Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Defeat Of Christianities, And The Birth Of Orthodoxy (Part 3)

Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

AP: Let's think for a moment about idea of ​​the survival of other christianities despite the tremendous force of the dominant Paulinism. Let me give the reader two additional perspectives to what I've provided in the book:
A. Some faint touches on the more Jewish interpretation of Christianity, and
B. Some illustrative texts detailing the fight from the beginning by the majority group against the heretics. 
A. It is said that when Roman troops defeated the group of Jewish Christians, whose headquarters was located in Jerusalem, in A.D. 70, Judeo-Christianity ceased to exist in practice. I think we should seriously clarify this statement:
1. Many years later the Judeo-Christians produced three important apocryphal Gospels, which caught the attention of Jerome. These are the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, and the Gospel of the Ebionites.
2. The Judeo-Christians produced a vast body of ideological, novel-like literature: The Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitions.
3. Apart from the sect or group of the Ebionites, which lasts until the fifth or sixth century, there is another group known as the Elchasaites. They are important because it is this group that probably transmitted Christian thought to Manichaeism 
4. The Egyptian Christianity, according to the testimony of the historian Socrates of Constantinople (Ecclesiastical History V 22), in the fifth century still celebrated the Eucharist on Saturday evening with a meal.
5. There seems to be a turning point with the situation of the Jewish and Christian communities in the third century.
B. The fight against heretics was fierce already in the second century. The problem of heretics was a focal point for Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century. A Christian, Satornilo, preached at Antioch that Christ did not physically exist. His was the view of Docetism. As its name suggests (dokeo, "appear"), Christ was no more than mere appearance to this sect. The bishop of Antioch eloquently replied that "Jesus Christ was truly born, both ate and drank, was truly persecuted . . . was truly crucified and died and is truly risen."

But docetism continued to have many supporters in Antioch. After Ignatius, Serapion, bishop of the city from c. 190-191 to c. 211-212, had to fight to stop this movement; their actions show us how the ecclesiastical authority monitored the problem of heretics. Here's letter of Serapion to the church at Rhossus with regard to the apocryphal Gospel of Peter:
"We, brethren, receive Peter and the other Apostles even as Christ; but the writings that go falsely by their names we, in our experience, reject, knowing that such things as these we never received." (Eusebius, H. E., vi., 12, 2)
Sometimes it was difficult to define who the heretics were. Harmony between different communities became difficult due to divergence of doctrines. Dionysius of Alexandria wrote to Stephen, bishop of Rome, around A.D. 254, about the unity of the churches. These are his words:
"Now know this, that all of the churches of the east including the far away that were previously divided are now united and rejoice in the unexpected restoration of peace." 
However there was no such harmony, despite what Dionysius said. Just two years later, in his letter to Sixtus II, Stephen's successor, he mentions the important differences that exist within communities of Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Galatia regarding the validity of baptism administered by heretics. The pope considered it valid, but the bishops connected to Antioch felt that it was necessary to repeat it. This was a breach in the unity.

I do not want bore the readers too much with this synthesis. If you're interested and know Spanish, check out my book. I hope you'll enjoy it.

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