Quora Answer: Did Nicholas of Myrra Punch Arius at the Council of Nicaea?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is my answer to a Quora question: “Did Nicholas of Myrra punch Arius at the Council of Nicaea?

The story that Bishop Nicholas of Myrra, punched, or otherwise, hit Presbyter Arius, in a heated debate, at the 1st Council of Nicaea, in 325 CE, is ridiculous, and obviously untrue.

Firstly, as per Catholic sources, there is no evidence that Nicholas ever attended the ecumenical council.  And the Church is very exacting about these records.  In fact, we know very little of him, and most hagiographical accounts were written long after his death, with many of the stories, and alleged miracles being fanciful, such as the time he revived a drowned sailor, or the story he gave gold to a man to raise his daughters.  We do not even have a definitive date of his birth, and death, and the Feast is celebrated at a date “traditionally given”, meaning someone made it up along the way, and the Church went along with it.

Secondly, accounts of this event only appeared from the 14th century onwards.  They varied, from Nicholas himself punching, hitting, or slapping – depending on the account, to even whether he hit Arius himself, or an Arian.  Considering he lived in the 2nd and 3rd century, that is more than a thousand years later.  To claim that these reports are unreliable is an understatement.

Finally, we must consider that all writings of Arius have been destroyed by the Church, including his account of the Council, which was called to address his contention that Jesus (a.s.) is not God.  Pauline Christianity spent the better part of a thousand and a half years demonising Arius, and making it seem that his “heresy” was an outlier position, which is untrue.  It was people such as Athanasius, and others, who came along and rewrote Church history to make it seem as if Paul of Tarsus, and his notions, were always accepted, and mainstream.  So, while the records are exacting, they are biased.


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