An alternative chronology for the lost authorship of the Gnostic Gospels
|Bart Ehrman quoted - on the Christian Exterminators||Editor paraphrasing - on the "history" of the Gnostic Exterminatees|
to establish Christian Orthodoxy
not only won their theological battles,
they also rewrote the history of the conflict"
|We have 4th century comparanda evidence for the modus operandi of the "history rewrite"|
The victors retrojected the Nicaean Controversy into a fabricated pre-Nicaean history,
by the insertion of references and mentions of popular 4th century "Gnostic Gospels and Acts"
into their special "Ecclesiastical Version" of the "Historia Augusta"
that the victorious views had been embraced
by the vast majority of Christians
from the very beginning ...
has a long and distinguished history ...
the debate lasted three hundred years."
The false history rewritten by the victors declared the debate lasted "three hundred years",
but despite the fact that we'd like to believe them, and assume they told the truth, they lied.
Authorship of the "Gnostic Gospels" commenced c.324 CE in reaction to the Constantine Bible.
Pachomian renegades reopened the "book debate" in Coptic. Others reopened it in Syriac.
The practice of Christian forgery certainly has a long and distinguished history,
|"Lost Gnostic Histories",|
via Eusebian Retrojection
Arnaldo Momigliano: "But I have good reason to distrust any historian
who has nothing new to say or who produces novelties,
either in facts or in interpretations, which I discover to be unreliable.
Historians are supposed to be discoverers of truths.
No doubt they must turn their research into some sort of story
before being called historians. But their stories must be true stories. [...]
History is no epic, history is no novel, history is no propaganda
because in these literary genres control of the evidence is optional, not compulsory.
~ Arnaldo Momigliano, The rhetoric of history, Comparative Criticism, p. 260
Debunking the idea that the "Gnostics" manufactured manuscripts before Nicaea (325CE)
When did the Gnostics write? Mainstream & Alternate Theory of Chronology for the "Gnostic Authors"
What does the evidence say? - about the chronology of Gnostic Codex manufacture?
An alternative theory for the Post Nicaean chronology of gnostic codex manufacture
What is the Mainstream Opinion ? As we shall see in the following, the mainstream theories on the history of the authorship of these texts, as indicated in the opening quote, generally agree on an authorship range covering at least three hundred years - between the 2nd and the 4th centuries. As a result, it has become meaningless to ascribe a core collection of these texts to a single individual author, such as Leucius Charinus, as had been popular centuries ago.. It is now favorable to refer to the authorship of these texts according to various successions of Gnostic groups, such as the "Sethians" and the "Valentinians" etc
The Alternative Idea: The authorship of these texts occurred as a direct reaction to the publication of the books of the new testament canon by the Christian orthodox upon their arrival in the Eastern Empire, specifically Alexandria. The Greek authorship of the "Gnostic Gospels" covers only a brief twelve years, between 325 and 336 CE. The Christian Orthodoxy, championed by the Emperor Constantine, declared them heretical. He prohibited the preservation of the newly appearing "Gnostic Gospels", and actively used the army to search out these heretical books for destruction by fire. The death penalty was reserved for the preservers. They went south up the Nile River for translation into Coptic and for burial in the earth. The conflict between the orthodox and the Gnostics lasted only twelve years, and not three hundred as declared by the victors. When the victors in the struggles to establish Christian Orthodoxy won their battles, they rewrote the history of the conflict.
Note that a far more detailed tablulation is presented here.
Apochyphal Text MS_Chron. -------------------------------------------------- --------- The Vision of Isaiah 1st The Gospel of Thomas 1st  The Didache [Teaching/Doctrine of the Apostles] 1st? The Teaching of the Apostles 1st? The Gospel of the Egyptians 1st-2nd The Gospel of the Hebrews 1st-2nd The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles 2nd The Apocalypse of Peter 2nd The Epistle of the Apostles 2nd The Gospel of Mary [Magdalene] 2nd The Gospel of the Ebionites 2nd The Gospel of the Lord [by Marcion] 2nd The Gospel of the Nazoreans 2nd The Apocalypse of James (Second) 2nd  The Gospel of James (Infancy) 2nd  The Teachings of Silvanus 2nd  A Valentinian Exposition 2nd  The Acts of Paul (*R) 2nd  The Gospel of Truth 2nd  The Gospel of Peter 2nd  The Apocalypse of James (First) 2nd  The Apocryphon of James 2nd  The Apocryphon of John 2nd  The Apocryphon of John 2nd  The Gospel of Judas 2nd  The Gospel of the Egyptians 2nd  The Letter of Peter to Philip 2nd  The Letter of Peter to Philip 2nd  The Infancy Gospel of Thomas [Greek Text A] 2nd/3rd The Thunder, Perfect Mind 2nd/3rd The Acts of Andrew and John (*H) 2nd-3rd The Acts of Andrew and Matthew (*H) 2nd-3rd The Acts of Andrew (*H) 2nd-3rd The Acts of John (*H) 2nd-3rd The Acts of Peter 2nd-3rd The Acts of Peter and Andrew 2nd-3rd The Revelation of the Magi 2nd-3rd A Portion of the Books of the Saviour (aka Pistis 3rd The Gospel of Philip 3rd The Hypostasis of the Archons 3rd The Sophia of Jesus Christ 3rd The Three Steles of Seth 3rd Zostrianos 3rd The Acts of Thomas 3rd  The Tripartite Tractate 3rd/4th The Prayer of the Apostle Paul 3rd The Prayer of the Apostle Paul 3rd The Apocalypse of James - First 3rd-4th ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Nicaean Boundary Event - 324/325 CE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Allogenes 4th Asclepius 21-29 4th Authoritative Teaching 4th Eugnostos the Blessed 4th Eugnostos the Blessed 4th Hypsiphrone 4th Marsanes 4th Melchizedek 4th On the Origin of the World 4th On the Origin of the World 4th Plato, Republic 588A-589B 4th The Acts of John the Theologian 4th The Acts of Pilate 4th The Acts of Polyeuctes 4th The Apocalypse of Adam 4th The Apocalypse of Paul 4th The Book of Thomas the Contender 4th The Concept of Our Great Power 4th The Correspondence of Jesus and Abgar 4th The Correspondence of Paul and Seneca 4th The Death of Pilate 4th The Dialogue of the Savior 4th The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth 4th The Exegesis on the Soul 4th The Gospel of Gamaliel 4th The Gospel of Nicodemus 4th The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew 4th The Gospel of the Egyptians 4th The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary 4th The Gospel of the Twelve Apostles 4th The History of Joseph the Carpenter 4th The Interpretation of Knowledge 4th The Paraphrase of Shem 4th The Prayer of Thanksgiving 4th The Second Treatise of the Great Seth 4th The Sentences of Sextus 4th The Testimony of Truth 4th The Thought of Norea 4th Trimorphic Protennoia 4th Unknown 4th The Act of Peter 4th-5th The Acts of Luke 4th-5th The Acts of Mark 4th-5th The Acts of Peter and Paul 4th-5th The Acts of Philip 4th-5th The Acts of Simon and Jude 4th-5th The Acts of Thaddaeus 4th-5th The Gospel of Bartholomew 4th-5th The History of John 4th-5th An Arabic Infancy Gospel 5th The Acts and Martyrdom of Andrew 5th The Acts and Martyrdom of Matthew 5th The Acts of Barnabas 5th The Acts of Bartholomew 5th The Acts of Timothy 5th The Acts of Titus 5th The Acts of Matthew 6th
(a) The Testimonial evidence "found" in Eusebius et al
(a) The basic reason that everyone thinks that some of the "Gnostic Gospels and Acts" etc were authored "early", before the Council of Nicaea, is because that is inference to be drawn from the mention made to these texts by "early authors" presented in the fourth century by Eusebius. We will examine these references.
In the following I have outlined the evidence at the basis of this commonly accepted "belief". Note that in the following the abbreviation NTC represents the "New Testament Canon" while thre abbreviation NTA represents the "New Testament Apocrypha" (ie: the Gnostic Gospels and Acts, etc)
Categorizing the literary evidence supporting the Mainstream chronology
A process of categorization is employed to focus on the key literary evidence supporting the generally accepted mainstream theory of "Pre-Nicaean" authorship. The texts have been classified according to six Category Codes as follows:
Category (2): Eusebius's himself is the earliest "witness". (5 texts)
In Category (2) Eusebius himself is the earliest witness. (The Acts of Andrew and John, The Acts of Andrew and Matthew, The Acts of Peter and Andrew, The Acts of Andrew, The Acts of John, The Teaching of the Apostles)
Category (3): There are no extant texts. (9 texts)
Category (3) lists books cited but for which there are no extant texts. (The Gospel of the Lord [by Marcion], The Gospel of the Egyptians, The Gospel of the Ebionites, The Gospel of the Hebrews, The Gospel of the Nazoreans)
Category (4): There are no "Early Witnesses". (27 texts)
Category (4) lists books for which there is no “early” mention. (The Acts of Thomas, The Acts of Peter, The Acts of John the Theologian, The Pistis Sophia [nb: this is misnamed and is actually entitled "A Portion of the Books of the Savior"], The Didache [Teaching of the Apostles], The Gospel of Mary [Magdalene]
Category (5): Known 4th Century (or Later) Authorship (55 texts)
Finally in the last Category (5) The Acts of Pilate heads a large list of over 77 books of the NTA currently conjectured to have been authored after the Council of Nicaea. Fourth century (or later) authorship of this large group of NTA books is of course very much in line with the arguments presented here.
|Summary of the Gnostic Gospels and Acts by Witness Category|
|Cat#||Category Description||# Texts||% Texts||Colour Code||Comments & Notes|
|1||Eusebius has earlier witnesses||12||11 %||Red||Critical: citations examined below|
|2||Eusebius himself is earliest "witness"||5||5 %||Orange||Eusebius to be examined|
|3||No textual witness||9||8 %||Black||There is no text to be examined|
|4||No "early witnesses"||27||25 %||Green||We have no early evidence|
|5||Late witnesses||55||51 %||Grey||All we have is late evidence|
However the books listed in Category 2, are first evidenced by Eusebius himself, but there is no guarantee that these did not appear during the period Eusebius was writing. These can therefore be ignored for the moment.
Consequently, the following section examine the 12 texts that fall into Category 1, representing just 11 % of the total number of texts, by which mainstream currently presume the Gnostics were operating before Nicaea.
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.
A number of Greek papyri fragments related to the NTA are postulated - by means of palaeographical assessment to be dated earlier than the 4th century. However the evidence does not appear to be conclusive.
Gospel of Thomas: P.Oxy.654, P.Oxy.655 and P.Oxy.1
Gospel of Mary: P.Oxy 3525 and P.Rylands 463
Infancy Gospel of James: P.Oxy 3524 and p.Bodmer 5 - cannot be regarded as conclusively certain.
A summary of Eusebius's source witnesses is therefore as follows:
Of course, Eusbeius in the 4th century is to be regarded as a master heresiologist. (See the following section). When we get to the 4th century, all orthodox christian sources become heresiological without exception. It is therefore quite reasonable to comment that the "early christians" were in general "heresiologists, and concerned in some manner or another, of differentiating between the orthodox and the heretics.
Our position is that the primary feature that differentiated the heretics and the orthodox was associated with the books that people preserved and enjoyed. Namely whether they were the canonical books of the new testament or the non canonical books, that includes the "Gnostic Gospels and Acts".
And further, the character of the style is at variance with apostolic usage, and both the thoughts and the purpose of the things that are related in them are so completely out of accord with true orthodoxy that they clearly show themselves to be the fictions of heretics. Wherefore they are not to be placed even among the rejected writings, but are all of them to be cast aside as absurd and impious."
Historia Ecclesiastica (Book 3, 25, 6-7)
Here is Eusebius, stating his intended plan of presentation of the history of the church:
It is my purpose also to give the names and number and times of those who through love of innovation have run into the greatest errors, and, proclaiming themselves discoverers of knowledge falsely so-called have like fierce wolves unmercifully devastated the flock of Christ.
We may read through all the books in the church history of Eusebius, but no names are mentioned as authors of any of the Gnostic Acts or Gospels. We have seen the "Testimonium Tertullianum" above, where Tertullian states that the author of the Acts of Paul was a presbyter in Asia. But no name is provided.
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume I
Church History of Eusebius/Book IX/Chapter 5 & 7
In a separate article on the Three Acts of Pilate a number of suggestions are made regarding the assessment of modern scholarship on the existence of a separate "Christian" and "Pagan" "Acts of Pilate". It is suggested that there was never any later "Christian version", and that the text we have before us is the original pagan version, that made the heresiologist Eusebius so upset. The solution suggested simplifies the field, and represents a microcosm in the macrocosm of treating the Gnostic Gospels and Acts. In conclusion, although Eusebius obviously has first hand knowledge of the appearance of this non canonical Gnostic heretical book, he yet again does not volunteer an author.
The separate article provides a collection of sources for the gradual appearance of the name "Leucius Charinus", which is soundly and regularly cursed by bishops and emperors for centuries. Obviously this name is a pseudonym, but quite coincidentally, the name is precisely the same as the names of the two resurrected scribes who, according to the text of "The Acts of Pilate" and the "Gospel of Nicodemus", were responsible for the authorship of the text. Their names are given as "Lucius" and "Karinus".
Mainstream classifications of the "Gnostics"
The name of "Leucius Charinus" used to be applied to the "Leucian Acts", but because of the chronology problems inherent with the traditional approach there have been few attempts to place Leucius in ancient history.
Perhaps one of the more recent and more perceptive of all these comments is that "Gnostic texts use parody and satire quite frequently ... making fun of traditional biblical beliefs" ......[April Deconick]
"insipid and puerile amplifications" [Ernest Renan]
"excluded by their later and radical light" [John Dominic Crossan]
"severely conditoned responses to Jesus ... usually these authors deny his humanity" [Robert M. Grant]
"they exclude themselves" [M.R. James]
"The practice of Christian forgery has a long and distinguished history" [Bart Ehrman]
"The Leucian Acts are Hellenistic romances, which were written to appeal to the masses" [Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard]
"The key point ... [NT Apocrypha] have all been long ago considered and rejected by the Church.
"The names of apostles ... were used by obscure writers to palm off their productions; partly to embellish and add to ... partly to invent ... partly to support false doctrines; decidedly pernicious, ... nevertheless contain much that is interesting and curious ... they were given a place which they did not deserve." [Tischendorf]
"Gnostic texts use parody and satire quite frequently ...
making fun of traditional biblical beliefs" ......[April Deconick]
"heretics ... who were chiefly Gnostics ... imitated the books of the New Testament" [Catholic Encyclopaedia]
"enterprising spirits ... pretended Gospels full of romantic fables and fantastic and striking details, their fabrications were eagerly read and largely accepted as true by common folk who were devoid of any critical faculty and who were predisposed to believe what so luxuriously fed their pious curiosity." "the heretical apocryphists, composed spurious Gospels in order to trace backward their beliefs and peculiarities to Christ Himself." [Catholic Encyclopaedia]
"the fabrication of spurious Acts of the Apostles was, in general, to give Apostolic support to heretical systems, especially those of the many sects which are comprised under the term Gnosticism. The Gnostic Acts of Peter, Andrew, John, Thomas, and perhaps Matthew, abound in extravagant and highly coloured marvels, and were interspersed by long pretended discourses of the Apostles which served as vehicles for the Gnostic predications. The originally Gnostic apocryphal Acts were gathered into collections which bore the name of the periodoi (Circuits) or praxeis (Acts) of the Apostles, and to which was attached the name of a Leucius Charinus, who may have formed the compilation." [Catholic Encyclopaedia]
However further sources soon reveal no respect for the heretic "Leucius" and declare that he was a "cobbler of fables". Considering that the Gnostic Acts and Gospels that Leucius authored have been all sourced from combining bits and pieces of the books of the new testament canon, this description is getting closer to the historical truth.
But by the time the imperially sponsored Christian church had become supreme in the late 4th and subsequent centuries, the authorities - emperors and bishops, commence to soundly curse the name of "Leucius". "Leucius is the disciple of the devil". His books were the "source and mother of all heresy". The emperors were still trying to stamp out and burn the books that "Leucius" wrote: "they should be utterly swept away and burned". Reading of these books was imperially discouraged, and we may assume, censored: "Let no one read it; and not only so, burn it."
0180 ... Irenaeus' Adversus haereses - no mention of names
0220 ... Hippolytus (disciple of Irenaeus) The Refutation of all Heresies - no mention of names
0220 ... Tertullian The Prescription against Heretics - the author of the Acts of Paul was "a presbyter in Asia" !!
0325 ... Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica - on "Heretical books" - no mention of names, but cites the titles of texts by "Leucius"
0325 ... Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica - and the fiasco over The Forged Acts of Pilate, where "Leucius and Charinus" visit the underworld.
0370 ... Ephraem - "these Acts were written by Bardesanites" - no author name mentioned [Source (1)]
0375 ... Amphilochius of Iconium - certain heretical writings were "not the Acts of the Apostles, but accounts of demons".
0377 *. Epiphanius "Against Heresies" - makes the first explicit reference to the name Leucius - "a disciple of John"
0385 ... Pacian (bishop of Barcelona 365-391 CE) (3 Ep. i. ad Sympr., c. 2.)
0387 ... Philastrius of Brescia - testifies to the use of apocryphal acts among the Manichaeans. (De haeresibus 88)
0399 *. Augustine Contra Faustum Manichaeum (22:79) identified the author "Leucius", a "cobbler of fables".
0??? * Euodius De fide contra Manichaeos (38) identifies the author as "Leucius".
0400 ... Jerome repeats Tertullian, with the addition that the judgment of the priest took place in the presence of the Apostle John, an assertion which is surely erroneous. [Source 3]
0410 *. Pope Innocent I. declared that Leucius was the author of both the Acts of Peter and the Acts of John. [Source 2]
0450 *. Turibius of Astorga - identifies Acts of Andrew, John, Thomas, mentions Leucius, as the author of the Acts of John.
0451 ... Pope Leo I ( Council of Chalcedon) on the "Leucian Acts": "they should be utterly swept away and burned". [History Christian Lit.: G.L. HURST]
0491 *. Decretum Gelasianum (4th century?) - in no uncertain terms states that "Leucius is the disciple of the devil"
0590 ... Gregory of Tours epitomed (and censored) the Acts of Andrew, but does not mention the author.
0787 ... Second Council of Nicaea - "Acts of John" as "this abominable book" - "Let no one read it; and not only so, but we judge it is worthy of being committed to the flames."
0845 *. Photios I of Constantinople - reports that the author is Leucius Charinus, and his books as the "source and mother of all heresy"
We do know that they missed the Nag Hammadi Codices. On the other hand it is also obvious that the greek heretical works were taken out of the Roman Empire to the Sassanid Persian Empire, and later the Arabian empire, because Photius stumbled upon a cache of these books in Babylon, and meticulously reported their contents.
114. [Lucius Charinus, Circuits of the Apostles: Acts of Peter, Acts of John, Acts of Andrew, Acts of Thomas, Acts of Paul]
"Read a book entitled Circuits  of the Apostles, comprising the Acts of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas, and Paul, the author being one Lucius Charinus,  as the work itself shows. The style is altogether uneven and strange; the words and constructions, if sometimes free from carelessness, are for the most part common and hackneyed; there is no trace of the smooth and spontaneous expression, which is the essential characteristic of the language of the Gospels and Apostles, or of the consequent natural grace.
The contents also is very silly and self-contradictory. The author asserts that the God of the Jews, whom he calls evil, whose servant Simon Magus was, is one God, and Christ, whom he calls good, another. Mingling and confounding all together, he calls the same both Father and Son. He asserts that He never was really made man, but only in appearance; that He appeared at different times in different form to His disciples, now as a young, now as an old man, and then again as a boy, now taller, now shorter, now very tall, so that His head reached nearly to heaven.
He also invents much idle and absurd nonsense about the Cross, saying that Christ was not crucified, but some one in His stead, and that therefore He could laugh at those who imagined they had crucified Him. He declares lawful marriages to be illegal and that all procreation of children is evil and the work of the evil one.
He talks foolishly about the creator of demons. He tells monstrous tales of silly and childish resurrections of dead men and oxen and cattle. In the Acts of St. John he seems to support the opponents of images in attacking their use.
In a word, the book contains a vast amount of childish, incredible, ill-devised, lying, silly, self-contradictory, impious, and ungodly statements, so that one would not be far wrong in calling it the source and mother of all heresy.
The second thing that we may learn from Photius, is that the books of the Gnostics were not isolated productions, but were manufactured as compendiums and collections. The recent codex discoveries listed below in the next section reinforce this idea. Consequently, it might seem apparent that in one sense, we are dealing with evidence that suggests that there was a war of books being conducted, between the orthodox and the gnostics, and that it was still being conducted in the 9th century.
The question of course that concerns us here is when did this start?
|Manuscript Discoveries including "Gnostic Gospels"|
|1970||2006||early 4th||Codex Tchacos||The Gospel of Judas, The First Apocalypse of James, The Letter of Peter to Philip, A fragment of the Book of Allogenes (or the Book of the Stranger)||
The codex was rediscovered near El Minya, Egypt during the 1970s,
and stored in a variety of unorthodox ways by various dealers.
It was not examined and translated until 2001.
In April 2006, a complete translation of the text, with extensive footnotes,
was released by the National Geographic Society
||"On the origin of his body" (Mani)
The Cologne Mani-Codex (Codex Manichaicus Coloniensis) is a minute papyrus codex,
found near Asyut (the ancient Lycopolis), Egypt; it contains a Greek text describing
the life of Mani. A second edition was published in 1988.
||Ismant el-Kharab Fragments
||Epistles of Mani
Reconstruction of Mani's Epistles from Three Coptic Codies - by Iain Gardner (2001): Epistles recovered from Ismant el-Kharab  [From P.93C et al]
"I will proclaim to you, my beloved one:
My good saviour, the witness who is my father, ...
he is my redeemer ...';
"Indeed, I pray for you
in the goodness of our lord Jesus Chrestos".
In one of our better preserved passages
Mani quotes a logion in part familiar
to us from John chapter 13:18.  [Quotes Psalms 41:9]
||Medinet Madi Codex
||Epistles of Mani
Reconstruction of Mani's Epistles from Three Coptic Codies - by Iain Gardner (2001):
For example from the Medinet Madi codex,
"The Seventh Letter of Ktesiphon", we read (B.24):
".... on account of (?) our good saviour, our god (?) Christ Jesus,
by whose name I chose you (pl.). I have gathered you in by his hope:
I have caused you to be woven together by his sign and his good,
I have perfected you by his understanding; I have made you strong
by faith; I have made his wisdom and his knowledge shine forth
in your teachings like the sun.
His is this blessed name and this strong power. He is the one who
can bless you all, my children, my loved ones.
He can set his love in your head (?), [which (?)] is the Light Mind....."
Reconstruction of Mani's Epistles from Three Coptic Codies - by Iain Gardner (2001)
||Nag Hammadi Codices
||Summary by Robin Lane-Fox:
"The collection is not a single library, not uniformly heretical, nor even entirely christian."
includes a poor trans of Plato's republic, and a pagan letter of "Eugnostos the Blessed"
the letter was then given a christian preface and a conclusion and represented in another copy
as the "wisdom" which Jesus revealed to his Apostles after his death.
||Four books, three of which are still missing, but one (See Codex Tchacos above) has recently surfaced
||Non Canonical Oxyrynchus papyri
||Greek Non Canonical Papyri:
A number of Greek papyri fragments related to the NTA are postulated - by means of
palaeographical assessment to be dated earlier than the 4th century. However the
evidence does not appear to be conclusive.
Gospel of Peter: P.Oxy.2949, P.Oxy.4008 and P.Vinbob G 2325 are often cited as “early”, whereas P.Oxy.849 is dated to 325 CE.
"They are possibly but not conclusively from the Gospel of Peter." [p,258, FN:11; "Fabricating Jesus" - Craig A Evans].
Gospel of Thomas: P.Oxy.654, P.Oxy.655 and P.Oxy.1 ; Gospel of Mary: P.Oxy 3525 and P.Rylands 463; Infancy Gospel of James: P.Oxy 3524 and p.Bodmer 5 - cannot be regarded as conclusively certain.
||Gospel of Peter, Shepherd of Hermas
||Mani:: Sourced from ruined Manichaean monasteries
at Turfan and Qoco in Sinkiang, China, north of Tibet.|
The Gospel of Peter seems to have been in use, for one lengthy citation is taken from it in fr. 18. The Manichaeans of Chinese Turkestan also used a version of the Shepherd of Hermas. Several of the hymns (e.g. in fr. 7 and 32) reproduce the ideas and almost the phases of the Syriac "Hymn of the Soul,"
||Gospel of Mary, The Secret Book of John, The Wisdom of JC and the Act of Peter.
The Berlin Codex (also known as the Akhmim Codex), given the accession number Papyrus Berolinensis 8502,
is a Coptic manuscript unearthed in Akhmim, Egypt. In Cairo, in January 1896, Carl Reinhardt
bought the codex, which had been recently discovered. It was a papyrus bound book (a codex),
that was written in Sahidic dialect of Coptic.
Schmidt edited the Act of Peter in 1903, and Pistis Sophia in 1907, but the gnostic
contents of the Berlin Codex were not finally completely translated until 1955.
The "Berlin Codex" is a single-quire Coptic codex bound with wooden boards covered
with a leather that neither resembles tanned leather, nor does it resemble parchment
or alum-tawed skin (i.e. skin that has been dressed with alum to soften and bleach it).
(text actually gathered together under the title of "A Portion of the Books of the Saviour." and incorrectly called Pistis Sofia
||WIKI: a parchment manuscript now held by the British Library (BL Additional MS 5114) which contains Coptic translations of the Gnostic Pistis Sophia and parts of what G. R. S. Mead referred to as "extracts from The Books of the Savior." It was purchased by the British Museum (now British Library) in 1795 from Dr. Anthony Askew. Until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in 1945, the Askew Codex was one of three surviving codices contained all of the gnostic writings that had survived until recent times; the other two being the Bruce Codex and the Berlin Codex.
||two books of Jeu, and an untitled gnostic text
||English Translations of Texts; WIKI: The Bruce Codex (also called the Codex Brucianus) is a gnostic manuscript acquired by the British Museum. In 1769, James Bruce purchased the codex in Upper Egypt. It was transferred to the museum with a number of other Oriental texts in 1842. It currently resides in the Bodleian Library (Bruce 96), where it has been since 1848.
The Bruce Codex was bound when it was in the possession of the British Museum - in a random order, with some pages upside-down, since no one involved spoke Coptic. It was edited in 1893 by Carl Schmidt, who also translated it into German; it has since been rebound in Schmidt's ordering. Violet Macdermot translated it into English as The Books of Jeu and the Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex in 1978.
Schmidt found two texts in the Codex, both Gnostic mystery texts; he concluded that the first (in two books) was identical with the Books of Jeu mentioned in the Pistis Sophia; the other had no title. He associated two small fragments (a hymn and a prose passage on the progress of a soul through the "Archons of the Midst") with the second Book of Jeu, which is incomplete
Another way of looking at the evidence is by re-examining the pie chart that was presented above:
Evidence of 4th century authorship: 51 % No early witnesses ...............: 25 % No text available to examine .....: 8 % Eusebius is earliest witness .....: 5 % ----- Sub Total: 89 % 4th century Eusebius presents early witnesses.: 11 % (suspicious)Aside from the paleographic dating of a small number of non canonical papyri mentioned already above, there appears to be a vacuum of evidence for pre-4th century manufacture of codices containing Gnostic Gospels and Acts, etc. What does the C14 say?
RadioCarbon Dating Tests on Gnostic Gospels
There are a number of ongoing problems associated with this radiocarbon test, and these have been listed, outlined and discussed in the above article. The primary problem is that, after more than ten years, the final scientific report from the UA has not been released to the academic community. In the intervening decade scholars have played guessing games as to these results, and the most recent guess (as outlined in the C14 article) completely changes the above results. The results are now believed to support -
Gospel of Judas [2015 Revised]... "a radiometric result in the late third through the end of the fourth century."
How Controversies originated at Alexandria through Matters relating to Arius
Eusebius, "Life of Constantine", Ch. LXI
If it can be established that the signature of antichristian satire exists in the Gnostic Gospels etc, then it is quite obvious from all the above, such texts would attract the wrath of the orthodox, in proportion to their popularity with the populace. And by all reports, the Gnostic Gospels and Acts were very popular in their day. Consequently, if the following analysis has sufficient integrity, these books became heretical because they treated lightly a subject that was close to Constantine's heart. That was of course, Constantine's own popularity. People were laughing at these other stories. Why were they laughing? What was wrong with the stories in his set of books?
In the Gospel of Peter, Jesus is lead from the tomb by two giant figures whose heads reach to the sky. Jesus's head is described as being higher than the sky; while the cross , not content with immobility and silence, follows along behind Jesus at a walk, and speaks its own talk. It says "Yeah !"
In the Gospel of Philip, "Jesus came to crucify the world", but exactly where did Jesus often kiss Mary? On her forehead? on her cheek? on her lips? The manuscript has been damaged at that precise spot. Jesus could have often kissed Mary anywhere.
In the Gospel of Judas, Judas is presented as one of twelve "daimons". None of the twelve "daimons" can look at Jesus in the eyes. Jesus is presented as a "Head Daimion" or sorceror.
In The Gospel of Mary , Mary is presented in having exclusive knowledge not given to Peter. As a result, Peter is peeved. "Did He really speak privately with a woman and not openly to us? Are we to turn about and all listen to her? Did He prefer her to us?"
In the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the Child Jesus as a malevolent trickster wizard. Death and destruction follow the child jesus. A child disperses water that Jesus has collected, Jesus then curses him, which causes the child's body to wither into a corpse, found in the Greek text A, and Latin versions. The Greek text B doesn't mention Jesus cursing the boy, and simply says that the child "went on, and after a little he fell and gave up the ghost," Another child dies when Jesus curses him when he apparently accidentally bumps into him When Joseph and Mary's neighbors complain, they are miraculously struck blind by Jesus. Jesus then starts receiving lessons, but arrogantly tries to teach the teacher instead.
In the Infancy Gospel of James, the Child Jesus is born in a cave with its Mithraic overtones.
In The Gospel of Nicodemus, the story is presented as being authored by two zombies who, while wandering around Jerusalem after the mass resurrection following Jesus's resurrection, are apprehended by the authorities, and are given pens and paper. The two resurrected scribes, known as Leucius & Karinus, independently record the Descent and Ascension, Jesus meets Adam. At the end, after finding that the accounts were word for word identical they provide a copy for Pilate, and a copy for the Jews, the two scribes disappear with a flash of light.
In the Gospel of Gamaliel Pilate weeps over the shroud.
The Gospel of Bartholomew "deliberately imitates the Lucan Acts"
In the Acts of Andrew, Andrew prays and there is an earthquake. Andrew mentions banishing the demons from Nicaea. "At the gate of Nicomedia he met a dead man borne on a bier, and his old father supported by slaves, hardly able to walk, and his old mother with hair torn, bewailing. 'How has it happened ?' he asked. 'He was alone in his chamber and seven dogs rushed on him and killed him.' Andrew sighed and said: 'This is an ambush of the demons I banished from Nicaea.'" Who was banished from Nicaea?
In the Acts of Andrew and Matthew, the apostles Cast lots for world dominion (just like the Roman soldiers in the story of the crucifixion). Jesus is the captain of a water taxi to the "Land of the Cannibals" in order to rescue the apostle Matthew. Welcome aboard! Meanwhile, trapped in the "Land of the Cannibals" after drinking certain substances, Matthew, despite the fact that many are being eaten daily, closes his eyes to everything going on around him. Help was on the way.
The Acts of John is seen as docetic. Jesus does not leave footprints in the sand. John cannot seem to touch Jesus' physical body. John commands a legion of bed bugs. Jesus was constantly changing shape, appearing sometimes as a small boy, sometimes as a beautiful man; sometimes bald-headed with a long beard, sometimes as a youth with a pubescent beard. .... Sometimes when I meant to touch him [Jesus], I met with a material and solid body; but at other times when I felt him, his substance was immaterial and incorporeal, as if it did not exist at all ... And I often wished, as I walked with him, to see his footprint, whether it appeared on the ground (for I saw him as it were raised up from the earth), and I never saw it.
In the Acts of John the Theologian, the Jews write a book to the Emperor Domitian, comlaining about a "new and strange nation". As a result, Domitian flies into a rage an persecutes the "New and Strange Nation of Christians. This term "new and strange nation" is a recognised Eusebian trope. The author of this text thus wrote after Eusebius had coined the phrase.
In The Acts of Paul, the author uses Aesops Fables in the Baptised Lion Affair. Paul baptises a talking lion in the wilderness. When thrown to the lions at the conclusion Paul is saved from certain death by the christian lion in the arena. (One good turn deserves another!)
In the Acts of Peter, Peter resurrects smoked fish, makes dogs talk, and wins a very exiting miracle contest with Simon Magus.
In the (Syriac) Act of Peter, Peter heals the multitudes on his front porch, but forgets to heal his own daughter (because it is expedient not to heal her).
In the Acts of Peter and Andrew, the apostles travel hither and tither by means of a "bright cloud". (Beam me up Scotty!) The apostles call on a powerful Christian Arch-Angel to suspend a woman by her hair at the city gates while they pass unmolested out of town. Peter successfully passes a camel through the eye of a needle, twice.
In the Acts of Peter and Paul, the Jews hear that Paul plans to come to Rome and petition Nero to prevent this. Another version of Peter vs Simon Magus miracle contest is recounted, this time with Paul present, and enacted in front of the Roman Emperor Nero. Paul is presented as "bald", and attracts his bald shipmaster, Dioscorus, as a follower after delivering his son from death. Nero kills the bald Dioscorus instead of Paul. The Jews rejoice.
In the (Syriac) Acts of Philip, is Philip literate, not knowing either Greek or Aramaic? Philip commands a Christian angel to bind the Jew Ananias to the top of the mast by his big toes in a raging storm on account of his blaspheming in a sotto voice. "And the 495 men on the ship feared". Philip is a man of power and action, who battles armies with the cross: "When Philip crossed himself the ruler fell backward and all his troops." Ananias sets out presumeably to convert the Jews, as coerced by Philip. Impatient at his angelic qualities, the Jews kick Ananias to death and bury him in their synogogue. Philip resurrects Ananias, and commandeers a sick ox to assist retrieving the dead Jew from the synogogue. The commandeered sick ox runs on his mission, dragging his owner through the streets of Carthage. The ox and Ananias prostrate themselves before Philip. The city worshipped Philip. "Three thousand Gentiles and fifteen hundred Jews believed; the unbelievers left the city, and before sunset an angel slew forty of the Jewish priests for shedding innocent blood: and all who saw it confessed and worshipped. " People were impressed with the aggressive Christian angel slaying of forty priests. On the basis of this aggressive blood-thirsty revenge killings by the christian angel, people were converted to christianity.
In Acts of Pilate, when the Jews complain that Jesus healed people on Sunday, Pilate informs the Jews that Jesus "healed the lame and the bent, the withered and the blind and the paralytic, the dumb and them that were possessed, by the power of Asclepius", the 4th century Graeco-Roman healing god, whose most ancient and highly revered temples (and libraries) Constantine had just destroyed.
In the Acts of Thomas, the apostles are again "casting lots for the clothes of the nations", but Thomas refuses to abide by the lot he drew.for the journey to Indian. He does not want to go to India. He says: "'I am an Hebrew man; how can I go amongst the Indians and preach the truth?'" Jesus appears and directly commands Thomas to go to India, but Thomas directly refuses to obey. The next day, at the local markets, Jesus sells Thomas as a slave to an Indian merchant. The price for Thomas paid to Jesus was three litrae of silver unstamped. Jesus actually writes a deed of sale, saying: "I, Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter, acknowledge that I have sold my slave, Judas by name, unto thee Abbanes, a merchant of Gundaphorus, king of the Indians." Once in India, Thomas mispresents himself to the Indian King as a master builder. The Indian king gives Thomas a great deal of money to build a new palace. Thomas gives the money to the poor. Eventually, when the Indian King realises that Thomas is not a master builder and has lost all his money, "he rubbed his face with his hands, and shook his head for a long space. "
In the Acts of Titus, Paul fasts for seven days and causes the Temple of Apollo to be destroyed. (This matter of temple destruction by the Christians becomes a political reality immediately Constantine became supreme c.324 CE)
In the NHC 6.1 Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, are there 11, 12 or 13 apostles? The text discloses that eleven apostles prostrated themselves (twice) on the ground in front of Lithargoel, in the oriental fashion of worship, made popular in Constantine's era. If Lithargoel is taken to be Jesus, an indentification made by every single academic commentator to date (alternatively, Lithargoel may be identified as a physician/priest of Asclepius) then Jesus cites the Bagavad Gita, in making reference to the "City of Nine Gates". Also if Jesus carries a codex in his left hand, that is similar to (not the same) as the codex carried by Peter, what is the codex that Jesus carried, and did the Christians instruct Martial on codex technology?
In the History of John the author names himself "Eusebius of Cæsarea" - "This history was composed by Eusebius of Cæsarea concerning S. John, who found it in a Greek book, and it was translated into Syriac, when he had learned concerning his way of life and his birth and his dwelling in the city of Ephesus, after the ascension of our Lord to Heaven".
In the Revelation of the Magi, The Magi, originally Sethians, get converted to Christianity - An entertaining story of the Magi, their history, their role in attending the birth of the Jesus Star, and their ultimate conversion to Christianity in a far-off land by Thomas Judas (of great fame in his "Acts of Thomas" where he converts the Indians from Hinduism and Buddhism). Why the Magi were required to be converted from their tradition to Christianity is rhetorical.
In The Apocalypse of Paul, some Gnostic wanted equal rights. Either Paul or Mary (depending on the versions) persuades God to give everyone in Hell a day off every Sunday. In the later 4th century Epiphanius refers to this as "a forged book full of unspeakable matter in the name of Paul".. Obviously Epiphanius couldn't see the joke.
In the NHC 5.3 First Apocalypse of James, Jesus dispenses Gnostic Passwords to James on how to ascend to the seventy-second heaven - a late instruction course on the appropriate passwords for the maximum ascension after crucifixion.
In the NHC 5.4 Second Apocalypse of James, Jesus dispenses a kiss to James - disclaimers are provided, but James dies a gruesome death.
In the NHC 7.3 Apocalypse of Peter, the author writes: "The Bishops are dry canals". Jesus is presented as laughing about the whole situation ... "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus."
In the NHC 7.2 Second Treatise of the Great Seth, deemed docetic, Jesus does not die on the cross, but laughs. (Jesus as purported narrator). "we were hated and persecuted, not only by those who are ignorant, but also by those who think that they are advancing the name of Christ, since they were unknowingly empty, not knowing who they are, like dumb animals. They persecuted those who have been liberated by me, since they hate them..."
In the NHC 1.2 Apocryphon of James , Peter and James miss their chance to go to heaven. More questions from the apostles are answered by the resurrected Jesus. Jesus invites Peter and James into the Kingdom of Heaven with him, but they are distracted by the other apostles' questions and miss their chance.
In the Letter of Peter to Philip (NHC 8.2), a Gnostic Sermon on the Mount of Olives is presented with a certain amount of melodrama. The apostles gather together, and treck to the summit of the Mount of Olives, where they persistently petition for the appearance of Jesus. "Then a great light appeared so that the mountains shone from the sight of him who had appeared. And a voice called out to them saying, "Listen to my words that I may speak to you. "Why are you asking me?"
In the NHC 1.1 Prayer of the Apostle Paul, the prayer consists of eleven sentences containing nineteen abrupt demands to a "psychic God" ("O Lord wont you buy me a mercedes benz?")
In the NHC 9.3 Testimony of Truth, John turns back the River Jordon! It also presents the story of the Garden of Eden from viewpoint of the serpent: It appears that the snake's advice was for garden variety of people who may have been contemplating a conversion to the "Christian principalities and authorities".of that generation's epoch. The snake may well be related to Panhellenic Asclepius, over whom the 4th century Christian revolution had been particularly unkind..... "The foolish, thinking in their heart that if they confess "We are Christians," in word only but not with power, while giving themselves over to a human death, not knowing where they are going or who Christ is, thinking that they will live while they are really in error, hasten toward the principalities and the authorities.".
In the Hypostasis of the Archons (also known as "The Reality of the Rulers"), the Apostle Paul is presented as declaring that the chief ruler is blind on account of his power and arrogance, and because the chief ruler, with his power, thinks that he is God. This description of the blind chief may be directed at Constantine. "I [Paul] have sent this (to you) because you inquire about the reality of the authorities. Their chief is blind; because of his power and his ignorance and his arrogance he said, with his power, "It is I who am God; there is none apart from me."
The Sophia of Jesus Christ represents evidence of fabrication. Robin Lane-Fox summarises this as: "A pagan letter of "Eugnostos the Blessed" (NHC 3.3) was then given a christian preface and a conclusion (NHC 5.1) and represented in another copy (NHC 3.4) as the "wisdom" which Jesus revealed to his Apostles after his death.. See also the comments of Arnaldo Momigliano on the "Christianization of literature". The process of the construction of the Christian Sophia of Jesus Christ from the pagan letter of "Eugnostos the Blessed" has been purposefully documented - blueprinted - by the editor of the Nag Hammadi Codices.
In the NHC 11.1 "Interpretation of Knowledge" the Gnostics flee before the onrush of the Christian message, which was associated with reproaches and humiliations, and never got to hear the end bit of the story, that Jesus had been crucified. "they came to believe by means of signs and wonders and fabrications. The likeness that came to be through them followed him, but through reproaches and humiliations before they received the apprehension of a vision they fled without having heard that the Christ had been crucified." The text continues .... "But our generation is fleeing since it does not yet even believe that the Christ is alive" Here it would appear that some doubted whether the Christ ever lived at all in an historical sense. With extreme docetism, the text continues .... "And he was crucified and he died - not his own death, for he did not at all deserve to die because of the church of mortals. And he was nailed so that they might keep him in the Church."
In NHC 6.8 Asclepius 21-29 we find a pleasant discussion between Hermes and Asclepius. Asclepius might have been asking why, after Constantine utterly destroyed his highly revered and ancient temples, he ordered for the public execution of the head priests. Hermes to Asclepius "Trismegistus, who are these (daimons)?" "Asclepius, they are the ones who are called 'stranglers', and those who roll souls down on the dirt, and those who scourge them, and those who cast into the water, and those who cast into the fire, and those who bring about the pains and calamities of men."
In the NHC 6.5 fragment of Plato, Republic 588A-589B lies a cyptic Gnostic political message about the end of the Panhellenic Repubic. It is not a just a "poor Coptic translation of the Greek". The Coptic purposefully deviates from the original, and it is in the difference between the two versions, that a consistent message is delivered. See the analysis results of Comparing Plato' Republic in the Nag Hammadi coptic to the Original Greek. The monsters of Plato's ancient fables "have now become natural creatures", and are loose in the Republic presented in the Nag Hammadi version. Once they existed as many fabulous monsters in tales, but now they have become a single monster. Once the subject of tales in Plato, in the Coptic these monsters (now a single monster - the Christian State Canonical Book Religion) lived in the empire, and it was commanded to work in the empire. Things were grim for the non christians.
In the NHC Trimorphic Protennoia and other Gnostic texts, fully developed Neoplatonism is employed and thus these need to be dated after Plotinus.
In the many NHC texts seen to Sethian and Valentinian, we may be seeing the signature of such groups in exile from 4th century Alexandria, attempting to contend with the imperially motivated "Christianization" of the major cities, and of course the commissioning of the new "City of Constantine".
This possibility is strengthened by the statement of Eusebius quoted at commencement of these citations from the Gnostic Gospels and Acts, and will serve again to conclude.
How Controversies originated at Alexandria through Matters relating to Arius
Eusebius, "Life of Constantine", Ch. LXI
This sketch will firstly have to contend with attempting to unravel these purposefully "twisted historical facts", and remove a few misconceptions:
(2) St. Anthony is an Athanasian fiction - there were no early "desert christians"
(3) The "Christian Revolution: land tax triples within living memory, "the highways were covered with galloping [tax exempt] bishops".
(4) Arius was not a christian: The "Porphyrian" Arius of Alexandria was a Platonist, not a Christian, theologian.
(5) An Equation of Identity: Arius of Alexandria and the pseudonymous Leucius Charinus are one and the same person.
Ammianus tells us that Constantine ripped the largest Egyptian obelisk from its foundations, unconcerned with its antiquity or its cultural significance. Eusebius tells us that Constantine utterly destroyed the "most ancient and highly revered temples" to Asclepius, and other temples, in some cases publically executing the chief priests. By his actions and edicts Constantine effectively made the PanHellenic priesthoods, which were previously consulted as part of the "Sacred Assembly of Pontifices", to the Pontifex Maximus, immediately redundant. The major temples were utterly removed to their foundations, and the general business-as-usual at the minor temples was prohibited under Constantinian law, and enforced by the army, at least in the major cities.
While it is agreed that Pachomius was instrumental in the establishment of Egyptian monasticism in the epoch immediately following Nicaea, it is certainly not agreed that Pachomius was a christian. The Nag Hammadi codices were not manufactured by what can be called "Canonical Christians" - they were manufactured by the gnostic heretics, who were refugees from their past civilization as they knew it. The Pachomians must have carted the original Greek from Alexandria, where is had been outlawed and forbidden to be preserved, and begun the task of Coptic translations and codex manufacture. The code system used by Pachomius to classify new arrivals is indicative to me of a great need for secrecy and security by segregation for the monasteries leaders.
There is reason to suspect these people of twisting the truth to ensure the harmonius transition from the Panhellenic culture before Nicaea, to the "Christianised Panhellenic culture after Nicaea.
But such claims could easily suggest that in fact the contrary was the case; given the wide differences in orthopraxy there might well have been the same variety regarding the authodoxy.
 Interestingly same comment regarding purity of faith at Oxy is made by 2 local priests MARCELLINUS and FAUSTINUS in a letter to Vanetinian, Theodosius and Arcadius
Athanasius's hagiographical invention of Anthony christianized the early desert. Jerome's pious forgery christianized Pachomius in a few words. Rufinus christianised the later 4th century desert the same way. These sources were "twisting history" to paint a harmonious transition into the "Christian Revolution". Evidence indicates that the historical reality was entirely the opposite.
The "Christian Revolution" process following Constantine's military supremacy involved fascism. The ancient historian Momigliano, who had experienced first hand the fascism of Mussolini, describes the entire "Christian Revolution" by a series of two "miracles". Firstly, here is Momigliano's opening paragraph of Pagan and Christian Historiography in the Fourth Century:
Constantine recycled the City of Alexander, whom he may have admired, to a new captical City of Constantine, which he definitely admired. He personally appointed hundreds of bishops across the empire to fill the void caused by the redundancy of the milieu of Panhellenic priesthoods. He constructed new Canonical Christian basilicas over the foundations of the ancient Panhellenic temples and shrines that he had ordered his army to utterly destroy. He sought gold to pay his large and barbarian driven army, and those select barbarian chieftans who on all occassions had surrounded him since he had dismissed his traditional "Praetorian Guard" (perhaps as early as 305 CE). The history of the major cities of the Roman Empire: Alexandria, Rome and then Constantinople, in reality was a history of the lineage of tyrants, and despots who had cemented their agreement with Constantine at the Council of Nicaea.
Constantinople, Alexandria, Rome, Antioch and other major cities were "locked in". Taxation wroughts were severely imposed and the penalty for tax evasion was death. An excellent introduction to the economic climate of the early to mid 4th century, and its history, can be obtained in Joseph Peden's Inflation and the Fall of the Roman Empire. Gold was highly regarded.
Pachomius leads the way c.324 CE and within a decade, tens of thousands of people are reported to be leading the monastic life, hundreds of miles up the Nile from the Christian held city of Alexandria. Archaeology suggests that there were very many Panhellenic temples and shrines in the eastern empire, so when Constantine enforced the prohibition of temple practices, a not insubstantial segment of the populace was immediately left with some difficult decisions. Many chose to leave the cities.
Also see these separate articles and/or draft notes:
The Desert Fathers (male and female)
A chronology of the monastic movement of Egypt and Syria for the fourth and fifth centuries. The influence and the corruption of the bishops, such as Theophilus, and the beginnings of the Origenist controversies. The "Tall Brothers". (DRAFT)
Ascetic Practices in antiquity
A collation of information and data relating to asceticism in antiquity. (DRAFT)
Taxation measures applied by Constantine, and after him his son Constantius, were severe and penalties were involved. New tax measures were applied, and everyone was effected, both the rich and the poor. Minor cities such as Oxyrynchus experience a massive population explosion, treasures are moved to the British Isles. The bishops of the Emperor gradually assume more authority than the civil magistrates, and the torture of the upper classes become a reality. By the mid 4th century, land tax had tripled within living memory. Ammianus Marcellinus informs us that at that time "the highways were covered with galloping bishops", who were of course, tax exempt. Unfortunately we do not have Ammianus's obituary to Constantine, perhaps if only to substantiate the claim that he was poisoned by his brothers on account of the savage execution of his son Crispus, c.326 CE. But we do have Ammianus's obituary to Constantius, and is discloses that:
Ammianus Marcellinus, BOOK XXI, 16
In the case of the epoch prior to the council of Nicaea, for the Gnostics and for the Canonical orthodox, there is really only the one source tape record: "Nearly everything that is recorded .... lies in the Church History of Eusebius." In this article, we have theorized that "Eusebius" or his continuators or their preservers are essentially guilty of pious forgery, and their assertions about the early appearance of the Gnostic gospels were false retrojections. This is analogous to twisting the tape and splicing it together.
In the case of the 4th century, and especially for the rule of Constantine, we have very few sources. The heresiological sources that we do have are best described as highly biased, and it is these which have attracted suspicion of pious forgery, and for many valid reasons. However, it appears to me that there is evidence that the same modus operandi of "twisting history" by making fraudulent assertions may be identified in the collection of orthodox heresiological authors in whom our mainstream history of the 4th century is sourced. There has been a second major twist and splice of history for the period from the Council of Nicaea to the mid 5th century, and this needs to be unravelled.
Möbius and the twisted state of 4th century political history
0 - Actual "Gnostic" History: An unknown actual political "Gnostic" history, like a tape, has been "twisted and spliced".|
at two points. The unknown four dimensional jig-saw puzzle of our future history awaits a solution.
The following alternative chronology has been outlined above: the "Gnostic Gospels" are a post Nicaean literary reaction.
T1: Twisted Pre-Nicaean History Eusebius c.325 CE falsely retrojects the Gnostic Gospels into the past.|
As a result of following Eusebius, mainstream theories postulate authorship covering three centuries as follows:
This article has attempted to address the identification of this first "twist T1". (See Fig 7 above).
T2: Twisted Post-Nicaean History There has been a second major "twist and splice" of the historical record.|
Multiple heresiological sources from the later 4th and 5th centuries retroject false claims into the 4th century.
A number of these false claims have already been outlined above. (e.g. Pachomius and Arius were not Christians)
The "continuators of Eusebius and/or their preservers" were responsible for the second retrospective twist c.444 CE