On Twitter today I came across some really rather unusual claims about Christian history. These were advanced with the usual utter certainty that every crank seems to possess. The author of these pronounced:
This is what emperor Constantine said during the council of nicaea…
“28/48.31. Search these books, and whatever is good in them, retain: but whatever is evil, cast away. What is good in one book, unite with that which is good in another book. And whatever is thus brought together shall be called, THE BOOK OF BOOKS.1181 And it shall be the doctrine of my people, which I will recommend to all nations, so that there shall be no more war for religion’s sake.”
The tweeter employed the dubious practice of “quoting” but not referencing, so of course we don’t know from where he got this. An enquiry was met with impudence. As is so often the case with really wild claims, the tweeter appeared to have some personal integrity issues.
Of course Constantine said nothing of the kind, as I hope we all know. This is purely fiction. But … where from?
I quickly discovered a possible source: In His Name vol. 4, Trafford Publishing, 2014, by E. Christopher Reyes, whose interminable litany of factual errors, combined with no little spite, included this on p.273. The reference given was “God’s book of Eskra” (?) op. cit., chapter 48, paragraph 31.
But according to this website all this material was to be found in an article by the renegade church minister Tony Bushby in Nexus magazine in 2007. This indicated that “God’s book of Eskra” was “God’s Book of Eskra, Prof. S. L. MacGuire’s translation, Salisbury, 1922”. Bushby went on to produce a book, The Bible Fraud, and you can’t argue with the title. He seems to have faded from view since.
A little investigation revealed that this “Book of Eskra” is a 19th century modern apocryphon called Oahspe: a new bible. In fact I have written about Bushby and this very work here, with a link to chapter 48 of this fake text here.
Clearly the tweeter was quoting some version or other of the Oahspe fake, although indirectly.
It’s permissible to wonder what kind of person fills his head with nonsense of this kind in these days, when the raw data is ever so accessible. Poor souls.