Christianity’s Criminal History, 109

Editor’s Note: The spirit of Jorge of Burgos

There are two ways to learn about the history that the school hid us. The most enjoyable is to read novels like Julian by Gore Vidal, located in the 4th century AD; the other to study arid scholarly treatises by dissenters like Karlheinz Deschner.

What Deschner says below (to contextualize it see the English translation of his first volume) reminded me Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose, which by the way differs a lot from the movie starring Sean Connery. I refer to the character Jorge of Burgos, one of the oldest monks in the abbey: the gatekeeper who took care that the Greco-Roman wisdom in one of the greatest libraries of Christendom never reached the popular mind. Deschner wrote:

 

______ 卐 ______

 

Just as Christians are scarce among intellectuals—for, in general terms, the more a person knows, the less he believes—also in the 4th century it was still the case that the new religion reaped its most diminished successes among the scholars and the aristocrats.

The followers of the old faith among these social strata continued to consider, in their great majority, Christianity as a faith for coalmen, as a religion of people of little faith, totally incompatible with ancient science. But the Church needed precisely the scholars. That is why at that point, too, it thoroughly reviewed its thinking and began to open up to those who until then it had quarantined or even fought. And since the new religion was a good starting point for a career, the proceres and the scholars were now driven to conversion.

Soon the time came when the bishopric seats were almost exclusively covered by people from the upper layers. At the turn of the 5th century, the Greco-Roman world enters a slow agony. The representatives of the Christian cultural milieu ended up being clearly superior to the ‘pagans’ that still remained, if we do without Ammianus Marcellinus. This happened, naturally, using the means of the ancient culture, which, at least partially and with enough reluctance, was bequeathed to the Middle Ages.

This development is certainly in opposition to the basic teachings of the New Testament: the Gospel was not announced to the wise or the learned. On the other hand, it had been a long time since Christianity had taken a decisive step to leave the Jewish world of Jesus and the apostles. Paul himself was already a Roman citizen and the son of a Hellenistic city. And Judaism itself was already Hellenised for centuries, so that Christianity was absorbing more and more the wisdom of the Greco-Roman world, becoming a typical hermaphrodite.

Until the 6th century the new religion did not have a school of its own. It is true that Christians hated the classical heritage, but they did not create their own school or make any attempt at it: they lacked all the requisites, the very foundations for it, and they also found it impossible to compete with them.

There was a widespread maxim, advocated by both Tertullian and Pope Leo I: Christians must certainly appropriate worldly knowledge, but never teach it. The Statuta Ecciesiae Antiqua [statutes of the ancient Church] only allowed lay people public teaching with a special authorisation and under ecclesiastical control.

Later, knowledge and culture were tolerated as a kind of necessary evil, turning them into an instrument of theology: ancilla theologiae.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 108


 Editors’ note:

‘One cannot solve the Jewish question without first solving the Christian Question’, said commenter Devan in the previous thread.

Isn’t it truly pathetic that, the only ones who want to defend the white race in the world, continue defending the religion that weakened the Aryan before the Jew?

I recently said in this blog that we need to restore the WDH Radio Show in another platform to avoid further censorship. I’m not going to lie, but my original idea was to call that show ‘White Nationalist Critic’ precisely to expose, day by day, the pronouncements of those WNsts still circumscribed in the Judeo-Christian ethics that is killing the fair race.

To mention the case of my previous entry, Counter-Currents suffers a kind of ‘schizophrenia’, as Andrew Hamilton once said referring to this webzine of Greg Johnson (Hamilton had in mind the etymological sense of divided mind). Such divided self would be the central theme of what I wish to be the content of my radio show. But for this I need a regular collaborator to reopen that show with its original name, ‘White Nationalist Critic’.

Certainly, one cannot solve the Jewish Problem without first solving the Christian Problem. If the white race is extinguished, ours would be at least the testimony in the spoken word (besides the texts of this site) that denounces these pseudo-knights of the 14 words, unable to apostatize from Judeo-Christian ethics.

Below, an abridged translation of a passage from Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums. (For context read the translation of Volume I.)

 

______ 卐 ______

 

Hence, Augustine has harsh words about Greco-Roman shows when compared with Christian shows. Instead of being enthusiastic about the charioteer of the circus, we must turn our eyes to God, who, like a good charioteer, restrains, so to speak, human vices. Instead of admiring the tightrope walker, you have to put our eyes on Peter walking on the water. In a nutshell: instead of theatre and poetry, Augustine advises studying the Bible.

The greatest of the Fathers of the Church insulted as few did the Greco-Roman spectacles, even though he is the only one among them that also has positive words about them. Sometimes he casts true cataracts of repulsive reproaches against the shows of the adversaries. In a single passage of The City of God Against the Pagans Augustine harshly rebuked the celebration of a festive ceremony by Cicero to appease the gods.

Nonetheless, Augustine himself with conjuring arts also presented Christians with eternity as a wonderful spectacle. He sees radically eclipsed all the shows of the Hellenes by the spectaculum of the Last Judgment, by the universal apocalyptic theatre of the Christians. The tragic actors and the pantomime performers will represent the most calamitous of the roles in that last and unwanted performance.

What a spectacle for us, Tertullian says, will be the next coming of the Lord… What a spectacle will be the one that unfolds there! What things will provoke my admiration, my laughter? What will be the place of my joy, of my rejoicing? What would it be like to be able to see so many powerful kings there, who were said to have been admitted to heaven, to sigh in the depths of the darkness and justly accompanied by Jupiter and his witnesses?

How many procurators, persecutors of the name of the Lord will be consumed in flames more horrible than those with which they made atrocious derision of the Christians!

How will those wise philosophers burn in the company of their disciples who are persuaded that God does not take care of anything, to those who taught that we do not have a soul or that the soul will not return to the body at all—or in any case not to its anterior body!

Yes, how they will burn with their own students and ashamed at their sight!

What will it be like to see also the poets appear and tremble, against all foresight, before the tribunal of Christ and not before that of Rhadamanthus or of Minos?

And the tragic actors will then deserve to listen carefully to their ears, namely to listen to the lamentations for a misfortune that will be their own. It will be worthy to contemplate comedians even more weakened and softened by fire…

Contemplating things like that and rejoicing in them is something that neither praetors, consuls nor quaestors, nor even the priests of idolatry can offer you, no matter how generous their generosity. And, nevertheless, all these things are present in our spirit and, to a certain extent, we contemplate them already thanks to faith.

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.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 106


 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 hostility to classic culture in early Christian Latin writers

The fact that also ecclesiastical authors imbued with philosophy disqualify or hate the latter is something that is revealed in Marcus Minucius Felix and Tertullian, within the Latin Patristic.

Minucius, a Roman lawyer, who ‘rose from the deep darkness to the light of truth and wisdom’ when he was old enough, fully connects, as regards his dialogue Octavius, probably written around the year 200, with Greco-Roman culture and especially with Plato, Cicero, Seneca and Virgil. However, he abhors most, if not all of it, and especially everything that tends to scepticism. Socrates is for him ‘the crazy attic’, the philosophy itself ‘superstitious madness’, enemy of the ‘true religion’. Philosophers are seducers, adulterers, tyrants. The poets, Homer included, thoroughly mislaid the youth ‘with lies of mere seduction’, while the strength of Christians ‘is not based on words, but on their behaviour’.

Also Tertullian, authentic father of western Christianity (called founder of Catholicism because of his enormous influence on theologians such as Cyprian, Jerome, Augustine; for the Trinitarian doctrine, Christology and doctrine of sin and grace, baptism and penance), mistreats the Greco-Roman culture. And certainly he, who despises the simplices et idiotae does not stop from judging that, when that culture approaches the truth, it is due to chance or plagiarism. Tertullian, in fact, goes back to Moses for the totality of Greek science!

What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem, the Academy with the Church?, asks Tertullian, referring to Solomon. If a Christian believes, he no longer wants anything that goes beyond that faith. ‘For this is the first thing we believe: hence there is nothing else that we should believe beyond our faith’. He calls Plato, whose importance for ancient Christianity is barely possible to ponder, ‘spice with which all heretics spice’. He stigmatises the questions about the physical world as impious. By expressly referring to Jesus and Paul, he strongly disapproves of science and art: human teachings of evil spirits, pure tingling for the ears, rejected by the Lord and described by him as madness. ‘We, on the other hand, who read the Sacred Scriptures, are in possession of universal history from the very beginning of the world’. Typical Christian modesty!

At the beginning of the 4th century, Arnobius mounts an attack against classical culture with a controversial writing that covers seven books, Adversus gentes. This happened at the urging of his bishop. His work had to depict, in the metropolitan sceptic, the sincerity of his conversion. Of course, Arnobius does not know well that Christianity in whose defence he writes. He barely quotes the New Testament and mentions Jupiter much more often than Christ.

Arnobius condemns not only all the myths about the gods, but also mythological poetry. With the same resolution he rejects the pantomime, the dramatic and the musical representations linked to the mysteries. He condemns all the conceptual constructions of the Greco-Roman religion and the art where these are embodied. Moreover, he considers all worldly professions to be worthless, any human activity whatsoever. It should not be surprising, then, that this new-birthing Christian, out of respect for the Sacred Scriptures, despises almost all of science, rhetoric, grammar, philosophy, jurisprudence and medicine.

Latin paleo-Christian literature closes ranks more unanimously than the literature in Greek versus classic culture. Dramatic poetry is totally disqualified for religious and moral reasons, as the epic in most cases; also rhetoric, which is usually considered harmful. Philosophy by itself cannot provide any authentically true knowledge. For these authors, Christianity constitutes the only security, the full truth.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 105


 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 hostility to the classic culture of the first Greco-Christian writers

We already showed above how decidedly, with what resolutely rude expressions, Tatian, the ‘philosopher of the barbarians’, the self-proclaimed Herald of Truth, about the year 172 and against everything that had rank and renown in Greco-Roman culture vilified philosophy, poetry, rhetoric and the school.

The writer Hermas inserts at the very beginning of his jibe of the non-Christian philosophers the words of Paul, ‘The wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God’ without allowing another truth to prevail than that of the Gospel. In a rather coarse way, ignorant of any deep and superficial sense, Hermas describes philosophy as ‘lacking in foundation and utility’, of ‘pure adventurous, absurd, chimerical and abstruse speculation’, even though he only knows his victims through mere readings of compendiums.

The same with the majority of Christian authors. Ignatius of Antioch, a fanatical adversary of Christians from other orientations to his (‘beasts with human figure’) and first in using the term ‘catholic’, repudiates almost the entire teaching school, and any contact with Greco-Roman literature, which he apostrophises as ‘ignorance’, ‘foolishness’, its representatives being ‘rather lawyers of death than of truth’. And while he affirms that ‘the end of time has come’, ‘nothing of what is visible here is good’ and sarcastically asks, ‘where is the boasting of those who are called wise?’, he affirms that Christianity has overcome all this and has ‘eradicated ignorance’. He is considered ‘one of the great peaks of early Christian literature’ (Bardenhewer).

Towards 180, Bishop Theophilus of Antioch decrees in his three books Apologia ad Autolycum (Apology to Autolycus) that all the philosophy and art, mythology and historiography of the Greeks are despicable, contradictory and immoral. Moreover, he rejects in principle all worldly knowledge and refers to the Old Testament praiseworthy, ‘lacking in science, shepherds and uneducated people’. Incidentally, Theophilus, who did not become a Christian and a bishop until he was an adult, owed his education to the classical world. That world whose representatives, of course, ‘have raised and continue to falsely pose the questions when, instead of speaking of God, they do it about vain and useless things’; authors who, not possessing ‘an iota of truth’ are all of them possessed by evil spirits. It is evident, then, that ‘all others are in error and that only Christians possess the truth, having been indoctrinated by the Holy Spirit, who spoke through the prophets and announced everything in advance’.

Apart from Tatian, Ignatius and Theophilus of Antioch, also Polycarp and the Didache radically repudiate ancient literature. The Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Letter of Barnabas and the Letters to Diognetus do not mention it. The Syrian Didascalia (complete title: Catholic Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles and Holy Disciples of our Redeemer), falsified by a bishop, says: ‘Get away from all the writings of the pagans, for what have you to do with foreign words and laws?… What do you miss in the word of God, that you throw yourself to devour those stories by pagans?’

Only the Father of the Church Irenaeus and the ‘heretic’ Origen, among Christians who write in Greek during the first centuries, lend almost full recognition to all branches of knowledge. However, Irenaeus disapproves almost the totality of Greek philosophy, to which he does not grant a single true knowledge. And Origen, who precisely makes very wide use of it, rejects the rhetoric as useless. All the Greco-Christian writers agree, however, on one point: all place the New Testament far above all the literature of Antiquity.

Published in: on November 7, 2018 at 6:38 pm  Comments Off on Christianity’s Criminal History, 105  
Tags:

Christianity’s Criminal History, 104


 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 great Christian ideal:
The inversion of Greco-Roman values

Already at the end of the 4th century and only in the desert regions of Egypt, there were apparently 24,000 ascetics. They were buried in subterranean places, ‘like the dead in their graves’, they dwelt in huts of branches, in hollows with no other opening than a hole to creep up to them. They squatted like troglodytes on large rocks, on steep slopes, in grottos, in tiny cells, in cages, in dens of beasts and in trunks of dry trees, or else they were placed on columns.

In a word, they lived like wild animals because Saint Anthony, the first Christian monk known to history, had ordered ‘to lead an animal life’: a mandate that also the so often praised Benedict of Nursia adopted in his rule. And according to the currency of the ancient ascetics, ‘the true fast consists of permanent hunger’ and ‘the more opulent the body, the more minute the soul; and vice versa’. They limited themselves to picking out a grain of barley from the camel dung with their fingers, remaining, for the rest days or even whole weeks, in total abstinence.

Surely we should not always give credence to what the Christian chroniclers wrote. Some of these saints did not even exist. Some of these stories are of analogous nature of the ‘ancient Egyptian novels adapted to new ideas’ (Amélineau). Other stories, despite their propensity for hyperbole, are touching. Macarius of Alexandria, for example, kills a horsefly on a certain day and punishes himself. For six months he lies on the ground from which he would not move, in a wasteland ‘in which there are big gadflies like wasps, with stingers that pierce the skin of boars. His body is in such a state that when he returns to his cell they all take him for a leper and only recognise the saint by his voice’.

Whatever the degree of veracity of these stories, from them it clearly transcends everything that influenced, mislead and annoyed the Christians of that time and those of subsequent centuries: the sublime ‘ideal’ by which they had to abide. Those lunatics were idolised, celebrated, consulted and they and their peers passed for saints.

The Temptation of St. Anthony
by Matthias Grünewald.

Anthony wandered from one hiding place to another along the Libyan desert, attracting other anchorites, attracting demons and angels, having full visions of lascivious women, earning more and more the fame of sanctity, of the ideal (Christian) hero. Towards the end of his long life his stature literally grows, with so many miracles and visions, to enter heaven.

In relation to all this, the Vita Antonii (Life of Anthony) of that old forger that was Athanasius, exerted a most than nefarious influence. Written in Greek towards 360 and promptly translated into Latin, it became a popular success; even more, a paradigm of Greek and Latin hagiography.

And it is quite possible that, as Hertling praises, this fable of Anthony has been ‘one of those books that decide the fate of humanity’, since, according to Hartnack, ‘no other written work has had a more stunning effect on Egypt, Western Asia and Europe ‘that that despicable product which emerged from the pen of St. Athanasius the Great’, ‘perhaps the most fateful book of all that have ever been written’. That work is ‘the ultimate piece responsible for which demons, miracle stories and all kinds of goblins found their accommodation in the Church’ (Lexicon of Concepts for Antiquity and Christianity).

Throughout those centuries, most authors of primitive Christianity resolutely reject Greco-Roman culture, philosophy, poetry and art. In the face of all this, they maintained an attitude of profound distrust, of declared hostility: an attitude determined both by the resentment and the anti-Hellenic hatred of the more or less cultured Christians.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 103


 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 oldest Christianity is hostile to education

Jesus himself had suppressed the aura of the ideal of the wise. At any event, the New Testament warns against the wisdom of this world: philosophy (1 Cor. 1, 19ff, 3, 19, Col. 2, 8), affirming that in Christ there reside ‘all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge’ (Col. 2, 3). It is true that the gospel was, to a great extent, interspersed with philosophy on the part, above all, of Justin, Clement of Alexandria and Origen. But until the 2nd century the opponents of philosophy—among them Ignatius, Polycarp, Tatian, Theophilus and Hermas—were in Christianity more numerous, producing endless attacks against the ‘charlatanism of the foolish philosophers’, their ‘mendacious fatuity’ and ‘absurdities and deliriums’.

In this regard, Paul was gladly referred to, who was supposedly confronted by Epicureans and Stoics in Athens and who on numerous occasions had warned against the false preaching of certain lost teachers, eager to unify Greco-Roman philosophy and Christianity, as well as teaching: ‘Where is the sage, Where is the lawyer? Where is the disputant of the things of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?’ or ‘Look let no one deceive you with fallacious and vain philosophies, founded on human traditions’.

This Paleo-Christian hostility against education based on the authority of the Christ, the Synoptics and Paul, went hand in hand with various factors of a religious nature. On the one hand, the primitive Christian belief in the end of time—although its effects were weakening with the passage of time—was incompatible with culture and the world in general. Whoever waits for the irruption of the end, who is not of this world, does not care about philosophy, science or literature.

Christ does not propagate them or mention them with a single word. It is clear that for him only one thing is necessary. Hence, when someone praises the magnificence of the Jerusalem temple before him, he limits himself to the opinion that there will be no stone left over from it: probably his only manifestation about art. Art that hardly played any role in their cultural environment, by virtue of the Mosaic prohibition, ‘You will not make carved images, or any figuration…’

That hostility of early Christianity also derived from the close interweaving of the entire cultural world of antiquity with the Greco-Roman religion against which Christianity maintained, and also against any other religion, an attitude of strangeness and animosity as a result of its hybrid pretension of absolute validity and its Old Testament exclusivity and intolerance.

Clothed with an unprecedented arrogance, Christians called themselves the ‘golden part’, the ‘Israel of God’, the ‘chosen gender’, the ‘holy people’ and ‘tertium genus hominum’ (third type of human), while they denounced the Greco-Romans as impious, as overflowing with envy, lies, hatred, bloodthirsty spirit, and decreeing that all their world was ripe for annihilation ‘by blood and fire’.

That hostility is also related to the social composition of the Christian communities, which were recruited almost exclusively from the lower social strata. It is considered, even by Catholics, that numerous testimonies show that, ‘during the first centuries the vast majority of Christians belonged, both in the East and in the West, to the lower popular strata and only in a few cases enjoyed a higher education’ (Bardenhewer).

It is certainly no accident that a Clement of Alexandria has to be on guard against believers who claim that philosophy is the devil’s thing, nor that ancient Christians are so often exposed to the reproach of ‘being fools’ (stulti). Tertullian himself unambiguously recognises that idiots are always in the majority among Christians. The cultural hostility of the new religion is always among the main objections of the non-Christian polemicists. The apology Ad pagans rejects no less than thirty times the denomination of stulti applied to the Christians.

Celsus, the great adversary of the Christians of the second part of the century, succeeds in the essential when he labels the new doctrine ‘simple’ and when he writes that Christians ‘flee in a hurry from educated people, for they are not accessible to deception, but they try to attract the ignorant’: an attitude that is certainly enforced among the Christian sects of our time! Celsus continues:

Let no cultured man approach us, no wise or sensible. Those are not recommended people in our eyes. But if someone is ignorant, obtuse, uneducated and simple, come intrepid to our ranks! Insofar as they consider people to be worthy of their God, they show that they only want, and can persuade, those subject to guardianship; the vile and obtuse as well as the slaves, the little women and the children.

With vehemence even superior to that of the secular clergy, the monks despised science by seeing in it, with all reason, an antagonist of the faith. With the same consequence they encouraged, therefore, ignorance as the premise of a virtuous life.

Published in: on October 24, 2018 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on Christianity’s Criminal History, 103  
Tags:

Christianity’s Criminal History, 102

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. In the previous chapter, not translated for this site, the author describes the high level of education in the Greco-Roman world before the Christians burned entire libraries and destroyed an amazing quantity of classical art.

 
Since the time of Jesus Christianity has taught to hate everything that is not at God’s service

The Gospel was originally an apocalyptic, eschatological message, a preaching of the imminent end of the world. The faith of Jesus and his disciples was, in this respect, firm as a rock, so that any pedagogical question lacked any relevance for them. They did not show the slightest interest in education or culture. Science and philosophy, as well as art, did not bother them at all.

We had to wait no less than three centuries to have a Christian art. The ecclesiastical dispositions, even those enacted in later times, measure artists, comedians, brothel owners and other types with the same theological standard.

Soon it was the case that the ‘fisherman’s language’ (especially, it seems, that of the Latin Bibles) provoked mockery throughout all the centuries, although the Christians defend it ostensibly. This, in despite Jerome and Augustine confess on more than one occasion how much horror is caused by the strange, clumsy and often false style of the Bible. Augustine even said it sounded like stories of old women! (In the 4th century some biblical texts were poured into Virgil hexameters, without making them any less painful.) Homines sine litteris et idiotae (illiterate and ignorant men), thus the Jewish priests describe the apostles of Jesus in the Latin version of the Bible.

As the Kingdom of God did not come upon the Earth, the Church replaced it with the Kingdom of Heaven to which the believers had to orient their entire lives. This meant according the plans of the Church; for the benefit of the Church, and in the interest of the high clergy. For whenever and wherever this clergy speaks of the Church, of Christ, of God and of eternity, it does so solely and exclusively for their own benefit. Pretending to advocate for the health of the believer’s soul, they thought only of their own health. All the virtues of which Christianity made special propaganda, that is, humility, faith, hope, charity, and more, lead to that final goal.

In the New Testament it is no longer human pedagogy what matters, which is barely addressed. What is at stake is the pedagogy of divine redemption.

In the work of Irenaeus, creator of a first theological pedagogy, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa, the idea of a divine pedagogy is often discussed and God becomes the proper educator. Ergo all education must, in turn, be engaged in the first and last line of God and this must be his role.

That is why Origen teaches that ‘we disdain everything that is chaotic, transient and apparent and we must do everything possible to access life with God’. Hence, John Chrysostom requires parents to educate ‘champions of Christ’ and that they should demand the early and persistent reading of the Bible. Hence, Jerome, who once called a little girl a recruit and a fighter for God, wrote that ‘we do not want to divide equally between Christ and the world’.

‘All education is subject to Christianization’ (Ballauf). Nor does the Doctor of the Church Basil consider ‘an authentic good he who only provides earthly enjoyment’. What was encouraged is the ‘attainment of another life’. That is ‘the only thing that, in our opinion, we should love and pursue with all our strength. All that is not oriented to that goal we must dismiss as lacking in value’.

Such educational principles that are considered chimerical, or ‘worthless’ (everything that does not relate to a supposed life after death), find their foundation even in Jesus himself: ‘If someone comes to me and does not hate his father, his mother, his wife, his children, his brothers, his sisters and even his own life, he can not be my disciple’.

How many misfortunes such words have been sowing for two thousand years…

Thanks for your support

Karlheinz Deschner died in 2014, a year after he published the tenth volume of his Criminal History of Christianity, which he had begun more than twenty-five years before, after seventeen other preparatory studies.

Throughout the nearly five thousand pages of the German edition translated into several languages—but curiously not into English except for the abridged translations in this site!—, Deschner somewhat resembles Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn’s second non-fiction work, his study of Jewry in Russia, has not been translated into English either, except for a few sections in The Occidental Observer.

Since the early 1960s Deschner wrote about the early days of the Church. Supported by an overwhelming textual apparatus, his previous books were his letter of introduction when, in 1970, he proposed to the German publishing house Rowohlt the colossal project of writing the true history of the Church in ten volumes. In 1986 the first volume of his Criminal History appeared, covering everything from the brutalities of the Old Testament to the time of Saint Augustine.

Born in a Catholic family (his mother, of Protestant family, had converted to Catholicism before getting married), Deschner studied in religious institutions. In 1942 he joined the ranks of the Wehrmacht. He was wounded several times and when the Third Reich collapsed he was a parachutist.

After the war, in his native city Würzburg Deschner got his doctorate in 1951. That same year he married the one that would be a companion of his life, Elfi Tuch. Tuch was separated and the couple was excommunicated by the then Bishop of Würzburg, Julius Dörpfner, who would play a leading role in the Second Vatican Council. Until the moment of his excommunication, Deschner had not published a single line against the Church.

Unlike Solzhenitsyn Deschner never got good money from, for example, a Nobel prize. His main economic support were the various sponsors who supported him throughout his life; something similar to how a few white nationalists are able to make a living.

Yesterday, my translation of what is now the first abridged volume of Deschner’s ten books came to me through Fedex. Unfortunately, also this week my laptop’s hard disk broke down together with the motherboard (apparently, an electric discharge). Had it not been for the generous donations I received when I announced the publication of this first volume, it would have been impossible for me to repair the machine that allows me to bring this site to life.

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.
 
___________

[1] Deschner is referring to emperors Arcadius, Theodosius II and Honorius whose reigns will be described in other translations of his books.