Christianity’s Criminal History, 88

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 
All the ‘general epistles’ of the New Testament, seven in all, are fakes

Among the so-called general epistles are the first and second of Peter; the first, second and third of John, that of James and that of Judas. Still in the 4th century, at the time of the Father of the Church Eusebius, although they were read in most of the churches, only two were unanimously considered authentic: the first of John and the first of Peter.

It is not until the end of the 4th century that all the general epistles are considered canonical in the West. The situation is now different and all of them are designated as ‘anonymous or pseudo-epigraphic writings’, no matter how much the ancient Church introduced them with the name of several authors (Balz).
 

Peter

Under the name of Peter, a Christian falsified two epistles. This is certainly true for the later writings of the New Testament such as the Second Epistle of Peter, something that even Catholic scholars no longer doubt.

This letter, which, suspiciously, is almost a literal copy in many passages of that of Judas, enjoyed little confidence in the old Church. Throughout the 2nd century it is not quoted. The first to affirm its indisputability was Origen, but still in the 4th century Bishop Eusebius, the historian of the Church, states that it is not authentic, and Didymus the Blind, a famous Alexandrian scholar whose disciples included Rufinus and St. Jerome, says it is faked.

‘Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ’, thus begins the forger to legitimise himself as a witness, has ‘seen himself’ the magnificence of Jesus and also heard the call of God ‘from heaven’ in his christening. He not only warns the faithful that God finds them ‘without spot or worthy of punishment’, but attacks the ‘false prophets’, the ‘false teachers’ and advises to capture and kill them ‘as irrational animals’.

The Second Epistle of Peter, which is intended to be taken as the testament of the apostle, was written long after his death, perhaps three generations later; and was attributed to St. Peter in order to counteract the doubts about the Parousia. The letter is full of controversy against the ‘heretics’, especially the blasphemers ‘who go through life freely and say: where is your promised return? Since the parents died, everything remains as it was at the beginning of creation’. The daring forger, who claims the same apostolic authority as Paul, simulates from the beginning to the end of the epistle the fiction of a Petrine origin. He supports it with his own testimonies seen and heard, and appeals to ‘the deep feelings of his beloved ones’. He also claims for himself the First Epistle of Peter, even though the great differences between both letters exclude the possibility that they come from the same author.

But it is notorious that the First Epistle of Peter is also falsified notwithstanding the fact that, for Luther, it is ‘one of the noblest books of the New Testament and the authentic Gospel’. It is precisely the evident kinship with the Pauline epistles, confirmed by modern exegesis (for what Luther was so enthusiastic) that makes Peter’s authorship unlikely.

Moreover, the place where it is written is apparently Rome, because by the end the author expressly greets ‘from Babylon’: a frequent secret name in the apocalyptic literature for the capital of the Empire, where Peter should have been when he suffered martyrdom in 64 AD. However, the name of Babylon to designate Rome appears in all likelihood because of the impression caused by the destruction of Jerusalem, and this happened in AD 70, that is, several years after the death of Peter. It is also extremely strange that the famous canonical index of the Roman Church, the Muratorian Canon (around 200), does not mention this epistle of Peter: a letter of its presumed founder. We will not review other criteria, also formal, that make less and less likely a Petrine origin of this document.

About the First Epistle of Peter, whose word ‘Peter’ carries the tagline of ‘an apostle of Jesus Christ’, recently Norbert Brox has stated in Faische Verfasserangaben (book author information) that, by its content, character and historical circumstances, it shows ‘no connection with the figure of the historical Peter; nothing in this epistle makes this name credible’. Today it is considered ‘completely a pseudepigraphic’ (Marxsen), ‘without any doubt a pseudonym writing’ (Kümmel). In short, another falsification of the New Testament, conceived between the years 90 and 95, in which the deceiver indiscreetly invokes Christ, and demands to be ‘holy in all your life’s journey’, ‘to reject all evil and falsehood’, not to say ‘lies’ and ‘always demand pure spiritual milk’.
 

John

According to the ecclesiastical doctrine, three biblical letters come from the apostle John. However, in none of them the one who writes cites his name.

The First Epistle of John started to be quoted as early as the middle of the 2nd century; and in those times it was already the subject of criticism. The Muratorian Canon reviews, around the year 200, only two epistles of John, the first and one of the so-called small epistles. It is not until the beginning of the 3rd century when Clement of Alexandria notarises the three epistles. However, in the 2nd and 3rd centuries they were not considered canonical everywhere. This only happened well into the 4th century. ‘They are not recognised unanimously’, Bishop Eusebius writes, ‘they are ascribed to the evangelist or to another John’.

The First Epistle of John is so similar in its style, vocabulary and ideology to the Gospel of John that most Bible researchers attribute both writings to the same author, as tradition has always done. But since the latter does not come from the apostle John, neither can the First Epistle of John be his. And since the second epistle is, so to speak, an abbreviated edition (thirteen verses) of the first one, which is almost unanimously attributed to the same author, nor can it have been penned by the apostle John. And that he even wrote a third one is something that the ancient Church already questioned.


 
Note of the Ed.: This handsome 1526 painting by Albrecht Dürer, The Apostles in the Alte Pinakothek of Munich shows Peter and John. It cannot be more deceptive from the historical point of view. Not only the Semites of the 1st century looked like Untermenschen as we have already seen, but the Apostle John did not even write the gospel attributed to him.

Even conservative bibliologists admit today that the author of the three epistles of John is not the apostle, as the Church has been teaching for two millennia; but that he was one of his disciples and that the ‘Johannine tradition’ had transmitted it. About the main epistle, the first, which from the beginning was not the subject of discussions, Horst Balz says: ‘Just as the apostle John, son of Zebedee and brother of James, cannot be considered author of the homonymous Gospel, so much less he may be behind the First Epistle of John’.

 
Other apostles

The alleged epistle of James was also falsified. Like most of the ‘general epistles’ it only imitates the epistolary form. This text, which is especially difficult to fix temporarily, contains proportionately few Christian features. It borrows numerous elements from the Cynic and Stoic philosophies and even more from the wisdom of the Jewish Old Testament, for which many authors consider it a slightly retouched Jewish writing.

Although the epistle claims to have been written by James, brother of the Lord, many important reasons exclude this possibility. For example, he only quotes the name of Jesus Christ, his divine brother, twice. He does not miss a syllable while writing about the laws of Jewish ritual and ceremonial, but, unlike most authors of biblical letters, he uses the formalities of Greek epistolary. He writes in good Greek, something unusual for a New Testament author. It is a surprising text with rich vocabulary and many literary forms such as paronomasia, homoioteleuron, etc. This and many other features show that this epistle, which constantly preaches those who apostrophise as ‘dear brothers’, the ‘faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord in Glory’, is a ‘more elaborate version of literary falsification’ (Brox) than the First Epistle of Peter.

It is curious that the epistle of James, later canonised in the West, is absent in the Muratorian Canon, Tertullian and Origen. Bishop Eusebius reports on the little recognition it enjoyed and the questioning of its canonicity. Luther also dismissed it. He even comes to threaten to ‘throw the rubbish into the fire’ and ‘expel it from the Bible’.

Finally, the brief Epistle of Judas, the last of the epistles of the New Testament which in the first verse claims to have been written by ‘Judas, slave of Jesus Christ, the brother of James’, is also included in the numerous falsifications of the ‘Sacred Scriptures’. This epistle also betrays ‘clearly later epochs’ (Marxsen).

It is a matter of fact ‘that in the early times falsifications were made under the name of the apostles’ (Speyer); that authenticity is claimed about them, that the ‘apostles’ give their names and that the texts were written in the first person. It is also a fact about ‘all the writings of the New Testament’, as the theologian Marxsen emphasizes, that ‘we can only provide the exact names of two authors: Paul and John (the author of the Book of Revelation)’. And, finally, it is also a fact, and one of the most worthy of attention, that more than half of all New Testament books are unauthentic, that is, they have been falsified or appear under a false name.

In the next section we will show pars pro toto (part of the whole) that, in addition, in the ‘Book of books’ there is a whole series of counterfeits in the form of interpolations.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 87

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 
In the New Testament there are six counterfeited ‘epistles of Paul’

None of the Gospels was written by any of the ‘first apostles’. Neither the Gospel of Matthew comes from the apostle Matthew nor that of John from the apostle John, nor is the Revelation of John of Patmos due to the apostle. But if in the Old Testament there were men who did not stick at nothing (instead, they spoke as if God were speaking), why should there not be others, in the New Testament, capable of putting everything imaginable on the lips of Jesus and his disciples who, together with the Old Testament and Jesus, were the third authority for Christians?

In this way, several writings of the New Testament pass as works of the apostles. Although in some of them the intention to cheat may be doubted, in others it is evident and in others, plainly obvious. Nevertheless, and against all evidence, their authenticity is expressly attested. The main idea is to describe as ‘apostolic’ everything that has already been accepted and to make it binding as a norm.

Several epistles were thus falsified in the New Testament under the name of the oldest Christian author: Paul, who openly confesses he is only for proclaiming Christ ‘with or without second intentions’.
 

The Pastoral Epistles

Totally false in the Corpus Paulinum are the two epistles ‘To Timothy’ and ‘To Titus’, the so-called Pastoral Epistles. They were known in Christianity from the middle of the 2nd century and ended up in the New Testament among the other epistles without any qualms… until the beginning of the 19th century. In 1804-1805, J.E.C. Schmidt questioned the authenticity of the First Epistle to Timothy; in 1807 Schleiermacher rejected it completely, and in 1812 the scholar of Göttingen, Eichhorn, verified the falsity of the three epistles.

Since then, this idea has been imposed among Protestant researchers and lately more and more among Catholic exegetes, although there are still a few known authors who continue to defend their authenticity, or at least a partial authenticity (i.e., the ‘hypothesis of fragments’).

In the three epistles, which were probably written in Asia Minor at the beginning of the 2nd century, the forger calls himself, from the beginning, ‘Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ’. He writes in the first person and boasts of having been named

preacher and apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—: master of the pagans in faith and truth.

He lashes out harshly against the ‘heretics’, of whom more than one ‘surrenders to Satan’. He whips ‘the stories of old irreligious women’, ‘the hypocrisy of the liars’, ‘the useless and charming charlatans, in particular the Jews to whom it would be necessary to close their mouth’. But he also silences women: ‘I do not allow a woman to indoctrinate, nor to raise her above a man, but to remain silent’. And the slaves must submit and ‘respect their lords’.

These three falsifications, which are significantly lacking in the oldest collections of Paul’s epistles, were already considered apocryphal by Marcion when referring to Paul. It is very likely that they were written precisely to rebut Marcion through Paul, as happened in the 2nd and 3rd centuries with other ecclesiastical falsifications. And it speaks for itself the fact that these false ‘epistles of Paul’, much later than Paul and therefore from the theological and canonical point of view much more evolved, soon enjoyed great popularity in Catholicism; that the most important writers of the Church quoted them with predilection and used them against the true Pauline epistles; and that precisely these falsifications made the almost heretic Paul a man of the Catholic Church. With them, countless times the popes have condemned their ‘heretics’ and fought to have their dogmas recognised.

Against the authenticity of these pastoral epistles there are historical reasons, but even more theological and linguistic reasons that have not only increased over time but become more precise. ‘For evangelical researchers’ writes Wolfgang Speyer, one of the foremost connoisseurs of the falsifications of antiquity, ‘the pseudoepigraphy of the Epistle to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus is considered proven’.

The theologian Von Campenhausen speaks of a ‘falsification of extraordinary moral height’ and attributes them to St. Polycarp, the ‘ancient prince of Asia’ (Eusebius). The Catholic theologian Brox, also an expert in this field so little appreciated by researchers, writes about ‘the literary manipulation that is perfect’ although ‘it is recognisable as fiction’, a ‘methodically executed deception, a presumption of conscious authority done in an artistically, refined way’, and of course ‘the crowning work’ of forgery within the New Testament.

More conservative scholars, in view of the discrepancy with the authentic Pauline epistles, resort to the ‘secretary’s hypothesis’: according to which the author would have been Paul’s secretary who had to accompany him for a long time. ‘It is true that tradition knows nothing of such a man’ says the Bibel-Lexikon (Bible Dictionary). In the ‘hypothesis of the fragments’ the assumption appears that among the false texts of Paul there are also authentic pieces. Even for Schelkle the Pastoral Epistles ‘not only seem to be different from Paul’s epistles but subsequent to them’.
 

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

As is often supposed, it is very probable that the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians was ‘conceived premeditatedly as a falsification’ (Lindemann) attributing it to Paul. The authenticity of Two Thessalonians was put into question for the first time in 1801 by J.E.C. Schmidt, imposing definitively the thesis of falsehood, especially thanks to W. Wrede in 1903. In the early 1930s, researchers like A. Jülicher and E. Fascher were of the opinion that, by establishing a non-Pauline authorship of the epistle, ‘we have not lost much’.

Not us, but this has implications to the faithful of the Bible. What would they think if, for two millennia, falsification has existed in their ‘Holy Scriptures’? The counterfeiter, who above all tries to dispel the doubts about the Parousia (that the Lord’s return does not occur) testifies at the end of the epistle its authenticity by emphasizing the signature of Paul’s own hand:

I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters.

In order to avoid the doubts about authenticity in his case, the forger does not hesitate to warn his readers about the falsifications with these words: ‘Do not let anyone confuse you, in any way…’ He is fully aware of his deception. With a falsified epistle of Paul the author wants to disavow an authentic one. This is why there are ‘very few’ who today defend the authenticity of Two Thessalonians (W. Marxsen).

 
Colossians, Ephesians and The Epistle to the Hebrews

Most researchers consider the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians as ‘deutero-Pauline’, and also as ‘non-Pauline’. And very probably the Epistle to the Ephesians was also ‘consciously’ falsified, closely related to the previous one: an epistle which, from the beginning, was considered authored by Paul. It is significant that reminiscences of all the important Pauline epistles are found here, especially the one destined for the Colossians, from which almost its complete formulations are derived. The style is very rhetorical and, actually, more than an epistle it is a kind of ‘meditation on the great Christian themes’, a ‘discourse on mysteries or wisdom’ (Schlier). And in no other epistle of Paul is the word ‘Church’ used so exclusively in the Catholic sense.

The Epistle to the Hebrews, written perhaps in the 1st century by an unknown author, was originally transmitted anonymously and no old writing related it to Paul. It does not even contain the author’s name, but in the end it shows ‘intentionally the final formula of a Pauline epistle’ (Lietzmann). In spite of the fact that until the middle of the 4th century it was not considered apostolic, Pauline or canonical, it appeared nonetheless in the New Testament as a letter from ‘Paul’, and as such was taken until Luther. The reformer put it in doubt, finding in it straw and wood, ‘an epistle formed by numerous pieces’. At present, even on the Catholic side, the epistle to the Hebrews is rarely attributed to ‘Paul’.

However, since the 2nd century it was accepted by the tradition. It appears in the liturgical and official books of the Catholic Church as ‘Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Hebrews’. It also appears in the Latin translation of the New Testament, but not in the Greek text. We do not even know who wrote it, and all the names that have been quoted or can be cited about the author are only speculations.

Although critical theology considers authentic other epistles of Paul, the fact is that the books of the New Testament contain various forgeries. No less than six epistles attributed to Paul by his own name are actually deutero-Pauline, that is, not authored by Paul; but they appear anyway as such in the Bible. If the Epistle to the Hebrews is added, it would be seven.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 86

Saint John the Evangelist, a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Domenichino. The problem with the splendid Christian art is that the painters have Nordicized the Semites of the 1st century. Had photography existed in the 1st century of our era, the Aryans would never have projected their beautiful physiques on the ugly rabble of Palestine.

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Neither the Gospel of Matthew, nor the Gospel of John, nor John’s Book of Revelation come from the apostles to whom the Church attributes them

Due to the great importance of the ‘apostolic tradition’, the Catholic Church published all the Gospels as books of the apostles or their disciples, which justified their prestige. But there is no proof that Mark and Luke, whose names appear in the New Testament, are disciples of the apostles; that Mark is identical to the companion of Peter, or that Luke was Paul’s companion. The four Gospels were transmitted anonymously.

The first ecclesiastical testimony in favour of ‘Mark’, the oldest of the evangelists, comes from Bishop Papias of Hierapolis, in the middle of the 2nd century. But today there are many researchers who criticise the testimony of Papias; call him ‘historically worthless’ (Marxsen), and even admit that Mark ‘has never heard and accompanied the Lord’.

The apostle Matthew, a disciple of Jesus, is not the author of the Gospel of Saint Matthew which appeared between the 70s and 90s, as is generally assumed. We ignore how he got the reputation of being an evangelist. It is evident that the first testimony comes from the historian of the Church, Eusebius, who in turn accepted the claim of Bishop Papias: about whom he writes that ‘intellectually, he should have been quite limited’. The title ‘Gospel of Matthew’ comes from a later period: we find it for the first time with Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian. Both died at the beginning of the 3rd century. If the apostle Matthew, contemporary of Jesus and witness of his works, had written the Gospel that is attributed to him, would he have had to borrow so heavily from Mark? Was he so forgetful? Did he have so little inspiration?

All critical biblical research considers that there is no reason why the name of the apostle Matthew should appear on the Gospel, since it was not written in Hebrew, as the tradition of the ancient Church affirms, but in Greek. No one is known to have seen the Aramaic original, nor is anyone known to have translated it into Greek; nor in the manuscripts or citations is the slightest remnant of an original Aramaic text preserved. Wolfgang Speyer rightly includes the Gospel of Matthew among ‘fakes under the mask of religious revelations’. K. Stendhal ventures that it is not even the work of a single person but of a ‘school’. According to an almost unanimous opinion of all the non-Catholic researchers of the Bible, that gospel is not based on eyewitnesses.

The most recent Catholic theologians often painfully turn on these facts. ‘In case our Greek version of the Gospel of Matthew had been preceded by an original version in Aramaic…’ writes K. H. Sohelkle. Of course, ‘in case’, says Hebbel with irony, is the most Germanic of the expressions’.

‘An original Aramaic Matthew must have been written several decades before the Greek Matthew’. Not even they themselves believe this. Lichtenberg was not the first to know but was the first to say it accurately: ‘It is clear that the Christian religion is supported more by those people who earn their bread with it than by those who are convinced of its truth’.

It is interesting that the first three Gospels were not published as apostolic, the same as the Acts of the Apostles, whose author we also ignore. The only thing we know is that he who wrote these Acts of the Apostles simply puts on the lips of his ‘heroes’ the most appropriate phrases: something common in old historiography. But these inventions not only constitute a third part of the Acts of the Apostles but are also their most important theological content and, what is particularly remarkable, the writing of this author represents more than a quarter of the entire New Testament. It is generally supposed that the author of the Gospel of Luke is identical to the travelling companion and ‘beloved physician’ of the apostle Paul. But neither the Gospel of Luke nor the Acts of the Apostles are very Pauline. Researchers do not believe today that either of these two works was written by a disciple of Paul.

The Acts of the Apostles and the three Gospels were not signed with the true name or even with pseudonyms: they were anonymous works like many other proto-Christian works, such as the Epistle to the Hebrews of the New Testament. No author of the canonical Gospels cites his name, not once does he mention a guarantor, as the later Christian treatises so often do. It was the Church the first to attribute all these anonymous writings to certain apostles and their disciples. However, such attributions are ‘hoaxes’, they are a ‘literary deception’ (Heinrici). Arnold Meyer notes that ‘with certainty only the letters of the apostle Paul are authentic, who was not an immediate disciple of Jesus’. But it is well known that not all those epistles that appear under his name come from Paul.

 
John

Since the end of the 2nd century, from Irenaeus, although at first not without controversy, the Church attributes without reason the fourth Gospel to the apostle John: something that all critical researchers have questioned for more than two hundred years. There are many weighty reasons for raising questions.

Although the author of this fourth Gospel, who curiously does not mention any author, affirms having leaned on the chest of Jesus and being a reliable witness, he assures and repeats emphatically that his ‘testimony is true’, that ‘he has seen’ and that he ‘knows’ he is telling the truth so that we ‘may believe’. But this Gospel did not appear until about the year 100, while the Apostle John had been killed long ago, towards the year 44 or, probably, in 62.

The Father of the Church, Irenaeus, who was the first to affirm the authorship of the apostle John, has intentionally confused him with a priest, John of Ephesus. And the author of the second and third epistles of John, which are also attributed to the apostle John, calls himself at the beginning, ‘the presbyter’ (a similar confusion also occurred between the apostle Philip and the ‘deacon’ Philip). Even Pope Damasus I, in his canonical index (382), does not attribute two of John’s epistles to the apostle John, but to ‘another John, the presbyter’. Also, even the Father of the Church Jerome denied that these second and third epistles belonged to the apostle. The arguments against the authorship of the apostle John as ‘the Evangelist’ are so numerous and convincing that even Catholic theologians are starting to manifest, little by little, their doubts.

The same could be said about the Book of Revelation of John, whose author is repeatedly called John both at the beginning and at the end of the book, who also appears as a servant of God and brother of Christians, but not as an apostle. The book was written, according to the doctrine of the ancient Church, by the son of Zebedee, the apostle John, since an ‘apostolic’ tradition was needed to guarantee the canonical prestige of the book. But it did not last long given that the Book of Revelation, which appeared in the last place of the New Testament, was rejected by the end of the 2nd century by the critics of the Bible who otherwise did not deny any dogma.

Pope Dionysius of Alexandria (died 264-265), a disciple of Origen and nicknamed ‘the Great’, categorically denied that John was the author of the Apocalypse. Pope Dionysius points out that primitive Christians have already ‘denied and completely rejected’ the ‘Revelation of John’.

They challenged each and every one of the chapters and declared that the work lacked meaning and uniqueness and that the title was false. They affirmed, in particular, that it did not come from John and that they were not revelations since they were surrounded by a multitude of incomprehensible things. The author of this work was not one of the apostles, no saint and no member of the Church, but Cerinthus, who wanted to give a credible name for his forgery and also for the sect of his own name.

The theologian and Protestant bishop Eduard Lohse comments: ‘Dionysius of Alexandria has very accurately observed that the Revelation of John and the Fourth Gospel are so far apart in form and content that they cannot be attributed to the same author’. The question remains whether the author of the Book of Revelation wanted to suggest, by his name John, to be considered a disciple and apostle of Jesus. He does not say that explicitly: it was done by the Church to confer apostolic authority and canonical prestige on his text. And so falsifications started: the falsifications of the Church.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 85

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 
Why were falsifications done?

Well, there are many reasons. An important one was the increase in authority, although often it was only a concomitant circumstance. Attempts were made to achieve respect and the spreading of a text by passing it off as that of a renowned author or altering its age, that is, dating it to earlier times so that it formed part of the evangelical past.

This is how both the ‘orthodox’ and the ‘heretics’ proceeded. The counterfeiter confused his readers about the author, the place and the copy. For as the Christian communities grew and time passed, new problems, situations and interests naturally arose, to which the old literary tradition—the so-called classical period, the early apostolic times—could not respond. But since their approval was needed or at least reflect the legitimate continuity with the origins, several writings and ‘revelations’ were produced: false works that were dated to earlier times.

Catholics falsified to be able to resolve ‘apostolically’, in the sense of Jesus and his apostles (that is, with authority), the new problems that arose from the ecclesiastical discipline, the Church’s law, the liturgy, morality and theology. The ‘orthodox’ also falsified in order to fight, with falsifications of their own, the falsifications of the ‘heretics’: often widely read such as those of the Gnostics, the Manichaeans, the Priscillianists, etc., as is the case of the Kerygmata Petrou, the Acts of Paul, and the Epistula Apostolorum.

The forgers warn against ‘heretical’ falsifications as in the third Epistle to the Corinthians. They insult and curse the forgers by practicing exactly the same method, often in a more refined and less manifest way. And the ‘heretics’ falsified above all to impose and to defend their divergent beliefs before the dogma of the Church.

Finally, it was also falsified to guarantee the ‘authenticity’ of another text by means of a forgery; and also to harm personal enemies, to discredit the rivals. Although more rarely, it was done to defend friends, as shown in the claimed letters of Boniface. But only very rarely has the name of a counterfeiter come to us, such as that of the Catholic John Malalas, a rhetorician about whom we know nothing else.

What methods did counterfeiters use?

The simplest and most frequent method of falsification was the use of a false but illustrious name of an author of the past. This happened in the pagan world in a similar way as in the Jewish world, but in the Christian era it was systematic. Towards the end of Antiquity and later, an authority from the past generally was more notable, especially when the forger felt he did not have a ‘name’.

Resorting to a known contemporary was too risky as he could discover the falsification at any time by making a statement, reducing its effects. Although a work with the name of the falsified author does not have to be a forgery in itself, the falsifier is usually also the author of the work. A great amount of ‘apocryphal’ books, even New Testament texts that emerged with the purpose of deceiving, are conscious falsifications of a literary genre during antiquity: shoddy pieces of work that pretend to come from the pen of a totally different author whose ancient personality is considered venerable and holy.

In particular, the forgers of many of the lives of saints use the first person and turn to eyewitnesses to strengthen their lies. And no less effective were, above all, the counterfeiters of the Christian books of revelation, promising the readers and propagators the blue of the sky and at the same time threatening their detractors. The conmen presented sworn witnesses as guarantors of their lies, and to reinforce confidence they even said some truths on the sidelines.

After all, in Christianity, by the will of God everything is allowed. In antiquity most of the counterfeits were made to support the faith. In the Middle Ages, it is falsified in particular to secure or expand possessions and power. Already in the 9th century, papal documents were falsified throughout the West, naturally by ecclesiastics. The fact is that the percentage of pseudepigraphs is very high in proto-Christianity. The practice of unscrupulous falsification has always existed, even in the beginnings of Christianity. ‘Unfortunately,’ confesses the theologian Von Campenhausen, ‘truthfulness in this sense is not one of the cardinal virtues of the ancient Church.’

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 84

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 
Christians falsified more consciously than Jews

We have to bear in mind in the first place a relevant fact: of no Gospel, of any writing of the New Testament, and of course of any biblical text, we have an original, even though until the century of the historical Enlightenment it was affirmed that they had the original of the Gospel of Mark, even in duplicate, one in Venice and the other in Prague and both originals in a language in which none of the evangelists wrote: Latin.

Even the first copies are missing. We only have copies of copies of copies, and new ones constantly appear. In 1967 there were more than 1,500 manuscripts of the Greek Old Testament and 5,236 of the New Testament. Although, with some frequency, an item has been mistakenly recorded several times, very few of them contain the complete New Testament and most of them are relatively recent. Only the papyri date back to earlier times, some of them to the 2nd and 3rd centuries, but they are very fragmentary: of the oldest only a few words are left (John 18, 31-33, and 37- 38).

Since in antiquity books were only reproduced by hand, falsifications were simpler and, while copying, at any time changes in the text could be done: enter new paragraphs, make suppressions or even complete them. In the manuscripts of the New Testament, errors, mistakes for lack of attention or ignorance as well as conscious falsifications arose in this way, sometimes unintentionally and other times intentionally; the latter especially in the 1st and 2nd centuries, when the New Testament did not yet have canonical validity and there was not the slightest qualm, as many other falsifications show us, in modifying the text.

The copyists, the editors and the glossators intervened constantly. Some passages were suppressed at will, others were enlarged; the text was reordered or shortened. It became uniform, polished, harmonised and paraphrased; confusion and degeneration increased and the field became a jungle of conflicting versions (Lietzmann); a chaos that today makes it impossible for us to establish, in many places with certainty or at least probability, what was the original text (Knopf).

If many Christians are hardly satisfied with these undeniable facts, so much so it is irritating that the books of their ‘inerrant’ Bible are false. That imputation, either by the author or in the course of its transmission, is called pseudoepigraphy.

Some falsified Christian works, especially those of the most ancient times, may have been done in good faith, with good intentions, and strictly speaking they are not forgeries or crimes from the psychological or subjective viewpoint. But objectively they are still falsifications or forgeries. However, nobody could or would want to call a spade a spade as it would disfigure the face of supposedly inerrant writings inspired by God.

In any case, the Old Testament is better off in comparison with the New and the early Christian literature as the Jews, especially those of earlier times, were much less versed in falsification and all that this implies. The pseudepigraphs of the ancient Jews did not yet emerge in an aura marked by the constant struggle against the heretics; of mutual suspicion, and corrosive distrust.

For that reason they were not attacked but rather received with enthusiasm. Those peoples were barely prepared for counterfeits, much less did they take into account the potential of counterfeiting. The reproaches of counterfeiting were not generalized for a long time among the Jews as they would later be among the Christians, when each of the many sects falsified to impose their theories of faith on the great Church, and this, by means of counter-falsifications—sometimes even by the simple method of destroying the contrary writings.

However, as hearing about falsifications became a constant, it is difficult for someone to have falsified in good faith. The redaction of a ‘true’ religious pseudoepigraphy is ‘quite improbable’ and it is evident that ‘in the Christian sphere it occupies an essentially smaller space than in the Jew or the pagan’ (Speyer). That is to say: the Christians falsified more. They were the ones who did it the most.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 83

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 
God as the author?

The New Testament is the most printed and (perhaps) most read book of modern times. It has been translated into more languages than any other book. It has been interpreted, says the Catholic Schelkle, with an intensity ‘that surpasses everything. Would not any other book have been exhausted long ago with such exhaustive exegesis?’

Is it possible, apart from its Jewish ancestors, that it offers with some good things so many contradictions, legends, myths; so much secondary transformation and writing work; so many parallels, as shown by the History of the Synoptic Tradition by Bultmann with the tales of universal literature—starting with the old Chinese fictions, through the stories of Indians and gypsies, the tales of the seas of the south to the Germanic legends, with so many inappropriate remarks and nonsense—that many men have taken it so seriously, and many still take seriously?

The New Testament is, not only formally but also in terms of its content, so diverse and contradictory that the concept of a ‘New Testament theology’ became, a long time ago, something more than problematic. In any case, there is no unitary doctrine of the New Testament but great deviations, inconsistencies, notable discrepancies, even in regard to the ‘testimony of Christ’ itself. Only the fact that the Lord is attested gives the whole a highly heterogeneous unity. In view of this, speaking of inspiration or inerrancy leaves speechless even those of us who take it for laughter!

At the Council of Florence (February 4, 1442), the Council of Trent (4th session of April 8, 1546) and Vatican Council I (3rd session on April 24, 1870), the Roman Catholic Church has made the doctrine of the inspiration of the Bible, which carries inerrancy, a dogma of faith. In this last conclave they decreed that ‘the Sacred Scriptures, written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have God as author’. Therefore, the ecclesiastical theologians flatly deny the contradictions or even the simple possibility of falsifications in the Bible.

Contradictions and inerrancy, falsification and sanctity, illegitimacy and canonicity, hardly harmonise among themselves. Also, the high moral and religious dignity attributed to the biblical authors, their presumed conscience of the strict truth, is wrongly combined with all that. The ‘authority’ of their books is based and has been based precisely on ‘faithfully reproducing the prophecies about Christ by the prophets and the testimony of Christ by the apostles’ (Von Campenhausen). This is how the apologists have defended and still defend themselves, usually with eloquent words, against accusations of falsification.

Even a scholar not exempt of criticism such as Arnold Meyer, at the end of his article on religious pseudoepigraphy, not precisely in favour of the Churches, avoids the word ‘falsifications’—which I always prefer to the decent babblings of ‘serious’ science—and ‘prefers to speak of an ancient form of the creative literary force, which strives to give again the word to old figures, in a way as real and effective as possible, so that the truth finds today the same as yesterday a dignified voice and a successful defence’.

In fact, the fabrications of Christians—and of Jews—must be judged in a much more rigorous way than those of the pagans. Although the latter possessed sacred books, for example in Orphism or Hermeticism, these books did not have the meaning of a revealed religion. On the other hand, the Jewish and Christian revelations, the doctrines of the prophets and of Jesus, were obligatory; inviolable.

However, the Christians modified the writings of the New Testament and also of the Fathers of the Church, the texts of the ecclesiastical conclaves. In fact, they fabricated totally new treaties in the name of Jesus, of his disciples, of the Fathers of the Church; they falsified full acts of the councils.

It is significant that Norbert Brox (a Catholic theologian!) still calls in 1973 and 1977 ‘uncertain’ the scientific investigation of proto-Christian pseudo-epigraphy. He wrote: ‘All these efforts try to save themselves from the calamity of having to attribute to authors, with proven ethical and religious pretensions, a dubious behaviour in which they do not believe; and they want to delimit, from the whole mass of falsifications, an integral area: religiously motivated and beyond all suspicion’.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 82

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 
The ‘Holy Scriptures’ are piled up

No evangelist intended to write a kind of revelation document, a canonical book. No one felt inspired, neither did Paul, and in fact none of the authors of the New Testament. Only the Book of Revelation: the one that, with difficulty, became part of the Bible pretends that God dictated the text to the author. But in 140 Bishop Papias did not consider the Gospels as ‘Holy Scriptures’ and gave preference to oral tradition. Even St. Justin, the greatest apologist of the 2nd century, sees in the Gospels—which he hardly quotes while he never ceases to mention the Old Testament—only ‘curiosities’.

The first to speak about an inspiration of the New Testament, which designates the Gospels and the epistles of Paul as ‘holy word of God’, was the bishop Theophilus of Antioch at the end of the 2nd century: a special luminary of the Church. On the other hand, in spite of the sanctity and divinity that he presupposes about the Gospels, he wrote a piece of apologetics about the ‘harmony of the Gospels’, as they were evidently a little too inharmonious.

Until the second half of the 2nd century the authority of the Gospels was not gradually accepted yet. Still, by the end of that same century the Gospel of Luke was accepted with reluctance; and that of John with was accepted with a remarkable resistance. Is it not odd that proto-Christianity did not speak of the gospels in the plural but in singular, the Gospel? In any case, throughout the 2nd century a fixed canon ‘of the Gospels did not yet exist and most of them were really considered a problem’ (Schneemelcher). This is clearly demonstrated by two famous initiatives of that time which tried to solve the problem of the plurality of Gospels with a reduction.

In the first place, there is the widespread Marcion Bible. This ‘heretic’, an important figure in the history of the Church, compiled the first New Testament in Sacred Scripture, and was the founder of the criticism of its texts, written shortly after the year 140. With it Marcion completely distanced himself from the bloodthirsty Old Testament, and only accepted the Gospel of Luke (without the totally legendary story of childhood) and the epistles of Paul; although, significantly, the latter without the forged pastoral letters and the epistle to the Hebrews, also manipulated. Moreover, Marcion deprived the remaining epistles of the ‘Judaistic’ additions, and his action was the decisive motive for the Catholic Church to initiate a compilation of the canon; thus beginning to constitute itself as a Church.

The second initiative, to a certain extent comparable, was the Diatessaron of Tatian. This disciple of St. Justin in Rome solved the problem of the plurality of the Gospels in a different way, although also reducing them. He wrote (as Theophilus) a ‘harmony of the Gospels’, adding freely in the chronological framework of the fourth Gospel the three synoptic accounts, as well as all kinds of ‘apocryphal’ stories. It had great success and the Syrian Church used it as Sacred Scripture until the 5th century. The Christians of the 1st century and to a large extent also those of the next century did not, therefore, possess any New Testament. As normative texts they used, until the beginning of the 2nd century, the epistles of Paul; but the Gospels were still not cited as ‘Scripture’ in religious services until the middle of that century.

The true Sacred Scripture of those early Christians was the sacred book of the Jews. Still in the year 160, St. Justin, in the broadest Christian treatise up to that date, almost exclusively referred to the Old Testament. The name of the New Testament (in Greek he kaine diatheke, ‘the new covenant’, translated for the first time by Tertullian as Novum Testamentum) appears in the year 192. However, at this time the limits of this New Testament were not yet well established and the Christians were discussing this throughout the 3rd and part of the 4th century, rejecting the compilations that others recognised as genuine. ‘Everywhere there are contrasts and contradictions’, writes the theologian Carl Schneider. ‘Some say: “what is read in all the churches” is valid. Others maintain: “what comes from the apostles” and third parties distinguish between sympathetic and non-sympathetic doctrinal content’.

Although around 200 there is in the Church, as Sacred Scripture, a New Testament next to the Old—being the central core the previous New Testament of the ‘heretic’ Marcion, the Gospels and the epistles of Paul—, there were still under discussion the Acts of the Apostles, the Book of Revelation and the ‘Catholic Epistles’. In the New Testament of St. Irenaeus, the most important theologian of the 2nd century, the book Shepherd of Hermas also appears which today does not belong to the New Testament; but the Epistle to the Hebrews, which does belong in today’s collection, is missing.

The religious writer Clemente of Alexandria (died about 215), included in several martyrologies among the saints of December 4, barely knows a collection of books of the New Testament moderately delimited. But even the Roman Church itself does not include around the year 200, in the New Testament, the epistle to the Hebrews; nor the first and second epistles of Peter, nor the epistle of James and the third of John. And the oscillations in the evaluation of the different writings are, as shown by the papyri found with the texts of the New Testament, still very large during the 3rd century.

(Papyrus Bodmer VIII, at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, showing 1 and 2 Peter.)

Even in the 4th century, Bishop Eusebius, historian of the Church, includes among the writings that are the subject of discussion the epistles of James, of Judas, the second epistle of Peter and the so-called second and third epistles of John. Among the apocryphal writings, Eusebius accepts, ‘if you will’, the Revelation of John. (And almost towards the end of the 7th century, in 692, the Quinisext Council, approved in the Greek Church canons, appear compilations with and without John’s Book of Revelation.) For the North African Church, around the year 360, the epistle to the Hebrews, the epistles of James and Judas do not belong to the Sacred Scriptures; and according to other traditions, neither belonged the second of Peter and the second and third of John.

On the other hand, prominent Fathers of the Church included in their New Testament a whole series of Gospels, Acts of the Apostles and Epistles that the Church would later condemn as apocryphal but in the East, until the 4th century, they enjoyed great appreciation and were even considered as Sacred Scripture, among others, Shepherd of Hermas, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Didache, etc. And even in the 5th century it is possible to find in a codex some ‘apocryphal’ texts, that is, ‘false’ together with the ‘genuine’ ones.

The so-called Catholic epistles needed the most time to enter the New Testament as the group of the seven epistles. The Father of the Church St. Athanasius, the ‘father of scientific theology’ was the first one to determine its extension (whom the investigators also blame for the falsification of documents, collecting the 27 known writings, among them the 21 epistles). St. Athanasius lied without the slightest hesitation when affirming that the apostles and teachers of the apostolic era had already established the canon. Under the influence of Augustine, the West followed the resolution of Athanasius and consequently delimited, almost about the beginnings of the 5th century, the Catholic canon of the New Testament in the synods of Rome in 382, Hippo Regius in 393 and Carthage in 397 and 419.

The canon of the New Testament, used in Latin as a synonym for ‘Bible’, was created by imitating the sacred book of the Jews. The word canon, which in the New Testament appears only in four places, received in the Church the meaning of ‘norm, the scale of valuation’. It was considered canonical what was recognised as part of this norm, and after the definitive closure of the whole New Testament work, the word ‘canonical’ meant as much as divine, infallible. The opposite meaning was received by the word ‘apocryphal’.

The canon of the Catholic Church had general validity until the Reformation. Luther then discussed the canonicity of the second epistle of Peter (‘which sometimes detracts a little from the apostolic spirit’), the letter of James (‘a little straw epistle’, ‘directed against St. Paul’), the epistle to the Hebrews (‘perhaps a mixture of wood, straw and hay’) as well as the Book of Revelation (neither ‘apostolic nor prophetic’; ‘my spirit cannot be satisfied with the book’) and he admitted only what ‘Christ impelled’.

On the contrary, the Council of Trent, through the decree of April 8, 1546, clung to all the writings of the Catholic canon, since God was its auctor (author). In fact, the real auctor was the development and the election through the centuries of these writings along with the false affirmation of their apostolic origin.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 81

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 

Fabrications in the New Testament

‘Forgeries begin in the New Testament era and have never ceased’.

—Carl Schneider, evangelical theologian

 

The error of Jesus

At the beginning of Christianity there are hardly any falsifications, assuming that Jesus of Nazareth is historical and not the myth of a god transported to the human being. However, historicity is merely presupposed here; it is, independently from some exceptions, the communis opinio (common opinion) of the 20th century. But there is no actual demonstration. The hundreds of apologetic nonsense in circulation, such as that of the Jesuit F.X. Brors (with imprimatur), are as gratuitous as brazen: ‘But where is a personality somewhere whose existence is historically guaranteed as the person of Christ? We can also mythologize a Cicero, a Caesar, even Frederick the Great and a Napoleon: but more guaranteed that the existence of Christ is not theirs’.

On the contrary, what is clear is that there is no demonstrative testimony of the historical existence of Jesus in the so-called profane literature. All extra-Christian sources do not say anything about Jesus: Suetonius and Pliny the Younger on the Roman side, Philo and, especially important, Justus of Tiberias on the Jewish side. Or they do not take into consideration, as the Testimonia (Testimony) of Tacitus and Flavius Josephus, what even many Catholic theologians admit today. Even a well-known Catholic like Romano Guardini knew why he wrote: ‘The New Testament is the only source that reports on Jesus’.

Insofar as the judgment that the New Testament and its reliability deserves, critical historical theology has shown, in a way as broad as precise, a largely negative result. According to critical Christian theologians the biblical books ‘are not interested in history’ (M. Dibelius), ‘they are only a collection of anecdotes’ (M. Werner), ‘should be used only with extreme caution’ (M. Goguel), are full of ‘religious legends’ (Von Soden), ‘stories of devotions and entertainment’ (C. Schneider), full of propaganda, apologetics, polemics and tendentious ideas. In short: here everything is faith, history is nothing.

This is also true, precisely, about the sources that speak almost exclusively of the life and doctrine of the Nazarene, the Gospels. All the stories of Jesus’ life are, as its best scholar, Albert Schweitzer, wrote, ‘hypothetical constructions’. And consequently, even modern Christian theology, all of which is critical and does not cling to dogmatism, puts into question the historical credibility of the Gospels; arriving unanimously at the conclusion that, regarding the life of Jesus, we can find practically nothing. The Gospels do not reflect, in any way, history but faith: the common theology, the common fantasy of the end of the 1st century.

Therefore, in the beginnings of Christianity there is neither history nor literary fabrications but, as the central issue, its true motive, error. And this error goes back to none other than Jesus.

We know that the Jesus of the Bible, especially the Synoptic, is fully within the Jewish tradition. He is much more Jewish than Christian. As to the others, the members of the primitive community were called ‘Hebrews’. Only the most recent research calls them ‘Judeo-Christian’ but their lives were hardly different from that of the other Jews. They also considered the sacred Jewish Scriptures as mandatory and remained members of the synagogue for many generations.

Jesus propagated a mission only among Jews. He was strongly influenced by the Jewish apocalyptic—and this influenced Christianity mightily. Not in vain does Bultmann has one of his studies with the title Ist die Apokalyptik die Mutter der christlichen Theologie? (Is the apocalyptic the mother of Christian theology?). In any case, the New Testament is full of apocalyptic ideas and such influence has its mark in all its steps. ‘There can be no doubt that it was an apocalyptic Judaism in which the Christian faith acquired its first and basic form’ (Cornfeld / Botterweck).

But the germ of this faith is Jesus’ error about the imminent end of the world. Those beliefs were frequent. It did not always mean that the world would end, but perhaps it was the beginning of a new period. Similar ideas were known in Iran, in Babylon, Assyria and Egypt. The Jews took them from paganism and incorporated them into the Old Testament as the idea of the Messiah. Jesus was one of the many prophets—like those of the Jewish apocalypses, the Essenes, John the Baptist—who announced that his generation was the last one. He preached that the present time was over and that some of his disciples ‘would not taste death until they saw the kingdom of God coming’; that they would not end the mission in Israel ‘until the Son of Man arrives’; that the final judgment of God would take place ‘in this same generation’ which would not cease ‘until all this has happened’.

Although all this was in the Bible for a millennium and a half, Hermann Samuel Reimarus, the Hamburg Orientalist who died in 1768 (whose extensive work, which occupied more than 1,400 pages, was later published in parts by Lessing), was the first to recognise the error of Jesus. But until the beginning of the 20th century the theologian Johannes Weiss did not show the discovery of Reimarus. It was developed by the theologian Albert Schweitzer.

The recognition of Jesus’ fundamental error is considered the Copernican moment of modern theology and is generally defended by the critical representatives of history and the anti-dogmatics. For the theologian Bultmann it is necessary ‘to say that Jesus was wrong in waiting for the end of the world’. And according to the theologian Heiler ‘a serious researcher discusses the firm conviction of Jesus in the early arrival of the final judgment and the end’.

But not only Jesus was wrong but also all Christendom since, as the archbishop of Freiburg, Conrad Gröber (a member promoter of the SS) admits, ‘it was contemplated the return of the Lord as imminent, as is testified not only in different passages in the epistles of St. Paul, St. Peter, James and in the Book of Revelation; but also by the literature of the Apostolic Fathers and the Proto-Christian life’.

(Note of the Ed.: The face that Richard Neave constructed from skulls of typical 1st century Palestinian Jews suggests that Jesus, if he existed, must have differed significantly from the traditional depictions in Western art, which invariably ‘Nordicize’ the Semites.)

Marana tha (‘Come, Lord’) was the prayer of the first Christians. But as time passed without the Lord coming; when doubts, resignation, ridicule and discord were increasing, the radicalism of Jesus’ affirmations had to be gradually softened. And after decades and centuries, when the Lord finally did not arrive, the Church converted what in Jesus was a distant hope, his idea of the Kingdom of God, into the idea of ‘the Church’. The oldest Christian belief was thus replaced by the Kingdom of Heaven: a gigantic falsification; within Christian dogma, the most serious one.

The belief in the proximity of the end decisively conditioned the later appearance of the Proto-Christian writings in the second half of the 1st century and in the course of the 2nd century. Jesus and his disciples—who expected no hereafter and no state of transcendental bliss but the immediate intervention of God from heaven and a total change of all things on Earth—naturally had no interest in taking notes, writings, or books; for whose writing they were not even trained.

And when the New Testament authors began to write, they softened the prophecies of Jesus of a very imminent end of the world. The Christians did not live that end and this is why questions arise in all ancient literature. Scepticism and indignation spread: ‘Where, then, is his announced second coming?’ says the second Epistle of Peter. ‘Since the parents died, everything is as it has been since the beginning of creation’. And also in Clement’s first epistle the complaint arises: ‘We have already heard this in the days of our fathers, and look, we have aged and none of that has happened to us’.

Voices of that style arise shortly after the death of Jesus. And they are multiplied in the course of the centuries. And here there is how the oldest Christian author, the apostle of the peoples, Paul, reacts. If he first explained to the Corinthians that the term ‘had been set short’ and the ‘world is heading to the sunset’, ‘we will not all die, but we will all be transformed’—later he spiritualised the faith about the final times that, from year to year, became increasingly suspicious. Paul thus made the faithful internally assume the great renewal of the world, the longing for a change of eons, was fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Instead of the preaching of the kingdom of God, instead of the promise that this kingdom would soon emerge on Earth, Paul thus introduced individualistic ideas of the afterlife, the vita aeterna (eternal life). Christ no longer comes to the world but the believing Christian goes to him in heaven! Similarly, the gospel authors who write later soften Jesus’ prophecies about the end of the world and make the convenient corrections in the sense of a postponement. The one that goes further is Luke, who substitutes the hopeful belief for a history of divine salvation with the notion of previous stages or intermediate steps.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 80

Editor’s note: This section is pivotal to understand the milieu where the New Testament was concocted by Jews to fight a hostile Rome toward the Semitic peoples.
 

Counterfeits in Diaspora Judaism

Not a few of the literary falsifications of the Jews are due to the effort to reincorporate a considerable part of the Greek philosophy to the Pentateuch, which supposedly the Greeks had stolen.

To ‘demonstrate’ this daring accusation the Jews forged, for example, the Orphic hymns. They also inserted texts from the Old Testament into the works of Hesiod and other pagan epics. They even made Homer a strict defender of the Sabbath precepts! Abraham appeared as the father of astronomy. Moses was ahead of Plato, and according to Clement of Alexandria even Miltiades won at the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) thanks Christian strategy: the military art of Moses.

What did the Jews have to offer culturally to the Greeks? What great philosophers and literati? The Old Testament? The Greco-Roman world also respected sacred texts but it did not value the biblical books. For them the essentials came from other religions. The omens of the prophets on the other hand were ex eventu; stories of crazy miracles, and ridiculous ceremonies. They hated Jewish nationalism.

It is true that the schools of rabbis forced the strict accuracy in the transmission. ‘Imputing to any doctor of the law a word he had not said would be simply a crime’ (Torm). But in Jewish literature of the same period the phenomenon of pseudonyms proliferated considerably. The increasingly expansive Jewish mission in Jesus’ times used a huge propaganda literature, with unscrupulous falsifications, appearing a ‘flowering of Jewish pseudo-iconography’ (Syme).

Precisely during the diaspora the Jews must have felt inferior to the Greeks. Thus they tried to correct this complex: they wanted to value their Judaism, their faith, the superiority of their religion by demonstrating their superiority through seemingly ancient writings, making the Jewish prophets much older than the Greco-Roman philosophers, as if the former were their teachers.

Through Aristotle, the Jews suggested sympathies towards monotheism, as well as through Sophocles and Euripides who attacked polytheism. They also attributed to Hecataeus of Abdera, a contemporary of Alexander the Great, a glorifying work on Abraham, and assigned as of the 1st century and to the poet Phocylides of Miletus, who lived in the 6th century, a didactic poem written in 230 hexameters: a popular moral philosophy that unites what is Greek to the Jewish, the resurrection of the flesh, and the continuation and deification of souls.

This was an effort toward a self-esteem in a superior environment, or subtle propaganda campaigns for Hellenistic Judaism under a pagan mask. And precisely among the Christians these forgeries were much more successful than the pseudo-epigraphic apocalypses and the books of the patriarchs.

Within this context we can mention the famous Judeo-Alexandrian letter of Aristeas, written for recognition and exaltation of the Pentateuch of the Septuagint, Jewish law and of Judaism: apparently written in the 3rd century BC, although probably authored in the 2nd if not in the 1st century.

Beginning of the letter of Aristeas (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana).

The official of the court Aristeas informs in it of the translation of the Jewish Pentateuch into Greek by seventy-two Jewish men (six of each tribe) on the island of Faros, for the royal library of Alexandria. The number of translators, rounded from seventy-two to seventy, gave name to the oldest and most important translation of the Old Testament into Greek, the Septuagint Version. According to the pious legend, each of the translators worked separately but each one produced, word for word, the same text: something that all the Fathers of the Church believed, including Augustine. Within this context we may include the fact that the Jews used the Greek sibyls in their writings: exactly the practice that later the Christians would do with the predictions and prophecies under non-Jewish names and, naturally, cases of vaticinium ex eventu (postdiction): pure lies.

The Sibylline Oracles, fourteen books of prophecies of divine inspiration, whose origin extends from the 2nd century BC (third book) to the 3rd and 4th centuries AD (book fourteen), also referred to those divine prophetesses of Antiquity. Books one to five were forged by Hellenistic Jews, although it is true that the Christians falsified them even more with their numerous introductions. The books six, seven and eight are pure Christian forgeries of the second half of the 2nd century, including a very celebrated cantata to Christ and the crucifixion. In books eleven to fourteen it is really difficult to know who faked more, Jews or Christians.

Many spiritual guides have considered these lies as authoritative texts, such as the freedman Hermas, Justin, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, but especially Lactantius (who quotes the eighth book thirty times). But even a Father of the Church like Augustine fostered respect for such false documents.

The influence of this Judeo-Christian Sibylline texts was great and its influence reaches from Antiquity to Dante, Calderón, Giotto and Michelangelo. From the 2nd century Christian apologists adopted these Jewish texts to fight a Rome hostile to Christians.

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Christianity’s Criminal History, 79

Below, an abridged translation from the third volume of
Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums.

 
Opposition to the Old Testament

In the 2nd century, when Christians were still not exercising war as they would do permanently a little later, among them there were perhaps more opponents of the Old Testament than defenders. And none of them saw more clearly their incompatibility with the biblical Jesus doctrine than the ‘heretic’ Marcion, at least none of them derived consequences of such premise and with such success. In his Antitheses (lost) Marcion showed the contradictions and elaborated the first canon of Christian writings, based on the Gospel of Luke, the one with the least Hebrew influence, and in the letters of Paul.

Apostle John (left) and Marcion of Sinope (right), from Morgan Library MS 748, 11th century.

Seventeen, eighteen centuries later, theologians weave wreaths of praise towards the outlaw, from Harnack to Nigg; the theologian Overbeck, friend of Nietzsche (‘the God of Christianity is the God of the Old Testament’!) states that he has correctly understood this Testament; for the Catholic theologian Buonaiuti ‘it is the most dense and insightful enemy’ of ‘ecclesiastical orthodoxy’.

It is precisely the ‘heretical’ circles that have fought the Old Testament. Many Christian Gnostics condemned it globally. Two hundred years later, the Visigothic apostle Ulfilas, an Arian of pacifist sentiments, was shocked by the contrast between Yahweh and Jesus. In his version of the Bible to the Gothic he made around the year 370, which is the oldest German literary monument, the bishop did not translate any of the Old Testament history books.

After the century of the Enlightenment, criticism intensified again. The perceptive Lessing, who also considers the historical foundations of Christianity precarious, exclaims at the sight of the old book of the Jews: ‘On this clay, on this clay, great God! If you had mixed a couple of gold nuggets…!’

With greater passion Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) scourges the ‘unprecedented blasphemy’: to claim that the Almighty God had expressly ordered Moses to attack a defenceless people and because of their different beliefs to completely annihilate all living beings; to assassinate in cold blood all the children and the unarmed men, to slaughter the prisoners, to tear apart the married women and to respect only the young girls for carnal commerce and rape. Mark Twain (1835-1910) could not help but comment caustically that the Old Testament is essentially concerned with blood and sensuality; the New with salvation and redemption through fire.

Theologians have also rejected the Old Testament as the foundation of life and doctrine, among them some as renowned as Schleiermacher and Harnack, who strongly opposed that this book

be preserved as a canonical document in Protestantism. We must make a clean slate and honour the truth in worship and teaching. This is the act of courage demanded today—almost too late—to Protestantism.

But what good would it do? The masses would continue to be deceived by the New Testament and its dogmas. But the Catholic Wörterbuch christlicher Ethik (Dictionary of Christian ethics) still finds, in 1975, ‘the roots of the ethos of the Old Testament’ in ‘the decisive personal attention’ of Yahweh ‘to the world and to man’, found in the Old Testament ‘fundamentally and to the defence of what we call human rights; behind its humanum there is Yahweh with all of his divine weight’ (Deissler).

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