Christianity / Bible / Eusebius
(Top Posts - History - 020503)

The books referenced are of import regarding christianity,
the selection process for for the books chosen for the
bible, and Eusebius:

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From Booklist, regarding "Who Wrote the New Testament?
The Making of the Christian Myth", by Burton L. Mack
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060655186/
"Certainly Mack's book should take a place in the front ranks
of the many fine introductions available to students of the New
Testament in both academic and nonacademic settings.

A comprehensive synthesis of New Testament scholarship
that is nevertheless popularly accessible, it will make a particu-
larly useful introductory text in an area where such texts are in
great demand.

But it is more than an excellent introduction.

As the subtitle suggests, the book is also a critical account of the
making of the Christian myth--an invitation to critical reflection
on the social construction of a foundational epic that has shaped
(and been shaped by) the history and behavior of the West since
Constantine.

That makes it an introduction to mythmaking that is more than a
colonial criticism or classification of other people's myths; it is an
invitation to cultural self-criticism, an invaluable contribution to lib-
eral education that is a potentially important corrective to triumph-
alist practices as tempting in our multicultural age as they were in
the multicultural matrix out of which Christian scripture emerged."

Some of the books by Burton L. Mack:

  • The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy
    (October 2001)

  • Who Wrote the New Testament? The Making of the
    Christian Myth (September 1996)

  • The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q & Christian Origins
    (May 1994)

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1. Who Wrote the New Testament? The Making
of the Christian Myth, by Burton L. Mack

- - - begin excerpts (page 287) - - -

.... The event that triggered the creation of the Christian
Bible was the conversion of Constantine and the sudden
reversal of imperial status experienced by the Christian
churches. Constantine's conversion is often dated as
313 C.E. He became the sole emperor of the Roman
Empire in 324 C.E. and called the first council of Chris-
tian bishops to meet in Nicaea in 325 C.E.

One might think that the Christian churches would hardly
be ready for such a momentous change in circumstance.

But within a few short years under Constantine's prod-
ding, baptistries and basilicas dotted the landscape, the
site of the empty tomb had been "discovered" and the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre built upon it, Christian
iconography announced to the world its themes, bishops
gathered in councils to agree upon Christian doctrine,
ritual was regularized, the calendar of festival events
was established, piety took the form of pilgrimage,
salvation took the form of eternal life in the heavenly
world, and Christendom was launched.

Is it any wonder that the Jewish scriptures and the
apostolic writings were also transformed at this time
into the Christian Bible?

The main events along the way included a little assign-
ment that Constantine gave to Eusebius, bishop at
Caesarea, sometime around 325-330 C.E.

... Constantine asked Eusebius to have fifty copies
of "the sacred scriptures" prepared by professional
transcribers for the new churches he planned to build.

... The pressure was on because Constantine thought
of Christianity as a monolithic religion and wanted the
bishops to agree. Eusebius was called on as a power-
ful bishop, scholar, and historian from a powerful and
prestigious center of Christian activity to help Constan-
tine understand what we would call the basic Christian
myth and ritual.

... At every turn in the formal transformation of the
church into a religion of empire, having the Bible in
place was more than fortunate. It was absolutely neces-
sary.

... The Bible was created when Christianity became the
religion of the Roman Empire. ...

- - - end excerpts (page 293) - - -

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Christianizing the Roman Empire (A.D. 100-400),
by Ramsay MacMullen
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0300036426/

Review excerpt: ... MacMullen is the Dunham Professor
of History and Classics at Yale University. On January 5,
of 2001 he was the recipient of a lifetime Award for Scho-
larly Distinction from the American Historical Association.
The citation begins, "Ramsay MacMullen is the greatest
historian of the Roman Empire alive today." Obviously the
author is eminently qualified for his research for this work. ...

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Some of the books by Ramsay MacMullen:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-author=MacMullen%2C%20Ramsay/102-1247706-4552128

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2. Christianizing the Roman Empire, by Ramsay
MacMullen

- - - begin excerpts (page 6) - - -

.... The church's duty to perfect its converts was carried
out in quite remarkable fashion by schools of instruc-
tion, weekly lectures offered authoritatively from pulpits,
and other pastoral devices familiar to everyone.

They included a close control over publication and dis-
semination of facts and opinions that dealt with church
matters.

Secular literature from the pagan past, Christian readers
avoided, or they struggled in their conscience to justify
it or not to read it too much. A long story there, and
often told.

The non-Christian setting of the church, except as it
bore directly on church affairs, was ignored in Chris-
tian historical accounts ancient and, for that matter,
modern. [14]

[14] The abundant historiography post-312 is
overwhelmingly ecclesiastical for centuries, so
long as it is Christians that are writing it (cor-
respondingly wider, nonsectarian interests are
to be found overwhelmingly in the hands of non-
Christians: Ammianus, Eunapius, Zosimus, and
others).

When the first account of the growth of Chris-
tianity was attempted in modern times, by Har-
nack, in this venerable tradition, he drew over-
whelmingly on Christian sources, ignoring the
non-Christians, as I have pointed out before, in
MacMullen (1981) 206.

Hostile writings and discarded views were not recopied
or passed on, or they were actively suppressed; and, by
the overwhelming authority of Eusebius, the father of
church historiography, matters discreditable to the faith
were to be consigned to silence. [15]

[15] The fate of pagan works by Porphyry,
Celsus, Hierocles, and others is well known;
also, that of evidently a very great body of
religious literature judged unorthodox -- even
acts of church councils such as Arles, Beziers,
and Rimini. See Hefele (1907 - 52) 1, 2, p. 945,
and Gaudermet (1977) 81 and 85 (these were
Arian, in the 350s). For book-burning, see
below, chap. X n. 49.

His intent appears nowhere more clearly than in the sol-
emn introduction to his eighth Book, where he must show
how his coreligionists responded to the Great Persecution.
Some had fallen.

But it is not for us to describe their miserable
vicissitudes, as things turned out, just as it is
not a part of our task to leave on record their
faction-fights and their unnatural conduct
towards each other, prior to the persecution.

That is why we have decided to say no more
about them than suffices for us to justify God's
judgment. . . . We shall rather set forth in our
whole narrative only what may be of profit,
first, to our own times, and then to later times.

Various consequences follow. We may for instance, be
misled about the proportions of piety and indifference
within the empire's population.

... Very much the same distortions can be found in even
the best of modern attempts to describe how the church
grew.

- - - end excerpts (page 6) - - -

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Other information of interest pertaining to Eusebius (sum-
mary of pertinent information from Merriam-Webster's
Encyclopedia of World Religions) ...

  • Baptized and ordained at Caesarea

  • Bishop, exegete, polemicist, historian

  • Taught by presbyter Pamphilus - Pamphilus was exe-
    cuted by the Romans in 310; Eusebius may have been
    imprisoned in Caesarea

  • Provisionally excommunicated for Arian views at
    the anti-Arian synod at Antioch (Arianism taught that
    Jesus was not divine, that he was not a god but was,
    instead, a created being) early in 325

  • Exonerated by emperor Constantine after the
    Council of Nicea met late in 325 to create the type
    of Christianity we're accustomed to, with Arianism
    pushed aside by the creed that states the Son is
    homoousion to Patri (of one substance with the
    father)

  • However, creedal controversies continued;
    Arianism was proscribed in 381 and a statement
    of faith which came to be known as the Nicene
    Creed was approved

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