I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Monday, February 8, 2010

DaVinci Code Revisited

I have written in the past matters concerning The DaVinci Code novel and film, written by Dan Brown, who uses his theory and beliefs and produces it in fiction form for readers to speculate on their own – causing a stir within Christendom and something to buzz about in blogs across cyberspace. Indeed, National Geographic made it a centerpiece for articles and a newer program concerning The Lost Gospel of Judas that is available on DVD. I wondered what the buzz was all about, considering it was written as a “what if” murder/mystery novel that takes place in modern times using excerpts from history and mysteries therein to create an interesting story and a movie of intrigue and action. 

I presume the Vatican’s outcry came from the depiction of the secret society/sect within the Vatican itself. It may have had an underlying complaint against the Vatican and its long history, but then historical accounts showed that Papal history was full of corrupted, even evil, popes and officials of the Church. It is truth and it is part of its history.
Before I begin, I would ask you to please properly link anything you reproduce here because some of this is part of my copyrighted manuscript.
As Dan Brown stated:
…almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.
And so the argument goes. But where did it begin?
In 325 there was a meeting of bishops of the newly formed community of Christ’s followers, legacy of the Apostles (disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Apostles) who were long gone from this Earth, at a city by the name of Nicea, which is in modern-day Turkey (along with the seven cities of the first churches, including the most famous - Ephesus). The meeting was to consolidate the first churches under one power, which became the Roman Catholic Church, the first in Christendom, which later would be called the Vatican that never existed before the First Council of Nicea met, and as Dan Brown points out initiated by Emperor Constantine of Rome.
Reading site postings on the subject, like Y-Jesus, one wonders what the Christians are so disturbed about. If their beliefs are concrete and their history correct, why would they be afraid of an author of a novel?
And during that historic meeting in Nicea, an Alexandrian theologian by the name of Arius argued that Jesus was undoubtedly a remarkable leader, but he was not God in flesh. This was the time before heresy became a common word and before the council in 325 AD had created a central authority and had put together the Canon – an established doctrine and the authorized collection of books that became known as the Bible, divided into the Old and New Testaments.
Now Arius was renowned for knowledge of the biblical texts and in his logic he explained the differences between Jesus and God, something that had not been new because there was a sect called the Gnostics, who made similar arguments. [As related in previous article under Arianism] And Arius quoted John 14:28
The Father is greater than I.
So, the gist of his argument, he stated that Jesus of Nazareth could not possibly share God the Father’s unique divinity. Arius did not deny that Jesus had a purpose, that he was the Messiah so prophesized in the Old Testament.
As I mentioned, Gnostic-minded groups, those being termed as being agnostic, and later to the Vatican they would be declared heretics, would adopt, just as Brown has, the concept of Arius. And referring to the (First?) Council of Nicea, Dan Brown claims that
Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet … a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless.
But before Christianity became organized into churches and later under one supreme seat of secular government (the Vatican), which created the doctrinal creeds to unite and get the churches on the same “sheet of music” and developed what is known today as the Canon or Rule of Faith.
The well-known second-century bishop, Irenaeus, explained the separation of Jesus and God by quoting 1 Corinthians 8:6:
Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is apparent that the Apostles were not confused as to who the Supreme Deity was, but later it would be established under such doctrine as the Trinity, where Jesus becomes deified, instead of a messenger of God (something Mohammed, founder of Islam) a prophet, a teacher and a philosopher all rolled into one. And, as far as we know, Jesus, being the son of a carpenter, is supposed to have little or no education concerning reading and writing. But then again, from the age of 12-13 to about 30 years of age, nothing is mentioned of what occurred in Jesus’ life. Jesus of Nazareth was also a reformer. He did not denounce the traditions of the Jews, but was fervent in telling the patriarchs of the Jewish religious community that they were wrong – as in the case of the day he overturned the money lenders tables and told them they were desecrating the holiness of the synagogue. Indeed, through the history of the Roman Catholic Church (later called the Catholic Church), arguments against the money making methods of the Church have been criticized, as in modern history and the practice of holding Bingo meetings at churches in order to raise money. In the case of the patriarchs, however, it wasn’t gambling, it was money changing – the practice to change local coinage into the popular Roman currency.
The term “Lord” used in Corinthians deserves examining. It is the Latin-English translation from the original Greek text (some of the early works were written in Aramaic, the language which Jesus used, along with presumably the Latin language of the Romans. The Greek word it was translated from was Kyrios and it was used by the Greeks to describe divinity, but frequently is was a term used to represent an honor to someone. In the Old Testament, the Septuagint, that pre-dates the Christian period, the term of Jahweh was used when addressing the holy name of God. The Romans also used the Greek term when addressing their emperor, and the first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, writes that the Jews refused to use the term when addressing the emperor because only God himself was kyrios. Later the Christians would use kyrios when referring to Jesus and this was before the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Even the earliest Christian books that later would not be part of the Canon, the Didache, which scholars say was written before 100 AD, the Aramaic-speaking Christians refer to Jesus as Lord.
Church leaders, including Justin Martyr - a second-century Christian that was the first church apologist, was baptized in the name of the triune: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a concept developed and doctrinated by the Church and used ritually.
Of course, even when the Council of Nicea ended their discussions concerning the historic and standard Christian beliefs and returned home, the controversy over Arius’s views continued over the centuries.
And, since that time and through the centuries, the Bible, a central role in Christianity and its doctrinal development (Scriptures) was periodically questioned concerning its historical validity. Later, in modern times, archaeological evidence would refute most of those speculations, but Dan Brown introduced a relatively new argument and claims that Constantine commissioned scholars and scribes to manipulate the existing texts and therefore create a totally human Christ. Dan Brown points out that
the Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven.
The Bible was composed by humans, just as the Qu’ran was written by Mohammed the Prophet of Islam. But both have been claimed by the followers of each, along with the Hebrew Torah, to have been divinely inspired, not written by a Supreme Deity.
Although Dan Brown submits a powerful argument in his analysis of historical events that are correlated into his hypothesis, the progress of the canonization of the Scriptures had occurred unofficially for a couple of centuries before the Council of Nicea, and theoretically the complete canon of Scripture before Constantine’s declaration that Christianity be the religion adopted for Rome in 313 AD. The reason why the bishops gathered for the Council of Nicea is that a rival sect had collected and processed a canon of Scripture on their own.
Around 140 AD, a Gnostic leader by the name of Marcion began to separate the New and Old Testaments and even claimed that the two were written about a separate God. Marcion argued that the Old Testament’s God represented law and wrath upon its enemies, while the New Testament’s God, represented Jesus the Christ, who encouraged followers to turn the other cheek and promoted love and pity for enemies. And so, Marcion, in his version of canonization rejected the Old Testament and made the writing of the New Testament that included Matthew, Mark, Acts, and Hebrews and manipulated other books from the Old Testament to reduce their Jewish ideology or written history of the Jewish people. The organized Christians of the day viewed this to be heretical, but Marcion’s ideology introduced a new sect or division within Christendom. Indeed, we can see that Christianity today is separated by sects, either a change of doctrine or a change in view of what should be canonized in the Bible. And because of this threat to the unification of the Christian Church, the bishops gathered in what has become known as the Council of Nicea of 325 AD.
Another rival of Christian theology appeared in the mid- to late-second century, a man from Asia Minor by the name of Montanus, who boasted that he received a revelation from God concerning the apocalypse. The four Gospels and Paul’s epistles had been circulated widely in the ancient world and were rarely questioned as to its authority or authorship, but they had not yet been collected and canonized to become the New Testament. Around 190 AD, Church leaders circulated a list of apostolic writings that is called by scholars the Muratorian Canon (named so by its modern discoverer). The Muratorian Canon is similar to the canonized New Testament, but includes two books – Revelation (Apocalypse) of Peter and Wisdom of Solomon, which were later excluded by the Vatican canon. When the time came for the Council of Nicea to convene, the bishops debated the legitimacy of books like those published in The Lost Books of the Bible, translated from Aramaic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, originally published by William Hone in 1820; reprinted in 1926 by World Pub. Co., Cleveland. And reprinted again in 1979 by Bell and Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, with a new foreword by Solomon J. Schepps.
In Conclusion:
Dan Brown is not original in his theories, which he has used in his novel because the argument has been going on for about 2,000 years since the days of Gnostics and Arius. Today, the argument whether Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, was incarnate of God or an Earthly version of God or that he existed at all remains an ongoing argument among Christians and non-Christians alike. But the tale that Dan Brown spun made an excellent mystery thriller and the excellent cadres of international actors in the DaVinci Code film made good entertainment in the light of the “What if?” sense. Thus the reason why I thought that Christians were getting angry over nothing, as related in previous articles – One More Time With Facts: The DaVinci Code is Fiction and Theologium: DaVinci Code is a Novel.
Besides, it is a book of fiction and it states so in the leading pages of the novel, and why should the Church be worried? That is another subject to ponder.

The Forgotten Books of Eden
The Lost Books of the Bible
The First Historians
by Baruch Halpern
The Hag Hammadi Library by James M. Robinson translated by the Coptic Library scholars
Caesar and Christ [Volume 3 of The Story of Civilization] by Will Durant
Christian Mythology by George Every
A History of Christianity by Owen Chadwick
The DaVinci Code Research Guide

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