A Timeline of Catastrophe

Darkness Descends on the Greco-Roman World

Jesus Never Existed – The Criminal History of the Christian Church

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Kenneth Humphreys

 


23.08.08

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A revised version of this article, updated and annotated with sources, should be online shortly.

 


Caius Galerius, a shepherd who became a soldier, rose through the ranks of the army to become the penultimate pagan emperor of Rome. Appointed caesar by Diocletian in March 293, Galerius became augustus following his patron's abdication in May 305. Two years earlier Galerius had urged upon Diocletian a persecution of the Orthodox Church, the so-called "Great persecution". This ineffectual policy Galerius himself abandoned, issuing in his own name and that of his co-emperors Licinius and Constantine an Edict of Toleration, shortly before his death in May 311. The legalisation of the Church was reaffirmed by Constantine in the more celebrated Edict of Milan of 313. For the now legalized Church it was the beginning of payback time.

 

"We have been especially anxious that even the Christians, who have abandoned the religion of their ancestors, should return to reason ... Wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the republic may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes."

– Galerius' Edict of Toleration 311 (Source: Medieval Sourcebook)


Three centuries of persecution of the pagans

"Of all the tyrannies that afflict mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst. Every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in, but this attempts a stride beyond the grave and seeks to pursue us into eternity."

- Thomas Paine


314 Immediately after its full legalisation, the Christian Church attacks non-Christians. The Council of Ancyra denounces the worship of goddess Artemis.


324 In Didyma, Minor Asia, The emperor Constantine sacks the Oracle of the god Apollo and tortures the pagan priests to death. He also evicts all non-Christian peoples from Mount Athos and destroys all the local Hellenic temples.

325 Council of Nicea.

The godman gets a promotion: 'Christ is Divine'.


326 Constantine, following the instructions of his mother Helen, destroys the temple of the god Asclepius in Aigeai, Cilicia and many temples of the goddess Aphrodite in Jerusalem, Aphaca, Mambre, Phoenicia, Baalbek, etc.


330 Constantine steals the treasures and statues of the pagan temples of Greece to decorate Constantinople, the new capital of his Empire.


335 Constantine sacks many pagan temples in Asia Minor and Palestine and orders the execution by crucifixion of “all magicians and soothsayers.” Martyrdom of the neoplatonist philosopher Sopatrus.

 

A 'Father' of the Dark Age

Ambrose

ambrose

 

City boss of Milan,
Imperial Bishop

(340-397)

 

Legacy:

– Church coercion over weak, superstitious emperors and elevation of the church hierarchy:

"Nothing can be found in this world more exalted than priests or more sublime than bishops." – Ambrose


– Invention of 'saints'.
– Christ as a warrior:

"Christ ... stands at the head of the legions."  – Ambrose


– Propagator of the dogma of the 'Trinity' (anti-Arian nonsense).
– Hierarchical, disciplined and monastic regimentation of the clergy.
– Subordination of women.
– Anti-sex:

"What is virginal chastity but an integrity free of stain from outside?" – Ambrose


Anti-semitism.

 


341 Constantius II (Flavius Julius Constantius) persecutes “all the soothsayers and the Hellenists.” Many gentile Hellenes are either imprisoned or executed.


346 New large scale persecutions against non-Christian peoples in Constantinople. Banishment of the famous orator Libanius accused as a “magician”.


353 An edict of Constantius orders the death penalty for all kind of worship through sacrifice and “idols”.


354 A new edict orders the closing of all the pagan temples. Some of them are profaned and turned into brothels or gambling rooms.

Execution of pagan priests begins.

A new edict of Constantius orders the destruction of the pagan temples and the execution of all “idolaters”.

First burning of libraries in various cities of the empire.

The first lime factories are organised next to the closed pagan temples. A major part of the holy architecture of the pagans is turned into lime.


357 Constantius outlaws all methods of divination (astrology not excluded).


359 In Skythopolis, Syria, the Christians organise the first death camps for the torture and executions of the arrested non-Christians from all around the empire.


361 to 363 
Religious tolerance and restoration of the pagan cults is declared in Constantinople (11th December 361) by the pagan emperor Julian (Flavius Claudius Julianus).


363 Assassination of Julian (26th June).



364
 Emperor Jovian orders the burning of the Library of Antioch.

An Imperial edict (11th September) orders the death penalty for all those that worship their ancestral gods or practice divination (“sileat omnibus perpetuo divinandi curiositas”).

Three different edicts (4th February, 9th September, 23rd December) order the confiscation of all properties of the pagan temples and the death penalty for participation in pagan rituals, even private ones.

The Church Council of Laodicea (Phrygia – western Asia Minor) orders that religious observances are to be conducted on Sunday and not on Saturday. Sunday becomes the new Sabbath. The practice of staying at home and resting on Saturday declared sinful and anathema to Christ.


365 An imperial edict from Emperor Valens, a zealous Arian Christian (17th November), forbids pagan officers of the army to command Christian soldiers.


370 Valens orders a tremendous persecution of non-Christian peoples in all the Eastern Empire. In Antioch, among many other non-Christians, the ex-governor Fidustius and the priests Hilarius and Patricius are executed. The philosopher Simonides is burned alive and the philosopher Maximus is decapitated. All the friends of Julian are persecuted (Orebasius, Sallustius, Pegasius etc.).

Tons of books are burnt in the squares of the cities of the Eastern Empire.

 

Book Burning Begins in the Bible!
 

"A number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them in sight of all. And they calculated together the prices of them and found them worth fifty thousand pieces of silver."

– Acts 19.19

A priceless library is destroyed and the Bible celebrates – "thus the word of Jehovah kept growing and prevailing."


372 Valens orders the governor of Minor Asia to exterminate all the Hellenes and all documents of their wisdom.


373 New prohibition of all divination methods is issued. The term “pagan” (pagani, villagers, equivalent to the modern insult, “peasants”) is introduced by the Christians to demean non-believers.


375 The temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus, Greece, is closed down by the Christians.


380 The notorious Edict of Thessalonika.

On 27th February Christianity becomes the exclusive religion of the Roman Empire by an edict of the Emperor Flavius Theodosius, requiring that:

"All the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation should continue in the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter."

Non-Christians are called “loathsome, heretics, stupid and blind”.


In another edict, Theodosius calls “insane” those that do not believe to the Christian God and outlaws all disagreement with the Church dogmas.

Ambrosius, bishop of Milan, begins the destruction of pagan temples of his area. The Christian priests lead the hungry mob against the temple of goddess Demeter in Eleusis and try to lynch the hierophants Nestorius and Priskus. The 95 year old hierophant Nestorius ends the Eleusinian Mysteries and announces "the predominance of mental darkness over the human race."


381 Theodosius convenes the Council of Constantinople. The 'Holy Spirit' is declared 'Divine', thus sanctioning a triune god.

On 2nd May, Theodosius deprives of all their rights any Christians who return to the pagan religion. Throughout the Eastern Empire pagan temples and libraries are looted or burned down. On 21st December, Theodosius outlaws visits to Hellenic temples.

In Constantinople, the Temple of Aphrodite is turned into a brothel and the temples of the Sun and Artemis to stables.


382 “Hellelujah” (“Glory to Yahweh”) is imposed in the Christian mass.


384 Theodosius orders the Praetorian Prefect Maternus Cynegius, a dedicated Christian, to cooperate with local bishops and destroy the temples of the pagans in Northern Greece and Minor Asia.

 

A 'Father' of the Dark Age

John Chrysostom

Chrysostom
Holy Hierarch of Constantinople

(347-407)

Legacy:

– Demagogic oratory.
– Mobs of Gothic 'catechumen' and armed monks, used to destroy pagan shrines.
Anti-intellectualism:

"Empty your minds of secular knowledge." – Chrysostom


– 'Plain' (literal) interpretation of scripture.
– Anti-sex, prudish, kill-joy morality:

"There ought to be a wall inside this church to keep you apart ... The women have learned the manners of the brothel, and the men are no better than maddened stallions."
– Chrysostom (Lane, Pagans & Christians, p374)

– Morbid solemnity in liturgy. Christian songs replace bawdy folk ballads. Holidays which had integrated the seasons into people's lives replaced with solemn commemorations of 'biblical events.'


Anti-semitism:

'The pitiful and miserable Jews ... Certainly it is the time for me to show that demons dwell in the synagogue, not only in the place itself but also in the souls of the Jews ... And this is what happened to the Jews: while they were making themselves unfit for work, they grew fit for slaughter.

– Chrysostom (Against the Jews, Homily I)

Defence of slavery. Slavery extended and made harsher, autocracy endorsed, new forms of tyranny.

"The slave should be resigned to his lot ... in obeying his master he is obeying God."


Mark of the Slave

The "tonsure" or shaven head was a practice enforced by imperial Rome on slaves, a form of branding. Long hair was the mark of a freeman. The practice was taken up by early monks (self-styled 'slaves of Christ'), spread to priests and subsequently made obligatory by the Church on all clerics.

The clergy – along with everybody else – were now slaves of Holy Mother Church.

 


385 to 388 Prefect Maternus Cynegius, encouraged by his fanatic wife, and bishop 'Saint' Marcellus with his gangs, scour the countryside and sack and destroy hundreds of Hellenic temples, shrines and altars. Among others they destroy the temple of Edessa, the Cabeireion of Imbros, the temple of Zeus in Apamea, the temple of Apollo in Didyma and all the temples of Palmyra.

Thousands of innocent pagans from all sides of the empire suffer martyrdom in the notorious death camps of Skythopolis.


386 Theodosius outlaws the care of the sacked pagan temples.


388 Public talks on religious subjects are outlawed by Theodosius. The old orator Libanius sends his famous epistle “Pro Templis” to Theodosius with the hope that the few remaining Hellenic temples will be respected and spared.


389 to 390 All non-Christian calendars and dating-methods are outlawed. Hordes of fanatic hermits from the desert flood the cities of the Middle East and Egypt and destroy statues, altars, libraries and pagan temples, and lynch the pagans. Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, starts heavy persecutions against non-Christian peoples, turning the temple of Dionysius into a Christian church, burning down the Mithraeum of the city, destroying the temple of Zeus and burlesques the pagan priests before they are killed by stoning. The Christian mob profanes the cult images.


391 On 24th February, a new edict of Theodosius prohibits not only visits to pagan temples but also looking at the vandalised statues. New heavy persecutions occur all around the empire. In Alexandria, Egypt, pagans, led by the philosopher Olympius, revolt and after some street fights they lock themselves inside the fortified temple of the god Serapis (the Serapeion). After a violent siege, the Christians take over the building, demolish it, burn its famous library and profane the cult images.


392 On 8th November, Theodosius outlaws all the non-Christian rituals and names them “superstitions of the gentiles” (gentilicia superstitio). New full scale persecutions are ordered against pagans. The Mysteries of Samothrace are ended and the priests slaughtered. In Cyprus the local bishop “Saint” Epiphanius and “Saint” Tychon destroy almost all the temples of the island and exterminate thousands of non-Christians. The local Mysteries of goddess Aphrodite are ended.

Theodosius’s edict declares:

“The ones that won’t obey pater Epiphanius have no right to keep living in that island.”


The pagans revolt against the Emperor and the Church in Petra, Aeropolis, Rafia, Gaza, Baalbek and other cities of the Middle East.


393 The Pythian Games, the Aktia Games and the Olympic Games are outlawed as part of the Hellenic “idolatry”. The Christians sack the temples of Olympia.


395 Two new edicts (22nd July and 7th August) cause new persecutions against pagans. Rufinus, the eunuch Prime Minister of Emperor Flavius Arcadius directs the hordes of baptised Goths (led by Alaric) to the country of the Hellenes. Encouraged by Christian monks the barbarians sack and burn many cities (Dion, Delphi, Megara, Corinth, Pheneos, Argos, Nemea, Lycosoura, Sparta, Messene, Phigaleia, Olympia, etc.), slaughter or enslave innumerable gentile Hellenes and burn down all the temples. Among others, they burn down the Eleusinian Sanctuary and burn alive all its priests (including the hierophant of Mithras Hilarius).


396 On 7th December, a new edict by Arcadius orders that paganism be treated as high treason. Imprisonment of the few remaining pagan priests and hierophants.


397 “Demolish them!” Flavius Arcadius orders that all the still standing pagan temples be demolished.

 

A 'Father' of the Dark Age

Augustine

Augustine
Theorist of Hippo
('Father of the Inquisition')

(354-430)

 

Legacy:

 'Just War'. So much for "love your enemies".
– Doctrine of 'original sin' (obsession with the sin of lust).

"Augustine's primary spiritual task was to remove the stain of sexual desire. He thus became the great theologian of guilt and sin but, as is often the case, he remained blind to the price that others had to pay for his righteousness." – Bishop J. S. Spong (Born of a Woman, p216)


– Persecution of pagans. Murder of scientists, destruction of libraries.
Intolerance of heretics (proscribed Donatists, Pelagians):

"The Emperor has a duty to suppress schism and heresy."


– Forced conversion (
'stout blow'). Uses Luke 14.23:

"And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the roads and the fenced-in places, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."


– Weakened Roman self-confidence with notion of 'predestination' and superiority of 'City of God':

"Since God knows everything, everything is predetermined by him forever."

"Freedom is freedom to err."
– St Augustine


– Sprinkling of infants introduced.

Purgatory:
"It is a key assumption of the purgatorial view that suffering makes people whole ... a stage along the path to perfection." - Evangelical Alliance (The Nature of Hell, p22)

– Crushing of intellectualism. All learning is subordinated to scripture:

Scripture gives no false information.”

"Since God has spoken to us it is no longer necessary for us to think."
– St Augustine


 


398 The 4th Church Council of Carthage prohibits everybody, including Christian bishops, from studying pagan books. Porphyrius, bishop of Gaza, demolishes almost all the pagan temples of his city (except nine of them that remain active).


399 With a new edict (13th July) Flavius Arcadius orders all remaining pagan temples, mainly in the countryside, be immediately demolished.


400 Bishop Nicetas destroys the Oracle of Dionysus in Vesai and baptises all the non-Christians of this area.


401 The Christian mob of Carthage lynches non-Christians and destroys temples and “idols”. In Gaza too, the local bishop “Saint” Porphyrius sends his followers to lynch pagans and to demolish the remaining nine still active temples of the city.

The 15th Council of Chalcedon orders all the Christians that still keep good relations with their non-Christian relatives to be excommunicated (even after their death).


405 John Chrysostom sends hordes of grey-dressed monks armed with clubs and iron bars to destroy the “idols” in all the cities of Palestine.


406 John Chrysostom collects funds from rich Christian women to financially support the demolition of the Hellenic temples. In Ephesus he orders the destruction of the famous temple of Artemis. In Salamis, Cyprus, “Saints” Epiphanius and Eutychius continue the persecutions of the pagans and the total destruction of their temples and sanctuaries.


407 A new edict outlaws once more all the non-Christian acts of worship.


408 The emperor of the Western Empire, Honorius, and the emperor of the Eastern Empire, Arcadius, order all the sculptures of the pagan temples to be either destroyed or to be taken away. Private ownership of pagan sculpture is also outlawed. The local bishops lead new heavy persecutions against the pagans and new book burning. The judges that have pity for the pagans are also persecuted. “Saint” Augustine massacres hundreds of protesting pagans in Calama, Algeria.


409 Another edict orders all methods of divination including astrology to be punished by death.


415 In Alexandria, the Christian mob, urged by the bishop Cyril, attacks a few days before the Judeo-Christian Pascha (Easter) and cuts to pieces the famous and beautiful philosopher Hypatia. The pieces of her body, carried around by the Christian mob through the streets of Alexandria, are finally burned together with her books in a place called Cynaron.

On 30th August, new persecutions start against all the pagan priests of North Africa who end their lives either crucified or burned alive. Emperor Theodosius II expels the Jews from Alexandria.


416 The inquisitor Hypatius, alias “The Sword of God”, exterminates the last pagans of Bithynia. In Constantinople (7th December) all non-Christian army officers, public employees and judges are dismissed.


423 Emperor Theodosius II declares (8th June) that the religion of the pagans is nothing more than “demon worship” and orders all those who persist in practicing it to be punished by imprisonment and torture.


429 The temple of goddess Athena (Parthenon) on the Acropolis of Athens is sacked. The Athenian pagans are persecuted.

 

431 Council of Ephesus ("Robber Synod"). Promotion for the godman – "Christ is complete God and complete man."


435 On 14th November, a new edict by Theodosius II orders the death penalty for all “heretics” and pagans of the empire. Only Judaism is considered a legal non-Christian religion.


438 Theodosius II issues an new edict (31st January) against the pagans, incriminating their “idolatry” as the reason of a recent plague!


440 to 450 The Christians demolish all the monuments, altars and temples of Athens, Olympia, and other Greek cities.

book burning

448 Theodosius II orders all non-Christian books to be burned.

450 All the temples of Aphrodisias (the City of the Goddess Aphrodite) are demolished and all its libraries burned down. The city is renamed Stavroupolis (City of the Cross).

451 Council of Chalcedon.

New edict by Theodosius II (4th November) emphasises that “idolatry” is punished by death. Assertion of orthodox doctrine over the 'Monophysites' – 'JC has single, divine nature.'


457 to 491 Sporadic persecutions against the pagans of the Eastern Empire. Among others, the physician Jacobus and the philosopher Gessius are executed. Severianus, Herestios, Zosimus, Isidorus and others are tortured and imprisoned. The proselytiser Conon and his followers exterminate the last non-Christians of Imbros Island, Northeast Aegean Sea. The last worshippers of Lavranius Zeus are exterminated in Cyprus.


482 to 488 The majority of the pagans of Minor Asia are exterminated after a desperate revolt against the emperor and the Church.


486 More “underground” pagan priests are discovered, arrested, burlesqued, tortured and executed in Alexandria, Egypt.


full body baptism

515 Baptism becomes obligatory even for those that already say they are Christians.

The emperor of Constantinople, Anastasius, orders the massacre of the pagans in the Arabian city Zoara and the demolition of the temple of local god Theandrites.

 

523 Emperor Justin I outlaws the Arian heresy and campaigns to suppress Arianism everywhere.

528 Emperor Justinian outlaws the “alternative” Olympian Games of Antioch. He also orders the execution—by fire, crucifixion, tearing to pieces by wild beasts or cutting to pieces by iron nails—of all who practice “sorcery, divination, magic or idolatry” and prohibits all teachings by the pagans (“the ones suffering from the blasphemous insanity of the Hellenes”).


529 Justinian outlaws the Athenian Philosophical Academy and has its property confiscated.


532 The inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus, a fanatical monk, leads a crusade against the pagans of Minor Asia.


542 Justinian allows the inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus to forcibly convert the pagans of Phrygia, Caria and Lydia in Asia Minor. Within 35 years of this crusade, 99 churches and 12 monasteries are built on the sites of demolished pagan temples.

 

A 'Father' of the Dark Age

Pope Gregory

Gregory

 

'God's Consul' in Rome

(540-604)

 

Legacy:

– Concentrated power in the hierarchs of the Church. Papal Supremacy was supported by secular authority given to the clergy, who supplanted the imperial civil service.

– Clergy given regalia and 'privilegia'.

– Accumulation of vast papal wealth and landed estates.

– Secularisation of the Church. Wealthy noblemen chose the pope, usually from among themselves.  Popes with no training as priest.

– Illegitimate papal children appointed cardinals

– Fantastic, miracle-filled 'Lives of Saints',  many of whom never existed! Gregory had no mind for theology but he saw that great wealth was to be made from the veneration and sale of 'relics' to gullible pilgrims. Thousands of believers were deceived and purchased expensive relics. 

– Hostility to secular learning. Grammar banned, Library burned. Gregory ordered bishops to desist from the "wicked labour" of teaching grammar and Latin to lay people. He forbade lay people from reading the Bible and ordered the burning of the Palatine Apollo library so that its secular literature "would not distract" from religious devotion.

With education reduced to theology and even that forbidden to all but the clergy, the result was a society sunk in illiteracy for almost 1000 years.

Purgatory embellished, providing a foundation for the sale of indulgences.:

"Unbaptised babies go straight to Hell and suffer there for all eternity."

Demonology.

– Forced conversion of 'pagans' and sequestering of their shrines.

Statues destroyed .

Gregory ordered many ancient Roman statues, marbles and mosaics destroyed or turned into lime. Remnants were used to adorn Christian churches and cathedrals.

– Rome's 'missionaries' take over from local clerics, enforce Roman sacraments.
– 'Plain song' (chanting) introduced, even as a cure for plague.
– Unloving view of sex,
Enforced celibacy. 

"All sexual desire is sinful in itself and is justified only for the sake of children." – Gregory I.

"Woman is a temple built upon a sewer."
– Anicius Boethius,
The Consolation of Philosophy.Christian philosopher (480-524) tells it as it is!

Gregory – an unmarried bisexual – introduced a celibacy edict to prevent property from passing from the Church to wives, families or mistresses of the clergy. Thousands of babies were drowned in a pond outside the Lateran palace after the edict was issued.

 

 


546 Hundreds of pagans are put to death in Constantinople by the inquisitor Ioannis Asiacus.


556 Justinian orders the notorious inquisitor Amantius to go to Antioch, to find, arrest, torture and exterminate the last non-Christians of the city and burn all the private libraries down.


562 Mass arrests, burlesquing, tortures, imprisonments and executions of gentile Hellenes in Athens, Antioch, Palmyra and Constantinople.


578 to 582 The Christians torture and crucify Hellenes all around the Eastern Empire, and exterminate the last non-Christians of Heliopolis (Baalbek).


580 The Christian inquisitors attack a secret temple of Zeus in Antioch. The priest commits suicide, but the rest of the pagans are arrested. All the prisoners, the Vice Governor Anatolius included, are tortured and sent to Constantinople to face trial. Sentenced to death they are thrown to the lions. The wild animals being unwilling to tear them to pieces, they end up crucified. Their dead bodies are dragged in the streets by the Christian mob and afterwards thrown unburied in the dump.


583 New persecutions against the gentile Hellenes by Emperor Maurice.


590 In all the Eastern Empire the Christian accusers “discover” pagan conspiracies. New storm of torture and executions.



Inspired by: Vlasis Rassias, Demolish Them! …  Published in Greek, Athens 1994

 

Sources:
Charles Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind (Heinemann, 2002)
Henry Hart Milman, The History of the Jews (Everyman, 1939)
John Julius Norwich, Byzantium (Viking, 1988)
Fridrich Heer (ed) The Fires of Faith (Newsweek 1970)
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Crucified Jew (Harper Collins,1992)
Leslie Houlden (Ed.), Judaism & Christianity (Routledge, 1988)
Norman Cantor, The Sacred Chain - A History of the Jews (Harper Collins, 1994)
Hugh Trevor Roper, The Rise of Christianity (Thames & Hudson, 1965)
Frank Delaney, A Walk in the Dark Ages (Collins, 1988)
David Chidester, Christianity- A Global history (Allen Lane, 2000)
Robin Lane Fox, Pagans & Christians (Viking,1986)
John Moorhead, Ambrose (Longman, 1999)

 

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