The Christianity Battles

What if Ebionite Christians, Marcion Christians, or Gnostic Christians had been more convincing?

Montsegur

11/07/2010 05:39:46 AM

Regarding Marcionism: http://www.monio.info/2010/11/06/a-dialogue-between-a-marcionite-and-a-judaizer/

WesternMind

07/05/2006 03:26:30 PM

Mr Ehrman hits the nail on the head for the period before Constantine. I have a history website that deals with the period after that - from the Council of Elvira (306) and Emperors Constantine through Justinian. The aim is to expose the church-state alliance that set the foundation for the rest of Christian history. I show how church councils and imperial actions (decrees and troops) worked together in their attempt to wipe out paganism and Christian heterodoxy. In that period there were Christian groups such as Arianists, Sabellians, Pelagians, Priscillianists, Eutychians, Eunomians, Monophysites, Nestorians, Monothelitists and many more. Like the centuries before Constantine, Christianity was always splintering and it took a church-state fist to try to eliminate religious diversity; to legally mandat religious conformity into the empire. The home page is http://www.stopthereligiousright.org but the Christian history page begins @ http://community-.webtv.net/tales_of_the_western_world/RL

M-oose

03/13/2006 05:27:25 PM

Christianity would look different if Constantine hadn't become a Christian (who happened to execute his mother after his conversion and refused to be baptized until his deathbed amidst various other assorted behaviors which brings his conversion into question), but his conversion didn't make Christianity "win" in the war of ideas. It was probably a political decision on Constantine's part to win the support of what was becoming the majority belief-system of the empire. Also, "pagan" is derived from the word for "village". People from the country were removed from the city, which is where Christianity was spreading. There were, therefore, few Christians in the rural villages. "Pagan" is a neutral word.

buckle

02/07/2006 12:10:51 PM

It really is amazing when you attempt to search out all relevant texts from the century before Yeshua and the 1st and 2nd centuries afterwards that there were many many groups who had sometimes radically different views or even slightly different views not unlike now. It would appear that the argument about christianity has been going on from the first yrs after Yeshua died. We got handed the version which won. It is a very intersting topic to think about how christianity may have looked like had Constantine and Rome not been a factor. If the movement had stayed in Judea and Yeshua had lived another 20 or 30 yrs who knows what we would be reading now. Buckle

Aral

01/23/2005 06:32:34 AM

I know what you mean, Mother Julian. Gnosticism might have a more narrow appeal that other forms of Christianity. I think the appeal of Gnosticism -- and the "contempt for the body and the physical world" -- is similar to that of Zen Buddhism. That is, not as broad, perhaps, as traditional Christianity, but still a following! And gnostics don't think the common man is sub-human; they think s/he's human. Period. And so are they.

MotherJulian

09/28/2004 12:25:32 PM

Everyone seems to ignore the gnostics'contempt for the body and the physical world. A belief system that denies the importance of beauty and morality is doomed to failure because common people will always reject it. And thank God for the common people. I'm no platonist, and I don't think the philosophers should be running the world. I'm for democracy, no matter how stupid or sub-human the gnostics thought the comman man was, or is for that matter.

tennisprophet

09/09/2004 12:27:54 AM

I agree that God speaks to us in many ways... Except through the Pope. Sorry Lorijens9, I have to disagree with you on that one!

lorijens9

09/08/2004 01:31:00 AM

Why do we argue about the validity of Scripture, Canonical or Apocraphal? God speaks to us in any form that gets our attention! Whether its a sunset, a child at play, or even modern Spiritual writers such as Philip Yancy, Billy Graham, or even the Pope. If it speaks the True Word of God to someone's heart, it is valid.

truthshines

09/06/2004 12:10:15 PM

I do not think the ancients of those religions called themselves "pagan," or would like to today if they were still around. That is my view. The Gentile religions that were not wiped out (see the all non-Abrahamic religions right here on Beliefnet) and still exist today, do not call themselves pagan. They use their own names instead of the name Christians would use to describe them. "Pagan" seems to come up mainly in reconstructionist gentile religions that have been already destroyed by Chrsitianty and Islam.

truthshines

09/06/2004 12:10:07 PM

Derogatory words describing a group sometimes is in turn adopted by that group as a reverse tactic. Gays calling themselves queer or each other fag, blacks referring to themselves as the n-word. It is a way to take away the hurtful power of the word. Pagan was a word Christians used to describe the religions they came across. Christianity is from the Middle East. When Christianity came to Europe and else where, they described the indigenous religions in Europe and elsewhere, the non-Christian religions, as pagan. If people of today, who want to revive gentile religions long gone, want to call themselves pagan, that is something else. They are adopting the derogatory word Christians used to describe those religions, to now describe themselves.

maplewood

08/31/2004 02:41:07 PM

I think one thing we need to keep in mind as we study and think about this stuff (Gnosticism, et al) is the role of the Holy Spirit in the Great Salvation Story we call "Life". Perhaps Gnosticism wasn't lost as much as it died a natural death. In Acts we read how, if something is of God, it will last; if not from God, it won't. Nothing can kill off the will of God. Perhaps we can keep a bit of humility as we read and study these things, believing as Christians that, ultimately, God is in control and everything is gonna be all right.

Paganpriest

08/27/2004 02:30:55 PM

Not everyone sees "pagan" as a derogatory word, just like not every one sees "redneck" as a derogatory word.

truthshines

08/25/2004 06:08:11 AM

The only thing I changed in the book is that wherever the word "pagan" was written I scratched out and wrote "gentile". To me "pagan" is oft a derogatory word Jewish religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) uses to describe non-Jewish religions, ie Gentile religions, as inferior and less sophisticated. Gentile seems more to be a neutral word, less negatively loaded, merely meaning non-Jewish. So instead of for example "pagan" religions mentioned in the book I scratched "pagan" out so it would read "gentile" religions. More respectful.

truthshines

08/25/2004 06:03:50 AM

An excellent book on Gnostic Christianity I have read is "Jesus and the Goddess" by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. They are the authors of the international best seller "The Jesus Mysteries." I thought the writing was clear and I couldn't help but feel that if Gnostic Christianity remained mainstream there would not be anti-semitism and anti-gentile religions that current Christianity (which the book refers to as Christian literalism) and Islam generate. Original Christianity was Gnostic Judaism.

JohnDeem

08/25/2004 03:40:08 AM

trulyalarmed, you sound like a good Christian to me ;-) Loving your neighbor as yourself, and all. ‘swhat it’s all about! (Check out James 1:27) Certainly history, cultural context, and physical facts are important to understanding Scripture. But what validates Christianity for me is the improved lives, reformed characters, and even physical healing I’ve seen in myself and others. Basically, Jesus’ unvarnished teaching and example still works today. Though scholars may overlook the efficacy of Christianity as a factor in its popularity, some of us are Christians solely because the teachings have helped, healed, and redeemed our lives as nothing else has. To me Jesus’ teaching and loving example are too profound, practical, and yes provable to be fictitious. 'Guess I’m with Mary Baker Eddy when she says: “The life of Christ Jesus, his words and his deeds, demonstrate Love.”

trulyalarmed

08/19/2004 05:38:32 PM

i would really rather spend my time as i do now volunteering or giving to my community than to go to a church or worshipping in a faith community. but i do feel encouraged by your post maplewood. it's refreshing to find peolpe on bnet who offer some really kind responses.

idbc

08/19/2004 12:17:39 PM

I knew this subject and the name of the professor sounded familar. This professor has a lecture series on this subject that is produced by the Teaching Company at : http://www.teach12.com/store/course.asp?id=6593&d=Lost+Christianities%3A+Christian+Scriptures+and+the+Battles+over+Authentication. It was a very interesting series of lectures.

maplewood

08/19/2004 10:40:37 AM

well, yes, theology is man-made...it means "the study of God", we people trying to understand the ways of God, not necessarily the other way around. ;-) from what I can see, one of the great problems in life is lack of humility...lack of humility in dealing with ourselves and each other...we bring the same self-centeredness to so many human relationships, be it a church, or a family, or a marriage...we screw up alot of things in this world... trulyalarmed: i hope you reconsider affiliation with a church or a faith community...they still have a lot to offer, and you have a lot to offer it.

jkevinm

08/18/2004 08:52:26 PM

All theology is man made. It is man's attempt to understand God. Therefore any written interpretation of God must be tainted by our humanity, no matter how inspired.

trulyalarmed

08/17/2004 08:13:23 PM

i can vouch that this is true, because it happened in all three churches i belonged to, and after the third time, i quit church all together. i could never resolve the dilemma of the body of christ and my own identity amidst the pathological codependancy and self-righteousness of the members. oh, and none of them knew or for that matter believed in the history of the early church.

trulyalarmed

08/17/2004 08:04:03 PM

more. all on wordiq.com- Evangelicals cannot be easily categorised, but almost all will believe in the necessity of a personal conversion and acceptance of Jesus as saviour and Lord, the eventual literal return of Christ, a more conservative understanding of the Bible and a belief in the miraculous. There are many different types of Evangelicals including Dispensationists, Reformed Christians, Pentecostals, Charismatics and Fundamentalists

trulyalarmed

08/17/2004 08:03:01 PM

Some evangelicals have been schismatic within various church organisations, leaving to form their own denominations. More often they are forced out. It was only by dint of sheer determination that John Wesley, founder of Methodism, was able to remain an Anglican priest against intense opposition. His followers separated in America, and in England after his death. Evangelicals claim that their beliefs are no less than true Christianity itself and that those within the church who differ from them may not be true believers. This attitude has led to much disunity amongst churches, especially those with a large modernist influence.

trulyalarmed

08/17/2004 08:00:55 PM

As of 2004, Christianity is the world's most widely practiced religion, with 2.0 billion adherents (followed by Islam with 1.2 billion, Hinduism with 841 million, and the nonreligious with 774 million). Christianity has many branches, including 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, 367 million Protestants in a number of traditions, 216 million Orthodox, 84 million Anglicans, 414 million Independents (unaffiliated with the major streams of Christianity), and 31.7 million "marginals" (Jehovah's Witnesses, Latter Day Saints (Mormons), etc.), these last being denominations which describe themselves as Christian but are not standardly recognized as such by other denominations. (christians refer to these last denominations as cults).

trulyalarmed

08/17/2004 07:53:26 PM

according to my recent findings, you both got it right. everything about christianity that has ever been written by historians and researcher can not find evidence to prove someone named jesus existed. but like you both said if the holy spirit was released to unite, then there is no evidence of this, but they all disagree and revel in their disagreements.

Paganpriest

08/17/2004 07:09:15 PM

The more that I have read of the messianic prophesies of the Old Testement, the more I agree, Christianity was wholy man-made. From other readings, it seems like Paul invented his own religion, and grafted it onto the Nazzerine Jewish sect.

qtp3

08/17/2004 04:34:41 PM

I get the idea that Christian theology was MAN made. From reading the article, man is mentioned and debate. And Yet, there was no signs of God Almighty at all. Just Conjecture. Abraham and Moses were divinely used to guide the people to the right path. Even Islam has Muhammed and the Quran to prove their theology. And even the Buddhist point to Buddha about their theology.But in the origin of Christian theology it is not there. only Men arguing.However, they believe in the Holy Spirit. Isn't the holy spirit supposed to Unite?? But it is the opposite. How can Jesus be God when God never said it.. But man wrote it in,is what i got from the article...

secondpass

08/17/2004 10:38:15 AM

Mark, What is this fascination with great minds? How many great minds do you see becoming believers and contributors to any christian organization? Would it not be more logical to enlist the aid of true believers to decifer what should be followed rather than those who have developed their knowledge of mens ways? Its like asking a eunuch what a man experinces when he sees a beautiful woman. The appearance is there but there is no substance. 2nd

drakvl

08/17/2004 12:31:27 AM

And mark10077: It would seem to me that the Church fathers decided which doctrine they would follow; then they went out and launched a crusade or inquisition on any strains of religious belief which dissented; or else excommunicated them, condemning them to a spiritual death, instead. After all, the Church fathers were going on logic, rhetoric, and a literary text. What experimental results could they reproduce? Where's the Popperian methodology?

drakvl

08/17/2004 12:24:26 AM

Actually, from what I've seen, there's a bit of the Psilanthropist in many members of the Freethinking community, insofar as they believe that Jesus, while not being God incarnate, feel that he was a pretty nice guy. Now watch some history expert come along and demonstrate how sorely little I know about the Psilanthropist heresy. :(

mark10077

08/16/2004 11:41:55 PM

The opening paragraph of your article "The Christianity Battles" shows obvious bias and distortion of the truth. Although there were a number of early heresies, the process by which such teachings were overcome is mischaracterized as being "suppressed, reformed or fogotten". Rather, early Church councils brought together many of the greatest minds of the time, including many who were holy and reliant upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Through the councils, the fathers of the Church were able to discern correct doctrine. Although the proces may be subject to some criticism, it is no chance that much of the Church's current and enduring magisterium emerged. Mark

shivadass

08/16/2004 08:18:39 PM

CONT'D Additionally, the most obvious and important difference between Eastern and Western Christian spiritualism is the focus of their respective spiritualities. This is most noticeable in the architechture and design of the the churches. In western (catholic) churches, you find the focus drawn to the crucifix above the altar... up and away from the earth. Whereas in the eastern churches, the focus is all around on the earth level (with icons at ground level on the iconostasis in front of the altar and also surrounding the nave of the churches).

shivadass

08/16/2004 08:17:41 PM

badger and schofield: A good study of the contrasts between the Eastern and Western churches would indeed be interesting. I myself was raised Roman Catholic, but at the age of 17 became Eastern Orthodox and went to seminary and served as a priest and USAF Chaplaain for 7 years. One of the interesting points about the Eastern Church and sin is that many of the Eastern Churches to this day believe that all sin will ultimately be overcome and that ALL souls (including Satan himself) shall ultimately achieve salvation. This belief is most prevalent among the smaller and more eastern of the various Eastern Rites.

TENBEARS

08/16/2004 04:32:00 PM

IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT WHILE THERE MANY APPLICATIONS WITH THE TESTAMENTS, THERE IS ONLY ONE MEANING TO THE METAPHORES, SYMBOLISM, HISTORY, & DREAMS IN THE SCRIPTURES.

badger539

08/15/2004 01:32:28 PM

Schofield, you may have misapprehended what I say. I mention that the church of the east had a somewhat different canon of the Bible, but I do not mean to question the canon of our bible. Ebionites, Marcions and Gnostics were all debating, essentially, Who Is Christ? That's a question all believers have to answer for themselves. Given that we all ascribe to be Trinitarians, exploring church history and the beliefs of christians outside the Roman/Protestant matrix sheds light on our own faith and its development.

badger539

08/15/2004 01:30:25 PM

Schofield, you may have misapprehended what I say. I mention that the church of the east had a somewhat different canon of the Bible, but I do not mean to question the canon of our bible. Ebionites, Marcions and Gnostics were all debating, essentially, Who Is Christ? That's a question all believers have to answer for themselves. Given that we all ascribe to be Trinitarians, exploring church history and the beliefs of christians outside the Roman/Protestant matrix sheds light on our own faith and its development.

badger539

08/15/2004 01:30:10 PM

2/2 For Example, Orthodox believe in the unversality of sin. They believe that everybody sins. But they do not believe in Original Sin. Original Sin is a doctrine concocted by St. Augustine based on his reading of St. Paul. But Augustine was not a great influence in the Greek-speaking eastern church, only in the western, Latin church. Therefore Orthodox would agree with the statement "we are all sinners" but disagree with "In Adam's fall, we sinned all."

schofield

08/14/2004 05:55:25 PM

Cont'd - I do not mean to belittle your point, however. I think the study of the differences between the Eastern and Western Church are a wealth of knowledge untapped. What would have happened if the Eastern Church had not been decimated by Islam?!!! That would be a great doctoral thesis!

schofield

08/14/2004 05:53:18 PM

badger539 - While I see your point, you mistakenly believe that the cannon was set in stone at Nicea. Even after Nicea, there were still debates about certain books in what we would call our modern day Bible - even in the Western Church. Luther even thought about throwing out James and, I believe, Revelation. The book of Revelation has always been controversial, and was not really a major source of doctrine until the Fundemtalist Movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There were interpretations of it, of course, but the importance placed upon it no where approached what we see today. So, the Western Church and the Eastern, while having significant differences, were not likely to have differed to the extent that they both differed from, say, the Gnostics. Most of their differences had to do with authority - who had it.

badger539

08/14/2004 05:41:16 PM

This article is interesting, but like so many studies of early Christianity, it suffers a cultural bias. All the groups mentioned here were groups within the Roman Empire. With all due respect to the author, I don’t find this what-if speculation personally compelling, and I’m not certain of what value it is.

badger539

08/14/2004 05:40:59 PM

2/4 The disciples did respond to the commandment to evangelize the whole world and the church existed and thrived outside the outside the Roman Empire as well as within. The general name for non-roman empire Christians is The Church of the East. It spread through what is now Iraq, Iran and India and along the trade routes to the frontiers of China before it was decimated by Islam and persecution. At its height, in the 6th century, there may have been as many Christians outside the Roman Empire as within. But who ever asks what did those Christians believe?

badger539

08/14/2004 05:40:21 PM

3/4 This was a church whose language was the language of Jesus, Aramaic, and whose scripture and writings were in Aramaic. And at a time when nobody in the western church had scripture except priests and monks and scholars, Eastern Christians kept holy writ in their houses to read and study and mediate upon. Their version of the Bible included Paul but not Revelation, a fact which I find fascinating. What would be the history of western Christianity without Constantine, or if Revelation had been excluded from the canon of the Bible?

badger539

08/14/2004 05:39:48 PM

4/4 I think much could be learned from studying the church outside the empire, but for that it helps to be a scholar in Aramaic, which, unfortunately, I’m not.

schofield

08/14/2004 02:21:06 PM

GaryCharles - Sounds like an interesting book. I need to get a good hardbound copy of the writings of the early "Church Fathers" and start doing some comparisons to modern theology. Have any editions that you would recommend? Lucilius, you can chime in too if you have suggestions.

schofield

08/14/2004 02:18:53 PM

Lucilius - ssspt - don't tell anyone we agreed, OK? Just kidding. While eventually the church did have the public authority behind them, I think that Ehrman is correct in saying that "proto-orthodoxy" had pretty much won out by the time the Council of Nicea began. At that point, we are talking about minutia of doctrine - questions of the totality of Jesus' divinity, Armenianism, etc. That's a far cry from the Ebonite and Gnostic debates that had dominated prior. I had not read that the Council prevented opposing spokesman from attending - can you get me a source on that one? I would be interested.

garycharles

08/13/2004 05:00:24 PM

i AM READING a balanced readable scholarly book by Pelikan called Christianity and Classical Culture: the Metamorphosis of natural theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism. I am learning a lot and I learned to respect the intellect of some of these Church Fathers who made many horrible mistakes in their battle for unity against Gnosticism, Literalistic and ritualistic Judaism and other so called heresy,which,even if partly true, would have crippled the Gentile Christians who were trying their best to reach a consensus compatible with their purpose to supplement the New Testament with nuggests from Plato and other Greek philosophers.

lucilius

08/13/2004 04:53:45 PM

You're quite right, schofield (wow, we agree on something for once). I think the factors you mention did have a lot to do with the decline of of alternative Christianities. Of course, "mainline" Christianity had plenty of its own doctrinal problems, and I'm not sure that its triumph at Nicea and Constantinople had more to do with "better" arguments than having an inside track with the civil authority (such as arranging to prevent prominent opposition spokesmen from travelling to the councils); but I think you're correct about the Ebionites, Marcionites and Gnostics. Popular as those varieties were with certain segments of society for a long while, they didn't have the broad-based appeal that the Christianity we know developed. I think part of that appeal came from co-opting the traditions of already-popular religions, but whatever the reason, it won out – but only after a long struggle.

garycharles

08/13/2004 04:10:48 PM

Hi,Some gnostic had interesting things to say. I prefer NICEAN Creed recognizing, however, the limitations of language, Anyhow, as a Messianic Jew or as I prefer to say "a Jew who has faith in Jesus Christ, here is my faith. I believe G-d 3 names. Father,The Son and the Holy Spirit) The latter two names help us understand the revelations G-d has given us to rescue us from sin and ignorance. These revelations help us achieve Self-perfection, the Good, the True, the Beautiful, happiness and immortality. Plato saw that we human beings are matter and spirit, but our spirit needs nourishment just as our body does. So we confess Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with our Holy Creator, Saviour and perfect teacher: G-d, our only one G-d whose three names are gifts of grace

schofield

08/13/2004 03:44:26 PM

Cont'd Poorer citizens, who made up the bulk of early Christians, would not find such a religion palatable because it would not speak to them. Ehrman also recognizes that the Gnostics generally believed that "regular Christians" were "superficial" in their understanding. This type of religion is not going to appeal to the masses, only to an intellectual elite who feels that they have learned all there is to learn on this earth and need "secret knowledge" to go further. So, the proto-orthodox, which could appeal to a broader base, won the debates.

schofield

08/13/2004 03:44:10 PM

Cont'd - The Marcionites rejected the clear base of the whole religion - stories about a JEWISH peasant who appeared to the Jews, and promised to fulfill jewish prophecy. That would be a hard argument to maintain in the face of the clear source of the religion - no matter how hard the religion changed over subsequent years. Finally, the Gnostics. The Gnostics appeal to a lot of people today, but I would argue that is because we are generally a fat, comfortable and rich bunch that is generally literate and doesn't need promises of redemption, salvation, no pain in the afterlife, etc. Soooo, we like stuff that gives us "secret knowledge" - generally found hidden in passages, or in long stretches of meditation, etc.

schofield

08/13/2004 03:37:11 PM

Wow - you guys (and gals - sorry, I'm from NJ) really like to go after each other. The rise of the "proto-orthodox" and the fall of the other versions of Christianity is pretty easy to theorize without getting into ideas of nefarious Roman bishops subjegating and burning all their opponents. Reading the article might help you guys realize that by the Council of Nicea and Constantine, as Bart Ehrman points out, the proto-orthodox had won out - and done it mostly because they had better arguments. I would add that: the Ebionite's were probably wiped out and discredited when Jerusalem fell in 60 A.D. It would be hard to argue for the superiority of sticking to a strictly Jewish version of Christiniaty in the face of that disaster.

Paganpriest

08/13/2004 02:58:10 PM

Cryptblade, did you even read what you wrote? The Gentile woman begged for crumbs, and that is all she got. Jesus nevber reached out to Gentiles. In fact, he called them dogs. The prophecies in Isaiah speak of the messiah, prophecies that Jesus never fulfilled.

lucilius

08/13/2004 02:28:28 PM

What a ridiculous oversimplification, cryptblade – one which has led you to a correspondingly warped conclusion. Far from having crowds just turn from one street preacher to another, the various forms of Christianity that Ehrman describes were powerful rivals for more than 200 years, at times threatening to overshadow the sort that eventually won state sanction. They attracted hundreds of thousands of lifelong adherents. This is not conjecture; try reading a few of the early church fathers on the subject, and you'll find that they considered these "other Christianities" as serious and viable rivals. Incidentally, Ehrman is a fairly prominent Biblical scholar. That he is unknown to you is more a sign of your lack of knowledge than his obscurity.

lectrikmike

08/13/2004 01:34:34 PM

I wonder if any of you have read the work of Matthew Fox? His books brought me back to a mystical Christianity. I had droped Christianity and intended never to go near it again becuase of the behaviors of the fundamentalists. This article brings out the fact that there are many interpretations to the teachings of Jesus. My problem is that too many people focus on the death on the cross, ressurection, attonement for sins thing, and basically ignore the real teachings of Jesus. It drives me nuts when I hear "Christians" express pro-war views. Would Jesus have been pro-war? Would he be a registered Republican if he came back today?

cryptblade

08/13/2004 12:24:49 PM

This whole thing, book, Ehrman himself is asinine. He approaches the subject as if the early church leaders could gather the people and lead them to religion. The reality was, the early church leaders spoke to the people like street evangelists today. Furthermore, in those days, there were all kinds of preachers from all kinds of religions. Many that preached a message far more attractive than Christianity. Any of these Ebionites or Mammanites or Gigabytes failed not because they were suppressed, but because their messages were empty, untrue. Peter got a revelation from God that the Gentiles were to be reached. He first witnessed the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit, then he heard from God to preach to them. Though the apostles did differ on many things - they kept to the basic, core, and true teachings of Jesus. THAT is why modern-day Christianity is the way it is - not because of some historical CONJECTURE by some obscure no-name author.

cryptblade

08/13/2004 12:07:41 PM

Paganpriest 8/12/04 2:17:19 PM "...It was only after his death that there came any thought of reaching out to Gentiles." You are so completely utterly wrong, it's laughable. Isaiah was in the OT and in it God said that he would reach out to the Gentiles. All the way back to Genesis, God told Abramham that ALL NATIONS would turn to God through Abramham. Jesus healed the Greek woman's daughter when he tested her and told her it was not right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs - she said but even the dogs eat the crumbs. He healed her daughter - she was not a Jew. So NO, reaching out to the Gentiles did NOT occur after his death. Even JESUS reached out to the Gentiles.

lucilius

08/13/2004 10:18:19 AM

I don't doubt that a religious leader named Jesus existed in roughly the time-frame assigned, but I agree that it's probably impossible to figure out exactly what he stood for – I think it's likely that he was as much of a political revolutionary as a religious one, and taught a much stricter interpretation of Jewish law than he's currently credited with. But shortly after his death the legends had already begun to gather – first as an explanation for his apparent failure, then to make the religion nonthreatening to the authorities and palatable to a wider public. In the course of that Christianity took on many trappings borrowed from surrounding Near Eastern religions and classical traditions. A good analogy would be the image of Socrates. He left nothing written, and Plato's account was long accepted as "gospel." But he appears very differently in Xenophon and Aristophanes, and there's no knowing which – if any – is the "true" Socrates and which is merely a reflection of the writer's own beliefs.

CloudwalkingOwl

08/12/2004 09:21:25 PM

(I had to split my previous post to fit.) From what I know of Church history it is a fact that there were many violent incidents in the destruction of what were called "heresies" and many early church histories made no bones about their willingness to subvert the truth in favour of what they called a "pious lie". What I found amazing is the incredible similarities between the story of Jesus and the mystery cults of other religions. (I had noticed once, however, that the Roman Livy's description of the life of Romulous was oddly familiar to the story of Christ.)

CloudwalkingOwl

08/12/2004 09:21:01 PM

If I could go one step further---. I've just read Tom Harpur's book _The Pagan Christ_, and I think he makes a very good case that there never was a person that we call "Jesus Christ" and that what really happened was that an oral myth cycle ended up being written down and confused with actual historical fact. What we call the "orthodox" point of view was able to burn most of the books that had a different point of view, kill most of the people who thought differently and then "fudge" the history in order to support the orthodox version.

lucilius

08/12/2004 02:43:31 PM

Jpf311: "You can no more uncover the 'original' religion of Jesus than you can make the sun rise in the west." If that's so, then who, in fact, do you worship? On whose supposed life and teachings do you base your religion? In your fury to discredit god is in the tv, you've declared your own beliefs to be baseless. Thanks.

Paganpriest

08/12/2004 02:17:18 PM

"miklostj 8/11/04 10:01:21 PM Case in point, these Ebionite and Marcionite faiths did not survive because they were extreme and exclusivists. One side says no jewish ties, the other is all jewish. Both incompatible with the message of Christ, thus disqualified." I don't think you can find a single shred of evidence to support that claim. Jesus was Jewish, all Jewish, all the way through the Gospels. It was only after his death that there came any thought of reaching out to Gentiles.

thefish

08/12/2004 10:34:45 AM

I would like to respond to the comment about "elitists" concerning the Gnostic Christians... I, for one, do not feel CHOSEN and don't consider myself an "elitist"...quite the contrary...I believe ALL are saved...I just don't believe others see it...if that puts me in a MINORITY, that doesn't make me an elitist as I am not EXCLUDING anyone, I am for INCLUSION...I see truth in everything and everyone. It just means, as I stated before, I believe there are fewer people with OPEN minds in the world and far more people who have very NARROW, even CLOSED views... Hope that clears up my thoughts of elitism (sp?).. Peace <

god_is_in_the_tv

08/12/2004 12:12:47 AM

That Christianity was developed further by the works of Paul and the Apostles and of later theologians and mystics does not in the least invalidate it. It does if the idea upon which the whole business is based is flawed Just have the cojones to admit that without Paul and his completely insane "conversion," neither East nor West nor any of the offshoots of the political organization he built a religion around would exist.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/12/2004 12:07:10 AM

You keep showing more and more ignorance! Strainign at gnats and swallowing camels, are we? THe Eastern Church and the Western Church are both of Paul. Are you telling me that the church that started with the authority that Jesus gave to Peter is not the progenitor of the Eastern Church - you said they "split" - what they split "from" if they didn't both come from the same place. THey use the same ancient correspondence of the political genius who flimflammed the world as "scriptures" FFS. Are you that dense? (just trying to keep it as civil as you have chosen to.)

miklostj

08/11/2004 10:15:40 PM

contd, "Pauline" (a misnomer)christianity survived because it was the closest to the source and it was the faith of the original disciples. It wasn't exclusivist, it was simple, it was freeing, it wasn't secret or elitist and it wasn't legalistic... it was true to the original message of Christ. It completed the Judaic concept of atonement. It survived because it had merit unlike the other "christianities". (But then the RCC introduced a doctrine of legalism and twisted christianities doctrine.) If you judge a faith by it's source you can weed out the untruths that grow with time. note: I challenge anyone to show me where the apostle Paul twisted or changed the message of Christ. Or was at odds with the disciples (minus Peter wanting to circumcise new converts Gal. 2) All one has to do is go to the source.

miklostj

08/11/2004 10:01:21 PM

To Thefish and all, An endeavor we should take is to mine the "truth" from the untruth. Through reason we can disqualify certain philosophies as untrue. Case in point, these Ebionite and Marcionite faiths did not survive because they were extreme and exclusivists. One side says no jewish ties, the other is all jewish. Both incompatible with the message of Christ, thus disqualified. Gnosticism is based on an elite group gaining obscure "secret" knowledge (like the high-ranking Freemasons). Christs message was very simple and down to earth and he was not an elitist. Thus Gnosticism must be ruled out because it is incompatible with the message of the Christ of the Gospels (which is the criteria I judge by)

thefish

08/11/2004 08:38:16 PM

The more I study, read, listen and learn...the more I see "truth" sewn through the fabric of our religions and cultures like a fine silk thread that no-one else can see...except me and a few others. Maybe that's because we "step back" and focus on the whole and the thread appears...but if you look too closely and narrow your focus, you'll never see it... Just a thought... Peace <

jpf311

08/11/2004 08:13:48 PM

Re: Civil authority opinion would not matter. Detective investigations of crime scenes are a very new idea. Two millenia ago, there was no such thing as police investivation. If a body was found and there were no witnesses to say "He did it!" the matter was ignored. Are you seriously proposing that the ancients did not care about murders? And if you are, where is the historical evidence of these victims? Surely anti-Christian writers like Porphyry and Celsus would have included in their diatribes against Christianity the fact that the adherents of this sect went about murdering their rivals.

jpf311

08/11/2004 08:11:58 PM

Re: Understand - you people worship Paul's version of a dead and risen sacrificial Christ. So what? That’s the case with all the major religions. Hinduism today is not pure Vedic Aryan faith. It has been honed and developed by a whole host of teachers and gurus from the writers of the Upanishads down to Gandhi. Judaism is not just the religion of Abraham; Moses had a lot to do with it, as did the later prophets and the Talmudic rabbis. Buddhism was developed by a number of later sages after Siddhartha Gautama. Confucianism evolved from its original teacher through the works of Mencius and other later Chinese scholars. That Christianity was developed further by the works of Paul and the Apostles and of later theologians and mystics does not in the least invalidate it. It’s the way the world works: As Herakelitos said, All things change with time and we step not twice in the same river. You can no more uncover the “original” religion of Jesus than you can make the sun rise in the west.

jpf311

08/11/2004 08:11:11 PM

The RCC (and your Eastern Church) is based on the supposed "authority" Jesus gave to the Popes to make their laws on earth reality in heaven You keep showing more and more ignorance! One of the main reasons the East split from Rome was precisely because the East did NOT accept the authority of the popes!

god_is_in_the_tv

08/11/2004 07:56:35 PM

Careful, 'walker Don't mention history - or jpf will jump down your throat. Didn't you know there's only one right history? Just like there's only one right interpretation of Christ - the Paulianity version! *wink*

wakanwalker

08/11/2004 07:24:42 PM

The revenge of the Gnostics! I love it! God has resurrected the Gnostic Christian past and it is coming back again to bite Pauline Christianity for butchering the teachings of Jesus. This time, no Roman Empire squash the Gnostic Christian movement, only the spiritually weak Pauline Christian churches that can only defend their doctrines by telling believers to stand by Pauline Christian lies and myths in the face of historical facts.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/11/2004 07:12:08 PM

This gets weirder and weirder. What's so hard to understand? THe Christianity you and most eceryone else in the world practicies is based on the writings of Paul. The RCC (and your Eastern Church) is based on the supposed "authority" Jesus gave to the Popes to make their laws on earth reality in heaven. All of the theological thought that has survived and been encouraged since waaaaay back in the 1st and 2nd century are not based on the words of Jesus, but are rather based on the theology that was spread by Paul on his Marketing (II mean missionary) tours. Understand - you people worship Paul's version of a dead and risen sacrificial Christ. Jesus, on the other hand, had very little to do with that.

trenobar

08/11/2004 05:31:52 PM

How did I just know jpf311 was Eastern Orthodox before I clicked on his profile :)

Paganpriest

08/11/2004 05:27:56 PM

While there is no evidence of wide scale persecution, jpf311, to say that there could not have been any is to ignore the realities of the times. Civil authority opinion would not matter. Detective investigations of crime scenes are a very new idea. Two millenia ago, there was no such thing as police investivation. If a body was found and there were no witnesses to say "He did it!" the matter was ignored. As well, remember that none of these groups were in high favor with those civil authorities.

Paganpriest

08/11/2004 05:20:47 PM

As I said, weaker minds perfer systems that they do not need to think about. Many adults in America cannot state Newton's laws of motion. Relativistic motion is used only by the intellectually elite. If the survival of relativity depended on popular understanding to propagate, it would wither and die like those alternate Christianities, even though it is a far superior model of the real universe.

amyisgnostic

08/11/2004 05:01:51 PM

Right back at ya, tv and fish… As a “Gnostic”, I am truly a voracious reader and my library is vast and varied…I am open to all teachings, Eastern, Western, Ancient and Modern. In fact, am very religious in my quest for gnossis or knowledge. Too many wonderful, insightful books and authors I have, to list here, but one book that I must list as a favorite is “Love Without Conditions – Reflections of the Christ Mind” by Paul Ferrini. Absolutely beautiful book. A must read for the seeker! As a Gnostic Christian, I do so with pure joy and freedom. I am at peace in my search and I am in deep gratitude to God for all of it. Knowledge is power. Keep an open mind and go forth! I have to mention Pagels, I am deeply grateful for her bringing forth the Gnostic view.

jpf311

08/11/2004 03:25:12 PM

Re: anyone who subscribes to Christianity as it is today (and has been since the Holy Roman Empire) is a Pauline Christian. This gets weirder and weirder. The Holy Roman Empire was founded in the 10th century by Otto of Saxony. And as wits has quipped ever since it was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. (Occasionally people will refer, albiet sloppily, to Charlemagne’s empire as the Holy Roman Empire too. But even that was founded in 800 AD, long after Paul and Jesus lived)

Puurrzz

08/11/2004 03:14:21 PM

Now this is something that makes me go hmmmmmm. Jesus was killed by the Romans....so god rewards the romans by making them the most powerful empire of the time. I'm sure somewhere there is fairness and justice in that....? Nuts.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/11/2004 02:39:40 PM

Fish and amy - smooches to you both. Amy- I'm pleasantly surprised to read that there are people who still seek Gnosis in their relationship with God via the words of Jesus. Where can I go to read more?

thefish

08/11/2004 02:11:44 PM

amy and giitv... Well said!!! Peace <

amyisgnostic

08/11/2004 02:03:26 PM

AMEN!!!!!!!! Amen, god-is-in-the-tv! I hear ya loud and clear, I too, believe that Christ did not want to be idolized. In fact, I know! I know deep in my heart, he did not want to be idolized. Christ, our dear brother, came into life and went back Home. And all that’s happened since he left us?? Has been nothing but chaos! We have a long way to go...we'll get there. Peace everyone.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/11/2004 01:52:56 PM

And before you get your persnickety knickers in yet another twist - anyone who subscribes to Christianity as it is today (and has been since the Holy Roman Empire) is a Pauline Christian. These people believe his words are the words of God and the words of other apostles (including Mary, Thomas, et al.,) are heresy. Any theological idea that comes out of that can therefore be ultimately ascribed to Paul.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/11/2004 01:49:37 PM

Actually the Anselmian atonement doctrine did not come into vogue until well into the Middle Ages (Anselm, I think, lived in the 10th century). You err in ascribing it to Paul. If I "err" so much in this thought - why is Paul featured so heavily in the approved canon? Sorry - It may have been Canonized in the Xth century, butthe idea that Jesus was a sacrifice was peculiar to the Paulines.

jpf311

08/11/2004 12:47:32 PM

Re: The "sacrifice" for "sins" is what Jesus is worshipped for in Paulianity. Actually the Anselmian atonement doctrine did not come into vogue until well into the Middle Ages (Anselm, I think, lived in the 10th century). You err in ascribing it to Paul. In fact, Eastern Christendom has never bought into this theory and yet is just as “Paulian” as the West.

jpf311

08/11/2004 12:47:05 PM

Re: There's no evidence because the winners write the history. Which is why we know nothing about any other losing faction in hiostory. The Persian Empire that Alexander conquered, Carthage and the Gauls that were conquered by Rome, pre-Mongol China, pre-Moghul India, Gothic Spain, Byzantium, the pre-Columbian civilizations of the New World, Nazi Germany: all are historical voids with not one scintilla of evidence left for us. Don’t be asinine. Even in the modern world totalitarians lack the means to efface historical evidence. In the ancient past, with much lower technology and much less state power in anyone’s hands, what you are suggesting was flat out impossible.

jpf311

08/11/2004 12:46:29 PM

Re: These forms were destroyed, plain and simple, by those in power by the hand and policies of Constantine. One only has to look at the burning of the Library of Alexandria in the 3rd C., where the worlds largest collection of 'Gnostic' Christian literature was utterly destroyed by the emerging mainline Christians. What in the world are you talking about??? Gnostic Christianity was as much a proscribed religion in the Roman Empire as orthodox Christianity was. Its literature was not something that you’d find in as state-supported institution like the Library of Alexandria Besides which, the Gnostics regarded their Gnosis as secret and would not have shared it in such a fashion. And more importantly, the library of Alexandia was not damaged by religious strife of any sort. The 3rd century riots in the that city (which did damage the library, and much else besides) were sparked by ethnic tensions and severe economic problems.

Puurrzz

08/11/2004 11:07:05 AM

I think this article is really saying that men made god and religion, then couldn't figure out who was right. I'm surprised he didn't mention the gospel of Mary, Thomas and Phillip. Or that the Gnostics turned the gods of Egypt into Christian saints. God does not seem to be invented by god....men, yes, god no.

edict_of_cyrus

08/11/2004 09:06:53 AM

"god's t.v.", in my opinion, could not be more accurate - Chrisitanity's focus on the after world or world to come has played a role in much of our environmental ignorance - why work to save a planet that really has no value at all? Christ's life teaches a very different, life-giving view that brings into focus the present. Bravo "god..tv". However, the previous view of 'ipf311' is grossly mislead and misleading where you say the other forms of Chrisitanity just faded away because they lacked appeal! These forms were destroyed, plain and simple, by those in power by the hand and policies of Constantine. One only has to look at the burning of the Library of Alexandria in the 3rd C., where the worlds largest collection of 'Gnostic' Christian literature was utterly destroyed by the emerging mainline Christians. Similar libraries and educators met a similar end in this time. Sorry, but nothing 'faded' away - it was eradicated.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/11/2004 08:46:44 AM

there's no need to impute evil deeds to people long dead when the evidence for such deeds is simply nill. There's no evidence because the winners write the history. As erudite as you seem, you have foolishly forgotten that simple, basic truth.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/11/2004 08:43:39 AM

We do not focus on how Jesus died, because all are ‘crucified” throughout life at one time or another, and we all ‘die”. What is important to us is HOW HE LIVED! And there, my friends, is the crux of Paulianity's death-mystery cult. Its success is humanity's failure. In shifting focus from how Jesus lived, spoke and acted to how and why (supposedly) he died, all the power of Christ is nullified. What is left is a behavioral control system masking itself as mysticism. All that is important is after death. The "sacrifice" for "sins" is what Jesus is worshipped for in Paulianity. Jesus never asked to be worshipped. His life was the Way - lovingkindness, generosity of spirit, sharing, teaching, standing up to those who would use the laws of men to bully while claiming they were of God - THAT was Christ. I don't recognize the Christ of Paulianity - seems like another shackle of men, to me.

jpf311

08/11/2004 08:43:17 AM

Re: so after constantine instituted(more like imposed)christianity many groups including Ebionites, Marcionites, Gnostics were branded as heretic religions, purged, destroyed and converted. Peope, please read the article. And then maybe some history. First off Constantine did NOT institute (or impose) Christianity. All he did was make it legal, ending the persecutions. It was not until Theodosios (c. 390 AD) that Christianity became the official Roman religion. Secondly, as the article (and any reliable history) makes clear, the alterna-Christianities had already withered on their own away by the 4th century. They simply did not appeal to enough people, and it’s rather easy to understand why. Gnosticism was inherently elitist, while Ebionism was too ritualistically Jewish.

jpf311

08/11/2004 08:36:41 AM

Re: Weaker minds will naturally seek the easiest solution. How charminmgly elitist! And this of course explains why the fierce complexities of quantum and relativity physics have replaced the simpler Newtonian system. No, I don't think so. In the sociology of ideas and technologies the ones which win out are indeed usually those which appeal to the most people. But that's not because they are necessarily the simplest-- an outhouse after all is simpler than a flush toilet! The ideas which appeal to the most are those which work the best.

jpf311

08/11/2004 08:29:01 AM

Re: Persecution and oppression do not require the oppressor be in a position of civil authority, it only needs to have numbers To enact an effective persecution one must have the support (at the very least, the tacit support, and more likely the active support) of the civil authorities since the State has a monopoly on tolerated violence in any society. The only possible exception is in a society that is in a state of advanced collapse. Christianity before Constantine most decidedly did not have the spport of the civil authortities and Rome was not in a state of collapse at the time. There was no persecution between Christian sects. (And no history speaks of it, and the histories of those times were written by Pagans, including many critics of Christianity). Face it people: orthodox Christianity won out because people preferred it. Disagree with that preferrence if you like but there's no need to impute evil deeds to people long dead when the evidence for such deeds is simply nill.

jpf311

08/11/2004 08:22:05 AM

If Constanius had never embraced Christianity, chances are it would have faded from view a long time ago and we would all now be, I don't know, pagan or Muslim perhaps. Concerning Paul I think you are right. However in regards to Constantine I don’t agree. There were strong sociological factors in favor of Christianity becoming the dominant religion in the Roman Empire. Some later emperor would probably have played Constantine’s role instead. I see Constatine as being roughly similar to Lincoln and Emancipation in this regard: important for the details of what happened when it happened, but just as slavery would have ended in America even if Lincoln had never been born, so too Christianity would have become the religion of the Empire with or without Constantine.

Ebon

08/11/2004 06:38:47 AM

The point I'm trying to make is that the history of Christianity could really only have played out one way, this way. Change one thing, no matter how small, and you create echos that mean the faith probably wouldn't exist today. It had to happen the way it did happen for us to have this discussion and it was only extraordinary luck (or divine intervention if you prefer) that allowed it to survive and thrive.

Ebon

08/11/2004 06:37:02 AM

I'm as much a fan of counterfactual history as anyone and more so than most but an awful lot of this depends upon too many variables to really establish what might have happened if another faction had won with any certainty. For example, let's say Paul never converted to Christianity. Well, now, either someone came along and took his place, in which case Christianity would probably be pretty similar to "our" version or someone wouldn't have. If someone hadn't taken his place, it's debateable whether Christianity would still exist at all. If Constanius had never embraced Christianity, chances are it would have faded from view a long time ago and we would all now be, I don't know, pagan or Muslim perhaps. cont...

Ebon

08/11/2004 06:17:29 AM

deacon, do you actually know or read any real history? Because there were numerous factions of Christianity almost from the moment Jesus croaked. Witness for example, the massive divide between Pauline Christianity and the other factions of the faith then in existance. Or the schism between Catholic and Orthodox churches, or teh schism between Luther and teh RCC. Claim one side was right or "divinely favoured" if you please but disputing their existance is the act of a lunatic.

amyisgnostic

08/10/2004 06:13:36 PM

cont. Instead, they took all his beautiful teachings & distorted the truth. Centuries later, this distortion has become the giant machination known as Christianity, that ironically contradicts his most important teaching; unconditional love! Contradicts his important teachings with all of the guilt & sin & conditions one must confess to in order to be "saved”. There is absolutely no un-conditional love there. Message deleted! Didn’t anyone ever tell you never say never? We are out here! Shining our lights, doing the best we can to help & love others while making our way through this crazy thing known as life. Love & light to all! Amy

amyisgnostic

08/10/2004 06:13:11 PM

cont. We are a mystical group of thinkers with a "knowing" whose aim is to be as loving as we can and to help as many as we can by lighting a way for others.Sharing knowledge when asked,never converting anyone to our own truth because we know each soul has to find their own truth.We love all & pray for all,knowing that we are all in this together,sent here by a God/Ess who loves us very much. We do not focus on how Jesus died, because all are ‘crucified” throughout life at one time or another, and we all ‘die”. What is important to us is HOW HE LIVED!He was one(of many) that came to spread the good news,that came to be an example for the rest of us.He came to tell us the truth...And he did! But most people didn’t get his message.

amyisgnostic

08/10/2004 06:12:46 PM

No such thing as Gnostic Christians? I AM a Gnostic Christian & attend a GC church in CA! We are seekers of truth & knowledge by way of living with the christ consciousness. Open to all teachings and teachers. Seekers who believe in a loving God/Ess & reject the vengeful God scare tactics.Aware of their divine heritage who know that we are all ONE with God & each other.When we seek, we know we will find, as our yearning for truth is great. We are a loving group of souls who don’t believe in sin & guilt & a venegeful God. We trust our own soul & God center to find the answers within by experience gained and our individual growing spiritual awareness. It is knowledge we seek as well as spiritual enlightenment. The Christ consciousness is the very heart of our philosophy as we strive for peace,love & understanding.

Paganpriest

08/10/2004 05:36:40 PM

True. But you only need to read the OT to invalidate Pauline Christianity.

zann

08/10/2004 04:19:19 PM

Paganpriest, That Pauline Christianity was the most marketable of the competing ideologies does not, in of itself, invalidate it.

Paganpriest

08/10/2004 03:41:16 PM

Persecution and oppression do not require the oppressor be in a position of civil authority, it only needs to have numbers. One persecuted minority can persecute another. Since the alternative Christianities require more work on the part of their practicioners, it is no surprise that Paulianity won out. Weaker minds will naturally seek the easiest solution.

LAHSM

08/10/2004 03:37:12 PM

One could also point out that Christianity now is even more divided. Has anyone else been told by a fellow Christian that you are going to hell for your beliefs? I know I have. Not to mention differences such as Mass structure, ministry, theology, Eucharistic beliefs and so on. Even in the same religion, there are these differences. For example, there are traditional and progressive Catholics ( and believe me, they drive each other crazy.)There is a lot of truth in what this article has to say about the proto-orthodox Christians "winning," but Christianity is still not one faith but many.

trulyalarmed

08/10/2004 03:18:44 PM

so after constantine instituted(more like imposed)christianity many groups including Ebionites, Marcionites, Gnostics were branded as heretic religions, purged, destroyed and converted. and then came the creeds- definitions of what they believed- they were debated, argued, voted on and then put into place. so looks to me like christianity is not the organic, christ fills our soul and we change kinda thing, it's an imposition, do or die feeling.

trulyalarmed

08/10/2004 03:12:25 PM

part 1deacon77, pagel says: Christianity had survived brutal persecution and flourished for generations—even centuries—before Christians formulated what they believed into creeds. ...But only in the fourth century, after the Roman emperor Constantine himself converted to the new faith—or at least decriminalized it—did Christian bishops, at the emperor’s command, convene in the city of Nicaea, on the Turkish coast, to agree upon a common statement of beliefs—the so-called Nicene Creed, which defines the faith for many Christians to this day. see below

trulyalarmed

08/10/2004 03:11:55 PM

part2 For nearly three hundred years before these creeds were written, diverse Christian groups had welcomed newcomers in various ways. ...The astonishing discovery of the gnostic gospels—a cache of ancient secret gospels and other revelations attributed to Jesus and his disciples—has revealed a much wider range of Christian groups than we had ever know before. Although later denounced by certain leaders as "heretics," many of these Christians saw themselves as not so much believers as seekers, people who "seek for God." looks like christianity according to pagel discounts not proves what you used as a reference.

doctorfrog

08/10/2004 03:02:25 PM

i was always told that the catholic church is true christianity. what's this "apostolic" nonsense?

onezam

08/10/2004 02:39:54 PM

There is only ONE kind of Christianity - "Apostolic Christianity". Everything else is a morphing (or perversion) of the way the APOSTLES understood Jesus. Whoa, easy there Deacon. Neither Paul nor Constantine were apostles, and their fingerprints are found at the scene. And since Mary was the first there after the rock rolled (the origin of Rock'n Roll), we should pay more attention to her teaching, especially since she was Yeshua's consort. As for the authors theory that one form won out due to mere belief, that feels wrong. Seems like the Roman Church, due to it's geographical position in the capital of the Roman Empire, was able to advance it's own cause via the power of the Emperor. Read "The Messianic Legacy" by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, (authors of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail) for a well-researched account of these early times. IMHO- any deity capable of creating our vast and wonderful universe doesn't much care what book you read or what interpretation thereof you prefer.

trulyalarmed

08/10/2004 02:33:33 PM

i just finished an article on a website for religious tolerance and having returned back to Bnet, i have only to laugh at deacon77. laughing at ignorance is my new favorite past time. unfortunately for you deacon77 history disagrees with your lunitic ramblings. there were a number of factions and cell groups that formed and though some historical documentation of their practicies were destroyed, much still remains. your assumption that academic types having too much time on their hands, thus invalidates the existence of Marcions, Gnostics, Ebionites and other early groups is just wishful thinking, because they have read the books, there is proof, and wrote books that otherwise disprove your crap theory.

lucilius

08/10/2004 02:29:25 PM

I think it would be more accurate, deacon777, to say that modern Christianity has simply claimed to be the sole transmitter of Jesus' original teachings. As the last version standing (in the West, at least) by the sixth century, there was no one to gainsay that interpretation. And yet even within that narrow field, the Catholic, Orthodox and various Protestant branches – plus smaller contenders such as the Copts – all claim to be the "real" Christians. Ebionites, Marcionites and Gnostics probably had as good a claim in earlier centuries (with just as much evidence, if not more) to be the true inheritors of Jesus' mantle as does today's divided church.

ElGabilon

08/10/2004 02:07:57 PM

What this article suggests is that from a modern point of view, God is a stupido. Basically the historical data in the article is true. So would a God who wanted humans to follow a certain course create such havoc, and so many different religions? We have Judaism, Early Christianity, Catholicism, Lutherism, and the breakdown from there. It proves the point that Christianity in all its forms is humanly created brought forth out of the Jewish religion and from there the creation of the Islamic religion. Everything about it is false. Because someone won the battle does not indicate in any way that it is true. Better men stay at home and pray to an unkown God which is more in line with reality. When one studies religion one can only come to one conclusion, humans are idiots.

deacon777

08/10/2004 01:53:17 PM

There is no such thing as "Ebonite Christians" or "Marcion Christians" or "Gnostic Christians". Good grief, the people beliefnet gets to do articles needs improvement. In fact none other than Elaine Pagels proves my point in her article, "The Gnostic texts prove Christians have always understood Jesus in different ways". There is only ONE kind of Christianity - "Apostolic Christianity". Everything else is a morphing (or perversion) of the way the APOSTLES understood Jesus. The only "battle" in Christianity is in the minds of some academic-types with too much time on their hands.

akbusch

08/10/2004 12:44:25 PM

Re. the exchange between earlbob and trulyalarmed, I too was intrigued by, and initially disagreed with, Ehrman's hunch that if the Marcionites had won, we probably wouldn't have anti-Semetism. Now, thinking about it, I'm not sure. The pity is we'll never know.

toddp34

08/10/2004 11:57:55 AM

Satan (through men) has always taken a little bit of truth, mixed it with a little bit of lies and used it to take man's path away from God.... What would he do without Satan, the glue that holds Christianity together.

jontemplar

08/10/2004 11:18:31 AM

Good observation! He has succeeded everytime I hear someone say, "Paul said..." Yet we know less about Paul than we do Jesus and very little about Jesus. "Paul's mission before his "conversion" was to destroy Christianity. It's my opinion that he succeeded."

god_is_in_the_tv

08/10/2004 10:39:29 AM

jpf. Thank you for your thoughtful insults. We'll have to agree to disagree. Your orthodoxy won the day. Feel free to believe it did so any way you choose to believe.

jpf311

08/10/2004 10:17:59 AM

Re: Fast forward to the 3rd century, adn all forms of religious thought not of the Pauline variety were wiped off the map. Maybe— but the 3rd century is still pre-Constantine and the orthodox had no power or facility for persecuting anyone at that era. And why do you think it unlikely that orthodoxy triumphed because it appealed to more people (including, ultimately, the Roman elite) than its rivals? This to me seems like a very logical and sensible explantion. One need not even invoke the mioraculous to account for it, since there are rational and secular reasons why Gnosticism or the other variants would have only limited appeal while orthodoxy was accessible to pretty much everyone. The author here has explained some of those reasons. For an in-depth sociological treatment I would suggest a word by Rod Stark, The Rise of Christianity.

jpf311

08/10/2004 10:17:26 AM

Re: Cutlists of all flavors were martyred in the days about which he is writing. Yes they were—by the Roman authorities who sought to supress all flavors of Christianity equally. While the persecutions are somewhat exaggerated in the Church’s hagiographical legends, there’s no way anyoen can claim that Roman rulers like Nero, Domitianus, Decius or Diocletian sought to favor the proto-orthodox by persuting their foes preferrentially. You seem however to adhere to the Ann Coulter/Sean Hannity school of history: it’s not sufficient to disagree, you feel the need to demonize those you disagree with by portraying them as monsters.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/10/2004 10:05:54 AM

Sunshine- That certainly is *one* way to look at it.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/10/2004 10:04:25 AM

Ayios, Pauline Christianity has as its basic tenet the idea of a divine being sacrificing itself to redeem its followers. It's a decidely pagan ideology, one that has its parallels in Osiiris, Dionysus, Odin, Mithra and others - Paul used it as his basis because he knew it would be recognized by the unwashed (pagan) masses and accepted. It was an idea they understood. The gospels were all written many years after the fact, and all have this Pauline flavor. How many non-Paulian gospels were destroyed? Why is it that the church, founded on Pauline Christianity, chose Paul's writings as "the word of God" when other, just as important, letters were branded heresy and blasphemy? The short answer is: Because they disagreed with Paul's take. Paul's mission before his "conversion" was to destroy Christianity. It's my opinion that he succeeded.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/10/2004 09:59:54 AM

jpf, I read the author's article, and it doen't jibe with the reality. Cutlists of all flavors were martyred in the days about which he is writing. Had Pauline Christianity not ingratiated itself with political leaders as it did, it, too would have been wiped out. Fast forward to the 3rd century, adn all forms of religious thought not oif the Pauline variety were wiped off the map. We only know what we know because of what survived the slaughter.

sunshine2777

08/10/2004 09:25:54 AM

There is absolute truth. Those other "types" of Christianity didnt survive because they were not based upon truth. Satan (through men) has always taken a little bit of truth, mixed it with a little bit of lies and used it to take man's path away from God and the truth of His Son, Jesus. He will do whatever it takes to accomplish this. There would be antisemitism regardless if there were Christians or not. Satan hates God's chosen people and he will work through whatever means he can to destroy them. One safe bet: The truth will prevail in the end. It always does. No one has to believe me on this. Time will tell.

jpf311

08/10/2004 08:36:13 AM

Re: My hunch is that if that had happened, anti-Semitism wouldn’t have developed among Christians. Some degree of anti-Semitism would have existed even under Marcionism, since the Greek and Roman pagans also looked with disdain on the Jews. But it probably would have remeained just a popular prejuidice and not deverloped into outright persecution.

jpf311

08/10/2004 08:32:45 AM

rE: It's just the one won by that slaughtering the others. Please read the author's article again, and then consult some history books as well. Orthodox Christianity had become established as the norm by the time of Constantine. There was no violence (other than purely verbal polemics) in that process and there could not have been since no form of Christianity had access to legal tools of persecution and repression. You disagree with the choices the ancient Christains made, which is fine-- but why slander them because they did not choose as you would prefer?

ayios

08/10/2004 08:31:42 AM

god is in the tv, Pardon my ignorance in the matter, but could you explain to me what is the Pauline death-mystery cult? What are the differences between "Paulinity" and your own personal beliefs? I am not trying to be sarcastic or pick a fight I would like to educate myself more on this.

jpf311

08/10/2004 08:27:20 AM

Re: What we have to remember is that the proto-orthodox were also very very good at the persecution game. Anything that stood in opposition to their orthodoxy was ruthlessly hunted down and burned. For the time period under discussion (the 2nd and 3rd centuries) Christianity of any sort had no official standing and no ability to persecute anyone or destroy their written works. As the author of the article notes there was no real sectarian violence just a lot of verbal controversy and polemics. Orthodox Christianity really did win fair and square by persuading the majority of Christians that the orthodox POV was correct.

god_is_in_the_tv

08/10/2004 08:13:36 AM

What if Ebionite Christians, Marcion Christians, or Gnostic Christians had been more convincing? This question is disingenuous from the outset. The real question that needs to be asked is: "What would Christianity have looked like had it not been co-opted by the Pauline death-mystery cult which converted the world at sword-point?" This is one of the primary reason why I cannot consider myself "Christian" in the traditional religion sense of the word - we simply do not know whether Paulianity is the true religion of God. It's just the one won by that slaughtering the others. Wouldn't it be ironic to find out after it's all over that the Gnostics had it right - and all the Paulites in the world were just following the rule-structure of a consummate power-hungry politico? Makes ya think, don't it?

bbdh

08/10/2004 08:11:22 AM

BS"D Fascinating historical revelation and insight into antisemitism!

LairdsChapel

08/09/2004 11:44:08 PM

Every February 14th we celebrate the dimly remembered Valentinus, a contender for the position of Bishop of Rome, whose movement was suppressed and whose memory glossed over with a more "politically correct" archetype of "St. Valentine." Here's an excerpt from Valentinus' writings, found at Nag Hammadi: "Thus the logos of the Father goes forth into the All, being the fruit of his heart and expression of his will. It supports the All. It chooses and also takes the form of the All, purifying it, and causing it to return to the Father and to the Mother, Jesus of the utmost sweetness." "The Gospel of Truth" according to Valentinus (from earlychristianwritings.com)

trulyalarmed

08/09/2004 08:57:54 PM

it isn't speculation if you understood the marcionites. reread the authors point: "If they had won, then I guess we wouldn’t have an Old Testament anymore and there would be no connection between Judaism and Christianity. My hunch is that if that had happened, anti-Semitism wouldn’t have developed among Christians. What drove anti-Semitism was the competition between the Jewish understanding of scripture and the Christian understanding of scripture. But if there were no competition because they didn’t have the same scripture, then we may well have never had any anti-Semitism."

earlbob

08/09/2004 08:35:28 PM

I must be missing something. If the Marcionites had been "victorious," there wouldn't have been anti-Semitism? A group of people who believed the God of the Jews was evil and in opposition to their own would have been more tolerant than the adherents of orthodoxy? That's some interesting speculation.

JRT

08/09/2004 08:14:23 PM

The point is made that the proto-orthodox were very prolific in their writings and that by implication the other Christian sects were not. What we have to remember is that the proto-orthodox were also very very good at the persecution game. Anything that stood in opposition to their orthodoxy was ruthlessly hunted down and burned. Hundreds of thousands of pagan books were burned and God only knows how much of the literature of the Marcionites, the Ebonites or the Gnostics were destroyed. Without getting into guessing numbers, I think that it is safe to say 'almost all'. That the Nag Hamadi library survived is almost miraculous. In short, the historical record is very one sided because the winners get to write the histories and burn the books.

cknuck

08/09/2004 06:52:42 PM

What's changed and what has not changed?

Advertisement

Advertisement

DiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnoratiFacebook