Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

The gnostic gospels & acts authored as a literary reaction to the political appearance of the Bible

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Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#1  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 05, 2015 5:19 am

The mainstream theory for the authorship of the gnostic gospels and acts (in general, the Christian non canonical books) has it that there was continuous authorship from the 2nd century to later 4th century. Some scholars try and argue that the Gospel of Thomas was authored in the 1st century. In this thread I would like to discuss an alternative theory.

This alternate theory proposes that none of gnostic gospels or acts were authored before the council of Nicaea, and that these literary creations were a reaction and response to the political appearance of the NT Bible in the rule of Constantine c.325 CE. This explanation provides a political explanation for the status of these writings as "heretical" and the status of the authors as "heretics". The alternate theory proposes that these "other gospels etc" were authored by Alexandrian Greek philosophers and that many of these texts (especially the non canonical acts) have within them the signature of parody and satire. These post Nicene authors took bits and pieces out of the canonical writings (both NT and OT) and recombined them, adding novel events, miracles and other outrageous embellishments. Their motive was essentially seditious - they created "Unofficial Books" in direct competition with the emperor's agenda.


ATTESTATIONS to "heretical books" by the "Early Church Fathers" were forged in the later 4th century

The alternate theory proposes that there was a massive literary controversy following the political implementation of the NT Bible c.325 CE and that this massive controversy was "air-brushed" from the historical record, leaving only a faint trace hidden behind the so-called Arian controversy. The history of the Council of Nicaea and the epoch following was written in the 5th century in three ecclesiastical histories (Theodoret et al). In order to ameliorate the political controversy over heretical books and their authors in the generation of Alexandrian Greeks who received the Bible from Constantine, orthodox Christian writers of the later 4th century (such as Basil) forged or interpolated earlier writings of the "church organisation" to make it appear that these heretical books appeared prior to Nicaea and the political appearance of the NT Bible.

For example, if Irenaeus is examined it is found that he is largely preserved in Latin from around the time of Damasus (c.380 CE). His treatment of the heretics, their subjects and philosophy, is quite consistent with the possibility that "Irenaeus" is dealing with the heretical books in the Nag Hammadi Library. Consequently the alternate theory explains the existence of the literary references within "Church Organisation Literary Records" as being forged from the 4th century.


A concrete example of the EXPOSURE of such a retrojection can be seen in the evolution of academic thought on the Clementine Literature. The following from WIKI:

    It was long believed that the early date of the Clementines was proved by the fact that they were twice quoted by Origen. One of these quotations occurs in the Philokalia of Sts. Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil (c. 360). Dr. Armitage Robinson showed in his edition of that work (1893) that the citation is an addition to the passage of Origen made by the compilers, or possibly by a later editor. The other citation occurs in the old Latin translation of Origen on Matthew. This translation is full of interpolations and alterations, and the passage of Pseudo-Clement is apparently an interpolation by the translator from the Arian Opus imperfectum in Matt.[4]

    Omitting Origen, the earliest witness is Eusebius. In his Ecclesiastical History, III, xxxviii (AD 325) he mentions some short writings and adds:

    "And now some have only the other day brought forward other wordy and lengthy compositions as being Clement's, containing dialogues of Peter and Appion, of which there is absolutely no mention in the ancients."


The Clementine literature is now thought to have been authored by an Arian c.330 CE. This is essentially the modus operandi that the alternative theory generalises. The gnostics were the Arians. The Arians preserved the non canonical texts. Arius of Alexandria may have authored some of these gnostic gospels and acts. To conclude, the "Church Organisation" has fabricated a pseudo-history of its literary (political) opponents, and this has been added to and refined over the centuries in order to get rid of the terrible controversy which ensued when the Alexandrian Greeks were introduced to the Bible.

Most people understand that the orthodox victors fabricated their own history of the conflict between themselves and the heretical elements. For example Bart Ehrman writes:

    "The victors in the struggles
    to establish Christian Orthodoxy
    not only won their theological battles,
    they also rewrote the history of the conflict.


The OP proposes that the rewritten history engaged in "retrojection". The post Nicene conflict was relegated to the past. To the 2nd and 3rd centuries. This is quite in line with the Orwellian nature of the church organisation .... "Who controls the past controls the present and future". Business was business. The Vatican turnstiles are still turning ...




The Greek academic reception of the NT Bible

In the paraphrased words of Athanasius, the Greeks derided the mystery that the Jews traduced and the Christians adored. In the words of Eusebius "the sacred matters of inspired teaching were exposed to the most shameful ridicule in the very theaters of the unbelievers." (Here it is proposed that the gnostic gospels and acts were often "performed" in the theatres of Alexandria and thus became extremely popular with the common people).

The authors of these gnostic gospels and acts were intelligent. They knew straight away that the NT Bible was a steaming pile of Koine Greek nonsense. They were NOT Christians. They were pagan parodists and satirists who nevertheless took the opportunity to platform their own (often largely Platonic) philosophies in their creations. However their literary creations deployed in various outrageous stories the characters found in the NT canonical books (ie; Jesus and the apostles).

As a result their books were prohibited, searched out and destroyed by imperial agents. It is also proposed that the Pachomian monastic settlements around Nag Hammadi were a front to the translation of Greek "heretical books" into Coptic and the manufacture of "heretical codices". The Nag Hammadi Library as such represents literary texts which were authored originally in Greek (after 325 CE) but translated to Coptic (before 348 CE). Jerome towards the end of the 4th century asserts that Pachomius was a Christian, but the alternative theory rejects this as simply more pseudo-historical polemic. The great influx of people (by the thousands) out of the cities (especially Alexandria) and into the remote areas (such as Nag Hammadi) is representative of the exile of the Greek academic traditions from the cities, which were under the control of Constantine's Christian agents (i.e. bishops appointed by Constantine).

The history of the city of Oxyrynchus is the same. In the mid 4th century the city is described as undergoing a massive population explosion. A city developed outside the walls of the old city, and it was filled with "monks". The rubbish dumps of this city obviously were used heavily at this time. People were trying their best to come to terms with the "Holy Writ" of the ROman Empire (i.e. the NT Bible). It is suggested that the papyri discovered at this city by Grenfell and Hunt is derived from this epoch 325-350 CE. There was no incentive - rather a negative incentive - to learn Plato and Homer. A brand new story was running the empire - the NT Bible - and people who lived in the empire were trying to come to terms with the new story.


The provenance of the NT Bible

For the purposes of this alternative theory about the provenance of the non canonical books (i.e. the gnostic gospels and acts) the provenance and the history of the authorship of the NT Bible is irrelevant. Readers may adopt any theory they like. Some may wish to suppose the NT Bible was authored in the 1st century by fishermen or in the 2nd century by authors unknown. Whatever one may wish to consider, we may assume that the NT Bible was transmitted to the 4th century and into the waiting hands of Eusebius and Constantine, who raised it to the "purple" by publishing it far and wide and selecting it to be the Holy Writ of his new and strange centralised monotheistic religious cult.

The point of the OP is that, no matter what the provenance of the NT Bible, prior to it being made into a political instrument by Constantine c.325 CE, there were extant no "gnostic gospels and acts". These non canonical books were authored as a literary and political reaction to the Constantine Bible.


That's the sketch. Feel free to ask questions.





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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#3  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 20, 2015 2:08 am

Thanks for the question RR.

All the academics (Pagels included) at the moment, following the dogma and tradition found inside the documentary evidence preserved by the church organisation (between the 4th century and the present day) are still locked into seeing a chronology of authorship for the gnostic gospels and acts etc commencing in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and as such prior to the epoch of Nicaea c.325 CE.

DeConick has identified the Gospel of Judas as a parody as follows:

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=YN ... 22&f=false

The Thirteenth Apostle: Revised Edition: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says
By April D. DeConick


See Chapter 10 which is titled "An Ancient Gnostic Parody"

    "If you are an apostolic Christian, it is a story of ridicule,
    a representation of your faith as based on faithless apostles
    and a demon sponsored atonement."

However DeConick still subscribes to the mainstream chronology and as such accepts that this parody was authored prior to the NT Bible becoming a political instrument of the Christian emperors.

Just to summarise, the evidence underpinning this "early" (i.e. ante Nicene) mainstream chronology is twofold:

    1) One or two papyri fragments of non canonical material dated by palaeography to the 3rd century (these may be considered to have upper bounds of dating in the 4th century) and a fragment of Irenaeus also dated early via palaeography.

    2) Because the Church Organisation has preserved literary evidence from the Ante Nicene "church fathers" that make mentions of some of these texts. (My position is that these are interpolations and forgeries).


And that's it for the evidence in support of the mainstream theory of chronology. The rest of the evidence (consistent of dozens of actual physical codices containing thousands of pages) is sourced from the later 4th century and subsequent centuries. My contention is that the genre of much (there are exceptions like the Gospel of Thomas) of the gnostic gospels and acts is literary parody of the NT Bible by the generation c.325 CE for whom the NT Bible became a political instrument of the centralised monotheistic Christian state in the rule of Constantine.

FWIW an earlier discussion of this idea (and for which I was ultimately banned) is located here:
http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=771
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#4  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 20, 2015 2:32 am

Another mainstream assumption (with which this alternative view disagrees) is that this gnostic (non canonical) literature was written by "Christians" who believed in the "Official Canonical Jesus Story".

If the gnostic gospels and acts are parody, were the authors necessarily "True Believing Christians"?

One point here is that a parody story need not be written by true believers. The question is how can a parody be distinguished from a non parody. Context seems to be key.

Are Biblical historians mistaking [non canonical] parody of the genuine [canonical] "Jesus Story" for a genuine "Jesus Story". IMO I think it is reasonable to believe that they may well be doing this. How is it possible to determine whether this is the case? Any ideas anyone?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe's_law

Poe's law may be relevant.

    Poe's law, named after its author Nathan Poe,[1] is a literary adage which stipulates that, without a clear indicator of an author's intention, it is often impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of such extremism.[2] Someone will likely mistake the parody for a genuine article, or vice-versa


Are these examples of parody and/or satire?

1) Acts of Thomas: Jesus sells Thomas in the slave market and receives a bill-of-sale. Thomas sucks in the King of India as a builder.
2) Acts of Andrew and Matthias: In Homerian style Jesus drives a water taxi to rescue Matthias in the "Land of the Cannibals"
3) Clementines (c.330 CE?): Peter and Simon Magus engage in miracle battles before large crowds. Pagan mythology is defended.
4) Greater Questions of Mary: Jesus has explicit sex on a mountaintop.
5) I could add a 5th example which might be far more widely recognised as a lampoon or a satire against the "Canonical Jesus Story" and that is the Toledot Yeshu - a Roman centurion rapes Mary (at the wrong time of the month) to sire Jesus.

There are some truly weird "Jesus and Apostle Stories" in the set of non canonical literature. I think that the possibility that these stories are parodies and satires has gone right over the heads of most mainstream biblical scholars and academics.

In identifying parody and satire context is critical. Following Nicaea, with the Christian revolution in the rule of Constantine, the academics and philosophers at Alexandria would have been very interested in reading the NT Bible. It had just become the holy writ of the centralised monotheistic state religion of the Roman Empire.

What did the Alexandrian Greeks think of the NT Bible about that time?

The sources say the Greeks ridiculed the NT Bible when
it was first received in the rule of Constantine.


Parody and satire is a form of [political] ridicule.

Did a Roman centurion rape Mary and sire Jesus? Is the Toledot Yeshu true?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toledot_Yeshu
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#5  Postby RealityRules » May 20, 2015 5:53 am

That mainstream portrayal seems contrived.

i think the gnostic stuff represents early or pre-christian thought and the word gnostic has been used, like the word heresy, to mean "not now accepted views" and to besmirch earlier views.
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#6  Postby Darwinsbulldog » May 20, 2015 7:37 am

Whatever. Religion is the practice of not seeing the man in the gorilla suit. Or wearing the guerrilla suit. Or something.
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#7  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 21, 2015 3:55 am

RealityRules wrote:That mainstream portrayal seems contrived.


Perhaps this is because it follows closely the contrived (i.e. forged) official history preserved by the orthodox victors.

i think the gnostic stuff represents early or pre-christian thought and the word gnostic has been used, like the word heresy, to mean "not now accepted views" and to besmirch earlier views.


The appearance of the word "pagan" (rustic country dweller) was a pejorative term used by the city-based Christians for those in the country who had not been converted to the glorious new and strange religious cult of the Christian emperors. It appears on Christian inscriptions towards the end of the 4th century.

I totally agree with the observation that "the gnostic stuff represents early or pre-christian thought", with the qualifier that the gnostics were academic pagans - perhaps philosophers - of Alexandria. In the OP I have described them as dissidents - they were opposing the initiative of the emperor Constantine to implement a centralised monotheistic state religious cult which was to based on the NT Bible as a "Holy Writ".

These academic pagan authors wrote parodies of the Jesus Story which they found in Constantine's NT Bible, and they presented these stories in many cases (e.g. most of the gnostic Acts and many of the gnostic gospels) as Hellenistic romance stories which appealed to the public. They did not write prior to Nicaea (as is to be inferred by the forged manuscripts of the church organisation) but in fact wrote only when the NT Bible became a political instrument in the hands of Constantine.

At the moment in the academic world only DeConick has written about the signature of parody and satire to be found in the Gospel of Judas, but she is still trapped by the false chronology forged by the orthodox victors. My comment on the relevance of Poe's Law above seems to hit the nail on the head. I think that the Biblical historians are mistaking [non canonical] parodies of the genuine [canonical] "Jesus Story" for more genuine (although misguided) "Jesus Stories". They don't see the parody. As a result they don't see the pagan authors. It's still going over their heads because few of them can understand laughing and poking fun at such a serious story as the "Official" [canonical] Jesus Story.

The history of Philip of Side concerning the council of Nicaea supports the contention that there were many philosophers at the council of Nicaea, and that these [obviously pagan] philosophers were opposed by the orthodox Christian bishops. Arius makes his appearance in this history as the leading philosopher. Arius according to Rowan Williams "Arius: Heresy and Tradition" subscribed to the philosophical system of Plotinus, a 3rd century Platonist.

Not only do I believe there is good reason to think that Arius of Alexandria was not a Christian theologian, but a pagan Platonic theologian, I also think there is reason to believe that Arius may be identified with the pseudonymous author "Leucius Charinus". Constantine subjected the name and political memory of Arius to "damnatio memoriae" - a very effective form of AIR-BRUSHING people out of history.
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#8  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 21, 2015 4:08 am

Darwinsbulldog wrote:Religion is the practice of not seeing the man in the gorilla suit.


The church organisations know how to work the crowd. Business is business.

Or wearing the guerrilla suit. Or something.


Well Judaism, Christianity and Islam all started as centralised monotheistic state religions which were based on canonised "Holy Writs" and were all ushered in by supreme military warlords at the zenith of their military power. We all know war is a racket, but too few understand that these centralised monotheistic religions are the SPIN-OFF rackets of war. Why use a legion of soldiers and guerrillas to maintain the conquered territory of an empire when you can use a codex and a bishop?
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#9  Postby Darwinsbulldog » May 21, 2015 4:43 am

Leucius Charinus wrote:
Darwinsbulldog wrote:Religion is the practice of not seeing the man in the gorilla suit.


The church organisations know how to work the crowd. Business is business.

Or wearing the guerrilla suit. Or something.


Well Judaism, Christianity and Islam all started as centralised monotheistic state religions which were based on canonised "Holy Writs" and were all ushered in by supreme military warlords at the zenith of their military power. We all know war is a racket, but too few understand that these centralised monotheistic religions are the SPIN-OFF rackets of war. Why use a legion of soldiers and guerrillas to maintain the conquered territory of an empire when you can use a codex and a bishop?


Sure. If we look at the monotheistic religions in particular, it does not take much imagination to realize that Yehwah, Allah etc are idealised warlords. Humans can fuck up, so an imaginary super-duper butcher makes a good model leader when going off to war to rape and pillage.
Even more telling is that the holy scriptures [allegedly] authored by these often provide handy hints on stuff like slavery, rape, bigotry for the warrior-sheep to follow. Coincidentally [ :naughty2: ] these pathologically violent resonate with the warrior-sheep's personal desire to do awful things to other folks under the fiat of god. A win-win, at least for the victors. Religion also wins for god-botherers who are defeated, because they didn't believe hard enough, or were sinners who didn't reserved victory, etc, etc.

So opposing some tyrant is bad enough. Oppose a religious tyrant and you not only have to take on city hall, but you are a religious heretic as well. A two-for. very handy at keeping your own, or other folks under the thumb.
Religion is politics by other means. Just like warfare. :thumbup:
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#10  Postby SkyMutt » May 21, 2015 8:32 am

Leucius Charinus wrote:Constantine subjected the name and political memory of Arius to "damnatio memoriae" - a very effective form of AIR-BRUSHING people out of history.


Interesting. Can you cite a source for this?
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#11  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 21, 2015 10:41 am

SkyMutt wrote:
Leucius Charinus wrote:Constantine subjected the name and political memory of Arius to "damnatio memoriae" - a very effective form of AIR-BRUSHING people out of history.


Interesting. Can you cite a source for this?



Sure thing. Notice that Constantine calls Arius and his followers "Porphyrian" and not "Arian". Porphyry was a pagan Platonist, another follower of Plotinus.


This was the very first INTER-OFFICE MEMO out the door following the end of the Council of Nicaea
which adjoined the celebrations of Constantine 20th year of Army Service.


LETTER of the Emperor c.325 CE
=============================

    Constantine the King
    to the Bishops and nations everywhere.

    Inasmuch as Arius imitates the evil and the wicked,
    it is right that, like them, he should be rebuked and rejected.

    As therefore Porphyry,
    who was an enemy of the fear of God,
    and wrote wicked and unlawful writings
    against the religion of Christians,
    found the reward which befitted him,
    that he might be a reproach to all generations after,
    because he fully and insatiably used base fame;
    so that on this account his writings
    were righteously destroyed;

    thus also now it seems good that Arius
    and the holders of his opinion
    should all be called Porphyrians,
    that he may be named by the name
    of those whose evil ways he imitates:

    And not only this, but also
    that all the writings of Arius,
    wherever they be found,
    shall be delivered to be burned with fire,
    in order that not only
    his wicked and evil doctrine may be destroyed,
    but also that the memory of himself
    and of his doctrine may be blotted out,
    that there may not by any means
    remain to him remembrance in the world.


    Now this also I ordain,
    that if any one shall be found secreting
    any writing composed by Arius,
    and shall not forthwith deliver up
    and burn it with fire,
    his punishment shall be death;
    for as soon as he is caught in this
    he shall suffer capital punishment
    by beheading without delay.


    (Preserved in Socrates Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical History 1:9.
    A translation of a Syriac translation of this, written in 501,
    is in B. H. Cowper’s, Syriac Miscellanies,
    Extracts From The Syriac Ms. No. 14528
    In The British Museum, Lond. 1861, p. 6–7)
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#12  Postby SkyMutt » May 21, 2015 6:50 pm

Thank you. So, not an official damnatio memoriae, but I think it is understandable that you would use the term to describe this letter. Of course, Constantine continued to correspond with Arius (see his letter of 333), and eventually reconciled with him--Arius would have been restored to the church if he had not died on the evening before the ceremony was to take place. As I said, I think I understand why you would use the term, but such usage seems more polemical than historical. Then there is the fact that Constantine was actually baptised in 337 by the Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia, long after the letter you cite was written.
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#13  Postby Thomas Eshuis » May 21, 2015 7:37 pm

This thread should be in the history subforum, since it deals with the historical origins of written texts and not the actual theology.
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#14  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 22, 2015 3:52 am

Darwinsbulldog wrote:
Leucius Charinus wrote:
Darwinsbulldog wrote:Religion is the practice of not seeing the man in the gorilla suit.


The church organisations know how to work the crowd. Business is business.

Or wearing the guerrilla suit. Or something.


Well Judaism, Christianity and Islam all started as centralised monotheistic state religions which were based on canonised "Holy Writs" and were all ushered in by supreme military warlords at the zenith of their military power. We all know war is a racket, but too few understand that these centralised monotheistic religions are the SPIN-OFF rackets of war. Why use a legion of soldiers and guerrillas to maintain the conquered territory of an empire when you can use a codex and a bishop?


Sure. If we look at the monotheistic religions in particular, it does not take much imagination to realize that Yehwah, Allah etc are idealised warlords. Humans can fuck up, so an imaginary super-duper butcher makes a good model leader when going off to war to rape and pillage.



Luke 19:27 ... But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay [them] before me.


Even more telling is that the holy scriptures [allegedly] authored by these often provide handy hints on stuff like slavery, rape, bigotry for the warrior-sheep to follow. Coincidentally [ :naughty2: ] these pathologically violent resonate with the warrior-sheep's personal desire to do awful things to other folks under the fiat of god. A win-win, at least for the victors. Religion also wins for god-botherers who are defeated, because they didn't believe hard enough, or were sinners who didn't reserved victory, etc, etc.


In the official canonical Jesus Story Big J says ... "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword."

This is a racket and a scam. If the Jesus Story in the NT Bible was not commissioned by a warlord, it was most certainly first widely published by the warlord Constantine, supreme military commander of the East and West Roman Empire.


So opposing some tyrant is bad enough. Oppose a religious tyrant and you not only have to take on city hall, but you are a religious heretic as well. A two-for. very handy at keeping your own, or other folks under the thumb.
Religion is politics by other means. Just like warfare. :thumbup:


The outward forms of monotheistic religion have descended upon this planet earth via the intermediaries of warlords. War is a racket and these monotheistic book religions are spin off rackets of war. Constantine dictated his religious doctrine to a captive populace. How was his religious doctrine received?

Ecclesiastical History (Sozomen) > Book III.Chapter 1 .... CHURCH FATHERS: Ecclesiastical History, Book III (Sozomen)

    We have now seen what events transpired in the churches during the reign of Constantine.
    On his death the doctrine which had been set forth at Nicæa, was subjected to renewed examination.
    Although this doctrine was not universally approved, no one, during the life of Constantine, had dared to reject it openly.
    At his death, however, many renounced this opinion, especially those who had previously been suspected of treachery.


It was precisely at this time that his well trained son Constantius organised a mass of family executions with the result that Constantine's Three Sons carried on with the NT Bible bullshit until c.360 CE. During this period the Christian state undertook mass inquisitions on religious grounds in which "numbers without end" were tortured and executed.

The political appearance of the "Christian Church Organisation" coincides with the rule of Constantine and this organisation was just about as corrupt as you could get, and backed by the military FFS. Since the 4th century this organisation has perpetuated itself by fraud and forgery, by executions and censorship, by inquisitions and genocide.

It's a sad story. But true. I think the biblical scholars and biblical historians think that they are dealing with some sort of "Divine Institute" instead of an utterly corrupt organisation established by a supreme military warlord.

Why couldn't Constantine have selected Aesop's Fables as the Holy Writ of the Roman Empire at Nicaea?
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#15  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 22, 2015 4:32 am

SkyMutt wrote:As I said, I think I understand why you would use the term, but such usage seems more polemical than historical.


Polemics are part of history as is censorship, forgery and the fabrication of pseudo-historical narratives. Constantine certainly wanted to get his hands on Arius's scrawny neck. He offered Arius a free chariot ride from anywhere in the empire he was hiding out (Constantine suspected Syria) to the city of Constantine. Arius is described by the emperor in that letter of 333 CE as a "gallows rogue".


Then there is the fact that Constantine was actually baptised in 337 by the Arian Eusebius of Nicomedia, long after the letter you cite was written.


The history of the Arian controversy is preserved in three ecclesiastical histories by the victorious orthodox church organisation of the 5th century, a hundred years afterwards.

But there seems little doubt that the Arian controversy finds a source in the five sophisms of Arius of Alexandria.

    There was time when He was not.
    Before He was born He was not.
    He was made out of nothing existing.
    He is/was from another subsistence/substance.
    He is subject to alteration or change.

These appear on the earliest Nicaean Creeds (or "Oaths to Constantine", depending on how the parties thereto are perceived) as anathema clauses about what beliefs would not be accepted by Constantine, who took an active part in the "council" since it was also his 20th Year Long Service Party.


In case anyone missed the claims made above, the (novel) argument is that

a) Arius was far more likely to be a pagan Platonic theologian than a Christian theologian, and that

b) Arius and the pseudonymous Leucius Charinus (traditional author of the non canonical Leucian Acts) may be one and the same person.

The OP is about the history of the authorship of the Gnostic Gospels and Acts (or more generally the non canonical literature) and claims that the evidence permits an historical interpretation in which the church organisation has forged literary accounts to make posterity think that this authorship was before the political appearance of the NT Bible under Constantine. Almost all the physical evidence points to a 4th century provenance of this genre of literature. The entire set of this literature is explained in very simple terms as a political and literary reaction to the NT Bible becoming a political instrument for a centralised monotheistic religious cult in the rule of Constantine.
"It is, I think, expedient to set forth to all mankind the reasons by which I was convinced that
the fabrication of the Christians is a fiction of men composed by wickedness. "

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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#16  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 22, 2015 4:57 am

Thomas Eshuis wrote:This thread should be in the history subforum, since it deals with the historical origins of written texts and not the actual theology.


The Nag Hammadi Library (for example) is being interpreted by modern biblical scholars as representative of "Christian related" theological texts. This thread suggests that these texts were originally authored in the Greek language only after the NT Bible was published in the Roman Empire by Constantine. At Nag Hammadi, probably within the Pachomian monastic settlements, the Greek texts were translated and preserved in codices in the Coptic language. So this thread deals with both the history of these texts and their theology.

      Let me admit from the start that I am rather impervious to
      any claim that sacred history poses problems which are not
      those of profane history.


      Arnaldo Momigliano
"It is, I think, expedient to set forth to all mankind the reasons by which I was convinced that
the fabrication of the Christians is a fiction of men composed by wickedness. "

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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#17  Postby RealityRules » May 22, 2015 9:28 am

Georges Ory The Christ and Jesus (pp 29–38)
.. about 180 CE Celsus enumerated a great number of Christian sects—all gnostic. He did not yet know one Christianity but a multitude of Christian movements. All these did not profess the same faith but mutually opposed one another.

http://www.mythicistpapers.com/2012/09/ ... jesus-ory/

another full text translation is here http://tinyurl.com/lkl5ewt
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#18  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 22, 2015 1:13 pm

RealityRules wrote:Georges Ory The Christ and Jesus (pp 29–38)
.. about 180 CE Celsus enumerated a great number of Christian sects—all gnostic. He did not yet know one Christianity but a multitude of Christian movements. All these did not profess the same faith but mutually opposed one another.

http://www.mythicistpapers.com/2012/09/ ... jesus-ory/

another full text translation is here http://tinyurl.com/lkl5ewt


See the OP: ATTESTATIONS to "heretical books" by the "Early Church Fathers" were forged in the later 4th century

The opinions of Celsus are found only in the writings of the 3rd century Origen the Christian. It has already been established that the writings of Origen were interpolated in the later 4th century. The two orthodox Christians Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil placed a false-flag in these writings by which it was to be inferred that the Clementine literature was extant during the life of Origen. The Clementine literature is now thought to have been authored c.330 CE by an Arian.


WHY DID THE CHURCH ORGANISATION LIE?

0) The flagship and sacred holy writ of the church organisation was the Greek NT Bible codex launched c.325 CE.
1) The NT Bible did not get a good reception by the Greeks in Alexandria - they trashed it. Not good for posterity
2) The Greeks trashed the "Jesus and Apostles Story" by writing parodies of the "Jesus and Apostles Story" - not good
3) The church did not wish to preserve such a controversial historical reception - it would not be good for business.
4) They omitted and downplayed the literary controversy following Nicaea from their histories. It was not a good for business
5) They "retrojected" by interpolation and forgery of the "Church Fathers", mentions of the gnostic heretics prior to Nicaea.


The church organisation at that time (and for at least the next 1500 years) was utterly corrupt. Forgery, executions, censorship, atrocities, inquisitions. I think it is time to ignore for a moment what the church organisation DOGMA says and turn instead to the extant available physical evidence. The physical evidence explodes in the 4th century.

The best explanation IMO for the pattern of evidence is that these texts are from the 4th century and the church lied.

On Pagans, Jews and Christians: Arnaldo Momigliano, 1987

    page 148


    " ... it is indeed impossible to be certain that Celsus is fairly represented by the texts Origen quotes to refute him."
"It is, I think, expedient to set forth to all mankind the reasons by which I was convinced that
the fabrication of the Christians is a fiction of men composed by wickedness. "

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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#19  Postby RealityRules » May 22, 2015 9:31 pm

Sure but the fact there seems to be remnants of Celsus referring to or enumerating a number of gnostic-Christian sects in the 2nd century would seem to be relevant.
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Re: Gnostic authors as post Nicene dissidents

#20  Postby Leucius Charinus » May 23, 2015 1:27 am

RealityRules wrote:Sure but the fact there seems to be remnants of Celsus referring to or enumerating a number of gnostic-Christian sects in the 2nd century would seem to be relevant.


Of course the remnants of Celsus in Origen do seem to be relevant. They represent evidence that needs an explanation, and they are NOT the only literary evidence extant in the "Early Church Fathers" which need explanation. A complete listing of such evidence would look something like the following ...


    Summary of Literary Citation Evidence for the Mainstream chronology of the "Gnostic Gospels and Acts etc"

    The historical evidence concerning at least some early authorship (12 books) of the non canonical books is to be found in the writings of the first Christian historian Eusebius. This literary evidence may be briefly summarized by listing the 12 books as follows, and represents sources supposedly in the writings of Clement, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus.

    The Gospel of Peter:

    Eusebius cites Origen, Justin Martyr and Serapion as mentioning this text although in the case of Justin, MR James comments that “the evidence is not demonstrative”. Eusebius has an unknown Serapion report that he walked into a Gnostic library and “borrowed” a copy of this text.


    The Gospel of Thomas:

    Eusebius cites Hippolytus (155-235), Refutation of all Heresies, v. 1-6., as mentioning something similar to the received text, and cites Origen as mentioning some text of Thomas. Eusebius cites saying (No. 2 in the gThomas) as quoted by Clement of Alexandria (Miscellenies ii. 45. 5; v. 96.3), as coming from the Gospel according to the Hebrews. There is certainly some ambiguity here.


    The Gospel of Judas:

    Eusebius cites a mention of this text in Irenaeus’ “Adversus Haereses” [I.31.1] however some integrity issues have been noted with it. For example, the text is described by Irenaeus as being linked with such villainous persons as Cain, Esau, Korah, and the Sodomites, rather than with the traditionally respected person of Seth. One commentator writes “Perhaps Irenaeus was simply misinformed or deliberately confused the two as a rhetorical strategy. At any rate, it is a strange divergence that demands clarification.” [Review of Deconick, Arie Zwiep] There is further ambiguity here


    The Infancy Gospel of Thomas:

    Eusebius preserves a citation from Irenaeus who quotes a non-canonical story that circulated about the childhood of Jesus. Many but not all scholars consider that it is possible that the apocryphal writing cited by Irenaeus is, in fact, what is now known as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. There is room for doubt


    The Infancy Gospel of James:

    Early knowledge of the “Protevangelium of James” is inferred from the preservation in Eusebius of mention by Clement of Alexandria and Origen. An inference is not the same thing as unambiguous evidence.


    The Vision of Isiah

    Mentioned by Origen, Tertullian, Justin Martyr ?


    The Apocalypse of Peter

    This is not the Gnostic text! Mentioned by Clement (Eclogues 41,48,49) - but there is no extant text


    The Gospel of Truth

    This is the NHC text; some consider it to be mentioned by Irenaeus ?


    The Apocyphon of John

    Mentioned by Irenaeus ?


    The Sentences of Sextus

    Sextus appears to have been a Pythagorean. Some think it is quoted by Origen, Contra Celsum, viii. 30; Commentary on Matthew, xv. 3)


    The Acts of Peter

    Attributed to Leucius Charinus, along with the Acts of Paul. The other books attributed to "Leucius" are: The Acts of John, The Acts of Andrew, the Acts of Thomas, and possibly also The Acts of Andrew and John, The Acts of Andrew and Matthew and The Acts of Peter and Andrew. Notably, most of these are first witnessed by Eusebius, with the exception of the Acts of Paul.


    The Acts of Paul:

    The chief and final literary citation is from Eusebius’ often cited Latin author Tertullian, in his De baptismo 17.5. This appears as the only early instance in which information is provided concerning an author of apocryphal writings. Note that the manuscripts which preserve Tertullian's De baptismo are quite late, the earliest being the 12th century Codex Trecensis.


      As for those (women) who appeal to the falsely written Acts of Paul in order to defend the right of women to teach and to baptize, let them know that the presbyter in Asia who produced this document, as if he could add something of his own to the prestige of Paul, was removed from his office after he had been convicted and had confessed that he had done it out of love for Paul.

    The 4th century interpolation into Josephus, known as the "Testimonium Flavianum", is regarded by many as a critically positioned forgery, with respect to the history of the NT Canonical Books. This above "Testimonium Tertullianum", it is suggested, should be regarded as a critically positioned forgery, with respect to the history of the NT non canonical books. Jerome’s novel addition to the Christian tradition - that the author of the Acts of Paul wrote in the presence of the apostle John in the 1st century - is a plainly fraudulent misrepresentation, and has been soundly rejected by many academics.

So not only are the references in Origen to Celsus relevant, but they do have a raft of further references which I have listed out above. We cannot deny that this literary evidence does exist, and has been carefully preserved by the church organisation in their archives supposedly since the 4th century when Eusebius gathered it all together.

The mainstream hypothesis of chronology simply accepts these references as being genuine. The dogma then and today was essentially that the "Early Church Fathers" were the authorities on the historical conflict between orthodoxy and heresy in the Christian literature of these first three centuries.

However there is a core criterion in the historical method by which any given source may be forged or corrupt, and I am treating the literary sources preserved by the church organisation (between the 4th and 19th century) as corrupt. The basis of this evaluation is the historical fact that this organisation was utterly corrupt. With all the atrocities and inquisitions that this organisation has undertaken, with all the murders, executions, tortures, etc, this organisation would not blink an eye to consider the possibility of forging their own literary material to support whatever pseudo-historical accounts they wished to produce.


Where does that leave us?

If the above references are treated as interpolations and/or forgeries by the 4th century (or later) church organisation then we are left to try and evaluate the chronology of the non canonical books by the physical evidence which has turned up quite independent from the "church archives" in manuscript and codex discoveries, such as the Nag Hammadi Library (NHL), the papyri fragments from Oxyrynchus and the recent (2005) C14 test on Codex Tchacos (containing the Gospel of Judas).

With very few exceptions, the vast and dominant percentage of this literary material is dated around the mid 4th century. The exceptions are two or three papyri fragments which have been dated by palaeography before 325 CE. However recent academic articles have argued that the practice of palaeographical dating should not preclude a 4th century upper bound. For example see ... The Limits of Palaeographic Dating of Literary Papyri: Some Observations on the Date and Provenance of P.Bodmer II (P66) By Brent Nongbri, Macquarie University [2014]

https://www.academia.edu/6755662/The_Li ... er_II_P66_

    Abstract

    Palaeographic estimates of the date of P.Bodmer II, the well-preserved Greek papyrus codex of the Gospel of John, have ranged from the early second century to the first half of the third century. There are, however, equally con- vincing palaeographic parallels among papyri securely dated to as late as the fourth century. This article surveys the palaeographic evidence and argues that the range of possible dates assigned to P.Bodmer II on the basis of palaeography needs to be broadened to include the fourth century. Furthermore, a serious con- sideration of a date at the later end of that broadened spectrum of palaeographic possibilities helps to explain both the place of P.Bodmer lI in relation to other Bodmer papyri and several aspects of the codicology of P.Bodmer II.

All this therefore leaves us with the conclusion that we do not really have any physical evidence of these "Gnostic Gospels and Acts etc" [more generally the non canonical books] prior to the appearance of the centralised monotheistic state Christian cult and the Constantine NT Bible codex c.325 CE


THE CHI-SQUARED STATISTICAL TEST
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearson%27 ... uared_test

The question is how much physical evidence has to discovered and recognised to be post Nicene in order for people with some measure of common sense to actually ask the question "What if these literary citations preserved by the church organisation are false flags"? (ie: the church sources are forged and corrupt).

There are now discovered more than 20 codices containing non canonical material (including Gnostic Gospels and Acts) which have been dated to the mid 4th century. If we were to set up a CHI SQUARED statistical test, according to the mainstream theory (which follows the "Church Fathers) we should expect some evidence to be unambiguously dated to the 200 year epoch 125-324 CE. If we assign a 50% probability of finding a text dated in the 200 years between 125-324 CE, and 50% probability of finding a text dated in the 100 years between 325-424 CE, the it's like flipping a coin. We should have at least some heads (prior to 325 CE) along with some tails (after 325 CE). The problem is that the coin keeps returning tails with no returns for any heads. After 20 flips of the coin we have a sequence of 20 tails.

How many more manuscript discoveries of gnostic literary material dated to the later 4th century do we require before we realise that maybe we should never expect the coin we are flipping to ever return heads.




Sorry about the length of this post RR, but you have made an excellent observation, and one which is held to be true by most if not all of the mainstream biblical scholars about the evaluation of the evidence underpinning the mainstream chronology of the non canonical material. I have attempted to outline the entire body of such evidence, and to explain why I feel it is both responsible and well within the bounds of the historical method to treat the literary sources preserved by the church organisation as corrupt and forged.
"It is, I think, expedient to set forth to all mankind the reasons by which I was convinced that
the fabrication of the Christians is a fiction of men composed by wickedness. "

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