Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The Da Vinci Code X
11/22/2005 - James WhiteAfter insisting that "educated" Christians know all about Constantine's hi-jacking the faith and inventing the deity of Christ, Teabing tries to say that Jesus was a good guy and did good things. That is very nice: defame the entirety of His own teaching about Himself, tell us that we actually can know abolutely nothing about Him or His teachings (if all we have left has been utterly changed how can we truly know anything about Him?) but make sure to throw in a few crumbs about what a nice guy Jesus was. The attempt is not worth the ink it takes to print it. He continues, "All we are saying is that Constantine took advantage of Christ's substantial influence and importance." No, that is not all Brown is saying.
Teabing drones on,
Because Constantine upgraded Jesus' status almost four centuries after Jesus' death, thousands of documents alredy existed chronicling HIs life as a mortal man. To rewrite the history books, Constantine knew he would need a bold stroke. From this sprang the most profound moment in Christian history." Teabing paused, eyeing Sophie. "Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned."
Let's do a little math for Teabing aka Dan Brown. Christ's death is somewhere around AD 30 (33). 33 + 400 years = AD 433. Constantine died in AD 337. Evidently, great scholars like Teabing, or fiction writers like Brown, get confused about the fact that Nicea was in the "fourth century" but that doesn't mean four hundred years. He's off here by a full century. The Council of Nicea was less than three hundred years after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we have seen, Constantine did no such thing, nor did he have the power to do so at all, as if the early Christians, having suffered horribly at the hands of Rome, would then turn around and allow Rome to introduce what would be, in fact, a gross blasphemy into the faith. If no Christians had believed in the deity of Christ, to all of a sudden introduce such an exaltation would have been indeed a blasphemy: but no such thing took place.
Second, there were not, in fact, "thousands of documents...chronicling His life" in any fashion. No matter how widely you cast the net, you could not put together a thousand documents pretending to be gospels from, say, the first century after the death of Christ (AD 30 to 130). This is pure fiction. No historical basis exists for such a statement. Of course, it is easy for Brown to escape responsibility to document his claim, since he goes on to say Constantine "gathered up and burned" them all anyway, as if such would be even slightly historically possible. Not even the Roman Emperor had such power. We can't find Osama bin Laden with satellites and spy planes: Constantine could find all of these thousands of documents in his day? Yes, and I guess he had help from "them" out there on Orion Seti VII, huh? Must have "beamed up" all the manuscripts Constantine couldn't find for himself to the "mother ship."
Now, Brown claims Constantine "commissioned and financed a new Bible." No, he did not. According to Eusebius, who wrote a rather flowery (and biased) biography of Constantine, he provided Imperial funds for the copying of fifty copies of the Christian Scriptures. Here are the specifics from Eusebius' Life of Constantine, Book IV:
CHAPTER XXXVI: Constantine' s Letter to Eusebius on the Preparation of Copies of the Holy Scriptures.
"VICTOR CONSTANTINUS, MAXIMUS AUGUSTUS, to Eusebius.
"It happens, through the favoring providence of God our Saviour, that great numbers have united themselves to the most holy church in the city which is called by my name. It seems, therefore, highly requisite, since that city is rapidly advancing in prosperity in all other respects, that the number of churches should also he increased. Do you, therefore, receive with all readiness my determination on this behalf. I have thought it expedient to instruct your Prudence to order fifty copies of the sacred Scriptures, the provision and use of which you know to be most needful for the instruction of the Church, to be written on prepared parchment in a legible manner, and in a convenient, portable form, by professional transcribers thoroughly practiced in their art. (1) The catholicus (2) of the diocese has also received instructions by letter from our Clemency to be careful to furnish all things necessary for the preparation of such copies; and it will be for you to take special care that they be completed with as little delay as possible. (3) You have authority also, in virtue of this letter, to use two of the public carriages for their conveyance, by which arrangement the copies when fairly written will most easily be forwarded for my personal inspection; and one of the deacons of your church may be intrusted with this service, who, on his arrival here, shall experience my liberality. God preserve you, beloved brother!"
CHAPTER XXXVII: How the Copies were provided.
SUCH were the emperor's commands, which were followed by the immediate execution of the work itself, which we sent him in magnificent and elaborately bound volumes of a threefold and fourfold form. (1) This fact is attested by another letter, which the emperor wrote in acknowledgment, in which, having heard that the city Constantia in our country, the inhabitants of which had been more than commonly devoted to superstition, had been impelled by a sense of religion to abandon their past idolatry, he testified his joy, and approval of their conduct.
Some believe the great vellum codices, such as Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, or Alexandrinus, are representatives of these fifty copies of Scripture. Others doubt Eusebius' veracity, noting that he is writing long after the events and has a tendency to try to elevate Constantine's role as a Christian leader (so as to enhance his own standing). In any case, there is nothing here supportive of Brown's thesis. This is the only reference to Constantine having anything to do with the production of biblical manuscripts, and it is painfully obvious that when he speaks of "the Scriptures" he is referring to that body of Scriptures that Christians held in common long before he arrived on the scene. There is no confusion on Eusebius' part. He does not reply to Constantine, "Uh, what Scriptures? We haven't figured out the canon yet!" No, Eusebius knew what Constantine meant--all Christians did. And Constantine had nothing whatsoever to do with the content of those manuscripts, the canon of Scripture, or anything else relevant to the wild and crazy claims you see flying around the Internet, or making millions in books and movies.
Finally, it requires abject ignorance of the gospels themselves to believe the canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, ignore Jesus' humanity or that they are embellished versions meant to "make Him godlike." Jesus' humanity is plainly demonstrated in each of the canonical gospels, including John, which is so often accused of being very late and having a highly developed Christology that could only develop over time. That Jesus was the God-man can be shown from any gospel, not just from John. Once again we find Brown utterly and completely disconnected from every form of logic, truthfulness, and historical accuracy.