Darkening Age, 14

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

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

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

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

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

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…

Darkening Age, 2


 
INTRODUCTION

Athens, AD 532

‘That all superstition of pagans and heathens should be annihilated is what God wants, God commands, God proclaims.’

— St Augustine

This was no time for a philosopher to be philosophical. ‘The tyrant’, as the philosophers put it, was in charge and had many alarming habits. In Damascius’s own time, houses were entered and searched for books and objects deemed unacceptable. If any were found they would be removed and burned in triumphant bonfires in town squares. Discussion of religious matters in public had been branded a ‘damnable audacity’ and forbidden by law. Anyone who made sacrifices to the old gods could, the law said, be executed. Across the empire, ancient and beautiful temples had been attacked, their roofs stripped, their treasures melted down, their statues smashed. To ensure that their rules were kept, the government started to employ spies, officials and informers to report back on what went on in the streets and marketplaces of cities and behind closed doors in private homes. As one influential Christian speaker put it, his congregation should hunt down sinners and drive them into the way of salvation as relentlessly as a hunter pursues his prey into nets.

The consequences of deviation from the rules could be severe and philosophy had become a dangerous pursuit. Damascius’s own brother had been arrested and tortured to make him reveal the names of other philosophers, but had, as Damascius recorded with pride, ‘received in silence and with fortitude the many blows of the rod that landed on his back’. Others in Damascius’ s circle of philosophers had been tortured; hung up by the wrists until they gave away the names of their fellow scholars. A fellow philosopher had, some years before, been flayed alive. Another had been beaten before a judge until the blood flowed down his back.

The savage ‘tyrant’ was Christianity. From almost the very first years that a Christian emperor had ruled in Rome in AD 312, liberties had begun to be eroded. And then, in AD 529, a final blow had fallen. It was decreed that all those who laboured ‘under the insanity of paganism’—in other words Damascius and his fellow philosophers—would be no longer allowed to teach. There was worse. It was also announced that anyone who had not yet been baptized was to come forward and make themselves known at the ‘holy churches’ immediately, or face exile. And if anyone allowed themselves to be baptized, then slipped back into their old pagan ways, they would be executed.

For Damascius and his fellow philosophers, this was the end. They could not worship their old gods. They could not earn any money. Above all, they could not now teach philosophy. The Academy, the greatest and most famous school in the ancient world—perhaps ever—a school that could trace its history back almost a millennium, closed.

It is impossible to imagine how painful the journey through Athens would have been. As they went, they would have walked through the same streets and squares where their heroes—Socrates, Plato, Aristotle—had once walked and worked and argued. They would have seen in them a thousand reminders that those celebrated times were gone. The temples of Athens were closed and crumbling and many of the brilliant statues that had once stood in them had been defaced or removed. Even the Acropolis had not escaped: its great statue of Athena had been torn down.

Little of what is covered by this book is well-known outside academic circles. Certainly it was not well-known by me when I grew up in Wales, the daughter of a former nun and a former monk. My childhood was, as you might expect, a fairly religious one. We went to church every Sunday; said grace before meals, and I said my prayers (or at any rate the list of requests which I considered to be the same thing) every night. When Catholic relatives arrived we play-acted not films but First Holy Communion and, at times, even actual communion…

As children, both had been taught by monks and nuns; and as a monk and a nun they had both taught. They believed as an article of faith that the Church that had enlightened their minds was what had enlightened, in distant history, the whole of Europe. It was the Church, they told me, that had kept alive the Latin and Greek of the classical world in the benighted Middle Ages, until it could be picked up again by the wider world in the Renaissance. And, in a way, my parents were right to believe this, for it is true. Monasteries did preserve a lot of classical knowledge.

But it is far from the whole truth. In fact, this appealing narrative has almost entirely obscured an earlier, less glorious story. For before it preserved, the Church destroyed.

In a spasm of destruction never seen before—and one that appalled many non-Christians watching it—during the fourth and fifth centuries, the Christian Church demolished, vandalized and melted down a simply staggering quantity of art. Classical statues were knocked from their plinths, defaced, defiled and torn limb from limb. Temples were razed to their foundations and burned to the ground. A temple widely considered to be the most magnificent in the entire empire was levelled.

Many of the Parthenon sculptures were attacked, faces were mutilated, hands and limbs were hacked off and gods were decapitated. Some of the finest statues on the whole building were almost certainly smashed off then ground into rubble that was then used to build churches.

Books—which were often stored in temples—suffered terribly. The remains of the greatest library in the ancient world, a library that had once held perhaps 700,000 volumes, were destroyed in this way by Christians. It was over a millennium before any other library would even come close to its holdings. Works by censured philosophers were forbidden and bonfires blazed across the empire as outlawed books went up in flames.

Fragment of a 5th-century scroll
showing the destruction of the Serapeum
by Pope Theophilus of Alexandria

The work of Democritus, one of the greatest Greek philosophers and the father of atomic theory, was entirely lost. Only one per cent of Latin literature survived the centuries. Ninety-nine per cent was lost.

The violent assaults of this period were not the preserve of cranks and eccentrics. Attacks against the monuments of the ‘mad’, ‘damnable’ and ‘insane’ pagans were encouraged and led by men at the very heart of the Catholic Church. The great St Augustine himself declared to a congregation in Carthage that ‘that all superstition of pagans and heathens should be annihilated is what God wants, God commands, God proclaims!’ St Martin, still one of the most popular French saints, rampaged across the Gaulish countryside levelling temples and dismaying locals as he went. In Egypt, St Theophilus razed one of the most beautiful buildings in the ancient world. In Italy, St Benedict overturned a shrine to Apollo. In Syria, ruthless bands of monks terrorized the countryside, smashing down statues and tearing the roofs from temples.

St John Chrysostom encouraged his congregations to spy on each other. Fervent Christians went into people’s houses and searched for books, statues and paintings that were considered demonic. This kind of obsessive attention was not cruelty. On the contrary: to restrain, to attack, to compel, even to beat a sinner was— if you turned them back to the path of righteousness—to save them. As Augustine, the master of the pious paradox put it: ‘Oh, merciful savagery.’

The results of all of this were shocking and, to non-Christians, terrifying. Townspeople rushed to watch as internationally famous temples were destroyed. Intellectuals looked on in despair as volumes of supposedly unchristian books—often in reality texts on the liberal arts—went up in flames. Art lovers watched in horror as some of the greatest sculptures in the ancient world were smashed by people too stupid to appreciate them—and certainly too stupid to recreate them.

Since then, and as I write, the Syrian civil war has left parts of Syria under the control of a new Islamic caliphate. In 2014, within certain areas of Syria, music was banned and books were burned. The British Foreign Office advised against all travel to the north of the Sinai Peninsula. In 2015, Islamic State militants started bulldozing the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, just south of Mosul in Iraq because it was ‘idolatrous’. Images went around the world showing Islamic militants toppling statues around three millennia old from their plinths, then taking hammers to them. ‘False idols’ must be destroyed. In Palmyra, the remnants of the great statue of Athena that had been carefully repaired by archaeologists, was attacked yet again. Once again, Athena was beheaded; once again, her arm was sheared off.

I have chosen Palmyra as a beginning, as it was in the east of the empire, in the mid-380s, that sporadic violence against the old gods and their temples escalated into something far more serious. But equally I could have chosen an attack on an earlier temple, or a later one. That is why it is a beginning, not the beginning. I have chosen Athens in the years around AD 529 as an ending—but again, I could equally have chosen a city further east whose inhabitants, when they failed to convert to Christianity, were massacred and their arms and legs cut off and strung up in the streets as a warning to others.

Why Europeans must reject Christianity, 13

by Ferdinand Bardamu

 
Christianity: bringer of violence and bloodshed

Word of mouth is notoriously ineffective as a means of spreading religious propaganda. This explains why Christianity’s growth remained largely unspectacular until the early 4th century. Of course, the primary reason for the Christianization of the empire was the conversion of Constantine to the new religion. The influence of Christianity in the empire was continuously reinforced and strengthened by the imperially coercive legislation of his successors. Christianization also sanctioned acts of religious violence against pagans, which contributed significantly to the religion’s spectacular growth in numbers and influence. Christianity unleashed a wave of violence that nearly drowned Europe in an ocean of blood. Without Constantine, and the religious violence of his successors, Christianity would have remained just another competing religion in the provincial backwaters of the empire, like Mithraism or the Eleusinian Mysteries.

The imperial policy of Christianization was further aided by the religion’s intrinsic advantages over rival philosophical and religious belief systems, making it more palatable to the ignorant masses. This facilitated its rapid spread across the empire until, by the reign of Theodosius in the late 4th century, most urban areas were predominantly Christian. These advantages included the egalitarian ethos of the Christian church. Unlike Mithraism, which was elitist, Christianity accepted all potential recruits, regardless of ethno-linguistic or socio-economic difference. The Christians of the first three centuries practiced a form of primitive communism. This attracted the chronically indigent, as well as freeloaders. Another advantage was the child-like simplicity of Christian doctrine.

The Crisis of the 3rd century, where rival claimants fought each other for the title of Caesar, was an internecine conflict lasting for decades. It produced widespread economic instability and civil unrest. This disruption of daily life encouraged men and women to seek refuge in the mystery religions, but also Christianity, which offered easy answers in an increasingly chaotic and ugly world. The Christian religion promised life everlasting to those who successfully endured tribulation on earth.

Passage of the edict of Milan in 313 meant that Christians would go from being a persecuted minority to a persecuting majority. Although persecution of religious dissidents had occurred before Constantine, such events were comparatively rare. Roman “persecution” of Christianity was mild and sporadic. It was not even religious in nature, but political; Christians refused to swear loyalty to the state by offering the pinch of incense to the emperor’s genius. Christians were not so much persecuted as they were subjected to Roman police action for disobeying the laws of the land. In contrast, Christian persecution of pagans and heretics was entirely motivated by religious hatred. It combined the authoritarian anti-pagan legislation of the emperors with the bigotry of the clergy and the violence of the Christian mob.

The first repressive laws against paganism were passed by Constantine. In 331, he issued an edict that legalized the seizure of temple property. This was used to enrich church coffers and adorn his city of Constantinople. He redirected municipal funds from the curiae to the imperial treasury. The curiae used these funds for the construction and renovation of temples, as well as for pagan banquets, processions and festivals. The redirection of municipal funds significantly diminished the influence of paganism in the public sphere. Constantine also showed preference for Christians when considering prospective candidates for government posts. For the first time in the empire’s history, conversion to Christianity was considered an attractive proposition.

Pagan temples and statuary were first vandalized and destroyed under Constantine. Christians believed that this first wave of iconoclasm was in fulfillment of scriptural command: “Ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves; . . . for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exod. 34.13f). The earliest Christian iconoclasm included the partial destruction of a Cilician temple of Asklepios and the destruction of temples to Aphrodite in Phoenicia (ca. 326 AD).

Constantine’s sons, Constans and Constantius II, followed in their father’s footsteps. In 341, Constans issued an edict banning animal sacrifice. In 346, Constans and Constantius II passed a law ordering the closure of all temples. These emperors were egged on by the Christian fanatic Firmicus Maternus who, in an exhortation addressed to both emperors in 346, called for the “annihilation of idolatry and the destruction of profane temples.” The fact that pagans continued to occupy important posts in the imperial administration made it difficult to legislate the active destruction of temples, statuary and inscriptions without alienating a large segment of the empire’s population. Nevertheless, Constantine’s sons turned a blind eye to private acts of Christian vandalism and desecration.

After the death of Constantius II, Julian was made emperor in 361. Having succumbed to the influence of pagan tutors in his youth, he developed a deep hatred for the “Galilean madness.” Accession to the throne allowed him to announce his conversion to Hellenism without fear of retribution. Julian set about reversing the anti-pagan legislation first enacted by his uncle. He re-opened the temples, restored their funding and returned confiscated goods; he renovated temples that had been damaged by Christian vandals; he repealed the laws against sacrifice and barred Christians from teaching the classics. Julian’s revival of pagan religious practice was cut short in 363, when he was killed in battle against the Persian Sassanids.

His successor Jovian revoked Julian’s edicts and re-established Christianity as most favored religion in the empire. The emperors who came after Jovian were too occupied with barbarian invasion to be concerned with internal religious squabbles; it was more expedient to simply uphold the toleration imposed on pagans and Christians alike by the Edict of Milan. Anti-pagan conflict again came to the forefront with Gratian. In 382 he angered pagans by removing the altar of Victory from the Senate. In the same year, Gratian issued a decree that ended all subsidies to the pagan cults, including priesthoods such as the Vestal Virgins. He further alienated pagans by repudiating the insignia of the pontifex maximus.

In 389, Theodosius began his all-out war on the old Roman state religion by abolishing the pagan holidays. According to the emperor’s decrees, paganism was a form of “natural insanity and stubborn insolence” difficult to root out, despite the terrors of the law and threats of exile. This was followed by more repressive legislation in 391, which re-instated the ban on sacrifice, banned visitation of pagan sanctuaries and temples, ended imperial subsidies to the pagan cults, disbanded the Vestal Virgins and criminalized apostasy. He refused to return the altar of Victory to the Senate house, in defiance of pagan demands. Anyone caught performing animal sacrifice or haruspicy was to be arrested and put to death. In the same year, the Serapeum, a massive temple complex housing the Great Library of Alexandria, was destroyed by a mob of Christian fanatics. This act of Christian vandalism was a great psychological blow to the pagan establishment.

Pagans, dissatisfied with the imperially-sponsored cultural revolution that threatened to annihilate Rome’s ancestral traditions, rallied around the usurper Eugenius. He was declared emperor by the Frankish warlord Arbogast in 392. A nominal Christian, Eugenius was sympathetic to the plight of pagans in the empire and harbored a certain nostalgia for pre-Christian Rome. He restored the imperial subsidies to the pagan cults and returned the altar of Victory to the Senate. This angered Theodosius, emperor in the east. In 394, Theodosius invaded the west and defeated Eugenius at the battle of Frigidus in Slovenia. This ended the last serious pagan challenge to the establishment of Christianity as official religion of the empire.

Apologists for Christianity argue that imperial anti-pagan legislation was more rhetoric than reality; their enforcement would have been difficult in the absence of a modern police state apparatus. This objection is contradicted by archaeological and epigraphic evidence. First, based on stratigraphic analysis of urban temples, cult activity had virtually ceased by the year 400, after passage of the Theodosian decrees. Second, temple construction and renovation declined significantly under the Christian emperors. In Africa and Cyrenaica, temple construction and renovation inscriptions are far more common under the first Tetrarchy than the Constantinian dynasty, when pagans still constituted a significant majority of the empire’s citizens. By the end of the 4th century, the authoritarian legislation of the Christian emperors had seriously undermined the strength and vitality of the old polytheistic cults.

The emperors did not stop with the closure of pagan religious sites. In 435 AD, a triumphant Theodosius II passed an edict ordering the destruction of all pagan shrines and temples across the empire. He even decreed the death penalty for Christian magistrates who failed to enforce the edict. The Code Justinian, issued between 529 to 534, prescribes the death penalty for public observance of Hellenic rites and rituals; known pagans were to seek instruction in the Christian faith or risk property confiscation; their children were to be seized by officials of the state and forcibly converted to the Christian religion.

Imperially mandated closure of all urban temples resulted in the privatization of polytheistic worship. This further exacerbated the decline of the pagan religious cults because of the object-dependent nature of ritual practice, which could not be fully realized in the absence of statuary, processions, festivals, lavish banquets and monumental building. In urban areas, imperial legislation was clearly effective. This was ruthlessly enforced by professional Christians and zealous magistrates, who used the additional muscle of the Roman army to get their own way, especially when preaching and public example failed.

Pagan rites and rituals were still observed at rural sanctuaries and temples for some time after the closure of urban centers of worship. These remained off the beaten track, so to speak, and were harder to shut down.

Churchmen like the fiery John Chrysostom, cognizant of this fact, exhorted the rich landowning class of the east to convert the heathen on their country estates. Those who allowed pagan worship on their rural properties were just as guilty of violating imperial anti-pagan legislation as the pagans themselves. Itinerant Christian evangelists, like Martin of Tours, fanned out across the countryside, winning souls for Christ through a campaign of intimidation, harassment and violence. In the end, aggressive evangelism, privatization of pagan religious practice and social marginalization ensured the death of paganism in rural areas.

Christianization of the empire was complete by 600 AD, although it is unclear to what extent Christ was considered just another deity to be worshipped alongside the old pagan gods.

Why Europeans must reject Christianity, 6

by Ferdinand Bardamu

 
Christianity: bringer of ignorance

Christianity is dangerous because it elevates ignorance and stupidity over reason. In the gospel, Jesus encourages his followers to be like “sheep,” the stupidest and most docile of animals. Here, the ideal Christian is a character of low intelligence and little education. Jesus said that unless one becomes a child again one cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. In response to doubting Thomas, Jesus said: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” The apostle Paul echoed this point of view when he wrote “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of god.” Through a program of religious indoctrination from cradle to grave, the church forced Europeans to accept these beliefs as so many divinely revealed truths from heaven. Widespread acceptance of these beliefs helped retard scientific and technological progress in Europe for over a thousand years.

The fathers of the church promoted “holy ignorance” as an ideal to be emulated. Tertullian is noted among patristic writers for his militant anti-intellectualism. Although one of the most prominent despisers of classical philosophy and science, he was by no means in the minority. His attitude is typical of ecclesiastical officials during the patristic and medieval periods. This long list of Christian bigots includes Tatian, a noted apologist who regarded all pagan scientific and philosophical achievement as worthless, even harmful to the Christian faithful. Clement of Alexandria, another prominent ante-Nicene writer, argued that education was not necessary for salvation. Origen donated his extensive collection of pagan literature because of the fundamental incompatibility between secular learning and Bible study. The 4th century Apostolic Constitutions, an early work of canon law considered authoritative in the east, commands the Christian believer to shun all pagan learning as “strange” and “diabolical.”

Basil of Caesarea advised the faithful: “Let us Christians prefer the simplicity of our faith to the demonstrations of human reason… For to spend much time on research about the essence of things would not serve the edification of the Church.” Ironically, Basil is considered an example of moderation by apologists for Christianity. He believed that the usefulness of pagan literature should depend on level of scriptural agreement, making philosophy and science a kind of second- or third-rate handmaiden of theology. Writings least in accord with the Bible, almost all secular philosophy and science, were to be consigned to the trash bin.

Athanasius of Alexandria scorned all secular wisdom as blasphemy against the crucified god. In his famous hagiography of St. Antony, the illiterate monk is portrayed as a wise man. Despite his illiteracy, Antony’s hermit-like existence is considered the “perfect pattern of anchoretic life.” Antony even asks visiting pagan philosophers to become just like him in his “wisdom,” even though he is ignorant of all worldly learning.

The homilies of John Chrysostom, a noted anti-intellectual of the 4th century, are filled with vile denunciations of philosophy and science. He even periodically exhorted the Christian faithful to empty their minds of all secular wisdom. John routinely spewed vitriol against the classical heritage, advocating its systematic eradication, but only to magnify the power and influence of the gospel in daily life. Preaching before an elite audience in Constantinople, John’s vision was of a radically pure and ascetic Christianity, one stripped of all pagan influence. Given his oratorical ability and considerable powers of invective, as well as high standing in the patristic canon, there can be no doubt that John’s great hatred of secular knowledge played an influential role in the church’s decision to censor and suppress the writings of classical antiquity.

John Cassian, the great spiritual guide of Latin Christendom, advised the monk to seek out the company of uneducated peasants for his own personal edification. The abbot Arsenius, a former imperial tutor, regarded his education in classical Greek and Latin as inferior to the “wisdom” of illiterate Egyptian monks. The 4th century Christian ascetic and theologian Evagrius Ponticus declared: “Blessed is the man who has attained infinite ignorance.” The 5th century Statuta Ecclesia Antiqua banned the clergy from reading pagan books, unless their anti-Christian and heretical opinions needed to be refuted. This was incorporated into the 12th century Decretum Gratiani, a source of canon law for the Roman church until 1918.

Although considered a text-based religion, Christian teachings were orally transmitted until Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1440. Patristic and medieval Christianity viewed literacy in a negative light. Church tradition had always maintained that the first apostles lived in a state of “blessed ignorance.” In imitation of these men, Christians refused to teach their congregations how to read and write, especially during the first three centuries of the church’s existence.

The ante-Nicene church produced no translations of the bible for the indigenous populations of the provinces and frontiers, even though these populations were in regular contact with itinerant missionaries since the earliest days of primitive Christianity. The few patristic exhortations to Bible reading were aimed at a small minority of educated Christians. Centuries of theological controversy contributed to a view of Bible reading as a subversive undertaking. It was actively discouraged by the clergy, who ensured that the common people under their pastoral care would remain illiterate for generations. During the Middle Ages, church councils were convened to forbid the laity from having in their possession the Bible in Latin or any of the Romance languages. The penalty was burning at the stake for anyone caught translating the Bible into the vernacular.

Paideia suffered under the new ecclesiastical and Christian imperial bureaucracy. Officials of church and state had more important things to do then educate little children in the rudiments of Latin grammar and arithmetic. Illiteracy deepened and became more widespread under Christian influence. The anti-educational priorities of the church, increasing in virulence with the passage of time, discouraged more and more people from getting an education. This continued until literacy vanished from entire regions of post-Roman Europe. The Christian church’s deep-seated hostility to learning and scholarship, besides its positive estimation of ignorance and illiteracy, maintained western Europe at a prehistoric level of development for centuries.

The 4th century, which saw the triumph of Christianity, was a period of significant intellectual decline. There were no great figures in science, architecture or medicine. The 4th century could boast of no philosophers of the same caliber as Plotinus; there were no great writers or dramatists. Schools were closed, higher studies were abandoned, and the pagan libraries were sealed shut. The intellectual and artistic productions of the age were of little depth and substance. The all-pervasive Christian hostility to the life of the mind brought about this age of sterility.

Apocalypse for whites • XXXV

by Evropa Soberana

The destruction of the Greco-Roman World – 3

(Fifth century)

401
A crowd of Christians lynched the Hellenists in Carthage, destroying temples and idols. In Gaza, the Hellenists are lynched at the request of Bishop Porphyry, who also orders the destruction of the nine temples still standing in the city. That same year, the 15th Council of Chalcedon commands the excommunication—even after their deaths!—of Christians who keep good relationships with their Hellenist relatives.

St. John Chrysostom, ‘Holy and Father of the Church’, raises funds with the help of rich, boring, idle and resentful Christian women against the patriarchal Roman worship of perfection and war (such women are fascinated by the sickly Christian sadomasochism). Thus financed, he carries out a work of demolition of Greek temples. Thanks to John Chrysostom, the ancient temple of Artemis in Ephesus is demolished.

The immense temple of Artemis in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and had been built in the 6th century BCE over an area considered sacred since, at least, the Bronze Age. Its construction took 120 years and it could be said that it was perfectly comparable to a cathedral. The Christians end the existence of this
almost millennial building.

406-407
Emperor Arcadius returns to launch a decree in which he prohibits all non-Christian cults, which means that at this point so-called ‘paganism’ persists. A group of foederati tribes (federated to Rome, residents within its borders and faithful defenders of the empire), the Vandals, the Swabians and the Alans (the latter of Iranian origin, not Germanic) invaded France, destined for Spain.

408
Emperor Honorius of the Western Empire and Emperor Arcadius of the Eastern Empire ordered together that all Greco-Roman sculptures be destroyed. There are again destructions of temples, massacres and fires of their writings. Around this time, the famous African St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, ‘Saint, Father and Doctor of the Church’ massacred hundreds of adepts of the old ways in Calama, Algeria. (It will not be long before he died at the hands of the Vandals, a Germanic people that doesn’t walk around nonsense.) Augustine also established the persecution of judges who show mercy to the ‘idolaters’.

This same year of 408 the emperor Arcadius dies, being succeeded by the Emperor Theodosius II. To get an idea of the fanaticism, dementia and moral quality of this abortive subhuman, suffice it to say that he ordered children to be executed for playing with pieces of destroyed Greco-Roman statues. According to the same Christian historians, Theodosius II ‘meticulously followed the Christian teachings’.

Emperor Theodosius II. Judging by the quality of the portrait, the
empire was not in good shape under his reign, or perhaps
it is that the old sculptors had been killed.

While all this takes place, this same year of 408 a Roman chief of Germanic origin who had courageously defended the borders of the empire, Stilicho the vandal, is executed by a party of decadent Romans envious of his triumphs. After his unjust death, this party gives a sort of coup d’état and the women and children—we are talking about a minimum of 60,000 people—of the German foederati are massacred throughout Italy by the Christians. After this cowardly act the fathers and husbands of these families (30,000 men who had been faithful soldiers of Rome) went over the ranks of the Visigothic king Alaric, devastated with rage and calling for revenge against the murderers.

409
The Roman Empire collapses in irremissibly crisis, in filthy corruption and overwhelmed by the Germans. But the powerful Christians are in a hurry to eradicate the Greco-Roman legacy before the Germans discover it—lest the Germanised empire becomes Greece-Rome II! That same year, Swabians, Vandals and Alans cross the Pyrenees and invade Spain.

410
An army of Visigoths and other German allies loot Rome itself, continuing later in the south of France, Spain and Africa. From there, they try to dominate the Mediterranean.

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.