Kriminalgeschichte, 8

Below, translated excerpts from the first volume of Karlheinz
Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums

(“Criminal History of Christianity”)

 

Chapter 2: Two thousand years
of persecution against Jews begin

Except in Palestine, in the time of paganism the Jews did not have a bad time. It is true that anti-Semitism has ancient roots. The first documentary testimony is found in the Aramaic papyri of Elephantine. In 410 BC, a shrine offered to Yahweh was destroyed in Elephantine, possibly because the Jews were against the Egyptian independence and supporters of the occupying power, that was then Persia. Towards the year 300 BC, anti-Judaism was already widespread. For example, there was already a rumour that the Jews were descendants of lepers. Such enmities were largely religious, and also political, rarely economic and rarely racial.

With their insurrections under Nero, Trajan and Hadrian, the Jews (they accounted for 7% or 8% of the total population of the empire) gained the status of being dangerous to the state. In general, they distrusted them. Among other things, their contemptuous attitude towards other cultures, religions and nationalities, as well as their social isolation upset them. Tacitus, always moderate, censures nonetheless their contemptuous stance before the gods and the country and mentions their strange character and the exclusivism of their customs (diversitas morum).

In Tacitus, as in other pagan writers (whose anti-Jewish manifestations undoubtedly did not cease exerting some influence), such as Pliny the Elder, Juvenal (a “must read” author in medieval schools), Quintilianus (another “must read” classical author at the beginning of the modern era), the impressions of the Jewish war are undoubtedly reflected. But even since Seneca, who committed suicide in 65 AD, that is, a year before the beginning of that war, had written that “the customs of this most abhorrent people have gained so much force that they are introduced everywhere: they, the defeated, have given laws to their winners.”

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