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Why on earth would anybody suppose that the Second Council of Nicea / Nicaea in 787 was responsible for deciding which books went into the bible? It’s absurd on the face of it, considering the vast mass of patristic testimony and physical bibles that survive.
However I keep seeing ignorant people online who either state this, or seem genuinely uncertain whether they mean the First or Second councils of Nicaea. There is a much more common myth that the canon was decided at the First council in 325, but that’s another story.
Accident - Today - Source - Bart - Ehrman
Quite by accident today I found what seems to be the source. It is none other than Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, Oxford University Press, 2003. It’s a popular book, not a scholarly work, so it probably circulates among atheists. The reference I was given was to pages 41-43, in which Ehrman talks about the apocryphal Acts of John, as an example of works in which celibacy is praised. In chapter two, pages 41-42 we find this interesting statement:
(Highlighting is mine) Buried at the back, on p.262, where few will read them, are the notes:
Acts - John - Derives - Sources - Scholars
23. It is widely recognized that the surviving Acts of John derives from several sources; most scholars recognize that a large portion of the text (chaps. 87–105, or just 94–102) as we now have it was interpolated at a later time into the narrative. See the discussion in Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament, 303–4. For a translation of some of the more intriguing accounts of the Acts of John, see the excerpts from Elliott in Ehrman, Lost Scriptures, 93–108; that is the translation I am following here.
24. See the discussion in Elliott, Apocryphal New Testament, 303–7.
Source - Legend
This, I suspect, is indeed the source for the modern legend. Because of...
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