Originally Posted by tolpuddle
Well it took a while, but we got there in the end: ‘Heretical forms of Christianity existed from the earliest Christian times.’
Bart Ehrman was correct when he wrote:
‘There are three persons in the Godhead. They are distinct from each other. But each one is equally God. All three are eternal beings. And they all are of the same substance. This, then, is the doctrine of the Trinity.
‘It is quite a development from anything found in the New Testament, where there is no explicit statement of anything of the sort. Not even in a document like the Gospel of John, where Jesus is thought of as divine, is there any discussion of three being one in substance. As you might expect, later scribes of the New Testament found this lack disturbing, and so in one place at least they inserted an explicit reference to the Trinity (1 John 5:7–8). The Trinity is a later Christian invention, which was based, in the arguments of Athanasius and others, on passages of Scripture but which does not actually appear in any of the books of the New Testament.
‘Within three hundred years Jesus went from being a Jewish apocalyptic prophet to being God himself, a member of the Trinity. Early Christianity is nothing if not remarkable.
‘What we might think of as traditional Christianity did not simply drop from the sky, full grown and fully developed, soon after the ministry of Jesus. Nor did it emerge directly and simply from his teachings. In many ways, what became Christianity represents a series of rather important departures from the teachings of Jesus. Christianity, as has long been recognized by critical historians, is the religion about Jesus, not the religion of Jesus.
‘Whether one stresses the continuities or the discontinuities in the development of early Christianity, it is clear that the beliefs and perspectives that emerged among Jesus’ later followers were different from the religion of Jesus himself. Paul was not the only one responsible for this set of theological innovations, this invention of what we think of as Christianity. He may not even bear the greatest responsibility among those who transformed the religion of Jesus into the religion about Jesus. There were numerous Christians involved in these transformations, the vast majority of them lost in the mists of antiquity, unnamed Christians thinkers and preachers who reinterpreted the traditions of Jesus for their own time, whose reinterpretations were guided and moulded by historical and cultural forces that we, living later, can sometimes only surmise and ponder.
‘Christianity as we have come to know it did not, in any event, spring into being overnight. It emerged over a long period of time, through a period of struggles, debates, and conﬂicts over competing views, doctrines, perspectives, canons, and rules. The ultimate emergence of the Christian religion represents a human invention - in terms of its historical and cultural significance, arguably the greatest invention in the history of Western civilization.’ (‘Jesus Interrupted’: pages 260; 267-268).
In a comment to crimsontide06 (Post 21) you write: Christians also believe that the Bible we have is correct and authoritative.
Note Ehrman’s reference to 1 John 5:7–8. This is one of two passages citied as being particularly ‘supportive’ of the Trinity (the second is Matthew 28:19. More of this later, in šāʾ Allāh).
1 John 5:7–8 contains what is known as the ‘Comma Ioanneum’. It is shown below in capitals:
‘For there are three that bear record IN HEAVEN, THE FATHER, THE WORD, AND THE HOLY GHOST: AND THESE THREE ARE ONE. AND THERE ARE THREE THAT BEAR WITNESS IN EARTH, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.’
Anthony and Richard Hanson write:
‘It (the ‘Comma Ioanneum’) was added by some enterprising person or persons in the ancient Church who felt that the New Testament was sadly deficient in direct witness to the kind of doctrine of the Trinity which he favoured and who determined to remedy that defect . . . It is a waste of time to attempt to read Trinitarian doctrine directly off the pages of the New Testament’. (‘Reasonable Belief: A Survey of the Christian Faith’; page 171).
The ‘Comma Ioanneum’ is absent from the Aramaic, Syraic, Arabic, Ethiopiac, Slavic, Armenian and Georgian translations of the Greek New Testament; and is a Latin corruption. It is spurious, and yet for centuries the Catholic Church insisted it be included in 1 John 5:7-8; on the grounds that it had become official Church teaching.
In 1927, the Holy Office (Guardian of Catholic orthodoxy; and once named the ‘Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition’) declared: ‘After careful examination of the whole circumstances that its genuineness could be denied
’ (Ludwig Ott: ‘Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma’, page 56).
This is why my Bible (the Jerusalem Bible - a Catholic version) reads: ‘So there are three witnesses, the Spirit, water and blood; and the three of them coincide.’
Strangely enough, another Bible approved by the Church - the Douay Rheims - still includes the spurious Comma Ioanneum. Left Hand….Right Hand!
Concerning Matthew 28:19: ‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’
Eusebius (c260-c341), Bishop of Caesarea and ‘Father of Church History’ makes no mention of this ‘Trinitarian’ formula in his ‘Ecclesiastical History’, but instead writes: ‘But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations IN MY NAME’ (Chapter 5, Section 2)…. my emphasis.
Nor does he mention the formula in his ‘Oration in Praise of Emperor Constantine’, writing: ‘What king or prince in any age of the world, what philosopher, legislator or prophet, in civilized or barbarous lands, has attained so great a height of excellence, I say not after death, but while living still, and full of mighty power, as to fill the ears and tongues of all mankind with the praises of his name? Surely none save our only Savior has done this, when, after his victory over death, he spoke the word to his followers, and fulfilled it by the event, saying to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations IN MY NAME.’ (Chapter 16, Section 8)….again, my emphasis.
Biblical Unitarians proffer these texts as proof that the formula ‘In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ did not exist in Eusebius’ day. However, other evidence suggests that it did; coming into use in the second century.
It is agreed that the early Christians baptised only in the name of Christ. This suggests that the command to baptise people ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ did not exist in the early Church. Not in writing, and not in the collective memory of the believers.
In a footnote in the New Jerusalem Bible we read: ‘This formula is probably a reflection of the liturgical usage established later in the primitive community. It will be remembered that Ac. speaks of baptising ‘in the name of Jesus.’
In short, these are probably not the words of Christ. The only reason for claiming they are is to lend credence to the notion that the Trinity is real.
By the way, other Gospel stories not found in any of the oldest and best manuscripts of the Greek New Testament are the woman taken in adultery, and the last twelve verses of Mark:
‘Having risen in the morning on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary of Magdala from whom he had cast out seven devils. She then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them. But they did not believe her when they heard her say that he was alive and that she had seen him. After this, he showed himself under another form to two of them as they were on their way into the country. These went back and told the others, who did not believe them either. Lastly, he showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
‘And he said to them: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.”
‘And so the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven; there at the right hand of God he took his place, while they, going out, preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word by the signs that accompanied it.’ (16: 9-20).
Bruce M. Metzger and Bart Ehrman write: ‘
‘How did Mark end his Gospel? Unfortunately, we do not know; the most that can be said is that four different endings are current among the manuscripts but probably none of them represents what Mark originally intended. These four endings may be called the short ending, the intermediate ending, the long ending, and the long ending expanded.
‘The last 12 verses of Mark (16.9-20) are lacking in the two earliest parchment codices; in the Old Latin manuscript; the Sinaitic Syriac; many manuscripts of the Old Armenian version; the Adysh and Opiza manuscripts of the Old Georgian version; and a number of manuscripts of the Ethiopic version.
‘Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Ammonius show no knowledge of the existence of these verses; other Church fathers state that the section is absent from Greek copies of Mark known to them. The original form of the Eusebian sections makes no provision for numbering sections 16:8. Not a few manuscripts that contain the passage have scholia stating that older Greek copies lack it, and in other witnesses the passage is marked with asterisks or obeli, the conventional sigla used by scribes to indicate a spurious addition to a literary document.’ (‘The Text of the New Testament - Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration; Forth Edition; pages 322-323).
‘The reasons for thinking that Mark himself did not write the last twelve verses are so compelling that most modern Bible translations include them in brackets with a footnote indicating that they are not the original ending. For one thing, they are not found in our oldest and best manuscripts. Also, these verses are in a writing style and use vocabulary not found elsewhere in Mark. Furthermore, the transition from verse 8 to verse 9 does not make sense when read in the Greek. For a fuller discussion, see my Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why’; pp. 65–68.’ (from ‘Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible - And Why We Don't Know About Them’).
So much for the New Testament being preserved wholly, faithfully and accurately down the centuries. Someone ought to tell the Snake Handlers.
Dr. Jonah David Conner is a former Christian fundamentalist who devoted many years to studying the Bible and related disciplines, such as biblical languages, textual criticism, theology and church history. He writes:
‘One might reasonably ask how it’s possible for so many contradictions and irrationalities to go unnoticed in a book that has been read by so many followers for centuries. The main reason, in my opinion based on years in the church, is simply that most Christians don’t actually study the Bible to any significant degree. These inconsistencies and flaws only appear through strenuous examination of the details, and by painstakingly comparing one passage with another, often times in the original languages. Needless to say, most believers aren’t interesting in that. They are content to peruse their favorite passages in their favorite translation and never do anything more. There is really no nice way to put it – the average Christian is intellectually lazy and embarrassingly ignorant. The vast majority have never read a single book on Church History, Textual Criticism, Theology, biblical languages, or other religions. Their beliefs are a nice little get-out-of-hell-free card that makes them feel good about death and suffering in this life, and they simple don’t care to examine it at any greater depth. They go to church to sing songs, hear an inspiring message, and talk to their friends. That’s about it.’ (from ‘All That's Wrong with the Bible: Contradictions, Absurdities, and More’).
Here’s your chance to poke a finger in Connor’s eye. Please come back with comprehensive answers to the following questions, quoting your sources in every case:
1. When Yeshua (ʿalayhi as-salām) entered Jerusalem during the Triumphal Entry, how many animals did he ride?
2. What did Yeshua tell the high priest when questioned at his trial?
3. Why does Matthew quote the wrong prophet when speaking of Judas and his betrayal of Yeshua?
4. When was the curtain in the Temple ripped?
5. What did the centurion say when Yeshua died?
6. After his conversion, did Paul go directly to Jerusalem in order to confer with those who were apostles before him?
7. Did the churches in Judea know who Paul was?
8. Did Paul go to Athens alone?
9. How many trips did Paul make to Jerusalem?
10. Were the congregations that Paul established made up of both Jews and gentiles?
11. Are there forgeries in the New Testament?