It is true, indeed, that several persons of eminent piety, and even some of the Roman pontiffs, exhorted with great seriousness and warmth the scholastic Edition: current; Page: [ viii ] divines, and more especially those of the university of Paris, to change their method of teaching theology, and laying aside their philosophical abstraction and subtlety, to deduce the sublime science of salvation from the Holy Scriptures, with that purity and simplicity with which it was there delivered by the inspired writers.
But these admonitions and exhortations were without effect; the evil was become too inveterate to admit of a remedy, and the passion for logic and metaphysics was grown so universal and so violent, that neither remonstrances nor arguments could check its presumption or allay its ardour. In the year , a pestilence, the most destructive in the annals of the world, if we may credit contemporary writers, appeared in Tartary.
Having ravaged various kingdoms of Asia, and spread itself over a great part of Lower Egypt, it passed to the islands of Greece, and making its way along every shore of the Mediterranean, fell with special violence upon the states of Italy. Even the Alps proved not a sufficient barrier against its inroads. It was felt in the most obscure recesses, and by every European nation. Two years had been occupied in its desolating progress, when, as the historians of the time relate, the continent of Europe was shaken from its centre to its borders by a succession of earthquakes.
From June to December in the same year, England was visited with incessant rains. In the following August the plague appeared at Dorchester; it soon reached the metropolis, and there, in the space of a few months, added many thousands to its victims. The infected perished, for the most part, in a few hours; the strongest failed after the second or third day. Wycliffe was now in the twenty-third year of his age. He saw the distemper passing from men to the brute creation, covering the land with putrid flesh; the labours of husbandry suspended; the courts of justice closed; the timid resorting to every device of superstition for security, and perishing around him, Edition: current; Page: [ ix ] sometimes buoyant with delusion, and sometimes frenzied by despair.
Criticism of Christianity
It was said that a tenth only of the human family had been spared. Even grave men supposed that the earth had lost full half its population. Whether the man of three-and-twenty, who was ere long to become distinguished as a Reformer of religion, believed in one of these rumours or the other, enough, we may be assured, became known to him, on the ground of unquestionable evidence, to place the calamity before him in aspects deeply affecting; and from his frequent references to it in after life, we learn that the impression made by it, on his humane and devout mind, was deep and abiding.
The moral effect of this event was hardly less lamentable than the physical. The depravity of the people seemed to be maddened rather than subdued by their sufferings. The physician and the priest were often found alike negligent of their duties. The husband was deserted by the wife, and even children by their parents; and plunderers employed themselves in rifling the dwellings which the malady had depopulated. It has ever been thus with humanity, in the same circumstances. In some instances, such visitations have been found to soften the heart, and to produce penitence; but in a greater number their effect has been to give a greater force and desperateness to the selfish passions.
When the pestilence passed away, the clergy who survived were unequal to the duties required from their order, and the same want was felt in every department of agriculture and handicraft. But the great lesson which the living appeared to have derived from what had befallen the dead, was the wisdom of exacting the highest possible remuneration for such services, sometimes at the rate of a tenfold increase. Laws, accordingly, were issued to repress this rapacity, both among priests and people. In reading the lives of distinguished men, two departments of inquiry naturally engage our attention; the one relating to the degree in which such men have been influenced by their times—and Edition: current; Page: [ x ] and the other, to the degree in which they have given to their age, the impress of their own genius and labour.
The effect on the mind of Wycliffe of the direful scourge adverted to, appears to have been to possess him with very gloomy views in regard to the condition and prospects of the human race. At a little more than the age of thirty, he seems to have looked on the state of society generally with painful foreboding, being equally affected by its manifest depravity, by its present sufferings, and by the prospect of the further retribution regarded as assuredly awaiting it. The pestilence subsided in England in The earliest of the works attributed to Wycliffe bears the date , eight years later.
The arrow flying by day was significant of the deceit of heretics. The authorities cited in favour of this view, beside the historian Eusebius, the venerable Bede, and St. Bernard, are the abbot Joachim, and the prophet Merlin. In the same manner, the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet are allegorised, as the figure of two and twenty hundred years, and as having contained a prophetic meaning. But amidst dreams of this nature, we find indications of thought and feeling in regard to the state of society, the existing religious system, and the doctrines of theology, in harmony with those which occur in the undoubted writings of Wycliffe at a later period.
In this curious production, the many evils existing, and the greater evils expected, are traced mainly to the character and conduct of a vicious priesthood. Upon that class of men especially, the judgments predicted are about to descend, and the only refuge for the sincere believer, is in turning from dependence on the offices of men, and in looking with humility and devotion to the compassion and grace of their Redeemer. In a preceding passage he predicts, on the authority of John of Salisbury and St. Then the glass burst, and the bird flew his way.
So our Lord, the Father of heaven, had mankind in hell, which was glazen, that is to say, was as brittle as glass. Paul so writeth to the Romans: He shall pray for us. Jesus went into heaven to appear in the presence of God for us. Paul to the Hebrews. The which presence may he grant us to see, that liveth and reigneth without end, Amen.
We may not feel at liberty to applaud the judgment of the author in the selection of his allegory in this case, but the devout perception and feeling of the above passage is not uninstructive. In attributing this piece to Wycliffe, his biographers have been guided partly by its internal evidence, but still more by the fact that it happens to be bound up in a volume containing other pieces which are unquestionably from his pen.
The evidence in regard to its authenticity, however, from both these sources is not such as to preclude all ground for suspicion on that point, though from the contents of the document, as well as from the connexion in which we find it, the evidence appears to me to turn strongly in favour of its having been written by Wycliffe.
Bale has given it a place in his catalogue of the writings of our Reformer; and from his description of it, there is reason to think that more than one copy of this work was in existence in the time of that author. In the year Wycliffe began his disputes with the Mendicants.
In Oxford, where this controversy originated, these new orders were possessed of great power, and numbered among them many of the most able men of the times. The indolence and worldliness of the regular clergy, by scandalising the more severe or the more consistent professors of the Gospel, had been the main causes, some centuries earlier, of the rapid diffusion of the monastic institute—a fault in one extreme disposing many to error in an opposite direction. In the same manner, the great abuse of wealth on the part of the endowed priesthood, taught the Mendicants to throw themselves on a kind of voluntary system; while the general neglect of preaching in the case of the parochial clergy, was the reason assigned by the Mendicants for giving Edition: current; Page: [ xiii ] themselves almost wholly to that office as preaching friars.
With stricter vows of poverty than had been adopted by the monastic orders, the friars associated a claim to the most important functions of the clergy, and thus aimed to unite in themselves much of the reputation and power belonging to both those classes. They made their appearance in Oxford in The causes which had given them such speedy popularity on the continent, were no less powerful in this country.
Some wise men, dissatisfied with the conduct of the older clergy, became the zealous patrons of these new fraternities. Their supposed separation from the corrupting influence of wealth, and their assiduity and ability as preachers, appeared to point them out as the sort of men especially demanded by the times. Among the persons by whom they were thus regarded, was the celebrated Grossteste, Bishop of Lincoln; but the men who were for a while favourites of that prelate, became the objects of his bitterest censure before his decease.
At a later period, their zeal to proselyte the young in the universities, exposed them to much suspicion and disaffection. Loud complaints had been urged against them in Paris, before Fitz-Ralph, who was chancellor of Oxford in , and became archbishop of Armagh in , distinguished himself as an opponent of their opinions and encroachments. He denied the virtue of their voluntary poverty, censured their inroads on the province of the parochial clergy, and declared, that by their influence, the students of Oxford had been reduced, within his memory, from thirty thousand, to not more than a fifth of that number.
In , Fitz-Ralph, better known by the name of Armachanus, submitted his complaints on this subject to the pope at Avignon. But the decease of this zealous prelate three years later, left his purposes unaccomplished, and the event was hailed by the Mendicants as a triumph to their cause. Wycliffe entered into the labours of Armachanus, and prosecuted the same object with even greater earnestness.
None of the extant writings of Wycliffe against the friars can be attributed to so early a period as the year His language uniformly was, that if God might be said to have given the friars to the church, it was as he had given a king to Israel,—as a punishment, and not as a boon. The volume of inspired truth was thus brought from its obscurity, and was vested, though for mistaken purposes, with something of the homage due to it as the only competent arbiter of religious opinion. Such as were displeased by the obtrusive services of the friars, were thus naturally directed to the records of the Gospel, that the justice of these novel pretensions might be thus ascertained or confuted; and the arguments opposed with most success to the peculiarities of these innovators, were derived from the source to which they had themselves been the first to appeal.
It is probable, indeed, that he was very far from discerning the ultimate result of his inquiries, when he first became known as the opponent of the new orders; but we have sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion, that even then, these momentous sentiments had become in a hopeful degree familiar to his mind. The failure of Fitz-Ralph, in his more limited project of reform, had left no room to hope for improvement, as to originate with the papacy, or as to be sanctioned from that quarter; and this state of things appears to have suggested to his successor in the contest, the necessity of a less sparing exposure of existing abuses in the church, and of a more vigorous appeal to the common sense of every class among the people.
That which distinguished the efforts of Wycliffe in this connexion from those of Armachanus and others, was his setting forth the evils which he describes, as being the natural and necessary consequence of the rules which the friars had pledged themselves to observe. While other disputants were content to seek a reform of particular errors and abuses, Wycliffe sought nothing less than an extinction of the institute itself, as being repugnant to Scripture, and inconsistent with the order and prosperity of the church.
Instead of supposing, as some good men had done, that the introduction of such agents would tend better than any other means that might be employed for that purpose to stimulate and improve the character of the parochial priesthood, he insisted strongly that the removal of these intruders was absolutely necessary, if harmony and vigour were to be restored to the ecclesiastical system.
During nearly two centuries, the Inquisition had been pursuing its course of torture and destruction on the continent; and through the whole of that period its odious business had devolved chiefly on the orders of St. Dominick and St. The year has been mentioned as that in which Wycliffe became distinguished by the part which he took in this controversy. In the following year the master and scholars of Baliol College presented him to the living of Fylingham, a benefice of considerable value in the diocese of Lincoln. In the same year we find the name of John de Wycliffe entered as that of the newly-elected warden of Baliol.
But four years later we find the name of John de Wycliffe as that of the person filling the office of warden in Canterbury Hall in the same university. Canterbury Hall was founded by Simon de Islep, Archbishop of Canterbury, a prelate who appears to have acquitted himself with much credit in some of the most important offices in the church and the government. The new hall was designed for the benefit of eleven scholars, eight of whom were to be secular clergymen; the remaining three, and the warden, were to be chosen from the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury. But discord soon arose between the two classes of scholars, and Woodhall the warden took part with the monks.
Islep saw the community on which he had lavished his patronage and his substance, conspicuous for dissension rather than improvement, and availing himself of a provision in the founding of the institution, he removed the three monks and the warden, and supplying the place of the former by the same number of clerical scholars, he invited John de Wycliffe to the vacant office of warden. Islep died soon afterwards, and Peter Langham, the Bishop of Ely, who had been previously abbot of Westminster, and a private monk, was raised to the primacy.
Woodhall and his expelled associates made their appeal to the new primate, alleging that the late changes in Canterbury Hall had been brought about by illegal and dishonest means; and after the interval of a few weeks, the three monks were restored, and Woodhall was reinstated as warden. It was pretended that what had been done, had been done without the sanction of the founder, or that if such sanction had been given, it was in his Edition: current; Page: [ xvii ] last sickness, when he had ceased to be competent to such an office.
The only appeal from the judgment of a metropolitan, in such a case, was to that of the sovereign pontiff; and to him appeal was made. But some doubt has been raised as to whether the John de Wycliffe, of Canterbury Hall, was the same person who had been previously master of Baliol, and who is known to us as the Reformer. The decision of the pontiff, in the case submitted to him from Canterbury Hall, was unfavourable to the appellants; and as the enemies of Wycliffe have been forward to ascribe his zeal as a reformer to this loss of his wardenship, it appears to have been supposed, that service would be done to the reputation of Wycliffe, by throwing some doubt over the point of his ever having been in possession of the said wardenship.
But slight incidents do not thus affect the course of great men. Minds liable to be thus influenced to-day, will be no less open to opposite impressions from opposite influences to-morrow, and will never evince steadiness in anything. Some difficulty indeed arises in accounting for the removal of a man from the office of warden in connexion with the older and larger foundation of Baliol, to so small and recent an establishment as that of Canterbury Hall.
The name of Wycliffe, as we have seen, is of local origin; and that there should have been two distinguished men Edition: current; Page: [ xviii ] in Oxford, bearing the name of John de Wycliffe, is most improbable. The confounding of the one person with the other would have been so natural, that in many instances care would have been taken to distinguish between them; and some traces of that distinction would have reached us. If a second John de Wycliffe flourished at the same time in Oxford, we seem shut up to the conclusion, that he must have been of the same family with the Reformer,—a conclusion which it seems hardly possible to admit.
While the suit relating to Canterbury Hall was pending, a somewhat violent dispute arose between the crown of England and the court of Rome, concerning the tribute-money which King John had stipulated to be paid by himself and his successors to the treasury of the pontiffs. Urban demanded of the English monarch the annual payment of a thousand marks, as a feudal acknowledgment for the sovereignty of England and Ireland; those kingdoms being held in fee, it was said, of the successors of St.
Since the decease of King John, this claim had been honoured or neglected, as the favour of the pontiff was felt to be important or otherwise. Thirty-three years had passed since the last annual payment of this nature was made; and the demand of Urban now was, that the arrears for that interval should be sent to him, and that the annual sum should be regularly transmitted to him in future. In default of such payment, the king was further admonished that he would be cited duly to appear and answer for such neglect in the court of the sovereign pontiff, who had become his civil no less than his religious superior.
Edward received this communication in in the following year he submitted the question to the decision of parliament. Since the reign of John, the powers of the English parliament, and especially of the House of Commons, had become such that all the greater and more distinctive principles of our constitution may be said to have been called into vigorous exercise. The reign of Edward extended to fifty years, during which period more than seventy parliaments were convened. More than once Edition: current; Page: [ xix ] it was solemnly enacted that one such assembly at least should be annually summoned.
Edward, in the person of his chancellor, requested the advice of parliament with regard to the answer which should be returned to the claim made upon him and upon the nation by the pope. The prelates solicited a day for private deliberation. On the morrow, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the members of the commons, declared unanimously, that neither King John, nor any other sovereign, had power thus to subject the realm of England, without consent of parliament; that such consent had not been obtained; and that, passing over other difficulties, the whole transaction on the part of the king was in violation of the oath which he had taken on receiving his crown.
By the temporal nobility and commons, it was farther resolved that, should the pope commence his threatened process against the king of England, as his vassal, all possible aid should be rendred, that such usurpation might be effectually resisted. According to the ecclesiastical theory of the middle age, the church is the parent of the state, bishops are as fathers to princes, and the authority of all sovereigns must be subordinate to that of the successors of St. On the present occasion, men were not wanting to take this high ground in defence of this papal claim. In a treatise published by an anonymous monk, it was maintained, that the sovereignty of England had been legally forfeited to the pope, by the failure of the annual tribute; and that the clergy were exempt in person and property from all subjection to the authority of the magistrate.
We may judge of the celebrity of Wycliffe, at this time, from the fact that he is called upon by name to show the fallacy of these opinions. The Reformer was not ignorant concerning the motives of his anonymous antagonist in assailing him with this challenge. He assures us that he had reason to know, that the hope of his opponent was, to expose him to the resentment of the pontiff, that, laden with ecclesiastical censures, he might be deprived of his preferments; also to commend himself and his own order to the favour of the Roman court, and to augment the possessions of the Edition: current; Page: [ xx ] religious orders generally, by placing the kingdom in greater subjection to the power of the popes.
That he might guard himself so far as possible against the sinister purposes of his opponent, Wycliffe commences by describing himself as a humble and obedient son of the church, and as meaning to affirm nothing that may be reported to her injury, or that may reasonably offend the ears of the devout. The right of the king in connexion with parliament not only to deny the tribute claimed by the pope, but to subject all clergymen to the jurisdiction of the magistrate in all civil matters, and in certain cases even to alienate the goods of the church, are all affirmed as doctrines shown to be just, both by the written law, and by the ancient practice of the realm.
He does not deny that there may be much in the canons of the church opposed to such doctrines, but he insists that if truly examined these maxims will be found to be in strict accordance with the claims of natural right, with the maxims of civil law, and with the precepts of Holy Scripture.
Having thus stated the grounds on which it would be practicable to work out a full vindication of the above doctrines, he abstains from pursuing that course, and chooses rather to set forth his views, as contained in the substance of a series of speeches, said to have been delivered by certain secular lords, in reference to the demand lately made on the treasury of the king of England by the pope.
By this method of reply, the humble Reformer may have hoped to shield himself, under the authority of the said lords, against the resentment to which his opinions might otherwise expose him. The speeches which have been thus preserved may interest the curious reader as presenting a specimen of the manner in which our senators of the fourteenth century were deemed capable of treating questions demanding a good degree of information and discernment.
What is reported from them in this document is not of course a complete account of the debate adverted to, but a selection of passages designed to place the series of difficulties inseparable from the claim of the pope in the most lucid form, and in the smallest compass. Edition: current; Page: [ xxi ] To us the paper is chiefly valuable, as containing opinions which, by adoption at least, are those of Wycliffe himself, and which in the report made of them have lost nothing of their force, probably from coming into contact with the vigour and intrepidity of his own genius.
The first lord declared all feudal subjection to be founded in the necessary subordinations of political power. But no subordination of this nature, he maintained, could have been the origin of the alleged subjection of England to the papacy; and the pretension of the pope accordingly being without any foundation of feudal justice, the dependence introduced by King John should not be regarded as a compact at all proper to be continued. Should the pontiff attempt to supply the want of feudal law, in support of this feudal pretension, by resorting to force, the speaker expressed his readiness to place the question on the issue of a trial by such weapons.
The next speaker extended this line of argument. Feudal tribute, he observed, could not be justly demanded except by a superior, capable of affording feudal protection. Such protection the pope could not bestow on those from whom he now demanded tribute and homage; nor could it become him to employ himself in such matters, whatever might be his power in relation to them, seeing that the character distinguishing his holiness should be that of chief in the following of Christ, the Saviour of the world having been without a place to lay his head, and having taught his ministers in this manner by example, the superiority they should evince to all the fascinations of secular possession and authority.
The great duty in this case is therefore said to be not only to resist this pretension to civil dominion on the part of the pontiff, but to insist that the cares of his holiness be restricted to the spiritual things proper to his office. While it was shown after this manner that the feudal tribute demanded, could not be exacted on the ground of any feudal benefit supposed to be conferred, the third speaker declared that it could not be claimed with greater justice upon any religious ground, inasmuch as the influence of the pope and his cardinals was scarcely otherwise felt in England, than in conveying large portions of its treasure to the hands of its enemies.
This nobleman was succeeded by a fourth, who stated that one-third Edition: current; Page: [ xxii ] of the property of the kingdom had become that of the church, and that over all such property the pope had long claimed dominion, and that in virtue of such claim, the court of Rome exacted the first-fruits from every vacant benefice in England.
This interference of the pope in regard to temporal things, it was observed, must be either as vassal to the king, or as his superior. If the former doctrine would be rejected by the court of Rome, the latter should be no less spurned by the people of England; and it is accordingly recommended that a forcible check should be given to this spirit of usurpation, which may otherwise be found powerful enough, in some interval of disorder, to extend the despotism already imposed on the church, in an equal measure to the state.
The remarks of the next speaker were not less pertinent. He professed himself curious to know the expressed condition on which this disputed tribute had been first granted. If granted that absolution might be conferred on the king, or that the papal interdict might be removed from the kingdom, then the whole transaction was a piece of simoniacal dishonesty, proper to be denounced by lords and churchmen.
By another lord it was observed, that supposing the land ever to have been the just possession of the pope, his right so to dispose of the goods of the church as to barter an opulent kingdom for the trivial acknowledgment of seven hundred marks a year, was hardly consistent with an honest stewardship. Certainly, the functionary who could depreciate ecclesiastical property after this manner, might alienate it entirely, and must be an authority not greatly to be coveted in the relation of a feudal superior.
In the supposed compact it is argued, the people were all certainly interested, and according to the good usage of the realm, the assent of all should have been obtained, in place of which, the seal of the king and of a few apostate lords had been deemed sufficient to bring thraldom upon a whole nation. The grant, accordingly, as being one to which the kingdom had never been a party, is treated as a matter which it should never descend to recognise. Wycliffe speaks of having heard the speeches of which he makes this report.
Having laid down as an axiom, that every dominion granted on condition, is dissolved on a failure of that condition, he proceeds to say, that the pope, as supreme lord, presented the realm of England to King John, after it had been surrendered into his hands, on condition that England should pay annually seven hundred marks to the Roman court. But this condition, he adds, has not been observed, and the king has thereby fallen from the true dominion of England.
Wycliffe replied, that the condition assumed in this agreement had been assumed falsely; neither the king, nor those who acted with him, being competent to transfer the realm and the people of England after this manner to the pope. By the parliament which disposed in this manner of the arrogant claim of the pope to be regarded as the feudal sovereign of England, some wholesome regulations were made with a view to protect the universities against certain mischiefs which had resulted from the conduct of the friars.
It was determined that no scholar under the age of eighteen should be admitted into any mendicant order, that no document tending in any manner to the injury of the universities should be hereafter received from the pope, and that all differences between the mendicants and the older authorities in those seminaries should be decided in future in the court of the king, and without further appeal. The parliament adverted to, it will be remembered, was the assembly convened in , and Wycliffe, who was then warden of Canterbury Hall, was soon afterwards numbered, as we have seen, among the royal chaplains.
The reign of Edward the Third, who had now reached the fiftieth year of his age, is one of the most remarkable in English history. It was distinguished by military enterprise, but hardly less by general social advancement. The battle of Cressy belongs to the year The victory of Poictiers belongs to In the latter year, the king of Scotland was a prisoner in the Tower of London, and the king of France was placed at the head of the many illustrious captives in the hands of Edward the Third.
It was natural that such successes should diffuse and strengthen the war passion among the people of England in those times. But much collateral benefit resulted from this course of affairs. During the reign of Edward, the pontiffs resided at Avignon, and being, together with their cardinals, commonly Frenchmen, the animosity against France disposed the people of England to regard the policy of the papal court as that of a power naturally allied to France, and to look on all its proceedings with a suspicion and disaffection which might not otherwise have been felt.
Commerce also made great progress during this period, and in its train came a marked revival of taste, literature, and general intelligence. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, was the patron of Chaucer and of Wycliffe, and is the only male member of the royal family whose name is conspicuously associated with the religion of those times.
This prince was born at Ghent in the year , sixteen years subsequent to the birth of our Reformer. At the age of twenty-two, he succeeded, as Earl of Richmond, to the title of his deceased father-in-law, Henry, Duke of Lancaster, and to estates which rendered him the most opulent subject of the realm. He unsheathed his sword in Scotland, France, and Spain, but is less known from his military exploits, than as possessing some taste for literature, and as having evinced a strong sympathy, up to a certain point, with the reforms contemplated by Wycliffe.
It has been stated that Wycliffe dedicated a collection of his works to the Duke of Lancaster so early as the year But this is an error. There is a manuscript volume in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, containing several pieces from the pen of Wycliffe, and along the upper line of the first treatise in that collection, is an insertion describing the volume as consisting of the works of Wycliffe which were so dedicated. But this entry is made by a modern hand, and it is certain that the piece on which it was written was not composed earlier than —that is, subsequent to the papal schism.
This description, however, has been copied in a well-known printed catalogue of existing manuscripts, and from that source has been widely adopted. In an attempt was made by the English parliament to exclude churchmen from those high offices of state which hitherto had been almost invariably sustained by them. The Master of the Rolls, the Masters in Chancery, and Chancellor and Chamberlain of the Exchequer, were also dignitaries, or beneficed persons of the same order. The attempt to put an end to this usage by authority of parliament, is attributed by historians to the secret influence of John of Gaunt; and concerning the judgment of Wycliffe as strongly opposed to it, the reader will find abundant evidence in the present volume.
Edward, on receiving it, replied that he would act in the matter with the advice of his council. But in the following month William of Wykeham, the celebrated Bishop of Winchester, resigned his office of Chancellor, and the Bishop of Exeter ceased to be Lord Treasurer.
It is hardly probable that the originators of this movement should have regarded their first effort as likely to be attended by a greater measure of success.
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This proceeding belongs to the year It was in the year preceding, that the papal court gave its judgment against the claim of Wycliffe with regard to the wardenship of Canterbury Hall. Against the last will of the founder, Woodhall and the three monks were restored, and two years later they rendered their illegal triumph secure, by paying the sum of two hundred marks, as the price of obtaining a confirmation of the decision of the pope from the crown.
We are not aware of a single reference to it in any of his subsequent writings. In the year , he performed his novitiate for the degree of doctor of divinity; that degree authorised him to open his own school, as a public teacher of theology in the university. In this capacity he, no doubt, read many of those scholastic pieces still extant among his works, and from this time the influence of his opinions began to be more sensibly felt in the university. The moment was not favourable to such a proceeding.
Complaints which had been often uttered, both by nobles and commons, on this subject, were now loudly repeated. Edward, in his letter to the pope, declared that the effect of this custom of provisors had been to transfer the property designed for the support of religion, to the hands of men who neither dwelt in the country nor understood its language, and who, while seizing on the emoluments of office, were alike unable and unwilling to discharge its duties. This custom, he declares to be alike at variance with his own prerogative, with the authority of the chapters, and with that of patrons in general.
His claim accordingly is, that this usage in respect to livings may be forthwith abolished. The first declared the collation to any dignitary or benefice in a manner opposed to the rights of the king, the chapters, or the patron, to be void; the second was directed against the custom of appealing on questions of property, from the decision of the English courts, to the court of the pontiffs. But in Edition: current; Page: [ xxix ] complaint is still made against the evils resulting from these practices. The spoliation carried on under such pretexts, is said to be even greater than at any former period.
Hence, to save the property of the realm, and to silence the murmurs of his subjects, Edward commissioned Gilbert, bishop of Bangor, Bolton, a monk of Dunholm, and William de Burton and John de Shepey, to lay his own complaint, and that of his parliament, before the papal court. Gregory the Eleventh then filled the papal chair, and resided at Avignon. In the following year—the year —an inquiry was instituted as to the exact number of benefices in England which, by means of this custom of provisors, had passed into the hands of foreigners.
The first name in the list of the persons now appointed, is that of the prelate who had been included in the previous commission, and the second is that of John de Wycliffe. Had the seat of the negotiation which followed been at Rome, or even at Avignon, it is probable that such nearer observation of the temper and policy of the papal court, would have given to the mind of the Reformer a strong impulse in the direction toward which it now tended.
But the diplomatists met at Bruges. Wycliffe reached that city in August, ; and in September of the following year, the result of the commission appeared in the shape of six bulls, addressed by the pope to the king of England, and treating of Edition: current; Page: [ xxx ] the questions then at issue between the nation and the papacy. In these documents it was provided that no person at present in possession of a benefice in England, should be disturbed in such possession by any intervention of authority from the pope; that such benefices as had been disposed of, in anticipation of their vacancy, by Urban the Fifth, but which had not yet become vacant, should be left to be filled according to the pleasure of their patrons; that the titles of certain clergymen which had been questioned by the late pope, should be confirmed, and that all demand on the first-fruits of the livings to which those clergymen had been appointed, should be remitted; and also that an assessment should be made of the revenues derived by certain cardinals from livings in England, to effect the repair of the churches and other ecclesiastical buildings holden by them, and which had been allowed to fall into decay—the extent of such assessment to be determined by the verdict of a jury convened from the neighbourhood.
These provisions point with sufficient clearness to one class of abuses then prevalent in the English church, consequent on its relation to the papacy. It is plain that it was scarcely within the power of the king, or of the parliament, or of both conjointly, to protect the ecclesiastical revenues of the kingdom against the rapacity of the popes and their dependents. In the documents adverted to, it will be marked that the only admission of error had respect to certain things done by the preceding pontiff, not to any error in principle as regarded the practice of usurping the place of the crown, the chapters, and the patrons of livings, and alienating their legal property from them, and from the nation, in favour of aliens and enemies.
It is admitted that in certain cases the last pope had not exercised this sort of power wisely; but the only solace to the impoverished nation is, that in future these schemes of spoliation are to be conducted with more precaution and sagacity. That such were the views entertained in England with regard to the papal letters, may be inferred from the continuance of the embassy which produced them.
In the April of the following Edition: current; Page: [ xxxi ] year, the parliament again petitioned the king on this subject, and Edward replied, that the matters in dispute were still in the hands of his commissioners at Bruges. But the health of the aged king was declining rapidly, and his power had waned in a degree not less observable.
On the continent his authority and influence were almost annihilated. At home, faction brought its weakness and perplexities. The court of Rome, which never failed to perceive the advantage to be derived from delay, or the policy of seizing on some interval of weakness to embrace or extend its power, could not be brought to more than vague and partial reformation, always connecting such conditions with the points which it appeared to concede, as might furnish, ere long, a sufficient pretext for resuming whatever may seem to have been abandoned.
It is probable that to the insight into the spirit and policy of the papal court thus obtained, we are to ascribe the severity which subsequently marks the strictures of Wycliffe concerning the higher clergy generally, and especially concerning the popes, and their immediate coadjutors. Two years of precious time expended to so little purpose, must have been anything rather than soothing in its influence on a man of such a temperament.
During his absence, however, the Reformer was not forgotten by his sovereign. In November, , he was presented by the king to the prebend of Aust, in the collegiate church of Westbury, in the diocese of Worcester. About the same time the rectory of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, became vacant. Lord Henry de Ferars, the patron, was then a minor; it, in consequence, devolved upon the crown to appoint the next incumbent, and the royal patronage was again exercised in favour of Wycliffe. In the mean time the disposition of the commons, and, we have reason to suppose, of the people at large, to indulge in loud Edition: current; Page: [ xxxii ] complaint against the court of Rome, rather strengthened than diminished.
We can suppose the statistics of the commons, in , to have been somewhat inaccurate when they state that the kingdom, within the memory of the present generation, had lost not less than two-thirds of its wealth and population. But it is instructive to observe, that the disasters, whether of war abroad, or of disease and poverty at home, which were regarded as having changed the condition of the kingdom to such an alarming extent, are imputed mainly to the mal-practices of popes and cardinals. In the preamble to their petition, they state that the taxes paid to the court of Rome for ecclesiastical dignities amounted to five times more than those obtained by the king from the whole produce of the realm.
It is manifest that the doctrines of the Reformer were now widely diffused, both among the people, and among that class of persons from whom the representatives of the people in parliament were chosen. The clergy began to be alarmed. It was deemed expedient that something vigorous should be done to prevent the scattering of these seeds of religious change through the land.
Courtney, one of the most imperious churchmen of the age, had been recently elevated to the see of London. In the last parliament this prelate had committed himself in a marked degree against the Duke of Lancaster, the known patron of Wycliffe; and the bishop now employed himself to rouse and concentrate the indignation of his order against the opinions and conduct of the Reformer.
The houses of convocation met on third of February, in , a week after the opening of the new parliament, and one of its earliest proceedings was to issue a summons requiring Wycliffe to appear before it, and to answer to the charge of holding and publishing certain erroneous and heretical opinions. The nineteenth day of the same month was fixed for the hearing of his defence, and, in expectation of his appearance, the place of assembling, which was the cathedral of St.
Wycliffe and the Duke of Lancaster had met recently at Bruges, the Duke to negociate a peace with France, while the Reformer was employed in the matter of his treaty with the delegates of the papacy. When Wycliffe presented himself to the convocation in St. It was with difficulty that the authority even of such persons secured an Edition: current; Page: [ xxxv ] avenue through the crowd for the approach of the Reformer to the presence of his judges.
The disturbance thus occasioned attracted the attention of Courtney, and the sight of Wycliffe, as sustained by the presence of two such powerful personages, was manifestly as unwelcome as it was unexpected. The following dialogue is given by Fuller, as having passed on the occasion:—. Lord Percy, if I had known what maisteries you would have kept in the church, I would have stopped you out from coming hither. Wiclif, sit down, for you have many things to answer to, and you need to repose yourself on a soft seat.
It is unreasonable that one cited before his ordinary, should sit down during his answer. He must, and shall stand. And as for you, my lord bishop, who are grown so proud and arrogant, I will bring down the pride, not of you alone, but of all the prelacy in England. Thou bearest thyself so brag upon thy parents, a which shall not be able to help thee; they shall have enough to do to help themselves.
My confidence is not in my parents, nor in any man else, but only in God, in whom I trust, by whose assistance I will be bold to speak the truth. Rather than I will take these words at his hands, I would pluck the bishop by the hair out of the church. These last words were uttered in an under tone, but sufficiently loud to be heard by some of the by-standers.
Great pains had been taken by the clergy during the sitting of the last parliament, to conciliate the popular feeling, and to direct it against the duke, as meditating a suppression of the mayoralty of London, and Edition: current; Page: [ xxxvi ] other grave inroads upon the liberties of the citizens. The crowd nearest the place of this dispute, consisting probably in great part of the dependents of the clergy, as well as of persons who had been filled with suspicion and disaffection by the above means, raised their voices against the duke, and the disturbance altogether became such, that the meeting separated without anything being said by Wycliffe, or any of its proper business being entered upon.
This meeting, it will be remembered, took place in February, In the following June, Edward the Third expired; and in October of the same year, Richard the Second assembled his first parliament. As a remedy against evils which had hitherto resisted every influence opposed to them, it was urged that the procuring of a benefice by papal provision, should be punished with outlaw; and that the same penalty should be incurred by the man who should farm any living in the English church holden by a foreigner.
The people had been heavily burdened to sustain it; and the victories which distinguished it, brilliant as they were, yielded no substantial fruit. The temper of the nation, accordingly, was that of irritation and bitter disappointment; and no power felt the effect of this popular disaffection more immediately or strongly than the court of Rome. The paper setting forth the reasons of this decision, will be found among his works printed in this volume. In the month of June, , several letters were sent to England by the pontiff, concerning certain false and dangerous opinions said to be holden and promulgated by John de Wycliffe, rector of Lutterworth, and professor of theology in the University of Oxford.
One of these letters was addressed to the king, another to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a third to the university. When the heads of the university were apprised that such a communication had been sent to them, the propriety of allowing it to be read, or of declining to receive it, became a matter of serious discussion.
This hesitation may be attributed in part to the sympathy of many with the opinions of the Reformer, but still more probably to that feeling of jealousy in respect to all papal interference, which was so often manifested by the universities of the middle age. Walsingham, the monastic historian of the time, expresses his astonishment that any such hesitancy should have been shown; but it is evident, from the letters of the pope, that the persons holding the opinions of the Reformer, in a greater or less degree, were known to be numerous and powerful, and that the execution of the papal mandates was expected to be attended with difficulty.
The call made upon the hierarchy to be vigilant and resolute in this affair, was met by a more prompt and cordial response. Edition: current; Page: [ xxxviii ] Sudbury, now Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to the Chancellor of Oxford, reminding him of the commands received from the pope, and requiring the execution of them with all diligence and faithfulness. The chancellor is required especially to obtain, by the assistance of the most orthodox and skilful divines, correct information in regard to the alleged heresies and errors, and to send along with his statement of the doctrines certainly propagated by Wycliffe, his own judgment respecting them, delivered under the university seal.
It was, moreover, enjoined upon him, that, as chancellor, he should cite the erroneous teacher, or cause him to be cited, personally to appear before his ecclesiastical superiors, in the church of St. This letter was written on the eighteenth of December, and early in the following year—the year —Wycliffe appeared before a synod convened at Lambeth.
On this occasion the Reformer appeared alone. But though the distinguished men who accompanied him when he last fronted his enemies, were absent, the favour of the powerful, as well as of the people, was still with him. The citizens of London surrounded the place of meeting: numbers forced their way into the chapel where the synod was assembled, proclaiming their attachment to the person and doctrine of Wycliffe.
The dismay produced by this tumult was augmented, when Sir Lewis Clifford entered the chapel, and, in the name of the queen-mother, forbade the bishops proceeding to any definite sentence concerning the conduct or opinions of the Reformer. Chapter 3: The Judean Sects. The Sadduceans. The Pharisians.
The Zealot Movement. Chapter 4: The Men of the Community, or the Essenes. History of the Sect. Monachism and Ecclesiastic Organization. Essenism is the True Original Christianity. The Messiah. The Essene Churches. A Dualist Tendency. Towards a Judeo-Christian Syncretism. Shadow and Light from Samaria.
Chapter 6: Simon of Samaria and Gnostic Radicality. The So-Called Disciples of Simon. Chapter 7: The phallic and fusional cults. The Naassenes or Ophites. Perates, Cainites, Nicolaites, Koukeens. Justin the Gnostic and the Book of Baruch. The Adepts of Barbelo. The Messiah Seth. The Messiah Melchizedek. Elements of a Forgery. Nazarenes and Ebionites. Jochanaan, Called John The Baptist.
Saul, Called Paul of Tarse. Chapter Marcion and the Hellenization of Christianity. Basilides Of Alexandria. Valentine And The Valentinians. The Pistis Sophia. Chapter Marcos and the Hellenization of Jewish Hermeticism. Justin The Apologist. Hermas and The Pastor.
Irenaeus Of Lyon. Chapter Tatian and the Fabrication of the New Testament.
The Canonical Gospels. Bardesane Of Edessa. Origen Of Alexandria. Chapter Arianism and the Church of Rome. Eusebius Of Cesarea. Chapter Donat and the Circoncellions. Borborites, Coddians, Stratiotics, Phemionites. Chapter Monophysites and Dyophysites. Chapter Priscillian of Avila. Chapter Paulicians and Bogomiles.
The Paulicians. The Bogomiles. The Christ Of Bourges. Chapter The Communalist Prophets. The Patarin Movement. Tanchelm Of Antwerp. Arnaud Of Brescia. Ugo Speroni. Chapter Philosophy against the Church. John Scotus Erigena. David Of Dinant. Thomas Scoto, Hermann De Rijswijck. Chapter The Cathars. The First Bogomile Missionaries. The End Of Catharism. Dualism And Asceticism. Chapter The Movement of the Free-Spirit. The Amaurians. Fin Amor. The New Spirit Of Souabe. Marguerite Porete. Heilwige Bloemardine. Chapter Beghards and Beguines. Wandering Beghards And Beguines.
Chapter The Millenarianists. Joachim Of Fiore. Gerardo Segarelli.
Introduction to the First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians
The Guillelmites. Dolcino Of Novara. Chapter The Flagellants. Chapter The Fraticelles. Bernard Delicieux. Prous Boneta. Bentivenga Da Gubio. Paolo Zoppo. Jerome Savonarola. John Calvin. Chapter The Dissidents from Lutheranism and Calvinism. Johannes Denck. Sebastian Franck. Carlstadt And Schwenckfeld. Michael Servetus. Sebastian Castellion. Chapter The Alumbrados of Spain. Chapter The Spiritual Libertines.
Eloi Pruystinck And The Loyists. Jacob Gruet. Quintin Thierry And His Friends. Chapter The Anabaptists. Storch, Pfeiffer And Muntzer. Hut, Huebmaier And Hutter. Melchior Hoffmann. The Munsterites. The Iconoclasts. David Joris. Nicolas Frey. Hendrik Niclaes And The Familists. Jan Torrentius. Chapter Ironists and Sceptics. Valentin Weigel. Dirk Volkertszoon Coornherdt. Bernardino Ochino. Noel Journet. Geoffroy Vallee. Chapter Levellers, Diggers and Ranters.
Levellers And Diggers. The Ranters. Abiezer Coppe. Lawrence Clarkson. Jacob Bauthumley. Thomas Webbe. Coppin, Pordage And Tany. Chapter The Jansenists. Michel Baius. Cornelius Jansenius. The Arnauld Family. Chapter Pietists, Visionaries and Quietists. The Pietists. The Quietists. Madame Guyon. Chapter The End of the Divine Right. Thomas Woolston. The Book of the Three Impostors. Matthias Knuetzen. The Fall Of God. Bibliographical References. And, of course, that would be a great shame. But we decided against such interventions: Vaneigem certainly had his reasons for writing such a text. As he explains in the first chapter of The Movement of the Free Spirit,.
As he analyzed the reproduction and self-destruction of commodities Marx never asked himself how far his personal behavior obeyed economic reflexes. His critique is the product of an intellectualism that reproduces the power of the mind over the body; it is the work of a lasting influence of God on the material world.
This stubborn determination not to let anything take precedence over the will to live, to reject at whatever cost even the most imperative calls of survival, first took shape in my books The Revolution of Everyday Life and The Book of Pleasures. The latter was needed to clarify and correct the former, to remove the intellectual cast that won it high esteem from people incapable of putting its lessons into practice but who, instead, used them as a consoling alibi for their own premature aging.
Like its predecessor, The Resistance to Christianity demonstrates an astonishing erudition: trained in Latin as a student, its author also calls upon works written in English, Italian, Dutch, German and, of course, French. Indeed, French-language readers had to wait until for the book to be reprinted. Thanks to a reprint as a paperback, the English translation has never gone out of print.
An unusual grouping of European radical artists, filmmakers and writers, the SI was founded in and dissolved in Between those years, the group reinvented the theory of proletarian revolution and propagated it through a journal called Internationale Situationniste, several books and a great many scandalous provocations. The SI was deeply involved in the protests, riots and occupations that nearly toppled the French government in May-June Were not the situationists dedicated to the abolition of religion as well as the abolition of capitalism and the State?
Unfortunately, few of them have been translated into English. For Vaneigem, religious values and behaviors — guilt, self-hatred, fear of pleasure, the hope for a future heaven on earth and, above all, the contempt for the body and for the earth — persist even among those who consider themselves to be atheists and anarchists.
They persist, not only in their political ideologies which are often informed by the notions and practices of hard work, self-sacrifice and intellectual and moral superiority , but also in their psychological states often imbued with weariness, resignation, self-contempt and a sense of impotence. And yet The Resistance to Christianity is not a pep talk or a self-help manual.
It is a very serious historical albeit subjective investigation into the rise and fall of Judeo-Christianity. I want to challenge those who dehumanize history, seeing it as fated and fatal: hence my wish to pay homage to those who refused to give in to the idea that history moves toward some inevitable outcome. I want also to seek out signs of life, behind the edifices of religious and ideological obscurantism, and in so doing I hope to dispense once and for all with the cherished but no less dubious notion of a Christian Middle Ages.
Originally published in , and revised and reprinted in , this pioneering and exceptionally influential work claims that,. Although it would be a gross over-simplification to identify the [Medieval] world of chiliastic exaltation with the world of social unrest, there were many times when needy and discontented masses were captured by some millennial prophet. And when that happened movements were apt to arise which, though relatively small and short-lived, can be seen in retrospect to bear a startling resemblance to the great totalitarian movements of our own day [ If such an enquiry can throw no appreciable light on the workings of established totalitarian states, it might, and I think it does, throw considerable light on the sociology and psychology of totalitarian movements in their revolutionary heyday.
The great European peasant revolts were likewise a response to history — a history that was wresting the peasantry from the patriarchal slumber thitherto guaranteed by the feudal order. The exact opposite is true: millenarianism, the expression of a revolutionary class struggle speaking the language of religion for the last time, was already a modern revolutionary tendency, lacking only the consciousness of being historical and nothing more.
The millenarians were doomed to defeat because they could not recognize revolution as their own handiwork. Driven by their will to follow nature, some identified with God and the ordinariness if his tyranny, using force, violence, constraint and seduction to secure the right to gratify their whims and passions. Others refused to countenance such a union between a despotic God and a denatured nature, a union whose exploitation found perfect expression in the myth of a divinity at once pitiful and pitiless. Instead they saw the refinement of their desires and the quest for a ubiquitous and sovereign amorous pleasure as a way of replacing the spiritualized animal and its labor of adaptation with an authentic human species capable of creating the conditions favorable to its own harmonious development.
All through The Resistance to Christianity, Vaneigem will highlight this division or disagreement among the so-called heretics. Have we not ceased to be ruled and made miserable by the gods, God, the Church, kings and princes, dictators and political ideologies of all stripes? Yes, indeed — but we remain constrained by the economy itself, that is to say, by work and the commodity, by the production and consumption of pollution. Though we do not wish to choose sides, it is also quite clear that Vaneigem had Debord, among others, in mind when he stated once again in The Movement of the Free Spirit :.
What started as a revolution against misery turned into a miserably failed revolution, all because of a reluctance to be anything for oneself ; and this failure still condemns even the most vociferous seekers of emancipation and happiness to the gall of impotence in which they acquiesce. Anyone who has the intelligence to comprehend the world but not enough to learn how to live, or who takes his self-hatred out on others, blaming and judging so as not to be blamed and judged himself, is, deep inside, no different from the priest.
To conclude, a few technical notes are necessary. The French text includes both footnotes and endnotes: the former, which are generally reserved for commentary there are a few exceptions , are marked by asterisks; the latter, which are always reserved for the attribution of source materials and quotations, are marked by Arabic numerals. Wherever possible, we have incorporated the footnotes into the main body of the text within parentheses thus and have removed the asterisks. As the reader will see, we have taken the liberty of occasionally offering our own endnotes. We have done so when Vaneigem used an English expression in the original; when he has not translated into French a word, phrase or title that is in a language that we speak or can look up in a dictionary German and Latin, respectively ; when he has referred to someone or something that might be obscure to his readers in the English-speaking world; and when the reader might be interested in following certain connections that we have made.
When necessary, we have supplied within brackets [thus] words that the author failed to include. If we relished a certain play on words, did not choose a literal rendering of a word or phrase, or doubted the accuracy of our rendering, we supplied the original French in italics and within brackets [ ainsi ]. But when parentheses appear in quotations taken from the works of other writers, they have almost always been supplied by Vaneigem himself, and not by us. On the shore where two thousand years of the Christian era have washed up, the rising tide of the commodity has not left standing a single traditional value of the past.
By ruining the mass ideologies that had prematurely celebrated the collapse of the religious edifice, this tide — at a time when the State plays God in the conduct of [terrestrial] affairs — can it not ineluctably push towards the annihilation of the remains of a Church whose mysteries were socialized by The Council of the Vatican II? The indifference that one today feels towards the beliefs governed by rituals performed by the Party or the ecclesiastical bureaucracy awakens, from the inside out, an interest that no longer supports an obsolete worry, no matter if it is apologetic or denigrating, but quite simply is curiosity preoccupied with its own pleasure and taking pride in the game of discovering what the official truths were so zealous to bury under the ultima ratio  of their dogmatic canon.
Can one imagine that Christianity, cleansed of the sacred apparatus by the great waters of affairism,  might escape from the crusher that has, in less than a half-century, dashed nationalism, liberalism, socialism, fascism and communism on the sacrificial rocks, while the generations watch with a mix of fascination and terror? With the feeling for the pre-eminence of the living mingles an astonishment that, for the candide  , feels like the desire to know why and by which channels the world of ideas has so often required its book of flesh to be slashed in the heart for chimerical horizons.
The crisis of mutation, which today forces the economy to destroy itself along with the world or reconstruct itself along with the world, has at the very least the merit of disillusioning us about the origin of inhumanity and the means of remedying it. The politics of sterilization that has gangrenated the planet, [whole] societies, mindsets and bodies has demonstrated, by the pertinence of their extreme situation, how mankind — subjecting nature and his fellow men to market exploitation — produces, at the expense of the living, an economy that subjugates the living to a power that, at first, is mythical and then ideological.
Delayed by a system of exchanges that they created and that, while tearing themselves from themselves, determined them without ever completely mechanizing the body, consciousness and the unconscious, individuals have been, over the course of the millennia, powerless with respect to the formidable power that vampirizes them.
How could their miserable destiny not induce them to put a halo on an absolute authority as perfect as the celestial vault, on the transcendence of a Father whose decrees manage fortune with misfortune, proclaiming the eternal and capricious instance? Investing in an extra-terrestrial sovereignty, the mythical meaning of which only the priests had the power to decrypt, the economy, nevertheless, was inclined to unveil its fundamental materiality throughout the interests that, in a melee, insist that one can no longer profane the temporal masters and big players.
Nevertheless, despite the state of conflict that, in endemic fashion, opposed the conquest of markets to landed property, their antagonistic emanations — kings and priests, temporal and spiritual philosophy and theology — did not cease to constitute the agrarian structure and its still-dominant mindset, but also the two halves of God.
By decapitating Louis XVI, the last monarch of the Divine Right, the French Revolution killed both the bicephalic hydra of temporal and spiritual power, whose most recent crime in a long line of heinous crimes led the young Knight of La Barre  to be brought to the scaffold for the crime of impiety. The Ancien Regime, definitively exhausted under the inexorable mass of market freedom and democracy reduced to the lucrative, dismantled itself as well as its ramparts, chateaux, crowned [ obsidionale ] mindset, and old mythic way of thinking.
Christianity then entered the spectacular history of the commodity. At the dawn of the Twenty-First Century,  Christianity will be crushed, just like the other gregarious ideologies. That Christianity continues to subsist at the heart of systems of ideas that supplant Christian mythology — including opinions that are the most furiously hostile to Christian allegiances — with a kind of religious spirit and in the sinister colors of fanaticism, the exaltation of militants and the hysteria of crowds, this demonstrates quite well the nature of the Great Masses solemnly held in esteem by the tribunes and haranguers of nationalism, liberalism, socialism, fascism and communism.
The hysterical tearing that throws Man beyond his body, so as to identify him with a collective and abstract body — a nation, a State, a Party, a Cause — is indistinguishable from spiritual membership, I might even say spiritual adherence to a God whose glance injects solicitude and scorn, and thus symbolically expresses the relations between the mechanical abstraction of profit and living matter that has been reduced to almost nothing. Thus there have been more crises in the last three decades than in the previous ten millennia.
By balancing ideologies on the scales of indifference, the self-services  of the consumable-at-any-price have, volens nolens,  stripped the individual of the characteriological turtle shell that dissimulates itself to itself, condemns him to constrained desires, without another way out than recalling the dead passion to destroy and to destroy oneself. Thus, little by little, one can see the awakening of a will to live that has never ceased to appeal to creation and pleasure, united in itself and with the world. Wearied of artificial desires that gave it lucrative reason and that, over the centuries, led it to a place where, with an amused curiosity, the individual can contemplate the objects that have objectified it and litter the shores of its past with fragments of a death that, today, is refused.
But, as Diderot asks, which ass will pass this shit? Which economic imperative, hastily rectified by despair and resentment, will be a buttress to the ramparts of another age and will prevent them from caving under the weight of the lack to be won? Hunted by the debacle of the great ideologies — imperfectly satisfied by the sects, more and more badly lodged at the Churches Catholic or Protestant — the Christian sentiment now searches for new beds to cum in.
Will it find itself sleeping with a landscape that economic mutations are readying to remodel? It makes little difference to me who is the conjurer, Gaia, Magna Mater, Sylphides, Dryades or other elements. On the other hand, I am delighted by the apprenticeship of the autonomy that, through the collapse of the supporters of and supports for the past, engenders the necessity of going it alone.
The end of crowds, the [emergence of] individual consciousness of the fight for life, the cancellation of defeat and fear of self, from which all the other fears are derived, the emergence of a creativity that, substituting itself for work, directs the new generations toward a veritable humanity that, if its advent is not ineluctable, rests — for the first time in history — in the hands of men [sic] and, more particularly, children who are educated in the pleasure of life, rather than in its morbid refusal.
Such is the perspective according to which I wish to examine the resistance with which the inclination to natural liberty has, during nearly twenty centuries, opposed the Antiphysis  of Christian oppression. In no domain — historical, scientific, philosophical, social, economic [or] artistic — can I conceive of an analysis that would want to exert itself outside of the individual histories in which the everyday gestures of those who have resolved to undertake it are inscribed.
Thus, I understand the indignation of Karlheinz Deschner as he thrashes — in Kriminalgeschicte des Christentmus  — the deaths, impostures and falsifications of the Catholic Church, but I do not know at what point his polemic — by penetrating into the terrain of the adversary — wins him recognition and interest, in which he takes pride. And why revive the embers of the millennium pyre with puffs of anger, when the wind of a new time has condemned them to be extinguished completely? What better homage to orthodoxy than heresy, [or] non-conformism that infatuates itself with contesting the axis around which it gravitates?
Hardly interested in arbitrating the dubious combat between victims and torturers, I prefer to set free from the past — in which the forgotten, scorned, poorly understood, prejudged and calumnied are buried and often stratified by the famous objectivity of the historians — the scars that the human tissue, irrigated by the freedoms of nature, untiringly maintains so as to reconstitute and strengthen itself, weaving the social network from the ordinary, despite the deleterious effects of fear, dereliction, suffering, faith in the beyond and the consolations of death.
Thus I would seize the living from beneath the death that takes hold through a subtle mix of violence and persuasion that has been revived to deal with beings and things no longer indexed according to the traditional perspective, in which God, the State [and] the Economy collect the tears of the terrestrial valleys for a different happiness, and yet shudder from the beating of the wings of the living, who are more perceptible today because they no longer suffer [under] the weight of the old oppressions.
Therefore, the reasons to be amazed by a life that is so obstinate that it breaks through and re-flowers the asphalt of an inhuman history raise, in counterpoint, several doubts about the honesty and quality of the scholars and specialists who are accustomed to covering this history as if it were conquered terrain. I admit that a theologian — whose craft of repolining  his God so as to once again point out the lightning-flash to the blind who do not perceive the ordinary evidence — prescribes the facts according to his manner of belief, by which he gives his jargon the outward appearance of a sensible language, calling desire a temptation, pleasure a sin, the embrace of lovers a fornication; which he venerates from the position of the Saint of the Rivals of the Heroes of the People honored by Lenin; which he erases from the Gospels according to the truth that Stalin accorded to the Soviet Encyclopedia.
This is what follows, not from the lie, but from proselytism. What is one to think of the university scholars, who are instructed in the science of removing doubts concerning the authenticity of manuscripts that have been dangled from copyist to copyist and stuffed with interpolations, who make comments as if these were original texts and who date the Epistles by a certain Saul a Roman citizen who lived around 60, whereas Tarse was only Romanized in at the beginning of the Christian era, when they were rewritten, if not written, by Marcion, then revised by Tatien, and submitted to corrections in the Fourth Century?
No one is unaware that, at the earliest, the manuscripts of the canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Gospels appeared in the Fourth Century and constituted — under the aegis of Constantine — the library of propaganda that Eusebius de Cesaree and his scribes revised and distributed to all the Churches and that were thus universalized on the same dogmatic base. Is it a question of mentioning the angels of the Jewish pantheon, the semi-legendary Paul and Peter, the anti-gnostic Irenaeus, the philosopher Augustin of Hippone, the anti-semite Jerome, the spiritual master of the Inquisition, Dominique de Gizman, the massacrer of the Fraticelles, Jean de Capistrano?
Enraged enough to deny the divinity of Christ, a militantism of presumed freethought will fall into the trap of this Jesus, friend of the poor, a kind of Socrates preaching the truths of an evangelical Socialism and then dying on the cross due to the insolence of a pacifist tribune. Tertullien and the Christian movement of the New Prophecy could not have dreamed of a better future for their heroe — freshly purged of his Semitism and disguised as Zorro for the edification and salvation of the working class — than what existed in the second half of the Twentieth Century.
Once one admits the existence of an agitator and founder of the Church, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate — and this without the least contemporary [corroborating] testimony and while the name Jesus for a long time kept the meaning of the Biblical Joshua — , why be surprised that the spiritual scholars accept the false listing of popes and bishops that was drafted by Eusebius de Cesaree and that back-dates the canonical texts, interpolates writings from the Second Century and citations dating from the controversies of the Fourth and Fifth Centuries, and fixes as heretical — as if these ideas articulated themselves in the year 30 [C.
Although it does not appear to me denuded of utility to emphasize such an imposture at a time when one quite incorrectly thinks that the Pontifical authority and the clerical bureaucrats have survived the collapse of the last totalitarian citadels, I have found less charm in rectifying the opinion that nothing — other than some inertia of thought — continues to support the pretension to uncover these innervations of the living, which are often frail and yet generate a force that is incomparably more efficacious than the critical consciousness that intends to offend the tombstones of oppression.
Under the label of heresy, what is recovered of the labels by which the Church subjugated, by naming, diverse human and inhuman behaviors, the condemnation of which reinforced the superior power of orthodoxy? Episcopal rivalries [and] internecine struggles, as in Arianism, monophysism [and] English Lollardism.
Tracts and Treatises of John de Wycliffe - Online Library of Liberty
Or a dislocation — which the market in penitence and death exploited with remarkable skill — of the limping body of the constraint of license, the asceticism of debauchery, [and] the repression of relief. Or a still-more secret attitude, which is the object of perplexity to the religious police: the individual will to find a destination that — contrary to the social forms of antiphysis — is better reconciled to the promises of a nature that had previously been relegated by its exploitation to the far side of the human.
One will easily divine the types of heresies or irreligious remanences  to which my curiosity is the most willingly attached. It is thus agreed, from the beginning, that the study of the Free Spirit does not relieve me of such a requirement. On the other hand, a single merit must be granted to this work: I would love it if it misunderstood as little as possible the solicitations of the pleasures of knowing and the gay science.
As a summary that, in the course of time, reveals itself to be the cleaning-out of the undergrowth of an uncertain history, this book — I have the feeling — at least will escape the risk of competing for the most errors, ignorant remarks and fabricated hypotheses with the majority of the volumes, monographs and scholarly works that have, in our era, been piled on the heads of Jesus, the apostles and their residual heirs.
If it is, finally, necessary to furnish an excuse for a style of writing in which one hardly finds the care that I give to the books that are not too far removed from the line of my life, I would like simply to say that each matter has been given the treatment that it suggests. Singularly and paradoxically destined, like the Jewish people: the Books or Biblia, which under the name Bible founded the Hebraic mythology, which, raised up by the elective glory of a unique God, aspired to reign over all of humanity.
Invested with an eternal and universal truth, each person entered into the design only to lend him or herself to YHWH, at the cost of an effacement in time and space, of which no nation offers such an unhappy example. Born within a Statist centralism that rallied [together] the nomads, hastily sedentarized on newly conquered territories, the arrogance of the God of the holy wars — by a cruel irony — would not cease to puff itself up with the wind of prophet-ism to the extent that the temporal power of the Hebrews, far from seizing the world so as to propagate obedience in it to YHWH, would succumb under the blows of the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, and would find itself extirpated from the very places in which it had been established over the course of nearly two millennia.
But what surprises is the fact that this nation kept faith, confidence and accredited a deity that was quite the contrary to it. Situating themselves in a mythical history, the temporal aspect of which was only the shadow of a divine will, the Jews have undergone it as a malediction to which they subscribed by advancing a historical exclusion that they only brought forth in the Twentieth Century by obliterating the religious under the trademark of social preoccupations.
Today, few believers deny that the army and the cooperative system offered to Israel are better guarantees than YHWH. Vilified, oppressed, massacred, imprisoned in the ghettos, they had not ceased to interpret the nightmare in an exegetical way. The malediction confirmed their status as the Chosen People; it conferred upon them — through the water, fire and blood of sacrifice and redemption, the ordeal and salvation, expiation and redemption — an existence that was thus metaphysical, sub specie aeternitatis.
Expelled from Palestine in , after the collapse of their last insurrection, the Jews would be cast aside at the same time that their religion would be taken up by Christianity which issued from Judaism , the political career of which would emerge in the Fourth Century under a Catholicism that conducted pogroms.
While a succession of reversals, saluted by prophetic agitators as just divine punishments, swelled with anger and blood the unmerciful myth of the God of Israel, a more pacific conquest made itself clear. Namely, a diaspora swarming to the four corners of the world colonies of Jews who, due to the intransigence with which they dwelled on the question of the unique God, did not find it repugnant to compromise when necessary to safeguard their right to asylum and financial interest.
It was here, in the overture of the spirit that imposed the laws of commerce, that the cruel YHWH gave way to a more compassionate God, insofar as Mosaic rigor would accommodate a relaxation of its rituals. The Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman imperialisms included in their politics of expansion the recognition of the gods honored by the vanguished nations.
Once it accomplished the conquest of the territories of Canaan, the young and precarious Hebrew state remained on the defensive. It took root in an agrarian structure. Reassembling the nomads, it cemented the nation in a monotheistic bloc in which God, in solidarity with his people, created the Earth so that they could cultivate it and impose his law everywhere. The local branches of the diaspora did not constitute the bridge heads, the billeting of the troops prompted to mark out paths for the merchants. But the Jews were no less enslaved where the synagogue represented the Temple of Jerusalem.
Although they were proselytes, these slaves isolated themselves in a defensive crouch, as if the immobility of the sacerdotal caste that was all the rage in Judea, Samaria and Galilee was weighing them down. The dynamism of the industrious Jewish classes got entangled in the nets of the Sadduceean bureaucracy, the aristocratic caste of the functionaries of the Temple.
Its conservatism concretized this God of conquest who had struck his faithful with powerlessness and who held as a salutary expiation the gift that they made of it every day of their existence. The development of the modernist party, Pharisaism, arrived too late, when the Jewish nation was no longer a colony that the successive empires negligently inherited. The Phariseeans came up against it, in addition to the revolts of the extremist type that circumscribed their project of massacring the goyim, or nonbelievers, and adoring YHWH.
Lacking a bite on history, the Jewish people, made toothless by an all-powerful God who chose them, condemned themselves to the time of the holocaust. Many times re-written and revised, the original kernel of the first biblical texts date from the 10 th and 11 th centuries before the Christian era, shortly after the establishment of the Hebrews in the land of Canaan. They lived there as semi-nomads and in a mosaic of City-States of the tribes of the Semitic race. Nomads themselves, the Hebrews, the tribes of which had visited Mesopotamia and Egypt, and gleaned from them religious beliefs and techniques of organization, seized hold of a part of the land of Canaan under the leadership of a person whom their mythology gave the name Moses.
Perhaps around 1, [B. He arrogated to himself the function of the great priest, the temporally sacralized monarch, his power to guide the people chosen by El, the Father, creator of the universe and mankind, conceived so as to be obeyed. The legend attributes to Solomon, son of David, the construction of the first Temple of Jerusalem, symbol of the faith and supremacy of the Jews, monument to monotheism, which hastened to destroy the invaders and that one day would be substituted for by the Basilica of Rome.
Nevertheless, the tyranny of Solomon provoked the secession of the northern tribes. Upon his death, they refused obedience to his son and, strong with the consent of Egypt, founded in [B. From then on, Palestine was split between two rival regions: in the south, the kingdom of Judea, with Jerusalem as its capital; in the north, the kingdom of Israel, including Samaria and Galilee today Jordan. Over the centuries, hate and scorn pitted Judea against Samaria, the former sheltering itself in the jealous cult of YHWH; the latter, more tolerant, offering itself to new ideas and Greek influences.
The opposition between Judeans and Samaritans explains an important part of the Hellenization of Jewish Gnosticism, omnipresent in the first Christianities. Priding themselves on being the true children of Israel, they only retained as sacred the Books of the Pentateuch : Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. On the mountains of Ebel and Garizim, which were estimated to be more powerful than the Temple at Jerusalem, were raised the places of the cult.
For them, YHWH, God of war and conquest, had not abolished El, the father, from whom he issued, nor the tetrad that he originally formed with his wife Asterath Astaroth, Astarte , and their sons and daughter. For the Samaritans, two feminine divinities subdued the merciless patriarch whom the Judeans claimed for themselves. So it was not by chance that women occupied a preponderant place in the philosophy of the physician and philosopher Simon, to whom all the varieties of Christianity — and Catholicism in its turn — would impute the origin of a thought radically hostile to the religious spirit.
In [B. The population, reduced to servitude, took the road of exile. The historians designate communally under the name of Judaism the form taken by the religion of the Jewish people after the destruction of the First Temple and the captivity in Babylon. This defeat — the first in a long series — at the same time brought forth an apology as desperate as it was frenzied from the all-powerful God, as well as an exacerbated feeling of collective guilt. At each reversal, the litany of wandering prophets exalted the grandeur of YHWH, going over and over again in the psalmic fashion the calling of the Jewish people to dominate the world and to prove in its heart the just expiation of its lack of faith.
Thus, biblical mythology resounds with hymns to expansionist bragging as much as in counterpoint it takes offense at the sour harmonies of a guilt that is endlessly harped upon. The beating of guilt rhythms the Bible and the fluttering of the wings broken by Hebraic power. Without too much difficulty, polytheism revoked one or the other of the divinities who were incapable of satisfying the prayers that were addressed to them.
Does the supplicant not dare to threaten vexatory measures to the god who maladroitly does his job? But when it is a question of a unique God, the father of a national family whose children must fear, tremble, venerate and love, as well Because YHWH would multiply the Chosen People as much as there are grains of sand by the sea; he would guarantee to them a prosperity without parallel; all peoples would incline themselves before the grandeur of Israel and would serve it without a murmur.
That history continues to ruin the promise of such a brilliant glory — this is not what embarrasses the believer, who is little disposed to accuse the just and terrible YHWH of perjury, powerlessness or perversity. No, it is evident that the guilty ones were the Jews themselves, unworthy men, who — by their split between the kingdoms of the North and of the South — profaned the heritage of David, while the weakness of their zeal drew down the just wrath of the Lord.
The cruelest of enemies — the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans — wove between the hands of the Eternal the net of unhappiness and redemption. Because, if the children of Israel amended themselves, resigned themselves, graciously, to misfortune with a morbid joy — claiming their unshakable confidence in the fire of the ordeal — then divine mercy would bring down upon them his perpetual grace.
Such is the essential message of the biblical prophets and the sacralized texts; men are invited to cover themselves with imprecations so as to redeem the incongruous conduct of a God whom, having chosen to overwhelm an emerging empire with opprobrium, no longer hesitated to annihilate the universe that he created. There is no doubt that this is a unique phenomenon in history — a State, possessed by an invincible God and dispossessed of any victory, in which germinated the project of a universal theocracy, a millennium sanctifying the earth, a holy war in which the combatants have no arms other than the teardrops of their bodies to confront the enemy.
Once more, it was in Samaria that, against Yahwist intransigence, there emerged the dualism that opposed a good God, unknowable, ungraspable and not of this world, to the God of war, the Demiurge, creator of a bad world; which was an idea later adopted by Christianity of the Nazarene type, as well as by the hedonistic gnostics of the Carpocratian school. Where the political and military development of Judea ends, there begins the myth of religious imperialism.
A veritable cursed saga, remodeling the most ancient texts, inscribed itself on the steps of the Temple sacked by the Babylonians. They were helped — and here there was the heritage and recuperation of the pre-Yahwist cults — by women, prophetesses, such as Deborah, who commanded the tribes of the north. The nazirs [non-believers], ascetics and combatants devoted to God — Samson, for example — composed the shock troops. The traditional rivalry between the temporal prince and the priest shows through in the fate reserved for kings: honored in the narrative books [of the Bible], they were shamed in the prophetic books and the Psalms.
For the fanatics of holy war, God is king and has no need to lead his people to the type of victory won by a head of state. Eli and Elise propagated the cult of YHWH in the towns and countrysides against the sectarians of Baal and the ancient gods. Jeremiah, agent of the Assyrian party against Egypt, preached the uselessness of the struggle against Nebuchadnezzar. He placed the stubborn defense of religion above political preoccupations, as if the unquestionable supremacy of God implied the infallible grandeur of people among whom growing misery was only the secret sign of a triumph that was all-the-more assured by its delays in manifesting itself on the derisory level of human temporality.
Under the Roman occupation, the Pharisaian party would not act otherwise, collaborating with the enemy for the greatest glory of the God who tested it. Situating itself under the eternal gaze of the divinity, the spirit of Judaism became ahistorical. Prophets and heroes changed names and dates by remaining the same. Adam, Moses, Joshua, and Esaie did not end up being present at every moment. Around [B. Only the poorest remained in Palestine. Many exiles enriched themselves in Assyria and Babylon as merchants, entrepreneurs and bankers — to Nippour, the Murashu bank offered a perfect example of the successful Jew.
They [the Jews] felt themselves to be among their co-religionists, re-grouped in little communities. Thus, there began the phenomenon of pacific expansion — a mix of forcible exile and voluntary emigration — that the Greeks would give the name diaspora. The diaspora offered the particularity of founding the Jewish branch-offices that constituted so many enclaves of monotheistic Judaism in goyische territory. The theology closed off from the agrarian myth doubled itself thanks to the spiritual overture that implied commercial practice and the circulation of commodities.
Implanted in polytheism, the synagogue represented the Temple of Jerusalem, but was disentangled from the sacerdotal despotism of the Sadduceans and consequently more receptive to religious innovations. This is the place where the Pharisaian party and the diverse Esseno-Christian tendencies confronted each other in the First Century.
The end of exile did not involve the re-establishment of a monarchy. Under the control of the Persians, the Jewish state transformed itself into a theocracy. The end of the power rivalries in the leadership caste would, much later, produce the Sadducean party, conserver of orthodoxy in the kingdom of Judea that claimed a monopoly over Judaism. The people of the Temple, for whom rapacity was matched with a ritualism that replaced faith, sometimes responded with the indifference and passivity of those who submitted to despotism, and other times with an outburst of religious vehemence, appeals to purification, mortification and asceticism propagated by the prophets who were prompted to inflame the latent revolt of the artisans, small merchants and plebeians.
Such would be the ferment of the future sects. From before [B. The Letters from Elephantine Assouan , re-written on the occasion of a frontier skirmish between Israeli mercenaries in the service of the king of the Persians and the Egyptians, showed the importance to the Fifth Century of the religions distinct from Judean monotheism. Sometimes confused with the demiurge Ialdabaoth, Iao would be invoked much later by many Gnostic sects, including the Sethians.
His name found itself frequently mentioned in the magical conjurations, rituals of spells, notebooks of execration, and talismanic stones called abraxas. And also celebrated the goddess Anath Bethel, from whom the mysterious Barbelo of the non-Christian Gnostics may have issued. Upon the death of Alexander in [B. It was at this time that the antedated books were drafted so as to halo them with the prestige of ancient times. The Catholic Church, too, would move back the dates of its canonical Gospels for identical reasons. Deuteronomy, falsely dated back to [B. The last part of the Book of Ezekiel proposed a religious and nationalist eschatology: a great river flowing underneath the Temple so as to irrigate the holy earth while the final struggle against Gog, the enemy of Israel, whom Torrey identifies with Alexander.
The Book of Proverbs betrays, in its first nine chapters, a Hellenic influence: several traits recall a book by an Egyptian [called] The Sage of Amenope. It is significant that, little by little, the counsels of politeness and everyday civility dressed themselves up in a religious ritualism. Through perpetual re-writing, the corpus of the sacred books — the Greek plural noun biblia that ends up in the singular noun Bible as if to suggest the idea of a unique book dictated by the unique God — wanted to be a celestial monument dedicated to the absolute power of YHWH, sculpted with bitterness, hate, dereliction and megalomania, which secreted a mindset resigned to support the foreign yoke and which drew from suffering its reason to exist.
And this book has only ever reflected the ignominy imposed on its scribes, the generations that proposed it as a model to more than half the world. Sadduceism would impute to the epic hero Moses the care of having prescribed, in all their details, the rites, costumes, frocks, and objects of the cult around which the sacerdotes moved, instilling the omnipresence of God in the routine of gestures and comportments. Nevertheless, they were our sufferings that he carried [ Here appeared for the first time the literary prototype of the envoy of God who dies for the salvation of all.
The Essenes applied this model to their Master of Justice, who was put to death around 60 [B. Encouraging the refusal of obedience of Samaria to Judea, the Greek occupation allowed the Samaritans to erect in the region of Ebal and Garizim a temple distinct from the one in Jerusalem. They thus encountered in the north the welcome that Judea refused to give. In Samaria, from the conjunction of Judaism and Greek philosophy was thus born a thought oriented around the knowledge of self and the world — Gnostic thought — that took root as much in religious speculation as in a feeling for life that revoked all forms of religion to the profit of a magic hermeticism, nay, a somatic analysis, such as that of Simon of Samaria.
Such a spirit of modernity would easily propagate itself in the communities of the diaspora, in the Jewish colonies of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Rome and the Gauls. From the Samaritan schism derived the sects that opposed different conceptions of Judaism: Sadduceans, Pharisaians, Esseno-Baptists who would form the original Christianity that spread throughout the Nazarean and Ebionist groups. The Samaritans did not recognize any sacred texts other than the Pentateuch and the book that Joshua promised to a certain future under the name of Jesus. The manuscripts discovered at Qumran contained similitudes that accredited the close relationship between the Samaritans and the Essenes; they differed from the Masoretic texts, which were exegetical enterprises on the sacred books written by Masoretes or Jewish physicians.
From to around [B. Two civilizations clashed: one based on an agrarian economy and the commercial activities that situated themselves at the exterior of the frontiers, in the branch-offices and communities based upon an intransigent monotheism; the other, essentially mercantile, propagated its logic and rationality everywhere that its system of exchange penetrated.
Nothing is more antagonistic than the mythic, analogical and ahistorical spirit of the Jews and the Greek Logos, the linear time of the historians, the usage of syllogism, analysis and synthesis, a reality in which the Gods drew their splendor from the capricious facets of destiny. The Indo-European structure of the Greek language very imperfectly rendered Hebraic idiomatics, with its atemporal verbs, word play, magical sounds, phonetic equivalences, numerical values attributed to letters — elements that lent to the pre-evangelical midrashim significations that developed the Kabbalistic speculations, but that, all things considered, were a dead letter for the Greeks and ended in mistranslations.
It is here — it is not useless to say — that Joshua found himself, for the very first time, translated by Iesous, Jesus. Although the Pharisians excluded it from their canon, the Talmud cites it nearly 80 times. The Catholics would make it one of their books of predilection under the title that was imposed around [C. The epistle falsely attributed to Jacob borrows from it a great number of expressions; thus the Logia were attributed to Jesus; Simeon, who become Simon-Peter, also figured in them.
An early Hebrew manuscript from the Eighth Century [B. The authenticity of the text was confirmed by the discovery, in , at Masada — the high place of the Zealot resistance to the Romans — of a scroll that contained important fragments in their original Hebraic versions. Yadim situates the redaction of the text in the pre-Herodian period, around [B. In the era of Rabbi Sira, the Seleucides — masters of Syria and Palestine — attempted to break the monotheistic rigor of the Jews by forced Hellenization.