Da Vinci Code
FABLE # 1.
Is it true that the Christian faith is the result of the rewriting of Biblical gospels and suppression of others by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century?
Such assertions are not some repressed revelations that awaited Brown's “revelation,” but are allegations that are essentially the same as similar baseless conspiratorial theories that have been spawned in ignorance -, or suppression - of the historical facts which refute it. What lies Brow depends upon and what evidence Brown keeps from you is:
1. The evidence shows that early Christians overall increasingly recognized that both the Biblical gospels and other N.T. books were of the same class as the O.T. Scriptures, and their veracity, power and purity evidenced their supernatural origin, and it is because of such that they became and are held as Scripture, with later church declarations basically ratifying the testimony of holy souls redeemed by faith in their Author. The Biblical gospels that became part of the canon of Scripture (writings wholly inspired of God) were written based upon eye-witness accounts, and were preached when many who were eye-witnesses of Christ still lived, and are much earlier than the ones Brown seeks to supplant them with (the Gospel of Thomas, which Brown never uses, was first at about A.D. 150, with the others coming between the 2nd to 5th century). Based upon internal and external evidence (comparison of fragments and quotations, historical correlations, examination of textual families, etc.) the Biblical Gospels are securely dated to the first century. It is estimated that the Biblical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were written within 25 to 35 years after Jesus death (approx. 34 A.D.), and before the Temple (to which they all refer to as standing) was destroyed (which the first 3 gospels predict) in 70 A.D. (and which was a most significant event). These 3 gospels are followed by John, estimated to have been set down by about 90 A.D., and which most clearly reveals the Deity of the Lord Jesus, long before some 4th century Emperor could favor or oppose it (actually the Jesus Divine nature is the attribute Emperors/Rulers typically fight the most). And not only were the Biblical gospels written long before Nicea, but by 90 AD they and Paul’s letters were being circulated as the authentic ‘canon.’ The early apostolic letter of 2 Peter (3:16) for instance, calls Paul's letters Scriptures, and his preaching is received as the Word of God by the Thessalonians (1Ths. 2:13). The earliest list (incomplete manuscript) of N.T. Scriptural books is the Muratorian Canon which dates from about 170 AD. - 155 years before Nicea – and is very close to our modern New Testament .http://www.bible-researcher.com/muratorian.html. What is exceedingly manifest in history is that it is the 66 books of the Bible Scriptures which the true and living God inspired and preserved. In contrast, Gnosticism remained a a fringe and nebulous deviant attempt at a pagan – Christian amalgam. Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary and author of “The Gospel code,” comments, “Among the second-century lists of authoritative Scriptures, never are gnostic texts listed—not even by the unorthodox Marcion in about 140. There was never a time when a wide selection of books, including gnostic ones, were widely deemed acceptable.” (see entire article here http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/006/7.26.html). .
Not only did the Gnostic “gospels” not even exist until after the Biblical gospels were set forth, nor were they found in any church canons, but also unlike Gnostic literature, external evidence abounds (in secular as well as religious museums, etc.) for the Biblical gospels (and other New Testament books) by way of thousands of existing manuscripts, including many which date prior to 200 A.D., including a fragment (writing materials of Biblical age did not least long) of the gospel of Mark and fragments of other New Testament books such as Acts dated to have been written around 50 A.D., and a fragment of the gospel of John dated at 125 A.D. or earlier. Nearly complete copies of both Luke and John exist which are dated from between A.D. 175 and 225. These all were written in Greek (possibly Aramaic for Matthew) as that (or Aramaic) was the common tongue in Jesus area and time, and were circulated long before Constantine and the Council at Nicea existed!
In addition, writings from early church leaders quote from the Biblical gospels two hundred plus years before the Council at Nicea, and they were generally held as part of the inspired Scripture by the devout Christians and and churches long before Nicea ratified them as such. In A.D. 95, Clement of Rome quoted from the Gospels and other portions of the N.T in a letter to the Corinthian church. Ignatius, Before his martyrdom in Rome in A.D. 115, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter quoting all the Gospels and other N.T. letters. Polycarp, who also was martyred for his faith in Christ (Rome enforced pagan worship), quoted from the Gospels and N.T. Letters in writing to the Philippians in A.D. 120. The 3rd letter of John is quoted by Justin Martyr (A.D. 150). All told, the evidence reveals that Church leaders of the early second century (again, long before Nicea), were familiar with the the writings of the apostles and quoted them as inspired Scripture. http://www.probe.org/content/view/678/77/ http://www.carm.org/evidence/gospels_written.htm
2. The well – attested to four Biblical gospels provide a comprehensive and complementary but not contradictory revelation of Christ the prophesied Messiah, the Son of God, Servant of man and Son of God, and narrates Christ ministry from beginning to end, revealing the God of Scripture as never before. The Biblical gospels are a continuation of the Old Testament Scriptures, or Jewish canon, which the Christian church recognized from the very beginning. The Lord Jesus Himself quoted or alluded to the Old Testament over 60 times, and the New Testament abundantly quotes, references or alludes to. It was to the Old Testament Scriptures that the apostles of Jesus Christ preached from, in showing Him to be their Messiah, as the Book of Acts, written around 50 A.D. (which is the earliest record of the primitive Christian church, and far earlier than Brown's “authorities”) attests to: “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2). Likewise in Acts 28:23: “he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” It was to the Scriptures that the people of the Book looked to as their ultimate source of Truth. Notice what the Jews in Berea did after hearing the preaching of Paul: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:1).
In deleterious distinction, the Gnostic gospels and literature present a very different god and concept of salvation and are radically different than the rest of Scripture, denigrating the God of Scripture, and even exalting the devil and Judas (listen here). Gnosticism was a metaphysical, and somewhat nebulous, belief system that developed over a period of time in contradiction to the teachings of both Old Testament Judaism and Christ and His apostles, but knowing where the power is, it sought to misuse the authority of Christ and the Scriptures for their own purposes. Rather than the life narrative of Christ with His teachings in historical context and the four dimensional revelation of the Biblical gospels, gnostic accounts consist more of esoteric sayings with little historic detail. Consistent with their metaphsicalism, Gnosticism basically saw all physical/material things as evil and did not even believe Jesus had a physical body. And instead of repentance from real, literal sin and faith in the literally crucified and risen Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and salvation, and which the most common man could understand (by God's grace), Gnosticism taught that "redemption" was to be achieved through esoteric, mystical knowledge (gnosis) from one of their elites (which “salvation by merit” is typical of cults).
Brown's principal gnostic source, the gospel of Phillip was part of these texts, and unlike the thousands of manuscripts that support Biblical texts, the spurious gospel of Phillip is known from a single manuscript (finally, after 2,000 years), and was likely written in Syria (due to traces of Syriac words, eastern baptismal practices etc.) in the latter half of the 4th century. It has long ago been recognized as a false gospel, belonging to the same class as other similar works of fiction which appeared after the true Biblical gospels were preached and written. One example is the Gnostic “gospel according to Thomas” which has Jesus excluding women from the kingdom of God, and then saying that He would turn Mary into a man so that she could enter!
When we look at the Biblical gospels and N.T. Books, we see the same God and holiness as in their Old Testament foundation, and thus all the first Christians were Jewish, with multitudes of Gentiles receiving the faith afterwards. . It the Biblical gospel of repentance and faith in the Son of God, the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, that was were spread abroad as souls who were made spiritually alive by repentance in faith in the Lord Jesus of the Scriptures eagerly shared the faith: “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). These 1st and 2nd century Christians often faced periods of great persecution, both local and empire wide, in which they did not resist by waging war after the flesh, as their enemies must, but by following the Jesus of the Bible, prayed for their persecutors, could follow the example of their brethren, of whom it is written, joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Heb. 11:34). And looking unto the crucified and risen Lord Jesus, and not some gnostic phantom, so they multiplied.
In contrast is the testimony of Gnosticism, whose effect in the world is a mere footnote in history, as it's metaphysical absurdities are spiritually destitute of the transcendent saving and transforming power of the true and living God, but appeals to souls who love darkness rather than light. The gnostic “gospels” effectively call evil good and good evil, with the devil and Judas being esteemed, and their preaching often promoted moral degradation. It is not surprising that such an ethos is promoted today and even held as Divine, though it is clearly inferior to Biblical Scripture, both morally and even as literature, and no more than a handful of manuscripts (which took almost 2,000 years to be discovered) exist to testify to it's impotence. As Israel of old in it's spiritual declension took deified entities which can neither see nor save, so Brown has lifted up his golden calf and cried “These be thy gods,” for the foolish to follow.
3. Related to the above, Brown must be ignorant of the fact that his preferred texts disagree with his desire to make Jesus a mortal like him. As Let Us Reason ministries writes,
The fact is -- the Gnostics did not believe Jesus was truly human because of their dualistic worldview. Docetism was a form of Gnosticism that rose later in the first century (comes from the Greek word dokeo, meaning “to seem” or “appear”). Their philosophy was that matter is inherently evil and that God was not subject to any human experiences or feelings. Jesus only appeared to have flesh, they denied his genuine humanity, and said he was really a (spirit) phantom. In other words he was not human, the very opposite of what Brown claims is the truth. Since this was the held belief of Gnostics it would be impossible to reconcile Jesus was married and went off to have children. Again the sources he used to confirm his theory are actually speaking against it. What Brown quotes say the opposite, they deny he was human not divine. All one has to do is read the Gnostic gospels and the debates that occurred 150 years BEFORE the Nicaean council to find this out. © 2005 (see entire article at http://www.letusreason.org/Current47.htm )
4. Constantine, nor the Roman Catholic Institution, did not have the power to do as Brown invents. Trinitarian ‘Donatist’ Christians churches who overall followed the Bible and were Trinitarian in faith existed in North Africa from the 200's when Emperor Decian had persecuted all Christian believers. But they did not recognize the authority of Rome, having a high commitment to faithfulness, and survived it's persecutions (it likely later became itself institutionalized). There were also many other groups who lived outside the boundaries of Rome. The later empire had already strived to wipe out the Christian faith, and could not. Many Biblical manuscripts existed from the 1st century onward, and no church could collect and destroy all the “aberrant” ones. Just as true Biblical doctrine was ultimately by consensus rather than autocratic imposition, so the larger reason for the multitudes of Biblical manuscripts is because multitudes found they delivered on their promise, rather than later persecution. Praise ye the Lord. In contrast, unBiblical doctrine necessitates ignorance of Scripture
4. If, as Brown's fantasy asserts, the Roman Catholic church radically altered the Bible for it's own purposes, then it did an exceedingly poor job! For just as it abundantly evidenced that some 4th Roman council did NOT (and could not) embellish or rewrite Scripture to make Jesus God, or to place men over women as (Godly and sacrificial) leaders (etc.), it is easily seen by examining the very Scriptures Brown asserts were changed that from the time of Constantine (when Roman Catholicism really had it's beginnings), she progressively made doctrines that were unBiblical. From the Roman Catholic papacy, to infant baptismal regeneration, to a special class of sacerdotal priests, to praying to saints or statues, to indulgences, to annual, ritual, religious observances of special “days, and months, and times, and years” (Gal. 4:10), these and many other doctrines and practices were instituted which are without sound Scriptural warrant, or outright contrary to the Word of God. And rather than changing the Scripture to fit accommodations to paganism, for hundreds of years Rome worked to keep the masses ignorant of Scriptures them. Brown missed his “conspiracy,” though these things are recorded history!
Among other things that could have easily been added (unlike changing the nature of Christ, etc.),no where is their even one command written to the church to submit to Peter as autocratic supreme head (from which doctrine the rest of the falsehoods flow), nor one example of them doing so, nor any provision made for future ordination to his office. No where do we see even one infant baptised, nor believers ever praying to anyone in Heaven but the Lord. The 2nd commandment against making graven religious images remains untouched, bishops/elders/pastors (same office) are not called priests (different words, as is one of their primary functions), nor do we see anything in the Biblical record of the church that would lend itself to the it being an imperial, autocratic, institution with both civil and spiritual powers, and by which it would use state means to wage it's wars! Surely Constantine would have done better than that, and he even left out the Emperors place in the church!
On the other hand, if he really was out to rewrite Scripture the way Brown imagines, why do the gospel's actually show Jesus humanity so clearly, unlike Brown falsely charges they do not? The answer of course, is that Browns assertions are without substance, and rather than falling prostrate before a Divine Madelene (who herself would reprove him) as Teabing does the DVC, it falls before the vast and weighty evidence that show the preservation of Scripture, as well as the fact that Jesus is just who He declared, in word and deed to be, Lord, God and Savior. Happy indeed are the souls that receive Him now as their own.
JESUS CHRIST isLORD. Only He Can Saves You, and you MUST be saved!
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