Did a roman emperor edit the gospels?


I came upon this web page by accident. angelfire.com/band/kissed/fraud.html
At one point he makes the claim

The canonical gospels are further discredited by the historical evidence of alterations made at the order of Emperor Anastasius in 506 A.D., That evidence has been reported by Victor, of Tunis in Africa: “Messala V.C. Consule, Constantinopili, jubente Anastasio Imperatore, sancta evangelia, tanquam ab idiotis evangelistis composita, reprehenduntur et emendantur.” Translation: “The Illustrious Messala, by the command of the Emperor Anastasius, the Holy Gospels, as having been written by idiot evangelists, are hereby censured and corrected.” Quoted by Rev. R. Taylor, The Diegesis, p. 118 (1894).

Is there any truth here?


What do you make of the claims of this web site? How would you respond to his claim that most of the New Testament is forgery? angelfire.com/band/kissed/fraud.html


BB, you’re kidding, right?

Firstly, what in the world are you doing on such a blog?

The first thing you notice is that he offers no citations of source so that his polemics can be verified, which is a huge red flag, http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h244/corona_stellarum/Smilies/redflag-2.png right off the top. Whenever you encounter this, you can simply respond with “prove it”, and rest assured that they will likely cuss you out before offering anything that supports their propaganda.

If all that claptrap was actually true, and anyone found it to be so, don’t you think that every news organ on earth would be blasting away about it? Yet all you hear behind his rant is…chirping crickets. http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h244/corona_stellarum/Smilies/EPIC_FAIL.gif

No Roman emperors edited the New Testament that we have today. It may be that someone did do so with some of the Gnostic heretical writings of those days, (which don’t even make decent reading, having read some of them myself…) but those are not even authentic Christian writings so at best, (and giving the author a huge benefit of the doubt!) he’s done a typically good job of destroying a specious straw man argument.

I wouldn’t waste my time on it if I were you.


Its garbage. How could this slide without the pope knowing? And since the original bible at that time was relatively new nobody had a copy of it except for the wealthy. They were hand made and copied on animal skin (correct me if I’m wrong). Why would the wealthy wish to purchase a book of hogwash and why would an emperor change it only for the few and far between moments when a particular section of the book was read at mass?

It is possible that some words may have been changed to support the language of the time, but I find this unlikely as well.


Well St. Paula did have a large library I can’t remember what she did with it though.


It’s nonsense, not even clever nonsense.


They are bogus and involve a great deal of quote mining of Patristic writings. The claim that statistical stylometry is conclusive regarding the writings of Paul ignores all of the critique that has dismantled the claim.


The most competent scholar in the field has made the observation that the lack of punctuation in early Greek texts would severely impair results and lead to the patently false conclusion that the works of Aristotle and Xenophon were by the same author,


Well for one, there was more to picking canon than just a popular vote.

*The Didache, for instance, was incredibly popular. But it was written too late and the authorship was too uncertain (among other reasons).

*The Gospel of James wasn’t included for the same reasons. Also, temple virgins weren’t a Jewish practice at that time

*The Gospel of Thomas isn’t included because it disagrees with established theology. All the times that Jesus performs miracles in the Bible, it’s to help someone. Never just to show off. That contradicts some of the stuff that happens in Thomas, such as the clay birds coming to life.

The list goes on… The New Testament consists of those 27 books for a reason, and a stronger reason than just a popular vote.

Although I still wish that the Didache had been included. Really would have cleared up the whole abortion debate.


Some of the points that this person makes…many New Testament scholars and professors are in agreement with, I see.

There have indeed been parts added to later manuscripts that have not been found in any of the early manuscripts we have, as he says…including the two examples he gives:
Mark 16:9-20 is a well-known one (most bibles have a notation stating to readers that this section was not found in any early versions)
Same with the “He who has not sinned cast the first stone” story…not found in early manuscripts, added hundreds of years later, I think it is.

And i think it’s general knowledge that there were many, many other gospels and books of scripture, as he said, that were followed as sacred text by Christians for the first 4-5 centuries after Jesus died…but not included in the canon in the 4th century because the councils voted against them…so that part is right.

I think another point he’s correct on is that there were some books in the canon that were included because they were thought to be written by someone, then later found not to be…like those six letters by Paul.
Most think “second” Peter and “first” Peter were written by two different people because their styles etc are so vastly different…and that the second one was not written by Peter.

But it was apparently common to do this in that era…to assign well-known names to writings so that people would read them and listen and believe the words.

(Ironically, several books left out of the canon because they were thought to be forgeries at the time were later discovered not to be forgeries! I can’t remember which ones, tho…I will check).

I’ve never heard of there being writings claimed by Mary, Jesus’ mother. If she did write something…well, that would be the biggest find ever.

To sum up, I think of the 27 books in the christian canon…the general consensus among scholars is that… 8 of the books are considered “anonymous” (including the gospels)…9 are written by the people who give their names in the text as the authors…and ten of the books are considered “forgeries” (six of paul’s letters, the book of acts, second Peter, the books of James and Jude…) where they say it’s written by someone, but they are not.

I’m not familiar with the other things he mentions.

Did you research some of the stuff this guy writes about?
What info have you found?



My suggestion is that you avoid “scholars” who take a less than fair-minded approach to any topic. Some obvious clues are

  1. that the opposing viewpoint is not presented fairly,
  2. no critique of his own position is acknowledged by the author and
  3. a “machine gun” style of rattling off a series of antagonistic claims (or kettle logic) is used without a “deep” and fair analysis of the topic.

One of the best New Testament scholars is N.T. Wright. Pick something short but relevant to a topic you are trying to understand better and read him to get a first hand experience with how good scholarship is done.

There are many well respected scholars (Richard Bauckham, Gary Habermas to name two others) who have done credible work in the area of reliability of Scripture.

Wright’s web site is ntwrightpage.com

You may not agree with him on every issue or topic, but you have to respect him for the fairness and attention to detail he shows when approaching any topic. This experience will certainly give you a better perspective on “junk” scholarship.

A very interesting talk by Gary Habermas on the Resurrection is here


That would be wise on both sides.


OP…fyi, the section you quote from that website comes from the book:

“The Christian Treasury: A Selection of Standard Treatises On Subjects of Doctrinal and Practical Christianity”

It’s on page 48.
On that page, the writer quotes from the book, “Chronicon”, written by Victor, the Bishop of Tunis in Africa.



Well, there was a Byzantine (read Eastern) emperor by the name of Anastasius who was a miaphysite, but whether or not he altered some copies of the Gospels is irrelevant.

Here’s why. 506 A.D. is ridiculously late in the game to have been able to change the course of the Gospel message. Indeed, the four Great Uncial Codices (complete copies of the Old and New Testaments which we have still today) ALL have been dated prior to 506 A.D., (starting at about 330 A.D.) rendering Steve-somebody-or-other of Free-blogging-platform’s argument meaningless. In addition to these, there also exist various other “ancient” partial text manuscripts that would also support the authenticity of the Gospels.


I am wondering why you asked. Do you wish to post a response on that website? Do you wish to formulate a response for a friend who quoted from that website? Do you have to understand the claim in order to strengthen your own faith?


Satan! The devil seeks, always and everywhere to cast doubt, to cloud minds and to divide. Instead of being distracted by these spiritual sideshow hucksters, learn of the devil’s tactics so that you may recognize his works.



I’m curious why are asking too since you just asked a similar question regarding website that just a few hours ago.forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=859890

Are you trolling? Trying to get hits for your ads? Someone ban this please.


Do you think that is a credible source? You can’t even find his credentials anywhere! He collects anti-religion stuff from all over the place. And they don’t even have to defend what they posted on their blog. If you try to read ridiculous stuff from the internet, you can spend your whole life and never finish. Is that how you really want to spent your time?


If there is any truth to it, I can perhaps put it into perspective: What is the difference between this “roman emperor” changing the Gospels and Scripture to suit his liking and say Martin Luther doing the same?

Many do still and many did then. It isn’t the first time a heretic has caused disturbance by altering the teaching of the Church available to the masses and forced his ideology on every one in his or her realm. The difference between then and now is called history.

Good luck and God bless you on your journey. I hope you choose Jesus really soon and find His church welcoming. I’m a convert too. Let us know when you’re ready for RCIA.



FormerXCatholic, at first I too suspected trolling, but there is a more charitable explanation:
BretherenBoy means well, and I think we should hear his concerns. The questions posed in my response, quoted above, might help us to respond effectively, not to the problem of the websites, but to the impact these websites can have on our personal faith.


Thank you to all who have answered. I asked because I have been struggling in my faith, and I wanted to understand the claim and why it is false in the hopes it would strengthen my faith. I’ve been trying to study my faith more, and keep running into objections I don’t know how to answer. As I’ve said on another thread, this then consumes my mind until I figure out how to prove them wrong, and sometimes not even then. Please pray for me.

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