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Around the start of the 4th Century AD, the Roman Empire was governed by the Emperor Constantine. The Empire at this time was not in the best of health, being a morass of different cults and belief systems. The official state religion was the worship of Sol Invictus, the Sun God, and this was Constantine's own religion. However, the relatively new cult, as it then was, of Christianity was starting to enjoy a groundswell of support, and it did not require much thought to see that steps needed to be taken if Rome's tenuous grip on the Empire was to be strengthened.
Constantine called together a meeting of religious and secular leaders at Nicaea, Bythynia, Asia Minor (modern Iznik, Turkey) in 325 AD to resolve the situation, and it is principally as a result of this meeting that he earned the title of Constantine the Great, bestowed upon him subsequently by Church leaders. It was at this meeting that Constantine and his council resolved that if the proletariat had to have their superstitions, then better it was controlled by the state and adopted policies that the state approved of. It is this meeting that the world has come to know as the Council of Nicaea, and from which the world still feels repercussions.
As the cult of Christianity was the one on the rise, it was felt best to tack new policies on the end of this religion - this was the one that clearly stood the best chance of success. One of the principal tasks was to decide which books should constitute the 'Holy Book' of the new religion, which would be the Bible. Therefore, some of the Gospels had to go, and some of the material in the remaining Gospels had to be edited. So, for example, the Gospel of Philip, which had been perfectly creditable until this point, was cut from the Bible. Upon closer inspection however, the reason for Philip's edit became clear when a copy was discovered. It contains passages in which some of the disciples complain about how Jesus appears to favour Mary Magdelene over all the other apostles, and they are annoyed because he is always kissing her on the mouth. Jesus replies that he does favour her and is coy about answering directly and enigmatically says, 'great are the mysteries of marriage'.
The Council of Nicaea decided that, with a little selective editing, they could create a irrefutable line of succession based on a supposed quote by Jesus about Peter, namely, 'this is the rock upon which my church is built'. They then made Peter the first Pope, and each successor was nominated by the outgoing Pope, you then had a mandate from Jesus, which could then be construed as being more irrefutable and undeniable than lines of monarchistic descent. Because of this agenda, over 50 books with an equal claim were written off at a stroke. Anything that was included, was really in; hence the term 'Gospel truth'. Anything that was edited out is written off as heretical. Oddly enough, the origins of the word heresy lie with the word for choice.
Now, if Jesus was indeed married and had children, the line of Peter is irrelevant as the blood of the Royal line is more important than the word. So the Gospel of Philip ends up on the cutting room floor, along with any other document or passage that contains references to Jesus's marriage.
Evidence that the church was doing this editing exists. A copy of a letter exists from a 2nd Century church father, Clement of Alexandria, to a correspondent known only as Theodore. Theodore wrote to Father Clement for advice on how to deal with a cult known as the Carpocratians, who appeared to hold heretical views gained from what they call the Secret Gospel of Mark. Unfortunately for the gullible Theodore who had clearly been raised to believe dogma, Father Clement admitted that this secret gospel exists not as a stand-alone document, but as a copy of the Gospel before the Church set their editing scissors to it. Father Clement admitted to its existence but advised him to lie and deny any knowledge of it. Clement described some of the missing passages to him.
The first of these relates to the raising of Lazarus, and in particular the events shortly thereafter. Six days after the raising of Lazarus, it is said that a youth comes to Jesus, wearing just a loincloth, and he stays with Jesus all night, during which time he learns the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. So far from raising one of the dead, it would appear that the raising of Lazarus was merely a symbolic act, indicating that Lazarus has been initiated into a higher rank by Jesus.
Secondly, Mark 11:46 tells how Jesus arrives at Jericho, but by the end of the sentence we are already learning of events concerned with his leaving Jericho. Now there can be only one reason for this - something was cut out. Father Clement confirms that this is indeed the case. The passage cut out reads:
And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them.
The phrase 'the youth whom Jesus loved' appears elsewhere in the Bible and refers to Lazarus. It has been put forward elsewhere that Lazarus and Mary Magdelene are brother and sister, and the evidence for this is fairly well-documented. The passage itself, at face value, appears to say nothing controversial, but once again it's what is not there that makes it important. The mere act of cutting it means that the church is aware of a situation involving Jesus and Mary Magdelene, and is trying to hide it. Cutting it out has only drawn more attention to it.
Birth and Christmas
So, how to make the name of Jesus all-powerful, and put the church in a position where kings bow to it? After all, what's the point of having this organisation which is capable of ruling the western world through fear and without having to get involved in any messy politics, and then just being content with passing round a collection plate a couple of times a week? The obvious idea was to add some mystique to Jesus, give him an aura of mystery and the supernatural, and to do this the council went back into history for inspiration. Let's consider a few historical figures for a moment:
Gautama Buddha - Born of the virgin Maya around 600 BC.
Dionysus - Greek God, born of a virgin in a stable, turned water into wine.
Quirrnus - An early Roman saviour, born of a virgin.
Attis - Born of the virgin Nama in Phyrgia around 200 BC.
Indra - Born of a virgin in Tibet around 700 BC.
Adonis - Babylonian God, born of the virgin Ishtar
Krishna - Hindu deity, born of the virgin Devaki around 1200 BC.
Zoroaster - Born of a virgin sometime between 1500 BC and 1200 BC.
Mithra - Born of a virgin on 25 December around 600 BC.
The popular Cult of Mithra (or Mithras) was indeed an embarrassment to the early church. Its roots are probably in Syria and it is believed to be an offshoot of the Persian cult of Zoroaster. It seems to have been introduced into the Roman Empire around 67 BC. Born in a stable to a virgin, birthday celebrated on 25 December, died and reborn, Passover celebrated around Easter, whose rites of worship involved the ingestion of food and drink that were symbolic of eating the flesh of Mithra, and all this 600 years before the birth of Christ. Also included were rites of baptism, the belief in immortality, resurrection, a judgement at the end between Heaven and Hell, and a saviour who died and was resurrected to act as a mediator between man and God.
Ignoring the fact that young girls had apparently been giving birth to saviours and deities for a number of centuries, it appeared that it would be extremely difficult for the church to pass off Mithra lightly. But these were desperate men, and ultimately the church concocted a story about how the devil was such a wily adversary he had gone back in time to 'plant' Mithra as an obvious forerunner of Jesus, which was intended to sow seeds of doubt into the minds of the dubious.
And thus the concept of the Holy Trinity was born. The one god now split into three, and the figurehead who always claimed he was the son of man was now proclaimed as the Son of God. And the mysterious Holy Ghost, who still baffles experts to this day, appeared more or less out of nowhere. So now when Jesus says of Peter, 'This is the rock upon which my church is built', he is not just a rebellious political leader, he is the Son of God.
Other aspects of Jesus were modified to make him more acceptable to those who still worshipped the official state religion of Sun God Worship. Two dates have been put forward for Jesus's true birthday, one in early March and one early in September. This celebration was moved to 25 December because this is the date of the major feast of Sol Invictus.
This is not everything decreed by the Council, merely an illustration of the way the Church has distorted history. After all, it has been said that if you control history, then you control the future.