A Jew who told the truth


Published ninety years ago, the following article, abridged here for The West’s Darkest Hour, has been re-published in April 2018 by Lenculus, a white nationalist printer, with the disclaimer that the article was:

Written by a Jewish author and originally published in The Century Magazine in January 1928.

This article asserts that if Whites understood the depths to which Jews control our countries and their institutions of power and the way in which they wield that power in an effort to destroy our interests, we would rise-up and eradicate them immediately.

As far as I know, Friedrich Nietzsche was the first man to wake up from the Matrix and see that Christianity was a Jewish psyop from its beginning (see, e.g., these passages from On the Genealogy of Morality). Nietzsche wrote from the Aryan point of view of course. But in the following centuries two Jews said something similar. Marcus Eli Ravage in the 20th century, and Mitchell Heisman in the 21st century agree with this interpretation of Christianity, though they side their tribe. To use a line from a poem of the former, ‘Your avenues – Are dance-halls for my gloating soul’.

The Third Reich German propaganda ministry used Eli Ravage’s texts as evidence that the world is dominated by Jewish conspirators. His articles ‘A real case against the Jews’ and ‘Commissary to the Gentiles’, originally published in English were translated in the Czernowitz Allgemeine Zeitung on September 2, 1933.

Like the Nazis, I consider Eli Ravage’s article so important, that the following document will be included in the 2019 edition of The Fair Race’s Darkest Hour. For this blog entry, however, the bold-typed words are mine:
 

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A real case against the Jews

by Marcus Eli Ravage

Of course, you do resent us. It is no good telling me you don’t. So let us not waste any time on denials and alibis. You know you do, and I know it, and we understand each other…

We shirk our patriotic duty in wartime because we are pacifists by nature and tradition, and we are the arch-plotters of universal wars and the chief beneficiaries of those wars (see the late “Dearborn Independent,” passim, and “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”).

We are at once the founders and leading adherents of capitalism and the chief perpetrators of the rebellion against capitalism.

Surely, history has nothing like us for versatility!

And, oh! I almost forgot the reason of reasons. We are the stiff-necked people who never accepted Christianity, and we are the criminal people who crucified its founder.

But I tell you, you are self-deceivers. You lack either the self-knowledge or the mettle to face the facts squarely and own up to the truth. You resent the Jew not because, as some of you seem to think, he crucified Jesus but because he gave him birth. Your real quarrel with us is not that we have rejected Christianity but that we have imposed it upon you!

Your loose, contradictory charges against us are not a patch on the blackness of our proved historic offense. You accuse us of stirring up revolution in Moscow. Suppose we admit the charge. What of it? Compared with what Paul the Jew of Tarsus accomplished in Rome, the Russian upheaval is a mere street brawl.

You make much noise and fury about the undue Jewish influence in your theaters and movie palaces. Very good; granted, your complaint is well-founded. But what is that compared to our staggering influence in your churches, your schools, your laws and your governments, and the very thoughts you think every day?

A clumsy Russian forges a set of papers and publishes them in a book called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which shows that we plotted to bring on the late World War. You believe that book : All right. For the sake of argument we will underwrite every word of it. It is genuine and authentic. But what is that beside the unquestionable historical conspiracy which we have carried out, which we have never denied because you never had the courage to charge us with it, and of which the full record is extant for anybody to read?

If you really are serious when you talk of Jewish plots, may I not direct your attention to one worth talking about? What use is it wasting words on the alleged control of your public opinion by Jewish financiers, newspaper owners and movie magnates, when you might as well justly accuse us of the proved control of your whole civilization by the Jewish Gospels?

You have not begun to appreciate the real depth of our guilt. We are intruders. We are disturbers. We are subverters. We have taken your natural world, your ideals, your destiny, and played havoc with them. We have been at the bottom not merely of the latest great war but of nearly all your wars, not only of the Russian but of every other major revolution in your history. We have brought discord and confusion and frustration into your personal and public life. We are still doing it. No one can tell how long we shall go on doing it.

Look back a little and see what has happened. Nineteen hundred years ago you were an innocent, carefree, pagan race. You worshipped countless gods and goddesses, the spirits of the air, of the running streams and of the woodland. You took unblushing pride in the glory of your naked bodies. You carved images of your gods and of the tantalizing human figure. You delighted in the combats of the field, the arena and the battle-ground. War and slavery were fixed institutions in your systems. Disporting yourselves on the hillsides and in the valleys of the great outdoors, you took to speculating on the wonder and mystery of life and laid the foundations of natural science and philosophy. Yours was a noble, sensual culture, unirked by the prickings of a social conscience or by any sentimental questionings about human equality. Who knows what great and glorious destiny might have been yours if we had left you alone.

But we did not leave you alone. We took you in hand and pulled down the beautiful and generous structure you had reared, and changed the whole course of your history. We conquered you as no empire of yours ever subjugated Africa or Asia. And we did it all without armies, without bullets, without blood or turmoil, without force of any kind. We did it solely by the irresistible might of our spirit, with ideas, with propaganda. We made you the willing and unconscious bearers of our mission to the whole world, to the barbarous races of the earth, to the countless unborn generations. Without fully understanding what we were doing to you, you became the agents at large of our racial tradition, carrying our gospel to the unexplored ends of the earth.

Our tribal customs have become the core of your moral code. Our tribal laws have furnished the basic groundwork of all your august constitutions and legal systems.

Our legends and our folk-tales are the sacred lore which you croon to your infants. Our poets have filled your hymnals and your prayer-books. Our national history has become an indispensable part of the learning of your pastors and priests and scholars. Our kings, our statesmen, our prophets, our warriors are your heroes. Our ancient little country is your Holy Land. Our national literature is your Holy Bible.

What our people thought and taught has become inextricably woven into your very speech and tradition, until no one among you can be called educated who is not familiar with our racial heritage.

Jewish artisans and Jewish fishermen are your teachers and your saints, with countless statues carved in their image and innumerable cathedrals raised to their memories. A Jewish maiden is your ideal of motherhood and womanhood.

A Jewish rebel-prophet is the central figure in your religious worship.

We have pulled down your idols, cast aside your racial inheritance, and substituted for them our God and our traditions. No conquest in history can even remotely compare with this clean sweep of our conquest over you.

How did we do it? Almost by accident. Two thousand years ago nearly, in far-off Palestine, our religion had fallen into decay and materialism. Money-changers were in possession of the temple.

Degenerate, selfish priests mulcted our people and grew fat. Then a young patriot-idealist arose and went about the land calling for a revival of faith. He had no thought of setting up a new church.

Like all the prophets before him, his only aim was to purify and revitalize the old creed. He attacked the priests and drove the money-changers from the temple. This brought him into conflict with the established order and its supporting pillars.

The Roman authorities, who were in occupation of the country, fearing his revolutionary agitation as a political effort to oust them, arrested him, tried him and condemned him to death by crucifixion, a common form of execution at that time.

The followers of Jesus of Nazareth, mainly slaves and poor workmen, in their bereavement and disappointment, turned away from the world and formed themselves into a brotherhood of pacifist non-resisters, sharing the memory of their crucified leader and living together communistically. They were merely a new sect in Judea, without power or consequence, neither the first nor the last.

Only after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans did the new creed come into prominence.

Then a patriotic Jew named Paul or Saul conceived the idea of humbling the Roman power by destroying the morale of its soldiery with the doctrines of love and non-resistance preached by the little sect of Jewish Christians. He became the Apostle to the Gentiles, he who hitherto had been one of the most active persecutors of the band. And so well did Paul do his work that within four centuries the great empire which had subjugated Palestine along with half of the world was a heap of ruins.

And the law which went forth from Zion became the official religion of Rome.

This was the beginning of our dominance in your world. But it was only a beginning. From this time forth your history is little more than a struggle for mastery between your own old pagan spirit and our Jewish spirit. Half your wars, great and little, are religious wars, fought over the interpretation of one thing or another in our teachings. You no sooner broke free from your primitive religious simplicity and attempted the practice of the pagan Roman learning than Luther armed with our gospels arose to down you and re-enthrone our heritage. Take the three principal revolutions in modern times—the French, the American and the Russian. What are they but the triumph of the Jewish idea of social, political and economic justice?

And the end is still a long way off. We still dominate you. At this very moment your churches are torn asunder by a civil war between Fundamentalists and Modernists, that is to say between those who cling to our teachings and traditions literally and those who are striving by slow steps to dispossess us.

In Dayton, Tennessee, a Bible-bred community forbids the teaching of your science because it conflicts with our ancient Jewish account of the origin of life; and Mr. Bryan, the leader of the anti-Jewish Ku Klux Klan in the Democratic National Convention, makes the supreme fight of his life in our behalf, without noticing the contradiction. Again and again the Puritan heritage of Judea breaks out in waves of stage censorship, Sunday blue laws and national prohibition acts. And while these things are happening you twaddle about Jewish influence in the movies!

Is it any wonder you resent us? We have put a clog upon your progress. We have imposed upon you an alien book and an alien faith which you cannot swallow or digest, which is at cross-purposes with your native spirit, which keeps you ever-lastingly ill-at-ease, and which you lack the spirit either to reject or to accept in full.

In full, of course, you never have accepted our Christian teachings. In your hearts you still are pagans. You still love war and graven images and strife. You still take pride in the glory of the nude human figure. Your social conscience, in spite of all democracy and all your social revolutions, is still a pitifully imperfect thing. We have merely divided your soul, confused your impulses, paralyzed your desires. In the midst of battle you are obliged to kneel down to him who commanded you to turn the other cheek, who said “Resist not evil” and “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

So why should you not resent us?

Darkening Age, 18

Editor’s Note: The recent Occidental Observer article ‘Words Like Violence: The Left’s Total War on Freedom of Speech’ which reproduces a segment of the book of Richard Houck, is good for the normie to wake up to the fact that we are living in the darkest hour of the West. In the comments section of that article, one visitor opined that what Houck wrote is Alt Lite, as the author ‘sounds like he refrains from naming the actual (((enemy)))’.

It is true that without mentioning the subversive Jew the pilgrim from Normieland to National Socialism has not stepped on the stone of Jew-wise white nationalism. But after stepping on white nationalism in his attempts to cross the psychological Rubicon, he still needs to understand why the Jews seized the Western narrative. For this we have to step on the next and last stone before reaching the other side: the Christian question. For example, the above-mentioned text of Houck contains this passage:

It’s incredibly telling that in America, you can freely criticize American foreign policy. Yet if you criticize the foreign policy of Israel, a country on the other side of the planet, groups with hundred-million-dollar budgets immediately lobby Congress to silence you. And our politicians, in an incredible show of cowardice and greed, capitulate. The US State Department even has an entire department called The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. Our tax dollars are going to provide programs ensuring that certain foreign peoples are not having their feelings hurt… The absurdity of the situation is incredible. Imagine if there were a massive pro-Russia lobby that made it illegal to disagree with or criticize Russian foreign policy.

So true. But that those who read The Occidental Observer are in the middle of the river is clear. In the Northern American states, the red carpet was rolled out for the Jews in line with the dominant liberal ideology. This was because the type of Christianity that conquered North America has been pathologically philo-Semitic since its beginnings.

But why were the Jews praised by George Washington, who said that the US ‘gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance’? The United States did not originate ethno-suicidal philo-Semitism in the West. Everything began a thousand seven hundred years ago with a history that has been as concealed as the holocaust perpetrated by the Allies during and after the Second World War. I have tried to recreate that time by reproducing passages from the novel by Gore Vidal, Julian, where the correspondence between Priscus and Libanius immerse the reader into the fascinating world of the 4th century of the Common Era.

Libanius, a central character in Vidal’s novel, existed in real life. On chapter 8 of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:

 

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At the end of the fourth century, the orator Libanius looked out and described in despair what he observed. He and other worshippers of the old gods saw, he said, their temples ‘in ruins, their ritual banned, their altars overturned, their sacrifices suppressed, their priests sent packing and their property divided up between a crew of rascals’.

They are powerful words; and it is a powerful image. Yet in the Christian histories, men like Libanius barely exist. The voices of the worshippers of the old gods are rarely, if ever, recorded. But they were there. Some voices, such as his, have come down to us…

For a Christian, reasoning was not shrouded in ambiguity: it was explicitly laid out in the Bible. And the Bible, on this point, was clear. As those thundering words of Deuteronomy had it, toleration of other religions and their altars was not what was required. Instead, the faithful were required to raze them to the ground… To a Christian there were not different but equally valid views. There were angels and there were demons. As the academic Ramsay MacMullen has put it, ‘there could be no compromise with the Devil’. And, as Christians made clear in a thousand hectoring sermons and a hundred fierce laws, objects associated with other religions belonged to the Dark Lord.

Then, some twenty years later, in AD 408, came one of the fiercest pronouncements yet. ‘If any images stand even now in the temples and shrines,’ this new law said, ‘they shall be torn from their foundations… The buildings themselves of the temples which are situated in cities or towns or outside the towns shall be vindicated to public use. Altars shall be destroyed in all places.’

Darkening Age, 17

In chapter eight of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 
While it might take months of effort, years of training and centuries of accumulated knowledge to build a Greek temple, it took little more than zeal and patience to destroy one. At the end of the fourth century, as the laws against [the Hellenes] were reaching an aggressive crescendo, the bishop Marcellus was said to have destroyed the vast and still hugely popular temple of Zeus at Apamea with prayers and the help of a man who was ‘no builder, or mason, or artificer of any kind’. Today, Marcellus is worshipped as a saint in the Orthodox Church.

Today, histories of this period, if they mention such destruction at all, hesitate to condemn it outright. The 1965 edition of The Penguin Dictionary of Saints records with little more than amused indulgence that Martin of Tours ‘was not averse to the forcible destruction of heathen shrines’.

In modern histories those carrying out and encouraging the attacks are rarely described as violent, or vicious, or thuggish: they are merely ‘zealous’, ‘pious’, ‘enthusiastic’ or, at worst, ‘over-zealous’. As the academic John Pollini puts it: ‘modern scholarship, influenced by a Judeo-Christian cultural bias’ has frequently overlooked or downplayed such attacks and even at times ‘sought to present Christian desecration in a positive light’.

The attacks themselves are diminished in importance, both implicitly by the lack of attention they are given, and at times even explicitly. We should not make too much of these events, one influential academic has argued; we should not ‘amplify them unduly’ as such desecrations ‘may have been the work of a determined few, briskly performed’.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 107


 Editors’ note: To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.

 

The theatre, ‘The temple of the devil’

Almost unanimously (with very few exceptions, such as those of Victorinus of Pettau and Gaius Marius Victorinus), the Fathers of the Church denigrated the spectacles: this constituted an important component in their anti-Hellenic polemic. The shows really reflected to them all the iniquity of the Greco-Roman world.

The Father of the Church Salvian of Marseilles, who in the 5th century considered the visit to spectacles by Christians a crime and also sought to know that God hates these amusements, informs us that when an ecclesiastical festival coincided with the games, most of the spectators were sitting in the theatre. The suaviludii (fans of shows) used all kinds of arguments to defend theatre attendance and their censors tried to refute them. At the indication, for example, that there was no express prohibition in Sacred Scripture, Tertullian replies with Psalm I, 1, ‘Avoid the meetings of the ungodly’.

The theatre happened to be a domain of the devil, of the evil spirits, and the ‘Fathers’ almost whipped it up, giving it attributes such as ‘immoral’ (turpis), obscene (obscoenus), ‘repulsive’ (foedus) and many other similar epithets. It was, however, ‘very infrequent’ the case that the theatre was attacked because of its—still then current—cultic meaning, the veneration of the gods. In this sense, only Irenaeus, Tertullian, and the Syrian bishop Jacob did it; and Sarug (451-452), who stated that ‘Satan tries to restore paganism through comedy’. All others demonized the theatre for reasons of an almost exclusively moral nature.

The Philippic of Tatian Oratio ad Graecos, an authentic invective against Greek culture, gives us an idea of the poisonous bile that those paladins of the anti-dramaturgy of primitive Christianity were spewing. The actor appears in it as

boastful and dissolute ruffian without restraint, who as soon as he looks with sparkling eyes as he moves waving his hands, delirious under his clay mask, it assumes the role of Aphrodite, followed by that of Apollo… And such a scoundrel is applauded by all!

Many pious ‘Fathers’ saw how the vices penetrated the hearts of the spectators through their eyes and ears as if they were open windows. According to St. Ambrose (introibit mors) ‘death will penetrate through the window of your eyes’ and the stage choir is ‘lethal’. For Jerome, theatrical music also threatens morals. Moreover, the very critical mention of representations was sinful, said Salvian. Even married women, according to Augustine, ‘take home new knowledge’ learned from that ‘lascivious bustle’.

It was necessary to wait for Theodosius I so that, in 392, the careers of cars were prohibited; a prohibition that in 399 was extended to all the spectacles during Sundays, but with so scarce success that in the year 401 the Synod of Carthage requested that the measures already adopted were intensified.

The Church, since Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, considered attendance at shows incompatible with Christianity, and ended up strictly prohibiting it to priests and laymen in the III and IV Council of Carthage, threatening the transgressors with excommunication. The bishop of Rome, Eusebius, did not allow the performance of comedians even in the banquets of homage.

The First Council of Arles denies the charioteers and all the theatre staff permission to receive Communion while they are holding shows. The VII Council of Carthage prohibits all actors in 419 from filing complaints against clerics. If an actor, a ‘flute of Satan’ (Jacob of Sarug), wanted to convert to Christianity, the old ecclesiastical constitutions and the councils generally demanded the abandonment of his profession.

Darkening Age, 16

In chapter eight of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 
People built themselves houses from the stones of the demolished temples. Look closely at the buildings in the east of the Roman Empire and you can see the remains of the classical tradition in the new Christian architecture: a pair of cut-off legs here; the top of a handsome Grecian column there.

One law announced that the stones from demolished temples should be used to repair roads, bridges and aqueducts. In Constantinople, a former temple of Aphrodite was used to store a bureaucrat’s chariots. Christian writers revelled in such little humiliations. As one exulted, ‘your statues, your busts, the instruments of your cult have all been overturned—they lie on the ground and everyone laughs at your deceptions’.

Darkening Age, 15

In chapter eight of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 
Statues, the very seat of the demons themselves, suffered some of the most vicious attacks. It was not enough merely to take a statue down; the demon within it had to be humiliated, disgraced, tortured, dismembered and thus neutralized.

A Jewish tractate known as the Avodah Zarah provided detailed instructions on how to properly mistreat a statue. One can desecrate a statue, it advised, by ‘cutting off the tip of its ear or nose or finger, by battering it—even although its bulk be not diminished—it is desecrated’. Merely taking the statue down, or spitting at it, or dragging it about, or throwing dirt upon it, was not, the treatise warned, sufficient—though the resourceful Christian might indulge in all of these as an added humiliation to the demon within.

Sometimes, as was the case with the bust of Aphrodite in Athens, the statues appear to have been ‘baptized’, with deep crosses gouged on their foreheads. If this was a ‘baptism’ then it may have helped not only to neutralize the devil within, but also to vanquish any more personal demons that could arise when looking at such beautiful naked figures. A naked statue of Aphrodite was, wrote one Christian historian in disgust, ‘more shameless than that of any prostitute standing in front of a brothel’—and, like a prostitute, Aphrodite and her plump bottom and naked breasts might incite the demon of lust in the viewer.

Far less easy to feel desire for a statue who has had a cross gouged in her head, her eyes blinded and her nose sliced from her face. Erotically appealing statues suffered more than chastely clothed ones. We can still see the consequences of this rhetoric. Today, a once-handsome Apollo missing a nose stands in this museum; a statue of Venus that stood in a bathhouse has had her nipples and mons pubis chiselled away; a statue of Dionysus has had his nose mutilated and his genitalia removed.

Darkening Age, 14

In chapter eight of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 
Further south, the firebrand preacher John Chrysostom—John ‘Goldenmouth’—weighed in. This man was so charismatic that crowds of Christians would pack into Antioch’s Great Church to hear him speak, his eyes flashing, then leave as soon as he was finished, ‘as if’, he observed, with a distinct want of monkish humility, ‘I were a concert performance.’ Chrysostom was nothing if not zealous.

Hearing that Phoenicia was still ‘suffering from the madness of the demons’ rites’, he sent violent bands of monks, funded by the faithful women in his congregation, to destroy the shrines in the area. ‘Thus,’ concludes the historian Theodoret, ‘the remaining shrines of the demons were utterly destroyed.’ A papyrus fragment shows Bishop Theophilus standing triumphantly over an image of Serapis, Bible in hand, while on the right-hand side monks can be seen attacking the temple. St Benedict, St Martin, St John Chrysostom; the men leading these campaigns of violence were not embarrassing eccentrics but men at the very heart of the Church.

Augustine evidently assumed his congregants would be taking part in the violence—and implied that they were right to do so: throwing down temples, idols and groves was, he said, no less than ‘clear proof of our not honouring, but rather abhorring, these things’. Such destruction, he reminded his flock, was the express commandment of God. In AD 401, Augustine told Christians in Carthage to smash pagan objects because, he said, that was what God wanted and commanded. It has been said that sixty died in riots inflamed by this burst of oratorical fire. A little earlier a congregation of Augustine’s, eager to sack the temples of Carthage, had started reciting Psalm 83. ‘Let them be humiliated and be downcast forever,’ they chanted with grim significance. ‘Let them perish in disgrace.’

It is obvious that this violence was not only one’s Christian duty; it was also, for many; a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Those carrying out the attacks sang as they smashed the ancient marble and roared with laughter as they destroyed statues. In Alexandria, ‘idolatrous’ images were taken from private houses and baths, then burned and mutilated in a jubilant public demonstration. Once the assault was complete, the Christians ‘all went off, praising God for the destruction of such error of demons and idolatry’.

Broken statues themselves were another cause for hilarity; their fragmented remains an occasion for ‘laughter and scorn’.

Darkening Age, 13

In chapter eight of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 
As the laws became increasingly shrill, the extent of the destruction increased, as too did the openness with which it was done. At some point, probably just before the attack on the temple of Serapis, a bishop named Marcellus became ‘the first of the bishops to put the edict in force and destroy the shrines in the city committed to his care’. Then, in 392, Serapis fell. Almost no event, with the exception of the Sack of Rome by the Visigoths in AD 410, would resound more loudly through literature of the time. Its collapse would not be heard by later centuries: in the newly Christian world this was one tale, one of many, that would be quietly forgotten.

The attacks were hymned by hagiographies and histories. In fourth-century France, St Martin, or so the Life of Martin proudly records, ‘set fire to a most ancient and famous shrine’ before moving on to a different village and a different temple. Here, he ‘completely demolished the temple belonging to the false religion and reduced all the altars and statues to dust’. Martin was no anomaly. Flushed by his success at the temple of Serapis, Bishop Theophilus went on to demolish numerous shrines in Egypt. Hagiography records such attacks not as dismal or even embarrassing acts of vandalism but as proof of a saint’s virtue. Some of the most famous saints in Western Christianity kicked off their careers—so the stories like, to boast—demolishing shrines.

Benedict of Nursia, the revered founder of Western monasticism, was also celebrated as a destroyer of antiquities. His first act upon arriving in Monte Cassino, just outside Rome, was to smash an ancient statue of Apollo and destroy the shrine’s altar. He didn’t stop there, but toured the area ‘pulling down the idols and destroying the groves on the mountain… and gave himself no rest until he had uprooted the last remnant of heathenism in those parts’. Of course hagiography is not history and one must read such accounts with, at best, caution. But even if they do not tell the whole truth, they certainly reveal a truth—namely that many Christians felt proud, even jubilant, about such destruction.

Darkening Age, 12

In chapter eight of The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World, Catherine Nixey wrote:
 
In Palmyra, what remains of the statue of Athena shows that one single, furious sword-blow had been enough to decapitate her. Though often one blow was not felt to be sufficient. In Germany, a statue of the goddess Minerva was smashed into six pieces. Her head has never been found. In France, a relief of Mithras was smashed into more than three hundred pieces.

Christian writers applauded such destruction—and egged their rulers on to greater acts of violence. One gleefully observed that the Christian emperors now ‘spit in the faces of dead idols, trample on the lawless rites of demons, and laugh at the old lies’. An infamous early text instructed emperors to wash away this ‘filth’ and ‘take away, yes, calmly take away… the adornments of the temples. Let the fire of the mint or the blaze of the smelters melt them down.’

This was nothing to be ashamed of. The first Commandment could not have been clearer. ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,’ it said. ‘Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them,’ it continued, ‘nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.’ The Greek and Roman temples, no matter how ancient or beautiful, were the homes of false gods and they had to be destroyed. This was not vandalism: it was God’s will. The good Christian had a duty to do nothing less.

The speed with which toleration slipped into intolerance and then downright suppression shocked non-Christian observer. The emperor Julian later acerbically observed that, while Constantine robbed the temples his sons overthrew them. In AD 356, it became illegal—on pain of death—to worship images. The law adopted a tone of hitherto unseen aggression. ‘Pagans’ began to be described as ‘madmen’ whose beliefs must be ‘completely eradicated’…

But Julian’s reign was brief and, just half a century after Constantine, it was already too late to reverse the attrition that had begun. Julian, one Christian would tell his flock, was ‘but a cloud which will speedily be dispersed’. He was right.

By the time Theophilus attacked Serapis the laws were on his side. But many other Christians were so keen to attack the demonic temples that they didn’t wait for legal approval. Decades before the laws of the land permitted them to, zealous Christians began to indulge in acts of violent vandalism against their ‘pagan’ neighbours…

Libanius, the Greek orator from Antioch, was revolted by the destruction that he witnessed. ‘These people,’ he wrote, ‘hasten to attack the temples with sticks and stones and bars of iron, and in some cases, disdaining these, with hands and feet. Then utter desolation follows, with the stripping of roofs, demolition of walls, the tearing down of statues, and the overthrow of altars, and the priests must either keep quiet or die… So they sweep across the countryside like rivers in spate.’

Libanius spoke elegiacally of a huge temple on the frontier with Persia, a magnificent building with a beautiful ceiling, in whose cool shadows had stood numerous statues. Now, he said, ‘it is vanished and gone, to the grief of those who had seen it’—and the grief of those who now never would. This temple had been so striking, he said, that there were even those who argued that it was as great as the temple of Serapis—which, he added with an irony not lost on later historians, ‘I pray may never suffer the same fate.’

Not only were the monks vulgar, stinking, ill-educated and violent they were also, said their critics, phoneys. They pretended to adopt lives of austere self-denial but actually they were no better than drunken thugs, a black-robed tribe ‘who eat more than elephants and, by the quantities of drink they consume, weary those that accompany their drinking with the singing of hymns’…

Then, in 399, a new and more terrible law came. It was announced that ‘if there should be any temples in the country districts, they shall be torn down without disturbance or tumult. For when they are torn down and removed, the material basis for all superstition will be destroyed.’

Christianity’s Criminal History, 101

 

Editors’ note:

To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, see the abridged translation of Volume I (here).

 

The Christian Book Burning
and the Annihilation of Classical Culture

Where is the wise person? Where is the educated one? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

—St. Paul, I Corinthians 1:20

Charlatanism is initiated among you by the schoolteacher, and as you have divided the science into parts [sacred & profane], you have moved away from the only true one.

—Tatian

After Jesus Christ, all research is already pointless. If we believe, we no longer demand anything that goes beyond our faith.

—Tertullian

If you want to read historical narratives, there you have the Book of The Kings. If, on the contrary, you want to read the wise men and philosophers, you have the prophets… And if you long for the hymns, you also have the psalms of David.

—Apostolic Constitution (3rd Century)

Religion is, therefore, the central core of the entire educational process and must permeate all educational measures.

Lexicon for Catholic Life (1952)

 
Constantine ordered to burn the fifteen books of the work Against the Christians written by Porphyry, the most astute of the opponents of Christianity in the pre-Constantinian era: ‘The first state prohibition of books decreed in favour of the Church’ (Hamack). And his successors, Theodosius II and Valentinian III, condemned Porphyry’s work again to the bonfire, in 448. This happened after Eusebius of Caesarea had written twenty-five books against this work and the doctor of the Church Cyril nothing less than thirty.

Towards the end of the 4th century, during the reign of Emperor Valens, there was a great burning of books, accompanied by many executions. That Christian regent gave free rein to his fury for almost two years, behaving like ‘a wild beast’, torturing, strangulating, burning people alive, and beheading. The innumerable records allowed to find the traces of many books that were destroyed, especially in the field of law and the liberal arts. Entire libraries went to the fire in the East. Sometimes they were eliminated by their owners under the effect of panic.

On the occasion of the assaults on the temples, the Christians destroyed, especially in the East, not only the images of the gods but also the liturgical books and those of the oracles. The Catholic Emperor Jovian (363-364) had the Antioch library destroyed by fire: the same library installed there by his predecessor Julian the Apostate. Following the assault on the Serapis in 391, during which the sinister Patriarch Theophilus himself destroyed, axe in hand, the colossal statue of Serapis carved by the great Athenian artist Bryaxis, the library was consumed by flames.

After the library of the Museum of Alexandria, which already had 700,000 rolls, was consumed by a casual fire during the siege war by Cesar (48-47 BC), the fame of Alexandria as a city possessing the most numerous and precious bibliographic treasures only lasted thanks to the library of the Serapis, since the supposed intention of Antony to give Cleopatra, as compensation for the loss of the library of the museum, the entire library of Pergamum, with 200,000 rolls , does not seem to have come to fruition. The burning of libraries on the occasion of the assault on the temples was indeed something frequent, especially in the East.

It happened once again under the responsibility of Theophilus, following the destruction of an Egyptian sanctuary in Canopus and that of the Marneion of Gaza in 402.

At the beginning of the 5th century, Stilicho burned in the West—with great dismay on the part of the Roman aristocracy faithful to the religion of his elders—the books of the Sibyl, the immortal mother of the world, as Rutilius Claudius Namatianus complained. To him, the Christian sect seemed worse than the poison of Circe.

In the last decades of the 5th century, the libelli found there (‘these were an abomination in the eyes of God’—Rhetor Zacharias)—were burnt in Beirut before the church of St. Mary. The ecclesiastical writer Zacharias, who was then studying law in Beirut, played a leading role in this action supported by the bishop and state authorities. And in the year 562 Emperor Justinian, who had ‘pagan’ philosophers, rectors, jurists and physicians persecuted, ordered the burning of Greco-Roman images and books in the Kynegion of Constantinople, where the criminals were liquidated.

Apparently, already at the borderline of the Middle Ages, Pope Gregory I the Great, a fanatical enemy of everything classical, burned books in Rome. And this celebrity—the only one, together with Leo I, in gathering in his person the double distinction of Pope and Doctor of the Church—seems to have been the one who destroyed the books that are missing in the work of Titus Livy. It is not even implausible that it was he who ordered the demolition of the imperial library on the Palatine. In any case, the English scholastic John of Salisbury, bishop of Chartres, asserts that Pope Gregory intentionally destroyed manuscripts of classical authors of Roman libraries.

Everything indicates that many adepts of the Greco-Roman culture converted to Christianity had to prove to have really moved their convictions by burning their books in full view. Also, in some hagiographic narratives, both false and authentic, there is that commonplace of the burning of books as a symbol, so to speak, of a conversion story.

It was not always forced to go to the bonfire. Already in the first half of the 3rd century, Origen, very close in this regard to Pope Gregory, ‘desisted from teaching grammar as being worthless and contrary to sacred science and, calculating coldly and wisely, he sold all his works of the ancients authors with whom he had occupied until then in order not to need help from others for the sustenance of his life’ (Eusebius).

There is hardly anything left of the scientific critique of Christianity on the part of adherents to classical culture. The emperor and the Church took care of it. Even many Christian responses to it disappeared! (probably because there was still too much ‘pagan poison’ on its pages). But it was the classical culture itself on which the time came for its disappearance under the Roman Empire.
 

The annihilation of the Greco-Roman world

The last emperor of classical antiquity, the great Julian, certainly favoured the adherents of the old culture, but simultaneously tolerated the Christians: ‘It is, by the gods, my will that the Galileans not be killed, that they are not beaten unjustly or suffer any other type of injustice. I declare, however, that the worshipers of the gods will have a clear preference in front of them. For the madness of the Galileans was about to overthrow everything, while the veneration of the gods saved us all. That is why we have to honour the gods and the people and communities that venerate them’.

After Julian’s death, to whom the orator Libanius felt united by faith and friendship, Libanius complains deeply, moved by the triumph of Christianity and by its barbarous attacks on the old religion.

Oh! What a great sorrow took hold not only of the land of the Achaeans, but of the entire empire… The honours of which the good ones participated have disappeared; the friendship of the wicked and unbridled enjoys great prestige. Laws, repressive of evil, have already been repealed or are about to be. Those that remain are barely fulfilled in practice.

Full of bitterness, Libanius continues to address his co-religionists:

That faith, which until now was the object of mockery and that fought against you so fierce and untiring, has proved to be the strongest. It has extinguished the sacred fire, the joy of sacrifices, has ordered to savagely neat [its adversaries] and demolish the altars. It has locked the shrines and temples, if not destroyed them or turned them into brothels after declaring them impious. It has abrogated any activity with your faith…

In that final assault on the Greco-Roman world, the Christian emperors were mostly and for a long time less aggressive than the Christian Church. Under Jovian (363-364), the first successor of Julian, Hellenism does not seem to have suffered major damage except the closure and demolition of some temples. Also the successors of Jovian, Valentinian I and Valens, during whose government appears for the first time the term pagani referring the faithful of the old polytheism, maintained an attitude of relative tolerance toward them.

The Catholic Valentinian with plenty of reasons, because his interest was in the army and needed inner peace, tried to avoid religious conflicts. He still covered the high positions of the government almost evenly, even with a slight predominance of the believers in the gods.

Under Valens, nevertheless, the high Christian officials already constituted a majority before the Hellenes. Yet he fought the Catholics, even using the help of the Hellenes for reasons, of course, purely opportunistic.

Although the emperor Gratian, for continuing the rather liberal religious policy of his father Valentinian I, had promised tolerance to almost all the confessions of the empire by an edict promulgated in 378, in practice soon followed an opposite behaviour, for he was strongly influenced by the bishop of Milan, Ambrose.

Under Valentinian II, brother of Gratian, things really turned around and the relationship between high Christian officials and the adherents of the old culture was again balanced and the army chiefs, two polytheists, played a decisive role in the court. Even in Rome two other Hellenes of great prestige, Praetextatus and Symmachus, exerted the charges of praetorian and urban prefect respectively.

Gradually, however, Valentinian, as his brother once did, fell under the disastrous influence of the resident bishop of Milan, Ambrose. Something similar to what would happen later with Theodosius I. Ambrose lived according to his motto: ‘For the “gods of the heathen are but devils” as the Holy Scripture says; therefore, anyone who is a soldier of this true God must not give proof of tolerance and condescension, but of zeal for faith and religion’.

And indeed, the powerful Theodosius ruled during the last years of his term, at least as far as religious policy was concerned, strictly following Ambrose’s wishes. First, the rites of non-Christians were definitively banned at the beginning of 391. Later the temples and sanctuaries of Serapis in Alexandria were closed, which soon would be destroyed. In 393 the Olympic games were prohibited. The infant emperors of the 5th century [1] were puppets in the hands of the Church. That is why the court also committed itself more and more intensely in the struggle against classical culture, a struggle that the Church had already vehemently fuelled in the 4th century and that led gradually to the systematic extermination of the old faith.

The best-known bishops took part in this extermination, which intensified after the Council of Constantinople (381), with Rome and the East, especially Egypt, as the most notorious battlefields of the conflict between the Hellenes and the Christians.
 
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[1] Deschner is referring to emperors Arcadius, Theodosius II and Honorius whose reigns will be described in other translations of his books.