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Politics and power first priority #2

The early days of Christianity

2.2.2. Politics and power first priority #2

Between ‘first-born’[1] indicating being the first one of the New Covenant period, the first born of the New Creation which was pre-eminent for the followers of the Messiah[2] , the New Adam opening the gateway for the new people of God, became under fire because certain people started to believe that Jesus was the first person born, even before Adam, the first man was created. This idea entered in the second period of the 2nd century and developed further in the 3rd century with Clement of Alexandria [c. 150- c. 214 CE] who used the term “protoktistos” in his Stromata[3] but later on calls Jesus “protoktistos”, [first-created][4] Clement uses the term first-created, as though it was first-born, to Clement and others, the two meant the same thing and were interchangeable and in fact, if we look at Clements same work [Stromata] just a little later on in chapter 14, page 465, we come across the expression, “tes sophias tes protoktistou tw thew”, which means, “Wisdom, which was the first of the creation of God”, here we clearly see the [genitive] “protoktistou” [of the creation]! Clement repeatedly identifies the Word with the Wisdom of God, and yet he refers to Wisdom as the first created of God; while in one passage he attaches the epithet “First-created,” and in another “First-begotten,” to the Word.

To the church fathers [pre-Nicene] the terms “prototokos” and “protoktistos” were naturally synonymous and interchangeable terms, they treat both equally and with the same meaning!

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a partnership formed (harmonia, syymphonia) wich became one of the foundations of the Christian Empire.[5] Because the religious peace of the East was threatened the Roman Emperor Constantine I convoked (325) the first ecumenical council (see Nicaea, First Council of Nicaea) to solve the problems raised by Arianism. Arianism as the theological view that Jesus was divine, but was created by and is lesser than God the Father, was officially condemned as incorrect by the Council of Nicaea in 325, which gave its seal of authority to the established trinitarian view. The Nicene Creed was formed and taken up in catechisms that require students to memorize the Nicene Creed. The Greek term homoousios [consubstantial, of the same substance] used by the council to define the Son’s relationship to the Father was not universally popular: it had been used before by the heretic Sabellius. Some, like Marcellus of Ancyra the Galatian churchman, the most violent opponent of Arianism in Asia Minor, developed the theory that the Trinity was the result of emanations from God that would ultimately revert to God in the final judgement. In attacking Arianism, lapsed into Sabellianism (Sabellius). The voices of orthodoxy, however, were not silent. In the West St. Hilary of Poitiers and in the East St. Basil the Great ( c.330–379, Greek prelate, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church and one of the Four Fathers of the Greek Church with the Cappadocian theologian St. Gregory Nazianzen ( c.330–390) and St. Gregory of Nyssa ( d. 394?) continued to defend and interpret the Nicene formula. By 364 the West had a Catholic emperor in Valentinian I, and when the Catholic Theodosius I(346?–395, Roman emperor of the East (379–95) and emperor of the West (394–95), son of Theodosius, the general of Valentinian I) became emperor of the East (379), Arianism was outlawed.

St. Gregory of Nyssa (eastern ortodox icon)

St. Gregory of Nyssa (eastern ortodox icon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second ecumenical council was convoked to reaffirm the Nicene formula (Constantinople, First Council of 381, second ecumenical council). It was convened by Theodosius I, then emperor of the East and a recent convert, to confirm the victory over Arianism. Arianism within the empire seems to have expired at once. However, Ulfilas or Wulfila [Gothic,=little wolf], (c.311–383, Gothic bishop, translator of the Bible into Gothic) was converted to Christianity at Constantinople and was consecrated bishop (341) by the Arian bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and carried (c.340) Homoean Arianism to the Goths living in what is now Hungary and the NW Balkan Peninsula with such success that the Visigoths and other Germanic tribes became staunch Arians. Arianism was thus carried over Western Europe and into Africa. The Vandals remained Arians until their defeat by Belisarius (c.534). Among the Lombards the efforts of Pope St. Gregory I and the Lombard queen were successful, and Arianism finally disappeared (c.650) there. In Burgundy the Catholic Franks broke up Arianism by conquest in the 6th cent. In Spain, where the conquering Visigoths were Arians, Catholicism was not established until the mid-6th cent. (by Recared), and Arian ideas survived for at least another century. Arianism brought many results — the ecumenical council, the Catholic Christological system, and even Nestorianism, and, by reaction, Monophysitism. Nestorianism on the one hand saying Jesus was to be two distinct persons, and Monophystium on the other, closely and inseparably uniteophysitism [Gr.,=belief in one nature], a heresy of the 5th and 6th cent., which grew out of a reaction against Nestorianism. It was anticipated by Apollinarianism and was continuous with the principles of Eutyches, whose doctrine had been rejected in 451 at Chalcedon (see Chalcedon, Council of ) fourth ecumenical council. [6]

The emperor Constantine completed what Paul had begun to some —a world hostile to the faith in which Jesus had lived and died. The Council of Nice in 325 determined that Church and Synagogue should have nothing in common, and that whatever smacked of the unity of God and of the freedom of man, or offered a Jewish aspect of worship, must be eliminated from Catholic Christendom.

The transfer of the seat of power from Rome to Constantinople, and the founding of the East Roman empire under Constantine I. gave to Asia Minor, and especially to Constantinople, a commanding importance in the history of the Church for several centuries. The seven oecumenical Councils from 325 to 787 were all held in that city or its neighborhood, and the doctrinal controversies on the Trinity and the person of Christ were carried on chiefly in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.


[1] “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;” (Colossians 1:15 ASV)

[2]The Greek for firstborn is proto with tikto: firstborn. The Greek for first created would be proto with ktizo: first created. Paul did not use the second but the first. Second, the biblical use of the word “firstborn” is most interesting. It can mean the first born child in a family (Luke 2:7), but it can also mean “pre-eminence.” In Psalm 89:20, 27 it says, “I have found David My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him…I also shall make him My first-born” (NASB). As you can see, David, who was the last one born in his family was called the firstborn by God. This is a title of preeminence here.” CARM(Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry)

[3] Book, 5 chapter 6, section 35, and book 5, chapter 14, section 89

[4] Stromata in ANF 2, chapter 6, page 452

[5] June, 325. (First Council of Nicaea) plus fourteen councils, held between 341 and 360

[6] H. M. Gwatkin, Studies of Arianism (2d ed. 1900); J. H. Newman, The Arians of the Fourth Century (1933, repr. 1968); J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971).

W. H. Frend, The Rise of the Monophysite Movement (1972); J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (1971) and The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (1974).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia® Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

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Next: Politics and power first priority #3

Dutch version / Nederlandse versie:  Politiek en macht eerste prioriteit #2

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  • The Top Ten Most Important Church Councils (catholicexchange.com)
    To be deep into history, John Henry Newman wrote, is to cease to be a Protestant. Put another way, to be deep into history is to become stronger in the Catholic faith—something we are all called to do in this Year of Faith.
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    one key to understanding the orthodox teachings of these councils is heresy. The councils, especially the earliest ones, were essentially anti-heresy conventions, called to sort the wheat of dogma from the chaff of heresy.
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    In all, there were 21 ecumenical councils.
  • From Lofty Words to Faithful Action (lifegivingwater.wordpress.com)
    Arius believed that people were putting too much emphasis on the Jesus’ divinity that they were forgetting his humanity. After all, does it not say in John 3:16 that Jesus was God’s only begotten son, explicitly stating that Jesus was brought into existence by the Father?  Yet, Alexander felt that to emphasize Christ’s humanity was to strip Christ of his divinity and to make him less than fully divine.

Hellenistic influences

The early days of Christianity

2.1. Hellenistic influences

An ingenious and learned school, formed at Alexandria, had contrived, by a system of allegorical interpretation, to infuse Platonism into the Old Testament, the school at Jerusalem had been growing increasingly rigid, and interdicted any such daring exegesis.

In the first centuries of our current calendar the influence of the Greek culture in the Roman Realm was still noticeable and guarded Greece its cultural inheritance one of the most important universities of the Roman Realm which stood in Athens.

At the Athenian schools also Christians, like Prohæresios, the sophist, were found under its members.

Sophists (sophistēs, meaning “wise-ist, one who does wisdom,” and σοφός, sophós means “wise man”) were a category of traveling teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. As itinerant intellectuals they taught courses in various subjects, speculated about the nature of language and culture and employed rhetoric to achieve their purposes, generally to persuade or convince others which could be of good use for the youngsters to be able to have their say in the official meetings or ekklèsia (Ecclesia)

Many sophists’ questioned the existence and roles of traditional deities and investigated into the nature of the heavens and the earth, which prompted a popular reaction against them. The attacks of some of their followers against Socrates prompted a vigorous condemnation from his followers, including Plato the most famous student of Socrates, and Xenophon. The sophists became considered greedy instructors who used rhetorical sleight-of-hand and ambiguities of language in order to deceive, or to support fallacious reasoning. according to some the sophist was not concerned with truth and justice, but instead looked for power.

File:PopesixtusII.jpg

The martyrdom of Saint (Pope) Sixtus II and his deacons. Martyre de saint Sixte II et de ses diacres. Cote: Français 185 , Fol. 96v . Vies de saints, France, Paris – 14th century. – Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs

Sixtus II, or Xystos, who suffered martyrdom in Rome about 258 C.T., also may have studied in Athens and is called “the son of an Athenian philosopher”. But the most noted men who frequented the schools here were Basil from Kæsareia, and Gregory from Nazianzos, about the middle of the fourth century. These schools of philosophy kept paganism alive for four centuries, but by the fifth century the ancient religion of Elevsis and Athens had practically succumbed. In the Council of Nikæa there was present a bishop from Athens. In 529 the schools of philosophy were closed. From that date Christianity had no rival in Athens.[1]

Jesus clearly taught that Jehovah is “the only true God” and that the human soul is mortal. (John 17:3; Matthew 10:28) Yet, with the death of the apostles and the weakening of the organizational structure, such clear teachings were corrupted as pagan doctrines infiltrated Christianity.

A key factor was the subtle influence of Greek philosophy. Explains The New Encyclopædia Britannica: “From the middle of the 2nd century AD Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans.” Once philosophically minded persons became Christians, it did not take long for Greek philosophy and “Christianity” to become inseparably linked.
As a result of this union, pagan doctrines such as the Trinity and the immortality of the soul seeped into tainted Christianity. These teachings, however, go back much farther than the Greek philosophers. The Greeks actually acquired them from older cultures, for there is evidence of such teachings in ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions. As pagan doctrines continued to infiltrate Christianity, other Scriptural teachings were also distorted or abandoned.

File:HermesTrismegistusCauc.jpg

Hermes Trismegistus

The question how the Son was related to the Father (Himself acknowledged on all hands to be the one Supreme Deity), gave rise, between the years 60 and 200 C.T. to a number of Theosophic systems, called generally Gnosticism, and having for their authors Basilides, Valentinus, apologist and ascetic Tatian the Syrian or the Assyrian , writer of the Diatessaron (a  prominent Gospel harmony) and other Greek speculators.[2] According to some, it was through Gnosticism that pagan influences slipped into Christian worship. Gnosticism, they assert, served somewhat as a bridge between paganism and Christianity.[3] The Gnostic systems revealed more theosophy than theology and in the Jewish Kabbala is found a theosophy mixed with various forms of magic and occultism. The Kabbalah, which includes the tracts named Sefer Yetzirah, The Zohar, Pardes Rimonim, and Eitz Chaim, seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.
The Hellenistic main source is the Corpus Hermeticum or the Hermetic Corpus, a collection of texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which became again of importance in the New Age. Therein astrology and other occult sciences and spiritual renewal are addressed. Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

Alexandria was full of Jews, the literary as well as commercial centre of the East, and the connecting link between the East and the West. There the largest libraries were collected; there the Jewish mind came into close contact with the Greek, and the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. There Philo wrote, while Christ taught in Jerusalem and Galilee, and his works were destined to exert a great influence on Christian exegesis through the Alexandrian fathers.

During the fourth century Egypt was going to give to the church the Arian heresy, the Athanasian orthodoxy, and the monastic piety of St. Antony and St. Pachomius, which spread with irresistible force over Christendom.

The theological literature of Egypt was chiefly Greek. Most of the early manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures — including probably the invaluable Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. — were written in Alexandria. But already in the second century the Scriptures were translated into the vernacular language, in three different dialects. What remains of these versions is of considerable weight in ascertaining the earliest text of the Greek Testament.

To the Jews, that were the mostly receptive for Hellenic influences, belonged the priests. For many of them meant the accepting of the Hellenism a manner to have Judaism going with its time.

While many Jews accepted the Hellenism, a new group calling themselves Hasidim or Chassidim — devout people (literally “loving kindness”, diverted of the Hebrew חסידות (chassidoet), meaning “piety”) — encouraged people to keep stricter obedience to the Law of Moses. The first group of Hasidim, also called the Assideans or Hasideans (the Anglicized form, derived through the Greek asidaioi, of the Hebrew Hasidim, “the pious”, men endowed with grace (Psalm 39:5; 148:14)), were an ancient Jewish sect that developed between 300 B.C.E. and 175 B.C.E. They were the most rigid adherents of Judaism in contradistinction to those Jews who were beginning to be affected by Hellenistic influences. The Hasidim led the resistance to the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus IV of Syria, and they figured largely in the early phases of the revolt of the Maccabees or Machabees, Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C.E. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon. Their ritual strictness has caused some to see them as forerunners of the Pharisees. Throughout the Talmudic period numerous figures were referred to as Hasidim. [4]

The Hellenization of the Jews in the pre-Hasmonean period was not universally resisted. Generally, the Jews accepted foreign rule when they were only required to pay tribute, and otherwise allowed to govern themselves internally. Nevertheless, Jews were divided between those favoring Hellenization and those opposing it, and were divided over allegiance to the Ptolemies or Seleucids. When the High Priest Simon II died in 175 BCE, conflict broke out between supporters of his son Onias III (who opposed Hellenization, and favored the Ptolemies) and his son Jason (who favored Hellenization, and favored the Seleucids). A period of political intrigue followed, with priests such as Menelaus bribing the king to win the High Priesthood, and accusations of murder of competing contenders for the title. The result was a brief civil war. The Tobiads, a philo-Hellenistic party, succeeded in placing Jason into the powerful position of High Priest. He established an arena for public games close by the Temple. (Ginzberg, Lewis. “The Tobiads and Oniads.”. Retrieved 2007-01-23. Jewish Encyclopedia.) Author Lee I. Levine notes, “The ‘piece de resistance’ of Judaean Hellenization, and the most dramatic of all these developments, occurred in 175 BCE, when the high priest Jason converted Jerusalem into a Greek polis replete with gymnasium and ephebeion (2 Maccabees 4). Whether this step represents the culmination of a 150-year process of Hellenization within Jerusalem in general, or whether it was only the initiative of a small coterie of Jerusalem priests with no wider ramifications, has been debated for decades.” (Levine, Lee I. Judaism and Hellenism in antiquity: conflict or confluence? Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. pp. 38–45. Via “The Impact of Greek Culture on Normative Judaism.”)

The ordinary people were disgusted by the Hellenised priests and chose more and more party for the Chassidim. There broke a period of martyrdom when Jews in the whole country were forced to go along or to settle with pagan happenings and offerings or to die.[5]

A gold multiple of “Unconquered Constantine” with Sol Invictus, struck in 313. The use of Sol’s image appealed to both the educated citizens of Gaul, who would recognize in it Apollo’s patronage of Augustus and the arts; and to Christians, who found solar monotheism less objectionable than the traditional pagan pantheon

Constantine (C., Flavius Valerius Constantinus) was during the decline period of the Roman Realm the Big Emperor (306–337 C. T.) and tried to merge Christianity with particular pagan customs and doctrines. He undertook the first steps to make this merger religion as the official state religion. Accordingly Greece became a part of Christendom. He moved the capital of the realm of Rome to Byzantium, which he named in honour of himself Constantinople.

In 321 C. T. Constantine ordained that the Sunday (Lat.: dies Solis, an old title that was connected with astrology and sun worshipping, not Sabbatum [Sabbath] or dies Domini [day of the Lord]) would be a day of rest for everybody, except for the farmers. Constantine moreover placed Sunday under the protection of the State. Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun as the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas.

The winged sun was an ancient (3rd millennium BC) symbol of Horus, later identified with Ra

Belief in the old polytheism had been shaken; in more stolid natures, as Roman Emperor Diocletian, it showed its strength only in the form of superstition, magic, and divination. Probably many of the more noble-minded recognized the truth contained in Judaism and Christianity, but believed that they could appropriate it without being obliged on that account to renounce the beauty of other worships. Such a man was the Emperor Alexander Severus; another thus minded was Aurelian, whose opinions were confirmed by Christians like Paul of Samosata. Not only Gnostics and other heretics, but Christians who considered themselves faithful, held in a measure to the worship of the sun. Constantine cherished this mistaken belief.[6]


[1] Christian Athens, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[2] Arianism., Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[3] Notion and characteristics, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[4] In the 18th Century Eastern Europethis movement would be taken up again for the third time by Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer (1698-1760) also known asIsrael Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism.

[5] S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1962); S. G. Kramer, God and Man in the Sefer Hasidim (1966); A. L. Lowenkopf, The Hasidim (1973).

[6] The original Catholic Encyclopedia

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Some Jews are known to have engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration in order to join the dominant cultural practice of socializing naked in the gymnasium, where their circumcisionwould have been a social stigma.

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Previous: The early days of Christianity 1.2. Considered as a danger 1.2.2. Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit

Next: The early days of Christianity 2.2.1. Politics and power first priority

  • contemplative political philosophy (acourseaboutnothing.wordpress.com)
    Contemplation has always been at the heart of liberal education.  Contemplation was known as practice, the practice of political philosophy.  All who had intimations of Socrates’ presence and purpose knew it.  Contemplation was (and is) an activity of mind-body.  Athletics (what the Greeks called gymnastics) was no less education than music and the performing arts.  Together these formed an organic whole in the image of a human creature.
  • Local Deities? Mystery Cults and Osiris and Isis. Soul and Spirit. (jamesbradfordpate.wordpress.com)
    Koester says that “The old Greek religion was a religion of city gods”, in which gods were the patrons of cities.  He says on pages 164-165 that “None of these cults would ever claim to be a world religion since the belief that deities were bound to particular holy places was still very much alive.”  But Koester narrates that people moved around and economics, politics, and science became increasingly universal, and so people were becoming dissatisfied with local deities.
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    In Christianity, Jesus dies and rises again, whereas it is not said in the myth of Osiris that Osiris was resurrected, but Osiris after his death goes to the realm of the dead to rule, while his son takes charge of this world.
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    Koester makes interesting points about the goddess Isis.  For one, he says that the woman in Revelation 12 resembles Isis, which stood out to me, as one who was raised in a denomination that tried to disassociate from the “pagan” elements of the “world’s” Christianity.  Second, according to Koester on page 189, Isis in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses 11.5.1-3 is treated as the “one and only god” and “ruler of the the universe” (Koester’s words).  As I look at the passage itself, there seems to be therein an acknowledgement that other gods exist, but there’s also an affirmation that Isis is “The single form that fuses all gods and goddesses” (the passage’s words).
  • Baptism of Pagan Practices (bythepen.me)
    Mount Carmel was previously a pagan site. In the Old Testament, we see that it was there that Yahwhey and Elijah took on Jezebel and the priests of Baal. Anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists eat this up, of course, but in reality, history has unfolded with Our Lord as the victor. This is just one of the several instances where that ancient serpent has been “crushed by the heel of Our Lady” – one of Christ’s most powerful tools.
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    there were bound to have been some parallels of Christian truth among pre-Christian beliefs and rituals. The early Christians were well aware of this and sometimes used it to their advantage in order to convert the pagans. In fact, St. Paul does this very thing in the Acts of the Apostles. I think of Paul as the father of the interpolation tactic described there. Unlike the Twelve, he was well educated in Hellenistic as well as Jewish law and religion, which is why I believe Christ chose him with a special purpose as “Apostle to the Gentiles”. He was a huckleberry who knew his stuff and how to use it to reach them.
  • Ancient Hellenistic Harbor Discovered in Acre, Israel – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
    An ancient harbor where warships may have docked 2,300 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists in the Israeli port city of Acre.The harbor, the largest and most important found in Israel from the Hellenistic period, was uncovered during archaeological excavations carried out as part of a seawall conservation project, the Israel Antiquities Authority said today. Among the finds were large mooring stones incorporated in the quay and used to secure sailing vessels, the IAA said.
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    The excavation will continue in those sections of the harbor that extend in the direction of the sea, the IAA said. The archaeologists will try to clarify if there is a connection between the destruction of the harbor and the Hasmonean uprising in 167 B.C., the destruction wrought by Ptolemy in 312 B.C. or some other event.
  • We owe a cock to Asclepius (ins2ition.wordpress.com)
    SO were the final, last Words said by Socrates.
    No one could help by then, Even Hippocrates.
    if YOU’VE said it once you’ve said One thousand times.
    I Don’t only say it because that line rhymes.
  • Live as the world wishes you to and accept all events: Stoic Philosophy (by Devin) (lvv4ublyth.wordpress.com)
    Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno in early 3rd century, it was originally taught by him at the Stoa Poikile. Another famous stoic is Marcus Aurelius, a famous roman emperor. The discipline of Stoicism teaches self-control as a means of defeating destructive emotions, which they believed were caused by errors in judgment and would not be felt by a true sage. Stoicism became the foremost philosophy among the leaders of Hellenistic and Roman society.
  • Pherecydes of Leros [Pherecydes of Athens] (vonfaustus.blogspot.com)
    Dionysus leading the Horae.
    [Day of Saturn + Hour of Mercury]
    Hermes I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell in the dire path which leads to deepest hell
    O Bacchic [Bakkheios] Hermes, progeny divine of Dionysius [Dionysos], parent of the vine,
    And of celestial Venus [Aphrodite] Paphian queen, dark eye-lash’d Goddess of a lovely mien:

Raising digression

The early days of Christianity

1.2.       Considered as a danger

1.2.3.                    Raising digression

Christianity reached proconsular Africa in the second, perhaps already at the close of the first century. There was constant intercourse with Italy. It spread very rapidly over the fertile fields and burning sands of Mauritania and Numidia. Cyprian could assemble in 258 a synod of eighty-seven bishops, and in 308 the schismatical Donatists held a council of two hundred and seventy bishops at Carthage. The dioceses, of course, were small in those days.

File:Great Isaiah Scroll Ch53.jpg

Portion of a photographic reproduction of the Great Isaiah Scroll, the best preserved of the biblical scrolls found at Qumran. It contains the entire Book of Isaiah in Hebrew, apart from some small damaged parts. This manuscript was probably written by a scribe of the Jewish sect of the Essenes around the second century BC. It is therefore over a 1000 years older than the oldest Masoretic manuscripts.
This picture shows all of Isaiah 53 (and is mostly identical to the Masoretic version).

The oldest Latin translation of the Bible, miscalled “Itala” (the basis of Jerome’s “Vulgata”), was made probably in Africa and for Africa, not in Rome and for Rome, where at that time the Greek language prevailed among Christians. Latin theology, too, was not born in Rome, but in Carthage. Tertullian (Tertullianius) is its father. Minutius Felix, Arnobius, and Cyprian bear witness to the activity and prosperity of African Christianity and theology in the third century. It reached its highest perfection during the first quarter of the fifth century in the intellect and burning heart of St. Augustin, but soon after his death (430) it was buried first beneath the Vandal barbarism, and in the seventh century by the Mohammedan conquest. Yet his writings led Christian thought in the Latin Church throughout the dark ages, stimulated the Reformers, and became a vital force for many today.

From the second half of the first century C. T. the going astray increased and apostasy entered however the municipalities and many were influenced through it. So-called Christians got integrated with the nations of the world and could not distinguish themselves of the world. After the so-called conversion of Constantine in the fourth century the heathen streamed in large numbers to the form of Christianity that then led the dominant tone. With which consequence? The book Early Christianity and Paganism declares: “The relatively small group really serious religiously went lost in the large mass so-called Christians.” How true were to be Paul’s words! It was as if Christianity were swallowed by pagan decay. And nowhere this rot was clearer noticeable than in the celebration of holidays.

The first fifteen bishops of Christianity were circumcised Jews, they observed the Law and were rather unfriendly to heathenism[1], while they held friendly intercourse with the leaders of the synagogue[2]. Many a halakic and haggadic discussion are recorded in the Talmud as having taken place between the Christians and the Rabbis[3]. Probably the Christian Congregation, or Church of the Saints, did not distinguish itself in outward form from the “Ḳehala Ḳaddisha”[4] at Jerusalem, under which name the Essene community, to which John the Baptist seems to have belonged, survived the downfall of the Temple[5].

Between the ethical and the apocalyptic teachings of the Gospels and the Epistles and the teachings of the Essenes of the time, as given in Philo, in Hippolytus, and in the Ethiopic and Slavonic Books of Enoch, as well as in the rabbinic literature, the resemblance is such that the influence of the latter upon the former can scarcely be denied. Nevertheless, the attitude of Jesus and his disciples is altogether anti-Essene, a denunciation and disavowal of Essene rigor and asceticism; but, singularly enough, while the Roman war appealed to men of action such as the Zealots, men of a more peaceful and visionary nature, who had previously become Essenes, were more and more attracted by Christianity, and thereby gave the Church its otherworldly character; while Judaism took a more practical and worldly view of things, and allowed Essenism to live only in tradition and secret lore (see Clementina; Ebionites; Gnosticism).[6] The Essenes broke not with the official priesthood, took no part at religious services and offerings in the temple, but otherwise held themselves strict at the Law. As the Pharisees, with who they in many respects shown some similarity, they fell prey to Hellenic influences and went to believe in an immortal soul.

The apostles were aware that the Gospel must be preached to all nations, and then the consummation shall come, and therefore they expressed their hope people would continue to study the Word of God and evangelise.


[1] “Historia Sacra,” Sulpicius Severus, ii. 31; Eusebius, “Hist. Eccl.” iv. 5; compare Matt. xv. 26)

[2] see Grätz, “Gesch. der Juden,” iv. 373 et seq.; and Ebionites, Minim, and Nazarenes

[4] Meshullam formed a society called “Ḳehala Ḳaddisha” (the Holy Community), because its members devoted one-third of the day to the study of the Torah, one-third to prayer, and the remaining third to work (Yer. Ma’as. Sheni 53d; Eccl. R. ix. 9).
Read more: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=758&letter=S#ixzz15AWdlkt6

[5] Ber. 9b; compare Eccl. R. ix. 9: ‘Edah Ḳedoshah

  • 7 Christological heresies that you should know about… (patheos.com)
    Ebionism teaches that Jesus is just a man and not divine. The Ebionites were Jewish Christians in the early church. The Ebionites rejected the virgin birth, regarding Jesus as a man normally born of Joseph and Mary; they held he was the predestined Messiah, and in this capacity he would return to reign on earth. There are plenty of “Ebionites” around today. Everybody who says Jesus was just a good man or one prophet or holy man or good religious teacher among many.
  • BONUS: An Introduction to Colossians (kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com)
    We know that by the second century AD there was a Christian philosophy in place in many churches that accepted a dualistic worldview.  A Gnostic thought the world was composed of two parts: the evil and degrading physical layer of life, and the pure and edifying spiritual aspects of life.
    +
    Consider how Gnosticism would affect beliefs and ethics.  They did not believe that Jesus was physical.  Jesus did not die a physical death on a cross, it only seemed that way.  Our greatest mission is to escape this physical world, not redeem it.  There were also two opposing views on how to deal with this physical body we live in: 1) deny your flesh and beat it into submission to your superior spiritual willpower, and 2) indulge your flesh and satisfy your physical desires wantonly showing that you have the spiritual strength within your pure soul to wallow in the mire of life and not be affected adversely by your physical behaviors. If an early form of Gnosticism was present in Colossae, the details of the letter suggest it was of the ascetic variety.
  • Ancient Heresies and Why They Still Matter (steakandabible.com)
    Johnson said “Gnosticism is an attempt to blend pagan philosophy with Christianity.” “This heresy is so diverse and so complex that it is notoriously difficult to define,” but “the central idea” is that “Gnostics believe that the key to saving truth lies in a hidden knowledge that goes beyond what is revealed in Scripture.” Salvation requires “possessing the secret knowledge.”
  • A Prayer for Sunday (Irenaeus of Lyon) (marccortez.com)
    Irenaeus of Lyons, who died sometime around AD 202. One of the most important early theologians of the Christian church, Irenaeus is best known for his Against Heresies, a lengthy refutation of gnosticism, which was one of the major challenges to orthodox Christianity at the time.
  • There’s no 3rd chance. (revessie.com)
    Peter was trying to tell us that there were false doctrines already circulating. Imagine the level that we are at now.There was a man named Cerinthus who believed in heresy so much that even John ran away from a Bath House when he saw him in there and told people to run also. This is how bad this man was. He was a mystical believer. He allegedly began the Millennial heresy. Watch what you believe in.
  • Noisy Worship versus the Discipline of Silence (kiwianglo.wordpress.com)
    A suspicion of silence took root in the second and third centuries, when bishops penned diatribes against the so-called gnostikoi, Christians who claimed that God was most fully known as unknowable, and so therefore in silence. To be branded a gnostic was to be cast out of the fold. Then, in the fourth century, came the conversion of Constantine. The church aligned itself to secular power and now what you thought was of political importance too. Thereafter, western rites included creeds to be audibly confessed. They policed who was in and who out.

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