Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Challenge to Ray Hagins: Arius and the Council of Nicaea

In my first post on Ray Hagins I covered how the assertions he makes about gods like Horus, Mithras and Krishna have no basis in reality.  In fact, a number of people offered Hagins cash rewards for any primary texts supporting many of his claims, and he refused to supply any such source.  The truth is Hagins is powerless to supply those sources because they do not exist.  The texts explicitly contradict his claims.


For example, he asserts those three gods were all virgin born: Horus was not born of a virgin.  Plutarch relates the necessity for Isis to fashion Osiris a phallus before she descends on his body and receives 'the seed of Osiris in her womb.'[1] (Who needs Fifty Shades of Grey or pre-teen vampire franchises when you could just read all that saucy Egyptian stuff.) As Yamauchi, Clauss and others show, Mithras is depicted explicitly emerging fully grown from a rock in ancient Roman depictions (curiously reminiscent of 60’s British rock album artwork), and we even have a Latin inscription which spells out the rock birth for us.[2] (Maybe it was one of those virgin rocks.)  As for Krishna, before he was born his parents were imprisoned by his evil uncle Kamsa in an attempt by Kamsa to circumvent a prophecy about Krishna being born and killing him. As a tyrant of decorum, instead of killing his sister Devaki, he murders her first seven children in front of her and her husband as they are born in the prison.  Krishna only survives his birth due to divine assistance.  He was her eighth child as the prophecy itself stated.[3] You can examine a refutation of the rest of Ray’s claims about these gods here.

Perhaps Hagin’s most famous claim is that a letter correspondence attributed to Emperor Hadrian links the early Christians with Egyptian Serapis worship. In  my second post on Hagins, I pointed out the “Serapis letter” is a late forgery. The forged nature of the document is taken as axiomatic among scholars of the Historia Augusta from which it derives.

In this third post we will be examining Hagins’ wacko claims about Arius at the council of Nicaea, and I will propose a challenge to Hagins.  He’s billed himself as an authority to the public so I will address him publicly and email this page to him.

Take a deep breath dear Remythologized reader, for I am about to present you the holy grail of Nicaea myths.  All the hundreds before that made you laugh and cry were but mere omens of this crowning achievement of historical negligence.  Blood will shoot out of your eyeballs.  Catatonic visions of Dan Brown rotating his head 360 degrees will seize you. You will wake up in the fetal position in a puddle of drool with your fingernails embedded in a J. N. D. Kelly textbook.  Brace yourself:

Hagins claims Arius’ contention at Nicaea was over Jesus’ historical existence.  That’s right.  He says Jesus was unknown prior to the centuries leading up to Nicaea.

At 30:28 into this “lecture” Hagins says, “Nobody, Origen…none of the historians of the first, second or third century said anything about somebody called Jesus.”

Yes, I’m actually about to type a paragraph refuting this.  I’ll do it for those who follow Hagins and have no footing in Christian history:

Origen wrote extant commentaries on the gospels of John and Matthew and the letter to the Romans; he wrote an apologetic work entitled Against Celsus which cleared up Roman slanders against the historical Jesus; he wrote two books on the resurrection of Jesus. All one needs to do is pull up a text database of his writings like this one and search “Jesus.”  The man “Jesus” appears near 400 times in Origen’s Against Celsus alone.  Heracleon, in 170 wrote a commentary on the Gospel of John.  You can read it here.  That’s to say nothing of all the pre-Nicaean writings like Hermas, Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, or the Didache, all of which refer to Jesus by name as a historical individual and none of which hint at a Serapis connection.  Besides that, Romans like Pliny the Younger, Celsus, Lucian, the Jewish historian Josephus and Tacitus mention Jesus, all within 150 years of his life.[4]  The Chester Beatty Papyri and Bodmer papyri contain most of the New Testament dating long before Nicaea.  I’ll stop there.  Claims this inane don’t warrant extended rebuttal.

To top this off Hagins teaches the Christians of the first three centuries were actually worshiping Serapis—that Serapis was made into Jesus at Nicaea and Arius was privy to the reality that Jesus didn’t exist historically. This is obviously based on Hagins’ flub with assuming the Historia Augusta is genuine, as previously covered. Beyond that, If you’re still incredulous of Hagin’s thesis, you clearly don’t posses the erudition to consider the irrefutable iconographic juxtaposition of Serapis and Jim Caviezel. Let’s pretend to forget Hagins actually makes the equivalent of that argument and proceed to ask some fun questions like good Aristotelians:

Why does Arius in his own writings and arguments at Nicaea appeal to Hebrews and other New Testament texts as authoritative standards if he didn’t believe their claims about the historical Jesus?  You can read all of Arius’ extant writings here. Ray, why did Arius write to Constantine affirming the existence of the historical Jesus?
 We believe in one God the Father Almighty, and in the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, who was begotten of him before all ages, God the Word through whom all things were made, both things in heaven and on earth; who descended, and became human, and suffered, and rose again, ascended into heaven, and will again come to judge the living and the dead.
At 34:25 Hagins says, “There was one God.  ‘He ain’t got no son’: That was Arius’ argument.”

Virtually every letter we have from Arius affirms God “begat a son.” For example, five years before Nicaea in a letter to the bishop of Alexandria he wrote:
We acknowledge One God, alone unbegotten…who begat an only-begotten Son before time and the ages, through whom he made both the ages [Heb 1:2] and all that was made.
Pointing to texts in which Arius claims Jesus did not exist as a member of the Trinity in eternity past (the Arian heresy) won’t do, Ray. Why does Arius never once bring up Serapis in any of his writings?

I’m sure all that stuff was covered up by the international Catholic conspiracy, right?

****A public challenge to Ray Hagins*****

Name and cite a single living scholar on earth holding an academic position at any university in the fields of New Testament or Church History who believes the council of Nicaea involved suppressing a contention by Arius that Jesus was in anyway associated with Serapis.

Name a single one.
_______________________________________________________________________

Suggested lay-level reading for Rays’ followers interested in what really happened with Arius at Nicaea:  Roger E. Olson, The Story of Christian Theology: Twenty Centuries of Tradition and Reform (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1999).

[1] You can see this with the text reference on page 47 using this online translation of Plutarch’s Moralia.  

In regards to Horus being the “seed of Osiris” see R. O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts (Chippenham: Aris & Phillips, 2004), 125.  Spell 148 reads: “How do you know? He is the god, lord and heir of the Ennead, who made you within the egg. I am Isis, one more spirit-like and august than the gods; the god is within this womb of mine and he is the seed of Osiris.”

[2] This material is provided by Edwin Yamauchi.  See my post on Kersey Graves here.

[3] The birth story of Krishna is related in the Srimad Bhagavatam, canto 10.  You can read it online here.

v. 66-7 of chapter 1 reads, “He [Kamsa] thus in fear of his own death arrested Vasudeva and Devak├«, confined them at home in shackles and killed one after the other each of their newborn sons not knowing whether it would be the 'Never-born' Lord or not.” Chapter 2 relates the god’s prayers for Krishna in the womb then 3 describes his birth and escape from the prison guards.

[4] For those interested, the Roman sources are pursued by Habermas in The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the life of Christ (Joplin: College Press, 1996).  There's also R. T. France's The Evidence for Jesus (London: Regent College,1986) and an excellent book explaining why New Testament scholars are universally convinced of Jesus' historical existence is Bart D. Ehrmans' Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, (USA: HarperCollins, 2012).

8 comments:

  1. One idea I've held is the NT is considered by almost all scholars as having been documented at least by ~ 100 AD.

    I think we can find within it worship/reverence of Jesus as both a man and Yahweh.

    Even w/o the extra canonical info you provide, how can an honest, knowledgeable human make Ray's case our precursors did not know or worship Jesus before Constantine unless he can also make the case the NT text was not available to folks in the pre Constantine era?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep, I pointed out to one of Ray's followers (this guy: http://www.thewhirlingwind.com/2012/09/29/the-hijacking-of-jesus/) that we have a manuscript of John dating to 125 and full commentaries on John by folks like Origen and Heracleon. His response was to deny that Origen lived before Nicaea. I never got a response to the pre-Nicaean manuscripts I listed, nor the commentary on John by Heracleon before he blocked me.

    Since I'm such a glutton for crazy-land, maybe in my next blog post I'll refute Holocaust denial.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dr. Ray Hagins also stated something in the video, The Council Jesus Christ, Ray Hagins PhD-The 1st... @ 46:28 that seems to manifest with the publication of this very blog! Why attempt to distort the facts with petty commentary? If it was so inaccurate why take the time to dispute the evidence to the contrary? If there's no truth then there's no reason for debate, history would stand as is. Your giving credence to the dialogue when you acknowledge it's impact just as the Nicene Creed did when it felt the need to discredit Arius in the original document which was changed in 381.Europeans are ashamed of their history and that's understandable.Let the truth come to light. My Question is, if in fact the bible is so prestigious in its context, then how to u explain the distorted version of the Panare' bible where the Panare' killed Jesus and Judas doesn't exist? This should be interesting.. Please continue!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1) This is a Biblical studies blog, not a party flag in a pan-Africanism debate.

      2) Quote the portion and explain exactly how it, "seems to manifest with the publication of this very blog."

      3) Considering this is a Biblical studies blog *i.e.* concerned with the original language texts of the Bible as it was penned by its ancient context, please explain to me what an early American translation has to do with anything mentioned in the above post.

      Delete
  4. This is more a reply to the associated video,w here you can;t comment. Habermas, as you point out, is affiliated with Liberty University, which means he a crackpot. Yamauchi, too, despite his credentials, has a blind-spot for his own Christianity, so they are not very good counterweights of authority to use against this Hagis idiot(is he really a sheep's bladder stuffed with bread dough?). Is his inanity really even worth refuting?

    You keep talking about all these extra biblical references to Jesus, so many more than to Tiberius, you claim. This is not true. Every author you list (Suetonius, Tacitus, etc.), with the possible exception of Joseph, does not offer any independent reference to Jesus. They derive their information about Jesus either form Christian writings, or from talking to Christians, whose knowledge obvious derived from the Christian literary tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  5. There have been plenty of surveys within New Testament scholarship on the historical Jesus and exists numerous professional journals in the field. The position that Jesus never existed as a historical figure is not even on the map within New Testament studies. It is a position rejected universally and relegated to outdated reconstructions and a handful of infamous and highly criticized skeptics like Robert Price and Richard Carrier. Bart Ehrman's book I mentioned does a good job explaining in simple terms why scholars are unanimous. If you want to pretend Jesus never existed you are flying in the face of essentially every living expert on the subject holding an academic position at a major university.

    Jerry Falwell would consider me a heretic, and I’m not particularly fond of a lot of Liberty’s traditionalism. But the dismissal of Habermas as a "crackpot" (He did his doctoral studies at a secular institution.) on the basis of where he happens to be employed is an appalling expression of ignorance and lazy prejudice. Much of their staff is quite good. The same goes for Yamauchi, who documents all of his claims regarding Mithraism, teaches at a top secular institution and was invited to deliver a paper on his scholarship within the field by the Empress of Iran at an international conference on Mithraism. I think he is qualified to speak on the subject.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you had said Jesus to the man you proclaim to be Jesus, he would not of answered to that name! Ridiculousness...brainwashed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have bothered to study the Bible, King James Version = the most effort gone into it it to translate correctly by 70 scholars of the languages of the original scrolls. I have gone outside the Bible to do further study. The weight of physical evidence is without controversy that Christ is exactly as he is described in the KJV. The spiritual evidence rests on the honesty of men sincerely wanting to know the truth about the being called Jesus the Christ and is exactly as he refers to Himself in the KJV. There is a power of Spirit that will rest on Truth and the intelligence of a true man with the heart to want to KNOW. Follow the New Testament exactly, to the fulness of one truth only amongst all the deliberating voices. Then, study the Old Testament to discover what to expect in these days and learn the deeper understanding of God's work in all Eternity.

      Delete