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Friday, October 2, 2009

A TALE OF EARLY OPPRESSION

Here's an example of the sort of oppression our early brothers and sisters in Christ faced when dealing with the temporal authority of their day.
At this particular time, about 430 A.D., the religious chamber of commerce
had decided which books were part of the Christian Canon and which books were heretical (see Council of Nicea, 425 A.D.). You see, those weird earlier Christians were actually holding property in common and giving all they had to their fellow
monks (and monkesses), and basically taking the revolutionary sayings of Jesus
the Christ seriously...
Well, the Roman Empire was nothing if not practical. And Christianity
had become the church of Rome. So "Christianity" meaning now the established
church in Rome simply had to take a rigid property law seriously, because not to do this simply did not make practical sense.
At the same time you have these groups of monastic mystics, whose whole purpose is to see God, and to commune with the Living One of God, and to be liberated by the visionary Truth of what they see...
It must be remembered, these men and women who saw God directly for themselves have no need of priests to intercede on their behalf. If they didn't need priests to see God, they didn't need to pay priests for forgiveness.

Panapolis was a town by the Nile River at this time. Across the river you could see the caves where the earthen jars that contained the forty to fifty texts
of the Nag Hammadi library were hidden away - to be found 2,000 years later.
Shenoute was abbot of the monastery at Panapolis. He represented the church of the Roman empire and was not amused to find a group worshipping at a nearby temple. This group referred to themselves as "kingless", and would not accept
Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, as their "illuminator". These terms are well known in the texts found at Nag Hammadi. This group represented what we might call the earlier Christians.
Shenoute called them "pagan heretics". He seized their "books full of abomination" and "of every kind of magic" (the very sort of speaking in tongues, words found at Nag Hammadi).
These groups of condemned Christians communicated with each other using
a code the Roman Church could not decifer. In fact, the founder of all the monastaries in the area had once used the same code.
Shenoute threatened these earlier Christians (called heretics): " I shall make you acknowledge...the Archbishop Cyril, or else the sword will wipe out most of you, and moreover those of you who are spared will go into exile."
Just as the Dead Sea Scrolls were put in jars for safekeeping and hidden at the time of the approach of the Roman Tenth Legion, the burial of the Nag Hammadi library in a jar may also have been precipitated by the approach of Roman authorities, who by then had become "Christian".
(Taken from the introduction of "The Nag Hammadi Library In English", introduction written by James M. Robinson. It should be noted that I paraphrased many of his words, and the particular expression of the argument is my own.)

1 comment:

  1. I find this pretty interesting. I came across your blog recently and have just begun reading it. Good stuff!
    Are there any books you would recommend for more info on the early Christians?

    ReplyDelete