What Was the Council of Nicea?

Teabing presents a confused picture to Sophie in his discussion of Jesus' identity as divine.

Excerpted with permission from Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code by Bart D. Ehrman, Oxford University Press (2004).

Teabing mentions this council when speaking to Sophie Neveu in his drawing room. He explains to her that Constantine's Council of Nicea was convened in order to vote on the divinity of Jesus, as a way to consolidate the emperor's own power base.

"During this fusion of religions, Constantine needed to strengthen the new Christian tradition, and held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea.At this gathering," Teabing said, "many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon-the date of Easter, the role of bishops, the administration of sacraments, and, of course, the divinity of Jesus."


"I don't follow. His divinity?"

"My dear," Teabing declared, "until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet.a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal."

"Not the Son of God?"

"Right," Teabing said. "Jesus' establishment as 'the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea."

"Hold on. You're saying Jesus' divinity was the result of a vote?"

"A relatively close vote at that," Teabing added.."By officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity who existed beyond the scope of the human world, an entity whose power was unchallengeable."

Once again, there are elements of both fact and fiction in Teabing's view. Constantine did call the Council of Nicea, and one of the issues involved Jesus' divinity. But this was not a council that met to decide whether or not Jesus was divine, as Teabing indicates. Quote the contrary: everyone at the Council-and in fact, just about every Christian everywhere-already agreed that Jesus was divine, the Son of God. The question being debated was how to


Jesus' divinity in light of the circumstance that he was also human. Moreover, how could both Jesus and God be God if there is only one God?

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