Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wisdom Supersedes Canon or: The New Testment Canon Spelled P-O-W-E-R

 Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, on Jan. 7, A.D. 367 sent a letter out to all his churches making just 27 books official New Testament canon. It was no surprise considering Athanasius was a devoted follower of the doctrines of Irenaeus a MAN who essentially created the term "heretic" and famously made highly intellectual statements like,

"...It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the church has been scattered throughout the world, and since the 'pillar and ground' of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life, it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing incorruption on every side, and vivifying human afresh."

- Against Heresies 3.11.8

 Apparently to him "Four" was a holy number. The possibility that one might find wisdom in the other gospels was of no relevance.

Interestingly Irenaeus only recognized 21 books to be canon whereas Athanasius added 6 more to the list. That alone should give you some idea of what the value of the concept of  "the canon" really is.

I think the sad truth is that the canon was formed by these two men as a way to help the orthodox maintain power. Before the concept of  "canon" and "heretic" came along Christianity had very diverse opinions and books. Christians agreed on almost nothing but that was alright because they agreed on the only thing that really mattered,

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.."

-John 3:16

In my opinion who "God" is and what eternal life means is of less importance than the fact that Christ is the center of our religion in ALL its various forms.

Notice I used a quote from the Canon? My point is not that the canon is bad and devoid of wisdom my point is that the concept of a "canon" is nothing,its a man made creation.

 Wisdom supersedes canon.

I'm not alone in that belief it goes back centuries. Lets let speculate on the story behind the most important extracanonical treasure trove of Wisdom ever discovered,

"It was on a December day in the year of 1945, near the town of Nag Hammadi in Upper Egypt, that the course of Gnostic studies was radically renewed and forever changed. An Arab peasant, digging around a boulder in search of fertilizer for his fields, happened upon an old, rather large red earthenware jar. Hoping to have found a buried treasure, and with due hesitation and apprehension about the jinn who might attend such a hoard, he smashed the jar open. Inside he discovered no treasure and no genie, but instead books: more than a dozen old codices bound in golden brown leather. Little did he realize that he had found an extraordinary collection of ancient texts, manuscripts hidden a millennium and a half before -- probably by monks from the nearby monastery of St. Pachomius seeking to preserve them from a destruction ordered by the church as part of its violent expunging of heterodoxy and heresy."

 If this story proves true those heavenly monks rebelled against the dictates of a man made doctrine likely because they believed that wisdom superseded canon too. As result some 1600 years later the world was reintroduced to a wisdom so strange,so beautiful,so illuminating that it changed the course of Christian history FOREVER!

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