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.

Kriminalgeschichte, 18

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

(Criminal History of Christianity)

 

Chapter 4: First attacks against paganism

‘And you, too, Holy Emperor, have the duty of holding and punishing, and it is your duty, by virtue of the first commandment of the Most High, to pursue with your severity and in all possible ways the abomination of idolatry’. —Firmicus Maternus, Father of the Church

‘Two measures interested Firmicus: the destruction of the temples, and the persecution to death of those who did not think like him’. —Karl Hoheisel

 

If from the first moment the Christians fought with ‘holy wrath’ the Jews and ‘heretics’, they showed some moderation before the heathen, called héllenes and éthne by the treatise writers of the 4th century. The concept of ‘paganism’, which was very complex and referred to both religious and intellectual life, excluded only Christians and Jews, and later Muslims. It is not, of course, a scientific notion, but rather theological, coming from the late New Testament period, with obvious negative connotations.

Translated into Latin it gives gentes (arma diaboli, according to St. Ambrose), and then, as the adherents of the old religion were being reduced to rural zones, pagani, pagan. In the meaning that designated non-Christians, this word appears for the first time in two Latin epigraphs of the beginning of the 4th century. In the ordinary sense it meant ‘peasants’ and can also be understood as antonym of ‘military’. For example, the ‘heathen’, that is, those who were not soldiers of Christ, were called in ancient Gothic thiudos, haithns, that in old high German gives heidan, haidano (modern German: Heiden), with the probable meaning of ‘wild’.

We said, then, that the initial treatment given by Christianity to these ‘savages’ was rather mild, a notable behaviour. It preludes the tactics used by the Church during the next long millennium and a half: against the majority, prudence, make oneself be tolerated to survive; then destroy that tactic as soon as possible. If we have the majority, no tolerance! Otherwise, we are in favour of it. That is classic Catholicism, to this day!

At first, the pagans only saw in Christianity a dissident sect of Judaism. This was in line with the negative opinion that the Jews generally deserved, all the more so because, in addition to having inherited the intolerance and religious exclusiveness of them, they did not even represent, like Jewry, a coherent nation. The ancient believers only found ‘impiety’ in those innumerable groups, which also took no part in public life, something that made them suspects of immorality.

In a word, they were despised and made responsible for epidemics and famines, so it was not surprising from time to time the cry of ‘Christians to lions!’ Hence the fathers of the pre-Constantinian period wrote ‘Tolerance’ with capital letters, making it a virtue. They were untiring in their demand for freedom of worship and respect for their beliefs, while making protests of detachment, of virtue, as if they lived on earth but were already walking in heaven; loving all and not hating anyone, not returning evil for evil, preferring to suffer injustices than to inflict them, nor sue anyone, nor steal, nor kill.

If almost all the pagan things seemed to them ‘infamous’, Christians considered themselves ‘righteous and holy’. By 177, Athenagoras explained to the pagan emperors that ‘every one should be allowed to have the gods he chooses’.

Towards the year 200, Tertullian is in favour of freedom of religion; that some pray to heaven and the others to altars; that these worship God and others Jupiter. ‘It is a human right and a natural liberty for all to worship what seems best to them, since with such cults no one harms or benefits others’. Origen still cited a long series of common points among the religion of the pagans and the Christian, to better emphasise the prestige of the latter, and does not want to allow blasphemy against gods of any kind, even in situations of flagrant injustice. It is possible that some Fathers of the Church expressed themselves by conviction; in others it would be nothing but calculation and opportunism.
 

The anti-pagan issue in Early Christianity

But as much as they postulated religious freedom, they attacked the pagans in the same way they did with the Jews and ‘heretics’. That controversy, sporadic or we could almost say casual at first, gained ground since the end of the 2nd century, that is, when they began to feel strong. From the time of Marcus Aurelius (161-180) we know the names of six Christian apologists and the texts of three pieces of apologetics (from Athenagoras, Tatian and Theophilus).

Arnobius of Sicca, who was Lactantius teacher, authored seven pathetically boring mammoths of polemics, Against the pagans, whose gods had sex ‘like dogs and pigs’, ‘shameful members that an honest mouth cannot even name’. He criticises their passions ‘in the manner of unclean animals’, ‘with a frantic desire to exchange the filth of coitus’.

Like many other writers, Arnobius recounts the Olympic loves of Jupiter with Ceres, or with humans such as Leda, Danae, Alcmena, Electra and thousands of maidens and women, not forgetting the Catamite ephebe. ‘Nothing displeases Jupiter, until finally it would be said that the unfortunate was only born to be a seed of crimes, target of insults and common place with all excrement of the sewers of the theatre’: the theatres that, according to Arnobius, deserve to be closed, as well as burned most of the writings and books.

An adulterous god is a thousand times worse than another who exterminates humanity by a flood! Christians judged as ridiculous legends the stories of gods that Homer and Hesiod tell. On the other hand, that the Holy Spirit could make a maiden pregnant without altering her virginity was a very serious thing, as one of the most famous Catholics of the ancient time, Ambrose, demonstrated. That pagans buried the figure of a god and dispensed it funeral honours, and then celebrated their resurrection with feasts, also seemed highly laughable to Christians, even taking as holy their own liturgy of Holy Week and Easter Resurrection.

Just as the superstitious pagans tainted with magical practices, from the first moment the Christians believed that idolatrous cults were of direct diabolical inspiration; some, like Tertullian, also include in that qualification the circus, the theatre, the amphitheatre and the stadium.

It is significant, however, that all these criticisms, these censures and ridicule were not manifested until later; in the beginning, when Christians were still a minority, they had no choice but putting on a brave face to the bad weather. The ancient world was almost entirely pagan and, in front of this supremacy, the Christians acted with prudence and even made compromises if necessary, in order to be able to end it when the time came.

This is also evident in the oldest Christian authors.

Kriminalgeschichte, 15

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

(“Criminal History of Christianity”)

 
The ‘beasts with human body’ in the third century (Tertullian, Hippolytus, Cyprian)

Tertullian

Toward the beginning of the third century, Tertullian, the son of a non-commissioned officer and lawyer who occasionally exercised in Rome (where he drained the cup of pleasure, as he himself confessed) writes his ‘requisitions against heretics’, although not much later, and during the final two decades of his life, he himself would become a ‘heretic’, a Montanist and eloquent leader of a party of his own, that of the Tertullianists.

In his Praescriptio, however, that clever and mocking Tunisian, who dominated all the facets of rhetoric, ‘proves’ that Catholic doctrine is the original and therefore the true doctrine, in the face of the innovations of heresy, and that the ‘heretic’, therefore, is not a Christian and his beliefs are errors that cannot aspire to any dignity, any authority, any ethical validity.

(Later on, that born polemicist would whip up Catholics with his wit and sharp tongue, despite having been the creator of the institutionalized notion of the Church, as well as of the whole doctrinal apparatus of sin and forgiveness; baptism and penitence, Christology, and the dogma of the Trinity: that is, the very notion of the Trinity was his work.)

When Tertullian still belonged to the Church—to the point he would be later called the founder of Catholicism—he was in favour of avoiding the controversy with ‘heretics’ saying that ‘nothing is taken from it but stomach or head upset’. He even denies them the writing, since he says that they ‘throw holy things to dogs and pearls, even if they are false, to pigs’. He calls them ‘wrong spirits’, ‘falsifiers of truth’, ‘insatiable wolves’. For Tertullian ‘only the fight is worth; it is necessary to crush the enemy’ (Kötting).

St Hippolytus

Around the same time Hippolytus, the first anti-bishop of Rome, related in his Refutatio up to 32 heresies, 20 of them Gnostic. It is, among all the heresiologists of the pre-Constantine period, the one who left most news about the Gnostics, and he knew nothing of them! Moreover, these ‘heretics’ served only as a screen for the attack on his true enemy, Callixtus, the bishop of Rome, and the ‘heresy’ of the ‘Callixtusians’.

According to Hippolytus who, speaking of himself, claims he wants to avoid even the appearances of ‘slander’, many of the heretics are nothing more than ‘liars full of chimeras’, ‘daring ignorant’, ‘specialists in spells and incantations, formulas of seduction’. Noecians are ‘the focus of all misfortunes’, the Encratites ‘some incorrigible conceited’, the Montanists ‘let themselves be deceived by women’, and their ‘many foolish books’ are ‘indigestible and worthless’.

The Docetists propose a ‘confused and ignorant heresy’, and even Marcion, so selfless and personally unblemished, is nothing more than ‘a plagiarist’, a ‘debater’, ‘madder’ than the others and ‘more shameless’; as far as his school, it is ‘full of incongruities and dog life’, a ‘heretical impiety’. ‘Marcion or one of his dogs’, wrote the holy anti-bishop (and patron saint of the cavalry) Hippolytus, finally stating that he had broken ‘the labyrinth of heresy, and not with violence’ but ‘with the force of truth’.

St Cyprian

By the middle of the third century, among those who fought relentlessly against the defenders of other beliefs, there also flourished the holy bishop Cyprian, the author of the saying: ‘The father of the Jews is the devil’, which would have so much fortune among the Nazis. He was an arrogant, typical representative of his guild, who pretended that ‘before the bishop one must stand as, before, the figures of the pagan gods’.

Like the Jews and the pagans, Christian opponents of Cyprian are for him creatures of the devil, who ‘testify every day with an angry voice their mad frenzy’. And just as any Catholic writer ‘breathes holy innocence’, in the manifestations of ‘traitors to the faith and adversaries of the Catholic Church’, of ‘the shameless supporters of heretical degeneration’, there is nothing but ‘bark of slander and false testimony’.

Cyprian insists and repeats himself, for example in his 69th epistle, in which every ‘heretic’ is ‘enemy of the peace of our Lord’, that ‘heretics and renegades do not enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit’, who are ‘prisoners of the punishments to which they are credited for joining in the insurrection against their superiors and bishops’; that ‘all without remission shall be punished’, that ‘there is no hope for them’, that ‘all will be thrown into perdition’ and that ‘all those demons will perish’. To the ‘heretics’, the saint argues with abundant evidence taken from the Old Testament, ‘neither food nor drink is owed to the earth’, nor, what to say, ‘the salvific water of baptism and divine grace’. From the New Testament he deduces that ‘one must depart from the heretic as the contumacious sinner, who condemns himself’.

Bishop Cyprian does not tolerate contact of any kind with the separated Christians. ‘Separation encompasses all spheres of life’ (Girardet). For Cyprian, who occasionally dedicates himself to establishing ‘true lists of heretics’ (Kirchner), the Catholic Church is everything and the rest, in the end, is nothing… For him they are only enemies: alieni, profani, schismatici, adversarii, blasphemantes, inimici, hostes, rebelles, all of which is summed up in one word: antichristi.

That tone ends up being the one usually used in interfaith relations. While the Church itself is praised as ‘heavenly paradise’, the doctrines of adversaries are always ‘absurd, confusion’, ‘infamous lie’, ‘magic’, ‘disease’, ‘madness’, ‘mud’ ‘plague’, ‘bleating’, ‘bestial howls’ and ‘barking’; ‘delusions and scams of old women’, ‘the greatest impiety’. As for separated Christians, they are always ‘conceited’, ‘blind, persuaded to be worth more than others’, ‘atheists’, ‘crazy’, ‘false prophets’, ‘Satan’s firstborn’, ‘demon spokesmen’, ‘beasts with human form’, ‘poisonous dragons’ against which we must proceed, sometimes even with exorcisms.

Against the heretics the charge of corruption of customs is also repeated; they are… like the males chasing many goats, or like stallions whinnying when they sniff the mare, or like grunting pigs. According to the Catholic Irenaeus, the Gnostic Marcus seduced his parishioners with ‘filters and magic potions’ to ‘tarnish their bodies’. Tertullian, after becoming a Montanist, proves that Catholics indulged in drunkenness and sexual orgies during the celebration of the holy supper; Cyril says Montanists climbers were child-eating ogres.

From Christians to Christians!

And yet Augustine had said: ‘Do not think that heresies are the work of four fainthearted; only strong spirits originate heterodox schools’. St. Augustine devoted his whole life to persecute them, and then with the help of the secular arm.

Kriminalgeschichte, 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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