Christianity’s Criminal History, 110

(Iconic image of Tatian)

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.
 

Natural Science

Even geometry seemed disgraceful to Christians. Still at the beginning of the 4th century they refused to make bishop the Christian Nemesius of Emesa because he was dedicated to the study of mathematics.

Geometry and other scientific occupations were considered little less than impious activities. The historian of the Church Eusebius attacked these ‘heretics’ with these words: ‘Neglecting the Sacred Scriptures of God they were occupied with geometry; for they are earthly men, they speak earthly and do not know Him who comes from on high. They eagerly study the geometry of Euclid and admire Aristotle and Theophrastus’.

The natural sciences were the subject of particular condemnation on the part of Christian theology. The repercussions of that condemnation lasted for a long time and even led some researchers to the stake. In the usual school education on the natural sciences (and history) did not find a place until very early in the Modern Age. In the very universities they were not imposed as independent disciplines until the 17th century. Already in the last days of the ancient age, medicine experienced a strong decline—except perhaps in Mesopotamia—in favour of the predilection for the occult. The patriarch Severus of Antioch, for example, and also the Armenian Eznik of Kolb insist on the existence of demons in man and reject any attempt at naturalistic explanation by physicians.

Already the apologist Tatian, disciple of Justin, reproves medicine and makes it derive from the evil spirits: ‘Namely, the demons separate with their cunning men from the veneration of God, persuading them to put their trust in herbs and roots’.

These words exude that deep aversion, so typical of the ancient Christians, about nature, the here, and the earthly. ‘Why do people place their trust in the powers of matter and do not trust God? Why don’t you go to the most powerful of the lords and prefer to be healed by herbs?’

In this way medicine as a whole was reduced to diabolical work, the work of the evil spirits. ‘Pharmacology and everything related to it comes from the same workshop of lies’. Analogous is the opinion of Tertullian, who made fun of doctors and researchers of Nature, and that attitude continued throughout the Middle Ages and even later. It was natural for Tatian to have no esteem for science as a whole:

How to believe a person who claims that the sun is an incandescent mass and the moon, a body like the Earth? All these are no more than debatable hypotheses and not proven facts. What utility can research report on the proportions of the Earth, on the positions of the stars, on the course of the sun?

The purely scientific explanations do not count anymore. Those people who, in the 4th century, were looking for a geophysical explanation of earthquakes (instead of considering them caused solely by the wrath of God!) were inscribed in the list of ‘heretics’ by the bishop of Brescia.

Since the supreme criterion for the reception of the scientific-natural theories was that of its degree of compatibility with the Bible, science not only stagnated: the very knowledge accumulated since time immemorial was discarded. The prestige of science waned to the same extent that the Bible ascended.

The theory of the rotation of the Earth and its spherical shape goes back to the Pythagoreans of the 5th century BC. The Christian Church renounced this knowledge in favour of the Mosaic story of creation and the biblical text preaching that the Earth was a disk surrounded by the seas. European students did not know about its spherical figure until a millennium later, in the High Middle Ages, through the Arab universities of Spain!

Lactantius defames natural science by calling it pure nonsense. The Doctor of the Church Ambrose reproves it radically as an attack on the majesty of God. He is not interested in the least about the question of the position of the Earth. That is something without any relevance for the future. ‘It is enough to know that the text of Sacred Scripture contains this observation: He suspended the Earth on nothingness’. St. Ambrose’s notion of natural philosophy is illustrated by the heartfelt affirmation that ‘the gospel according to John contains all natural philosophy’.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 109

Editor’s Note: The spirit of Jorge of Burgos

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christianity’s Criminal History, 107


 Editors’ note: To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.

 

The theatre, ‘The temple of the devil’

Almost unanimously (with very few exceptions, such as those of Victorinus of Pettau and Gaius Marius Victorinus), the Fathers of the Church denigrated the spectacles: this constituted an important component in their anti-Hellenic polemic. The shows really reflected to them all the iniquity of the Greco-Roman world.

The Father of the Church Salvian of Marseilles, who in the 5th century considered the visit to spectacles by Christians a crime and also sought to know that God hates these amusements, informs us that when an ecclesiastical festival coincided with the games, most of the spectators were sitting in the theatre. The suaviludii (fans of shows) used all kinds of arguments to defend theatre attendance and their censors tried to refute them. At the indication, for example, that there was no express prohibition in Sacred Scripture, Tertullian replies with Psalm I, 1, ‘Avoid the meetings of the ungodly’.

The theatre happened to be a domain of the devil, of the evil spirits, and the ‘Fathers’ almost whipped it up, giving it attributes such as ‘immoral’ (turpis), obscene (obscoenus), ‘repulsive’ (foedus) and many other similar epithets. It was, however, ‘very infrequent’ the case that the theatre was attacked because of its—still then current—cultic meaning, the veneration of the gods. In this sense, only Irenaeus, Tertullian, and the Syrian bishop Jacob did it; and Sarug (451-452), who stated that ‘Satan tries to restore paganism through comedy’. All others demonized the theatre for reasons of an almost exclusively moral nature.

The Philippic of Tatian Oratio ad Graecos, an authentic invective against Greek culture, gives us an idea of the poisonous bile that those paladins of the anti-dramaturgy of primitive Christianity were spewing. The actor appears in it as

boastful and dissolute ruffian without restraint, who as soon as he looks with sparkling eyes as he moves waving his hands, delirious under his clay mask, it assumes the role of Aphrodite, followed by that of Apollo… And such a scoundrel is applauded by all!

Many pious ‘Fathers’ saw how the vices penetrated the hearts of the spectators through their eyes and ears as if they were open windows. According to St. Ambrose (introibit mors) ‘death will penetrate through the window of your eyes’ and the stage choir is ‘lethal’. For Jerome, theatrical music also threatens morals. Moreover, the very critical mention of representations was sinful, said Salvian. Even married women, according to Augustine, ‘take home new knowledge’ learned from that ‘lascivious bustle’.

It was necessary to wait for Theodosius I so that, in 392, the careers of cars were prohibited; a prohibition that in 399 was extended to all the spectacles during Sundays, but with so scarce success that in the year 401 the Synod of Carthage requested that the measures already adopted were intensified.

The Church, since Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian, considered attendance at shows incompatible with Christianity, and ended up strictly prohibiting it to priests and laymen in the III and IV Council of Carthage, threatening the transgressors with excommunication. The bishop of Rome, Eusebius, did not allow the performance of comedians even in the banquets of homage.

The First Council of Arles denies the charioteers and all the theatre staff permission to receive Communion while they are holding shows. The VII Council of Carthage prohibits all actors in 419 from filing complaints against clerics. If an actor, a ‘flute of Satan’ (Jacob of Sarug), wanted to convert to Christianity, the old ecclesiastical constitutions and the councils generally demanded the abandonment of his profession.

Christianity’s Criminal History, 106


 Editors’ note: To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, read the abridged translation of Volume I.

 

The hostility to classic culture in early Christian Latin writers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christianity’s Criminal History, 101

 

Editors’ note:

To contextualise these translations of Karlheinz Deschner’s encyclopaedic history of the Church in 10-volumes, Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums, see the abridged translation of Volume I (here).

 

The Christian Book Burning
and the Annihilation of Classical Culture

Where is the wise person? Where is the educated one? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

—St. Paul, I Corinthians 1:20

Charlatanism is initiated among you by the schoolteacher, and as you have divided the science into parts [sacred & profane], you have moved away from the only true one.

—Tatian

After Jesus Christ, all research is already pointless. If we believe, we no longer demand anything that goes beyond our faith.

—Tertullian

If you want to read historical narratives, there you have the Book of The Kings. If, on the contrary, you want to read the wise men and philosophers, you have the prophets… And if you long for the hymns, you also have the psalms of David.

—Apostolic Constitution (3rd Century)

Religion is, therefore, the central core of the entire educational process and must permeate all educational measures.

Lexicon for Catholic Life (1952)

 
Constantine ordered to burn the fifteen books of the work Against the Christians written by Porphyry, the most astute of the opponents of Christianity in the pre-Constantinian era: ‘The first state prohibition of books decreed in favour of the Church’ (Hamack). And his successors, Theodosius II and Valentinian III, condemned Porphyry’s work again to the bonfire, in 448. This happened after Eusebius of Caesarea had written twenty-five books against this work and the doctor of the Church Cyril nothing less than thirty.

Towards the end of the 4th century, during the reign of Emperor Valens, there was a great burning of books, accompanied by many executions. That Christian regent gave free rein to his fury for almost two years, behaving like ‘a wild beast’, torturing, strangulating, burning people alive, and beheading. The innumerable records allowed to find the traces of many books that were destroyed, especially in the field of law and the liberal arts. Entire libraries went to the fire in the East. Sometimes they were eliminated by their owners under the effect of panic.

On the occasion of the assaults on the temples, the Christians destroyed, especially in the East, not only the images of the gods but also the liturgical books and those of the oracles. The Catholic Emperor Jovian (363-364) had the Antioch library destroyed by fire: the same library installed there by his predecessor Julian the Apostate. Following the assault on the Serapis in 391, during which the sinister Patriarch Theophilus himself destroyed, axe in hand, the colossal statue of Serapis carved by the great Athenian artist Bryaxis, the library was consumed by flames.

After the library of the Museum of Alexandria, which already had 700,000 rolls, was consumed by a casual fire during the siege war by Cesar (48-47 BC), the fame of Alexandria as a city possessing the most numerous and precious bibliographic treasures only lasted thanks to the library of the Serapis, since the supposed intention of Antony to give Cleopatra, as compensation for the loss of the library of the museum, the entire library of Pergamum, with 200,000 rolls , does not seem to have come to fruition. The burning of libraries on the occasion of the assault on the temples was indeed something frequent, especially in the East.

It happened once again under the responsibility of Theophilus, following the destruction of an Egyptian sanctuary in Canopus and that of the Marneion of Gaza in 402.

At the beginning of the 5th century, Stilicho burned in the West—with great dismay on the part of the Roman aristocracy faithful to the religion of his elders—the books of the Sibyl, the immortal mother of the world, as Rutilius Claudius Namatianus complained. To him, the Christian sect seemed worse than the poison of Circe.

In the last decades of the 5th century, the libelli found there (‘these were an abomination in the eyes of God’—Rhetor Zacharias)—were burnt in Beirut before the church of St. Mary. The ecclesiastical writer Zacharias, who was then studying law in Beirut, played a leading role in this action supported by the bishop and state authorities. And in the year 562 Emperor Justinian, who had ‘pagan’ philosophers, rectors, jurists and physicians persecuted, ordered the burning of Greco-Roman images and books in the Kynegion of Constantinople, where the criminals were liquidated.

Apparently, already at the borderline of the Middle Ages, Pope Gregory I the Great, a fanatical enemy of everything classical, burned books in Rome. And this celebrity—the only one, together with Leo I, in gathering in his person the double distinction of Pope and Doctor of the Church—seems to have been the one who destroyed the books that are missing in the work of Titus Livy. It is not even implausible that it was he who ordered the demolition of the imperial library on the Palatine. In any case, the English scholastic John of Salisbury, bishop of Chartres, asserts that Pope Gregory intentionally destroyed manuscripts of classical authors of Roman libraries.

Everything indicates that many adepts of the Greco-Roman culture converted to Christianity had to prove to have really moved their convictions by burning their books in full view. Also, in some hagiographic narratives, both false and authentic, there is that commonplace of the burning of books as a symbol, so to speak, of a conversion story.

It was not always forced to go to the bonfire. Already in the first half of the 3rd century, Origen, very close in this regard to Pope Gregory, ‘desisted from teaching grammar as being worthless and contrary to sacred science and, calculating coldly and wisely, he sold all his works of the ancients authors with whom he had occupied until then in order not to need help from others for the sustenance of his life’ (Eusebius).

There is hardly anything left of the scientific critique of Christianity on the part of adherents to classical culture. The emperor and the Church took care of it. Even many Christian responses to it disappeared! (probably because there was still too much ‘pagan poison’ on its pages). But it was the classical culture itself on which the time came for its disappearance under the Roman Empire.
 

The annihilation of the Greco-Roman world

The last emperor of classical antiquity, the great Julian, certainly favoured the adherents of the old culture, but simultaneously tolerated the Christians: ‘It is, by the gods, my will that the Galileans not be killed, that they are not beaten unjustly or suffer any other type of injustice. I declare, however, that the worshipers of the gods will have a clear preference in front of them. For the madness of the Galileans was about to overthrow everything, while the veneration of the gods saved us all. That is why we have to honour the gods and the people and communities that venerate them’.

After Julian’s death, to whom the orator Libanius felt united by faith and friendship, Libanius complains deeply, moved by the triumph of Christianity and by its barbarous attacks on the old religion.

Oh! What a great sorrow took hold not only of the land of the Achaeans, but of the entire empire… The honours of which the good ones participated have disappeared; the friendship of the wicked and unbridled enjoys great prestige. Laws, repressive of evil, have already been repealed or are about to be. Those that remain are barely fulfilled in practice.

Full of bitterness, Libanius continues to address his co-religionists:

That faith, which until now was the object of mockery and that fought against you so fierce and untiring, has proved to be the strongest. It has extinguished the sacred fire, the joy of sacrifices, has ordered to savagely neat [its adversaries] and demolish the altars. It has locked the shrines and temples, if not destroyed them or turned them into brothels after declaring them impious. It has abrogated any activity with your faith…

In that final assault on the Greco-Roman world, the Christian emperors were mostly and for a long time less aggressive than the Christian Church. Under Jovian (363-364), the first successor of Julian, Hellenism does not seem to have suffered major damage except the closure and demolition of some temples. Also the successors of Jovian, Valentinian I and Valens, during whose government appears for the first time the term pagani referring the faithful of the old polytheism, maintained an attitude of relative tolerance toward them.

The Catholic Valentinian with plenty of reasons, because his interest was in the army and needed inner peace, tried to avoid religious conflicts. He still covered the high positions of the government almost evenly, even with a slight predominance of the believers in the gods.

Under Valens, nevertheless, the high Christian officials already constituted a majority before the Hellenes. Yet he fought the Catholics, even using the help of the Hellenes for reasons, of course, purely opportunistic.

Although the emperor Gratian, for continuing the rather liberal religious policy of his father Valentinian I, had promised tolerance to almost all the confessions of the empire by an edict promulgated in 378, in practice soon followed an opposite behaviour, for he was strongly influenced by the bishop of Milan, Ambrose.

Under Valentinian II, brother of Gratian, things really turned around and the relationship between high Christian officials and the adherents of the old culture was again balanced and the army chiefs, two polytheists, played a decisive role in the court. Even in Rome two other Hellenes of great prestige, Praetextatus and Symmachus, exerted the charges of praetorian and urban prefect respectively.

Gradually, however, Valentinian, as his brother once did, fell under the disastrous influence of the resident bishop of Milan, Ambrose. Something similar to what would happen later with Theodosius I. Ambrose lived according to his motto: ‘For the “gods of the heathen are but devils” as the Holy Scripture says; therefore, anyone who is a soldier of this true God must not give proof of tolerance and condescension, but of zeal for faith and religion’.

And indeed, the powerful Theodosius ruled during the last years of his term, at least as far as religious policy was concerned, strictly following Ambrose’s wishes. First, the rites of non-Christians were definitively banned at the beginning of 391. Later the temples and sanctuaries of Serapis in Alexandria were closed, which soon would be destroyed. In 393 the Olympic games were prohibited. The infant emperors of the 5th century [1] were puppets in the hands of the Church. That is why the court also committed itself more and more intensely in the struggle against classical culture, a struggle that the Church had already vehemently fuelled in the 4th century and that led gradually to the systematic extermination of the old faith.

The best-known bishops took part in this extermination, which intensified after the Council of Constantinople (381), with Rome and the East, especially Egypt, as the most notorious battlefields of the conflict between the Hellenes and the Christians.
 
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[1] Deschner is referring to emperors Arcadius, Theodosius II and Honorius whose reigns will be described in other translations of his books.

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, 80

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

Counterfeits in Diaspora Judaism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Race and appearance of Jesus

A brief exchange in my previous post moves me to copy-and-paste the below paragraphs from a Wikipedia article with the same title of this entry.

 
Despite the lack of direct biblical or historical references, from the 2nd century onward various theories about the appearance of Jesus were advanced, but early on these focused more on his physical appearance than on race or ancestry. Larger arguments of this kind have been debated for centuries.

Justin Martyr argued for the genealogy of Jesus in the biological Davidic line from Mary, as well as from his non-biological father Joseph. But this only implies a general Jewish ancestry, acknowledged generally by authors.

The focus of many early sources was on Christ’s physical unattractiveness rather than his beauty. The 2nd century anti-Christian philosopher Celsus wrote that Jesus was ‘ugly and small’ and similar descriptions are presented in a number of other sources as discussed extensively by Eisler, who in turn often quotes from Dobschütz’ monumental Christusbilder. Tertullian states that Christ’s outward form was despised, that he had an ignoble appearance and the slander he suffered proved the ‘abject condition’ of his body.

According to Irenaeus he was a weak and inglorious man and in The Acts of Peter he is described as small and ugly to the ignorant. Andrew of Crete relates that Christ was bent or even crooked: and in The Acts of John he is described as bald-headed and small with no good looks.

As quoted by Eisler, both Hierosolymitanus and John of Damascus claim that ‘the Jew Josephus’ described Christ as having had connate eyebrows with goodly eyes and being long-faced, crooked and well-grown. In a letter of certain bishops to the Emperor Theophilus, Christ’s height is described as three cubits (four feet six), which was also the opinion of Ephrem Syrus (320–379 AD), ‘God took human form and appeared in the form of three human ells (cubits); he came down to us small of stature.’

Theodore of Mopsuhestia likewise claimed that the appearance of Christ was smaller than that of the children of Jacob (Israel). In the apocryphal Lentulus letter Christ is described as having had a reddish complexion, matching Muslim traditions in this respect. Christ’s prediction that he would be taunted ‘Physician, heal yourself’ may suggest that Christ was indeed physically deformed (‘crooked’ or hunch-backed) as claimed in the early Christian texts listed above. In fact, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Ambrose actually considered lack of physical attractiveness in Jesus as fulfilling the Messianic prophecy ‘Suffering Servant’ narrative of Isaiah 53.

A study on the 2001 BBC series Son of God attempted to determine what Jesus’ race and appearance may have been. Assuming Jesus to be a Galilean Semite, the study concluded in conjunction with Mark Goodacre that his skin would have been ‘olive-coloured’ and ‘swarthy’—these results were criticised by some media outlets for being ‘dismissive’ and ‘dumbed down’. However, this type of analysis suggests, that even though Caucasian, Jesus may not have fit into all modern definitions of whiteness in the Western world.

In academic studies, beyond generally agreeing that ‘Jesus was Jewish’, there are no contemporary depictions of Jesus that can be used to determine his appearance. It is argued that Jesus was of Middle Eastern descent because of the geographic location of the events described in the Gospels, and, among some modern Christian scholars, the genealogy ascribed to him.

For this reason, he has been portrayed as an olive-skinned individual typical of the Levant region. In 2001, a new attempt was made to discover what the true race and face of Jesus might have been. The study, sponsored by the BBC, France 3 and Discovery Channel, used one of three 1st-century Jewish skulls from a leading department of forensic science in Israel. A face was constructed using forensic anthropology by Richard Neave, a retired medical artist from the Unit of Art in Medicine at the University of Manchester.

The face that Neave constructed suggested that Jesus would have had a broad face and large nose, and differed significantly from the traditional depictions of Jesus in renaissance art. Additional information about Jesus’ skin colour and hair was provided by Mark Goodacre, a senior lecturer at the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham. Using 3rd-century images from a synagogue—the earliest pictures of Jewish people—Goodacre proposed that Jesus’ skin colour would have been darker and swarthier than his traditional Western image.

He also suggested that he would have had short, curly hair and a short cropped beard. This is also confirmed in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, where Paul the Apostle states that it is ‘disgraceful’ for a man to have long hair. As Paul allegedly knew many of the disciples and members of Jesus’ family, it is unlikely that he would have written such a thing had Jesus had long hair.

Although not literally the face of Jesus, the result of the study determined that Jesus skin would have been more olive-coloured than white, and that he would have most likely looked like a typical Galilean Semite of his day. Among the points made was that the Bible records that Jesus’ disciple Judas had to point him out to those arresting him. The implied argument is that if Jesus’ physical appearance had differed markedly from his disciples, then he would have been relatively easy to identify. James H. Charlesworth states Jesus’ face was ‘most likely dark brown and sun-tanned’.

Published in: on April 28, 2018 at 12:18 am  Comments (6)  

Why Europeans must reject Christianity, 4

by Ferdinand Bardamu

 
A religion for simple-minded folk

Scholars have long noted the great appeal Christianity has always had for the lowest dregs of humanity. Few intellectuals were ever attracted to the religion; those who converted became anti-intellectual extremists who turned their back on Western culture and civilization.

The 2nd-century Latin theologian Tertullian, one of the most bigoted Christian anti-intellectuals to have ever lived, famously asked:

What indeed has Athens got to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church?… We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief.

Contemporary pagan philosophers frequently observed that the earliest converts were drawn from the ranks of stupid, ignorant people. Celsus, an early pagan critic of the new religion, wrote that it was Christian policy to turn away the wise and the educated; only boys, fools and slaves were considered as potential converts. “Their favorite expressions,” wrote Celsus, “are ‘Do not ask questions, just believe!’ and: ‘Your faith will save you!’ ‘The wisdom of this world,’ they say, ‘is evil; to be simple is to be good.'”

The educated pagan was contemptuous of folk belief. To be worthy of belief, religions had to be logically consistent and empirically grounded. They had to have some basis in science and philosophy. Anything else was “superstition.” In classical antiquity, superstition was defined as fear of “daemons” and belief in the supernatural causation of natural and physical phenomena, such as disease.

To the pagan intellectual, Christianity embodied everything they hated about superstition. What made Christianity especially reprehensible was that it had inherited all the worst features of Judaism, namely intolerance and bigotry. The religion also spread like a contagious disease. As the pagan intellectual saw it: Christianity was devised and spread by ignorant men for the benefit of ignorant men, especially because of its close resemblance to the superstitious beliefs of the masses. The triumph of Christianity led to a complete reversal of elite pagan values in late antiquity. The educated man now embraced wholeheartedly the beliefs of the semi-barbaric multitudes.

St. Augustine, originally educated in the classical curriculum and trained in rhetoric, could state with confidence that all diseases were of supernatural origin, in open defiance of well-established Greek medical practice. Whereas before Constantine, there existed a significant gap between the beliefs of the educated pagan and the hoi polloi, after Constantine, there was no such gap. For the first time in classical antiquity, the elite and the masses were indistinguishable in terms of belief, with all naively subscribing to veneration of saints, their relics and miracles.

The triumph of Christianity in the West was the triumph of a profound ignorance that lasted centuries.

Kriminalgeschichte, 20

Note of the Editor: In this section Deschner says:

Therein lies the destructive tendency, of consequences that even reach us today, that instead of the ‘natural cosmos’ there is an ‘ecclesiastical cosmos’: a radical religious anthropocentrism, whose numerous repercussions and ‘progress’ endure beyond medieval theocracy [emphasis added].

Bingo! This is exactly what Savitri Devi tried to convey in Impeachment of Man, and also the Nazis right after they reached power.

Pay due attention how these early Christian writers refer to the adepts of Greco-Roman culture as ‘gentiles’ (the painting in this post depicts Clement, author of Exhortations to Gentiles).

 

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

(Criminal History of Christianity)

The defamation of the cosmos and pagan religion and culture (Aristides, Athenagoras, Tatian, Tertullian, Clement and others)
 
Aristides

By the middle of the 2nd century, Aristides, one of the first apologists, whipped (in a text of apologetics that was not discovered until 1889 in the monastery of St Catherine of Sinai) the divinization of water, fire, winds, sun and, of course, the cult of the land; this being the place ‘where the filth of humans and animals, both wild and domestic… and the decomposition of the dead’, ‘recipient of corpses’.

Nothing, then, of the animal kingdom or the vegetable kingdom. Nothing of pleasure. And the polytheistic worlds are ‘madness’, ‘blasphemous, ridiculous and foolish talk’, which are the source of ‘all evil, hideous and repugnant’, ‘great vices’, of ‘endless wars, great famines, bitter captivity, and absolute misery’, all of which falls upon humanity ‘because of paganism’ and only for that.
 
Athenagoras

[On the other hand], at the end of the 2nd century the Athenian Athenagoras wants to see God, the father of reason, even in creatures devoid of it, and demands that the image of God be honoured not only in the human figure, but also in birds and terrestrial animals. Prudently, this Christian declares that ‘it is necessary that each one choose the gods of his preference’. Athenagoras does not harbour the intention to attack their images and does not even deny that they are capable of working miracles; Augustine takes a very similar stance.

How humble, or could almost say pious, Athenagoras seems in his A Plea for the Christians, when he asks for the ‘indulgence’ of the pagans Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, and praises their ‘prudent government’, their ‘kindness and clemency’, their ‘peace of mind and love of humans’, their ‘eagerness to know’, their ‘love of truth’ and their ‘beneficent actions’. He even assigns them honorary titles that did not correspond to them.
 
Tatian

However, at the same time, that is, towards 172, the Eastern Tatian writes a tremendous philippic against paganism. For this disciple (Christianized in Rome) of St Justin and future leader of the Encratites ‘heresy’, for the ‘barbarian philosopher Tatian’, as he called himself, the pagans are pretentious and ignorant, quarrelsome and flatterers.

They are full of ‘pride’ and ‘bell-like phrases’, but also of lust and lies. Their institutions, their customs, their religion and their sciences are nothing more than ‘follies’, ‘stupidity under multiple disguises’, ‘aberrations’. In his Oratio ad Graecos Tatian criticizes ‘the talk of the Romans’, ‘the frivolity of the Athenians’, ‘the innumerable mob of your useless poets, your concubines and other parasites’.

The ex-pupil of the sophists finds ‘lack of measure’ in Diogenes, ‘gluttony’ in Plato, ‘ignorance’ in Aristotle, ‘gossip of old women’ in Pherecydes and Pythagoras, ‘vanity’ in Empedocles. Sappho is no more than a ‘dishonest female, a prey to wrath of the uterus’, Aristippus a ‘lustful hypocrite’, Heraclitus a ‘vain self-taught’. In a word: ‘They are charlatans not doctors’, ironizes the Christian, ‘great in words but lacking in knowledge’, who ‘walk on hooves like wild animals’.

Tatian makes a tabula rasa of the classical rhetoric, of the schools, of the theatre, ‘those hemicycles where the public greets listening to filth’. Even the plastic arts (by theme and chosen models), and even what the whole world has admired and still admires, the poetry and philosophy of the Greeks, Tatian continually opposes the ‘frivolity’, ‘folly’, the ‘sickness’ of paganism to Christian ‘prudence’. Faced with ‘the rival and deceitful doctrines of those whom the devil makes blind’ he opposes the ‘teachings of our wisdom’.

With this discourse (‘unique and forceful requisition against all the achievements of the Hellenic spirit in all disciplines’ according to Krause) it begins the undermining of all pagan culture, followed by ostracism and almost total oblivion in the West for more than a millennium.

Tatian militated on the very front of the ancient Church—which stretched from St Ignatius (who rejected all contact with pagan literature and could almost be said that rejected instruction in general) and his co-religionist Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, the polygraph Hermias and his Satire on pagan philosophers as crude as elemental, the father of the Church Irenaeus, the bishop Theophilus of Antioch and others who manifested their unrest against the old philosophy—, condemned as ‘false speculations’, ‘ravings, absurd, delusions of reason, or all these things at once’.

According to St Theophilus (a rather mediocre spirit, but the head of a prestigious site), what the representatives of Greek culture spread, without exception, is nothing more than ‘babble’, ‘useless talk’, since ‘they have not had the less hint of truth’, ‘have not found even the slightest bit of it’.
 
Tertullian

For Tertullian, the height of impiety and the culmination of the seven deadly sins, which are generally assumed in the Gentiles, is the worship of multiple gods, not taking into account that in the end these are but the forces of nature personified and deified, or those of sexual potency. Tertullian, perhaps more than any other Christian author before him, undertook a systematic struggle against this worship.

Tertullian notes with satisfaction that the pagans had little respect for their own idols and for the uses of their religion. He puts in sights the impassibility of the gods, the indignity of their myths; he mocks and gets scandalised that Christians cannot go anywhere without stumbling over gods. He prohibits them from any activity remotely related to ‘idolatry’, as well as the elaboration and sale of images and all professions useful to paganism, including military service.
 
Clement

Even a friend of Greek philosophy as Clement of Alexandria, in his Exhortations to Gentiles rebutted all those ‘sanctified myths’, ‘impious altars’, ‘diviners and insane and useless oracles’ and all their ‘schools of sophistry for unbelievers and gambling dens where madness abounds’.

As regards the ‘mysterious cults of the ungodly’ Clement intends to ‘reveal the delusions hidden in them’, their ‘holy frenzy’ since there is nothing more in them than ‘deceitful orgies’, ‘totally inhuman’, ‘seed of all evil and perdition’, ‘abominable cults’ that would no doubt only impress ‘the most uncultured barbarians among the Thracians, the most foolish among the Phrygians, and the most superstitious among the Greeks’.

Christians of antiquity did not understand the fascinating cycle of the life of plants, so celebrated by the pagans, or the interpretation of ancient myths in relation to fecundity, which implied the participation in tellurian and cosmic realities, as well as the experience, deeply religious, of the echo of the beautiful and the vital in every human being. Therein lies the destructive tendency, of consequences that even reach us today, that instead of the ‘natural cosmos’ there is an ‘ecclesiastical cosmos’: a radical religious anthropocentrism, whose numerous repercussions and ‘progress’ endure beyond medieval theocracy.

While condemning the divinization of the Cosmos, Clement launches in his Protrepticus a systematic anathema against sexuality, so linked with pagan cults, ‘with your demons and your gods and demigods, properly called as if we were talking about semi-donkeys [mules]’.

At the beginning of the 4th century, the Synod of Elvira promulgated a series of anti-pagan provisions: against ‘worship of idols’, against magic, against pagan customs, against marriage between Christians and pagans or idolatrous priests, all sanctioned with the highest ecclesiastical penalties. The pagan cult involved excommunication even in articulo mortis, as well as for murderers and fornicators. However, the council in question abstained from extremist positions. In Canon 60, for example, it denied the categorisation of martyrs to those who had perished during the tumults resulting from the destruction of ‘idolatrous images’. This was because Christianity was not yet an authorized religion.

The tone changed when it was elevated to the category of official religion. In the conflict with the old believers the great inflection occurs in 311, when emperor Galerius authorized Christianity, albeit grudgingly.

Published in: on October 18, 2017 at 2:35 pm  Comments Off on Kriminalgeschichte, 20