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, 76

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

 
The same as the work of Isaiah, the book of Ezekiel, written almost all in the first person, unites prophecies of misfortunes and beatitudes, reprimands and threats with tempting hymns and omens. For a long time it was considered the undisputed writing of the most symbolic Jewish prophet, the man who in the year 597 BC left Jerusalem with King Jehoiakim to exile in Babylon.

Until the beginning of the 20th century Ezekiel’s book was almost universally seen as a work of the prophet himself and of true authenticity. From the investigations of literary criticism by R. Kraetzschmars (1900) and even more by J. Herrmann (1908, 1924), the opinion prevailed that this presumably unitary book emerged in stages and that a subsequent hand reworked it. Some researchers even attribute to Ezekiel only the poetic parts, assigning to the compiler the texts in prose.

In this scenario the compiler would have designed at least the bulk of the work: no less than five-sixths. According to W.A. Irwin, of the total of 1,273 verses only 251 come from Ezekiel and according to G. Hölscher, 170. Although other authors accept the authenticity of the text, they admit several redactions and editors, who interspersed falsified passages among those considered authentic and also manipulated the rest at their discretion. It is very significant that the Jewish tradition does not attribute the work to Ezekiel, but to the ‘men of the great synagogue’.

The book of Daniel was clearly and completely fabricated: something that, surprisingly, already affirms Porphyry, the great adversary of the Christians, in the 3rd century. Although his fifteen books Against the Christians were targeted for destruction by the first Christian emperor, something has been preserved in excerpts and quotations, among them the following phrases of Jerome in the prologue of his comments on Daniel:

Porphyry has destined, against the prophet Daniel, the book XII of his work. He does not want to admit that the book was written by Daniel, whose name appears on the title, but by someone who lived in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (that is, some 400 years later) in Judea, and maintains that Daniel did not predict anything of the future but simply told something of the past.

The book of Daniel would come from the prophet Daniel, who apparently lived in the 6th century BC in the royal court of Babylon and whose authorship has also been questioned in modern times by Thomas Hobbes. Critical research has long since stopped considering it an authentic book. But in 1931 the Catholic Lexikonfür Theologie und Kirche (Encyclopaedia for Theology and the Church) says: ‘The nucleus of the different episodes can reach very ancient times, even that of Daniel… Most of the Catholic exegetes essentially consider Daniel as the author of the book’.

The first-person form of the visions of chapters 7-12 and, of course, their place in the Holy Scriptures made the Christian tradition believe for a long time in the authorship of the book by Daniel: about whose life and acts they know only for his own work. It is probable that it was the last to reach the canon of the Old Testament and, from the traditionalist point of view, must be defended accordingly as authentic.

But it comes from the Revelations of the time of the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, probably from the year of the revolt of the Maccabees, 164 BC. Ergo the author lived long after the events described in the historical part of his book written in the third person (chapters 1-6). In this way, the ‘prophet Daniel’, who four centuries before is the servant of King Nebuchadnezzar in ‘Babel’ and who understands ‘stories and dreams of all kinds’, can easily prophesy. This is what Porphyry had discovered.

Consequently, in the historical epoch of the book in which Daniel presumably lived and described, the ‘prophet’ mixes everything. Thus, Balthazar, the organiser of the famous banquet, although was a regent he was not ‘king’. Balthazar was not the son of Nebuchadnezzar but of Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king (555-539). Artaxerxes did not come before Xerxes but after him and ‘Darius the Mede’ is not a historical figure at all. In short, ‘Daniel’ knew more about visions than about the time he lived.

Special forgeries of the Septuagint are also some well-known pieces, which Catholics call Deuterocanonics and Protestants apocryphal: the story of the Three Boys in the Fiery Furnace [Left: Gustave Doré’s illustration], the story of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon. All these special fabrications appear today in the Catholic Bible.

The book of Daniel is the oldest apocalypse and, among all the apocalyptic literature. the only one that reaches the Old Testament and consequently becomes canonical. In the Catholic Bible there is another forgery, Baruch’s ‘Deuterocanonical’ book, with which we turn our attention to a special literary genre, made up of obvious falsifications, which later goes on in an organic and integral way into Christianity.

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Kriminalgeschichte, 66

Sant’Agostino nello studio by Vittore Carpaccio (1502)

 
‘Genius in all fields of Christian doctrine’

[Augustine] often dictated at the same time discussions to several writings: 93 works or 232 ‘books’, he says in the year 427 in his Retractationes (which critically contemplate, so to speak, his work in chronological succession), to which we must add the production of his last years of life, in addition to hundreds of letters and sermons, with which he ‘almost always’ felt dissatisfied.

The intellectual production of Augustine was overrated, particularly from the Catholic side. ‘An intellectual giant like him, only the world offers it once every thousand years’ (Görlich). Maybe from the Catholic world! However, what he calls ‘intellectual stature’ is what serves him, and what serves him is detrimental to the world.

Augustine’s existence precisely reveals it drastically. However, J.R. Palangue praises him as ‘a genius in all fields of Christian doctrine’. And Daniel-Rops goes on to say: ‘If the word genius has any meaning, it is precisely here. Of all the gifts of the spirit that can be fixed analytically, none was missing; he had all, even those that are generally considered mutually exclusive’. Who is startled by such nonsense is called malevolent, malicious, ‘a creeping soul’ (Marrou). However, even the father of the Church Jerome, although out of envy, called his colleague ‘a little latecomer’. In the 20th century, the Catholic Schmaus flatly denies Augustine’s genius as a thinker.

The thought of Augustine? It is totally dominated by ideas of God, partly numbed by euphoria, partly terrified. His philosophy is, basically, theology. From an ontological point of view, it is based on hypotheses without any foundation. And there is a multitude of painful absences.

Augustine, whom Palangue praises saying: ‘With a flap he rises above any superficial objection’ usually is a prodigy of superficiality. Also the ‘professional orator’ of yesteryear (and today!) cheats through rhetorical tricks. He contradicts himself, especially in The City of God, a work with a strong influence of Arnobius that appeared between 413 and 426, his ‘magnum opus’ as he says, where he sometimes equates and others clearly differentiates his own fundamental concepts: ‘Roman Empire’ and ‘Diabolic State’. Or ‘Church’ and ‘God’s State’.

When he was a young Christian, he believed that miracles no longer occur, so that ‘no one is raised from the dead anymore’; when he gets old he believes otherwise. Already in 412 he had the idea of ‘collecting and showing everything that is rightly censured in my books’. And so, three years before his death he begins, since everything was ‘altered’, a complete book with rectifications, Retractationes, without really ‘rectifying’ everything. In any case, he introduced 220 corrections.

However, as many times as Augustine ‘rectified’ something, he refuted others’ work, placing the heading of many of his writings a ‘Contra […]’.

At the end of the 4th century he attacked the Manichaeans: Fortunatus, Adeimantus, Faust, Felix, Secundinus, as well as, in another series of books, Manichaeism: of which he himself was formally a follower for almost a decade, from 373 to 382, although as ‘listener’ (auditor), not as an electus. In three books Against Academics (386) he confronts scepticism. From the year 400 on he criticises Donatism; from 412 Pelagianism, and from 426 semi-Pelagianism. But next to these main objectives of his struggle, he also attacks with greater or lesser intensity the pagans, the Jews, the Arians, the astrologers, the Priscillians and the Apollinarians. ‘All the heretics hate you’ he praises his old rival Jerome, ‘just as they persecute me with the same hatred’.

More than half of Augustine’s writings are apologetics or have a controversial character. On the other hand, while, being a bishop, in thirty years he only once visited Mauritania, the less civilized province, he travelled thirty-three times to the incredibly rich Carthage, where, apparently as compensation for his modest convent diet, he liked copious lunches (for example roasted peacock); talk to important people and spend whole months with colleagues in hectic activity. The bishops already lived near the authorities and in the court, and were themselves courtiers; Augustine’s friend, Bishop Alypius, was arguing in Rome until the saint’s death.

Peter Brown, one of the most recent biographers of the leading theologian, writes: ‘Augustine was the son of a violent father and an inflexible mother. He could cling to what he considered objective truth with the remarkable ingenuity of his quarrelsome character’.

It should be noted that the increasingly violent aggression of Augustine, as manifested in his dispute with the Donatists, could also be a consequence of his prolonged asceticism. Before, as he himself confessed, he had had remarkable vital needs, ‘in lewdness and in prostitution’ he had ‘spent his strength’, and later he had energetically conjured ‘the tingling of desire’. He lived a long time in concubinage, later he took a girl as a girlfriend (she had almost two years to reach the legal age to get married: in girls twelve years) and at the same time a new darling. But for the cleric sexual pleasure is ‘monstrous’, ‘diabolical’, ‘disease’, ‘madness’, ‘rottenness’, ‘nauseating pus’, and so on.

Apart from that, was not he also feeling guilty about his long-time companion, whom he had forced to separate from himself and his son?

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Why Europeans must reject Christianity, 12

by Ferdinand Bardamu

 
Christianity: bringer of filth and disease

Ecclesiastical censorship and suppression of Western scientific and technical knowledge facilitated the spread and transmission of disease across Europe. This operated in tandem with the Christian denigration of the human body as a vehicle for sin. Instead of searching for the natural causes of disease, as the Hippocratic writers once did, the official doctrine of the church discouraged the practice of medicine by attributing all bodily ailment to the results of sin and diabolical possession. This retarded progress in the healing arts, leaving Europe at the mercy of disease for hundreds of years.

The negative influence of Christianity in Europe is revealed by the estimated mortality rates from the 14th century Black Death, one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. This was always significantly higher in regions and among populations where Christianity happened to be the dominant religion. For example, although plague reduced the population of the Moslem world by one-third, this was still less than the estimated two-thirds for Europe. These macroregional differences in mortality are also reflected on much smaller geographic scales. England under the Plantagenets lost one-half of her population to plague, whereas Mamluk Egypt lost only one-third.

Among populations, Jews had lower death rates than Christians. Their apparent immunity to the disease aroused the suspicions of their European contemporaries, who implicated them in a clandestine plot to kill Christians. They were viciously persecuted as a result.

Why the differential rates in mortality between Moslem, Jew and Christian? Judaism and Islam have long maintained personal hygiene as an integral part of daily ritual practice; Christianity, because of its hostility to the body, shunned personal hygiene as worldly and materialist. The church in Spain, for example, regularly encouraged believers to avoid bathing to better distinguish themselves from the hated Moors and Jews. Differences in physical cleanliness between entire geographic regions and whole populations either mitigated or exacerbated the ravages of the bubonic plague.

The triumph of Christianity in late antiquity devalued human physical existence in the eyes of Europeans. Human sexuality was regarded as a necessary evil, to be avoided except for procreation in marriage. The church also discouraged Christians from bathing because concern for the body was viewed as an obstacle to salvation. Although it came very close, the church did not officially ban personal hygiene. Instead, the Christians who ruled Europe allowed the great network of public baths that once dotted the empire, including the aqueducts that supplied them with water, to fall into a state of permanent disrepair.

St. Jerome once said: “He who has bathed in Christ has no need of a second bath.” This injunction was taken seriously by Christian ascetics. They practiced ritual mortification of the flesh by refusing to wash themselves. They wore the same garments every day until they were reduced to rags. The stench that was produced was known by Christians as alousia or the “odor of sanctity.” Saints like Agnes and Margaret of Hungary were revered by Christians because of their rejection of physical hygiene.

In the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia, only those monks who were sick and infirm were granted permission to bathe. Monks in good health and the young were encouraged to wallow in their own filth and excrement. Benedict’s rule was the most influential in the history of Western monasticism. It was embraced by thousands of medieval religious communities as a foundational monastic text.

Kriminalgeschichte, 45

Below, abridged translation from the first
volume of Karlheinz Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte
des Christentums
(Criminal History of Christianity)

 
It was not fought for faith, but for power and for Alexandria

The exacerbated interest in faith was not really more than the obverse of the question. From the beginning, this secular dispute was less about dogmatic differences than about the core of a typical clerical policy. ‘The pretext was the salvation of souls’—admitted even Gregory of Nazianzus, son of a bishop and holy bishop in turn, who avoided meddling in worldly matters and who often eluded his ecclesiastical offices by fleeing—, ‘and the motive was anxiety of domain, not to mention tributes and taxes’.

The hierarchical ambitions for power and the disputes over the Episcopal sees, in whose course the theological rivalries were often forgotten, gave duration and vehemence to those enmities. It not only excited the Church but, at least in the East, also the state. Not only did the council fathers sometimes engage in quarrels until the Holy Spirit spoke, but also lay people beat themselves bloody in public.

Any dispute produced there between the clergy, Arian and Monophysite, iconoclasm exceeds the limits of a mere quarrel between friars and shocks all political and social life for centuries. This makes Helvetius affirm, in a lapidary way: ‘What is the consequence of religious intolerance? The ruin of the nations’.

And Voltaire assures that ‘If you count the murders perpetrated by fanaticism from the brawls between Athanasius and Arius up to the present day, you will see that these disputes have contributed to the depopulation of the Earth rather than the warlike confrontations’, which undoubtedly it has been very often a consequence of the complicity between the throne and the altar.

However, just as the policies of the State and the Church were intimately intertwined, so were the latter and theology. Of course, there was no official doctrine about the Trinity, but only different traditions. Binding decisions ‘were only made in the course of the conflict’ (Brox).

In spite of this, each of the parties, especially Saint Athanasius, liked to call his desire for prestige and power a matter of faith; thus could accusations be constantly presented and justified. Athanasius immediately theologises any political impetus and treats his rivals as heretics. Politics becomes theology and theology, politics. ‘His terminology is never clear enough, the question is always the same’ (Loofs). ‘With Athanasius it is never about formulas’ (Gentz).

What most characterizes the ‘father of orthodoxy’ is that he leaves his extremely confused dogmatic position, using it until the 350s, to designate the ‘true faith’, those topics that would later be used to stigmatize the Arian or semi-Arian ‘heresy’: that he, the defender of Nicaea and the homousios, rejected for a long time the theory of hypostasis, thereby delaying the union; and that he, the bulwark of orthodoxy, even cleared the way for an ‘heretical doctrine’, Monophysitism.

For that reason, the Catholics of the 5th and 6th centuries had to ‘touch up’ the dogmatic treatises of their doctor of the Church. However, for a long time the Arians proposed a formula of profession that coincided literally with that often used by Athanasius, but then appeared as ‘Arian heresy’ since whatever the opponent said, it was always bad in advance, malignant and diabolical; and any personal enemy was an ‘Arian’.

All this state of affairs was facilitated by the fact that for a time there had been total confusion in theological concepts, and the Arians had split again. Even Constantine II, who had gradually favoured them more and more radically— ‘to all the corrupt bishops of the Empire’ (Stratmann, catholic), ‘to the caricatures of the Christian bishop’ (Ehrhard, catholic)—, got so fed up of the dispute over the ‘nature’ of Christ that ended up forbidding it.

The theologians of the post-Constantinian era compared this war of religion, increasingly unintelligible, with a naval battle in the midst of the fog, a nocturnal combat in which it is impossible to distinguish the friend from the foe, but in which one hits with viciousness, often changing sides, preferably, of course, towards the side of the strongest in which all means are allowed; one hates intensely, intrigues are plotted and jealousies provoked.

Even Jerome, the father of the Church, affirmed in his moment that he did not manage to find peace and tranquillity neither in a small corner of the desert, because every day the monks asked him accounts of his faith. ‘I declare what they want, but it is not enough for them. I subscribe to what they propose to me and they do not believe it. It is easier to live among wild beasts than among such Christians!’

Numerous aspects of the chronology of the dispute are still controversial, even doubting the authenticity of many documents. However, the direct starting point was the revolt provoked by a debate about the Trinity around the year 318 in Alexandria, a city in which they fought for more than faith.

Alexandria, founded in 332-331 by Alexander the Great, the city of the poet Callimachus, the geographer Eratosthenes, the grammarian Aristophanes of Byzantium and Aristarchus of Samothrace. The city of Plotinus and later of Hypatia, was the main metropolis of the East, a cosmopolitan city of almost a million inhabitants, whose luxury only rivalled that of Rome.

Alexandria was mapped out with broad views, it was rich and an important commercial plaza, with a fishing fleet that obtained not insignificant catches and stood out for its monopoly in the papyrus industry, which supplied to the whole world.

Alexandria, the place where the Old Testament was translated into Greek (the Septuagint), was also the seat of a patriarchy—it is not true that St. Mark founded it; the first bishop of whom there is historical record is Demetrius I—, and it was, within the whole of the Church including that of the West, the largest and most powerful of all Episcopal sees. The two Egypts, Thebes, Pentapolis and Libya were under its jurisdiction.

This position had to be maintained, consolidated and expanded. The Alexandrian hierarchs, called ‘popes’ and who soon became immensely wealthy, intended during the 4th and 5th centuries to get at all costs the domination of the totality of the Eastern dioceses. Their theology was also opposed to that of Antioch, which also joined the struggle for rank between the two patriarchs, always winning he who supported the emperor and the ecclesiastical and imperial seat of Constantinople.

In constant struggle against ecclesiastical competitors and the State, a political apparatus of the Church arose here for the first time, similar to what would later be in Rome. According to this, the bishops of the secondary seats acted, who paid for any change of course with the loss of their Episcopal armchairs, or either they won them. Not one of the innumerable paleo-Christian churches of Alexandria was preserved.

Around the year 318, Patriarch Alexander would have preferred to silence the burning question about the ousia, the nature of the ‘Son’. There was a time when he was personally linked to the orator Arius (around 260-336), denounced by the Meletians and since 313 he was the presbyter of the church of Baucalis, the most prestigious in the city and the centre of a large group of followers formed by young women and workers of the dams.

But Arius, who was a kind and conciliatory scholar and probably composed the first popular songs of the Christian era (now totally forgotten), had renounced the Episcopal seat in favour of Alexander, and in the contest he participated less in a personal capacity than as an exponent from the school of theologians of Antioch, which he had neither founded nor directed. On the other hand, Bishop Alexander had previously defended, which was also reproached by Arians, ideas and doctrines similar to those he was now pursuing; he affirmed that Arius spent ‘day and night in insults against Christ and against us’.

After two public debates, at a synod that brought together 100 bishops, St. Alexander excommunicated and exiled Arius and all his followers—a decision that undoubtedly contributed to the struggle of the high office against the privileges of his priests—, and warned everywhere against the intrigues of the ‘heresiarch’. He also informed the Roman bishop Silvestre (314-335). And by means of two encyclicals, in 319 and probably in 324, he appealed to ‘all other beloved and venerable servants of God’, ‘to all the bishops beloved by God of all places’.

This resulted in measures and countermeasures being taken. Some princes of the Church anathematized Arius while others expressed their appreciation. Among the latter was the important intercessor before the court, the influential Bishop Eusebius, supreme pastor of Nicomedia, the city of residence of the emperor, who welcomed his banished friend; and Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, already famous as biblical exegete and historian.

Two synods that resolved in favour of Arius made possible his rehabilitation and return. The Arian party of Alexandria was acquiring more and more force, coming to name a counter-bishop. Alexander defended himself in vain, lamented the ‘den of thieves’ of the Arians and came to fear for his own life. Riots followed, which spread throughout Egypt, and finally the Eastern Church split.

New Episcopal conferences, such as the Synod of Antioch in 324, again condemned Arius, writing to the ‘bishops of Italy, who depend on the great Rome’, although without considering the Roman power as sovereign or that it had come to play some role of relevance. And in the year 325 a council was held in the Emperor’s summer residence.

Kriminalgeschichte, 17

Antonello da Messina
Jerome in his study, ca. 1474-1475
National Gallery, London

Below, abridged translation from the first volume of Karlheinz
Deschner’s Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums

(Criminal History of Christianity)

 
St. Jerome and his ‘cattle for the slaughter of hell’

To the master Jerome, rich in wealth inherited from a noble Catholic household, we can admit without any doubt his words, ‘I have never respected the doctors of error, and I have always felt as a necessity of the heart that the enemies of the Church were also my enemies’.

And Jerome, in fact, so ardently took up the fight against the heretics that, unintentionally, supplied more than enough ammunition to the pagans, even in a treatise on virginity which he considered very precious. Still immature as in the days of his most ardent youth, the saint dedicated the text to Eustachia, a very young (seventeen-year-old) Roman of nobility, a ‘disciple’ and, in time, also saint: her celebration is commemorated on September 28. Jerome made known to her ‘the dirt and vices of all kinds’, as his modern biographer admits, the theologian Georg Grützmacher, calling it ‘disgusting’.

At the same time that he turns red-hot against the ‘heretics’ and receives, occasionally, the same qualification, Jerome plagiarises to right and left, wanting to be admired for his imposing erudition. He copied Tertullian almost verbatim, without naming him. From the great pagan sage Porphyry he took everything he knew of medicine, without recognising the merit. The ‘repellent mendacity of Jerome’ (Grützmacher) is often manifested.

Coming from such a holy mouth, it seems an exercise in moderation to just call Origen ‘blasphemous’, from whom he also ‘boldly’ copied ‘entire pages’ (Schneider), or when he says of Basilides that he was ‘an ancient master of errors, only notable by his ignorance’, and of Palladium ‘a man of low intentions’. Already in his habitual tone he calls the heretics ‘donkeys in two feet, eaters of thistles’ (of the prayers of the Jews—who according to him is a race unworthy to appear in the human race—he also said that they were heehaws); he compares Christians of other beliefs with ‘pigs’ and asserts that they are ‘cattle for the slaughter of hell’, in addition to denying them the name of Christians, since they are ‘of the devil’: ‘Omnes haeretici christiani non sunt. Si Christi non sunt, diaboli sunt’.

This most holy doctor of the Church, to whom we give special attention in this section (because we have not given him a chapter of his own, unlike the pure theologians such as Athanasius, Ambrose and Augustine), made many enemies even with people of his own party; for example the patriarch John of Jerusalem, whom Jerome persecuted and also his hermits, for many years. And even more violent was his enmity with Rufinus of Aquileia; in all these cases the discussion dealt with the works of Origen, at least apparently.

Origen himself, whose father Leonidas won in 202 the palm of martyrdom, suffered torture under Decius but refused to apostatise, and died in about 254 (he would be about seventy), it is unknown whether as a result of torture. What is certain is that Origen was one of the noblest figures in the history of Christianity.

This disciple of Clement of Alexandria personified in his time all Eastern Christian theology. Even long after his death he would be praised by many bishops, or rather by most of the East among them Basil, Doctor of the Church, and Gregory of Nazianzus, who collaborated in an anthology of the writings of Origen under the title Philokalia. The text was even appreciated by Athanasius, who protected it and quoted it many times. Today Origen is again praised by many Catholic theologians and it is possible that the Church has repented of its condemnation for heresy, too little nuanced, that pronounced against him at the time.

In antiquity the disputes around Origen were almost constant; as is often the case, faith was hardly more than a pretext in all of them. This was especially evident around the year 300, and in the year 400, and again in the middle of the 6th century, when nine theses of Origen were condemned in 553 by an edict of Justinian, adding to this sentence all the bishops of the empire, among whom the Patriarch Menas of Constantinople and Pope Vigilius stand out. The emperor’s decision had political (ecclesial) motives: the attempt to end the theological division between Greeks and Syrians, by uniting them against a common enemy, none other than Origen.

But there were also dogmatic reasons (which, after all, are political reasons too): some ‘errors’ of Origen such as his ‘subordination’ Christology, according to which the Son is less than the Father, and the Spirit less than the Son, which certainly reflects better the beliefs of the early Christians than the later dogma. His doctrine of apocatastasis is also worth mentioning, the universal reconciliation which denied that hell was eternal: a horrible idea that for Origen cannot be reconciled with divine mercy, and finds its origin (as well as the opposite doctrine) in the New Testament.

* * *

The measure of a saint who could so rudely argue against the other fathers was demonstrated by Jerome in a short treatise, Contra Vigilantius, written according to his own confession in a single night. Vigilantius was a Gallic priest from the beginning of the 5th century, who had undertaken such a frank and passionate campaign against the repellent cult of relics and saints; against asceticism in all its forms, and against anchorites and celibacy, and received the support of a few bishops.

‘The mantle of the Earth has produced many monsters’, Jerome begins his outburst, ‘and Gaul was the only country that still lacked a monster of its own… Hence, Vigilantius appeared, or it would be better to call him Dormitantius, to fight with his impure spirit the spirit of Christ’.

‘Then he would call him ‘descendant of highway robbers and people of bad life’, ‘degenerate spirit’, ‘upset dimwit, worthy of the Hippocratic straitjacket’, ‘sleeper’, ‘tavern owner’, ‘serpent’s tongue’ and he found in him ‘devilish malice’, ‘the poison of falsehood’, ‘blasphemies’, ‘slanderous defamation’, ‘thirst for money’, ‘drunkenness comparable to that of Father Bacchus’ and accused him of ‘wallowing in the mud’ and ‘bearing the banner of the devil; not that of the Cross’. Jerome writes: ‘Vigilantius, living dog’, ‘O monster, who ought to be deported to the ends of the world!’, ‘O shame!, they say that he has bishops, even as accomplices of his crimes’ and so on, always in the same tone.

Equally harsh was the polemical tone used by Jerome against Jovinian, a monk established in Rome. Jovinian had moved away from the radical asceticism of bread and water and at that time advocated a more tolerable lifestyle; had many followers who thought that fasting and virginity were not special merits, nor virgins better than married women.

Jerome only dared to launch his two treaties against Jovinian after the latter had been condemned by two synods in the mid-nineties of the 4th century: one in Rome under the direction of Bishop Siricius, and another in Milan presided over by Ambrose, who judged Jovinian’s quite reasonable opinions in the final analysis, as ‘howls of wild beasts’ and ‘barking dogs’. On his behalf, Augustine, sniffing ‘heresy’, appealed to the intervention of the State and to better emphasize his theses he got the monk to be whipped with whips of lead tips and exiled him with his acolytes to a dalmatic island. ‘It is not cruelty to do things before God with pious intent’, Jerome wrote.

Jerome’s ‘main skill’ consisted in ‘making all his opponents appear as rogues and soulless, without exception’ (Grützmacher). This was the typical polemical style of a saint, who, for example, also insulted Lupicinus, the canon judge of general jurisdiction in his hometown of Stridon with whom he had become antagonistic, concluding the diatribe with this mockery: ‘For the ass’s mouth thistles are the best salad’. Or as when he charged against Pelagius, a man of truly ascetic customs, of great moral stature and highly educated. In spite of having once been a friend of Jerome, he describes him as a simpleton, fattened with porridge, a demon, a corpulent dog, ‘a well-primed big animal’ which does more harm with the nails than with the teeth.

That dog belongs to the famous Irish race, not far from Brittany as everyone knows, and must be terminated with a single stroke with the sword of the spirit, as with that Cerberus can of legend, to make him shut up once and for all the same as his master, Pluto.

While dispensing this treatment to a man as universally respected as Pelagius, Jerome advocates asceticism and the anchorite life: the subjects of most of his works, with so many lies and exaggerations that even Luther, in his table talk, protests: ‘I know of no doctor who is as unbearable as Jerome…’

This Jerome, who sometimes slandered without contemplation and praised others with little respect for the truth, who was for sometime advisor and secretary of Pope Damasus and then abbot in Bethlehem; a panegyrist of asceticism that enjoyed great popularity in the Middle Ages, has been raised with infallible instinct to the university patronage, in particular in the theological faculties. It seems to us that he was short of becoming pope. At the very least, he himself testifies that according to the common opinion, he was deserving of the highest ecclesiastical dignity: ‘I have been called holy, humble, eloquent’.

His intimate relations with various ladies of the high Roman aristocracy excited the envy of the clergy. In addition, the death of a young woman, attributed by the indignant people (perhaps for some reason) to the ‘detestabile genus monachorum’, made him unpresentable in Rome. That is why he fled, followed shortly by his female friends, from the city of his dreams of ambition.

In the 20th century, however, Jerome ‘still shines’ in the great Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche edited by Buchberger, bishop of Regensburg, ‘despite certain negative aspects; for his manliness of good and the elevation of his views, for the seriousness of his penances and the severity towards himself, for his sincere piety and his ardent love for the Church’.

Kriminalgeschichte, 16

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

(“Criminal History of Christianity”)

 
The ‘God of peace’ and the ‘children of Satan’ in the fourth century (Pachomius, Epiphanius, Basil, Eusebius, John Chrysostom, Ephraim, Hilary)

During the fourth century as divisions and sects grew, the schisms and the heresies developed with increasing boldness. The anti-heretic shouting also became more strident, more aggressive. At the same time, the struggle against non-Catholics sought judicial support. It was time of agitation and almost pathological actions: a true ‘spiritual disease’ (Kaphan).
 
St Pachomius

Saint Pachomius, the first founder of Christian monasteries (from 320 onwards) and author of the first monastic rule (of Coptic rite), hated the ‘heretics’ like the plague. This ‘abbot-general’ who wrote in code part of his epistles, considers himself capable of discovering heretics by smell and affirms that ‘those who read Origen will go to the lowest circle of hell’. The complete works of this great pre-Constantinian theologian (who was defended and appreciated even by great fanatics like Athanasius) was thrown by Pachomius to the Nile.
 
Epiphanius

In the fourth century Epiphanius of Salamis, a Jewish apostate and antisemitic fanatic and viper, writes his Apothecary’s Drawer (Panarion), where he warns his contemporaries against no less than eighty ‘heresies’, among which he even considers twenty pre-Christian sects! This does not prevent a coreligionist such as St. Jerome from praising him as patrem paene omnium episcoporum et antiquae reliquias sanctitatis, nor that the second Council of Nicaea (787) honoured Epiphanius with the title of ‘patriarch of orthodoxy’.

In his Apothecary’s Drawer, as confusing as long-winded, the fanatical bishop exhausts the reader’s patience with the pretence of supplying massive doses of ‘antidote’ to those who have been bitten by these snakes of different species, who are precisely ‘heretics’ for which the ‘patriarch of orthodoxy’ not only ‘asserts as certain the most extravagant and unbelievable hoaxes, even pledging his word as a personal witness’ (Kraft), but also invents the names of ‘heretics’ and pulls out of thin air new and nonexistent ‘heresies’.

Christian historiography!
 
St Basil

In the fourth century, Basil the Great, doctor of the Church, considers that the so-called heretics are full of ‘malice’, ‘slander’ and of ‘naked and brazen defamation’. ‘Heretics’ like to ‘take all things on the evil side’, provoke ‘diabolical wars’, have ‘heavy heads for wine’. They are ‘clouded by drunkenness’, ‘frenetic’, ‘abysses of hypocrisy’ and ‘of impiety’. The saint is convinced that ‘a person educated in the life of error cannot abandon the vices of heresy, just as a Negro cannot change the colour of his skin or a panther its spots’, so heresy must be ‘branded by fire’ and ‘eradicated’.
 
Eusebius

Eusebius of Caesarea, ‘father of ecclesiastical history’, born between 260 and 264 and the future favourite of the Emperor Constantine, offers us a complete list of horrible ‘heresies’. The celebrated bishop, now little esteemed by the theologians who judge him ‘scarce in ideas’ (Ricken S.J.), ‘of diminished theological capacity’ (Larrimore), beats a large number of false and deceitful men: Simon the Magician, Satorrinus of Alexandria, Basilides of Alexandria and Carpocrates as schools of ‘heretics who are enemies of God’ who operate with ‘deceit’ and incur in ‘the most abhorrent abominations’.
 
St John Chrysostom

Nor does John Chrysostom, the great enemy of the Jews, see in heretics anything other than ‘children of the devil’ and ‘dogs that bark’. Incidentally, the comparisons with animals are a very used argument in the controversies against the heretics.

In his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Chrysostom stands beside Paul, ‘that spiritual trumpet’ to fight against all non-Catholic Christians, and quotes him with satisfaction when he says: ‘The God of peace [!] shall crush Satan under his feet’. Note that he does not say to ‘subdue’ them but ‘crush’ them; more concretely, ‘under your feet’. In a sermon to the Christians, Chrysostom invites the public blasphemers (who in those days already included Jews, idolaters, and heretics often called ‘antichrists’) to be questioned in the streets and, if necessary, receive the proper beating.
 
St Ephrem

For Ephrem, a doctor of the Church and a person who professed a deep hatred for the Jews, his Christian enemies were ‘abominable renegades’, ‘bloodthirsty wolves’ and ‘unclean pigs’. Of Marcion, the first founder of Christian churches (and also the creator of the first New Testament, and more radical than anyone in the condemnation of the Old Testament) says that he is devoid of reason and that his only weapon is ‘slander’. He is a ‘blind’, ‘a frenetic’, ‘a shameless harlot of conduct’; his ‘apostles’ are nothing but ‘wolves’…

It is evident that whoever wants to learn to hate, to insult, to slander without deceit, must seek as an example the holy fathers of the Church, the great founders of Christianity. Thus they proceeded against all those who did not think like them, Christians, Jews, or pagans: ‘Have no contemplations with idolatrous filthiness’ (Ephrem). For them, paganism was nothing more than ‘foolishness and deceit in all respects’ and the pagans ‘people who have lied’, ‘devour corpses’ and are ‘like pigs’.
 
St Hilary

[For] Hilary, a doctor of the Church who, apart from his special displeasure of the Jews… he also had as main enemies the ‘heretics’. Born in Gaul at the beginning of the fourth century, he attacked the Arians and fought, as the Catholic Hümmeler testifies despite that 1,500 years have passed, ‘the last breath of that plague.’

Admired by Jerome to the extent that he took pains to copy a work of Hilary; praised by Augustine as a formidable defender, and proclaimed by Pius IX, in 1851, Doctor of the Church, after long debates on baptism, the Trinity and the eternal combat of Satan against Jesus Christ, Saint Hilary charges against ‘perfidy and folly’, ‘the viscous and twisted path of the serpent’, ‘the poison of falsehood’, ‘ the ‘venom hidden’, ‘the insanity of the doctors of error’, their ‘feverish deliriums’; the ‘epidemic’, ‘illness’, ‘deadly inventions’, ‘traps for the unwary’, ‘tricks’, ‘endless madness’, the ‘pile of lies of their words’, etcetera, etcetera.

With these litanies, Hilary fills twelve books of his De Trinitate, ‘the best treatise against the Arians’ (Anwander). The monotonous flow of hatred is interrupted only to elucidate, or perhaps better to say to obscure, the question of the Trinity.

Kriminalgeschichte, 12

A month ago I wrote that the oldest Christian texts are a treat if we compare them with the version of Christianity that conquered the United States: the worst Christianity of all times. I also said that it’s the worst precisely because it transmuted the anti-Semitism of the early theologians into the philo-Semitism brought to this continent by the spiritual sons of Cromwell.

Judge it by yourselves. In the first book of his ten-volume Criminal History of Christianity Karlheinz Deschner explains the anti-Judaism in the Church from the 2nd to the 4th centuries:

The increasing hostility against the Jews in times of primitive Christianity is observed in the writings of the iospatres aevi apostolici, that is, of the apostolic fathers, a designation created by the patristics of the 17th century to refer to the authors who lived shortly after the apostles: ‘When the earth was still warm from the blood of Christ’, according to the expression of St. Jerome…

St. Justin, an important philosopher of the second century, was much pleased (as was Tertullian, Athanasius, and others) about the terrible destruction of Palestine by the Romans, the ruin of their cities, and the burning of their inhabitants. All this is judged by the saint as a punishment from heaven, ‘what has happened to you is well deserved… criminal breed, children of harlot.’

And the invectives of the ‘very fine Justin’ (Harnack), whose celebration is attached to the 14th of April by disposition of Leo XIII (who died in 1903), do not end there. The saint devotes many other epithets to the Jews: he calls them sick souls, degenerates, blind, lame, idolaters, sons of bitches and sacks of evil. He states that there is not enough water in the seas to clean them.

This man, who according to the exegete Eusebius lived ‘at the service of the truth’ and died ‘for proclaiming the truth’, affirms that the Jews are guilty of all ‘injustices committed by all other men’, a slander in which did not fall even Streicher, Hitler’s propagandist.

At the beginning of the third century, the Roman bishop Hippolytus, disciple of St Irenaeus and father of the ‘early Catholic Church’, wrote a poisonous pamphlet, Against the Jews. He called them ‘slaves of the nations’ and demanded that the servitude of this people does not last seventy years as the captivity of Babylon, or four hundred and thirty years as in Egypt, but ‘for all eternity.’

St. Cyprian, who was a very wealthy man, rector and bishop of Carthage in the year 248 after divorcing his wife, devoted himself to collecting anti-Jewish aphorisms and thus supplied ammunition to all Christian anti-Semites of the Middle Ages. According to the teachings of this celebrated martyr, characterized by his ‘indulgence and cordial manliness for the good’ (Erhard), the Jews ‘have as father the devil’; exactly what the Stürmer said, the newspaper of agitation for the Hitler SS. The great author Tertullian says that the synagogues are ‘the sources of the persecution’ (fontes persecutionum)…

The Stürmer was the periodical that inspired Andrew Anglin to name his Daily Stormer.

Even the noble Origen thinks that the doctrines of the Jews of his time are only fables and vacuous words; to their ancestors he once again reproaches for ‘the most abominable crime’ against ‘the Saviour of the human race; that is why it was necessary that the city where Jesus suffered was destroyed, and that the Jewish people should be expelled from their homeland’…

With the increase of clergy power in the 4th century, the virulence of anti-Judaism also grew, as the theologian Harnack observed. It was becoming more frequent for the ‘fathers’ to write pamphlets against the Jews. Some of the oldest ones have been lost; our references begin with those of Tertullian, Hippolytus of Rome, and a number of Church doctors, from St. Augustine to St. Isidore of Seville in the 7th century. Anti-Jewish pamphlets became a literary genre within the Church (Oepke).

Gregory of Nazianzus, even today celebrated as a great theologian, condemned the Jews in a single litany, where he calls them murderers of God and of the prophets; enemies of God, people who hate God, despise the Law, devil’s advocates, race of blasphemers, slanderers, scoundrel of Pharisees, sinners, lapidary men, enemies of honesty, assembly of Satan, etcetera. ‘Not even Hitler made more accusations against the Jews in less words than the saint and bishop of sixteen hundred years ago.’

Deschner devotes a few pages to the anti-Semitic pronouncements of St. Ephrem (306-373), John Chrysostom, St. Jerome and Hilary of Poitiers. Then he tells us:

In 1940, in the middle of the Hitler era, Carl Schneider confesses that ‘rarely in history is anti-Semitism as determined and as uncompromising… as that of those early Christians’.

Compare this primitive Christianity with the standing applause with which all the congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans, received Benjamin Netanyahu—and tell me with a straight face that I am wrong that the worst type of Christianity conquered the most powerful nation in modern history!

Saint Jerome Reading

Painting of the day:

Giovanni Bellini
Saint Jerome Reading
~ 1485
National Gallery of Art

Published in: on August 12, 2012 at 9:00 am  Comments (2)  
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