Who is this Jesus? by Melito of Sardis

Dan Brown may be a very good and interesting writer (his books have sold in the millions), there’s a reason why he will not engage in public debate (though challenged to do so by many) – he has everything to lose (much credibility) and nothing to gain – but scholars who know the facts are appalled by Dan Brown’s flimsy and unsubstantiated arguments, hid behind a veil of what he calls “historical fiction.” Just one example – he claims Christianity knew nothing of the Divinity of Christ until Constantine and the Council of Nicea and then “the Church” added the concept of Christ’s divinity to the New Testament (under Constantine’s oversight) so that he might unite the people under his rule in the Roman Empire. This is totally ridiculous and any scholar of history knows it.

Firstly, it would have been impossible to do this (even if he wanted to) as not even the Emperor had control over the New Testament manuscripts – they were not in one location but scattered throughout the Empire, both in large texts and small.

Secondly, lets remember the historical context. The worst (Empire wide) persecution of Christians took place between 260 AD and 313 AD. That means that this severe persecution ended only twelve short years before the Council of Nicea. It would not be too much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that there were members of the Council who would have had many scars on their bodies because of their testimony for Christ. Why would these Christian leaders, after experiencing so much hostility for the cause of Christ, now wish to allow the very State that had persecuted them to define their faith. That makes no sense whatsoever.

Thirdly, this one quote below destroys Brown’s argument completely. It comes from a sermon of Bishop Melito of Sardis from the second century A.D.

I’ll let my friend, Dr. James White introduce the quote, as he is the one responsible for its translation.

Dr. White writes: “One of the most eloquent testimonies to the error of Dan Brown and the ridiculous and outrageous claims of The Da Vinci Code regarding the “creation” of the deity of Christ by Constantine is found in the sermon on the Passover preached around twenty years before the end of the second century by Melito, bishop of Sardis. I included my translation of this tremendous section in my book, The Forgotten Trinity, and reproduce it here. Remember, this sermon was preached approximately 145 years prior to Nicea, 130 years prior to Constantine’s battle at the Milvian Bridge (where he allegedly saw the sign of the cross in the sky and the phrase, “in this sign, conquer”). As you read these words, rejoice, as I rejoice, at the thought of this ancient believer and the fact that he reveled in the truth about the God-man Jesus Christ just as we do today! Oh that we had more preaching like this in our land today!”

“And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled!
He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.
This is the One who made the heavens and the earth, and formed mankind in the beginning,
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time.
This One is “the Alpha and the Omega,”
This One is “the beginning and the end”
The beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
“To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.”

But there’s more! Going back even further to around 107 AD, (more than 200 years before the Council of Nicea) we have the letter of Bishop Ignatius to Polycarp.

Ignatius ended up as a martyr for his faith. Even though he was an elderly man, he was sentenced to die in the Colosseum, to be eaten by lions. Bear in mind that this Ignatius was an eye witness to the apostles and a personal disciple of the Apostle John.

Here we have an obvious reference to the Lord Jesus Christ and His divinity. In section 3 of his letter to Polycarp we read:

“Stand firm, as does an anvil which is beaten. It is the part of a noble athlete to be wounded, and yet to conquer. And especially, we ought to bear all things for the sake of God, that He also may bear with us. Be ever becoming more zealous than what you are. Weigh carefully the times. Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible, yet who became visible for our sakes; impalpable and impassible, yet who became passible on our account; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes.”