Banned from the Bible

Banned from the Bible

"Banned from the Bible" is a documentary television series produced by FilmRoos in 2003 for the A&E Network that originally aired on the History Channel as "Time Machine: Banned from the Bible" in 2003. [ [ IMDB listing] ] [ [ George Fox University library catalog] ] It aired as a series from late November 2005 through May 2006.Fact|date=April 2007 Narrated by Christopher Nissley [ [ IMDB listing] ] , James Karen, and Maggie Soboil, "Banned from the Bible" tells the stories of the ancient books that have been prohibited from becoming part of Bible canon. The scholarly term for this is Apocrypha. The series was continued with Banned from the Bible II in 2007.

The Need for a Christian Library

The attempts of the early Church at forming some sort of library of holy writing can be found as early as the 2nd century with Marcion of Sinope (in present day Turkey). A wealthy merchant, Marcion (who latter was known for being the initiator of the Marcionite Heresy) was a Christian. Influenced by dualism, he imagined that the loving God Jesus talked about was vastly different from the vindictive God of Jewish scripture. He strongly advocated a Christian canon that excluded all Jewish writings. As such, of the four gospels, he felt that only the Gospel of Luke should be included as the other three made references to Jewish texts. Other early church leaders opposed him and some even called him the Son of Satan. Nevertheless, his idea of specific books to be compiled into official church scripture was a beginning point for compiling a holy library (or bible) of Christian writings.

By 150 A.D., there were hundreds of texts in existence, some of which were in contradiction with each other. By the 4th century, Constantine I, in an attempt to re-establish one empire with a unifying religion to back it up, felt that there should be a consensus as to what books should be the basis for this religion. At the time, there were two opposing camps of Christian thought, both centered in Alexandria. Arius felt that Jesus was a supreme human, but not God. Opposing him was Athanasius, who felt that Jesus was both man and God. In 325, Constantine I convened the First Council of Nicaea and decreed that only one creed should emerge from the council. Once settled, the Nicene Creed banned Arias and his fellow Arians as heretics and the need for a common scripture became more pronounced.

Bishop Eusebius, a scholar of early Christian writings found at Caesarea and Jerusalem and attendee of the First Council of Nicaea, published a comprehensive history of the Christian Church. In this history, he also critiqued many books and writings circulating in the Christian communities at the time in an attempt to form some sort common library. The books he reviewed were broken down into three categories: a) accepted (the four gospels, the Book of Acts, and the Pauline epistles), b) highly likely (First John, First Peter), and c) questionable (Second John, Third John, Second Peter, Gospel of James, Epistle of Jude, the Book of Revelation, and others) He was all too aware of other church leaders views concerning Revelations with its imagery of war being at variance with Christ’s message of love and peace. He finally came down to 18 books that he believed should become official Christian scripture.

Six years after Nicaea (331), Constantine commissioned Eusebius to create an official Christian Bible. 50 copies were made at state expense to be put in churches Constantine had planned to build throughout his capital at Constantinople. Eusebius included all 18 books he had referred to in his earlier work. As opposed to Marcion, he felt that the Jewish writings should also be included and lumped them together into the Old Testament. Unfortunately, none of those 50 copies are in existence today. The closest we have are two 4th century codices: Codex Vaticanus (found in the Vatican Library) and Codex Sinaiticus (taken from St. Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai and placed in the British Museum). Both codices differ from what is on Eusebius’s list (ie. Sinaiticus has included the The Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas).

Forty years later, a final list of 27 New Testament books was canonized by the Christian Church. This official list excluded many popular books either because they were written too late or they weren’t felt to have been orthodox. The following are some of them.

The Book of Adam and Eve

This book is a background story of Genesis 3 (Adam and Eve). It was left out because it duplicated Genesis and was written at a much later time (3rd or 4th century). In this book, Satan is an angel in human form that accompanies the serpent when tempting Eve. Not only that, but Eve is tempted twice in this book. The first is the familiar one found in Genesis. The other takes place much later after the banishment from Eden when Adam feels that the two must do penance for their sin by standing in separate rivers (Jordan for Adam, Tigris for Eve) for 40 days. After 18 days, Satan approaches Eve in the deceptive form of a divine angel, tells her she is forgiven, and successfully tempts her for a second time to disobey a command by leaving the river.

The book also alleges that God made all his angels bow down to his greatest creation, Adam. Satan refused to bow to someone who is inferior to him and made later. He rebelled and built an altar in Heaven higher than God's. Enraged, God had him banished to Hell.

That last story is also in Islam’s holy book, the Quran. In that book, Adam was made of clay and some mysterious beings called Jinn were made from smokeless fire. As above, all the angels were ordered by God to bow down before Adam, His greatest creation. All the angels obeyed, and all the Jinns except Satan obeyed. Jinns or genies are supposed to have free will and so they can disobey God.

"(Note: the remaining sections have the (time) of their appearance in the film.)"

Book of Jubilees (00:25)

In Genesis, there’s a question about Adam and Eve having three sons and no daughters. How did humanity flourish under such circumstances? It is also written that after Cain is ostracized, he leaves with a pregnant wife. Where did she come from? The Book of Jubilees (or Little Genesis), which was written "c." 150 BC, tries to explain. In this book, Adam and Eve have 9 sons and daughters. Awan, their third child, ends up being Cain’s wife. But this creates a new problem, incest. Because of that, it’s felt that the Book of Jubilees was probably omitted from official western Christian scripture. But, this particular book was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and it is also official canon in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Book of Enoch (00:33)

This book fleshes out the story of Enoch, ancestor of Noah, a man who walked with God that gets only one sentence in the Bible (Genesis 5:22)" [Correction Added : Enoch is mentioned in Genesis 5:21-24, Hebrews 11: 5-6 and even quoted in Jude 1:14-16 (Andrew White 9 OCT 2007)] ". It also elaborates on Genesis 6:2-7 and Deuteronomy 2:20-21 the story of 200 angels mating with the “Daughters of the Earth” to create giants in the land. According to this book, not only did these angels lust after earthly women, they also taught mankind certain dark arts including that of weapon making. Ultimately, the head angel Azazel (or Azael) and all his followers are bound in Hell for their misdeeds.

Azazel approaches Enoch in a dream and pleads that he intercede for him and his followers with God for clemency. While in Heaven, Enoch is given a grand tour by the angel Uriel and is given extensive knowledge about the positions of stars and planets in the sky--astrology.

This book was somewhat similar to Revelation, but was considered too severe and strange to be included in the Bible. However, James Bruce discovered it in the late 18th century at Axum, Ethiopia to be amongst Ethiopian Orthodox Christian scripture. The hypothesis is that this book made its way there with the Queen of Sheba as the book contains a story about her visit with Solomon and the fact that she bore one of his children, Menelik I the first Ethiopian king. When Christians arrived in the 4th century, they stumbled across the book and immediately blended it in with their official holy scriptures. Like Jubilees, this book was also found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (00:45)

Thomas, which deals extensively with Jesus’ youth, was written too late to be considered as official scripture. The earliest copy was written in the 6th century, but one clue suggests that it was in circulation in 150 A.D. as a church leader made comments about its stories being spurious.

One of the stories in this book tells of Jesus making some clay birds and then bringing them to life on the Sabbath. The book also shows that Jesus had a malevolent side. In one story, he pushed a playmate off a roof then brought him back to life; in another, he blinded one of his father Joseph’s customers for being critical of his work.

As the story progresses, Jesus slowly evolves from a five year old “divine brat” who used his wisdom to put down people to a more loving 8-year-old who used his powers to help others. In another story, he helped his father Joseph out after he had cut some wood to the wrong length by miraculously lengthening a number of boards to the correct dimension.

The book, of which some sections have similar stories to those into the Quran, points out that though Jesus may have been a brat in his youth, he overcame his problems and went on to become a person of greatness.

Proto-Gospel of James (00:53)

Written a century before the Bible was canonized, the Protoevangelian of James delves into the life of Mary, mother of Jesus. The book begins with Mary’s parents, Joachin and Anna. After having given up on having a child due to Anna being barren, Anna suddenly conceives. This virginal conception is a proof that Mary herself was born without the stain of original sin (sans sex), referred to by the Catholic Church as the immaculate conception.

By the 4th century, the Catholic Church insisted that Mary was a virgin her entire life, yet Mark 6:3 mentions four additional sons and a number of daughters. James solves this riddle by saying those children were Joseph’s from a previous marriage.

The stories in this book were well known to Arab Christians and are similar to those in the Quran where the 19th Chapter is another accounting of the Annunciation and Virgin Birth.

James wasn’t included in the Bible because it probably should have been at the beginning of the New Testament to fit in chronologically. The early church fathers felt that doing so would detract too much from the main character Jesus.

=The Gnostic Scriptures of Nag Hammadi (1:03)=

Found in a jar in a cave by a peasant while searching the hills near Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945, the Nag Hammadi library contains 52 texts written by a group of early Christians that were considered heretics by the early church fathers. The Gnostics believed that the physical world was a cosmic mistake created by an evil or lesser god. Salvation comes from an inner knowledge (gnosis) not of the evil creator god but of the transcendent realm of light and truth. People had to wake up the god within.

The Gospel of Mary (1:07)

One of the texts found at Nag Hammadi, Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a full apostle in this book where she is given special teachings from Jesus. Some of those teachings, such as “Where the mind is, there is the treasure” (Mary 10:14-16) and “He does not see through the soul nor through the spirit, but the mind which is between the two” (Mary 10: 20-22), were purely Gnostic in nature. As such, it found little favor among the orthodox church fathers. Furthermore, the concept of Mary being so close to Jesus raises the possibility of an independent female voice within the church that was anathema to the 4th century church leaders.

While comprising his list of acceptable scripture for the forthcoming Bible, Bishop Athanasius also comprised a list of texts that were to be excluded and the Gospel of Mary was one of them. Upon receiving such news, Gnostic monk decided it best to bury this and other books at Nag Hammadi.

The Gospel of Nicodemus (1:14)

Believed to have been written in the 3rd or 4th century due to the testimonies of the early church fathers, this is a story of Jesus’s trial, execution and brief descent into Hell. Hell in this book is a place where everyone is destined to go and Jesus ventures there to free many of the early church patriarchs and martyrs.

Many scholars, as well as early church leadersWho|date=July 2007, feel it’s a forgery to gain converts by impressing upon an individual the Savior’s power over Satan. Others see it as a redundant compilation of all other stories previously written. Finally, many of the early church fathers deemed its description of the underworld as too speculative because they viewed Hell as a state of mind and not a physical place.

Although banned, it is noteworthy that it was a very popular book that was in circulation as recently as the 1500s. Martin Luther and other early Protestant leaders forbade their followers to read it.

The first half of the book is purported to be an eyewitness account of Jesus' trial and execution and is the only source which mentions that Jesus saw his mother while proceeding to his crucifixion. Some scholars feel this text was a catalyst for the Catholic "Stations of the Cross" processional.Who|date=July 2007

The Apocalypse of Peter (1:21)

A contender with the Revelation of John, this work fell out of favor with the early leaders as they doubted its authorship and the fact that Revelation was better written.

During the time of the Christian persecutions, many apocalyptic literature was in circulation to console the faithful that the evil empire (Rome) was going to have justice served on it.

This book gives a gruesome detailed account of what Hell is like. It also suggests a way out of Hell for evildoers. If a consensus of heavenly angels decide to beseech the Lord to forgive their sins, they can escape. Church leaders were opposed to such a concept because that would mean that anyone can sin all they wanted because ultimately all will be saved.

=The Second Apocalypse of Peter (1:27)=

A Gnostic work that is considered heretical, it describes Jesus’ death where his human body is suffering while his spirit is off to one side observing and laughing. The suggestion that Jesus wasn’t human contradicts the Nicene Creed.

ee also

*Biblical canon
*Banned from the Bible II - a continuation of the original special


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