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Constantine's Bible: Politics and the Making of the New Testament [Paperback]

By David L. Dungan (Author)
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Item description for Constantine's Bible: Politics and the Making of the New Testament by David L. Dungan...

Overview
Most college and seminary courses on the New Testament include discussions of the process that gave shape to the New Testament. Now David Dungan re-examines the primary source for this history, the Ecclesiastical History of the fourth-century Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, in the light of Hellenistic political thought. He reaches startling new conclusions: that we usually use the term "canon" incorrectly; that the legal imposition of a "canon" or "rule" upon scripture was a fourth- and fifth-century phenomenon enforced with the power of the Roman imperial government; that the forces shaping the New Testament canon are much earlier than the second-century crisis occasioned by Marcion, and that they are political forces. Dungan discusses how the scripture selection process worked, book-by-book, as he examines the criteria used-and not used-to make these decisions. Finally he describes the consequences of the emperor Constantine's tremendous achievement in transforming orthodox, Catholic Christianity into imperial Christianity.

Publishers Description
Most college and seminary courses on the New Testament include discussions of the process that gave shape to the New Testament. Now David Dungan re-examines the primary source for this history, the Ecclesiastical History of the fourth-century Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, in the light of Hellenistic political thought. He reaches startling new conclusions: that we usually use the term "canon" incorrectly; that the legal imposition of a "canon" or "rule" upon scripture was a fourth- and fifth-century phenomenon enforced with the power of the Roman imperial government; that the forces shaping the New Testament canon are much earlier than the second-century crisis occasioned by Marcion, and that they are political forces.Dungan discusses how the scripture selection process worked, book-by-book, as he examines the criteria used-and not used-to make these decisions. Finally he describes the consequences of the emperor Constantine's tremendous achievement in transforming orthodox, Catholic Christianity into imperial Christianity.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Constantine's Bible: Politics and the Making of the New Testament by David L. Dungan has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christian Century - 09/04/2007 page 42
  • Publishers Weekly - 08/14/2006 page 201


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Item Specifications...


Studio: FORTRESS PRESS
Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.59" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.51"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2006
Publisher   AUGSBURG FORTRESS PUB. #99
ISBN  0800637909  
ISBN13  9780800637903  


Availability  131 units.
Availability accurate as of Jan 23, 2017 02:08.
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More About David L. Dungan


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David L. Dungan currently resides in Knoxville, in the state of Tennessee.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Criticism & Interpretation
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Hermeneutics


Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Church History



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Reviews - What do customers think about Constantine's Bible: Politics and the Making of the New Testament?

A scholarly, well-researched and succinctly reasoned treatise  Mar 4, 2007
Written by David L. Dungan (Professor of Religion, University of Tennessee in Knoxville), Constantine's Bible: Politics and the Making of the New Testament is an inquiry into accepted canon of the New Testament that explores the social-historical context of the Greek polis ideology. Chapters examine the precise definition of what is and is not canon, the influence of Greek philosophy upon early Christianity, defense of Catholic scriptures against "pagans and heretics", how the intervention of an Emperor reshaped religious history, and much more. A scholarly, well-researched and succinctly reasoned treatise, shedding new light on our understanding of ancient scriptures, highly recommended for religious studies shelves.
 
Answers questions you never thought of yet!  Feb 21, 2007
This book is excellent: readable, scholarly, helpful, with information and explanations that can be easily shared with a congregation. I think this book should be required reading in every Christian seminary and school of theology. Constantine's Bible is as exciting as Da Vinci Code--no, it's doubly exciting--because it is based in fact and clearly explains how the New Testament "got that way." You will not be disappointed in this book.
 
Canonization as an Official Action  Dec 17, 2006
Dungan begins by saying that it is a frequent misunderstanding to equate "scripture" and "canon." Scripture refers to a semidurable and evolving conglomeration of texts. A canon results when somebodies impose a boundary around a subset of these writings. Such action is not an obscure event. Since it requires strenuous, official action that is easily detectable because of the impact upon the religious community from that moment onward. Such action and impact can not be seen in the Vedic Upanishads, Taoism, etc., but it can be seen in Judaism and then Christianity. Later such action and impact can be seen in Islam as well (in the 7th century under the third Caliph, Uthman).

This is where Dungan starts to get fancy. He asserts that the range of meaning for the term "canon" needs to be understood as a part of the rise of the Greek city-state. Fancy or not, that is what etymology is. No doubt one would want to study the uses of the term canon in order to understand its etymology. Etymology of the term canon shows that it meant more than a reed as a measuring stick. For example, in the sixth century BCE Pythagoras applied measurement to musical tones and came up with kanonikoi or "standard tones." Such measurement permeated Greek philosophy as well. In a Hellenistic culture, early Christianity adopted the idea of canon as measurement, but Clement of Rome and Origen of Alexandria know no idea of a canon as a set of official doctrines. In fact, according to Dungan, no Christian scholar before the 4th century refers to "the canon."

At just about the turn of the era, Greek philosophical thought rebelled against the idea of pseudonymous authorship. A novel practice began in the first century BC/BCE. Dionysius of Halicarnassus made a biography of an Athenian orator and concluded it with a grading of the 60 books ascribed to the orator. By 230 AD/CE Diogenes Laetius uses a tripartite division of genuine, disputed, and spurious. So Eusebius was on firm *philosophical* grounds when he argued for the authenticity of books. To this he added apostolic succession. Apostolic succession has become a religious tenet among some Christians, but at the time of Eusebius it was also a solid philosophical argument.

Eusebius' work is not a singular opinion but a compilation of the work of other scholars from the previous two centuries. This is the high point of Dungan's book. Because every book now in the New Testament canon had been challenged, it had to be defended. Just before the Council of Nicaea, Eusebius had published his _Ecclesiastical History_. After the Council of Nicaea and Constantine's order of 50 Bibles, Eusebius' analysis of the selection of scripture became the last word. Writers began to refer to "the canon" and the debate withered and disappeared. It was not until the 18th century that Eusebius began to be reassessed.

Incidentally, after Constantine called the Council of Nicaea, Eusebius was put on the spot by being asked by the Emperor if he would accept the idea that Jesus was "of one substance" with the Father. There is no record of any objection by Eusebius or any other bishop to the Emperor's involvement into the affairs of the Christian Church.
 

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