Kriminalgeschichte, 9

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

(“Criminal History of Christianity”)

 
The Jewish religion, tolerated by the pagan state

But even the masters of Rome were tolerant of the Jews (in whom they found peasants, artisans, workers—at that time they were not yet characterised as merchants), and in some cases showed some sympathy for them. They enjoyed some special privileges, especially in the East, such as Sabbath observance. They had their own jurisdiction and were not obliged to submit to Roman jurisdiction.

Caesar supported them in many ways. Augustus generously endowed the Temple of Jerusalem. According to the terms of the imperial donation, a bull and two lambs were sacrificed there every day “to the highest God.” Agrippa, an intimate friend of Augustus, also favoured the Jews.

On the other hand, Emperor Caligula (37-41)—somewhat eccentric and aspiring to have his own temple, appeared in public clothed with the attributes of various divinities, even female, and lived married to his sister Drusilla and intended that an image of him be erected even in the Holy of Holies of Jerusalem—expelled the Jews of the main cities of Parthia, where they were especially numerous.

But even the emperor Claudius, before persecuting the Jews of Rome, had issued a decree in their favour, in the year 42, granting them a special jurisdiction valid throughout the empire, but at the same time warned them not to abuse imperial magnanimity and that they did not despise the customs of other peoples. Nero’s wife, Poppaea Sabina, was a great protector of Judaism. In general terms, the Roman administration was always ready “to accommodate as much as possible, and even more, with all the demands of the Jews, justified or not” (Mommsen).

Not even after the conquest of Jerusalem did the emperors harass the Jewish faith, which for them was religio licita. Vespasian and his successors corroborated the privileges already granted by Caesar and Augustus. Jews could marry, sign contracts, acquire property, hold public office, possess slaves, and many other things, like any Roman citizen. Jewish communities could manage their own goods and had their own, albeit limited, jurisdiction.

Even after Bar Kokhba’s insurrection, Emperor Hadrian and his successors consented to the public celebration of Jewish cults, and granted the dispensation of common obligations which were incompatible with their religion. Even in the provinces there were almost no restrictions against them; they built synagogues, appointed their trustees, and were exempt from military service in accordance with their beliefs.

And all this because, just as today the primitive peoples do not know, in their beliefs, the claim of exclusiveness of a “superior being,” also the old Hellenism was characteristically tolerant. In polytheism, no deity can claim the exclusive. The native cults amalgamated without problems with the imported ones. In the ancient pantheon prevailed a kind of collegiality or friendly companionship; the faithful could pray to the god they preferred, believed to recognize their own gods under the appearances of others, and certainly did not bother trying to “convert” anyone. Schopenhauer says that intolerance is an essential characteristic of monotheism, that only the one God is

by its nature, a jealous god, that does not want to consent the subsistence of any other. On the other hand, the gods of polytheism are by nature tolerant; Live and let live, and in principle tolerate their colleagues, the gods of the same religion. Later on, that tolerance extends equally to foreign deities.

To the pagans, the belief in a unique God seems to them a poverty of concepts; uniformity, un-sacralisation of the universe, atheism. Nothing more foreign to their way of thinking than the idea that the foreigners’ gods are idols. Nothing sounds to them as incomprehensible as the “thou shalt have no other God but Me” of the Jews; “I am the Lord,” “I am the Lord your God,” an expression that is repeated up to sixteen times in the 19th chapter of Leviticus, to give but one example and not the longest. Paganism knows nothing comparable to the covenant of blood between Yahweh and his “chosen people.” And nothing excited more the antipathy against the Jews than their behaviour on account of their beliefs.

Kriminalgeschichte, 7

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

(“Criminal History of Christianity”)

 
Bar Kokhba and the “Last War of God” (131-136)

To this new uprising, in 115 C.E. different uprisings were added among the Jews of the diaspora, which were very numerous in the Mediterranean area according to Philo. Only in Alexandria there was more than a million. They were still not disillusioned with the Messianic dream. During the war of Trajan against the Parthians (114-117 C.E.), the rumour of a disastrous defeat of the empire ran, and there was also a great earthquake that destroyed Antioch and other cities of Asia Minor. In the face of these disasters, the Zealots believed their time had come.

In the province of Crete and Cyrene, where 200,000 non-Jews were reported to have died, the “king” and “Messiah” Lukuas destroyed the capital, Cyrenaica. In Cyprus, the insurgents devastated Salamis and, according to the chronicles, killed 240,000 non-Jews, an obviously exaggerated figure. From then on, however, the Jews were barred from access to the island and even the castaways, if they were Israelites, were executed. In Egypt, where the Romans liquidated all the Jews of Alexandria in reprisals, the fighting lasted for years. In all places, the Jewish diaspora was severely punished.

In the same Palestine, the successor of Trajan, Emperor Hadrian (reign 117-138 C.E.), a great devotee of the gods, built a new city on the ruins of Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the Temple built an altar to Jupiter And a temple of Venus.

And here it is that in the year 131, Simon ben Kosevah (Bar Kokhba) begins a war of guerrillas so generalized and so deadly, that forces the very emperor to take command of the Roman troops. Bar Kokhba (in Aramaic means “son of the star,” so named after the success of his uprising; in the Talmud, the loser received the name Ben Koseva, “son of lies”) takes power in Jerusalem. His principal counsellor is Rabbi Aqiba, who greets him with a classic messianic appointment calling him “star of Jacob,” the saviour of Israel. He is also supported by the high priest Eleazar, later killed by Bar Kokhba himself because he advised surrender.

There were two years of high morale in Jerusalem, resuming worship in the Temple and proclaiming a new era of freedom until the Emperor Hadrian sent four legions under the command of his best general, Julius Severus, with large numbers of auxiliary troops and a large fleet.

The Romans start regaining ground little by little.

According to Dion Casio, whose exaggerations are notorious, 580,000 Jewish fighters were killed and 50 fortresses destroyed, 985 villages destroyed, and tens of thousands of prisoners sent to captivity. Mommsen believes that these figures “are not unlikely,” since the fighting was fierce and surely led to the extermination of the entire male population.

Women and children flooded the slave markets, leading to lower slave prices. The last population to fall was Beth-Ter (the present Battir), west of Jerusalem, where Bar Kokhba himself died in circumstances not well explained.

The site of the Temple and its surroundings were ploughed with oxen. As for the Zealots, the Romans utterly exterminated them, for at last they understood that the religious fanaticism of the Jews was the true cause of the revolt. “For the next fifty years we did not see the flight of a bird in Palestine,” says the Talmud.

The Israelites were forbidden under penalty of death to enter Jerusalem, and the garrison doubled. Until the fourth century the Jews could not return there to weep once a year, on the 9th day of the Aw month, the loss of the “holy city.” And until the twentieth century, or more precisely until May 14, 1948, they failed to found a Jewish state, Eretz Yisrael.

JVLIAN excerpts – XI

“Why were you so ungrateful to our gods
as to desert them for the Jews?”

—Julian, addressing the Christians

Julian

The Memoir of Julian Augustus

I arrived at Piraeus, the port of Athens, shortly after sunrise 5 August 355. I remember every one of the forty-seven days I spent in Athens. They were the happiest days of my life, so far.

I engaged a cart and driver after considerable haggling (I was able to bring the driver’s cost down to half what he asked: good but not marvelous). Then I climbed into the little cart. Half standing, half sitting on the cart rail, I was borne over the rutted road to Athens.

The sun rose in a cloudless sky. Attic clarity is not just a metaphor; it is a fact. The sky’s blue was painful.

My first reaction was delight at anonymity. No one stared at me. No one knew who I was. I looked a typical student with my beard and plain cloak. There were dozens like me. Some were in carts, most were on foot; all of them moving toward the same goal: Athens and the knowledge of the true.

On every side of me carts rattled and creaked, their drivers cursing and their contents, human or animal, complaining. The Athenian Greek is a lively fellow, though one looks in vain from face to face for a glimpse of Pericles or Alcibiades. As a race, they are much changed. They are no longer noble. They have been too often enslaved, and their blood mixed with that of barbarians.

[Chechar’s note: See Pierce’s take on this subject]

The Dipylon Gate was as busy in the early morning as any other great city’s gate might have been at noon. It is a double gate, as its name indicates, with two tall towers on the outside. Guards lolled in front, paying no attention to the carts and pedestrians who came and went. As we passed through the outer gate, our cart was suddenly surrounded by whores. Twenty or thirty women and girls of all ages rushed out of the shadows of the wall. They fought with one another to get close to the cart. They tugged at my cloak. They called me “Billy Goat,” “Pan,” “Satyr,” and other less endearing terms.

With the skill of an acrobat one pretty child of fourteen vaulted the railing of my cart and firmly grasped my beard in her fist. The soldiers laughed at my discomfort. With some effort I pried my beard from her fingers, but not before her other hand had reached between my legs, to the delight of those watching. But the driver was expert at handling these girls. With a delicate flick of his whip, he snapped at the hand. It was withdrawn with a cry. She leapt to the ground. The other women jeered us. Their curses were splendid, Homeric!

I arranged my tunic. The sharp tug of the girl’s hand had had its effect upon me, and against my will I thought of lovemaking and wondered where the best girls in Athens might be found. I was not then, as I am now, celibate. Yet even in those days I believed that it was virtuous to mortify the flesh, for it is a fact that conscience increases intellectual clarity. But I was also twenty-three years old and the flesh made demands on me in a way that the mind could not control.

Youth is the body’s time. Not a day passed in those days that I did not experience lust. Not a week passed that I did not assuage that lust. But I do not agree with those Dionysians who maintain that the sexual act draws men closer to the One God. If anything, it takes a man away from God, for in the act he is blind and thoughtless, no more than an animal engaged in the ceremony of creation. Yet to each stage of one’s life certain things are suitable and for a few weeks, eight years ago, I was young, and knew many girls. Even now in this hot Asiatic night, I recall with unease that brilliant time, and think of lovemaking. I notice that my secretary is blushing. Yet he is Greek!

The driver indicated a large ruin to the right. “Hadrian,” he said. “Hadrian Augustus.” Like all travelers, I am used to hearing guides refer to my famous predecessor. Even after two centuries he is the only emperor every man has heard of—because of his constant traveling, his continuous building and, sad to say, his ridiculous passion for the boy Antinoüs. I suppose that it is natural enough to like boys but it is not natural or seemly to love anyone with the excessive and undignified passion that Hadrian showed for Antinoüs. Fortunately, the boy was murdered before Hadrian could make him his heir. But in his grief Hadrian made himself and the Genius of Rome look absurd. He set up thousands of statues and dedicated innumerable temples to the dead boy.

Antinous Mondragone 130 ADHe even declared the pretty catamite a god! It was a shocking display and permanently shadows Hadrian’s fame. For the first time in history, a Roman emperor was mocked and thought ridiculous. Yet except for this one lapse, I find Hadrian a sympathetic figure.

Published in: on July 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: