Once obtained the high priesthood, Jason established in Jerusalem a gymnasium or ephebeión, and raised the possibility of bringing the political and religious situation in the capital with the numerous Hellenistic cities of the country, turning Jerusalem into a Greek polis.
This provoked a reaction from the traditionalists, who saw a menace for the old Jewish laws and beliefs. Unrest, riots and street altercations grew, all of which triggered strong repressive measures by the energetic Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV, who was trying to consolidate his shaky kingdom by introducing a syncretic religion that unified the peoples.
He also desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem (in 168 he reformed the great altar of burnt offering and laid right there an altar to Olympian Zeus); banned the Jewish religion and burned the city, but not before looting the treasury of the Temple and taking 1,800 talents from it. (Centuries later, the painter Raphael was commissioned by Pope Leo X to solemnize such a significant episode in one of the walls of the Vatican.)
According to Elias Bickermann, if the stringent measures against the Jews by Antiochus IV had taken effect, it would not only have meant the end of Judaism, but also “would have prevented the rise of Christianity and Islam.” Our imagination almost fails to conceive a world so different…
My two cents:
Pope Leo’s action reminds me a passage of Nietzsche:
Here it becomes necessary to call up a memory that must be a hundred times more painful to Germans. The Germans have destroyed for Europe the last great harvest of civilization that Europe was ever to reap—the Renaissance. Is it understood at last, will it ever be understood, what the Renaissance was? The transvaluation of Christian values: an attempt with all available means, all instincts and all the resources of genius to bring about a triumph of the opposite values, the more noble values…
To attack at the critical place, at the very seat of Christianity, and there enthrone the more noble values—that is to say, to insinuate them into the instincts, into the most fundamental needs and appetites of those sitting there… I see before me the possibility of a perfectly heavenly enchantment and spectacle: it seems to me to scintillate with all the vibrations of a fine and delicate beauty, and within it there is an art so divine, so infernally divine, that one might search in vain for thousands of years for another such possibility; I see a spectacle so rich in significance and at the same time so wonderfully full of paradox that it should arouse all the gods on Olympus to immortal laughter: Cæsar Borgia as pope!… Am I understood?… Well then, that would have been the sort of triumph that I alone am longing for today: by it Christianity would have been swept away!
What happened? A German monk, Luther, came to Rome. This monk, with all the vengeful instincts of an unsuccessful priest in him, raised a rebellion against the Renaissance in Rome… Instead of grasping, with profound thanksgiving, the miracle that had taken place: the conquest of Christianity at its capital—instead of this, his hatred was stimulated by the spectacle. A religious man thinks only of himself. Luther saw only the depravity of the papacy at the very moment when the opposite was becoming apparent: the old corruption, the peccatum originale, Christianity itself, no longer occupied the papal chair! Instead there was life! Instead there was the triumph of life! Instead there was a great yea to all lofty, beautiful and daring things!… And Luther restored the church.
Also, in my review of one of Kevin MacDonald trilogy books, I said this about Antiochus IV’s actions:
We cannot celebrate these victories precisely for the reason that both Kemp and Pierce explained so well: neither the Greeks nor the Romans exist today. (And incidentally, what about celebrating the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492?) What we call contemporary Greeks or Romans are the product of centuries of blood mixing that devalued not only the genotype of the original Indo-European population, but their extended phenotype as well: the Greco-Roman ethos and the pagan, classical mythology. Those Greeks and Romans who embraced Christianity were a totally different breed compared to the pure Aryans of Sparta or the austere Romans of the pre-imperial Republic.
Bust of Antiochus IV
MacDonald himself acknowledges on page 190 that “the Jews have continued as a creative race into the present, while the Greeks gradually merged with the barbarians and lost their distinctiveness—a point remarkably similar to Chamberlain’s ‘chaos of peoples’ in which the decline of the ancient world is attributed to loss of racial purity.” Conversely, I would say that since the Jews have conserved their genotype almost intact throughout the millennia they are able to celebrate their Maccabean revolt… in New York as if it was yesterday! In other words, had we Meditarraneans preserved our genes intact, we might still be celebrating Antiochus’ victories over the tribe. Or at least if we knew our history with the same passion that Jews know theirs, we might still be celebrating the fall of the temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD, or the more recent expulsion of the tribe from the Iberian peninsula.
Hadn’t the Anglos behaved as they did in the decade before I was born, presently we could be celebrating all those historical events thanks to Uncle Adolf’s transvaluating lead…