Musing about Athanasius Bishop of Alexandria

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  • #23251


    Thank you Brother Lawrence for bringing that point out. I was aware of the fact that Canstatine was not officially a Christian and that he was still involved in a pagan religion known as Mithraism however I had not planned to bring that up at this time. However, since you did, let me Quote from Gerald Berry, Religions of the World and an article he wrote:
    “(The following article is adapted from a chapter in Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled, as well as excerpts from other articles, such as “The Origins of Christianity” and “The ZEITGEIST Sourcebook.”)
    “Both Mithras and Christ were described variously as ‘the Way,’ ‘the Truth,’ ‘the Light,’ ‘the Life,’ ‘the Word,’ ‘the Son of God,’ ‘the Good Shepherd.’ The Christian litany to Jesus could easily be an allegorical litany to the sun-god. Mithras is often represented as carrying a lamb on his shoulders, just as Jesus is. Midnight services were found in both religions. The virgin mother…was easily merged with the virgin mother Mary. Petra, the sacred rock of Mithraism, became Peter, the foundation of the Christian Church.”

    “Mithra or Mitra is…worshipped as Itu (Mitra-Mitu-Itu) in every house of the Hindus in India. Itu (derivative of Mitu or Mitra) is considered as the Vegetation-deity. This Mithra or Mitra (Sun-God) is believed to be a Mediator between God and man, between the Sky and the Earth. It is said that Mithra or [the] Sun took birth in the Cave on December 25th. It is also the belief of the Christian world that Mithra or the Sun-God was born of [a] Virgin. He travelled far and wide. He has twelve satellites, which are taken as the Sun’s disciples…. [The Sun’s] great festivals are observed in the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox—Christmas and Easter. His symbol is the Lamb….”

    Swami Prajnanananda, Christ the Saviour and Christ Myth
    Because of its evident relationship to Christianity, special attention needs to be paid to the Persian/Roman religion of Mithraism. The worship of the Indo-Persian god Mithra dates back centuries to millennia preceding the common era. The god is found as “Mitra” in the Indian Vedic religion, which is over 3,500 years old, by conservative estimates. When the Iranians separated from their Indian brethren, Mitra became known as “Mithra” or “Mihr,” as he is also called in Persian.

    By around 1500 BCE, Mitra worship had made it to the Near East, in the Indian kingdom of the Mitanni, who at that time occupied Assyria. Mitra worship, however, was known also by that time as far west as the Hittite kingdom, only a few hundred miles east of the Mediterranean, as is evidenced by the Hittite-Mitanni tablets found at Bogaz-Köy in what is now Turkey. The gods of the Mitanni included Mitra, Varuna and Indra, all found in the Vedic texts.
    Mithra as Sun God
    The Indian Mitra was essentially a solar deity, representing the “friendly” aspect of the sun. So too was the Persian derivative Mithra, who was a “benevolent god” and the bestower of health, wealth and food. Mithra also seems to have been looked upon as a sort of Prometheus, for the gift of fire. (Schironi, 104) His worship purified and freed the devotee from sin and disease. Eventually, Mithra became more militant, and he is best known as a warrior.

    Like so many gods, Mithra was the light and power behind the sun. In Babylon, Mithra was identified with Shamash, the sun god, and he is also Bel, the Mesopotamian and Canaanite/ Phoenician solar deity, who is likewise Marduk, the Babylonian god who represented both the planet Jupiter and the sun. According to Pseudo-Clement of Rome’s debate with Appion (Homily VI, ch. X), Mithra is also Apollo.

    In time, the Persian Mithraism became infused with the more detailed astrotheology of the Babylonians and Chaldeans, and was notable for its astrology and magic; indeed, its priests or magi lent their very name to the word “magic.” Included in this astrotheological development was the re-emphasis on Mithra’s early Indian role as a sun god. As Francis Legge says in Forerunners and Rivals in Christianity:
    The Vedic Mitra was originally the material sun itself, and the many hundreds of votive inscriptions left by the worshippers of Mithras to “the unconquered Sun Mithras,” to the unconquered solar divinity (numen) Mithras, to the unconquered Sun-God (deus) Mithra, and allusions in them to priests (sacerdotes), worshippers (cultores), and temples (templum) of the same deity leave no doubt open that he was in Roman times a sun-god. (Legge, II, 240)
    By the Roman legionnaires, Mithra—or Mithras, as he began to be known in the Greco-Roman world—was called “the divine Sun, the Unconquered Sun.” He was said to be “Mighty in strength, mighty ruler, greatest king of gods! O Sun, lord of heaven and earth, God of Gods!” Mithra was also deemed “the mediator” between heaven and earth, a role often ascribed to the god of the sun.
    An inscription by a “T. Flavius Hyginus” dating to around 80 to 100 AD/CE in Rome dedicates an altar to “Sol Invictus Mithras”—”The Unconquered Sun Mithra”—revealing the hybridization reflected in other artifacts and myths. Regarding this title, Dr. Richard L. Gordon, honorary professor of Religionsgeschichte der Antike at the University of Erfurt, Thuringen, remarks:
    It is true that one…cult title…of Mithras was, or came to be, Deus Sol Invictus Mithras (but he could also be called… Deus Invictus Sol Mithras, Sol Invictus Mithras…
    …Strabo, 15.3.13 (p. 732C), basing his information on a lost work, either by Posidonius (ca 135-51 BC) or by Apollodorus of Artemita (first decades of 1 cent. BC), states baldly that the Western Parthians “call the sun Mithra.” The Roman cult seems to have taken this existing association and developed it in their own special way. (Gordon, “FAQ.” (Emph. added.))
    “Mithra is who the monuments proclaim him—the Unconquered Sun.”
    As concerns Mithra’s identity, Mithraic scholar Dr. Roger Beck says:
    Mithras…is the prime traveller, the principal actor…on the celestial stage which the tauctony [bull-slaying] defines…. He is who the monuments proclaim him—the Unconquered Sun. (Beck (2004), 274)
    In an early image, Mithra is depicted as a sun disc in a chariot drawn by white horses, another solar motif that made it into the Jesus myth, in which Christ is to return on a white horse. (Rev 6:2; 19:1
    Mithra in the Roman Empire
    Subsequent to the military campaign of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE, Mithra became the “favorite deity” of Asia Minor. Christian writers Dr. Samuel Jackson and George W. Gilmore, editors of The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (VII, 420), remark:
    It was probably at this period, 250-100 B.C., that the Mithraic system of ritual and doctrine took the form which it afterward retained. Here it came into contact with the mysteries, of which there were many varieties, among which the most notable were those of Cybele.
    According to the Roman historian Plutarch (c. 46-120 AD/CE), Mithraism began to be absorbed by the Romans during Pompey’s military campaign against Cilician pirates around 70 BCE. The religion eventually migrated from Asia Minor through the soldiers, many of whom had been citizens of the region, into Rome and the far reaches of the Empire. Syrian merchants brought Mithraism to the major cities, such as Alexandria, Rome and Carthage, while captives carried it to the countryside. By the third century AD/CE Mithraism and its mysteries permeated the Roman Empire and extended from India to Scotland, with abundant monuments in numerous countries amounting to over 420 Mithraic sites so far discovered.
    “By the third century AD/CE Mithraism and its mysteries permeated the Roman Empire and extended from India to Scotland.”

    So, you see, Brother Lawrence, when Constantine called the Council Nicea together, he had his own agenda, which was to create a new religion out of two existing ones, a Jewish group of believers in a Great Teacher named Jesus which were called Christians AND a very ancient one called Mithraism.

    And Like another article I recently read about how political interviews of Putin are very similar to the ones our President Elect Trump gives, one has to wonder how much was copied from the older to the newer?

  • #23240


    Dear Dad

    A couple of things here. According to legend the night before a battle in which Constantine was greatly outnumbered he has a vision in which he sees the cross and is told that by that symbol he will conquer. so he has it painted on the shields of his men and they win the battle.Upon which he allegedly becomes a Christian. One problem Constantine refuses to be baptized and therefore would be a Christian in name only. He remains the high priest of the pagan religion in his empire as well as assuming control over the Catholic church. Thus at the Council of Nicaea he is still a pagan as he hasn’t been baptized yet. Although being considered a Trinitarian and responible for the writing and approval of the Nicene Creed in the end of his life he embraces Arianism and is finally baptized by an Arian Bishop shortly before his death. By that time however St. Athanasius had taken up the cause of Trinitarianism along with others and had made sure it would become the belief of all Orthodox churches including the Roman church. Therefore every Sunday right after the homily we repeat and affirm the Nicene Creed. Thought you might find that information interesting so shared it with you and hope you like and helpful in understanding Constantine and his times

    God bless you

    Brother Lawrence Damien

  • #23239


    On the night before the first Friday the 13th in the year of our lord 2017, we discussed a wide range of topics about G-D and Jesus and the Characteristics of each. If YOU have any interest in Discussing in an open Chat Room, may I invite you to evening Chat normally at or about 9 pm to 11 pm Eastern USA time on a Wednesday through Sunday. We like to use the BIBLE as our source of information and I believe these articles from Yahoo make some interesting points which we might discuss in the near future. What do YOU think? Did YOU know?

    “To begin with, there were several competing schools of theological thought concerning Jesus, and ideas about who he was and what he represented varied widely for the first couple of centuries.

    However, the work of a theologian named Origen of Alexandria (who lived from 185-254 AD)– and the theology he built upon and that was subsequently built upon his work– had begun to take prominence among early church factions.

    This hardly settled the matter because Christians were still part of the Roman Empire, and the Romans looked upon them as little more than morally debased subversives. That meant wherever they were discovered, they were generally persecuted, with their belongings and property being confiscated, being imprisoned, and often executed.

    This situation persisted until Constantine I and Licinius came to shared power over the Roman Empire (with Constantine ruling as Augustus in the western part of the empire and Licinius ruling in the east). Once their power struggles were temporarily settled, the two met and agreed, among other things, to cease persecution of Christians, at which point they issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD.

    Around this time, Constantine, who was committed to Christianity, became increasingly involved with church affairs, which brought him into contact with both the emerging Catholic church and two different competing factions known as the Donatists and the Arians (the followers of Arius, not the Germans).

    To make a long story short, it came to Constantine’s attention that there was a dispute between the Donatists and the Catholic church stemming from the treatment of Christians under the emperor Diocletian, and how those Christians who bowed to pressure to renounce their faith should be dealt with. Constantine attempted to intervene in the dispute, but wasn’t aware of the full extent of it, which meant his actions did nothing but end up making matters worse.

    His inability to settle the conflict between the two churches and, more to the point, his inability to bring the Donatists in line with his wishes, rubbed Constantine the wrong way, so when the Arians came along and it looked like he was going to be faced with a similar situation, he convened the Council of Nicaea and essentially ordered them to look at the different doctrines and decide which one was divinely inspired. (And hoped they would declare Arius and his followers heretics while they were at it.)

    The Council of Nicaea decided on Paulinian doctrine and issued the Nicene Creed. Shortly thereafter, Constantine ordered fifty Bibles to be produced, containing what is close to the now accepted canon.

    That’s really where I would define the process of canonization as beginning for what most people in the west think of as the Bible, because the church proceeded from that point to refine its doctrines and teachings, and to make slight alterations to the books that it did and did not include, a process that can be said to have concluded in two phases.

    First, Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria issued a list of books in 367 AD which he declared as being canonized. There have been some minor changes to the Old Testament, but the New Testament he set forth largely remained unchanged. If Biblical scholars are correct, the list was finalized by the Council of Rome in 382 AD, which would make sense because it was at this time that Pope Damasius I commissioned the Vulgate and Jerome set about retranslating and correcting the Vetus Latina (Latin bibles).

    So that’s a bit about how the Catholic version of the Bible became canonized. There’s much more to the story, of course, but you could teach entire courses on this subject. If you want to do further study, start with Origen, Constantine, the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Rome, and Jerome, and work outward from there.

    You might also consider looking into two lecture series by Bart Ehrman called “History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon,” and “Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication.” I found them both informative and easy to follow.
    Source(s): I should probably also mention that Constantine had Licinius executed and took sole control of the Roman Empire in 324 AD. Regardless of whether it has any direct bearing on how he interacted with the church, it is important to note at the time of the Council of NIcaea, Constantine was actively involved in an effort to consolidate power within his empire, a goal which a fractious Christian church could distract from but which a church hegemony could further.”
    Submitted by AndiGravity · 2014

    Submitted by someone named Bob as a reply:
    “Sure the bible was canonized at 4 catholic councils between 380 ad and 420 ad at Carthage, Rome, hippo and Nicaea . The church which Jesus built upon Peter the rock was here 400 years before the bible was formed.

    Christ never commanded the apostles to write a book, he commanded them to preach the word of God and they did this orally (sacred tradition) as well as with the written word (scripture) which was written down and the church who had the authority of the Holy Spirit given to it by Christ through the process of ordination decided which books were god inspired and to be included in the bible and which weren’t inspired and nit to be included in the bible.

    The concept of bible alone or sola scriptura was a foreign concept to the early Christian and wasn’t believed by any of the Christians for the first 1500 years of Christian history until Martin Luther decided he didn’t like some things taught in the bible and started by throwing out the 7 deuterocanonicals books that were in the original bibles for the first 1500 years of Christianity.

    The original bible has 7 more books then Protestant bibles do.

    Jesus gave the power to bind and loose (decide on church doctrine and Church matters) to Peter first and then to the other disciples. This is biblical and historical.”


    “Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (/ˌæθəˈneɪʃəs/; Greek: Ἀθανάσιος Ἀλεξανδρείας, Athanásios Alexandrías; c. 296–298 – 2 May 373), also called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or, primarily in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria (as Athanasius I). His episcopate lasted 45 years (c. 8 June 328 – 2 May 373), of which over 17 were spent in five exiles ordered by four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, and a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.

    Conflict with Arius and Arianism as well as successive Roman emperors shaped Athanasius’s career. In 325, at the age of 27, Athanasius began his leading role against the Arians as a deacon and assistant to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria during the First Council of Nicaea. Roman emperor Constantine the Great had convened the council in May–August 325 to address the Arian position that the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, is of a distinct substance from the Father.[2] Three years after that council, Athanasius succeeded his mentor as archbishop of Alexandria. In addition to the conflict with the Arians (including powerful and influential Arian churchmen led by Eusebius of Nicomedia), he struggled against the Emperors Constantine, Constantius II, Julian the Apostate and Valens. He was known as “Athanasius Contra Mundum” (Latin for Athanasius Against the World).

    Nonetheless, within a few years after his death, Gregory of Nazianzus called him the “Pillar of the Church”. His writings were well regarded by all Church fathers who followed, in both the West and the East, who noted their rich devotion to the Word-become-man, great pastoral concern, and profound interest in monasticism. Athanasius is counted as one of the four great Eastern Doctors of the Church in the Roman Catholic Church.[3] In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is labeled as the “Father of Orthodoxy”. Some Protestants label him as “Father of the Canon”. Athanasius is venerated as a Christian saint, whose feast day is 2 May in Western Christianity, 15 May in the Coptic Orthodox Church, and 18 January in the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. He is venerated by the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutherans, and the Anglican Communion.”

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