"If the Apostles taught anything contrary to the authenticated revelation of God, they were to be rejected." Charles Hodge, Syst. Theology (1871) at 763.

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Proof Canon Was Not Settled As Of 340 AD- Epistle of Barnabas

 

The Epistle of Barnabas written apparently as early as 70 AD or as late as 132 AD --  was part of the canon at the time of the Sinaiticus of 340 AD. This epistle appears at the end of what otherwise is the New Testament.  The Sinaiticus was discovered in the mid-1800s. It is the oldest complete copy of what was the "New Testament." All other sources are scraps and fragments, some more extensive than others, but none as complete as the Sinaiticus. 

 

Barnabas incidentally was in the 200s the understood author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. See link.

 

The Epistle also appeared in “the Latin list of canonical works in the 6th century Codex Claromontanus.” See "Epistle of Barnabas," Wikipedia (5/2020.) This article continues:

Although the work is not gnostic in a theological sense, the author, who considers himself to be a teacher to the unidentified audience to which he writes (see e.g. 9.9), intends to impart to his readers the perfect gnosis (special knowledge), that they may perceive that the Christians are the only true covenant people, and that the Jewish people had never been in a covenant with God. His polemics are, above all, directed against Judaizing Christians (see EbionitesNazarenesJudaizing teachers).

In no other writing of that early time is the separation of the Gentile Christians from observant Jews so clearly insisted upon. The covenant promises, he maintains, belong only to the Christians (e.g. 4.6-8), and circumcision, and the entire Jewish sacrificial and ceremonial system are, according to him, due to misunderstanding. According to the author's conception, Jewish scriptures, rightly understood, contain no such injunctions (chapters 9-10). He is a thorough opponent to Jewish legalism, but by no means an antinomist. At some points the Epistle seems quite Pauline, as with its concept of atonement.

 

The Epistle reinterprets many of the laws of the Torah. For example, the prohibition on eating pork is not to be taken literally, but rather forbids the people to live like swine, who supposedly grunt when hungry but are silent when full: likewise, the people are not to pray to God when they are in need but ignore him when they are satisfied. [1]

 

So if everyone concedes this epistle does not belong, but was canon as of 340 AD, how was this decision made?

Who made it?

 

Isn't the truth this proves canon was far from settled, and perhaps the meaning of canon -- a listing of edifying and inspired materials combined -- is the true nature of canon as of 340 D? 

 

Implication on Constantine's Failed Effort to Inject Christianity with this Epistle

 

From the foregoing summary, it is clear that the Epistle of Barnabas is anti-Jewish. It denies Jews were ever truly God's people. It is an obvious attack on the Ebionites - the Jewish Christians who traced to the early apostolic church. Only those who call themselves "Christians" are the true church. 

 

Well, what is the explanation that the Sinaiticus added this work at the end of the "New Testament" which is estimated to have been prepared in approximately 340 AD?

 

 

First, its mind-set is very much like Constantine's.

 

For Constantine gave an anti-Jewish tirade at Nicea, insisting that celebrating Passover had to cease for Christians, and Christians can have no holidays in common with Jews. Constantine clearly insisted upon moving the celebration of Jesus' resurrection -- traditionally at Passover -- to a date related to the sun's solstice. This caused the date to coincide with Constantine's true religion - Sol Invictus as his primary god. This pagan sun god's mother was Osiris, or in Saxon English, Eostre. This is how Easter came about in 325 AD to be set on a special "Sun-day" that correlates to the sun's solstice. Yet, we are to believe that no one on the Christian side was apparently aware of Constantine's dual purpose. See Easter Error.

 

Now where is no dispute on these facts. However, there is just some who believe that Constantine was a true Christian in this Nicene Conference, and that is why he won over the attendees. The ruling on Easter Sunday supposedly had nothing to do with his powers as emperor and as Pontifex Maximus (high priest) over all religions at Rome, including the Roman church. It was Constantine's supposed Christian faith that won over the attendees on this point. Yet, for years thereafter, Constantine enforced laws disinheriting and banishing all the Christians who insisted Jesus' resurrection must be celebrated on the eve of Passover - 14 Nissan. They became known as the Quatordecimans -- 14 in  Latin. See a mainstream summary of this controversy at this link.

 

It is uncanny truly the commonality between that speech and the Epistle of  Barnabas.

 

Then it should come as no suprise the likely source of the Sinaticus. In 331 AD, Constantine gifted the Christian church at Rome with 50 Bibles he had specially prepared for the church. Strangely -- so it seems -- none of these Bibles were ever preserved, although leather bound and an important gift of the emperor. Sometime after the Sinaticus was found in 1898, scholars concluded the Sinaticus may be one of the 50 copies of the Bible from Constantine. See "Fifty Bibles of Constantine," Wikipedia (5/2020). The authority is MacDonald & Sanders, The Canon Debate at pages 414-15. Another source listed by Wikipedia is obviously on the same issue: Kirsopp Lake, "The Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts and the copies sent by Eusebius to Constantine," Harvard Theological Review (1918) Vol. 11.

 

What further supports this is that Eusebius was requested to prepare this collection. And while he was a constant flatterer of Constantine, this gave him the latitude to apparently collect everything without much interference. However,  if Constantine was going to add something, it would be easiest at the very end. And that is where this Epistle of Barnabas appears. This work was a clearly heretical work, and far over the edge in theology in its hatred of Judaism.  That same madness at Judaism was in Constantine's heart at Nicea. What we likely have therefore in the Epistle of Barnabas is the failed attempt of Constantine to corrupt the core of Christianity - a step too far. Constantine died six years later - in 337. Eusebius and others must have impeded their circulation, and this led to their being put aside in a cloister in Itay when it was finally taken from darkness and into the light.