In return I again get: “That’s not true. You haven’t refuted a single fact I’ve presented. For instance, that Origen considered the epistle of Barnabas — long dismissed as ‘apocryphal’ — as authoritative, after you told me his own canon was the 27 accepted books of the New Testament. In other words … you said something that wasn’t true.”

    Are you daft?

    If this is the extent of your reading comprehension, the source of your problems in accurately assessing Constantine is obvious.

  • No, the way you phrased it being Christian was the cause of the behavior.

    Of the behaviors you describe, bringing missionaries seems to be the one caused by their religion.

    They were doing the other behaviors long before Christianity arrived.

  • Ben in Oakland: Personally, I think her story is far more likely than the gospels. But then, I don’t believe in Magic, miracles, god having a son, and all the rest of it,.

    Bob Arnzen: Of course you do. The gospels seem to interfere with your lifestyle. You may not know anything about religion, but you sure know what could spoil your fun.

    TheMountainHumanist: What lifestyle do you presume the gospels interfere with for Ben?

    Matthew 5:18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

    which incorporates the Jewish moral law into the Gospels.

    The Law:

    Leviticus 20:13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

    I can see why he might find that difficult to accept. I am sure you can as well.

  • Certainly. Those nice Germanic tribes, Celts, Danes, Picts and what not were all berry-picking flower children until those nasty old missionaries showed up with the Beatitudes.

    Have you ever actually read a history book?

  • So you are saying we should all be subject to OT law?

    If so, do you think the biblical principles that allow the capturing, owning and beating of slaves should also be instituted by modern people?

    Are you further saying that….if Ben or anyone else has sex with a man they should be executed?

  • Right…but I have lived in NC for 15 years — so far no upper middle class kids have been martyred.

  • You apparently read what you want to read. Christianity spread through the machinery of empire. As the official state sponsored faith of various powers in their conquest and colonization of various places. Mostly as a way to reinforce the power and influence of the conquering nations

    Whether that is due to the ideas within the religion or something else was not what I discussed.

    “bringing missionaries seems to be the one caused by their religion.”

    That was not even a coherent thought. Several religions spread through missionary work and on the backs of empires. I can think of at least two others which did the same.

    My point is that it is myth that the spread of Christianity had to do with ideas within its theology. Like other faiths, Christianity spread “by the sword” far and wide.

  • This has been most entertaining. Psico(p) is always good for a little popcorn-munching.

    Origen handily dismissed any question about the canonicity of the Gospel of Peter or any other gospel when he wrote:

    Many have taken in hand ‘ to write, but only four Gospels are recognized. From these the doctrines concerning the person of our Lord and Savior are to be derived. I know a certain gospel which is called ‘The Gospel according to Thomas’ and a ‘Gospel according to Matthias’, and many others have we read – lest we should in any way be considered ignorant because of those who imagine that they posses some knowledge if they are acquainted with these. Nevertheless, among all these we have approved solely what the Church has recognized, which is that only the four Gospels should be accepted. — Origen, Homily on Luke 1:1

    As for Barnabas, Origen cited a passage of that epistle in “Contra Celsum” as a possible source of Celsus’ fallacious claim that the apostles were wicked men. Which says nothing whatsoever about its canonicity, of course.

    While Origen spoke of neither of the works in question above as divinely inspired, he DID seem to personally believe in the inspiration of the Shepherd of Hermas (which is probably what has Psico(p) confused), but that is not the same as regarding it as canonical. Only writings that bore some connection to an apostle could be canonical and Hermas, of course, came too late.

  • Part II Matthew the Recorder

    Based on historical maps of Capernaum, it resided on one of the two major north-south roads in the Levant. As such it would be a major
    point for collecting tolls & taxes, which “greased” the Roman Empire. From archives of other ancient empires, stretching back 4000 years, record keeping of money was of prime interest to the state.

    As a tax collector, Matthew would be responsible for who went through & lived in Capernaum. And considering the amount of records which have survived, significant portions were dedicated to taxes & financial transactions.

    Hence Matthew would be required to have a high degree of literacy. In addition, the ancients also developed form of shorthand for speeches or students taking notes from the teachers. That is how we have speeches of major ancient figures such as Plato, Pericles Cicero, etc. In the Greek & Roman world, one of the qualifications of a secretary, “tachygrphos”,
    was this shorthand. Hence Matthew would be a prime candidate to record the words of Jesus.

    The Bishop Papius (60-130 AD, who was a pupil of John, notes that Matthew wrote his gospel in the Hebrew language, which could mean Hebrew or Aramaic, as they are almost the same.

  • Part III The Simon-Zebedee Fish Inc.

    There is noted in the Bible, that Peter & Zebedee formed a partnership,which hired workers. Hence they would not have been on the lower strata of society. This is noted in Mk 1:20, Lk 5:10.
    In addition, Peter had access to the high priest’s courtyard through another disciple (Jn 18:15), say John.

    Why John? Because John gives away a good knowledge of Jerusalem, as noted in his description of the Pool of the 5 Porticos ( Jn 5:2). If this is
    the case, Zebedee, James or John had friends in high places.

    In addition, when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, that included the above mentioned Pool, in the present tense. According to the
    Muratorian fragment, dated about 170 AD, John’s Gospel was the last to be written. If John’s was the last written, then the other gospels were basically written, prior to 70 AD.

  • Re: “I did NOT claim ‘that Origen’s canon was the 27 currently-accepted NT books”'”  

    Yes, you did.

    Re: “Are you daft?”  

    No, I’m not. But you are. You’ve gone off the rails in your zeal to gripe and whine and snivel about what I said about Constantine — who absolutely was not a Christian in any meaningful sense. You’ve gone to ridiculous lengths to try to rationalize away his career — which was far from the Sermons on the Mount and Plain as one could possibly get.

    Look. I get it. Really. I do! I contradicted long-standing Christian legend about Constantine. You don’t like it. You want me to change my mind. Well, I refuse. The facts are on MY side, not yours. All you have are those legends, which largely started with Eusebius, a grifter bishop who didn’t even get along well with his own fellow Christians and who danced around the edges of orthodoxy in his own day. Along the way, you’ve carried on about Origen and Paul and the Apostles … and preposterously you’ve even posited that the Sermons on the Mount and Plain aren’t representative of Christianity and that Christians aren’t obliged to follow them.  

    You’re a joke — but what makes that joke even funnier is that you aren’t even aware what a freaking joke you are.  

    Just keep twisting Jesus’ teachings around and rationalizing not following them. Please, by all means, continue! I couldn’t possibly do a better job of demonstrating what a festering cesspool of revisionism and sophistry Christian theology and philosophy is. You’re making my case for me, with your every word!  

    You have no idea how much I appreciate this exchange. By all means, please, keep responding, and keep proving just how much further off the rails you’re willing to go in order to cling to your laughable and asinine metaphysics and pseudohistory.  

  • Re: “Repudiating, mocking, and banning the pagan Roman sacrificial system was a sufficiently powerful statement …”  

    Not participating in it was a requirement of him as a Christian. Hello, the First Commandment? Have you forgotten that?  

  • John, in his gospel, gives away his knowledge of Jerusalem,
    as noted in his description of the Pool of the 5 Porticos ( Jn 5:2), as still
    standing. There is no mention of it’s destruction by the Romans in 70 AD.

    According to the Muratorian fragment, dated about 170 AD,
    John’s Gospel was the last to be written. If John’s was the last written, then the other gospels were basically written, prior to 70 AD (Bishop J.A.T. Robinson). The earliest manuscript portion found to date is P52, part of a codex that contained John’s gospel, dated about 125 AD

    Fr. Jean
    Carmignac, the late Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, used his experience in
    translating Greek Mark into Hebrew Mark. The result was a smooth rendered Hebrew gospel. That outcome would have been very unlikely if the original was in Greek. He did the same for Matthew & Luke & found that Hebrew was the original for Matthew & large portions of Luke.

    Fr. C., using linguistics, estimates that the gospels of Matthew, Mark & Luke were completed about 42 AD, 50 AD & ~52 AD.

    That would put it in the probability of eyewitnesses or conversations with those who were eyewitnesses.

  • No, he rejected and did not participate in pagan sacrifices. This is clear from the evidence of his own words. Hello, earth to Psi, have you forgotten that? But I guess you know what he was doing better than Constantine himself! LOL.

  • Beyond Ehrman and no book money required:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2018: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years) (

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

  • I’m certainly no expert in this.

    But it is worthwhile to note that near eye-witness is another word for hearsay. And at the gospel accounts conflict with each other. No gospel was written by someone who saw th empty tomb. The gospels themselves disagree as to the number of people there and what happened. Other people onthese pages are arguing that the Dead Sea scrolls and the gospels do not necessarily support each other.

    A big question is if the choirs of angels and the annunciation were real, why are they not mentioned in each gospel? How would anyone but Mary and Joseph be witnesses to it? How on earth could people forget the choirs of angels attendant at his birth?

    It is quite possible that the original gospels were written in Hebrew, or that Theoriginal synoptic gospel was

  • As we do physical exercise, certain muscles strengthen over time. As we pray and read the bible, etc., our Spiritual “muscles” also grow over time,

    As we practice love for God and man, the Holy Ghost becomes our continual “Comforter”, bringing peace, love, and joy, AND, prepares us, as we repent of sins, by making us snow-white (cleansed) of those sins.

    This “cleansing” prepares us for the final day of judgment, and God welcomes us in to live with HIM forever. (no unclean thing can enter the presence of GOD).

    Christianity grows and endures because as men practice holiness, the Holy Spirit confirms the divinity of Christ, and we desire to be like HIM and live with HIM in the next life.

    Satan deceives and rages in men’s hearts to get them to DISBELIEVE the above and destroy each other. CHRIST is love and (Eternal) life, Satan is hatred, and HELL. All quite simple. Shalom

  • How is it bigotry? Is anyone who disagrees with Christianity’s claim an automatic bigot? Where is the evidence of intention to harm all Christians? What laws is he proposing against Christianity?

  • That “Christianity spread through the machinery of the empire” is the matter being debated.

    You don’t get to conclude that debate by declaring you’re correct.

    Yes, “bringing missionaries seems to be the one caused by their religion” was a coherent thought. In fact it is an entire freestanding thought.

    Again, stating that “it is myth that the spread of Christianity had to do with ideas within its theology” is your goal, which you cannot achieve simply by declaring it to be true.

  • Your first paragraph is simply unsupported by history. Each of the groups I mentioned were rapine, bloodthirsty, war-like, and polytheistic pagans well before what you call “the RCC” showed up.

    The second paragraph is also fiction.

    Where did you last attend “a seminar on this very issue”? With whom? Is any of this on-line?

  • No, I was answering the question “What lifestyle do you presume the gospels interfere with for Ben?”

    I did that in a complete and orderly way.

    Did I leave something out you actually inquired about, or is this another of your ill-founded fishing expeditions?

    For example, I don’t believe Ben is engaged in capturing, owning, and/or beating slaves, so I can’t imagine that would be part of Ben’s lifestyle that would be interfered with in any case.

    Would it interfere with yours?

  • Well, that was amazing:

    Me: “I did NOT claim ‘that Origen’s canon was the 27 currently-accepted NT books”’

    You: “Yes, you did.”

    Actually I wrote: “And by the early 200s, Origen was using essentially the same books as in the Catholic New Testament canon.”

    “Essentially” was placed in the sentence on purpose. It was not the same books, it was essentially the same books. The differences are minor but they are there.

    If you appreciate this exchange, you must be a masochist.

  • I suppose no one ever bothered to tell you that the Catholic Church teaches that salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, and his one sacrifice for all men.

    Dogmatics deals with beliefs, not with doing.

    I usually try to get familiar with something before attacking or endorsing it.

  • Its not a dichotomy here. Expansion by empire does not preclude expansion by conversion and less destructive motives. But empire was far more effective than other methods. Christianity would not have taken root in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Americas, if not for it.

    I will concede Christianity in East Asia (except the Philippines) was pretty much entirely by missionary work not associated with conquest. Which also explains why it was more or less a tiny minority over there with the exception of the Koreas.

    ” which you cannot achieve simply by declaring it to be true”

    Good thing I am not doing that. I can bring up the example of how Christianity spread in areas of European conquest, the role of government established churches in those countries in support of empire. Plus there is the role a government established religion had in colonies as a way to enforce discrimination. Civil service or work with the colonial government sometimes depended on being a member of the established church in many European colonies in the 19th to early 20th Century.

  • Re: “If you appreciate this exchange, you must be a masochist.”  

    I do. I enjoy, for example, the use of weasel words to squirm out from under the things you say. Christianists like yourself are food at that.  

  • Re: “No, he rejected and did not participate in pagan sacrifices.”  

    Nonetheless Constantine was involved in the pagan Roman state religion, e.g. annually promulgating the Sol Invicta observances, among other things. He definitely, and undeniably, violated the First Commandment. Just keeping the title of Pontifex Maximus kept him connected with it … in name, if not in other ways (as I said) Just that was an obvious violation of the 1C.  

  • We’re discussing Christianity. “At least we’re not as bad as the Muslims” is not only not germane and not true, but certainly NOT AN EXCUSE.
    You might want to look up Sodomy laws: “the infamous crime against nature, not to be named among Christians. “

  • There is no “nonetheless”. He neither sacrificed to nor worshiped the pagan gods. Any “involvement” with the pagan gods in his role as Emperor was as tangential as was the “involvement” of Naaman in the worship of Rimmon (2 Kings 5), which was acceptable to God and not deemed a violation of the First Commandment by the prophet Elisha. You are of course free to argue with God’s prophet about that, but I for one have no desire to do so.

  • Re: ” He neither sacrificed to nor worshiped the pagan gods.”  

    That he avoided one aspect of the job is irrelevant. He remained Pontifex Maximus and he continued being involved in the pagan Roman state religion. In other words … he continued violating the First Commandment.  

    Re: “… the worship of Rimmon (2 Kings 5), which was acceptable to God and not deemed a violation of the First Commandment by the prophet Elisha.”  

    That someone else evaded the First Commandment, and even got Elisha’s blessing no less, is not relevant. Constantine violated the First Commandment. He did so blatantly. That you would deny it is asinine.  

  • Hardly hyperbole. You can look on the pages of RNS for plenty of evidence of conservative Christians telling other Christians they are not true Christians. And if you would like to go back further, you could look at all that unpleasantness between Catholics and Protestants, Catholics and orthodox, Protestants and Mormons.

  • “That someone else evaded the First Commandment, and even got Elisha’s blessing, no less, is not relevant.”

    Oh, I thank Thee, O Lord, that we no longer need either the Scriptures or the Holy Prophets to interpret Your will for us, for now we have Psi, who in his great wisdom can lay aside the Scriptures and the Prophets, and tell use what Your holy will REALLY means!

    How presumptuous of those Prophets and Apostles to think they knew anything! Better watch out, Lord, I think you’re next!

  • Why can’t you cherry pick which part of the NT is history and which isn’t? That seems like an insupportable distinction.

    Also, you boast that Christianity is not some lower religion based on mans merit but rather Gods. Because why? God, for some reason, has to sacrifice himself in some abstract sense to give new life to those he created! That is a very convoluted belief. When you say “we can do nothing”, doesn’t that contradict the notion of free will? Why would God give free will if it was useless? If this is predetermined and there was some sort of “elect” then honestly, what does that say about God’s goodness?

  • Perhaps the Christian message no longer made sense. Isn’t that a more credible reason for abandoning his Christian roots? It doesn’t fit your narrative however.

  • Why would God give Moses a law in which God’s people would be unable to fulfill? That makes no sense. Also, if “we can do nothing” as you suggest, what good would our repentance do since tit has no impact on God? As for the non-historical aspects of the NT, where would there be proof for the miracles mentioned in the Gospels? I agree that Paul’s letters are likely historical and that the Gospels take place in a historic context, but the supernatural events are by nature out of the ordinary and hard to validate. But this is avoiding the question as to why the NT can’t contain both historic and non-historic elements at the same time. Also, I’m assuming that you are claiming that all of the events themselves are historic events and not just that the OT and NT are historic documents. There is a difference.

  • And had the actual apostles believed such rubbish, they wouldn’t have bothered preaching, no one would ever have followed them if they had, and Jesus would be just as much a nobody as the other millions of people who lived at that time. To believe this alternate history is, bluntly, irrational.

  • “Jesus didn’t think that when your soul died it went to one place or the other in eternity. ” Is Ehrman denying that Jesus preached the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), or the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), or the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:22, 29, 30, etc.)? I guess that makes him the latest in a long list of would-be editors of the Bible to conveniently fit their own preconceived notions of what Jesus should and shouldn’t say and do.

  • Without the guarantee of heaven , Christianity would have not gotten off the ground. Of course there was a fee involved. Nothing has changed in that regard.

  • Take a look at what Josef Stalin did to Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein).

    Internecine battles take place as frequently among atheists as among theists.

  • Apparently you believe it works for you.

    Anyone who disagrees with what you want is an automatic bigot.

  • “Essentially” is different than “identical”, so the the “weasel words” apparently stems from a reading issue on the part of the reader.

    That’s you, btw.

  • Not only is not a dichotomy, it is a hypothesis.

    A hypothesis requires proof.

    Good thing you’re not doing that. In spades, btw.

  • Your story has pieces of:

    http://www.truthontheweb.org/patrick.htm

    http://www.giveshare.org/churchhistory/celticchurch.html

    http://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/story3386-what-every-christian-should-know-about-halloween

    I would not go so far as “their history research is impeccable”.

    A good portion of it is based on materials the Church of England developed in support of the notion that it was the continuation of the pre-Roman Christian church in England.

  • Nope. I think that would be describing you and all of the other religious snowflakes. Always persecuted because someone disagrees with you.
    anyone who think that their religious beliefs should trump mine in the laws that govern all of us, anyone who thinks that because he believes something that he thinks he understands because he thinks god said, and then demands that a whole class of people be treated differently, and not well, in law, culture, faith and society, because he believes that, and who demands disadvantagement in society of a whole class of people because he believes that…
    is a bigot.

  • Well, you do have your own special version of history, don’t you. A lunatic who was the end point (not really) of 1900 years of antisemistism officially sanctioned by the church.
    Perhaps you can read the article on anti-Semitism in Poland, or Luther’s remarks on the jews. In a pinch, you could even read the gospel of John and Acts, review the sumptuary laws of medieval Europe.

  • Yes your History is correct, and yes Iran is our true problem, with millions they receive from Obama they put that money into weapons! Obama is a true Muslim and very Anti-American! Who is Obama really?

  • Yes you are again, have you heard what this Pope is trying to change scripture? This Pope seems to want to change our religious beliefs? Why? It seems he is not who he pretends to be? I am worried that our doctrine is changing and people seems do not care or not paying attention? So what do you hear or read on this Pope? Thank you! God bless! MAGA!

  • The Irish troubles were the result of some 300 yearsof religion.

    You missed all of the catholic Protestant wars. 250 years worth.

    Witch burning— more innocents murdered by catholic and Protestant alike.

    The horrors of the colonial era. You might want to look up king Leopold, his most catholic majesty, and his adventures in Africa. Or, just look up Ruanda and the catholic church’s role there.

  • It’s like what Jesus said. I’d rather you be hot (on fire for Me) or cold (rejecting me), instead of being lukewarm – neither hot nor cold. That’s Bart Simpson I mean Ehrman for you.

    Also Jesus grieved over the instability of His disciples, constantly tossed to and fro by the latest & greatest winds of influence. That’s also Bart Ehrman for you.

  • Bart’s owning up to Matthew 6:23, more like. Or rather Matthew 6:23 is now fulfilled by him. As per Jesus’ point:

    “If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

  • You’re all over these two assertions; you’ve staked your entire existence on them:

    That Bart Ehrman”‘s writing … to people outside of Biblical scholarship”. Your bad right there.

    And that he’s “innovati[ve] … on … finer points”. Your other bad here.

    I.e. you’ve been had and you didn’t even see it coming.

  • 10 years from now he’ll be an ex-evangelical, ex-neo-evangelical, ex-liberal atheist. And “his life [all] the better”, you say?

    Am I the only fired-up & die-hard Christian left, then? (A hyperbole, not a boast.)

  • I rest my case. You’re just guessing here, so the best you can come up with are loosey-goosey statements – all lacking what the gospels, epistles & revelation don’t – CONVICTION – like:

    “who could work in wood, & most likely stone”

    “would have very steady work”

    “would have to know how to …”

    “may not have been able”

    No such CONVICTION-LESS statement exist in the gospels, epistles & revelation. Why? Your statements aren’t based upon reliable eyewitness testimonial evidences. Those scriptures were. That’s why!

  • I count at least 3 “would be”-based statements. Sounds like you’re not convinced yourself! Why? Uhm … no eyewitnesses to back you up. That’s why.

  • Well, you do have your own special version of history, don’t you, and unsurprisingly it paints you as a victim and again the subject of bigotry.

    A lunatic who was at war with religion can hardly be the end point of church supported antisemitism.

    Yes, some Christians were quite anti-Jewish.

    Some were quite supportive of the Jews.

    The Catholic Church officially condemned the Nazi theory of racism in Germany in 1937 with the encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge”, signed by Pope Pius XI, and Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber led the Catholic opposition, preaching against racism aimed at the Jews. As a result many clergy, religious, and ordinary Christians wound up in concentration camps.

    Many sections of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Museum, Yad Vashem, are dedicated to honoring the “Righteous Among the Nations”.

    And so on.

  • at least one “would not have been” there, dude

    no such hypothesis anywhere can be found in the gospels, epistles & revelation

  • By all means dispute my position with an assertion of your own.

    Otherwise you are just a useless waste of bandwidth.

  • The difficulty, of course, is that the Celts did not hew to sola scriptura and their differences between their existing practices and the missionaries from Rome were common. A quick survey among the Keralian Christians in India, the Copts in Ethiopia, and the Armenians in terms of practices will demonstrate that not only were those differences common, they continue today.

    An easy example is the fact that most Western Christians celebrate major feasts on different days each year than many of their Eastern counterparts.

    The claims of an indigenous English church faded away over time, for the same reason that this Celtic history reaches erroneous conclusions.

  • I didn’t pick on the Catholics particularly, their response was at best mixed.

    There is an excellent article from the US Holocaust Museumon the subject. You might want to read that. as I regret to this day not saving the Lutheran church’s commentary, which was barely mixed at all, and quite chilling.

  • Re: “That Bart Ehrman”‘s writing … to people outside of Biblical scholarship”. Your bad right there.”  

    How is this not the case? Do tell.  

    Re: “And that he’s ‘innovati[ve] … on … finer points’. Your other bad here.  

    How is this not the case? Do tell.  

    Here’s a hint: If you want a discussion, replying with two “your bads” isn’t going to cut it. If on the other hand all you want to do is bellyache that I insolently dared post something you disagree with … well, it’s enough for that, but no one else really cares.  

  • Yes, there are a lot of weasel words in the English language. Christianists … and propagandists, and other disingenuous folk … love to use them.  

  • Yes, my thoughts to! Man, what a very dangerous time we live in! And to think I went to Catholic School, back then they taught us girl,( because we were separated from the boys) How to dress, walk, sit, stand, and do our make up besides our Catholic Teaching. The nuns use rulers to hit our hands if we misbehave. Yes, how different it was back then! What happen? Now our Pope is borderline demonic and the Church is still in the dark ages, doing rituals! Man, what planet are we living on! Any way thanks for the conversation! God bless!

  • I’m not sure Ehrman has ever exhibited anything I would consider liberal or conservative. He mostly sticks to his scholarship.

    “Am I the only fired-up & die-hard Christian left, then? ”

    Yes…except the other millions of Christians who think THEY are the only one left. 🙂

  • The Catholic response was not mixed.

    Historian and rabbi David G. Dalin argued that Yad Vashem should honor Pope Pius XII as a “Righteous Gentile”.

    And so on.

    The Nazis basically neutered the Confessing Christian church by arresting and executing its leadership.

  • Yes I agree with you. The Roman Catholic Church has been and still is very corrupt they will never change! Now they have this Lucifer Telescope trying to look for aliens in space? They want to greet them and Baptist them all?? What is that about? More NWO madness? I believe it’s up to the people to wake up and realize that the RCC is Not what it pretends to be. We really live in insane times! God bless!

  • You are right on all you said, are you a Historian? Or just read a lot. Because you are always spot on! Thank you for info. God bless! MAGA!

  • I love to read too, I just finished Exo-Vaticana big read but good, and still reading Global Conspiracy by, Dave Ike very informative. Also readng The Source Field by, David Wilcock. God bless! MAGA!

  • TheMountainHumanist defies Jesus’ judgment on Bart Ehrman: “If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” But I go along with it.

  • You of all people should know by now that Christians is a master in deception. Bart Ehrman’s deception works on you, but not on me. I expose it, but you consume it.

  • Ah “scholarship”. Another name for a tool of mass deception. Jesus didn’t come with it, but His enemies were all steeped in it.

    That question (re)mark of mine underscores the lack of conviction among left-centre-right groups of Christians nowadays. It’s a sign that Christianity is dead – even among the alt-left versions of it. Christians no longer believe. Period. And I say, Nope. Not gonna be like that.

    Is all.

  • Check out too, then, the 2 PDFs floydlee had us linked to in his comment from “8 days ago” at this time of writing.

  • Sez you. But you don’t count. For sez he:

    “I sometimes think of myself as a Christian agnostic/atheist. … [Since] I do my best to follow the teachings of Jesus, in some respect I’m a Christian … Can’t I be a Christian in a different sense, one who follows Jesus’ teachings?” (The Bart Ehrman Blog: The History & Literature of Early Christianity, March 6, 2017)

  • I’m not sure what it even could mean to be “a Christian agnostic/atheist.” That makes no more sense than it does for Frank Schaeffer to say that he’s “an atheist who believes in God” (see https://www.thedailybeast.com/frank-schaeffer-the-atheist-who-believes-in-god).  

    So tell me something that makes sense.  

  • “Ah “scholarship”. Another name for a tool of mass deception.”

    Do you think this about all scholarship or just that which may upset your preconceptions. Surely you are not saying cutting edge medical scholarship is deception?

    Why do you think it’s deception.

    “Jesus didn’t come with it”

    According to the Gospels, the scholars were amazed at the level of Jesus’ advanced scholarship.

    To me, it’s not helpful to stick on labels like right or left or alt. They have become nothing but generalizations that mean nothing.

    It now seems to me to mean “the side that I disagree with…”

  • Well we have no idea what the person upon whom the gospels may have been based doubted or not.

  • I don’t mind words being put into my mouth so long as I can still work with them. How’s this?

    “That which may upset [God’s, Jesus’, His 1st apostles’ and His 1st disciples’] preconceptions” – and “the side that [They and they] disagree with” – are the stuffs of mass deception that I was talking about.

    Too sectarian for you?

    It is to me. Such is mystery & hazard of truth, my friend.

  • Aaaaaww, what’s the matter (((snowflake))), can’t take it when someone reposts information that exposes the bigotry of your (((tribe)))? Your (((tribe))) has spammed people of European heritage with holohoax propaganda every single day since 1945. e.g. Europeans are bombarded (spammed) by thousands of movies, mini series, documentaries, etc about the Holocaust, not to mention the brainwashing (spamming with holocaust propaganda) that White schoolchildren are subjected to when it comes to the holocaust, e.g. school excursions to holocaust museums.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1270038.stm
    “It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable. The Lord shall return the Arabs’ deeds on their own heads, waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world.” — (Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Ovadiah Yosef.) ♦ “waste their seed” is a reference to Palestinian children.
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/jerusalem-closes-down-for-rabbi-ovadia-yosefs-funeral/
    800,000 Israelies, or 16 percent of the Jewish population of that country—turned up to pay their respects at the funeral Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Ovadiah Yosef, making it the largest funeral in Israeli history. The man they chose to honour promoted wholesale genocide of the Palestinians.

  • Nazi boy has run out of cut and paste spam and is getting repetitive. It’s one thing to be a bigoted fool, it’s quite another to be boring.

    Just remember white genocide = nazis admitting sexual dysfunction.

  • You are defending an out and out neo-nazi? Then, have the nerve to call me names? You really are useless.

  • That’s what you call cut and paste spams? Of course.

    What you are really saying is you like Nazis. Given your views, I am not surprised. Own it.

  • Funny. But you are the one actually agreeing with a real out and out Nazi. A person who unabashedly identifies as one. Not some Godwinning overblown label here. A full fledged Reddit subgroup refugee. Triple parens and stormfront cut and pastes and everthing.

    Own that crap. You will climb into bed with a white supremacist, anti-semitic, nativist, opponent of a modern and free society just to annoy others. It says very little about your moral fiber and very much what kind of malicious tool you are.

    You are not being witty here, just being foolish. Have fun with that, Nazi lover.

  • There’s no shortage of bigoted statements from rabid Jewish supremacists. E.g.

    If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that. Jewish life has an infinite value,” he explained. “There is something infinitely more holy and unique about Jewish life than non-Jewish life.” – (Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh in Jewish Week, the largest Jewish publication in the United States.)

    Interpol hunts two Israelis, Moshe Harel and Zaki Shapira, for Kosovo organ trafficking. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/interpol-hunts-two-israelis-for-kosovo-organ-trafficking-1.324383

    — Is this a (((COHENcidence)))????

    P.S. It speaks volumes that the above statement by prominent Jewish religious leader, Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, could be printed in Jewish Week, the largest Jewish publication in the United States, without the Jewish community loudly, and publicly condemning the statement, and it speaks volumes that Rabbi Ginsburgh felt comfortable and confident enough that making such a murderous statement, (it turns out he was right) would not result in a resounding condemnation from the Jewish community in America.

  • Here is a new quote from one of Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, reported on just last week by the Independent! Are you not entertained?

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-cheif-rabbi-black-people-monkeys-yitzhak-yosef-talmud-sephardic-a8267666.html
    One of Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, called black people “monkeys” during his weekly sermon. During his weekly sermon, the rabbi used a derogatory Hebrew term for a black person, before going on to call a black person a “monkey,” according to footage published by the Ynet news site.

  • Nazi boy is still repeating his stuff. You have been posting the same ones for about a year now. You had plenty of time to cough up new material. Troll better.

  • 1. Separate god and jesus from religion.
    2. Religion comes from two Latin words referring to ” a return to bondage”.
    3. Organized religion creates a barrier to god.
    4. The heaven and hell concept came from plato’s dualism where he taught the body and spirit are seperated at death. The hebrews did not believe in a spirit that was separate from the body. Spirit to a hebrew meant a life force that came from God, not a ghostly image of yourself.
    5. Once the Roman’s seized control of the jesus’s teachings the church leaders began their journey towards indoctrination and organized religion. Actually this began in the late 1st century according to the nt.
    6. Heaven and hell, satan vs god, are all pagan concepts and never taught in judaism, granted judaism itself has flaws as jesus constantly pointed out.

  • Much is said of the validity of the Christian religion.

    One thing that holds is the purity of Jesus’s teachings.

    If followed, you cannot be a spineless human.

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