The Council of Nicea is understood by a lot of people as when Jesus became God in Christianity and when the Christian bible was decided on. It is also seen as a tipping point in history because it happened when the Roman Empire officially began establishing Christianity as the religion of the state. The importance here, is that knowing important parts of ancient Christian history helps with understanding more about the world's largest religion. The focus of this discussion will be on history.
Some of the ideas we are looking at are:
This is an overflow conversation that was happening on another thread, but is an interesting topic due to a lot of misinformation about this historical event, especially in light of Dan Brown's book. Archeopteryx and I have different understandings about this council, so we are going to work together to see what we can find out about it here as a team. This is an overflow conversation that was happening on another thread, but is an interesting topic, due to a lot of misinformation being out there about this historical event. But anyone can jump in.
Lol, Nelson (2006) has a lot of stuff that I learned about here all in one place so it is an easy reference source. But yeah, lets ignore Nelson's conjectures (they aren't his own btw, they were what I had originally gotten from conservative scholars, before I started doing my own digging) and focus on the information directly cited in there instead. The undermining theory is pretty dumb.
That it is potential that Nicea was manipulated is something we can agree on. At the time Nicea was convened, it was fully capable of being manipulated. What we need to establish now after we have accepted it as a potential, we need to examine "What evidence is there of manipulation?".
Any time two people come together to advance a common goal, there's a potential for manipulation, but I'm sure you mean documented manipulation.
You have access to far more resources than I, with my small library, consisting mostly of comic books, and you've already discounted input from Ehrman, whose entire collection I have, I'm really not sure where to go from here, but I haven't had time to read the rest of Nelson yet, and I do have a bit of time today, so it's best that I do that and return when finished.
Ehrman is a respected scholar and has a lot to bring to the table. Using the sources he cites can be very helpful.
I wanted to clarify. One of the things I wanted to do with this is really give everything a chance to be heard and tested. My take on it is that there is no way we can come to true conclusions by discounting things.
Everything has to be on the table. Also, I am sort of without my library. I am dying for one of my early church history books, and I have a couple of Ehrman books too that I can't get at either. They are all behind a pile of boxes.
Anyway, we have ccel.org, which has almost all of the Christian writings from history out there, which these historians tend to source from. We also have the internet which can help us out. But some of these history things can just be checked on wikipedia lol.
I nearly always use Wikipedia for general information and to point me in a particular direction, but as far as trusting it to give me information that I can attest to, to people who trust me, that my information is true - not so much. How many times have you seen, ?
I agree. Pointing in directions is what I mean. The Google search using site:.edu is our friend.
I think this should be all we need from the other thread, my reply to that:
Good morning, I hope you had a happy fourth! Thanks for sharing that. That does differ, and I am interested in the adventure of sorting through this. I'll share a few things and then do some digging to see where these differing views source from.
Origen, as far as I can remember suscribed to a popular notion at the time, that time was circular and that what once was, would once again become. This is why he had to fend off accusations that he indicated that the devil would be saved. He believed that all beings were the same except for God, and that we fell down planes of existence as we became corrupted. Satan fell the furthest. Christ was the one one that didn't fall. But to Origen, souls were preexistent. One important thing about Origen though is that his positions are neither positions, nor do they represent what Christianity thought at large. He kind of goes off on his own tangents. He also doesn't make direct theological claims, but is pretty much the most intellectually dishonest apologist who ever lived, and basically says "this could explain it but it isn't necessarily how it is" for most of his stuff. He also contradicts himself and doesn't mind that he does, according to Heine. But studying Origen you will also find that he was sent to deal with heretics, and try to convince them to change their ways. Even at the time of Origen, the Church had a strong notion of heresy and practiced excommunication for it. The church had already dealt with Cerinthus on the issue of the divinity of Christ. Cerinthus tends to be forgotten in all of this.
Arius on the other hand in contrast to Origen, contended that Christ was the highest created being as you mentioned. The part about his take on creation of the universe, didn't seem important to my professor I guess so he must have skipped it, because that isn't something I have run across. Though from a quick glance, Hebrew texts show the primordial chaos being created, and then the heavens and the earth being formed from that chaos. (thinking the ANE model with the hard firmament in sky that made a bubble over the earth, the waters above the firmament ect...)
Much of the controversy centered as far as I understand, centered around defining the nature of the the Father Son and Spirit, which finally got settled as Homousia (one essence). The controversy around Arius concerned the severity of his punishment, as the council was pretty much settled on the issue he was wrong. Some wanted a slap on the wrist, and Athanasius was out for blood (declaring him a heretic).
If you look at a lot of source material, such as Justin Martyr, and other early writings, you will find that they call Jesus God.
Everything you said about Athanasius I know is true because I did a paper on that document On the Incarnation. I read it carefully. What stuck out to me most was that he didn't catch the Infinitive absolute in the hebrew language, and so made this huge theology out of "dying you shall die" when having an infinitive like that next to a statement of fact, it just reinforces it. He makes a huge treatise out of a very bad translation error. Really bad since I have some pretty crappy Hebrew skills and caught it. I do see Athanasius as innovative, and his take on it seems to create Eastern Orthodoxy as we know it today.
Anyway, I'll dig around and find some sources on this as this is all from memory at this point, and memory is unreliable, especially 5-6 year old memories. But I can see we mostly agree on Arius, with the exception that we didn't cover Arius's contention of the divinity being conferred, we just took it from the point where Arius contends that Logos is the highest created being, so I can't say anything of this... Athanasius, I completely agree on how you put it. Origen, I disagree, as I contend he thought all souls were prexistent and eternal. And I disagree about the nature of the council as having a more open view towards the Arian controversy, as opposed to how I contend, more understanding view of how Arius came to his conclusions.
How I contend it went down was that while there was more tolerance for philosophy on the matter, the historical tradition was pretty solid at the point that Jesus was God. One of the things that perplexes me though, is how Origen got away with saying what he did about Christ being divine eternal but not God, while Cerinthus was crushed for saying the Christ-spirit came upon the man Jesus at baptism...
The sources you are using seem to swing away from the center toward an agenda, but the same could be said for those that seem to uphold the traditional view on the situation as well. Anyway, off to find some sources and see what I can pull up. Those sources should point to texts we can look at on ccel.org.
So I am going to paste this here, but it was originally from a conversation with Michael and written to address a nicea conspiracy on another thread, but because the source was here and I am using this as a reference place, it is good to paste some excerpts here too. The source is the document that was linked earlier.
It doesn't look any different from the writings of many church fathers.
Hippolytus of Rome (160-236): For in this manner he thinks to establish the sovereignty of God, alleging that Father and Son, so called, are one and the same (substance), not one individual produced from a different one, but Himself from Himself
Tertullian (ca. A.D. 150-212): “We have been taught that He proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun--there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled.
Ireneaus (ca. A.D. 140-202), Bishop of Lyons. “Now it has been clearly demonstrated that the Word which exists from the beginning with God, by whom all things were made, who was also present with the race of men at all times, this Word has in these last times, according to the time appointed by the Father, been united to his own workmanship and has been made passible man. Therefore we can set aside the objection of them that say, „If he was born at that time it follows that Christ did not exist before then.‟ For we have shown that the Son of God did not then begin to exist since he existed with the Father always;
Melito (d. ca. 190), Bishop of Sardis: yet not renouncing the Sonship; being carried in the womb of Mary, yet arrayed in the nature of His Father; treading upon the earth, yet filling heaven; appearing as an infant, yet not discarding the eternity of His nature; being invested with a body, yet not circumscribing the unmixed simplicity of His Godhead; being esteemed poor, yet not divested of His riches; needing sustenance inasmuch as He was man, yet not ceasing to feed the entire world inasmuch as He is God
Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 100-165), Christian Apologist. “And the truth is this that Jesus Christ alone has been begotten as the unique Son of God, being already his Word, his First-begotten, and his Power.
Now rather than dig through the Ante-Nicene fathers, I went to a singular source, but if you don't believe me, go ahead and look yourself at the source translations at CCEL.org. But no more of these Nicea changed it all, all to it we owe conspiracies. Nicea confirmed all the things the Church believed all that changed was the wording "homousia" and the elevation of Jerusalem to a patriarchate.
This post was a paste from another thread