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New Testament Canon

James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.

New Testament Canon

The New Testament Canon has been under assault in the latter years of the 20th century. Non-Christians have taken over theology departments at major American universities and sought to deconstruct the Christian Faith. Popular writers such as Dan Brown and Elaine Pagels have published fictional works that distort the true history of the Christian Faith and its New Testament Canon.

I read recently that thousands of people every day use search engines looking for "books removed from the Bible" "a list of the lost books of the Bible" "forbidden books of the Bible" "missing books of the Bible" "books omitted from the Bible" "banned books of the Bible" and "lost books of the Bible."

I have even seen views expressed that Constantine "wrote" the Bible, and the whole thing was a vast conspiracy. So let us take a look at how it came to be that we have a New Testament Canon.



What Is a Canon?

The Greek word "kanon" refers to a carpenter's ruler. It was used to decide what is straight and what is not; what meets a standard of excellence and what does not. Kanon came to be applied to Greek philosophy (the love of wisdom) as a metaphor for accuracy, order, clarity, and truth.

Today, we know the word "canon" as a strict boundary around a set of sacred writings (Scripture). Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have Canons of Scripture but the other world religions do not. The Canon of Judaism (Mishnah) was set in the 3rd century by Judah the Prince; the Canon of Christianity in the 4th century by orthodox bishops; the Canon of Islam in the 7th century by the third Caliph.





The Apostolic Church

The very first Christians—the Apostles of Jesus Christ and their disciples—sought order, standardization, and written regulations about church doctrine. Jesus had commanded them to remain unified—not to splinter off into competing groups. As early as 50 AD, we see Christian leaders coming together for an assembly (ekklesia in Greek) to debate doctrine and come to agreements to maintain unity.

Within roughly thirty years of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, all of the books now in the New Testament were written with the exception of the books by the Apostle John, which are dated around 90 AD.

Two of the oldest documents we have from the Apostolic Church are the Didache (Greek for teaching) also known as the Teaching of the Lord through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations; and the First Epistle of Clement.

The Didache was published well before the year 100 and circulated throughout the Christian community. It might have been written by the Apostle Matthew. The Didache shows that the first Christians had established standards for personal behavior, order in the church, the Eucharist (Communion), and for Baptism. It is noteworthy that the standard for the latter is immersion in "living waters" and "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

The First Epistle of Clement was written in 95 by the Bishop of Rome—also known as the First Apostolic Father—Clement. In it are these words:

"The apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus, the Christ, was sent from God. Thus Christ is from God and the Apostles from Christ. The Apostles . . . went out in the confidence of the Holy Spirit to preach the Good News . . . and appointed their first converts, after testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers."

In around 167, Melito, Bishop of Sardis, compiled the first Christian Canon of what we now know by the term he coined: "The Old Testament." A copy of the New Testament with 22 of its current 27 books has been found that was collated in the year 174.



Gnostics & Gnosticism

In the 2nd century, Satan began working through men to confuse the early Christians. These men composed "new gospels" that preached a diabolical message opposed to that of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the first was Basilides, but the more popular of this first wave of heretics was Valentinus. Both men hailed from Alexandria, Egypt, and both are known as Gnostics.

Gnostics are people who claim to have secret knowledge that sets them above regular folks, and who believe that this secret knowledge is salvific. Gnosticism can come in unlimited forms but usually it involves Pantheism—the disbelief in God the Creator in favor of worshiping nature as God.

Gnosticism is about men wanting to be worshiped as sages, forming their cults around themselves, usually fusing Christian thought with Greek philosophy or Indian mysticism or both. Because of these Gnostic writers, who wrote "gospels" that they claimed were written a century earlier, lost, but now thanks to them, are "found;" genuine Christians saw the need to make a firm boundary around the authentic writings of the Christian Faith.

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The Canon of Philosophy

It is to the Greeks that we owe the idea of a Canon—to separate the authentic from the inauthentic. The great medical doctor Galen (129-199) studied sixty writings ascribed to the ancient "father of medicine," Hippocrates (460-370 B.C. [Before Christ]), and declared that only thirteen of them were actually authentic. He thus produced a "canon" of these writings.

Before Diogenes Laertius published the monumental Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers in about 230—the book by which we know about the lives and concepts of Plato, Aristotle and others—he and a crack team of expert scholars poured over all known writings attributed to the Greek philosophers. They divided them into two categories: genuine and spurious.

Laertius lists the succession of philosophers at Plato's Academy—those who trained new students, hired copyists to accurately reproduce Plato's genuine dialogues, and saw to it that the founder's writings were accurately interpreted. Laertius and his experts also examined and compared writings that made claims to authenticity but veered far from the vision of Plato and his successors. They used the same methodology for the teachings of Aristotle.

Laertius and his fellow scholars were on the real mission of philosophy—the Quest for Truth. The writings they cast off as forgeries were those that did not match in doctrinal accuracy the true philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Thus was produced a "canon" of the genuine article.





Marcion: The First Famous Heretic

A flood of phony writings in the 2nd century claiming to be "lost gospels" caused the Christian Church to feel compelled to officially separate the authentic works of the 1st century by the Apostles of Jesus and their disciples from these forgeries.

Marcion (110-160) is the first known heretic inside the Christian Church. He was the bishop of Sinope, in what is now Turkey. Marcion insisted that God the Father of Jesus Christ was a different god than the god of the Jewish Faith in the Old Testament.

He taught that the Old Testament god was indeed the Creator, but that he was a bad actor who was cruel, jealous, and ignorant. The Father of Jesus was the good god who stepped in to save humanity from the bad god. Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah—being Marcion's key point.

Marcion therefore made up his own bible that consisted of the first ten Epistles of Paul and most of the Gospel of Luke. He rejected the other sacred books since they linked the New Covenant to the Old, and he claimed that these Scriptures were written by Judaizers. Marcion also altered Luke to portray Jesus as coming down to earth as a full grown man.

It was in reaction to Marcion's bastardized "bible" that the leaders of the church were moved to formalize the Canon of the New Testament. Clement of Alexandria coined the term "New Testament" in the late 2nd century.







Who Will Defend the Books of the New Testament Against Heresies?

To counteract the unorthodox ideas of Marcion and the Gnostics, God raised up mighty men to fight heresy. One such man was Irenaeus (120-202), Bishop of Lyon. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp (69-155), Bishop of Smyrna, who in turn had been a disciple of the Apostle John.

Irenaeus showed that orthodox beliefs not only in regard to doctrine but also in a particular set of sacred texts had been handed down in a line of succession directly from the Apostles of Jesus. Marcion and the Gnostics had no line of succession at all. They were propagating something new—that contradicted the beliefs of the Apostles of Jesus.

Irenaeus wrote that "those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches and the succession of these men to our own times . . . neither taught nor knew anything like what these [heretics] rave about."

This line of succession had handed down the whole truth because it had handed down the true message of the apostles who lived and walked with Jesus Christ. This Truth was consistent across multiple international apostolic successions in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Ephesus, and Rome—without variation or contradiction. As the next great heresy fighter Tertullian (160-240) added: "It is not likely that so many churches . . . have gone astray into one and the same faith."

The only line of succession the Gnostics had was to Simon Magus—universally recognized as the first heretic. Simon Magus was a sorcerer who claimed to be divine while running a sex cult.

The Gnostic system is one "which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered," wrote Tertullian. Any so-called "gospel" besides those of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are fraudulent—created by inspiration of the Devil.

Tertullian wrote that the Apostles "founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith. . . . the apostolic churches . . . comprise but one primitive church founded by the apostles." The Gnostics had no apostolic churches in which their writings were read.

One of the most distinguished scholars of this era, Origen (185-234) of Alexandria, spent his life in study of the Christian sacred writings. He confirmed that the traditional four gospels are the only ones that were believed by the whole Christian Church before and during his lifetime.

Origen also confirmed what we now have as the Christian New Testament. He did express doubts about the authorship of 2 Peter and 2 John and 3 John. But these are minor points. Origen published an extensive study of the Book of Hebrews in which he concludes it contains the thoughts of the Apostle Paul but was perhaps written down by Luke.








Eusebius (260-341) was the Bishop of Caesarea. He is called the "Father of Church History." Much of what we know of the early church comes from his astonishingly accurate book Ecclesiastical History.

What Eusebius proved was that orthodox Christianity had a set of sacred writings—and interpretations of them—from the time of the Apostles that is coherent, consistent, and reliable. To start with, Eusebius showed the complete chain of succession of bishops for each of the major churches straight back to the Apostle who founded them, with specific names and dates.

These bishops had been charged with deciding which texts should be used in their churches. Eusebius was able to demonstrate that the bishops had used the same sacred writings since the days of the Apostles. And he set about to catalog these sacred writings.

Eusebius examined approximately 100 texts to verify their authenticity. This included all known writings that any cult or person made any claim about as being divinely inspired. This includes the Gnostic writings. He separated them into three categories: genuine, disputed, and rejected.

Into the category of genuine Eusebius only included writings that every Christian church had universally used since the beginning of the faith; only those that no voice of dissension had ever been raised against; only those indisputably written by an Apostle or a disciple of an Apostle. In other words, only those that historically had received unanimous consensus were declared genuine.

These genuine books include 20 of the 27 books we find in our New Testament today: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; the Acts of the Apostles; 1 John; 1 Peter; and the writings of the Apostle Paul known as Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, Galatians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Philemon, and Titus.

The other seven books in the New Testament today were listed by Eusebius as disputed. These books had been acknowledged and approved by the vast majority of bishops and theologians throughout church history—but not unanimously. These books include James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Hebrews and Revelation. We must keep in mind that a single "no" vote by any bishop over nearly 300 years was enough to make it onto this "disputed" list.

All other writings were consigned to the rejected bin by Eusebius. These are writings that he could not find a single bishop, theologian, or historian in the Christian churches who had ever used them. This includes the so-called Gnostic gospels.

Eusebius wrote that the rejected writings are "very different from that of the Apostles, and the sentiment and purport of the things that are advanced in them, deviating as far as possible from sound orthodoxy, evidently proves that they are the fictions of heretical men." In other words, we can tell a fraudulent writing if it radically deviates from the universally approved Scriptures—if it presents a very different Jesus.

In 367, Athanasius declared a firm Canon of the New Testament that includes the 20 undisputed books and the 7 non-unanimous books. The Third Synod of Carthage in 397 confirmed this same list of Scriptures. Thus the New Testament we have today was in place and has not changed since. It has proved to be hard as granite.

Contrary to modern fictions, Eusebius and his predecessors were not involved in some grand, secret conspiracy to dupe the faithful. By all accounts these men were utterly devout, pious, learned, and serious scholars. Eusebius ignored regional agendas, personal preferences, and political pressure in his Quest for Truth.



The Bible by Constantine?

The demonic author Dan Brown states in the Da Vinci Code that Constantine "created" the New Testament. This is utterly false and used to confuse people and make money for Dan Brown. He claims there were eighty-four gospels written—which has zero basis in history. Brown himself also says that the Da Vinci Code is fiction.

I find it incredible that anyone would think the God of the Universe—the Author of the Books of the New Testament—was not able to move on the hearts of men to put the collection together as He wanted.

My primary source for this article is Constantine's Bible by David L. Dungan.


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

Drive By Quipper ~ Glad you drove by and dropped a quip on us. You are a man of great with alright. Carry on broham.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

John W. Sidoti ~ Hello my old friend. It is indeed a distinct pleasure to hear from you here. I love the marvelous Scriptures you quoted. Well done, brother.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

WATERSTAR ~ Thank you for your heartfelt and insightful testimony. I appreciate the visitation from you. God Bless You.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

George ~ In your later comment you wrote, "Now we know that Christ was Nazarene, and not from Nazareth, because such a town did not existed when Christ was born."

We know no such thing. You do not know there was no such town as Nazareth. You make a lie of the Holy Bible, which is blasphemy. Many things in the Bible have been refuted by secular historians only to have to eat their words later, such as "Hezekiah's Tunnel is a myth," "There was never a people known as Assyrians" "Genesis is wrong because the Universe never had a beginning," et al.

I am not surprised by what you say about the Minoans knowing God. Everybody knew God in the beginning. All peoples were once monotheistic. The Hebrews did not invent God. He was around long before they were.

My first book clears up many of these issues you raise. I think you would enjoy it. Here is the link so you can read the reviews:

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

George ~ You ask some very good questions. I am not troubled by the fact that Nazareth does not appear in secular history until AD 200. It was probably a burg not worth mentioning, which would make since considering the rest of God's plan for the birth of Jesus.

I do think there is a clear linguistic connection between Nazareth and Nazarene.

There were substantial numbers of Christian Jews in the early Church. The Jews who did not join in called the Christians “Nazarenes.”

Jewish Christians continued to honor the Sabbath, circumcision, and the Jewish religious holidays (holy days) but they were rejected by their Jewish brethren who could not forgive them for believing in Christ.

Gentile Christians didn’t mind if Jewish converts kept Mosaic Law, and some even joined them in doing so. This was considered a matter of individual conscience. One group of Jewish Christians called themselves Ebionites and they ran off the rails of orthodoxy by denying the Virgin Birth and the divinity of Jesus.

The first generation of Jesus’ disciples may have also called themselves Nazarenes, devout Jews that continued to observe the Law. Their leaders attended daily prayers at the Temple and afterwards preached about Jesus in the Outer Court, which is what raised the ire of the Jews who rejected Jesus.

It was inevitable that the Jews would persecute any group claiming that a man crucified for blasphemy was the Messiah. The same Caiaphas who presided over the trial of Jesus remained High Priest until 37 and remained just as hateful toward the Nazarenes as he had been toward Jesus.

As with many names in history it might be that Nazarene was first an insult hurled by the enemies of Christ that was then willfully accepted by the its receivers. It was in Antioch that Roman pagans called the “Followers of The Way” 'Christians.' It was meant as a sign of derision, but God made it a royal name. Jews called Believers in Jesus “Nazarenes."

The Ebionites were a heretical sect that dismissed the Virgin Birth. They saw Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, but not as the Son of God. They presented a Jesus born just as human as you and me—through sexual procreation. This meant that Joseph was his real father. But when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit lighted upon him, and he became God’s adopted son at that moment—because, and only because, he had lived a perfect life for thirty years. This means that we could do the same—become a Christ—if only we would.

The Ebionites observed the Laws of Moses but rejected all of the writings of Paul, whom they repudiated as an outlaw, and worse.

The religious leaders of Judaism anathematized the Christians early on, and made it official in AD 85 by adding this little tidbit to their official synagogue liturgy: “May the Nazarenes be suddenly destroyed and removed from the Book of Life.”

Tertullus, presenteing the case against Paul before Governor Felix; accusing him of being the ringleader of a seditious group the Jews called the Nazarenes.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

Dear 'forgotten books of eden:'

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your gracious compliments.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

newenglandsun ~ In your comment @ Eric you object to him saying, "John is trying to wage a war against "love"." If you are doing battle against the Gospel that is exactly what you are doing, warring against Love. Furthermore you seem to claim John is not an antagonist against Christ. You must be kidding. His comments are clearly intended to denigrate the Gospel. They can be taken no other way.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

Eric Dierker ~ I loved your gracious reply: "I said "a vision such as yours........" I did not say you. The "your's" rather than saying you, Indicates I am arguing with the position and not you. ... mine was not personal, it went to the issue, not the man."

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

John King IV ~ Perhaps you are a Muslim. In which case you have an odd name.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

Eric Dierker ~ I very much enjoyed your riposte to my other visitor, or should I say antagonist. Thank you for it and God Bless You.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

John King IV ~ The Ebionites were a heretical group. They repudiated Paul as an outlaw. Therefore, they are outside the Christian faith not in it.

You have every right to disbelieve the Gospel. Christ Jesus openly identified himself as the Messiah of Jewish prophecy. All prophets before Jesus were mouthpieces for God, who would pronounce “Thus saith the Lord.” Jesus used the words “I say unto you,” which is exactly why the religious leaders of the Jews hated him so much. They considered it blasphemy—claiming for oneself the attributes and rights of God. In fact, Jesus insisted he had knowledge of the Father that no man can have and said that only the Father truly knows him. Jesus called himself the ‘Son of Man’ 80 times in the New Testament and declared himself Lord of the Sabbath.

In the passage you refer to Jesus did not say He was not good. You do not grasp the message there. He asks, "Why do YOU - YOU - say I am good since no one is good except God?"

The Apostles knew Jesus was God Incarnate: "While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him."

I can see you are troubled that Jesus was limited during His Incarnation. That is not a problem for anyone who has truly studied the Bible with discernment granted to them by the Holy Spirit.

If your heart is set on scoffing you will find reasons for it. I will pray for you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 11, 2019:

newenglandsun ~ I appreciate your correspondence. Thank you for reading my work. Based on your comments, I think you misunderstand me. You wrote: "Your main claim is that there were no books banned from the Bible. Yet you insisted that the Gnostic gospels were rejected by the early church" as if this is a contradiction. It is not. If someone today said we ought to add C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity to the Bible and the Church said no that would not mean C.S. Lewis had been 'banned' from Bible. He was never in the Bible in the first place. And neither were the Gnostic Gospels. They were written much later.

Drive By Quipper from Wrong Side of Town on December 08, 2013:

I tried to read the Gnostic gospels, but I didn't have any mushrooms and lost interest.

John W Sidoti on December 05, 2013:

2Timothy 4:3, 4--"There will comw a time when they will not put up with the wholesome teaching, but according to their own desires, they will surround themselves with teachers to have their ears tickled.

They will turn away from listening to the truth and give attention to false stories."

BY: WATERSTAR : on December 03, 2013:

BY: WATERSTAR : The solution answer of the Nature of the Matter who or what is wright or wrong , of the accuracy of the BIBLE is stated in a simple Phrase, HOLY MARY - MOTHER OF GOD : The Holy Child that SHE bore, Was and His Called JESUS , SO PUT 2 + 2 and get the = answer, JESUS said if you see me , You see GOD , for ME and GOD are ONE , or the Same Person , in ACTS of the Apostle chaper 2 and verse 38 GOD apostle give everyone the Formula How to Get save and be Ready for Heaven , it is easy to do , anybody who Love GOD , will HUMBLE themself and Just Do It , without any Mumbo Jumbo Question , His apostle did it What else does ones need any futher , when you are the one that will reap Life everlasting in Paradise ,the Rapture is very near, go get ready Now , Let us all Love and Care for each other in this Selfish World do Good To Everyone: BY :WATERSTAR:

John King IV on February 27, 2013:

ancient arabs in america...........nazarenes are minoans.....

You are in your own world. This is the domain of creationism.

I see no point in attempting to state facts anymore. Your reasoning is just way too different from my own.

John King IV on February 26, 2013:

ok I have never read Pliny the elder. (forgot about him). I did focus on pliny the younger, his nephew, who was an eye witness to the explosion of vesuvius, which killed pliny the elder.

Anyway....... all these facts. You concentrate on Arabia and frankensence... and then the minoans. I have heard of the Minoans. (They where ancient people from Crete. We call them Minoans after the legendary king Minos)

Minoans where definately not nazarenes. Minoans lived long before the nation of Israel existed. The Minoan civilization was around even before the legendary jewish patriarchs. They spoke an awkward language which is unlike any other. I would not call them Greeks or Europeans. My guess, they where descendants of Egyptian colonists and native cretans. The biblical Philistines and the "Hyksos" sea peoples mentioned by the ancient Egyptians may have also been descended from them.

Nazarenes on the other hand was a name of a party of jews. These jews however where hated by later jews, because of Jesus and Christianity's foundations. Their names however will never be erased from history, no matter how hard people try. Personal hate and bias are lies of people, are destined to never prevail over the truth. Like the Nazarenes or not, history will remain forever.

Anyway thanks for your knowledge. How can I express my feelings as to this information? Like exchanging sport statistics with you... Some say sport statistics is vanity and worthless. For others, this data is valueable and amazing. Others may say, that it can distract one from their focus and interests, or from life itself...

John King IV on February 25, 2013:

I have never heard of any people called Minaeans. I suppose it is possible that Augustine used this word. I need to read Augustine to confirm that.

But I have read virtually all of the ancient literature from first century CE, and before.... I have never heard the word maneaen.

You use all kinds of foreign words from other languages. Fine by me, no problem. It just makes communication more difficult between us if we speak different languages.

As for the name of the God of Israel. I believe that it evolved from a very old tradition indeed. The book of Genesis pretty much mentions this tradition. From Seth son of Adam (when people began to use this name of the deity) to Noah, to the patriarchs, up to the ultimate climax of Moses. By the time of Moses Judaism and its God had been perfected and completed. (In terms of the name and concept of this God of Israel.)

I do not think it that important as to the spelling and language of God's name. What is by far more important is to understand the concept of this God. Is this God a person? A bible name? etc...

George from Canada on February 22, 2013:

James, John and whoever may be interested.

Now we know that Christ was Nazarene, and not from Nazareth, because such a town did not existed when Christ was born.

St. Jerome, in the letter to St. Augustine tells us that the Nazarenes were in fact Minaeans.

From archeological excavation of Arabia, Levant and Egypt we know that Minaeans left thousands of inscriptions on the rocks of Arabia, Levant and Egypt, written in their own Minaean / Nazarene script.

Some "interesting points arise in the Minaean / Nazarene inscriptions.

God is known as EL, and the several gods of the Minaean pantheon as ELOHIM— both of which forms appear in the Biblical name for God.

The priestess of Wadd is called a Levite (lawiat);

and there are further verbal identities in the words for the sacrificial cart (mekonah), the cauldron (mabsal), a feast (haj), the tithe (ma'ser), the congregation (kahal), the sin-offering (hattath), and so on.

In fact 'the Minaean inscriptions exhibit an extensive correspondence to the Hebrew ritual, and the vista is open for still more "light on the Bible" when Arabia comes at last to be scientifically explored'.

[J. A. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible (1934).] "

The amazing truth is, that when Minaeans / Minoans worshiped ELOHIM, some 3500 years ago, the Israelite were still in slavery in Egypt, and Moses wasn't even born yet.


"Far more readily assimilated, we may well believe, was the influence of the kindred Semitic culture of Arabia.

Here, as the fifteenth-century BCE. (Before Christ) Minaean inscriptions show,

the Divine Name JAH

[JAH is the basic element in Jahweh, that is the Biblical JHWH, transliterated in the English Bible as 'Jehovah'.]

had survived from the most primitive times.

What may have been the original meaning or root of this mysterious name is still in doubt.

It is found (as Ya or Yau) on Babylonian tablets of 2000 BC and later, always as a Semitic Deity.

It is found in name-compounds among the Ras Shamra tablets.

It appears again in the Minaean records as the God of Heaven, whose second name is Love (Wadd), and Who has His shining Hosts (Sabaoth).

It may well be that here in Midian Moses learnt to call upon the 'Name of the LORD'

[In our Bibles the word LORD (printed in capitals) always represents the Hebrew JHWH, the Divine Name which the Jews were not allowed to pronounce.]."

After all, who were those Minaeans / Nazarenes, what were they doing in Galilee in the times of Christ, and where they came from?

Do we have any records about Minaeans / Nazarene, in the Bible???

John King IV on February 20, 2013:

The nazarene party are mentioned in the new testament. Seek, and you will find. The jews themselves called the party of joshua (in greek jesus), a nazarene, and his party nazarenes.

Josephus main topic is jews. The christians are hardly mentioned. joshua/Jesus is hardly mentioned. You must understand, that Christians where a small band of gentile converts at this time. they where found allmost exclusively in gentile lands. Israel had hardly any christians (around 70 CE). The only people in Jerusalem who where members of the jesus party where jews, lead by james, and then by his successor at jerusalem symeon, a cousin of jesus.

Christians where not edomites. Edomites where hebrew people with a jewish religion (in first century CE). Edomites spoke hebrew! christians on the other hand where pure pagans who had once believed in zeus, aphrodite, mars, pluto, etc) They where from lands far away from israel. For these gentiles, judaism was a new exciting thing. The apostles brand of Judaism was what they adopted as their religion, mixed in with their older traditions. (As paul taught them, they did not need to be jews and keep all of the jewish laws of the bible). So I repeat, edomites where not christians. The Herodian kings where not christians. The Romans where not edomites. The herodian kings where jewish in religion. the Romans where european gentiles, with an assortment of pagan religious backgrounds. Only much later on did Edom start getting associated with christianity and rome.

John King IV on February 19, 2013:

Here are my views on "the Nazarenes". and the "ebionites"

The Nazarenes was the earliest name of the party loyal to joshua of nazareth. I do not believe that the group was called nazarenes because of the city of nazareth in galilee. I think it was a nickname given to them because they all took up a nazarite vow. In the mishnah their is a mention that those who took up this vow had in fact different nicknames. Example "nazirs".

Also I reject the belief that Jesus and his apostles where edomites. This is a later designation which the jews placed on christians. However, I am talking about the ancient world, ....a time before rabbinic judaism or catholic-orthodox european christianity existed.

The nazarenes, I see as pure jews from Galilee, who followed Joshua of nazareth. After Joshua retired, the disciples became their own leaders and founded churches among the gentiles, with one exception. James brother of Joshua headed a church at Jerusalem. These guys where jewish nazarenes loyal to joshua. They where not gentile christians from other lands who where loyal to joshua, and converts of other disciples of joshua.

the nazarene jews loyal to jesus, at some point began to called by the nickname "ebionites" (much in the same way as you use the term "minaeans") Probably because the nazarenes lived a life of humbleness, and rejected the persuit of wealth, and even family. This ascetic lifestyle was probably picked up by earlier teachings of joshua and john the baptist, who in turn probably picked it up from the earlier elite sect of the essenes of the desert. (eg of Qumram community). Again, the essenes where full jews. (not edomites like the herodians or edumeans). The essenes where in every respect like their brothers the pharasees and the saducees. They however where not interested in the temple, or in the politics of jerusalem. However, the family known as the boethians, who where high priests in the second temple era, may have in fact been essenes. (that is just a speculation, their is no proof of this to my knowledge).

George from Canada on February 16, 2013:

James and John, “I have read considered and pondered your Comment"s, as Erick said, and I wonder if you can help me to figured out something;

James, as a great historian and John as the critic, you may help me to understand who were the Ebonites / Nazarenes.

To say that Christ was called Nazarene because He was from the town of Nazareth doesn't make much sense.

Although the historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37 – c. 100) mentions 45 towns in Galilee, he never mentions Nazareth.

The earliest known reference to Nazareth outside the New Testament and as a contemporary town is by Julius Africanus, who wrote around AD 200.

That Christ was a Nazarene is actually upheld in the Roman annals; and the first-century chronicles of the Jews and the Bible's Acts of the Apostles confirm that Christ's brother James was a leader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

What I've sourced from St. Jerome's writings says, that the first believers in Christ were known as “Nazarenes” or in Hebrew “Netzarim” (Acts 24:5).

The “church father” St. Jerome (3/4 th. century AD.) described these Nazarenes as those

“…who accept Messiah in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old Law.” (Jerome; On. Is. 8:14).

In the letter to St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Jerome wrote:

Hieron., "Epist. ad August.":

"There is to-day among the Jews throughout all the synagogues of the East a heresy which is called [the heresy] of the Minaei, and is even until this day cursed by the Pharisees;

these Minaeans are commonly called Nazoraeans, and they believe in Christ, the Son of God. . . . But while they will be both Jews and Christians, they are neither Jews nor Christians."

Elsewhere I have found slightly different translation which says:

"Today there still exists among the Jews in all the synagogues of the East a heresy which is called that of the Minæans, and which is still condemned by the Pharisees;

[its followers] are ordinarily called ‘Nazarenes’;

they believe that Messiah, the son of God, was born of the Virgin Miriam, and they hold him to be the one who suffered under Pontius Pilate and ascended to heaven, and in whom we also believe.”

(Jerome; Letter 75 Jerome to Augustine)

So we know that St. Jerome (doctor of the Latin Church and author of Vulgate, the only Catholic bible for another 1000 years), knew that the first followers of Christ were in fact called Nazarenes - not Christians.

What St. Jerome said is that

"these Minaeans are commonly called Nazoraeans,..."

or we can read that

this Nazareans were in fact Minaeans.

However, what do we know today about MINAEANS ???

forgotten books of eden on February 16, 2013:

You did a really great job typing this post about gospel of mary.

newenglandsun on February 16, 2013:

I do not believe in your covenant and I do not view things in terms of "hate". Your comments are ad hominem classifications. False generalizations. Since John and I do not believe what you tell us we believe. Stop dictating what we believe!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 16, 2013:

New, If you look really hard at something you and John can both find the negative and interpret anything as an attack on you. My comments are not no matter how hard you twist them and apply your intent on my content.

I think this is good for this hub, because it reminds us, that part of our covenant deal is a need to view life in terms of love and not hate.

newenglandsun on February 16, 2013:


To quote some of your queries of John:

"I do not suggest this is wrong, but I query; why would you want it so?"

Note: You then follow up asking him questions about his character:

"Why would you rally against this new covenant? This declaration of freedom from restriction and welcoming to a world of love and no more ancient judgment?"

What you are doing here by asking these questions of John is implying if not actually stating between the lines that John is trying to wage a war against "love".

Ending it on one final question:

"Are you more happy as an antagonist of Christ and a Critic of New Testament, than I am loving as Christ taught?"

Here, you are stating explicitly that John is an antagonist of Christ so when you say that you are arguing against his position and not him in general, you are lying to yourself.

Thanks for that piece of genuine history, John. You might be the only one besides me standing up for genuine history instead of Christian apologetics/hallucinogens.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 15, 2013:

John, try this --- I said "a vision such as yours........" I did not say you. The "your's" rather than saying you, Indicates I am arguing with the position and not you. Based on my readings of you, you are bright, loving, caring and intellectual.

We have different points of view, that is awesome! My point was that if one is truly looking for something, they will find it. You found the negative in my comment, so be it. But mine was not personal, it went to the issue, not the man.

John King IV on February 15, 2013:

Eric: Let me see if i understand you. (It is very difficult to be a good cummincator. I, like these dialogues, because i get to practice the art of communication).

Any way: you say something about me being cynical, also that I lack the emotion of love? That I am against "a new covenant" That i am an enemy of "christ".

My answer to my accusser and adversary. (your words):

1) I am not cynical. You are wrong.

2) I do not lack the ability to love. You are wrong.

3) I do not believe in your new covenant.

4) I do not believe in your christ. So you are wrong on all counts about me.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 13, 2013:

I have read considered and pondered your Comment. A vision such as your's is cynical and without any emoting suggestion of love in heart. I do not suggest this is wrong, but I query; why would you want it so?

Why would you rally against this new covenant? This declaration of freedom from restriction and welcoming to a world of love and no more ancient judgment?

My man King, I implore to answer your own question: Are you more happy as an antagonist of Christ and a Critic of New Testament, than I am loving as Christ taught?

John King IV on February 13, 2013:

very interesting comments. Pleasure to read. I will address the things that I dissagree with.

I suppose now that I think about it, all my dis-agreements here are theological in nature:

1) You say the god of the jews is the father of jesus. This is clearly wrong, both today, and in the ancient world. The ancient jewish believers of Jesus as the Messiah, believed that the God of Jesus, ("his heavenly father"), was God. However, in the first to third centuries, these jews where a clear minority. In Revelation, you can read for yourself about only 144,000 elect jewish followers of Jesus as Messiah. The total jewish population was far bigger than this, probably as much as a few million of them. The jews who attended the church at Jerusalem, began to be called Ebionites by other people. When? We do not know for certain. My guess, probably at the end of the first century. (lets say 90's CE or so). All the other jews, (zeolots, pharasees, saducees, and essenes), did not see jesus as a messiah. In fact, many of them did not even see jesus as a prophet. The only thing all jews might agree upon, was that Jesus was a rabbi. (A teacher). The very concept of jesus as a god, was totally foreign and ridiculous for all jews, and in fact, for even some of the early gentile converts (the christians). Not even the apostles, or Paul saw Jesus as a god. As for modern jews. They totally reject jesus as god, messiah, and even prophet. One exception is the messianic jews, who are in fact protestant christians in disguise.

2) Satan: I do believe that this phenomenon exists. I just do not believe in the satan of christianity, or in the gods of christianity.

3) Saviour: Again, I simply do not believe in any other saviour besides my God. I do aknowledge human saviours. But I see them as mere heroes, not as supernatural dieties.

4) Jesus:

a) Mat. 24.36: The son says he does not know. But the father (the god of jesus) alone knows. This contradicts your trinity doctrine. If jesus was god, surely he would know it all. How can god be limited? Your limited god is pathetic.

b) Only God is good. not jesus apperantly. who said why do you call me good? Jesus taught that God alone was good, not jesus. according to the trinity doctrine if jesus was god, you should rewrite your bibles and correct this "mistake". make jesus say. you are correct, I am good, I am god, worship me.

c) Why jesus was "killed". I just dissagree with all of that. I do not believe jesus was killed. But even if he was, how can one kill god? It is absurd. According to the gospels, the jewish authorities desired to kill him, and charged him with blasphemy. They argued to the Roman procurator, that jesus, as a blasphemer, constituted as a serious threat against Roman rule, by promoting sedition and rebellion. The crowds also put much pressure on the pro-curator to have him crucified. I think if Pilate got his way, Jesus would have gotten off the hook with perhaps a mild whipping only.

d) Caiaphas asked him if he was the son of the blessed one (God). Not if he was God himself.

e) Philip asked to see God. Jesus replies does not in any way clearly say that he was God. Jesus was merely saying, I as a prophet of god, am the revelation and word of god. I see no evidence here that jesus saw himself as god. Also the famous "i am the way the truth and the life" This does not say jesus was god. It does not even mean that jesus was saying that only one religion was the salvation that gets you into heaven. What about the famous "i am" quotes? All prophets, even paul used these statements. They where prnouncing God's name, not saying that they where God. Also, sometimes i am, simply means i am. (No intent to pronounce gods name)

newenglandsun on February 13, 2013:

Everyone has bias whether they be a theist or an atheist. Many people like to claim they are without bias. Unfortunately, the entirety of your article refutes your main claim. Your main claim is that there were no books banned from the Bible. Yet you insisted that the Gnostic gospels were rejected by the early church.

I do believe that Pagels and Brown have incorrect understandings of the Gnostic gospels (Pagels doesn't seem to understand why the Gnostic gospels were rejected and Brown thinks they taught a purely human Jesus). Nevertheless, to insist that the Gnostic gospels were not "banned" from the New Testament is a complete misunderstanding of church history. They were banned from the NT canon.

There were also books that are currently in the NT canon that were originally rejected. The gospel of John being a prime example of this. It was first thought to be "heretical" and of Gnostic origin.

You can find out more here:

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 13, 2013:

John King IV— PART TWO:

You write: "In fact the best kinds of teachers are the ones who hold no bias. Ones who look at the evidence itself, without any pre-conceived beliefs."

That is not true. First of all, there exists no human being without "pre-conceived beliefs" unless you are a baby. The best teachers are always, in any subject, persons who LOVE the subject they teach. Would you want an art teacher who thinks art sucks? Would you want a history teacher who thinks history is useless? Would you want a music teacher who hates music?

You then mention Mark10:18, which is one of many verses that ought to make you realize that your earlier claim that the New Testament was falsified by Jesus' followers is not true. People who falsify do not include passages that seem to go against the grain of their main narrative. It is these types of verses that show the Gospel writers wrote what they believed to be true, even when it was not a "selling point" for their faith. It is also extremely unlikely that the early church would have invented Matthew 24:36 so people like you could use it against Jesus. From it we can ascertain that while in human form, Jesus was somewhat limited in his knowledge.

You write, "Jesus says in the gospel 'Do not call me good, God alone is good'." But you misrepresented what Jesus said. He did not say "Don't call me good" and he did not say "I am not good." He asked a question: "WHY do YOU call me good when only God is good?" In other words, "Do you believe that I am God Incarnate? Is that why you call me good? Or are you simply trying to flatter me?"

I could not care less about the Trinity concepts. Nor do I care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. It makes no difference to me. The Bible never claims to answer every question a man could dream up. It does not tell us everything we might want to know. It tells us what we NEED to know. It is not a book to satisfy the profane wanderings of a curious mind. For instance, it does not tell us Jesus' height and weight. We do not need to know. It does tell us what we need to know about Christ Jesus.

As the head of the Trinity, it makes sense that Jesus would say His Father is greater than He. You must remember that Jesus is humble; and that when he said this he had made himself lower by becoming human, a humbled state lower than angels. These are surely not verses that would be in any book dummied up by phony men, as you say, to lead others astray. During His time on earth, Jesus was under subjection to His Father.

Jesus was killed for saying he was God Incarnate. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” In fact, the Jews were ready to kill Him right there! Why? “Because you,” they said, “a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:33). On another occasion, He used the personal name of Israel’s God–the name revealed to Moses (Exodus 3:14)–to refer to Himself. And He even used the Torah for context, so no one would misunderstand Him: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). This would be about wild as telling a Muslim, “I am your God, Allah.” Don’t try that in Saudi Arabia! It’s no wonder the Jews tried to stone Him to death. That was the exact penalty for blasphemy under the Jewish legal system. It was pretty clear to everyone there that He was saying, “I am Israel’s God."

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. (63-64).

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. 7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.[c] From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?

The Ebionites repudiated Paul. Marcion loved Paul. You seem to be arguing on both their sides. Which is strange. There is no evidence that anybody headquartered at Jerusalem and following James were called Ebionites.

You must be kidding or tripping when you made the ludicrous claim that Ehrman and Richard Dawkins are without bias. According to your view, anyone who believes is Jesus is based but anyone who hates Jesus is not. Love him or hate him, you are biased.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on February 13, 2013:

John King IV— Thank you for coming back to post your additional comments.

You write: "However, I disagree with your absolute 100% judgment of the Gnostics. That they were 100% liars. So by your rational, if Gnostics believed Jesus was god they are liars then? If Gnostics shared any views that you have they are liars then?"

I am not saying that everybody who believed in Gnosticism was a liar. There were certainly liars and charlatans in the bunch, and there were innocent people who were led by them. That is why such a heresy is so dangerous, when you are talking about life and death issues. It is not that a Vladimir Lenin cannot be allowed to hold whatever opinion he wants about the world. It is if he is particularly persuasive, and himself possessed by demons, who are far smarter than any men, he might led millions of people astray and into death. Lenin was definitely a liar. But most of his followers were not liars. They simply had no spiritual discernment of the Truth. And they believed what they wanted to believe. The Devil will make up whatever lie is needed for each person he is trying to seduce, and use people to draw other people into perdition.

The majority of Gnostics identified matter as evil and because of this any Creator of matter as wicked. The Gnostic "god" could have no contact with the material world, so they created this elaborate scheme involving "emanations"—that I am sure you know about. But the One True God says Creation is Good. The material world is worthy to be used and enjoyed by man.

As CS Lewis says: "There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. He wants us to use material things like bread and wine. God invented eating . He likes matter. He invented it." The body is no burden to be discarded. It is a gift from God for life on earth and for the life to come. Maybe Gnostics burned bodies like refuse but Christians bury bodies like treasure.

The god of this world to a Gnostic is not the God of the Jews. But it could not be more clear that the God of the Jews is who Jesus calls His Father. And you may not believe in Satan but Jesus most certainly did. In general, the Gnostics rejected Jesus' humanity while your Ebionites rejected his divinity. Ebionites might reject the Virgin Birth but Gnostics rejected any kind of birth for Jesus. They are opposite heresies.

In orthodox Christianity redemption for man comes not by some secret knowledge of spiritual realms but by God's action in history. The Son of God entered time, lived, walked, breathed, and taught men, was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead. That is not gnosis; that is Event.

Man needs salvation not because he is imprisoned in a body but because he willfully chooses his own way rather than the Way of God. Man's evil is not in his body; it is in his affections. He loves the wrong things. Man does not need a teacher. He needs a Savior.

You write: "Also I am not like you, in hating wisdom. The ancestors of Christians like you in fact where people who closed the doors of knowledge to people and prevented them from entering. . . . They prevent people from getting knowledge, and they also refuse to get knowledge as well. Religious authorities have always hated knowledge and where satisfied with their pride and belief that they already know it all, and own the truth."

That is so wrong. It is no accident that the Scientific Revolution only occurred in Christendom. Modern Science was born of the conviction that a rational God had made the universe, and therefore it is rational and can be understood by studying it; and that God made human beings with rational minds capable of such study. All of the early scientists were Christians.

Christianity is criticized from the other direction as well, that it used too much of the world's knowledge, not too little as you claim. Especially from the Greek philosophy, such as Origen and the Greek Fathers of the Church. The official position of orthodox Christianity has been that knowledge can be good and wisdom is always good. Nobody hates wisdom that I know. Knowledge is good unless it is used to tear down the Faith of the Body of Christ. Then it is bad and false.

And yes, you are right that the writers of the Bible were men. But its Author is God. Men were His instruments. Why? They always are! That is how God chooses to work.

John King IV on February 02, 2013:

Part 2:

3) Q: I admit that the designation Q is a modern invention. But the fact that their was an original and older gospel that predated the synoptic gospels is real. I personally believe Mark and Matthew in Greek used this original lost source as a kind of prototype and outline for updating and making a kind of superior second or third edition of the gospel. Mark came before Matthew, but according to the historian Eusibius, Hebrew matthew predated all other gospels. I believe the annonymous greek gentile who translated hebrew matthew added extra material, such as the birth story, more sensational miracles about the legend of jesus, and about the passionate events of passover which lead to crucifixion and ressurection.

Your analogy about " a physics teacher who does not believe in physics" I think is not that appropriate. In fact the best kinds of teachers are the ones who hold no bias. Ones who look at the evidence itself, with out any pre-concieved beliefs. For example when jesus says in the gospel" Do not call me good, God alone is good" or "The son does not know, only the father knows" or "the father is greater than I" or "I (Jesus) can do nothing on my own" (without God), one must examine these statements without any pre-concieved trinity doctrines. Does this suggest that jesus saw himself as a god? Their are millions of things in the new testament that suggest different facts that contradict your pre-conceived doctrines. If this god of your was without sin, then why did he say he was not good? Where does it say that god became a man? that god died for the world? These are your ancestral beliefs inherited through the ages by generations of trinitarian believers who where converted gentiles.

4) The Ebionites: The first jews under the party of jesus where first reffered to as "Nazarenes" by their fellow jews. Most where Galileans. Gentile converts began to be called Christians shortly after the retirement of Jesus. The remaining jewish Nazarenes followed James brother of Jesus, headquartered at Jerusalem. These people at some point in time began to be reffered to as "ebionites" probably because of their humbleness and poverty, in the eyes of other jews and christians. By around 200-300 CE other gentile christians regarded them as heretics, because of their views of jesus as being a pure man, the son of joseph and mary.

I for one have high regard for the scholarship of professor eherman. I also have high regards for r. dawkins. They certainly know their material well, and present to us many great things about religion and bible history and facts. They hold no pre-concieved christian bias. It is nice to study the bible without a christian lence or christian teacher distorting the bible with their traditional doctrines and distortions.

Marcion believed jesus was god not a mere phantasm spirit as you probably believe.

Finally, I do not believe jesus or the apostles saw the concept of salvation anywhere near the way you see it. A human sacrifice, or a religion was simply not salvation for these people. This is totally unlike modern christian faith.

John King IV on February 02, 2013:

Yes I am glad that their is mutual grace in these dialogues. I think it is a great skill and also very important to know how to carry on a civilized and organized dialogue involving sensitive and perhaps even controversial things. Religion and politics are things that many people kill over. Many just can not tolerate different beliefs, or different ways of thinking. Anyway onwards...

1) My statistics where designed as mere estimates, not as accurate measurements. I did not actually travel back in time and interview every gnostic to find out how exactly their beliefs matched the belief system of the orthodox-trinitarian gentile christians. You made a good point about the diversity within gnosticism itself. I could not agree any more with this statement. However, I dissagree with your absolute 100% judgement of the gnostics. That they where 100% liars. So by your rational, if gnostics believed jesus was god they are liars then? If gnostics shared any views that you have they are liars then?

Also, I must state plainly that I do not believe in your devil.

Also I am not like you, in hating wisdom. The ancestors of christians like you in fact where people who closed the doors of knowledge to people and prevented them from entering. The old pharasees, like modern christian authorities are in fact the ones who close all knowledge to the world. They prevent people from getting knowledge, and they also refuse to get knowledge as well. Religious authorities have allways hated knowledge and where satisfied with their pride and belief that they allready know it all, and own the truth.

You again miss-represented the gnostics. They did not see jesus as a pure man, as the jews did. Gnostics, like modern christians saw jesus as a god.

2)Pantheism: I see no evidence that any ancient christian sect: (trinitarians, gnostics, arians, jewish followers of jesus, the marcionites, etc) none of them seemed to hold a pantheistic doctrine or view of god. Can you provide evidence of the presence of pantheism in ancient authors? I have never heard of any ancient one mention a pantheistic view.

Also, not only do I see your jesus as an idol that you and others like you invented... I do not see the bible as the word of any god. For me the bible is an idol not a god or the words of a god. Your idol in john 1.1 says: "in the beginning was the word and the word was god" I do not hold your trinitarian views, or any other irrational religious view. the bible is not a god, it was a document created by men, written by human beings. Every single word in the bible had human authors behind them.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 31, 2013:

John King IV— PART TWO:

5) I reiterate that there is NO evidence of a Q that actually existed. It is a theory by scholars, and I must add that the "scholars" in question are nonbelievers. So what they look for in their research is excuses to blast orthodox Christian belief because they don't believe in it themselves. It would be like me becoming a physics professor when I didn't believe in the laws of physics. It is preposterous.

It is possible that Matthew was first written in Hebrew, or even in Aramaic, and that the Greek version we have is a translation. Some go with the "Two-Source Theory." There are those who think Luke was written first, and far more "experts" who think Mark was written first. I say: What difference does it make?

I am familiar with the Ebionites, who insisted that Jesus was just a man, a prophet, a spokesman for God, much like Moses, Isaiah, or Jeremiah. They did not belong to the Church at Jerusalem, and were certainly not attached to James unless you mean that they admired him. He was long dead before the Ebionites came around. They believed that Gentile Converts to the Christian Faith had to become Jews first, and obey Mosaic Law. This question had long been settled, for one, by the very James you mentioned.

And I do not believe anyone "exaggerated" any miracles.

5) Oh Please! I would never recommend Bart Ehrman to anybody, unless I hated them and wished to see them burnt in hell fire. He is a satanic person. Why on earth would I read a book by anybody who says he is a "scholar" of the New Testament and the whole thing is a forgery? I may as well say I am a scholar on Canada and by the way, there is no Canada, Canada is an illusion, Canada is make believe. Since when does a university hire someone to teach a subject who believes the whole subject is a joke and a sham and a fraud?

My first exposure to Bart Ehrman was when I bought a course from the Teaching Company on the New Testament. I wanted to learn more about the New Testament, not hear some demon tell me it is all a fraud. I can get that from Richard Dawkins.

There is no evidence at all of any forgery of the books in the New Testament. What there is is bad men who do not believe in God worming their way into teaching positions to teach that God is a myth, and to teach it with the authority that we attach to an "expert" and a "scholar."

A merely human Jesus couldn't save anybody—He would need a Savior Himself. You can bet that NONE of the people who knew Him best, his disciples, his apostles, thought he was just some man they met. They gave up their lives to profess otherwise.

Some books in the Hebrew Bible are forgeries? Says who? Any orthodox Jews? I didn't think so. I can say anything is a forgery. So what.

You are correct that Marcion did not "cut" up a New Testament but he did reject books that everybody else believed were divinely inspired. The Church would not have excommunicated such a wealthy contributor to its coffers had not this guy gotten WAY out line. Marcion insisted the Church had obscured the Gospel by combining it with the Hebrew Bible—exactly the opposite of the Ebionites, whom you also admire so. He said that the God of the Jews was not the God of Jesus—there were two gods and the God of the Hebrew Bible was evil. James of Jerusalem would not have liked to hear that. Marcion held that the Demiurge created the world and men but he was not the God of Jesus, the good God, that Marcion wanted to worship. Marcion also taught that Jesus was not even a real person at all. He was a phantom.

10) You write: "Dan Brown: He could say anything he wants about you. You cannot silence him, or anybody else like him. He can criticize you with or without your approval. He can indeed argue that you are demon possessed and say other evil things about you, as you did to him."

Well sir, I never said anything about "silencing" Dan Brown, now did I? Dan Brown does not believe in Christ Jesus, the Christ who walked the earth as God Incarnate, the savior of mankind. He gets rich by trying to tear down the faith of other people so they can join him in hell. This qualifies him as demonic in a way that disqualifies me. I believe in Jesus and those who don't, like Dan Brown, are anti-Christian, as in against the Faith, as in serving the Antichrist. That is demonic. Dan Brown doesn't believe in demons so how could he call me "demonic?" That makes no sense.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 31, 2013:

John King IV— I appreciate your gracious compliments. Thank you for continuing our dialogue. I did not intend to "misrepresent" the beliefs or worldview of Gnostics nor of you personally.

1) No sir, I have not read the read the Nag Hammadi Library. You write that the Gnostics shared 70-80% of the beliefs of orthodox Christians. I suppose that could be true, though Gnosticism appeared in so many variants that the percentage must be variable. That is, in fact, what made Gnosticism so dangerous. A heresy that is 100% false is far easier to refute than one that is 20-30% false. The Devil knows full well it is best to mix in the truth with falsity.

Most forms of Gnosticism went to one extreme or the other, either such extreme asceticism that forbade marriage, sex, and children, or extreme antinomianism that encouraged wild orgies and drunken abandonment.

Gnosticism was protean and highly syncretistic drawing from—picking and choosing and combining—Orphic and Platonic dualism, mystery cults, astrology, and other religious views from Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia. Gnostics believed that the true gospel, or true salvation, was a secret only disclosed to a few, to the initiated. They attempted to justify their wild concepts by attaching them to the Truth—Christ Jesus. But the Great Commission shows that the Gospel is not a secret for those in a little club who are smarter than everybody else. Come as a child, as an innocent, does not match up with Gnosticism and neither does the wisdom of men is foolishness to God and the wisdom of God is foolishness to men. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

The Gnostics had their Demiurge and always either made Christ into just a man and nothing more or none of a man, a phantom, an illusion. Their chief fault is how they distorted Jesus, and God, and make them quite different from the Father and the Son recorded in the New Testament.

2) There was certainly a Pantheist strain to some varieties of Gnosticism but not all. I don't think Pantheism is a modern idea. I think it is quite ancient.

The real Jesus exists independent of what you think or I think. But He cannot be an idol I created. I didn't write the New Testament. But I believe it is the inspired Word of God, my Maker, and the Creator of all that we see. Salvation has only to do with Grace by Faith. I will read your Hub on Satan. I have made a note of it. Satan is super intelligent. The problem for people is that they understand at least one key aspect of Satan: He knows everything every human being who has ever lived knew or knows—and more.

I do not view philosophy as "evil" as you claim, any more than I view television as evil. Both can be used for good or for bad. I have read mountains of philosophy, from all ages and epochs. I am fully aware that the Greek and Latin Fathers used philosophical terms to try to put into language Christian concepts. Aquinas too.

I will take up your second comment soon. Thank you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 25, 2013:

Kaie Arwen--- Thank you, my dear. Affirmation and encouragement mean more to me coming from you than anyone else.




John King IV on January 22, 2013:

Part 2:

5) "Q" You say their is no evidence that it existed. Their are thousands of scholars who dissagree with you and provide good reasons why they believe their was an original gospel, and that this gospel predated the 3 synoptic gospels (matthew, mark, luke). Have you read Eusebius: Eusebius tells us that the first gospel ever written was A hebrew Matthew. (This gospel should not be confused with our modern greek matthew). This hebrew matthew also went by other names. Example the gospel of the ebionites (Ebionites where pure jews, but who saw Jesus as their Messiah. They belonged to the church of jerusalem under James brother of Jesus. After James death, Symeon, a cousin of Jesus suceeded as the bishop of this jewish church of Jerusalem. This original Hebrew gospel, I identify with the "Q" of the scholars. I believe it was later deemed as a heretical gospel, because it lacked the emphasis on the crucifixion of Jesus, and of the exagerated miracles, which can be found in the later synoptic gospels in Greek for the gentile believers.

6) Forgery: I recommend Bart eherman's book "Forgery" For more on this subject. Many scholars have good reasons to believe that some of the modern new testament books are in fact products of forgery. Example 2 peter was not written by Peter, but by another follower of Peter, years after Peter was martyred in Rome in 64 CE. Same with Paul's pastoral letters (1 and 2 timothy, and titus for instance), they where not written by Paul, but by one of his followers years after Paul was beheaded in 64 CE. Some of the gnostic gospels are clear forgeries, that where written many years later (eg the second or even the third century) Example the gospel of judas, the gospel of mary magdalene. But the gospel of Thomas, may in fact have been written around the same time as the gospel of john. In fact, The gospels of Peter and thomas, may have been inspired by earlier documents of the first century. I would go so far as to say that Thomas was inspired by the original Q itself (Hebrew matthew). In Thomas, (And also I believe Q), Jesus is a complete human. Their is no exagerated miracles, their is no god who died on a cross. No wonder the christian jews, some of who where direct relatives of Jesus himself, and their original gospel, was later deemed a satanic heresy.

b) As for your traditional bible cannon: Even some of the old testament jewish books, are forgeries according to many scholars. For example, Ecclesiastes, written in hellenistic times, is attributed to solomon. Daniel, which was written down in hellenistic times is attributed to Daniel. Even the torah itself, was probably re-written and edited hundred of years after Moses, and yet still, these later editors attribute it to moses!

7) Marcion: He did not cut out the new testament text! The new testament as we now know it, did not even yet exist in the time of marcion.

8) Eusebius: He was not a trinitarian. Find me one clear evidence from Eusebius that indicates he saw God as trinity. (You will not find it).

9) The council of Nicea: Its purpose was not limited to a battle of arians vs trinitarians as you stated. It was an attempt by the christian authorities, to unify and gather together all christian churches throughout the roman empire. Athanasius, one of the bishops who attended did indeed propose a uniform new testament bible cannon. However, it was not until pope Leo and saint Jerome about 100-150 years later, where one standard bible was promoted to all the churches of the western roman world (western europe).

10) Dan Brown: He could say anything he wants about you. You can not silence him, or anybody else like him. He can criticize you with or without your approval. He can indeed argue that you are demon possessed and say other evil things about you, as you did to him.

John King IV on January 22, 2013:

Mr. Watkins:

Before I begin my responce, I would like to say that I am glad to see that you handled my criticism in a very civilized manner. You could have chosen to delete or refuse to read my criticism, and cut off all dialogue. But you did not. Your writings also show that you are a very educated man, and have much knowledge on Christianity and all its traditions and origins. Having said this, I will proceed to respond. I will not address the issues that you brought up which I agree with and have no dispute over. The issues I bring up are the ones I disagree with:

1) Gnosticism: It is Christian. Have you ever read the nag hammadi library? These people where clearly christians. You totally missrepresent these ancient christians. You are correct that they did have special emphasis on the doctrine of "the elect" (as in fact some modern protestants under the calvinist philosophy do). They also emphasized a special or secret knowledge that brought salvation. Is this so foriegn to the gospel? Why did Jesus use parables? Why did he explain them to his special elect only? Why does the apocalypse use such mysterious language of symbolism? Can everyone clearly understand these things? Was everyone ressurected from the dead? Did all have eternal life? Or where the vast majority of peoples asleep and waiting to be raised from the dead? Here are some other similar things that ancient gnostics shared with early trinitarian/orthodox christians: They aknowledged most or perhaps all of the modern books found in our modern new testament cannon. They worshipped jesus as a god. They attended church, and participated in all or most of traditional christian customs: (example: easter rituals, baptism, christmas, etc), they shared around 70 - 80% of todays commonly known christian beliefs: example, heaven and hell, salvation, satan, angels, the last days, judgement day, ressurection of the dead, etc)

2) Pantheism: It is a modern idea. Gnostics where not pantheists. In fact I do not believe that any ancient christian denomination was ever a pantheist. Pantheists hold that god is the universe and is in every thing in the universe. (even in rocks, stars, people, everything). Gnostics in contrast believed god can be found in souls. Also for the record, I am not a pantheist, so do not treat me a a religous person who believes in your pantheistic doctrines.

3) You missrepresent my views on many issues: First, I never claimed that "Arians where gnostics" Far from it. In fact, Arians where more similar to the trinitarians than to the gnostics. Second, I allready stated that Tertullian was a clear trinitarian, (perhaps the first). Tertullian's views of god was not a monotheistic one like the arians. He divided his gods into 3 persons. Yet as we all know, the trinitarian doctrine of god allways stresses that these 3 gods are somehow united into one godhead. Third, I believe that the Didache does not teach any trinity doctrine. In fact, I think the author(s) saw god as one, and not a trinity.

4)We have different views on many of the concepts you mention: example:

a) "the real jesus" Your jesus is not a real jesus at all for me, but an idol that you invented and probably try to get others to worship.

b) "Salvation" For me it has nothing to do with your religious beliefs and identity.

c) "Satan" I see this concept very differently from your views. (Read my hub on satan if you desire to know my views). Your satan is too powerful, to exagerated. Your satan is allmost like an evil god, who is allmost as powerful as your jesus god.

d) philosophy: You view it as an evil thing that was foreign to christianity. Many of the church fathers where in fact philosophers! read Augustin and observe how this philosopher was greatly influenced by the more ancient Greek and roman philosophers. Do you know your history? In the later middle ages, many christian philosophers existed. The scholastics for instance where greatly influenced by philosophy, especially Plato and aristotle. This is not very different from modern christian thinkers who use C. S lewis, or other modern christian philosophical thinking, to influence their own doctrines about the bible.

Kaie Arwen on January 22, 2013:

Comments sometimes = post hub Hubs written with complete clarity. Nicely done~

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 22, 2013:

John King IV— Thank you for your additional comments, containing your points 4,5,6, & 7.

As the Christian community began to express its beliefs more clearly and in greater detail, an orthodox faith of correct doctrines came into view. Faith is more than an attitude of trust; it is a trust based on certain definite convictions. The challenge to orthodox theologians is to state and define those convictions.

As to your point # 4: I find no record of Irenaeus ever being deemed a heretic. It is true that during his day the Trinity as not fully developed as a doctrinal idea, but Irenaeus did say: "Naturally the Son is fully divine: the Father is God, and the Son is God, for whatever is begotten of God is God."

You write: "Iraneus and Eusebius in fact where not trinitarians. They had a monotheistic view of god."

But the Trinity IS a monotheistic view of God.

Personally, I am not hung up on the Trinity either way. I believe that Jesus is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. As far as the relationship between God and Jesus, I will let them sort that out. Whether they are equal or Jesus is subordinate (and to what extent he might be subordinate), these are questions we cannot truly answer, and from my view, do not matter in regard to Salvation.

Origen could be considered the father of Arianism, and no doubt Eusebius thought the world of Origen. Eusebius seems to be more a recorder of the thoughts and concepts of others rather than a formulator of his own ideas. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Irenaeus believed that Logos became a man. Origen believed that man became Logos. The latter view leads us to the development of adoptionism—the view that Jesus was just a man until at some point, usually his baptism but sometimes after death on the cross, God adopted Him as His Son as a reward for the perfect life He lived, He became the Christ. Obviously, this means that Jesus earned His divinity by not sinning during His time on earth and that means that we could too if only we would. Which we won't because we can't.

Origen called Christ the Word, the Wisdom, the Justice, and the Truth of God. He is Logos and not merely a manifestation of God but a Person, through whom all things were created. The Holy Spirit only works in the lives of the Saints, and He also is a Divine Person. All that exists derives existence from the Father, all that is rational derives rationality from the Word, all that is holy drives its holiness from the Spirit.

Origen was brilliant and made many contributions to the development of orthodox doctrine but his imagination was so fertile that he drifted off into speculation oft times and so produced so many unorthodox ideas as to embarrass the Church.

Tertullian did split from the Church but your insinuation that this split had anything to do with Trinity is flat out wrong. Tertullian was the first man to use the term and he believed in it. He left the Church after he got involved with the Montanists, who might be considered the forerunners of today's Pentecostals.

You write: "You also seem to suggest that the Didache had a Trinitarian doctrine because it mentions that baptism needed a "in the name of the father, the son, the holy spirit."

Well yes, that does specify that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are separate persons though part of the One True God.

As to point # 5: You repeat the same mistakes as Dan Brown—who is not in any wise a Christian—by proclaiming that the Council of Nicea was called to make the New Testament. That is a bald-faced lie. The Books of the Bible, the Canon, was not even discussed at Nicea. That is a lie of the Devil, the Father of Lies. The Council was called to settle the controversy over a theological point—over an interpretative point not over Scripture itself—that had divided the Church into camps loyal to Athanasius and Arius. They BOTH used the same Scriptures. They disagreed over what those same Scriptures meant.

While I have not read the Shepherd of Hermas, it appears that it is a work that was much loved by some early Christians, but deemed not to meet the level of acceptance necessary to be included in the Bible. This does not mean it is the work of Satan. For instance, my pastor sometimes will quote CS Lewis, or DL Moody, or Francis Schaeffer, or Billy Graham, or even Billy Sunday. Many wonderful Christian books have been written, Pilgrims Progress, for instance. They can be profitable and contain real Godly Truth. That doesn't mean we are going to add Lewis's marvelous Mere Christianity to the New Testament.

The Eastern Orthodox Church listed the Epistle of Barnabas as a "secondary work" not as Scripture.

I know that the Ethiopians use the Book of Enoch. They also claim to have the original Ark of the Covenant in their possession. The Jews do not include this book in their Canon. It was excluded from the Tanakh and the Septuagint long before the birth of Jesus. So that can't be some Christian conspiracy there.

It was not uncommon in ancient days to include books in bound Bibles that were not in the Canon but in the apocrypha, meaning "of questionable authenticity", or "Christian texts that are not canonical." That would be like printing a Bible today and including some CS Lewis or Rick Warren or Jonathan Edwards writings in the book for additional illumination, but with the clear understanding conveyed that this extra material is not part of the Scriptures themselves. I could do that tomorrow if I wanted to. That would not change the Canon.

As to your point # 7: No, Dan Brown could not say the same about me. He is not a Christian. His views represent the views of the anti-Christ. How can I tell? His books are full of lies and deception and Satan is the father of lies and the Deceiver of mankind. This makes Dan Brown his agent.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 21, 2013:

DeBorrah K. Ogans— I am well pleased that you like the title. I have thoroughly researched my topic alright—for years! I will do my best to meet your expectations and hopes that I "will represent the life and character of our Lord well."

I sure appreciate your lovely laudations and your blessings. God Bless You Sister!

Faithfully Yours,


James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 19, 2013:


He cut the first two chapters out of Luke and combined the rest of it with ten of Paul's Epistles to form his very own bible. He thought Peter, James, and John were Judaizers. He refused to acknowledge the Creator of this world as his God—his made up god was greater he said. All men were created by the old Jewish God but the new god is all love—no anger, no merit, no punishment, only mercy. This new god had been unknown until he revealed himself in Christ—who was not God Incarnate but God made manifest. He is "Deus ex machina." Jesus was not the Jewish messiah but the opposite from the "Demiurge."

The God of Abraham was the Demiurge, an evil adversary of man. He did create the world but he is alien to the true God and to spiritual man. He is responsible for the misery in the world, he is Yahweh, not the good Ultimate Father. There are two gods, the imperfect, wrathful god of the Old Testament and the "unknown God," the spiritual Father who had revealed himself in Jesus. But he also denied that Jesus was ever truly Incarnate, ever truly lived as a man. He denied that Jesus suffered and died on the cross because He was God Himself and God Himself cannot suffer or die.

Marcion was the most successful heretic in that he had the personal energy and organizational talent to form a rival church. To him, the Torah was totally superseded by the Gospel. Of course, his detractors said this was because his personal conduct grossly violated the standards of morality delineated in the Old Testament. But his foremost critic, Tertullian, said he was " a most holy teacher" who "imposed sanctity on the flesh." He was no libertine then but he was the first great heretic.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on January 19, 2013:

John King IV— Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your commentaries on the New Testament Canon. As to the points you made:

1) You claim both that Gnosticism is Christian and that it predates Christianity—and both cannot be true. Sure, some ideas adapted by Gnostics predate Christianity, such as Pantheism. But any religious system that predates Christ is not Christian.

When Satan realized that violence had backfired in his efforts to stop the Church by persecution, he employed espionage. His followers disguised themselves as Christians to infiltrate the Church. They always shift their ethical interest away from personal conduct—where individuals decide to obey or not obey God. The emphasis on special knowledge necessarily means that humility ceases to be a virtue.

Maybe, as you say, some Gnostics were not "opposed" to Jesus—the Jesus they invented! But they were opposed to the Real Jesus who is the Christ. Many Gnostics try to adopt Christ and pay him some sort of homage while at the same time disassociating themselves from the teachings of and about Christ.

Heresy refers to false doctrine, to believing in ideas that are simply not true. A person outside the faith cannot be a heretic. A heretic is a traitor inside one's own camp. True doctrines can bring eternal salvation but false doctrines can lead people down the road to perdition—and eternal damnation. Therefore, this is serious business.

The non-Trinitarians were Arians, but they were not—as you claim—Gnostics.

Gnostics are people influenced by Satan to present a belief system to others based on the lie that they have some secret knowledge (Gnosis) not in the Bible. Gnosticism is a spiritual parasite that always piggybacks on another religion. It comes in a variety of forms designed to appeal to different kinds of people. Some Gnostics practice complete sexual licentiousness—obviously attractive to some. Some reduce Jesus to a mere mythological person such as the Fairy God Mother. Most all of their ideas originate in eastern mysticism, paganism, or Greek philosophy.

Gnostics always borrow terminology from existing religions as well as from pantheism, magic, and astrology. Gnosticism is satanic, it mimics Christianity and floods the world with phony ideas and writings. Its spirit is utterly alien to that of Christ. It often makes God an undefined infinite something with no personality, and not even a person. It is a rebellion against God that usually includes ritually breaking his moral laws about sexuality. It masquerades as an advancement toward the highest truth.

The Gnostics assert that besides the simple Gospel that all ordinary spirits can understand, there is a higher secret knowledge reserved for an elite group. Gnosticism always adds alien ideas from non-Christian sources. In particular, it denies the biblical account of Creation. To the Gnostic, God is impersonal and the conflicts in the world of good versus evil, as well as our individual personalities, are either temporary manifestations or illusions. It is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity.

Pantheism is similar to Christianity in one regard: Both see a single spiritual power, God, as the Author of all reality. But to the Pantheist, the world is merely an emanation of his being while to the Christian the world is totally distinct from God even though created by His personal power. The God of the Bible is personal and he can and does give us evidence of his reality by communicating with us through revelation. He is not the Silent God of Pantheism.

Gnosticism has appeal for the egos of people in all ages because to claims to possess a secret lore that is only accessible to an elite—the elite defined as all Gnostics, of course. Gnosticism preserves very few of the historical realities or doctrinal facts of the Christian faith. They are buried under mountains of concepts that spring from the human imagination so as to confuse the issue. If Gnosticism had triumphed we would not have had the Scientific Revolution because unlike Christianity it views the material world as meaningless.

2) Your claim that the gnostic gospels were written in the First Century is false. And your declaration that "the original Matthew, called Q by modern scholars," is nothing more than conjecture. "Scholars" are often motivated by the simple fact that they are non-believers to start with and are looking for any and all ways to deconstruct the faith so as to tear down the faithful. "Scholars" may guess that there was a Q. There is absolutely zero evidence that any "Q" ever existed.

A big deal is made today over so-called Gnostic gospels. Many popular books have been written that claim these phony books are on par with the books of