(written by Dr. Friedrich Plog in 1988)
The Bible is the sacred book of Christianity, combining the Old Testament, the holy books of Judaism and the New Testament. The latter books were added by the Christians. Other Jewish books, regarded as less authoritative but sometimes added to the Bible, are called the Apocrypha.
The Old and the New Testaments were embodied in the Christian Bible as documenting successive phases of God's plan of salvation -- from the fall of Adam to the incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God, Messiah of Israel and the Savior of mankind. This historical Christian philosophy has left its stamp on our chronology. Years are designated either as BC (Before Christ) or AD (Anno Domini). The latter designation was introduced in the 6th century, the former in the 18th century.
The first English version of the New Testament came from John Wycliffe, who translated from the Latin Bible (the Vulgate) in 1367 AD. The Vulgate was printed in 1731 AD. The King James Bible was published in 1611 AD. In the year 1604 AD, forty-seven persons, learned in the languages, were appointed to revise the translation then in use. They were ordered to use the Bishops Bible (1508) as the basis of the new version and to alter it as little as the original would allow. But, if the Geneva editors agreed to better the text of the prior translations of Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Crammer or Whitchurch, they were to do so. This translation was perhaps the best that could be had at the time. It has been accused of containing over 20,000 errors.
What about today's translation of the Bible, ta biblia (Greek), meaning "the books"? To find out, we have to go back to the fourth century. At that time, especially in Rome, nearly all of the Christian documents were destroyed. When Constantine commissioned new versions of these documents, he enabled the custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit and rewrite the material as they saw fit, in accordance with their tenets. It was at this point that most of the crucial alterations in the New Testament were probably made, and Jesus assumed the unique status attributed to him ever since. The importance of Constantine's commission must not be underestimated. Of the five thousand extant early manuscript versions of the New Testament, not one pre-dates the fourth century. The New Testament, as it exists today, is essentially a product of fourth century editors and writers -- custodians of orthodoxy with vested interest to protect the Roman Church. At the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), Arius (318-355 AD) was condemned and the version of Athanasius became the official Christian religion, according to Constantine's wishes.
Following Constantine's rule, the course of Christian orthodoxy is familiar enough and well documented. Roman orthodoxy rests essentially on the books of the New Testament, but this New Testament is only a small selection of the early Christian documents. There are a great many other works that pre-date the New Testament in its present form, some of which cast a significant, often controversial, new light on the accepted accounts. Diverse books dating from the sixth century, known as the Apocrypha, were excluded from the Bible. Other works, however, were already in circulation as early as the second century.
There is the Gospel of Peter, located in the valley of the upper Nile in 1886 AD, although it is mentioned by the Bishops of Antioch in AD 180. Another apocryphal work of interest is the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus, which dates also from the second century. There are the Dead Sea Scrolls, found at Qumran. Mark wrote a "secret" Gospel. There are reports from Flavius Josephus (Joseph ben Matthias) containing the speeches of Eleazar (Lazarus), the commander of the garrison of Masada. In his chronicle, Josephus repeats speeches which he claimed to have heard from survivors. The speeches are unmistakably Essene, Gnostic and Dualistic. There is a text from Josephus, translated in old Russian (1261 AD) which survived the destruction of Christian documents by Decius (201-251 AD) and Diocletiah (245-313 AD). This text describes Jesus as human, as a political revolutionary and as a "King who did not reign".
Also, there are scrolls from the Gnostic writings of Valentinus, Marcion, Basilides and the Gnostic Gospels of Nag Hammadi. These scrolls are copies of the originals which date back to 150 AD and were mentioned by the very earliest Church Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus and Origen. Among these scrolls are the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Truth and the Gospel of the Egyptians. One of them may include material that is even older than the four standard Gospels of the New Testament. These documents escaped the censorship and revision of later Roman orthodoxy. They are not distorted or slanted to a Romanized ear and may well originate from first-hand and/or eyewitness sources, oral accounts by Jews fleeing the Holy Land. Perhaps the documents were written by personal acquaintances or associates of Jesus who could tell their story with a historical fidelity that the writers of the four standard Gospels could not afford to retain.
We know the Bible is 'doctored', but we also know that the rewriters and orthodox editors could not eliminate the truth, because they did not know the total truth.
More About Bible Origin
As explained above, it was 325 years following Jesus' life and teachings that the Council of Nicaea began putting together writings that comprise our present Bible. The impressive Roman Empire was shrinking, although many tribes were still occupied by the Roman army, thereby losing their freedom. The Roman religion was not in total control at that time; however, the Emperor Constantine envisioned this empire extending from Northern Europe to Northern Africa, secured by the Roman legions and a Roman Church.
Constantine faced a dilemma concerning the dispute of two points of Christian view that threatened a strong empire. One theologian, Arius, from Heliopolis in Egypt, taught the same teachings as the man we call Jesus. Arius taught that the historical Jesus was a mortal man with a God divinity. He was opposed by Athanasius who proclaimed the historical Jesus as co-equal with God. Constantine called together a general council of bishops to decide the issue and to secure the Roman Empire. Arius' teaching was condemned as heretical and Jesus was defined as 'homoousios', a Greek word meaning 'of the same substance' with God, unlike other human beings.
Arius and his chief supporters, called Arians, were sent into exile. Under the Emperor Constantine, Athanasius' view of Christianity became the established religion of the Roman Empire, a most significant proclamation, which meant that Arians could then be punished by the state as heretics.
To ensure the power of the empire by the church, Constantine ordered the Bishops of the Council of Nicaea to put together a book that would guarantee his political plan.
In 70 AD, Roman legions stole priceless artifacts from Solomon's Temple in Palestine, including the contents of the Holy of Holies and some of the old scrolls, and carried them to Rome. In 325 AD, the Council used a portion of those scrolls, and between 340 and 381 AD, St Jerome put the finishing touches on the writings that compile the book which is known today as the Bible.
The theft of Solomon's Temple resulted in many wars and much bloodshed throughout Europe. About 410 AD, a French tribe, the Visigoths, retrieved the scrolls and took them to the South of France, where, as mentioned previously, they are today. (There are also other original scrolls in existence today -- in the Vatican, as well as in other secret places, although many Old Testament scrolls were destroyed during the sieges upon Babylon and Alexandria.)
By 800 AD, Charlemagne accomplished the goal initiated by Constantine. The Roman Empire was firmly established primarily through war and bloodshed. For instance, in 772 AD, Externsteine, a community practicing the old religion of the Saxonians in the center of Germany, was destroyed. In 782 AD, in a single day, some 4,500 Saxon leaders and nobles gathered in Verden, for what they thought to be peaceful negotiations, and were beheaded. Charlemagne claimed the conquered lands for his Counts and Barons, and they gave allegiant service to him as payment. He was intent upon carrying out his anti-Arian policies to unite the people under the government of the Holy Roman Empire. On Christmas Day of 800 AD, Charlemagne was appointed Emperor by Pope Leo III. This was a maneuver on the Pope's behalf to ensure protection by Charlemagne.
The Holy Roman Empire ruled for more than 1,000 years, and the Bible was a very important tool to ensure this rule through the teachings of Roman Christianity. This is the same book we have today, doctored throughout, to guarantee this empire.
Despite the underlying motives for editing the original text, the Bible remains the great book we have today, but when we consider that Genesis alone originally comprised over 2,000 volumes, we can hardly expect this 'short-hand' edited version to reveal the whole truth of Jesus' teachings. It cannot lead the way to our own resurrection, and that is important -- that we become free from the bondage of this world to follow our God within. The Bible was a book designed to keep us under a government -- the Roman Christian government.
In Europe there are two major churches, Lutheran and Catholic. In America there are many churches protesting loudly that they are not under the rule of the Catholic or Lutheran Church, but what do they teach? Roman Christianity. From what do they teach? The Bible, a book compiled and edited 325 years after Jesus lived - using material from those who wrote many years after the recorded life of Jesus - in order to build an impressive empire in the name of Christianity. Do we see similar empires being built in America today in the name of Christianity?
The Council of Nicaea, under orders, accepted the theology of Athanasius and created an image of Jesus as a man without a father, the only begotten son -- a man to take away our sins simply by believing that he lived and died. Are we not responsible for our lives on a daily basis? Can that responsibility be taken from us? Could it be that the man we call Jesus SHOWED us how to experience the rebirth and resurrection rather than do it FOR us?
We read that Jesus said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5,6) He taught Love and Freedom to follow our Real Self, our God within.
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