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Heythrop Journal 25 1984.  Article "Easter Meaning" by Nicholas Lash, p4

Lash quotes Harry Williams:

"It seems to me", he says, "a waste of power and shot to try to show with immense labour that this or the other detail in the gospel narrative may after all be historical when a generation of scholars have concluded that it isn't.  The real and important truth remains /whatever the status as history/ of the story in which it is represented."


(I hope this is the right page for this) This is the "the preached Christ is the true Christ" idea, right? The truth of the ChristianGospel is in the Gospel, not in the history it refers to...but taken to its logical conclusion, this means that it doesn't matter if Jesus was actually crucified or not, or whether he was really ressurected, or if he went around torturing kittens or beating up old ladies in his spare time....or whether he actually existed in the form presented in the Gospels at all. Divorced from any claims to reality, how can doctrines like atonement and the incarnation thereby make any sense? A radical theologian might well be able to provide answers, but it seems there's no middle ground. Either you're a biblical literalist, or you're on the slippery slope to radical theology. -- Xarak

I've moved this discussion elsewhere so as not to clog up my notes' pages.  I feel bad replying to you because I've got discussions postponed all over the place, and not enough time to respond to people.  But... The page you picked this up from was one I'm using for collecting random bits and pieces that interest me in journals.  I'm not sure what I think of the idea either.  I'm not convinced that a whole load of scholars really can decide whether or not something is historical.  What kind of authority do they have to make such a move?  Who is to say that such a move is bona fide? Further, I'm not convinced that even if they decide that it is not, whether it necessarily matters.  (The journal year is 1984, so it's not as though they've yet experienced the recent wave of "historical Jesus" research.)  I think this kind of discussion depends upon which part of the Bible we're discussing, and whether that part is supposed to be "historical".  But, to further deconstruct, I think "historical" is its own construction.  I'd need to investigate further to find out the philosophical pre-suppositions behind it.  Also, the Bible doesn't give many clues about how each bit of it is to be read.  I don't know what the "the preached Christ is the true Christ idea" is.  It sounds rather like Bultmann to me, and I'm not into that kind of de-mythologising.  I agree with you that if you de-historicise everything, you're left with a Christ who is so transcendent, his feet don't touch the ground (that's an exam question, that is...).  On the other hand, I've never seen the point of historicising the Song of Songs.  I don't know whether drawing one conclusion about a statement means that the same conclusion/method can be drawn for the rest of the research.  I'm always suspicious of people who want to go around taking "logical conclusions" because they don't always seem logical or conclusive.  Does believing that Jesus was "made man and crucified" commit you to believing that the GoodSamaritan was made man?  No.  I think that one does need an "historical Jesus", but I believe that the Church's Jesus is a good approximation of the historical one.  I agree with you that without some basis in history, there is no grounding for atonement or incarnation. 

I don't know what you mean by a "radical theologian", but by your delineation, I am one.  However, I denounce any kind of Don Cupittism - he's more usually termed radical.  What the heck is a biblical literalist anyway?  Someone who thinks the Bible inerrant and verbally inspired?  Someone who considers the Bible infallible?  Someone who considers the Bible 'inspired'?  Someone who attempts to read the Bible through the eyes of the catholic Church?  Someone who attempts to pin what they call a "literal" reading upon the text, despite no evidence in Church history that a passage has been interpreted in such a way?  There are numerous ways to read the Bible.  I denounce any "easy" literalism.  Last time I did any reading on this, I believe that I thought Origen's methods for reading were useful.  I denounce inerrancy.  I even denounce infallibility.  I have rejected those categories because I think that they say more about their proponents than the Bible.  I read the Bible through the eyes of the Church - the entire Anglican church, with a foot in the door of the Roman Catholic church, and I'm not convinced that /my reading/ on any passage actually matters all that much (and heck, I'd be suspicious of listening to Anglicans right now!).  I'm concerned about some of the philosophy that people seem to consider necessary in order to have a "position" on the Bible.  I couldn't tell you enough to know what that philosophy is called, but all I can say is that it seems to make assumptions that I don't find useful and produce categories that we're all supposed to fit into.  I'm afraid I'm rather disheartened at the moment that certain Christian groups in Cambridge seem to produce opponents who are capable of objecting to their pre-suppositions, but which then fail to inform their fellow men that there is a whole "bigger pond" of Christianity to be explored.  I am concerned that a failure to maintain a wide spectrum of Christian thought and discussion leads to a narrow spectrum of certain sorts of atheism (bearing in mind some Wikizens criticism, I do also accept that atheism perhaps is not simply a denied theism).  To dismiss 2000 years worth of Christian theologians, and even more years worth of Jewish theologians as either biblical literalists or radicals assumes that those are the only two categories "out there".  It seems to me that that is rather unhelpful.

I wasn't saying that all theologians could be pigeon-holed into those two categories! ^_^ I wasn't making myself clear. Let me start again : There's a whole spectrum of theological thought, but maybe the two extremes I mentioned are the only two positions which are self-consistent, because I don't think you can take some parts of the Gospel as historical truth ( say, the resurrection ) but be happy to admit that other parts are myth or inaccuratly reported, just because some parts are more central to your particular theology than others. By radical, yes, I'd mean Cuppitt et al. ( Although I wasn't thinking of Cuppitt ). By literalist, I mean Jack Chick. Perhaps I should have said "person who believes the Bible is infallible". Literalist isn't the right word. -- Xarak

I'm not convinced about the need to state how/when certain parts of the gospels are written or added to or reduced.  I take them as  a form of truth telling and learn to use them for narrating the Christian story.  That does not mean that anything can be discounted as in no sense historical.  What matters is that the Church considered it worth keeping in the canon.  I accept that Jesus physically rose from the dead, but I really don't know that none of the parables have been embellished or whether the precise details of the raising seem to differ.  I don't see that as inconsistent - it doesn't matter that the parables are recounted exactly as they were told the first time.  Paul seems to think it matters that Jesus rose from the dead, but not the exact way in which that happened.  Besides which, the parables (or even Jesus' exploits) are never going to be written exactly as they happened, and events will never be remembered in exactly the same way either.  That's the beauty of having 3 gospels.  I relish the idea that they don't line up exactly, because I think 3 gospels written in precisely the same way would show a kind of engineered journalism.  I cannot take everything as precisely literal historical recollection because I think the events in the gospels are shaped according to the way the writer heard them.  I think you have to trust the Church's handing down of tradition, or you'd never think the Bible a document worth reading in the first place.  I'd say that the kind of reading I've outlined here is self-consistent because all of the events recorded by the gospels matter as a form for truth telling.  I'm very dubious about the way that the "Jesus Seminar" go about deciding whether or not something counts as "historical" or not.  There are stories that my family tell that have been exaggerated over the years, but still contain an element of truth.  I couldn't tell you now what is exaggeration and what is truth, but it still matters that we tell the stories.  I think my trust that Christ did not wander around granny-bashing comes through trusting the tradition of the Church, of which the Bible is a part, as opposed to reading the Gospels with an eye to dissecting the historical from the non-historical.  I don't think that that makes me a literalist or a radical in the way that you outlined.  --AR

<rant>
Xarak, this is not aimed at you, but is the result of bits of reading I've done over the past evening.  Categorisation in life is easy enough, but working through material to form genuine conclusions that still have lots of loose ends is much harder.  Give me somebody who has thrown in the towel with Christianity once or twice or who teeters permanently on the edge of unbelief any day.  Give me somebody who thinks it's worth taking a risk on Christianity before somebody who assumes that anybody can "just be a Christian, and if everybody else could work through these nice, easy, logical arguments, they could be too...".  I never read that in my Bible.  We have to be able to witness to unbelievers, but an honest "I don't know" is far better than a mistaken confidence.  Have I a neat little "immanence/transcendence" Christology with a Jesus who eats and weeps, alongside the one that we name "Word" who is the second person of the Trinity?  Well?  Well?  No.  I haven't.  I've just produced a nice little dualism instead... I really think that these things need to be worked through, and that it takes years.  Did somebody just come up with the theory of evolution in a vaccuum?  No, of course not, they spent years testing hypotheses.  Christians need to learn, in the same way, to say that our practice is still a practice in progress.  And, don't do what some UCCF person advised me years ago.  When he said "spend some years in uncertainty, but don't always stay that way", I'm glad I didn't listen.  Uncertainty is what fuels me and drives me, and makes me think that there's more to this thing than a book of logic puzzles.  I tend to think uncertainty makes religion more worth grappling with.  I ready some Tennyson yesterday - there's a man who has a doubt worth owning.  "Inerrancy" may well be an easy answer which avoids the most interesting questions.  This whole Christian enterprise is fraught with uncertainty, especially in today's world.  Why on earth anybody thinks that they should have a Christianity or a "Christian position" that is easy to put into a box in order to be able to explain to every passing person who expresses an interest is something that confounds me.  Why newspaper journalists think that they can comment on religion "from the outside", and produce great big strings of untruths beggars belief.  I /still/ find myself doing theology degrees because nothing else seems more compelling, more interesting or more worth spending a lifetime on.  (And I am open to the accusation that that is very selfish, so I need to find a way to share with others what I do...)  I work side by side with people who have been thinking these things through for 50 years or so, and they've not got neat Christologies either.  All we do every day is sharpen our questions, hone some little bits of fragmentary answer and do the public work, begun afresh each Sunday, that God has called us to during the week.  Damn it, I've still not made any converts...  I'm sure people ought to be being evangelised and following Jesus all of the time, but all we have to offer is a really tough journey of "ends", "bits", "fragments" and, after a while, an adventure of strangely compelling beauty.  I simply can't put that in a way that can be easily dismissed or even easily accepted.  Christianity, not as an individualistic religion that anybody can grasp if they just read a few books, but as a communal churchly enterprise has to be fought with, wrestled with, listened to, regurgitated, spat out, swallowed, grabbed by the scruff of the neck and shaken.  I am of the opinion that Christianity doesn't make sense without the Church, and that telling people just to read their Bibles and come to some opinion, without a community of fellow hearers (or readers!) is an odd thing to do.  I realise that that may well put me in the minority here, but I'm not part of a "purpose-driven", "fast-grow", "logical-deduction", "managerial efficency" business, but in the a company of people who think it's worth being gathered to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ.  I'm willing to explore that with as many people who want to explore it, but it's not going to be solved by anything so easy as a series of discussions, and if it could be, it wouldn't be a worthy enough enterprise.
</rant> --AR
Well said. As Paul Tillich said, "Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith." This is my main problem with CICCU : the simplification. CICCU seems to me ( as a member of the target market, as it were ) as a very slick, very polished, very effective machine, not a living body of faith. I'm sure it doesn't seem like that from the inside, and this is absoloutly no criticism of the faith of the individual members, who I'm sure have been ( and continue ) wrestling with doubt and working out their own position and sharpening their opinions. But as a group, as a movement, there's little evidence of it. -- Xarak

I'm  a bit cautious of Tillich myself, he seems to want to retain "Christian truth", but without Christian content.  However, that's an interesting quote.  I think I'd prefer to say that questioning is an element of faith, but then questioning involves doubt so it boils down to much the same thing.  I broadly agree with your criticism of CICCU, but I don't like to criticise their zeal too much, since they are actually doing something about evangelisation. I fail to see much cultural engagement elsewhere.  I suppose that CICCU members might argue that in order to get the message across, they need to simplify.  It is, at the end of the day, a case of learning to follow Jesus.  One doesn't need a degree for discipleship.  --AR

On the other hand, whilst I won't criticise their zeal (or commitment), I will criticse the medium for their message (and to some extent, the content of their message).  Students at university ought to be given credit where credit is due.  Those who know me well know that I consider CICCU's doctrinal basis policy very narrow.  I know (before people jump in) that it's only applied to those who want to give talks or lead CU groups or bible studies, but I don't think the name "Christian Union" is then appropriate.  I'd rather they were called Cambridge Evangelical Evangelism Society.  They may well contain Christians across the spectrum, but whether they unite them or represent them is debatable.  At university level, that may not be a serious matter, but when their adherents emerge in society at the other end, not being too sure about whether Roman Catholics are Christian, I think it is a matter that calls for much debate.  You may well call yourself inter-denominational, but why do most of your members go to Evangelical churches?  Their teaching also tends towards Calvinism (which is often different from Calvin's teaching!), but that tends to go unstated. --AR
PeterTaylor doesn't agree with "that tends to go unstated".
What I mean, more specifically, by the "unstated" comment is that a) I've never heard anybody in CICCU admit to following the teachings of Calvin, and b) (somewhat connected to that) the Calvinist position taught is often taught as though it were the only position held by Christians. --AR
(Hi, just passing through and noticed I was indirectly mentioned by Paul Wright, so decided I might add some comments)
I certainly remember being present for light-hearted discussions about whether or not my college CU had the highest Institutes-to-head-count ratio, so it's not entirely unstated. Nevertheless I would suspect CICCU is much more influenced by (say) Stott and Packer than Calvin. I do worry there may be an issue with freshers not necessarily realising the specificity of what they are getting involved with until it is difficult to extricate themselves from tight `friendship' groups; I don't think there is intentional deception, but the name can prove misleading.

I don't believe CICCU would have any justification to call themselves `interdenominational'; I thought they saw themselves as `nondenominational'. The difference, as I understand it, is that `nondenominational' means not especially caring about denominations, and working together with like-minded people; `interdenominational' means bringing together and specifically valuing and emphasising denominational structures and differences. CICCU inherited its non-denominational/common-core ethos from the old SCM (which in turn had inherited it from its Holiness Movement roots); it was only a year or two after they had parted ways that the SCM/WSCF began to explore an interdenominational self-identity, stimulated by the issues raised by remarkably fruitful work amongst Orthodox students in pre-revolutionary Russia. --RB
I agree, it would be easy for the uninitated to assume that all Christians were CICCU-types. This might put some of them off from considering Christianity in the future. I do think that zeal in evangelism is not always a good thing, it can lead to powerful repulsion from the message being presented as well as powerful attraction. -- Xarak

I'd like to see some CICCU debates between their speakers and the philosophy department or the theology department (or even the English department!).  I'd like to hear some discussions between Inter-Varsity Press authors and their opponents.  That would never happen (I don't think) because spreading the Gospel is defined very narrowly so as not to include doctrinal debate or engagement with those of other beliefs (because those of other beliefs can't sign the DB, in order to be able to speak).  I know that CICCU would argue that they do that to protect their members from false teaching, but surely if your teaching is secure and true, it ought to be demonstrably so against those from other disciplines.  (If one were serious about this, one could have one small seminar every week in which there was no "big push" to bring non-Christians, and a warning that those present would not have signed the DB, and so might be engaging in "dodgy" teaching.  I'd bet you very little that those seminars, were they carefully planned could be more engaging than certain "gospel talks".  Further, I think that they might be of interest to the wider university.)  It also strikes me as odd to have a mission that only involves undergraduates.  The Graduate Christian Society does contain a more diverse group of people.  Of course, one could argue that one oughtn't to spread one's nets too far, but then Jesus did.  Jesus said "go out into the nations", not "go out to people your own age, from your own background".  I've also heard it argued that CICCU doesn't want to take over the mission of the Church by reaching others, but the mission of the Church includes undergraduates too, so I don't entirely buy that. --AR
(PeterTaylor) CICCU's mission isn't solely towards undergraduates, but rather focussed on them. A large proportion of CICCU members who go on to postgrad leave CICCU and involve themselves in CGS instead. It's true that the focus on undergrads has increased in the past few years, particularly with the end of the formal link with ... someone help me out here: what was that project in London with a logo of a fish with sunglasses?
I think a successful showing in such a debate would be one of the best evangelistic events CICCU could hope for. Certainly it would have much more punch, especially with the more critically minded ( such as many students ), than simply preaching. CICCU's message is fundamentally a challenge to other beliefs, so I think a debate would fit well into the scheme of things. -- Xarak

It is very interesting to see what happens when CICCU members are challenged by courses in the history of science or even when they leave the CICCU environment.  If you wonder why I am so critical, it's because I actually think that CICCU could be a much more diverse and critical mass than it is at present.  I really think that there is potential there.  I think they have potential for asking the university some extremely challenging questions, but they simply might not see that kind of engagement with others as spreading the Gospel.  I happen to think that good preaching requires good listening, and so it is essential, but then I can be dismissed as a "liberal".  And in a sense, I spent a lot of time at university doing precisely the kind of questioning that they did not want their members exposed to, so I can see why it would be useful to protect others from somebody with a faith like mine.  Much of what you see now has been a slow development of thought, but it has by no means always been so coherent, and it has been messy. --AR

I'd also add that since the theology I engage in became much more Church orientated, I've realised the futility of trying to change an organisation like CICCU.  It seems that they do not want the kind of questions I like to ask or the kind of perspective that those who are able to be less inter-denominational can bring.  In some sense, they are a voluntary collection of people that need to continue having the same debates every three years.  What makes me sad and angry is the people who "become Christians" through them and who find that the spirituality that they have learned is only appropriate in a student context or that the faith they have nourished cannot stand up to the challenge that it will face in the world.  I would rather that Christian students spent time developing links with local churches than with UCCF? because I think the Church is what matters.  Also, I wish I'd known then what I know now (don't we all?).  One innovative chaplain I know of has challenged the CU monopoly on "welcome" events, and has (by sleight of hand) ensured that all of the Christian groups hold a joint meeting at the beginning of term.  I hope that that sort of thing might broaden perspectives, but I'd have valued knowing that the debates I was about to engage in had all been engaged in before.  So what happens to all of those old CICCU members?  Are they all still faithful?  Do they fall away from faith?  Do they remain evangelicals?  Do their children become the CICCU of the next generation?  Are they the Church of the future?  --AR
(PeterTaylor) Eh? CICCU encourages people to put church before CU. As to old CICCU members - variable. Some of the people on the CICCU prayer list when I was DB sec had been members fifty years before and were still praying for CICCU and supporting it financially. OTOH, I believe the fallaway rate of former Presidents is about 1 in 3.
But the churches don't always. StAG holds its housegroups on the same day as Prayer and Praise is (normally) held, so that students won't try to do too much, the implication being that CICCU comes before a deeper involvement in church life. Even Eden asks very little of its students because they hold that a student's main focus should be on witnessing within College, although if you ask they will gladly accept your help in whatever. I don't know about other churches, but those are two of the three main churches for students (at least, they were). City appears, from what little I know of it, to encourage students to get involved with the church, so good for them :) - SunKitten
(PaulWright) I've a feeling I've already been referred to tangentially in this discussion :-) Anyhoo, here's an [LiveJournal posting] of mine on the fate of CICCU leavers, which mentions some notes I found from the StAG graduands' talk and also links to a discussion in the UCCF forums. In summary, UCCF have no useful stats, but the feeling of Carrie Sandom of StAG was that over half of CU leavers will no longer be committed within 5 years. I wonder whether StAG has more accurate numbers than UCCF, though I've certainly not been surveyed by StAG.
(RobHu) I suspect StAG haven't surveyed you as your rampant godlessness is known through the church already! Leading so many astray...
Paul, you're part of a tangential reference, but only in the most collective sense possible.  To say that I keep stumbling upon people with similiar experiences is an understatement.  However, a cautionary note ought to be made.  CICCU and the student environment at Cambridge encourage what I'd call "quick" conversions.  During my undergrad degree, I remember reading for a "sociology & theology" paper (paper 21, I think) about quick conversion against slower conversion.  Oh, actually, it might not have been there.  It might have been in research I did with regard to whether religious people are more or less likely to commit acts of crime, (nevermind; I do ramble)... If I remember correctly, those who have quick conversions are more likely to "fall away" and also to repeat their conversions at a later date.  There is a much higher rate of stay for those who are slower to convert.  Such data is very hard to collect because the way people experience conversion is hard to define empirically.  I just remember noting that it was an interesting point.  As it happens, I see conversion as a lifetime process, as opposed to a one-off, "I'm saved" moment.  I don't deny that such moments of crises occur, but I think the mistake is to view the "one-off" as all there is to salvation.  It makes salvation too easy, and I can't stand easy religion :-).  Of course, I think I deny the Calvinist "once-saved-always-saved" for some much dodgier catholic doctrine, but I can't remember.  I believe that I promised AlexChurchill a return to this discussion by clarification of the differences between those of a more catholic positon and those who are more reformed on the issue of justification/sanctification.  Mea culpa, I've not got around to it yet, but I suspect that it's all part of the same issue in the end.  --AR

On the other hand it's possible that CICCU is no "worse" when it comes to retaining converts then any other student religious group. Does anyone hold to the ideas they had as students all their life? -- Xarak
I see your point.  I also hope that peoples' ideas will develop from those held in their student days.  Is CICCU a slightly different case though because of its affiliation to religion?  (If one isn't playing Tiddlywinks at 40, it's somewhat different because one has not committed to do so).  It would be a really interesting research exercise to contact a particular sample of old CICCU people (some CU leaders, some members) and to devise a questionnaire and followup interview to ask them how they understand their Christian faith to have developed/changed, or indeed, to ask them whether they have lost their faith, and what then what they asssociate with that growth or loss. --AR
Even better, extend it to members of, say, the Islamic Society. -- Xarak

You want to watch it Angela, you're starting to sound a bit like Kevin Donnelly ;) - SunKitten
Darn it.  You're right...  It's lucky he's a nice chap!!  But, I remember, back in the, errr nineties, when I was a girl an old old tale which I shall now render... (I'm back from holiday BTW, with a special surprise for Lucy.  Is she around this weekend?) --AR
She's getting back from holiday on the Saturday. We aren't around, but feel free to make use of our flat :) We'll be back some time on Sunday, possibly late - SunKitten

If being a member of a church is so important to being a Christian, isn't it slightly possible that a lot of the "buzz" just comes from having a sense of community? I went on a weekend with a Christian youth club one time. Spent the week feeling absolutely ecstatic - like I was filled with light - and I can well see how it could be considered to indicate the presence of God. On the other hand, I've felt the same buzz in other situations involving a group working towards a common purpose, for example at the end of a boat race. As nothing in the Gospels suggests that God has any great love of rowing, this suggests that the buzz is more a team-spirit thing than a Christian thing. Any thoughts? - CorkScrew
Of course God has a great love of rowing! You don't have to be doing something religious to be in the presence of God. --Requiem
It could also be that working in a team and being part of a community is pleasing to God too, and one of the ways in which humanity is supposed to function. So the feeling that one gets when finishing a rowing race or going on a weekend away with a youth group does stem from the teamworking, but at a deeper level is the result of doing something that we are meant to do and pleasing God by doing it :) - SunKitten
(Editconflicted so partially answered by SunKitten) And what about martial arts? The study of means of beating up other people would seem to be very against the teachings of Jesus, yet the Kung Fu classes I used to attend engendered the same feeling of peace with the world (when I wasn't too badly bruised anyway). I always put that down to a truly excellent teacher who really bonded us into a group - the Karate lessons I was taking in parallel were far less enjoyable that way, as my sensei for that is far more focused on perfecting technique. The theory that bliss occurs when you're doing something God loves seems worryingly untestable - would you care to make some predictions about what sorts of activities would place you in the presence of God? - CorkScrew
And if bliss is a sure sign of God's favor, then He obviously greatly approves of heroin... -- Xarak
Precisely. And if bliss (such as that which I was picking up on during my Christian youth club weekend) isn't a sign of God's favour then what the heck is? Especially given that sensations like that are often used to support decisions ("We came to a decision on this and we just knew that it was what God wanted"). - CorkScrew the objectivist

The 'bliss' - the Holy Spirit, God's favour, whatever - is always there, it's always granted to us, that's what Jesus taught us and that's what a lot of the New Testament is about. It's just that sometimes we don't notice it. "What sort of activities place you in the presence of God?" implies that it is possible ever to not be in the presence of God. Let me reiterate. God loves us no matter what we are doing, no matter how bad we are, no matter how we curse Him and spit on Him and forget Him. Sometimes - just sometimes - we notice that. And it doesn't have to be in church and it doesn't have to be while doing something that He'd approve of. But whatever it was has opened our perceptions sufficiently that we hear just the slightest echo of His smallest whisper. Just for a second. And that's what I believe to be at least partially the source of these feelings. --Requiem (Trying to explain this is like... well... trying to open a box while locked inside it with the key in your pocket. Or tiger fur smuggling, to borrow a Zen metaphor).




Going a bit OT: CorkScrew has just finished reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, and is keen to get confirmation of some bits of the book that are presented as historical fact:
(MoonShadow) WikiPedia: New_Testament, [Da Vinci Code] etc. are your friends. In particular,
1) Was the new testament really put together by Emperor Constantine a couple of hundred years AD?
Very doubtable. - MoonShadow
I would say no, although he did commission some copies.  It's very hard to date the New Testament as the constituent parts are supposed to have been written at different times.  Scholars have lots of fun debating exactly when.  I just attempted to write a brief synopsis of canonical history, but it's too vague to be any use.  Instead, take a look at this site: http://www.ntcanon.org/ I think it gives more than enough information about the formation of the canon. --AR
The new testament canon as we know it was still not finally settled at the death of Constantine (this can be a misleading statement though, since equally its broad shape had been apparent long long before his birth). I haven't read Brown's novel, but I think he links this specifically to the council of Nicaea? If so, then [this thorough investigation of the legend] that the council played a role in the development of the scriptural canon may be relevant (I admit to being biased, since I supplied the author with the quotation from St. Jerome). --RB

2) Is it true that he was a pagan at the time, and was only actually baptised on his deathbed when he was too weak to resist?
[Disputable]. Apparently, he was baptised close to death, but because that was the customary way of doing things rather than because he was "too weak to resist". - MoonShadow
It is true that he was baptised on his deathbed, so technically (canonically, I'd guess), he'd be a pagan.  However, I'm not sure that I'd accept "only when he was too weak to resist".  He made Christianity the state religion somewhat prior to that and so I think he'd of had a deeper allegiance with Christianity than that.  I believe (although I'm drudging this up) that many Christians used to be baptised on their death beds in order that it would be much trickier to sin after conversion.  This site gives more info: http://members.aol.com/didymus5/ch13.html --AR

3) What's the sitch with the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Coptic Scrolls? And where can I find scanned copies/transcribed copies/translations online?

WikiPedia: Dead_Sea_Scrolls doesn't seem to mention any online versions. MoonShadow doesn't have time to Google extensively for them right now. Gutenberg library might be worth a shot, though most publications would be recent enough that they're still covered by copyright so he'd guess not.

Pass. --AR

You can find some [here]. I Googled "Qumran" to find this - second hit, didn't look much further.

There's also a copyleft [translation of the Scrolls], but still at a very early stage. I don't know for sure what is meant by the Coptic Scrolls, but if this means Nag Hammadi, lots of stuff is online [here]. --RB

I'm not asking these to instigate debate; I'm just trying to confirm the "facts" used in the fictional book. Debate can come later :)

I'm telling you what I know or giving sources of information that I consider reliable.  Moonshadow appears to have done similar, and our investigative results appear similar too.--AR
Sorry, that last bit has been separated from its context. I was just saying that the Da Vinci Code questions weren't some sly dig at Christianity in favour of the AztecGospel or whatever. No undertones; just fact-finding. - CorkScrew



CategoryChristian; Theology
See also BibleTranslationAccuracy, KnowingGodsWill

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