By Rowan Williams [Guardian] finds a beautiful and magisterial early history still leaves some puzzles unsolved.
Religions that claim universally relevant and abidingly truthful revelations have a clear interest in showing that their history is one of continuity. If you believe that your vision of God and reality in general is in some sense a gift from outside the human psyche, it won't do to allow unlimited adjustments to that vision. But all human language does adjust to historical change, even when trying to stay the same; as Cardinal Newman observed, to say the same thing as your ancestors said, you may well need to say something apparently very different. So how do you resolve the question of what is genuinely an "unfolding" of the original vision and what is an arbitrary elaboration that distorts that vision?
Geza Vermes is the unchallenged doyen of scholarship in the English-speaking world on the Jewish literature of the age of Jesus, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls. In a series of deeply learned and lucid books, he has opened up the subject to non-specialist readers, offering some provocative and searching questions for Christian readers of their scriptures. In this book, he takes the story a little further forward, to trace the evolution of a distinctively Christian vocabulary up to and including the era when the first Christian creeds were being formulated. His subtitle flags up the climax of the story, at the Council of Nicaea in 325, when what he describes as a "revolutionary new formula" was agreed – thanks largely to pressure from a Roman emperor newly sympathetic to the Christian faith, and as eager as any contemporary politician to make it serve the cause of social cohesion.
Read more here