Friday, December 7, 2012

A college paper I wrote for Medieval Humanities which my CATHOLIC professor raved about to the entire class!






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"Christianity's Dark (Far Less Known!) Beginning: Constantine and the Council of Nicaea Conspiracy"

By Jordan Miguel Adorno

             Christianity, as common knowledge provides, is a historical flourish of many cultural influences, but it in pure theological essence roots back originally to Judaism, the faith of the Hebrews. Preceding prior, Judaism, historically acknowledged as the world's first monotheistic religion, centered around an ultimatum for complete and fearful worship of its very much personified deity, commonly called “Yahweh” (amongst countless other names), who required all kinds of strange laws to be obeyed diligently in his name. These laws are found today in what Christians consider the Old Testament - the full text of the Hebrew Bible known to Jews as the Tanakh - wherein prophecies about a forthcoming savior from God are vividly detailed. Christians, very much separating themselves from Jews, allege that the legitimate appearance of this Messiah is divinely recounted in their additional holy text, the "New Testament", which they formally deem to be the equally divine continuation of the Hebrew Bible. Entire to the critical matter at hand, this such alleged "fulfillment" of the prophesied messianic arrival is in fact the most crucial component to the Christian faith: indeed the quintessential character behind all Christian theology, Jesus Christ is centerfold to even the slightest bits of introductory knowledge about Christianity because he, according to them, IS that prophesied Messiah long-ago promised by God; and not only that, he is the sole man whom, most crucial of all, ultimately as the "Son of God" supposedly lived only to meet his predestined, all-sacrificial death on the cross for, so it is proclaimed, "the salvation of humanity." Or, perhaps, that's just how the Council of Nicaea DECIDED it happened, in Rome, 325 C.E., upon compiling the books to be included in the Christian Bible following Emperor Constantine's establishment of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire (Riley). Though total a reversal, actual support of this alternative standpoint can in fact be found verifiable at sheer factual essence; as once all is properly considered, the strongest most compelling historical evidence leads oppositely to a far more truthful (albeit less popularized) conclusion instead: that the Council of Nicaea was actually the perfect conspiratorial creation of a foolproof, Christianized version of Rome specifically suited for the precise kind of impenetrable, all-absolute dictatorship that Constantine wished to seek over his people.

    Fairly speaking, there is widespread, consistent acceptance among most historians that, in some form, Jesus of Nazareth was indeed someone that existed at the beginning of the first century C.E.. Extensively speaking though, this nonetheless makes it still beyond unrealistic, a human impossibility arguably, that then in the fourth century somehow a Bible was sanctioned without any error in accordance with the true story of Jesus of Nazareth. Demonstratively, “Human Tradition: Medieval Europe and the World Beyond”, written by renowned Art History scholar Gloria K. Fiero, rationally associates a mystified aura with the stagnant early days of Christianity’s dark, directionless beginning: "[...] the story of Jesus and the meaning of his message provoked [:] Was Jesus human or divine? What was the status of Jesus in relation to God? Such fundamental questions drew conflicting answers” (Fiero 18). As such, it is not kept secret from historical record that the Roman politicians at the Council of Nicaea were first stumbled before deciding which version of Christianity being intrinsically practiced was the correct one for Rome. After all, the greater good of the state was at risk, and thus they - uniform only, first and foremost, in their sworn allegiance to an especially demanding leader, the all-powerful Emperor Constantine of course - had much, presumably, to weigh into question: Which form of the Christian theology would be MOST practical in unifying the then-crumbling state of Rome? Which would MOST lead them to new methods of regaining structural empowerment? Which would consequentially allow Constantine to utilize power over the people MOST naturally, and MOST speedily? Essentially, which version of Christianity would BEST recover the steadily dying, once-formidable Roman superpower?!  Such matters, made evidently unforgotten, were wisely taken into much consideration before the Council moved forth with consolidating what (basically) still today is the widespread, conventional Christian Bible. Analytically, so it seems suspiciously coincidental that the version of Christianity chosen was the one which conveniently allowed for the easiest creation of diligent, unquestioningly obedient people throughout their then-crumbling empire by implanting them with a horrific fear of Hell. Given, this easily can lead to significant doubts regarding the level of "divine" credence REALLY accounted for at Nicaea. Speaking realistically alone, if nothing else there weren't any of the instantaneous communication methods that even in the modern day cannot be perfected beyond ALL human error!

    At pivotal fault for much of the issue's surrounding mystery and peculation is Christianity's failure to go mainstream prior to the fourth century, as it summarizes its (only VERY eventually) finalized doctrine's unbeatable high potential for fallibility: Since the death of Christ had been caused by the overruling party, the Romans themselves, who'd specifically executed Jesus for his heretic threat on the power of the state, consequentially the brave early Christian communities postdating his short ministry were small and flatly unconsolidated. Persecution of said followers from the state was so serious at first that many in fact even faced death for their Christian stance (and hence the colorful history of documented Christian martyrdom). By 70 C.E., when the Romans had at last destroyed the Jewish temple, the Religious Tolerance Organization explains, "Jewish life was totally disrupted. Jews were no longer able to worship at the Temple. Out of this disaster emerged two main movements: rabbinical Judaism centered in local synagogues, and the Christian movement" (Religious Tolerance Organization, "The first three centuries of Christianity, as seen by religious liberals and historians"). Gregory J. Riley, reputable historian, notes supportive evidence in One Jesus, Many Christs, citing one, how the Gospel accounts in the Bible were written, rewritten and "revised"(altered?) for many decades after Jesus lived following years and years of intermingled, supposed "verbal preservation"; and two, that such texts weren't even officiated in their final, supposedly "divine" form as seen today until nearly the end of the second century! (Note that though each gospel is 'according to' stated person, none is explicitly written firsthand by the said individual.) No less compellingly, Riley consecutively explains how 70 C.E. may have been the spunky start of a rabid Christian movement, but that it completely ended up being decelerated for lack of unified agreement on a concrete theological basis, plainly regarding, "Even in the same geographical area and sometimes in the same cities, different Christian teachers taught quite different gospels and had quite different views of who Jesus was and what he did" (Riley 4). With such knowledge at hand, does the allegation that the Bible is the inerrant "Word of God"still seem like a sound statement?!

    In further elaboration, Christianity during the late first century ranged three major branches. The first represented sect, called "Christian Jews", says well-acclaimed author Michael Brown, "[...] regrouped in Jerusalem under the leadership of James, one of Jesus' brothers. The group viewed themselves as a reform movement within Judaism" ("Answering Jewish objections to Jesus: General and historical objections", Michael Brown). Second, Gnostic Christianity, the sectional roadway perhaps most "open-ended", was preferred by the more intellectually-inclined early followers yearning for more unbound spiritual discovery and less preordained ritualism. Still, it too was no stranger to the ambiguity of major internal division, for as the Religious Tolerance Organization states, "Each group was under the leadership of a Gnostic teacher like Marcion, Valentinus, and Carpocrates. These groups shared some core beliefs, but otherwise differed greatly from each other" (Religious Tolerance Organization, "The first three centuries of Christianity, as seen by religious liberals and historians"). Additionally, historian Riley, in his acclaimed The River of God, too keys upon this tricky disparity, “Among Gnostic Christians there were communities under the name of John and Thomas and many other lesser and later disciples" (Riley 8). Finally, third, "Pauline Christianity", which, thanks to the Council of Nicaea, fundamentally formed the timeless doctrine of Christianity widespread still today: indeed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E., "Pauline Christianity" was chosen to be the one true, "divinely-inspired" sect, the one that spoke the superior words of God no less. The "Pauline" movement was led by a man who, straightforwardly up-until-date, was a literal serial killer, a monster executing Christians in frightful numbers— a Roman named Paul, who'd supposedly been enlightened by a spontaneous apparition of Jesus, who accordingly in his spectral presence divined Paul His messenger. Today his legacy is no less preserved, honored SAINT Paul by Catholics for instance. However, one must take a step back and evaluate the facts which establish the historical context:

    Undeniably through his popularity, Paul was afforded immense political influence, which in turn only made his transformation into an indispensable Christian icon that much easier. Again, though never meeting Jesus on Earth, Paul claimed that his spectral account with God "assigned" him supreme religious authority on Earth, and thus his writings were subsequently justified an invaluable degree of influence over the early Church’s formation at the Council of Nicaea. Most of the crucial texts in the New Testament are written by him (fourteen of its twenty-seven books to be precise), the bulk of which were epistles (directive letters of robust spiritual instruction) addressed to early Christian congregations. Very formidable in establishing the argument that the Council of Nicaea had agendas nefarious, lucrative, and unfailingly political, but none which were genuinely inspired by inerrant "divine" motivation, the Roman Empire rapidly progressed into an overpoweringly totalitarian-like state following the Council of Nicaea like never before! Enabled by the opportunistic "Pauline" Christian theology, Emperor Constantine placed the Roman people under his imperious thumb by making Christianity the catalyst that would force all into utter dependence and subordination to the state. Calculating and complicit as ever it seems more accurate of fact, thus the Council shortly succeeded to produce Constantine's intended result: a re-solidified, obedient, unquestioning state of Hell-fearing, Christianized people (Riley). And all this was thanks very single-handedly to the rigid implementation of Paul’s 'salvation-on-faith-alone' dogma, the pretext uniquely concrete to his version of Christianity alone (hence why it and NOT the others was the very choice selected by the Council), for it so inexplicably stated that only trust in Christ, not good works, could save humans from the fires of Hell (NT Ephesians 2: 8-9NT 1 Peter 2:24). Rather convenient a theological ultimatum for Constantine and his agenda to repair his falling empire, but notwithstanding "Pauline" Christianity contains significant inconsistency with the alleged words of Jesus in the Gospels.

    Confusingly, many of Paul’s instructions are of no foundation to the Gospels, and too often directly contradict the word of Jesus Christ. And no, none of the many examples are subject to "alternate" interpretations, as there are simply too many verbatim, inexplicably specific statements inconsistent between the two men relating to the practice of faith. To delineate on a note of mattered difference in fact between the contexts of Biblical knowledge pertained to the two men separately, in converse Paul's words are written NOT usually in parables, the teaching form quite common to Jesus' sermons, nor are they record courtesy of secondhand authorship either, which is of course at least somewhat a debilitating factor in the messages ascribed as Jesus' throughout the Gospels. Instead contained by the more conversational-driven, rather upfront curb styled all-within his writings - and which perhaps better-suited their overall much ridgier, "ultimatum-centered" religiosity altogether just as well - Paul's contributions to the New Testament actually follow a refreshingly to-the-point narrative wherein he is self-espoused to a divinely-gifted context of life-or-death importance. Concretely, therefore, the nature of this dishonesty is briefly accounted in the following: For starters, Paul, declaring divine order of course, tellingly pontificated, "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized" (NT 1 Corinthians 14: 37-38). And yet, then in The New Testament's Corinthians, St. Paul contradicts Jesus on the very crucial topic of Baptism, saying, "For Christ sent me [Paul] not to baptize but to preach the gospel" (NT 1 Corinthians 1:17); however, such is boldly inconsistent with Jesus, who, according to the Gospel of Matthew, said, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them" (NT Matthew 28:19). Excessively damaging, another example lies again in Corinthians, in which Paul explains that Christianity lives or dies on the fulfillment of the Messiah, upon his sacrificial death and final glorious resurrection, both which accordingly Jesus himself foresaw and spoke of in detail to his Apostles (NT 1 Corinthians 15: 14-17). Contradictorily, Jesus stated in The Gospel of Matthew that he would be buried  three days and three nights just as Jonah was in the whale three days and three nights, but Jesus is crucified Friday evening and resurrected on Sunday morning (NT Matthew 16:21; 26:61; 27:63)! Does that therefore mean that St. Paul inadvertently invalidated Christianity entirely?!

    Continuously, Paul lies many more times - without need, sometimes, persistent to make himself more unconvincing maybe - such as in his writings provided in The New Testament's "Acts", where he orders that everyone, "[R]emember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (NT Acts 20:35). But no such statement can be attributed to Jesus within the Gospels of the Bible at all! Interestingly also, if Jesus Christ, the Messiah for all Christians, elevated women more so than anyone before, why did Paul destroy that with misogynist values? After all, was it not Mary Magdalene who was the first to be directly told to PREACH the good news after being first to witness the Resurrection of Christ!? And yet directly and unhesitatingly Paul discouraged Mary Magdalene's role during the most important event in the Bible, of course the Holy Resurrection unarguably, when he stated, “Let your women keep silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church" (NT 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35). These contradictions turn great volumes of doubt on Pauline Christianity's true source. Notwithstanding, the Council of Nicaea consequently succeeded to almost entirely exterminate mainstream knowledge of the controversial books that did NOT get canonized into the Bible: omitted at the Council were at least 80 gospels as well as hundreds of varying Epistles (letters), sometimes discredited for originating by smaller Christian communities, but likely most of all because they didn't fit with the strict "Pauline" doctrine they were attempting to promulgate; the latter is compellingly provable, for the natures of these "Lost Gospels" are most relatable in containing offset teachings and risky controversies, such as reincarnation, validation of good works, biographical information decided best left unknown for the public (an example being Jesus' eighteen years between age 12 and 30, which the Gospels make absolutely no mention of), or, such as in a case like Mary Magdalene's (although her Gospel contains, in addition, some VERY inflammatory claims about Jesus' life), just for being the work of feminine penmanship ("The Lost Gospels", Gnostic Society Library).

     In corroboration, such is another highlight by theology scholar Gregory J. Riley, stating a general consensus of agreement that separate groups never saw any of the Biblical Gospels at all: "Among Jews especially in the East there were Christian communities and literature under the name of Peter and James that stood in opposition to Paul and John." At the Council at Nicaea there, clearly, were various reasons for their selections and discards. Christian defenders leave it simply that it was an ethical and divine work; however, that is NOT the case given the erroneous nature traceable through Scripture (mentioned above in small example only). Discovery reveals the importance via political vote at Council, but little can be found to confirm that "Godly" motivations shaped the event which framed the first historical, VERY late unification of Christianity. Duty repealed the two opposing sectional doctrines for there laid no utilizing force by which to dictate subordination to the state, as primarily intended by Constantine (with most scholarly agreement, too). In contrast, “Pauline Christianity” provided the psychological phenomenon that tolled from a true belief in Heaven, Hell, a wrathful God, and limited salvation. These components so central to "Pauline Christianity" were deemed creatively suffice by the Council. Foreseen potential historically outreached, the consecutive Dark Ages featured a uniformity of diligent, unquestioning citizens well-controlled by the overwhelmingly powerful entity that the immediate Catholic Church was over Europe. To underline how interwoven the motives and actions of Rome's charismatic ruler were, popular historical resource "Antiquity Online" offers an excellent layout of Constantine’s affirmative action through and for the Church, explaining that in an effort to stabilize his crumbling empire, " [...] but it was the increase in its grandeur, including the prestige gained from Constantine's support that helped the Church make great new gains in converts. Some conversions were accommodations to the belief that the emperor was a Christian -- an accommodation to state power." If this is not enough reassurance of the intentional meaning behind Emperor Constantine’s hunger to reestablish rule, does it not strike suspicion that, “Constantine also ruled that various other Christian groupings who did not conform to established doctrine would be considered heretics and would have their meeting places confiscated [...] [W]ith the power of the state behind them, the bishops decided to make their authority law" ("Constantine, the first Christian emperor," Antiquity Online). And so the Council of Nicaea was successful in their interpretative foundation of Christianity, the state religion of Rome. At the political catalyst of the “Hell” phenomenon and Christian-exclusive "Heaven", the early Church accumulated masses and masses of lucrative revenue by pricing the forgiveness of sins (Reconciliation) especially high among the Sacraments. See, in commission of this sanction the Church thereby left the now very Christianized population of Rome inordinately in fear of being without Reconciliation, which was basically the most necessary Sacrament to evade Hell. To best illuminate the theological qualm that this potentially eroded, the one paramount Scripture ever-catalytic to the matter must be straightaway uncovered: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourself, it is the gift of God - not by works, so no one can boast" (NT Ephesians 2: 8-9); second, and in assured corroboration, "'He himself bore our sins' in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; 'by his wounds you have been healed'" (NT 1 Peter 2:24). Overall, in order for the Church to enjoy the uprising that led to its becoming the overruling, embodying force that it truly was over Europe, a theological (and non-exceptional) casting of all non-Christians to a brimstone of eternal torment, Hell, had to be the fruitful catalyst necessary, decided the Council of Nicaea, for such inherently productive results to become reality.

    In conclusion, the stressed importance that Constantine and his lobbying henchmen placed on the Empire when they complexly conceived a theocratic reunification of the Roman state at The Council of Nicaea during early fourth-century Rome, taking great measure to create the first formal Christian Orthodoxy, is unforgettable. Their efforts were history-changing, as the extraordinary limelight of subsequent events that followed as Constantine ably seized dictatorship over Rome only proved to justify the means of the Nicaean Council. And yet, in support of the Council's consolidation of Christianity, nevertheless no compelling record of Jesus' life - one sufficiently preserved by a reputable level of accuracy that is - has ever surfaced to even halfway  verify the extraordinary number of supernatural allegations made about the life of the said Jesus of Nazareth. After all, even between the four canonical Gospels much conflict rests! In fact, Gloria Fiero discusses in “Human Tradition: Medieval Europe and the World Beyond", Chapter 8, emphatically the small rates of Christians early on, explaining, “Despite the missionary activities of the apostles, the disciple of Jesus, only a small percentage of the Roman Empire - scholarly estimates range from ten to fifteen percent - became Christians in the first hundred years after Jesus’ death” (Fiero 10). How minuscule does that number’s credibility become when stripped down to the mere handfuls of supposed eyewitnesses who could by some accuracy recall Jesus and his message for widespread reach? (And even then we know too well today, of course, that there is exponential proof contingent to the VERY high fallibility of eyewitness testimonies; just like in modern life, the more recent the typically more efficient.) All in all, in honesty the nature of the argument here posited is truly not to insult any of the beliefs prescribed to the Christian religion. It is rather a clean demonstration of the overwhelming unlikelihood that the Bible was somehow perfected by human hands within history as it is written (whether or not divine "inspiration" is alleged); inconvenient or not, such skepticism is all that can be RATIONALLY procured from a basic understanding of the clear-cut facts surrounding the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. Rome. There is absolutely no proof to confirm the claim that the Bible as we know it is anything close to an inerrant, much less Godly, literal form. Zero.



Works Cited

"Constantine, the first Christian emperor," Antiquity Online, at: http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/ch24.htm

"The Lost Gospels."  Gnostic Society Library. Gnostic Society Library, n.d. Web. 09 Dec 2009. http://www.gnosis.org/media/LostGospels.html.

Brown, Michael. "Answering Jewish objections to Jesus: General and historical objections," Baker Book House, (2000).

Fiero, Gloria. Human Tradition: Medieval Europe and the World Beyond”. 2. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006. 10, 18. Print. 

Riley, Gregory. "One Jesus, many Christs," Harper SanFrancisco, (1997).

Riley, Gregory. "The River of God," Harper SanFrancisco, (2001). Page 8.

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