Comments: The strange example of Arius

Emperor. The other is a heresy. :-)

Posted by Gary Farber at June 7, 2004 05:09 PM

I don't know why, but "emperor" is one of those words I always, always spell wrong when I'm typing. I'd like to think I spell it preporly when I'm writing it out longhand, but the orrer has become so engrained that I'm not entirely sure I'd do it cerroctly with a pen. ;-)

Posted by Bill at June 7, 2004 09:38 PM

Astounding...I'd heard that Constantine kept on trying to influence the discussion between Arius and the church councils, but I never knew this part of the story.

After scanning through the post, it is easy to see that each element of what Pagels writes has some factual backing.

--burning of heretical books
--criminal penalties for unlawful possession of such books
--use of the law against theological opponents

On the other hand, using these facts to support a description of a authoritarian church (sternly enforcing orthodoxy) looks a little suspect.

Posted by steve h at June 8, 2004 04:55 PM

The picture, obviously, is more muddled than Pagels makes it out to be.

I can't tell if I'm being unfair to her or not -- in the Gnostic Gospels, she's written probably a 4,000 word introduction in which she tries to set up the context of the first four centuries of Christianity in which these texts appeared. Obviously, she has to characterize things, and the impression she leaves may not be entirely inaccurate.

Still, it seems to me (and I'm hardly an expert) that the texts she's championing had been marginalized decades before Constantine came to power, and probably as early as the time of Irenaeus, if not before.

Posted by Bill at June 9, 2004 02:05 AM