The Blood Libel against the Church: an Historical Review of Jewish-Christian Relations

Not that long ago, one of our posters wrote and hyperlinked some articles about Jewish influence on the modern world. His comments received significant push-back from many, myself included.

Having said that, offering a critique of Jewish influence is fraught with danger.  The inevitable accusation of anti-Semitism awaits, whether warranted or not. Having said that, no person, no group, no institution is beyond criticism and if one wishes to offer a critique of any historical event or phenomenon, one must be free to do so without fear of recrimination or retribution. Of course, it goes without saying that all such critiques should be done without a spirit of animus and as objectively as possible.

My own bona fides are clear on this matter as I have never been imbued with the spirit of racial hatred toward any group. Period. In fact, I have written positively about “Semitism” as a necessary historical vehicle for monotheism. Furthermore, as a Christian, I believe that the historical legacy of Israel –the people in their collective descent from the Old Testament patriarchs–is providential.1 Indeed, as Christ Himself said, “Salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22).

Having said that, what follows is not a brief against Jews or Judaism. Nor is it an exposition on the New Testament attitudes towards the Jewish people, nor the Patristic critique of Judaism. It is not even a condemnation of the Talmud (and there is much to condemn there). It is instead a defense, an apologia if you will, against the stereotype that the Church is the font and origin of all anti-Semitism in all its forms. As I shall attempt to demonstrate this indictment is in no way accurate. It is instead a calumny heaped upon the Church by anti-Christian writers which unfortunately has been accepted by many Christians over the past few centuries.2

I have already alluded to many historical aspects involving Jewry and their relationship with the non-Jewish world. In this regard, I am in good company. Winston Churchill, for example, openly praised the enduring nature of the Jewish nation and culture while recognizing the involvement of “atheistical” Jews in the highest reaches of the Communist Party. An occurrence which he deemed to be nothing less than evil.3

Likewise, the Talmud or body of Jewish lore and law that was compiled between the second and sixth centuries AD contains much anti-gentile commentary that is clearly racist by ancient as well as modern standards.4 Closer to our time, some writers have examined the role of many Jews in the transatlantic African slave-trade.5 This has been particularly vexing to African-Americans groups and has fueled –in part–an intense Islamophilia among them. Pro-Arab sympathies are so pronounced in fact in that community that Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, is readily given a free pass to preach clearly anti-Semitic sermons. This despite the fact that the number of adherents of that sect is minuscule in comparison to the African-American population as a whole.

The actual picture of Jewish-gentile relations, therefore, is complex. While gentile animosity towards the Jews cannot be ignored nor excused, neither can it be used to imply that Jews did not engage in any provocations against their non-Jewish neighbors. Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, stated that “[t]he Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in noticeable numbers. Where it does not exist it is brought in by arriving Jews.”6 Even prominent liberals such as Prime Minister William Gladstone of the United Kingdom, a devout Evangelical with no anti-Semitic inclinations, criticized his arch-rival Benjamin Disraeli (a Jewish convert to Christianity) of “holding British foreign policy hostage to Jewish sympathies”.7 The latter of course, is an example of the popular anti-Semitic trope of “divided loyalties”.

It must be said at the outset that one of the enduring features of Jewish life from the time of Moses, has been a premium on in-group cohesion. During periods of independent nationhood (such as the kingdoms of Israel and Judah), this premium was not as overwhelming. David, for instance, had Moabite blood in his veins and his son Solomon had an international harem and allowed his wives and concubines to bring whatever idols they wished to his palace –much to the chagrin of the Prophets. However, during periods of persecution, such as the Babylonian Exile (ca. 597-538 BC) and to a lesser extent during the subsequent Second Temple period (516 BC-AD 70), there was an increased tendency towards totalitarian control by the religious elites. This only intensified following the Roman exile (AD 74) when the Second Temple and the priestly cult were utterly destroyed and all religious authority devolved onto the Rabbinate.

There can be no doubt that throughout the centuries Christian populations in Europe have been hostile to their Jewish minorities. Pogroms or sudden and violent actions against local Jewish populations are well-attested in the historical record. This bigotry, however, was based largely on racial animus, more so than religious antipathy. Indeed, anti-Jewish attitudes and actions by gentiles reach back into pagan, pre-Christian times (as shall be discussed later). In any event, this bigotry almost always arose from the bottom rungs of society, not from the national government as has long been supposed.8 This was especially true in the Pale of Settlement.

Unfortunately, Jewish aloofness only exacerbated matters. Even when Jews converted to Christianity, oftentimes they were not completely accepted. Jewish endogamy was still practiced, a fact that angered the majority population. The Spanish Inquisition, for example, was created to root out false conversions to Christianity by Jews in the Iberian peninsula, the so-called conversos. These New Christians (Nuevos Cristianos) were believed by many native Christians to be insincere and that they were in fact still secretly practicing Judaism. In any event, the accusation leveled against them was that their conversion to Catholicism was merely as a cover to further their own social advancement at the expense of the native population.9

Besides Jewish exclusivity, much of this anti-Jewish animus was based on negative stereotypes that were especially provocative to the majority: coin-clipping, short-changing and other “sharp” business practices, as well as petty theft and tax-farming. Unfortunately, like all ethnic and racial stereotypes, these prejudices were not completely unfounded. The practice of usury, however, was the chief complaint against them as it hit the poorest of the Christian poor especially hard, permanently indenturing many into endless cycles of perpetual debt.

Even Christian nobles could be trapped in a never-ending cycle of indebtedness to Jewish money-lenders if they could not repay their debts. In England for example, an indebted noble’s property could be forfeited to the Crown; hence it behooved the Norman kings to have a symbiotic relationship with Jewish middlemen. As to how pervasive this was, one only need to look at the Magna Carta in its original form. In two of its clauses, it explicitly protects the children of dead noblemen from losing their father’s lands to Jewish creditors, at least until they achieved their majority (when they could at least make an effort to pay back their creditors).10

As is well-known, this charter was forced upon King John by the nobility in 1215 and he had no choice but to sign it. By 1290 however, inter-ethnic conflict between the Jews of England and the Anglo-Saxon majority had gotten so out of hand that John’s grandson, King Edward I (“Longshanks”) was more than willing to inflict collective punishment upon England’s Jewish minority. Together, with all three estates of his kingdom (Church, nobility and an enraged peasantry) he forcibly expelled all Jews from England. That entire nation remained closed to them until 1656 when Oliver Cromwell allowed them to return.

On the other hand, to blame the local Jewish populations for engaging in predatory business practices only because of their own racial animus against Europeans is equally unfair. Yes, the Talmud encouraged financial mischief against gentiles but it should also be pointed out that Jews as a group were very often forbidden by gentile rulers and the Church from owning land. Thus it was almost impossible for Jews to be engaged in self-sustaining farming to any appreciable extent. (This disability was one of Zionism’s major complaints about Jewish life under the Rabbinate.) It is easy to see in this context how the racialist invective found in the Talmud became a pretext for economic exploitation against gentiles.

Much of the blame for this goes to the local nobility which preferred to keep local Jews in a state of permanent disability. “Huckstering” (in Karl Marx’s scabrous terminology) may not have been the main outlet for Jewish economic activity but it certainly was the most widely stereotyped one. For the nobility (who were often foreigners themselves), the plan was simple: occupy the top tiers of the social pyramid and use equally foreign (but defenseless) middlemen to extract resources from the majority.

Regardless of this unfortunate handicapping of Jewish economic life, and because Jews generally occupied the middle rungs in the social hierarchy, they were invariably viewed as being economic predators in the eyes of the Christian majority. The social situation, therefore, was always tenuous for all involved but more so for the Jews who had no outlet short of exile (or worse) if and when 

things got intolerable for them.

A little more must be said about this predatory behavior, that is to say, usury. Because the Christian Church forbade the charging of interest (indeed it was often a capital offense), capital formation was next to impossible in Christian lands. Banking as understood in the modern sense was therefore unknown. According to the Mosaic law, Jews were absolutely forbidden from charging interest (Exod 22:25-27, Lev 25:36-37, Deut 23:23-21). In this regard, Moses agreed with Aristotle and Plato. However, there appeared to be no Scriptural prohibition from doing so to non-Jews; thus, rabbis in the Talmudic period (and afterward) believed that Jews were free to charge interest to gentiles.

Later rabbis, writing in the Talmud took these sentiments even further: not only were Jews allowed to charge interest to gentiles but economic exploitation of gentiles was of no moral consequence. In fact, according to some Talmudic exegetes, it was approved by God Himself. Even today, these unfortunate sentiments continue to exist; namely, that goyim (gentiles) exist solely for the benefit of Jews. Indeed, some prominent rabbis take this even further and posit that gentiles have no souls but are merely cattle in human form.11

Because of this unfortunate loophole, Jews were a necessary fixture of society because they were the only source of ready-to-lend capital. It is indeed ironic to note that churches, cathedrals and even crusades were often financed by Jewish money-lenders. And because of canonical (as well as rabbinical) prohibitions against intermarriage, this source of capital would continue throughout the generations. In any event, the majority of Jews were being saddled with the stereotype of money-lending and all its attendant prejudices. As unfortunate as this was, the fact remained that “from the twelfth century onward, [Jews] were in fact disproportionately concentrated in lending money at interest.”12

The most infamous example of the use of Jews as hostile middlemen occurred after the conquest of the “Borderlands” of Russia by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In Ukraine and Byelorussia (the “Pale of Settlement”), Jews were either introduced into the newly-conquered lands to assist in the administration of them or if already ensconced there, were elevated to positions of authority over the conquered peoples. Because of a historical accident, Jews and Ukrainian gentiles were thus caught in the inevitable grip of mutual loathing. Perhaps not at first but certainly in due time.

In these lands, the local Jewish populations served additional functions for the Polish-Lithuanian nobility which increased hatred of them even more than what was found in other countries. Specifically they were given exclusive rights to be tax-farmers and arrendentors, that is to say, the collectors of rents. Resentment against the Jews in Ukraine came to a head during the massive uprising led by Bogdan Khmelnytsky, a famous Cossack hetman, whose rebellion lasted from 1648-1657. Reports of atrocities against the local Jews were horrific and the numbers of dead were in the tens of thousands. Poles and Lithuanians as well as Ukrainian collaborators were likewise killed in massive numbers but it was the Jews who were singled out for special punishment.

The Khmelnytsky uprising was viewed by Jews the world over as nothing less than a national trauma of biblical proportions. One of the repercussions of this event was a messianic revival centered around the person of a certain Greek Jew named Sabbatai Z’vi (d 1676), a rabbi from Smyrna, who preached an inversion of traditional Judaism. His movement became so vast that it is estimated that half of all Jews (and significant numbers of Christians and Moslems) recognized him as the messiah. That is until the Turkish sultan Mehmet IV, gave him a choice: either convert to Islam or lose your head. Z’vi chose Islam.

Although Khmelnytsky is credited with creating the first Ukrainian state (and is indeed a national hero in that country today), in order for him to consolidate his victories against the Poles, he had to bring Ukraine into the Muscovite orbit. In any event, the boundaries of the newly-independent Ukrainian state were not settled and the Poles continued to intrude where they could but the overall consensus was that Ukraine was now a vassal-state of Russia. In time, it became formally absorbed into the Russian Empire. In any event, the boundaries of Ukraine were pushed even further westward, an even larger population of Jews were now subjects of the expanding Russian Empire.

Seeking to make a virtue out of necessity, Catherine the Great decided to honor the monopolies which the Jews had enjoyed under the Poles, including the distillation of liquors and the owning of inns and taverns. A common anti-Jewish stereotype that arose in the Pale among the Christian majority was that Jewish taverners would ply Christian peasants with liquor on condition of repayment at a later date. When the time came for the unfortunate peasant to settle his bill and could not, the tavern-keeper often seized his property which he would later sell to a pawnbroker –usually a relative–in one of the larger cities nearby.

These exploitative and unfortunate economic practices were what passed for economic activity in the Pale, entrapping Christian peasants in endless cycles of grinding poverty. Needless to say, as far as the local Jewish population was concerned, their economic lot was only marginally better. This was to be expected since the Christian peasantry (the economic base of the locale) was desperately poor in the first place, having been reduced to servitude by the Polish conquerors.

Regardless, resentment against the Jews by the native Christian populations (whether Orthodox, Catholic or Uniate) was inevitable. That Jews were forbidden from engaging in agriculture and thus not having the resources to engage in any type of economic behavior that was not exploitative offered no balm to the Christian who could not pay his rent or an overdue tavern bill. Pogroms therefore, were invariably “bottom-up” affairs and were driven by local resentments, not as is popularly believed, by czarist edicts.13 In sum, it did not take a lot to light the match on a woodpile that was already primed for combustion. After all, this had happened before (during the Khmelnytsky uprising); it could happen again.

Unfortunately, Jews usually had no choice in the matter as they were almost always restricted to these predatory niches by the nobility (as already mentioned). This enforced ghettoization was necessary in the eyes of the aristocracy, mainly because they could be kept in line more easily but also rescued if need be by the local constabulary. The Jew as agent of the Polish boyar, the Norman peer or the Moorish emir was a necessary part of the administration of these polities. He was therefore the most conspicuous object of resentment by the lower classes. To say that this was a tenuous state of affairs as far as the Jews were concerned is a massive understatement.

Be that as it may, we should not assume that Jews were under constant attack. For one thing, they were incredibly insular, keeping pretty much to themselves. For another, because of their utility to the aristocracy, Jews were a protected class. In feudal societies, they had a range of movement and enjoyed privileges that were denied to the Christian serfs. More often than not, they lived in autonomous towns and ghettos under the authority of the local rabbi and were answerable only to themselves. Local rabbinic courts (known as a Bet’ Din) were established and they literally had the power of life and death over local Jewry. Like their noble overlords, the rabbinate became hereditary and often received coats-of-arms. If the local rabbi did not have the adequate resources to enforce his edicts he could always rely on the gentile aristocracy to provide him with the necessary muscle.

Despite their relative autonomy, Jews did live in a state of consternation. In Europe alone, Jews were evicted en masse some one hundred ninety times over the course of several centuries. As already noted, England evicted its Jews in 1290 and upon completion of the Reconquista in 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain evicted all Jews who did not convert to Christianity. Prague, Warsaw, Mainz and even Rome itself were some of the other great European cities from which entire Jewish populations were evicted during the Medieval period.

In each of these cases, the impetus for evicting the local Jewish population was almost always economic with religion perhaps providing a moral veneer to salve the conscience of the mob. Sometimes these expulsions happened because the local aristocracy was too indebted and could find no way out of honoring their debts. Other times it was because the local population was too angered by crimes committed by Jews, real or perceived (such as the infamous Blood Libel, of which more below). This cannot be stressed enough: the anger was almost always predicated on economic competition. Jews, because of easier access to capital as well as a much greater sense of ethnic cohesion, invariably occupied higher economic niches. Because of this, they bore a disproportionate share of resentment.

Relations between the Jewish minority and the Christian majority were thus always in a state of tension. Periods of quiescence oftentimes resulted in outbursts of creativity. In the Renaissance, for example, Christian thinkers such as Pico della Mirandolo, Athanasius Kircher and Johann Reuchlin were clearly fascinated by the Jewish mysticism found in the Kabbalah. Much of what we label today to be “hermetic” thought has clear Kabbalistic antecedents. This continued even into the early nineteenth century wherein we find the tantalizing possibility of Mormon cosmology being influenced by the Kabbalah.14

In any event, the doors of inter-ethnic and inter-religious cooperation invariably –and often violently–snapped shut, usually do some provocation. Even in the best of times, racial animus was always beneath the surface. Still, Jewish life was enduring, if not stable. One reason was because of the iron-fisted rule of the rabbis. Life in the ghetto or the local Jewish quarter was vibrant to be sure but it could also be stultifying. What passed for piety was often little more than superstition; in reality, a barely disguised polytheism.15 When the rabbis could not rely on Talmudic exegeses, they were not averse to turning to obscurantism and if need be, the recrudescence of occultic beliefs. At any rate, such was the price of reliance upon the totalitarian rule over communal life.

Surprisingly, intra-ethnic violence could be explosive; riots between Jewish factions were not uncommon. In the Pale, for example, czarist officials were always told to be on the lookout for any possible disturbances that could break out whenever Jews would meet in large numbers.16

And rabbis could (and sometimes did) impose the death penalty on men they perceived to be trouble-makers. One method of capital punishment was beating a miscreant to death and then piling his corpse onto a dung-cart and thereupon continuing to beat it with shovels. Such authoritarian rule was the lot of almost all Eastern European Jewish communities throughout the Middle Ages and even through the early modern period (ca. 1500-1800). Short of conversion to Christianity (which could be punished by death should the rabbis find out ahead of time), there was no way out for those Jews who chafed under this type of regime.

A little more must be said about the Kabbalah and its place in Jewish history. The Kabbalah, a mystical philosophy based on Neoplatonism, first arose in Spain in the eleventh century, when a book called the Zohar was first published (probably by Moses de Leon).  The Zohar’s claim to fame was that it was the secret, oral teachings of Moses who supposedly dictated it to Joshua at the foot of Mount Sinai. (The other Israelites were given the written Torah instead.) Joshua then transmitted it to a secret cabal of disciples in due time who then transmitted this occult knowledge to other disciples and so on. This pattern was repeated for two thousand years until this body of knowledge was reduced to writing. Clearly this was a fanciful tale but it filled a spiritual void in Jewish life, not unlike what motivated many early Christians to adopt Gnosticism.

Whether or not the Kabbalah was intended to be a competitor to the rabbis, it became a reaction to their increasing reliance on Talmudism and its incessant argumentation. Like earlier Christian Gnosticism, Kabbalism relied on a Neoplatonic worldview, which found its expression in an intense, personal embrace of divinity. While it could in theory bypass the need for an educated rabbinate which was well-versed in Talmudic law, it still relied on ethnic cohesion in order to be practiced. Indeed, according to some devotees, all Jews as a whole were viewed as physical manifestations of the Godhead. Ironically, the spiritual power of the Rabbinate within these peculiar sects became even more pronounced. Among these votaries, the “Rebbe” (who was the head of the sect) was viewed as a “ray of God” and his power was so absolute that it extended even after death: upon his judgment, a Jew who committed adultery (for instance) would have his soul returned to earth as an animal if the Rebbe so wished.

Needless to say, neither Kabbalism nor Talmudism comported with the winds of the Enlightenment that were sweeping across Europe around that time. When viewed in this light –that no social mobility was possible (short of conversion to Christianity)–recently emancipated Jews of the nineteenth century looked to other venues as a way out. At this point in time, two novel philosophies presented themselves as a possibilities: Zionism and Haskala (or the Jewish version of the Enlightenment). That is to say Jewish nationalism or assimilation.

While Kabbalism fueled Jewish cohesion, assimilation worked in the opposite direction (at least in theory). Assimilation was the philosophical project of the Haskala. Among the luminaries of the Jewish Enlightenment were men such as Moses Mendelsohn, Heinrich Heine, and Baruch Spinoza. Though popular among many progressive Jews, it never caught on with the main body of Jewry even during periods of emancipation. One possible reason was that in-group cohesion among Jews had become a very successful evolutionary mechanism.17

Still, assimilation was not without its successes in that it arrived with the heels of Jewish emancipation by Enlightenment rulers such as Frederick the Great, Napoleon and –to a lesser extent–Catherine the Great. This emancipation, the freeing of Jews to leave the ghetto or shtetl and to go to the city for the first time, resulted in a cultural ferment that enlivened European literature, art and music thanks to the involvement of emancipated Jews (many of whom enthusiastically viewed European society as the ideal). The nineteenth century especially saw the flowering of European culture thanks to this melding of Jewish talent with Christian society.

It also resulted in an increased intermarriage rate between Jews and gentiles. In point of fact, Herzl, the founder of Zionism believed that emancipation brought Jews into direct economic competition with gentile burghers. Anti-Semitism he wrote, was “an understandable reaction to Jewish defects”, and went further on to say that “I find the anti-Semites are fully within their rights”. In a letter he wrote to the Tsar of Russia, Herzl wrote that Zionism is “the final solution [!] to the Jewish question.”18 Nor should we presume that Herzl was alone in his assessment of the so-called Jewish Question: Moses Hess, Martin Buber, Vladimir Jabotinsky, among others, heartily concurred.

To modern ears, such talk is shocking to say the very least. Of course Herzl had a nationalist agenda and this no doubt played some part in his use of anti-Semitic tropes as rhetorical devices. Be that as it may, Herzl’s ideology did not arise in a historical vacuum; an assimilated Jew, he was personally revolted by the backwards attitudes and folkways of Jews who had left the ghetto and had refused to abandon them.

Herzl however was caught on the horns of a dilemma: while he despised the lower-class ethos of unassimilated Jews, the court-martial of Capt Alfred Dreyfus in 1894 was a turning point for the founder of modern Zionism. Dreyfus was the only Jewish officer in the French Army and there had never been any reason to suspect his patriotism. Unfortunately, he was accused of treason, specifically of giving information to the Germans. That the charges against the only Jewish officer in the French Army were trumped-up was proof in Herzl’s mind that no Jew would never be allowed to assimilate into gentile society, no matter how patriotic and acculturated he perceived himself to be.

In any event, he was not wrong about the often stark differences between the Jew and Christian which became readily apparent upon their emancipation. In his opinion, the peculiar qualities which allowed Jews to survive in the ghettos could not be viewed in anything but a negative light. Herzl’s Zionist polemic was not based on racist myths: for whatever reason, Jews were different and their assimilation was exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. L’affair Dreyfus only solidified in Herzl’s mind this impossibility.

Moreover, the Zionists believed that the Jews were not a religion (as the assimilationists believed) but an ethnicity, a race even, and a foreign one at that. A people that would “always dwell alone”. This view was expounded by no less a personage than Rabbi Steven Wise, who in the run-up to the Second World War, boldly stated: “I am not an American which is of the Jewish faith. I am a Jew…Hitler was right in one thing. He calls the Jewish people a race and we are a race.”19 Wise was no minor rabbi presiding over some middling synagogue, he was in fact the President of the American Jewish Congress and his words carried especial weight among American Jews.

For all their disdain of the Rabbinate and Kabbalism, the Zionists were in agreement with the sentiment that the Jews were most definitely a race and intermarriage was undesirable if not unworkable. As such, political nationhood was the only viable answer for all concerned. The urgency as far as the Zionists were concerned was to preserve Jewish life, which they saw as incompatible with assimilation. If nothing else, a Jewish state offered Jews a way to break free from the stultifying life of the ghetto and the stereotypical occupations which were foisted upon the Jews as a whole.

Nor should we forget that this was also the age of Darwin; his materialistic and deterministic understanding of species formation had taken hold of social scientists everywhere. Evolution, as it came to be understood, stated that speciation proceeded from genetic drift and divergent geological and climatological conditions. Furthermore, Darwin believed that races of man are in fact separate species (today this view has been modified to the view that they are instead sub-species). Thus, the concept of humans socially segregating themselves was not only desirable but unavoidable.

Curiously, such thoughts had already been anticipated by certain Jewish writers in the early modern period. The Sephardic Jewish writer Isaac la Peyrere for example (ca 1655) claimed that only Jews were descended from Adam, while all other races of man predated Adam’s creation and were devoid of souls.20 Thus the racially exclusivist Talmudic view, which strictly forbade intermarriage and thoroughly disdained conversion to Judaism was reinforced by Darwinism and its deterministic reliance on population genetics. In this regard, both the theocratic rabbis of the Middle Ages and the secular Zionists of the modern period agreed.

It should be pointed out here that the reality of social as well as economic segregation had an unwitting effect on Jewish genetics, at least from the time of the Middle Ages onward. Since Jews were forbidden from owning land, they were encouraged to concentrate on financial and mercantile trades. Those who were more successful in these trades lived to produce offspring. Those who excelled in higher mathematical skills, such as calculating interest rates and keeping track of debits and credits, were thereby favored as potential mates. When one considers the smaller numbers of Jews in any given area and their preference for endogamy, it became obvious over time that this inbreeding caused a higher mean I.Q. in comparison to the local gentile population. The chromosomes upon which the genes for a higher mean Ashkenazi (i.e. Central and Eastern European) Jewish intelligence have been isolated in fact.21

Unfortunately, these same chromosomes are the loci for certain autosomal diseases which appear with distressing frequency. Because of the inbreeding found in the typical Jewish ghetto or shtetl, these diseases are in fact, intractable. Even today the premium on Jewish endogamy has not resulted in any dilution of these traits to any appreciable extent. All told, Ashkenazi Jews have a higher propensity for many autosomal diseases, among them Tay-Sachs, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.22

In the final analysis, although there were evolutionary mechanisms which fueled ethnic cohesion, the picture is actually more complicated. Other mechanisms were social, others preferential, still others legally obligatory. All told however, they provided a net benefit to the community as a whole. Whether this was because of a theological warrant or was the result of generations of evolutionary adaptations is probably beside the point. In any event, the phenomenon of Jewish cohesiveness does seem to comport to the historical reality, of this there can be no doubt.

While such a racialist understanding of Jewish population genetics violates the modern sensibilities of the greater part of polite society today (Jews included), it definitely played a role in ensuring in-group preferences. In the naturalistic sphere, however, for this system to survive, the out-group had to be exploited. Economic predation therefore was inevitable. As such, it is impossible to lay all blame for internecine strife between the two groups solely at the feet of the gentile majority, constantly stoked by Passion Week readings of the Gospels.

Quite simply, the view propounded by some Jewish apologists (such as Bruno Bettelheim), that anti-Semitism is an “uncontrollable” and a “constantly mutating virus” which gentiles (particularly European Christians) are permanently susceptible to, is specious.23 To believe this, one would have to strip both Jew and gentile of any moral agency whatsoever. While this would be in conformity with the principles of Darwinism as such, it can only offend religious as well as liberal sensibilities. Darwinism after all, is a purely materialistic hypothesis, one in which there is no room for free will at all.

Be that as it may, the phenomenon of Jewish in-group cohesion has always been readily apparent. Regardless, such alooofness invariably angered the gentile majority. It is in this context that one must understand the writings and opinions of the overwhelming majority of Zionist eminences. The Zionists generally believed that the animus against Jews in any given area was not religious but racial and thus unavoidable. Herzl himself wrote that anti-Semitism was “inevitable” and “understandable” once Jews achieved a certain share of the population in any given area.24

The only option, therefore, was a Jewish national homeland, whether in Palestine, Uganda or South America. A polity where Jews could thrive unmolested, build cities, engage in self-sustaining agriculture and thereby break free from the rigid economic niches which had hitherto been foisted upon them by gentile elites. In short, the Zionists believed that only when Jews had an exclusive homeland of their own could they overcome the negative stereotypes which had served as an indelible mark of Cain, one that permanently forced them into the margins of society and into predatory economic niches.

More could be said about the fascinating historicity of the Jewish experience in Christian Europe. At this point, however, I wish to rise to the defense of historical Christianity as it has sustained tremendous assault from progressives, “free-thinkers”, skeptics and anti-Christians, of varying stripes and configurations, over the centuries.

Two of the most pernicious allegations from anti-Christians has been that non-orthodox Gnostics and Enlightenment thinkers were free of the taint of anti-Semitism. By these people’s lights, it is instead the Church and especially the Gospel of John which is to blame for historical Jew-hatred. In the eyes of the many Jewish polemicists, it is the Church and the Church alone which is the be-all and end-all of anti-Semitism.25

This assertion is so unabashedly ahistorical that I choose to dismiss this entire view of Jewish-Christian relations as “Dan Brown historiography”. Good enough for the bored housewives who watch Oprah but positively ludicrous to those who actually know even a modicum of history. For one thing, it completely ignores the entire book of Exodus, which details the first time a gentile power became hostile to the Israelites. To be sure, the historical details are no doubt far more complicated than what is commonly believed but the template of Jewish-gentile relations since that time has followed a similar pattern: first Jews are welcomed in to a land as refugees, then they are given rights; these rights later turn into exclusive monopolies and finally, the majority turns against them and either enslaves or expels them.

The events as described in Exodus were no doubt horrific but they were not genocidal. For that, we would need to turn to the book of Esther, wherein we find the first historical record of an attempted genocide against the Jews. This story relates how a beautiful Jewess named Hadassah becomes the favored wife of the Persian king Xerxes the Great (d 465 BC). She takes the Persian name Esther (Ishtar) and uses her feminine wiles on her husband in order to foil the attempted genocide against her people by a fiend named Haman. Soon, the tables are turned and Haman and his sons are hanged and seventy-five thousand Persians are killed instead. (This event is celebrated yearly during the Festival of Purim.)

Regardless as to the actual historical details of these two stories, the narrative they paint is one of collective suffering by the Jews at the hands of ancient, pre-Christian gentile nations. Hatred and/or suspicion of Jews therefore predated the Christian Middle Ages by centuries. As to why Jews were singled out for collective punishment, one can find a reason for it in Edward Gibbon’s epic history The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In Gibbon’s view, the Jews were a vile, foreign people who never hesitated to provoke the host population.26 Tacitus, the Roman historian called them an “odium generis humani“. (And Tacitus was not flattering to the Christians.)

During the Hellenistic period (ca 323-31 BC) relations between Jews and Greeks were rarely quiescent. They came to blows during the Maccabean Revolt (167-161 BC), which resulted in the Second Jewish Commonwealth, a period of Jewish political autonomy. Curiously, it was during this time that the Blood Libel, a particularly sinister anti-Semitic trope broke out throughout the Greek world. According to an ancient Greek writer named Appion, when the Greek king of Syria Antiochus IV Epiphanes, conquered Jerusalem, he liberated a Greek captive from the dungeon of the Second Temple. The tale which the prisoner told was a lurid one of potential cannibalism, specifically that he was being force-fed in order to serve as a human sacrifice in the Holy of Holies.27 Whether true or not, the story gained credence and quickly became a notorious anti-Semitic trope throughout the Hellenistic world.

The First Jewish War (AD 66-74) took place as an act of collective revenge by Rome which they inflicted upon the Jews of Palestine. What is little known about this conflict is that Jews, throughout the Diaspora, had been whipped up into a collective frenzy by certain messianic figures, seemingly all at once. Wholesale slaughters of gentile civilians raged throughout the Mediterranean. Dio Cassius puts the number of dead gentiles at just over a quarter of a million.28

In addition to this conflict, there were two more Jewish wars, the Kiton War, which took place in Cyprus and North Africa (115-117) and the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132-136), which took place in Palestine. According to most historians, over 400,000 gentile civilians were killed in the Kiton War and over 300,000 gentiles were killed in the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. Jewish fatalities in all three conflicts easily exceeded two million according to the best estimates. All three conflicts were set in motion by messianic figures and were stoked by racial animosity against gentiles.29

Under these circumstances, there was very little sympathy for the Jews among the broader gentile population. Indeed, it should be remembered that these wars did not begin as pogroms against Jews but were hard-fought battles often instigated by the Jews themselves. In the First Jewish War for example, three entire Roman legions were wiped out by Jewish armies. Needless to say, the collective memories of these violent conflicts entered the Church as more and more gentiles became Christian.

THE BLOOD LIBEL IN EUROPE As noted above, the Blood Libel had originated in the Hellenistic period. It laid dormant for centuries however, only to be picked up by Medieval Christians a millennium later, when in twelfth century England, the horribly mutilated body of a Christian boy named William of Norwich was found. Coincidentally, it was during this time that the Jews of Europe were becoming known for financial wizardry (as mentioned earlier). Clearly resentment by the Christian masses was already in evidence. In any event, over the next few centuries, some one hundred fifty such cases of mutilated Christian children were reported. It is difficult to say whether cases such as these were the result of rampant fear-mongering brought upon by outbursts of bigotry or whether there was some truth to at least some of these cases.30

As noted previously, such acts of violence against gentiles were not unknown in Jewish history. During the three Jewish Wars, Jews throughout the Mediterranean littoral rose up and slaughtered tens of thousands of Greek and Roman civilians in several outbursts of messianic frenzy. Sometimes the violence was directed inward. At Masada for example (AD 74), close to one thousand Jewish zealots committed mass suicide rather than be taken by the Romans. To be sure, this was an act of violence that was self-inflicted; yet because it was so unique, it elicited a horror that gave it a special place in history.

Indeed, under Roman occupation, it could be said that the Jews invented terrorism as a political weapon. The Sicarii, for example, were one such terrorist group. Their method of operation was to sneak into large groups of people and then pull out their specially curved knives and surreptitiously stab a random pedestrian in the rib cage, slicing upward to ensure death and then slither off during the resulting melee. Usually, they would be the first to raise the alarm of the murder in order to distract attention from themselves. Their purpose was not terrorism for the sake of terrorism but to provoke other Jews to rise up and riot.31 The hope was that the riots would turn into uprisings and the Romans would tire of it all and leave.

Whether in a Christian context or a pagan one, the belief in the Blood Libel was so preponderant that Flavius Josephus felt compelled to write an entire book (contra Appion) in order to dispute Appion’s earlier claim about the original Greek captive. For our purposes, however, the origin for this lurid allegation predated the start of the Church by almost two centuries. This cannot be stressed enough.

To be sure, the Christian Church did not do much to tamp down anti-Jewish hatreds but the point is that it did not originate them. Anti-Semitism, as we have established, is an ancient hatred and not an exclusively Christian one.

So how then, did anti-Semitism enter into the Church, an institution that was not pagan in origin but founded exclusively by Jews? Given what has been discussed already regarding pagan attitudes towards Jews, it should not surprise us that similar attitudes entered the Jewish ekklesia once gentiles started entering into the Jerusalem community. Evidence for this can be found in the Acts of the Apostles where gentile (and even Hellenistic Jewish) resentments became readily apparent. This was a reaction to the anti-gentile animus among the Palestinian Jews who made up the great body of the Church in Jerusalem.

A careful reading of Paul’s letters would indicate that things were never that great between these groups in the first place, even though both were Christian. We see this for example in his repeated exhortations that there should be no racialism within the Church; specifically, “neither Greek nor Jew” (Gal 3:28). Though this was the official policy, it seems obvious that it invariably fell on deaf ears. Simply put, the normal inter-ethnic tensions that exist between people of different races and ethnicities seems to be too intractable at times.

Over time, anti-Jewish animus received another significant boost from the Gnostics who infiltrated the Church. Marcion of Sinope (d. AD 160) was perhaps the first such Christian leader who propounded significant anti-Jewish views. Ironically, it was Marcion in fact who crafted the first Christian canon, albeit one which excised all of the Old Testament and most of the New. (Because of Marcion’s efforts in this regard, later Christian apologists such as St Ireneus of Lyon [d. AD 202] felt compelled to formalize the Christian canon.)32

Like most thinkers who were influenced by Neoplatonism, Marcion could not abide the Semitic God of the Old Testament. In Marcion’s eyes, Yahweh was little more than a belligerent, flesh-and-bone tribal deity, completely at odds with the loving Father that Jesus preached about. At best, the most charitable thing Marcion could say about Yahweh was that he was a self-deluded demiurgos, that is to say, a creator-god who created an equally deluded and sorrowful cosmos.

In Marcion’s cosmology, it stood to reason that if creation was evil, then so too was its creator. It could not be otherwise. It was incumbent upon those who were truly “illumined” to confound the plans of the Demiurge. This could happen in any number of ways; initially, adherents were encouraged to abstain from marriage at all costs. If they were to marry, they were to practice sodomy as a method of birth control. Needless to say, homosexuality was not discouraged. Clearly, Gnostic sexual practices conflicted with Christian orthodoxy.

An independently wealthy man, Marcion thought that his views would find purchase within the Church at Rome, which was heavily indebted at the time. He offered to make a donation of 200,000 sesterces which was gladly received at first. When it became obvious that his doctrine was completely antithetical to the historical record (and common sense), his gift was returned to him and he was promptly excommunicated.

That didn’t stop him from teaching, however. Upon returning to Asia Minor, he founded many congregations. Still, there was a problem: how could he reconcile the man Jesus with creation? He didn’t. For him, Jesus was a spirit-being who appeared (dokein) to have a human body. (This heresy is known as Docetism.) According to this teaching, Jesus was a celestial spirit who imparted secret knowledge (gnosis) but to only those initiates who had the capacity to understand this superior knowledge. Moreover, it was not based on revelation but upon an interior knowledge which all men possess and it was the duty of the illumined Gnostic to teach others how to come to realize their own spiritual illumination. As such, the legalistic and moralistic canon of the Jews was unnecessary, as was their emphasis on revelation and natalism.

Gnosticism appealed to the Western mind in many other respects. For one thing, it was ultimately derived from Neoplatonism, itself a variant of Platonic thought. Secondly, it solidified in the minds of elites (and those who presumed themselves to be elite), that they were in fact “better” than the hoi polloi. According to this worldview, all of humanity is divided into three categories: sarkokoi, psychikoi, and gnostikoi (that is to say, the carnal, the rational, and the illumined.)33 Thirdly, it coincided with the oftentimes severe sexual imbalances that arose during Late Antiquity, often reinforcing the misogynistic impulses of a growing cohort of men who could not find wives.34

Spiritual elitism and misogyny were of course condemned by the Church once it became the religion of the Roman Empire. The veneration of the Theotokos, for example, made misogyny impossible, at least from a purely theological standpoint. However these sentiments never really went away. Suffice it to say that Gnostic impulses have never been extirpated from Western consciousness, arising throughout history in various forms, including Catharism, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry and Illuminism (among others).35

For these anti-orthodox sects, Lucifer was a Prometheus-figure, a demigod who sought to help mankind. In the Gnostic belief-system, Lucifer’s job was to confound the evil, carnal plans of Yahweh. At their base, the fundamental theology of these Neoplatonic philosophical systems was that man could achieve illumination through his own efforts, as opposed to the intercession of the Church. That the Church relied on men such as the Prophets (many of whom were neither heroic nor educated) for revelation, was a rebuke to Classical sensibilities. In the context of the first two Christian centuries, the Church was indistinguishable from the Synagogue in that both viewed themselves as the sole repository of truth. Such absolutist beliefs were incomprehensible to the Classical mind.

The animus towards Jews was, therefore, a logical outgrowth of the Gnostic’s fundamental theology and the Classicist’s view of ordered society, both of which were rigidly hierarchical. The Jews, on the other hand, were enthusiastically natalist because the God of Israel told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” and “to subdue the earth”. This exhortation was anathema to Hellenistic civilization in general as it gave all people equal worth, something which no ancient Greek or Roman believed. It goes without saying therefore that every individual Jew was a son of Abraham, hence they all had similar worth. The Church adopted this view as well.

Nor should we forget that Israel was perhaps the first and only civilization to hold homosexuality in complete and utter contempt (Gen 19). Indeed, the Mosaic code demanded the death penalty for all homoerotic relations (Lev 18:22, Lev 20:13). The Church for its part accepted the proscriptions without question (Romans 1, 1 Tim 1:8-10, Jude 7), and amplified them. To be sure, the Church did not prescribe the death penalty but it made clear that the fiery destruction which befell Sodom and Gomorrah would prefigure the eternal punishment that awaited those who practiced these acts. At any rate, this intolerant Judaic attitude must have exacerbated the already latent anger of some gentile converts to the Church.

The above is not meant to be an exhaustive survey of anti-Semitism nor to excuse violence against Jewish populations throughout Christian or pre-Christian lands. It is instead a corrective, intending to explain that the relationships between Jews and non-Jews are far more complex than modern anti-Christians would have us believe. This cannot be stressed enough: the roots of anti-Jewish animus predate Christianity by centuries.

And subsequent anti-Jewish attitudes are far from being a European and Christian monopoly. Indeed, Islam has long provided a fertile matrix for anti-Jewish animus. Indeed, as it appears in the Koran itself, it is foundational to Islam (7:145-146, 4:154-155, 17:4-7, 5:85.). If further proof is needed, the overwhelming percentage of attacks on Jews in Europe today is not perpetrated by Europeanist-inspired militias (such as the Sons of Odin or the Golden Dawn) but by ordinary gangs of Moslem immigrants. Recently, the German minister for internal affairs told the Jewish citizens of Germany to not wear their kippahs in public for fear of antagonizing the growing Moslem minority.36

The violence perpetrated upon Jews today in the mind of the ruling elites (and their acolytes in the media) that emanates from the Islamic world is worthy of treatment on its own terms. Yet the irony is that it is Christianity which bears a lion’s share of the blame. Other actors and movements are absolved in the minds of the modern liberal. Fortunately, some Jewish polemicists are waking up to the fact that much blame can be laid at the foot of the Enlightenment for the rise of anti-Semitism as it is found in modern times.37

One such writer, indicts these “avatars of universal reason” who could “not but perceive Judaism as the enemy of their rationalist faith; as the tree trunk from which the branch of Christianity had sprung…”38 This scathing indictment includes Immanuel Kant, who called Jews a “nation of usurers…outwitting people amongst whom they find shelter…”. The great Voltaire himself described Jews thusly: “You will find in Jews an ignorant, lazy, barbarous people who for a long time combined the most undignified stinginess with the most profound hatred for the people which tolerate and enrich them”. Baron d’Holbach called them “the flag-bearers of ‘superstitious blindness’.”39

Along these lines, a curious word must be said here about the Enlightenment luminary Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677). I say “curious” because Spinoza was a Dutch Jew who publicly repudiated Judaism in favor of free thought. His apostasy from Judaism was so publicly notorious that he was placed under a death penalty by the local rabbis. It was only because he lived in the Netherlands where the Rabbinate was not as autonomous as it was in other areas of Europe that he was able to escape with his life intact. Spinoza openly detested Judaism and considered the Old Testament to be a complete fabrication, a reworking of Persian and Babylonian tales. At any rate, for Spinoza, one could not accept the ideals of the Enlightenment and still be an observant Jew.40

Then there is Karl Marx a man who was of Jewish birth himself. His assessment of the Jewish people as a whole was of a piece with what Adolf Hitler would say many years later: “What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstsering. What is his worldly God? Money. Money is the jealous god of Israel, the face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man –and turns them into commodities…”41 If uttered by a politician today, this formula would destroy his career within five minutes. Yet for some reason, Marx’s historical reputation remains largely unscathed.

The irony of the Enlightenment is that it thought that its logical endpoint would be classical liberalism, free-thought and Deism, with an aversion to Christianity and other such “superstitions”. We are not taught today that the contempt which the Enlightenment thinkers held for Christianity was rooted in an even worse antipathy towards Judaism. In their mind’s eye, the Enlightenment offered all men –Jews as well as Christians–a way out of this superstitious myopia. That the Jews as an ethnicity would not go along with this universalist impulse, only heightened liberal antipathy against them.

In our own day, we are not immune from such Enlightenment wishful-thinking. Sadly, many modern Jewish luminaries have peddled the idea that the end-stage of the post-Christian ideology, especially the separation of Church and state, would result in a democratically liberal utopia. This has most definitely been the case. Today in fact, much blood and treasure has been spilled in the Islamic world to bring this fantasy about. Instead, what has happened is a recrudescence towards tribalism and religious extremism. In fact, it is most ironic that this delusion is simply another version of the proletarian state which Marx predicted once all religious and national hierarchies were removed. In any event, all such utopian fantasies are nothing less than pseudo-messianic heresies, incubated within a Judaic matrix to be sure, but unrealizable nonetheless.

It must be pointed out at this juncture that for any revolutionary socio-political fantasy to take root, the Church in its official capacity as the soul of the nation and the guardian of its ideology must be extinguished. This was clearly foreseen by Dostoyevsky decades before the Bolshevik revolution.42 The Church was not wrong therefore in jealously guarding its cultural prerogatives. This was obvious to even atheists as well: Nietzsche likewise saw that the “liberal” utopia would not happen upon the proclamation of God’s “death”.43 In the final analysis, the end of the Church-state symphony has never resulted in a liberally blissful utopian state; instead it invariably results in either a Red Terror or an irreversible cultural rot.

This was a bitter irony especially for European Jews who at the beginning of the nineteenth century were experiencing for the first time emancipation themselves. Jews like Marx were beguiled by all this heady talk and he and other Jewish thinkers were more than ready to accede to this new internationalist way of thinking. It was probably for this reason that so many Jews were in the vanguard of the Bolshevik Revolution (as Churchill and others had noted). Despite their place at the point of the revolutionary spear, this Red monster eventually turned on them.44 The heroic Jew as “vanguard of the proletariat” could easily turn into the snarling Jew of Nazi cartoons who was now the “avatar of the bourgeoisie” should the need arise.

The relationship between the Church and the Jews, therefore, is a complicated one. Some liturgical texts, for example, are often startling to modern ears. However, they need to be examined within a theological framework: Jesus Himself uttered many of these words and yet He was clearly a Jew and even a descendant of the royal line that began with Israel’s greatest king. They must also be examined in a historical context as well.

The writings and sermons of Christian preachers such as St John Chrysostom and Martin Luther must likewise be viewed in such a manner. At the risk of repeating myself, the historical context requires us to understand that Judaism almost always displayed an exclusivist tenor, one that did not discourage economic exploitation and sometimes did explode into a violent anti-gentile furor. Chrysostom, for instance, was writing and preaching at a time in which memories of Jewish slave-traders following in the trains of Roman armies were still rather fresh in the collective memory. (Constantine the Great’s proscriptions against the practice of slavery for example, made it illegal for Jews to own Christians.) Of course, slavery has been a constant in human history and the Jews had no monopoly on it.45 Nonetheless, historical scrutiny demands that fiery exhortations against one or another group must be investigated with a dispassionate eye.

The Church recognized this dichotomy. Both Origen and Tertullian were openly hostile to Judaism as a religion and especially to those Christians who clung to Judaic practices.46 A majority of Chrysostom’s preaching while in Antioch was reserved especially for those Christians who partook of Jewish rites and celebrations.47 Yet like St Augustine, none of these Church Fathers advocated violence against the Jews. In the eyes of many Church Fathers, the continuing existence of the Jews –as well as their observable national desolation–served as a permanent example to Christians everywhere as to the falsity of their debased, post-Temple religion.48

Nor should it be forgotten that the hostility of gentile Christians to the Jews was exacerbated by the fact that the Roman government had allowed Jews freedom of worship (something which they refused to accede to the Church). This was because the Jews were an ancient race with their own customs and traditions and the Romans, whatever else their faults, always honored national cults. That the Christians demanded similar treatment –after all, they worshiped the same God as the Jews–fell upon deaf ears. In the eyes of the Romans, this distinction was crucial: Jews were a civilization with a national cult; the Church was a superstitio illicito. Like the Dionysian mysteries, they could be abolished if the state deemed it necessary.

The consensus patrem is perhaps best encapsulated by Augustine who viewed continued Jewish debility as regards to the Church as a collective mark of Cain. In his theological synthesis, Jewish hostility to the Gospel was inevitable because Christian eschatology demanded that they play the role of Cain, the slayer of his righteous younger brother, Abel. According to Augustine therefore, “The Jews’ complicity in the death of Jesus was foreshadowed by Cain’s slaughter of righteous Abel, but Augustine insisted on following the sorry story through to the end. Just as Cain received a mark that protected him from vengeance for his fratricide, so the Jews had been marked for protection and given a promise of perpetuity [as anti-Christians] to the eschaton.”49

Though much of what is written in this paper deals with the socio-historical inter-ethnic competition that existed between Jew and gentile, the mutual loathing that has existed between Church and Synagogue cannot be explained by naturalistic phenomena alone. “Middlemen minorities” (in Thomas Sowell’s memorable phrase) have existed in civilized societies since time immemorial. Yet the histories of such minorities (who likewise exhibit a high degree of in-group preferences) such as Armenians, Levantine Arabs, Greeks, Chaldeans, and others, has never resulted in the immediate and intense animosity that seems to follow Jews in whatever land and time they exist.

In the Church’s eye the reason for the animosity against them was that the Jews had committed deicide. This was obvious from a textual reading of the Gospels. Worse, they invited God’s retribution on themselves when they exhorted Pilate to crucify Jesus (Matt 27:25). Since the Holocaust, much exegetical analysis by Christian writers of all stripes has been done in order to minimize their collective guilt. Nor should it be forgotten that Jesus Himself forgave His tormentors. From a theological point of view, it has been the Jews as a people who have borne the brunt of this great crime. Even from a purely naturalistic view, it is hard to discard Augustine’s eschatological critique out-of-hand. Though it may offend modern historiography, given the tenacity of its historical recurrence, it is curious, to say the least.

Some type of tension always exists between ethnic groups whenever they are in proximity to each other. To believe otherwise is nonsensical. Often, this results in intermittent violence, other times in economic exploitation.

In any event, it cannot be disputed that there was a particular hostility directed towards Jews who tended to dominate the financial trades. Curiously, this dominance was out of proportion to their actual numbers in any given area, which of course, only heightened suspicions against them. We see this today in conspiracy theories, many of which invariably place Jews at the center of them.

Ethnic cohesion certainly plays a role in such dominance; so does the emphasis on education. Indeed, among Ashkenazim (who comprise roughly 85 percent of Jews worldwide), the average mean I.Q. is 10 points higher than it is for white Europeans and 4 points lower than East Asians.50 As mentioned earlier, according to some geneticists, the inbreeding that took place in the Middle Ages and their propensity to peddling and money-lending trades (often forced upon them by local elites) caused those Jews who were more verbally and mentally acute to survive and pass on this increase in mean intelligence to their offspring.51 To be sure, the heritability of intelligence may not be discussed in polite circles, but it has nevertheless been scientifically proven.52

While the genetic component of overall intelligence is controversial (and worthy of exploration on its own), ultimately, this is not the point of this essay. It is instead an attempt to correct the historical record, to invalidate as much as possible the comic-book characterization found in modern literature that the only reason for Jewish suffering at the hands of gentiles is because of Christianity and the annual paschal frenzies supposedly unleashed by readings of the Passion Gospels.

Instead, I have attempted to show that anti-Semitism has well-established ancient and pagan roots that pre-date Christianity by centuries. Likewise, it found a fertile seedbed in Hellenistic civilization, Gnosticism, Islam as well as the Enlightenment. All of these either antedate Christianity (e.g. paganism) or are parallel to it (e.g. Islam). Sometimes they are a reaction to Christianity; examples would include the Enlightenment, Gnosticism and its various offshoots.

It is time to consider the historical relationships between Jews and non-Jews in as unbiased (and honestly historical) way possible. When viewed in this light, to lay all anti-Semitism at the feet of the Church is a manifest injustice and one-sided misreading of history. Worse, it absolves all parties involved of any moral agency on their part.


1. Michalopulos, George, “The Hidden Anti-Semitism of Christopher Hitchens and the New Atheists” (
2. Schoenfeld, Gabriel, The Return of Anti-Semitism (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2004), p 4.
3. Churchill, Sir Winston, “Zionism vs Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People” (1920).
4. According to Moed Kattan 17a, Sanhedrin 57a, 58b (among others), gentiles can be extorted, exploited and even killed if it benefits Jews.
5. Friedman, Saul S, Jews and the American Slave Trade (Routledge; 1998, New York). Jewish dominance in the slave trade was well-known. Most slave ships were Jewish owned and in the auction houses in the Caribbean, slave auctions were closed during the Jewish high holy days.
6. Herzl, Theodor, Der Judenstaat (1896).
7. Weintraub, Stanley, Disraeli: A Biography (Hamish Hamilton, 1993), p 579.
8. Klier, John D, Russians, Jews and the Pogroms of 1881-82, (Cambridge Press: New York City, 2001)
9. Because of forced conversions, the Nuevos Cristianos (“new Christians”) could never shake the taint of being insincere converts, that they were in fact, practicioners of “crypto-Judaism”. This, together with the fact that they often rose to the top ranks of society and the Church, often due to the traditional sense of Jewish ethnic networking, fueled resentment against them. The upshot as far as the indigenous Christians was that only “purity of blood” (limpieza de sangre) could absolve one from the taint of crypto-Judaism.
10. Magna Carta.10: “If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.” MC.11: “If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.”
11. “Goyim are born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world –only to serve the people of Israel.” Yosef, Ovadiah; Saturday Night Sermon, Oct 2010. (Quoted in The Times of Israel, Oct 9, 2010; “Five of Ovadiah Yosef’s Most Controversial Quotations”; Lazar Berman.). Among the most scabrous quotations attributed to Ovadiah: “goyim have no souls”. On the other hand, according to the late Rebbe Menachem Schneerson (Chief Rabbi of the Lubavitcher sect), gentiles only possess souls of varying degrees which come from the “satanic realm”.
12. Langmuir, Gavin I, “Continuities, Discontinuities and Contingencies of the Holocaust”, The Fate of European Jews, 1939-1945: Continuity or Contingency? (ed. Jonathan Frankel; New York: Oxford Univ Press, 1977), p 16.
13. Klier, op cit. See also Andrew Joyce, “Revisiting the 19th-century Russian Pogroms, Part I: Russia’s Jewish Question”, (The Occidental Review, May 8, 2012). In point of fact, the severity of the pogroms themselves was likely overstated, at least this was the opinion of official British investigators who had access to contemporaneous data. Nor were the investigators able to place the blame on the Christians as the aggressors in every case. The first major pogrom in the Russian empire took place in the Crimea (1821). It was an all-out fracas between the local, established Greek community and the newly arrived Jewish one. It was instigated by the local Jews who were taunting the Greeks during a funeral procession for the recently-martyred Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople. It was so violent that the Russian constabulary had to to put it down.
Another such incident (this one in Ireland), the so-called Limerick pogrom, was quietly erased from the history books when the facts of the case came out: an Irish youth had thrown a rock at the local rabbi, hitting him in the head. This was the entirety of this supposed pogrom. In the interim, the “Limerick pogrom” served as a useful vehicle for anti-Irish and anti-Catholic propaganda in the British media, confirming Protestant indictments of Irish Catholic cruelty towards Jews.
14. Owens, Lance, “Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection” (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Fall 1994.)
15. Patai, Raphael, The Hebrew Goddess (New York: Avon, 1978). According to Patai, the Shekkinah (or God’s presence which resided in the Temple) was a feminine aspect of the Godhead. During the Diaspora, She was replaced by the Matronit, a discreet feminine deity which hovered over the Jewish people during the Sabbath.
16. Joyce, op cit. According to Joyce, “[Aronson’s assertion]…’ that the pogroms were planned or encouraged to one degree or another, by elements within the government itself’, has been dealt a death blow in recent years…most notably…[by] John Doyle Klier.”
17. MacDonald, Kevin, Separation and Its Discontents (Praeger, 1998), pp 45, 48.
18. Memo of Nov 22, 1899, Patai, R; The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl (New York: 1960), Vol 3, p 888.
19. “Dr. Wise Urges Jews to Declare Selves as Such”, New York Herald Tribune, June 13, 1938, p 12.
20. La Peyrere, Isaac, Preadamitae (1655). As quoted in Andre Pichot, Aux origines des théories raciales. De la Bible à Darwin (Flammarion, 2008; pp 52-56).
21. Cochran, G; Hardy, J; Harpending, H; “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence” (Oxford Univ Press: June 17. 2005; Journal of Biosocial Science.)
22. See for example “Idiopathic dystonia among Ashkenazi Jews: Evidence for autosomal dominant inheritance”, (Bressman, S B, et al; Annals of Neurology, vol 26, issue 5, Nov 1980.) See also “Mutations in the Connexin 26 Gene (GJB2) among Ashkenazi Jews with Nonsyndronic Recession Deafness” (Morrell, R J, et al; New England Journal of Medicine, Nov 19:1998.)
23. Among those who held to such nonsensical views were Ashley Montague who qipped that “If you are brought up a Jew, you know that all non-Jews are anti-Semitic…I think it is a good working hypothesis” (Macdonald, Culture of Critique; p 26. This is the other side of the coin explicated by Bruno Bettelheim who asserted that anti-Semitism is an “irrational” and “constantly mutating virus” which afflicts gentiles for no reason at all. (Bettelheim’s reputation has suffered immensely following his death and Montague is viewed as a charlatan in anthropological circles.) Gabriel Schoenfeld likewise exhibits muddled thinking as to causation. For him, anti-Semitism is “a complex historical virus…composed of a variety of strains: ancient and modern, racialist and religious, left-wing and right-wing” (op cit, pp 1-6). This view, needless to say, is unscientific because it is unfalsifiable. For both Bettelheim, Schoenfeld and others like them (e.g. Daniel Goldhagen –see endnote #25 below), there was no self-awareness that Jewish financial mischief, together with aloofness, could have explained gentile resentments.
24. Chaim Weizman, (as quoted by Patai, Raphael, ed; The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl; New York: 1960), Vol 3, p 888.
25. Goldhagen, Daniel J, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York: Knopf, 1996). For Goldhagen, the virus of anti-Semitism is a direct result of the Gospel and Medieval Passion plays and it was “unique” only to the German nation. Despite a brief flurry of positivve publicity, his thesis was roundly condemned by more experienced historians. One of them, Raul Hilburg (who was himself Jewish), was particularly scathing: in his opinion, Goldhagen was “totally wrong about everything”.
26. In his magnum opus, Gibbon described the Jews thusly: “A race of fanatics, whose dire and credulous sympathies seemed to render them the implacable enemies not only of the Roman government but also of humankind.” Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, (p 521). It is important to realize that Gibbon’s critique of the Jews predated the Holocaust by at least two centuries. Nor was it based upon his own encounters with Jews as they were a minuscule minority in Great Britain at the time.
27. Flavius Josephus, Against Appion 2.8.
28. Dio Cassius, Annals, 15.47.
29. Flavius Josephus; The Jewish War. Like most ancient historians, Josephus’ numbers are no doubt exaggerated. For a more in-depth analysis of the Jewish Wars, see Thomas F Madden’s Empires of Trust: How Rome Built –and America is Building–a New World, (New York: Penguin, 2008), pp 251-282.
30. Toaff, Ariel, Passovers of Blood: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murder, (2011). Toaff, the son of a Rabbi met immediate and vocal criticism because he took some of these child-murders seriously. His book was rapidly withdrawn from circulation.
31. Madden, op cit, p 252.
32. St Irenaeus of Lyon, Against the Heresies.23. Irenaeus was particularly vexed by Marcion’s cavalier attitude towards the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John. While Scripture per se had not been officially canonized by the Church, and there was indeed much disagreement, the theological validity of the synoptic Gospels were uncontroversial to almost all Christian congregations.
33. Lee, Philip J, Against the Protestant Gnostics (Oxford: Oxford Univ, 1987), p 33.
34. Ibid. Late Antiquity was a time of severe sexual imbalances and many men, because of constrained economic circumstances could not marry. Some joined mystery cults in which castration was practiced. Others were beguiled by the misogyny preached by Gnosticism. One such teacher, Saturninus, taught that “Christ descended to the earth to destroy the God of the Jews and ‘to destroy the works of the female, to bring marriage and reproduction to an end, to save men from women’.” Such an attitude was uncritically accepted by many, even within the Church. Lee states that “the gnostic diatribes against the female, sexuality, and procreation are answered sharply [by St Paul] in 1 Timothy. [Moreover] the author is aware that some are leaving the Church because of [these] false doctrines…”, pp 18-19.
35. Ibid, pp 101-114.
36. “A German official warned Jews against wearing the kippah. After backlash, he urged all Germans to put them on in support”. Noack, Rick, The Washington Post, May 28, 2019.
37. Schoenfeld, “…today, the most vicious ideas about Jews are primarily voiced not by downtrodden and disenfranchised fringe elements of society but by its most successful, educated and “progressive” members.” op cit, p 3.
38. Ibid, p 4.
39. Ibid, p 4.
41. Marx, Karl, “On the Jewish Question”, (Paris: 1844). Marx’s anti-Semitism was so internalized that in his private letters, he referred to a certain Herr Bamberger as “jew Bamberger” and his son as “little jew Bamberger”. He referred to Ferdinand Lassalle as “a Jewish nigger”. His racism extended to Mexicans whom he considered to be “lazy” and to blacks whom he thought were “closer to the animals” than whites.
42. Dostoyevski, Fyodor, Diary of a Writer (published in installments, 1873-1881). Dostoyevski’s thesis is that the Church must have a monopoly on faith in Russia in order for a properly ordered society to function since, according to him, “Christ lives in the Orthodox Church alone”.
43. Nietzsche, Frederick, The Twilight of the Idols, “When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident…Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out if, the faith in God, one breaks the whole.”
44. Eventually, the planned pogrom of Soviet Jewry was derailed because of Stalin’s death.
45. Hezser, Catherine, Jewish Slavery in Antiquity  (Oxford, 2005).
46. Leithart, Peter J, Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom, (Downer’s Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2010), p 134.
47. Chrysostom, St John, Against the Jews.5.
48. Lee, Op cit, p 134.
49. Lee, Ibid, p 135.
50. Lynn, Richard, Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis (Washington Summit Publishers: 2006).
51. Cochran, G; Harpending, H; “A History of Ashkenazi Intelligence (Journal of Biological Science: 2006, Sept 38, pp 659-93).
52. Herrenstein, Richard J; Murray, Charles; The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1994). See also Jensen, A R; “The Theory of Intelligence and its measurement” (Berkeley: Univ of Calif: 2011.) See also “Global Ancestry and Cognitive Ability” Laster, J, et al (


  1. George Michalopulos says

    P.S.  All comments must be addressed to the topic at hand.  No comments which advocate violence or persecution or come from discredited sources that are clearly anti-Semitic will be published.  
    Thank you.

    • The protoculs of elders of Zion are understood to have been designed by the Russian Imperial Okhrana ( Security police ) based in Paris, in about 1900. And conviniently left to be ‘discovered’. They were copied and printed by Nilus, the copier of the record of the land owner friend of St Seraphim who described the experience of the light that transfigured the Saint and land owner , when they were together in the snow.
      There is no feeling that Nilus knew the protoculs were a fraud. He believed they were genuine.

  2. This is actually a pretty woke article, George. Well done.

    I will propose that “discredited sources that are clearly anti-Semitic” is pretty nebulous, though. One man’s controversial truths are another’s anti-Semitic falsehoods.

  3. Gus Langis says

    The Jews have had a bad reputation in Europe since before Christ. During a period of relative calm in the Roman Empire known as Pax Romana the Jews alone constantly started rebellions. During the Kitos war the jews slaughtered en mass their neighbors genocided a significant population of Cyprus. The Jews were considered a savage race by the pagans.

  4. Orthodox Judaism is just the oldest Christian heresy. 
    Our message to the Jews is the same as our message to everyone else: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Our ecumenical policy towards the Jews is the same as our ecumenical policy towards everyone else: they should become Orthodox Christians. It is harder for them, because as a people they have already doubled down on their betrayal of their own Messiah, but no-one is beyond salvation; and those few who do join us (there will be more at the end) are especially blessed because of their heritage.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Indeed. What today is known as “Orthodox Judaism” or just Judaism in general is really Rabbinicism (or if you want to stretch the point further) Talmudism. It arose after the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. Ironically, it post-dates Christianity –which began in AD 30.

  5. Nathaniel Adams says

    There is much food for thought in this article and you’ve clearly done your research. I had known that European nobility had restricted Jewish participation in the economy to, among other things, banking but what came to mind when reading this essay was how the Christian prohibition on usury coupled with the inelastic demand for capital inadvertently facilitated the Jews to gain a monopoly in that industry in which they were free to charge as high an interest rate as they wanted since little, if any, competition would have existed. This, of course, fueled anti-Semitic pogroms since impoverished Christians would have rather killed their creditors than pay them back, and the state authorities would often look the other way so as not to upset the Christian majority and risk being overthrown and killed themselves. A vicious circle, to be sure.

    On a different note (yes, I know I’m not sticking to the topic at hand – I apologize), it was depressing to discover that incels existed as far back as Antiquity. I was under the impression that it was a 21st century by-product of a technologically advanced but socially atomized society, narcissism, the increasing prevalence of autism and/or overindulgent parenting and that past generations were saner. Unfortunately, it looks like I was wrong.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nathaniel, a brilliant encapsulation if I may say so.

      Re the “incels”, I view this phenomenon as a by-product of a generation or two of sexual licentiousness. Why? Because of the “80/20 Rule” in which 20% of the men at the top had sexual access to 80% of the women. In polygynous societies this is a big “so what?” but it leaves 80% of the men fighting for the remaining 20% of the women. This is an unstable and often violent scenario. We see this in Islam in which any man can have up to four wives provided he treats them equally. Needless to say he must be fairly well-off to maintain four different households. Unfortunately, this leave three men out there with no marital prospects.

      The moral strictures which demanded chastity, while boring, made it easier (and inevitable) for every man to have a wife, and visa versa. The matings may not have been ideal and certainly many women would have preferred a richer mate but they made monogamy possible and restricted celibacy considerably. “Every dog has his day” so to speak.

      The sexual revolution removed these constraints and when coupled with Welfare payments, created a class of women who were single mothers while at the same time serving as a roving harem for well-off males. That’s today. In late Antiquity, dowries made marriage a high-end enterprise. They increased the sexual market value (SMV) of women to be sure but they restricted marriage to attractive, well-off males and made divorce next to impossible. Hence many rich men took poor women as concubines which was a type of 2nd class marriage. The children born to concubines were legitimate but their mothers could be divorced should a better prospect come along for the husband. (Or the husband could keep the concubine as his mistress.)

      Anyway, women in the ancient world (or more accurately their families) made every effort to increase their SMV but this meant that lower-class males were without prospects. This inevitably led to higher incidences of homosexuality. We are seeing this presently in China where the one-child policy has created a surplus of over 30 million males which has distorted the sexual ration (and thus the sexual market) horribly.

  6. George,

    Thank you for having the courage to address this topic. I have learned a great deal from Catholic thinker and writer E Michael Jones on this subject.

    Nothing is more anti Semitic than to not share the message of Jesus Christ with the Jewish diaspora.
    To paraphrase Mr Jones, “the Jews who accepted Christ became Christians, the Jews who did not became revolutionaries.”

    In Christ, Mike

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you, Mike.  I very much agree that the Gospel should and must be shared with the Jewish people. To do anything less would be racialist in my opinion.

      One of the realizations that I came to when researching this topic was the messianic impulse behind various revolutionary movements.  Not just in the political sphere but in the arts and sciences as well.  For example, Marxism, Freudianism, Boasian anthropology, Zionism, etc.  

      The founders of these movements were usually atheists or agnostics but they functioned as rabbis who had a coterie of disciples and founded movements.  Some of them were not only Jewish apostates but despised their fellow-Jews.  Marx for example was openly contemptuous of Jews of his personal acquaintance.  

      Invariably, these movements were always exposed after a hundred years as false religions (so to speak).   Freudianism today is held in utter disregard as is Marxism for example.  Franz Boas’ anthropological musings are likewise derided.

      As for the religious sphere, the career of Sabbtai Z’vi deserves a column all its own and perhaps after my long-delayed treatise on Christian governance, I’ll get around to it.

      • Indeed, thanks George! While attending seminary, I learned of E Michael Jones through his work on sexual ‘liberation’ as political and spiritual control. Our professor thought it revealed the glue between many other phenomena in contemporary- and ancient – society.
          Jones’ brilliant work, which opens with St John Chrysostom, titled ‘The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History’ is easily the most relevant and captivating history book I have read in years. I reject his ecclesiology, of course – Jones is an Irish German Catholic from Indiana – but this book appears as a significant puzzle piece. Likewise, I discovered this at seminary through our endearing professor of history. 

        • E Michael Jones offers some great insights.  This lecture of his succinctly encapsulates his best ideas and serves as a rallying cry for the troops:  
          In my view, Jones adopts the Jewish worldview by accepting that there is a racial component to spiritual behavior.  We can speculate whether sin affects the third or fourth generation, etc. (‘how far down the lineage does it actually go?’), but since Christ’s declaration that there is now neither Gentile nor Jew, why engage in such speculation?
          George, no comments needed.  Very well done.  I’ve learned a lot and it seems that you’ve covered it all.  Thank you.

            Does Jones really accept “a racial component to spiritual behavior” or does he correctly stress an ethnic component to spiritual behavior? I’m not sure. The difference being is that Jones (and I think correctly) defines ethnicity as shared religion, nation and language. If this is the case, globalism and those behind globalism (which is just communism 2.0) are certainly waging ethnic cleansing. Look at the recent stones thrown at ‘migrant’ buses by Greeks in northern Greece. They get it. Even the Vatican understood, which is why Francis, despite calling Trump to NOT build a wall, hides behind a very high and thick wall that once (and perhaps again) defended against Islamic forces.
            Jones’ sharp REJECTION of the exclusively negative label ‘white’ is convincing. He totally argues that just a few years ago, Americans identified not as ‘white’ but as Greek, Italian, Polish, Russian, etc. This is important. The unintended – or intended – consequence of ACCEPTING the ‘white’ label is, among other things, a breakdown (however insignificant) of identity and community. Jones argues that by ACCEPTING ‘whiteness’ we forgo traditional culture, including traditional Christian culture. 
            Part of my point is this: if ‘whites’ are the oppressors, as ‘media’ and public education maintains, then every ‘white’ (whatever that means) is guilty of oppression, just as every heterosexual, male Christian is guilty of ‘oppression.’ I never label myself ‘white’ on survey. Why?
            First, my skin isn’t strictly white. If anything, I have more African and Greek in me as Sicilian, but who knows? I just don’t think about it. Who, really, and honestly, thinks about this stuff? Though I’m full-blooded Sicilian, I identify first as Orthodox, then as father, husband and clergy.
            I suppose what all this means is that, in THESE days, to be called a ‘white supremacist’ amounts to being labeled anti-Semitic, transphobic, homophobic, climate-denier, etc. The same mindset throws these bombs at its enemies, it’s all the same, it’s a great distraction against hesychia and stillness. My sense is, it doesn’t mean anything to most of us, but for some, it’s a target for character assassination. So maybe it’s not just a distraction but very real spiritual warfare.
            Nonetheless, anyone rejecting ‘racial equity,’ ‘inclusiveness,’ pedophilia and LGBT ‘rights’ and forced ‘multi-culturalism,’ is labeled a white supremacist. And still, at the end of the day, what matters most, perhaps, is not how we navigate the culture wars, but how to keep the grace of God and account ourselves as first among sinners. Besides, the world is a mirror of the war going on inside the heart. 

          • Michelle, you got it on the button. Michael Hoffman gets this too, as he maintains that anyone who hates Jews qua Jews falls into the same trap of Talmudism. He called racialist anti-semitism “white Talmudism.”
            Jones and others err if they attribute Jewish behaviour to blood/DNA, as opposed to the Talmudic mentality. Hoffman’s entire premise is that he is actually pro-Judaic, as he is trying to liberate these people from slavery to that dark ideology. As long as Talmudic teaching is propagated, successive generations will be goyim-hating radicals, so need to question if sin is transmitted – the mentality is taught.
            At the same time, we need to take seriously what Saint Augustine said about the “Mark of Cain” on the Jews.
            As for “neither Jew nor Greek,” that is for entry into the Body of Christ. The Church is open to all and everyone is welcome at the heavenly banquet, but no one stops being what they are after baptism. Saint Paul was still a Jew after baptism, something he mentioned several times – of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews.
            If we use that line of argument, then there is neither male nor female in the Church either, thus the LGBTQ mind terrorists are correct.

            •  “The Church is open to all … but no one stops being what they are after baptism.”  Salient point, Basil.

  7. V. Rev A. James Bernstein says

    George, what a terrific article. Born and raised Jewish and having become by God’s grace an Orthodox Christian priest – I particularly appreciate it. It is comprehensive and addresses the issue from a perspective that is rarely if ever heard. I think that it may be unique. Would be wonderful to have it published. God bless your ministry and the forthright stances you take, typically expressed with wisdom and in my opinion sensitivity and love. I pray that our hierarchs and clergy would be as bold. 

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr, I cannot tell you how honored I am to read these words. And humbled. Thank you for your insights regarding the three Jewish wars as well.

      To all: I highly recommend that you read Fr James’ autobiography Surprised by Christ. I couldn’t put it down. Besides being an poignant introduction to his life and ministry, it is an excellent summa of Christian theology as well.

  8. Fr Seraphim Rose of blessed memory discusses some of these issues here:

    • Michael Bauman says

      As usual with Fr. Seraphim, looking for truth but not always finding it. I have learned to trust his assumptions but not always his conclusions.  Still, his over all approach of looking at the spirit of things is on display here and deserves consideration.

      The disruption of the evil one in those who are lovers of power is consistent and almost formulaic.  The evil one is not creative.  

      • Monk James Silver says

        Fr Seraphim Rose’s attempt to legitimate ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ is enough to tempt me to ignore pretty much everything else he said and wrote.

        Still, I wouldn’t deny the importance of his contributions to Christian thought in other areas, although I often find myself in disagreement with his ideas..

        • Michael Bauman says

          Monk James, too literal.  

        • In good faith and respect, I ask, why are you tempted to “ignore pretty much everything else Fr Seraphim Rose said and wrote?” You’re tempted to ignore Genesis, Creation and Early Man? The Soul After Death? Nihilism? What about Fr Seraphim’s conclusions in general, and with the Protocols, is deluded? 
          Surely, considering not only Fr Seraphim’s salient points, but considering the life and character of the Protocols’ Russian publisher, and, frankly, considering history, Fr Seraphim seems to make points worth considering. Most if not everything in the Protocols appeared under the guise of Communism and the Soviet Union (and later, globalism). This isn’t obvious? I don’t think we need to, but to make some of us comfortable, we can switch out ‘Talmudic Jew’ with Bolshevik, communist, globalist, oligarch, etc., but all the same, the blueprint seems to remain pretty clear and evident in recent times, doesn’t it? 
          Solzhenitsyn might agree with Fr Seraphim Rose:

          • Michael Bauman says

            Anon: I love Fr. Seraphim. In some ways he was instrumental in getting me to the Church and he may be a saint. Nevertheless, I would caution you, as I did Monk James, not to take his work too literally or to make him more of a theological expert than he was. His value is/was and will continue to be the manner in which he tackled questions–always trying to bring a Patristic understanding to them as far as he was able. That does not mean he was always right or that his conclusions are rock solid. They are not always.

            His best works are his first and his last. They describe the arc of a soul from Orthodox Novice to a mature Orthodox monk.

            As much as I value Genesis, Creation and Early Man, I do not take it as an anthropological treatise. What it did for me was to begin to see how thoroughly I was imbued with the materialistic, secular spirit in spite of myself. As with all of his work, it directed me on the path of repentance and further into the heart of the Church. He struggled with the same worldly mind that I did and it is his struggle that is more important to me than his theological conclusions. If any one has seen his death photo (his corpse is smiling) it clearly shows a man, a soul who, by the grace of God was victorious in those struggles. A man of our time and our place in the course of history, fighting many of the same demons.

            I was told by a sober priest of mine that Fr. Seraphim has been shown to be a powerful intercessor in matters of the flesh and lust which was one of his struggles as well.

            I have been dismayed over the years at the tendency of some of his admirers to go overboard in praise of him.

            I have learned many things though my interaction with his writing over the years and I will always value the truth brought into my life through them, even the most controversial ones such as Soul After Death. But, if he is a saint, it is because he struggled and was greatly flawed but was humble before God anyway.

            One of his dictums that I find particularly difficult to follow: Do not argue.

            Glory to Him who saves us.

          • “You’re tempted to ignore Genesis, Creation and Early Man? The Soul After Death?”
            Well speaking personally yes. The first is simple ignorance masked as piety. The second is interesting but at best theologumenon. And the opinion of many priests I know, unhelpful.

            • Greg, how is Fr Seraphim’s book on the patristic teaching on Genesis and creation ‘simple ignorance?’

              • Michael Bauman says

                LonelyDn, the most obvious criticism of Genesis, Creation and Early Man and one often heard is that it does not follow the scientistic revelations of modern, and therefore, superior thought.  
                Blessed Seraphim openly questions the evolutionary model, the materialistic philosophy behind it and even many of the scared tools of the scientistic saints. 
                Therefore, Blessed Seraphim is ignorant.   
                As I said in my earlier statement the books enduring value lies more in it’s questioning of philosophical materialism as an adequate foundation for exploring the mysteries of creation.  In the process of reading the book, my own largely unrecognized materialistic assumptions were brought into view.  
                It would be interesting to know if Greg actually read the book.   If he did, I suspect he read it firmly in the hold of modern scientism.  
                Of course everybody knows that even thinking about alternatives to the modern “saints and prophets” on such matters as the origins of the created order is ignorant in and of itself if not apostate.

                • Michael, and Greg,
                  I do hear the criticism of Genesis, Creation and Early Man you mention: it does not follow the scientific ‘revelations of modern, and therefore, superior thought.’ Thank God. It follows the scientific revelations of God Himself, and therefore, Truth.
                  I’m unsurprised hearing these criticisms outside the Church. Among the first criticisms against the Church in the Soviet Union stemmed from the evolutionary mindset, and so evolution was taught as a rule and means against Holy Tradition. Regrettably, I’m taken aback when these criticisms stem from WITHIN the Church. It is as if modern thought somehow takes precedence over direct revelation. We either look to the Church, the Mind of Christ, or toward ourselves. It is not as if certain areas of life remain ‘outside’ the scope of Christ and holy revelation. 
                  Yes, Blessed Seraphim openly questions the evolutionary model, as do I, and all the Church’s holy patristic expressions. Death came about through one man, Adam, through sin. Physical death  followed spiritual death. Blessed Seraphim’s expression of the Church can’t be clearer. When I was editing this book at Platina, – Genesis, Creation and Early Man – I spoke with Fr Damascene at length. Death did not enter creation before our forefathers, Adam and Eve. God isn’t the author of death. Evolution is a false ideology, as Blessed Seraphim’s work makes abundantly clear and it makes for a sobering lesson when we find ourselves arguing against Fathers, as if we know better.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Lonely Deacon, I hope you realize that my comment was in no way endorsing the modern criticism of Blessed Seraphim.   

                  • Steven J. M. says

                    LonelyDn, I’ve recently found  myself going over a bit of this material.
                    It seems that the scientists can now offer at least something in terms of arguments against irreducible complexity, no significant fossil records or instances of evolution in the lab, questionable radioisotope dating etc. Whether these ‘somethings’ are definitive, however, would be something of an endless discussion on competing research and findings. 
                    Two things, however (One of which I can definitely remember being covered in Fr Seraphim’s book), that are irrefutable are: 1. Intelligence is said to be an evolution or an improvement on no intelligence. That would mean that the first sign of human intelligence was an improvement on the no intelligence said to be behind our world; and that humans, being more intelligent than it, were immediately able to start curing all diseases, cheating death and creating even better worlds or whatever. Nothing could be further from the truth. 2. Science makes the assumption that the human brain was formed correctly and that what it produces in terms of what we call observation etc. is also correct. However, without a genuine authority, that is external to humanity, to set an impartial standard, we have nothing to measure our supposed correctness against, no matter how reasonable, orderly or empirical it may seem.
                    For obvious reasons, scientists don’t like these points, but they also like to claim that they’re not scientific as such, preferring instead to point to their tests.
                    Unfortunately for them however there’s no escaping these points. Clearly the origin, nature and purpose of existence has more to it than just the scientific method, which is why theology and philosophy exist. Having strayed beyond its bounds into these areas, it must now contend with them and seriously question what it thinks it perceives.  

                    • Steven J. M. says

                      I’d also add – in the interest of making things more orthodox and not just a mere intellectual exercise – that the saints who saw God through the eyes of the heart provide the most irrefutable case 

                    • Steven J. M. says

                      There’s also this which I’m just remembering: science has it that if it can’t be measured or put on a graph or whatever then it doesn’t exist. This however is quantitative thinking, which denies quality, which although difficult if not impossible to physically measure, is believed by all to exist. Even ‘quantitative thinkers’ apply the measure of quality everyday, in one way or another, and wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise. This glossing over of quality is of course a big gap in the field of science.
                      Further, science believes evidence comes first and logic after. This is no doubt related to the obsession with physical measurements above, but I reckon there’s another way of tackling it. I’m not really sure how to do it, though.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Accordingly, psychology is not scientific, is it? After all, can we quantify the Id, the Ego or the Superego? Not by materialistic means.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Steven JM the fact that there is no way to validate empirically the validity of our own observations and measurements does seem to be just a wee problem.  
                      We must therefore look at our assumptions. The assumptions of philosophical materialism vs incarnational design(to coin a phrase) yield quite different results using the same data.
                      I know a highly qualified and skilled chemist who is now Orthodox. She came to the Church when, having no significant religious bias(pro or con) saw in the data of one of her experiments  what she could only interpret as the death and Ressurection of Jesus (her words).  She went looking for a theology that matched the data and found the Church.  
                      The scientistic attempt to purge the presence of Jesus Christ in all things is counter productive and ends up with bad science.  

                    • Steven J. M. says

                      Well, George and Michael Bauman
                      there’s another good example – unquantifiable pschology – which science fawns over nevertheless.
                      Michael Bauman, it seems I might keep getting tripped up by thinking there’s one concrete idea that points definitely to the existence of God. Perhaps that’s not possible, seeing the emphasis of Orthodoxy on experience, or perhaps both experience and an undefeatble idea are possible. I’m not sure. You’re mention of assumptions however must be a key word in all this, but I’m still trying to understand it’s significance. To give an example, I take point (1) mentioned above – namely, that intelligent man should be smarter than an accidental world, but shows no real signs of it – and then defeat the scientific objection to it (that it isn’t measurable) by saying that things which can’t be measured (like quality, intention and pschology) still exist, thus allowing for point #1. With that, I then say that because the objection to this point has no legs, then point (1) serves as proof of an intelligence behind the world. 
                      What’s the assumption? Are there any bad points to it apart from having not experienced God? Why does not experiencing God have to be a problem if only from the perspective of debate with science? If I’m not asking the right questions, what are they please?
                      Also, your chemist friend’s story is interesting. Based on the only way she could explain it, I take it that what she saw was more experiential than intellectual, and therefore above what I assume to be the inevitable absence of this one ‘concrete, all defeating idea’, which I’d nevertheless like to see if it were possible.  

                    • Steven J. M. says

                      Ok here it is I think – the idea or the thinking that at least puts scientism to bed.
                      As discussed earlier, scientism, being wholly empirical, doesn’t allow for quality, which isn’t possible to physically measure. In Dawkins’ own words (but paraphrasing) ‘there is no good or bad; whatever is just is’. 
                      This means that while scientism can study, say, bacteria and find that it could lead to death, or study nutrients and see that they may result in health, neither of these can ultimately be said to be better than the other, because scientism couldn’t measure it.
                      Further, because scientism can’t measure whether it’s better to study science or not, it makes a mockery of itself by claiming qualitative and logical superiority while cutting itself off at the knees.
                      I’m sure there are many more examples. 
                      So much, then, for evidence coming before logic. If ever we decide that goodness is what we want, we can only agree that things must first be imbued with standards and meaning; whatever science offers after being a bonus. 
                      I think it was Christopher Hitchens who once said that humanity never needed God for morality, for it would have been easy to discover that getting along was beneficial, but this fails on a number of accounts. 
                      1. With utilitarianism, it’s just as easy to discover how useful it might seem to do harm to others around you for your own benefit. 
                      2. In regards to scientism, getting along with each other because it’s beneficial (for life) admits to a preference, which can’t be measured, and must therefore be irrational.
                      Scientism is dead.
                      The only way it could kind of redeem itself would be to say of itself that it’s irrational and/or unimportant.

                  • One of the strangest things about G, C & EM is Fr. Seraphim’s exchange with Kalomiros, a Greek Old Calendarist and ardent evolutionist. I find it shocking that people like Kalomiros, who are extremely traditional in every way in regards to the faith, are taken in by Darwinism, which in turn negates the very faith they are supposedly struggling to defend. Absolutely baffling.

                • The problem with trying to impute the interior psychology of a reader of a book (and yes, I read it or I would not have commented on it) is unlikely to be accurate, as in this case. I don’t hold to reductive materialism – unclear why I would be commenting on an Orthodox blog if I did, other than some kind of weird fetishism). I will hold my tongue from any comparable insult or insinuation, but I will say your comment is both uncharitable and unChristian.
                  That said, on a depersonalized note: the weird and obviously wrong idea that evolution didn’t occur is I suspect more a symptom of the myriad problems in Orthodoxy in America than anything else.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Greg, the question is “what sort of evolution”? No one will deny the adaptation of creatures to their changing environment. But the real problem lies in two directions: 1. the absolute rejection of God as Creator still present in His creation through His Incarnation as fully man; and 2. the equally obtuse and wrong assumption that God micro manages every single thing which is my understanding of ‘theistic evolution’.

                    How does one evaluate the statements of St. Maximus on the inherent identity or logoi, that God puts in each part of his creation as a way of knowing each blade of grass, and giving us, and only us, His image and Likeness when “modern” science says that each species is can change into another and that led to man. I do not have the time or expertise to approach a comprehensive apology for the Christian Cosmology that God created and designed this world out of nothing except His love in such a way as to allow Him to enter into that creation as fully human without loosing any of His divinity through His Son, our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Part of the reason for that Incarnation was to transform and transfigure all of His creation for us and our salvation. The Orthodox spiritual path of repentance, illumination and theosis allows us to participate with God in all of that.

                    On top of that there is the mindless hatred that pours forth from supposed experts in the field of evolutionary biology toward any one of faith who opposes them and their ideology. That alone proclaims to me that whatever science it may have, it has morphed into an ideology. Indeed as my study of history has shown me, it began as an ideology–a conscious effort to overturn the Christian paradigm beginning in the early 19th century. It is and was a philosophical and ideological movement that cloaks itself in “science”.

                    Then there are all of the frauds that have been accepted as ‘evidence’ of the ideology through the years. Even though the frauds were later exposed (or some of them), the ideas the frauds were ‘evidence’ for have not been rejected

                    Change occurs. No doubt. What has gone on in propagating an anti-God explanation for that change built on false assumptions and extrapolating that into a Godless universe is simply not acceptable. There is far more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in that philosophical ideology. I think many know that and are afraid.

                    I know the Blessed Seraphim did not answer the deniers of God as well as he had hoped. I am sure he made mistakes, the work is not gospel. Even with all of the mistakes, there is more truth in his work than you seem to give it credit for. You may begin to see that if you place the work in the context of his monastic vocation, his life of repentance and his own writings and lectures. It is not a stand alone magnum opus.

                    The premise with which he approached the topic is far preferable to those whom he was addressing who proclaim there is no God.

                    What reading the book did for me was to begin to unmask the degree to which I had accepted the reductive materialism, a.k.a philosophical naturalism into my own heart and that it had a comfortable home there, not as a fetish but as a normal way of thinking. That was a shock.

                    May our Lord’s mercy be with us and may He guide us into all truth in love and humility.

                    • First of all can I thank every one here and George for the wonderful serious deep though on what are the important subjects of Life, Creation and how we are here ( and anybody else in another Universe) . IT is such a sad comment on state of Church that we, including Me, have to give so much time to arid political rubbish such that spews out from the Phanar et al.
                      And Michael Bauman, yr above entry re evolution etc was so helpful and on point. Especially how because we surrounded by it, we take in the materialism
                      I personally have always found the more I know about the Cosmos, the more directed to God I am. Yes we are aflicted with scientism not science. But I also find if can charicature, the ‘ fundamentalist, six day etc etc, taken literally as, well demeaning God to a human size deity within human time. In other words no God.
                      As u I see the incarnation and Creation very linked, and one leading to the other. And again such a contrast with the theology of God entering human time to redeem humanity by love and to experience all of human pain , compared to the sterile, angry, primitive, protestant, God demanding a sacrifice in payment. Yes Christ did Sacrifice himself for us but FROM LOVE, to show us the path to salvation and union with God that had been broken. AND it is all this that we experience in the Liturgy.
                      How sterile is this typical protestant. Dogma. No wonder people rejecting.

        • “Fr Seraphim Rose’s attempt to legitimate ‘The Protocols…’ is enough to tempt me to ignore pretty much everything else he said…”.

          The next (similarly logical) statement for somebody else would be:

          “Jesus Christ’s attempt to  characterize Jews is enough to tempt me to ignore pretty much everything else he said…”

          Make no mistake, I am not comparing Seraphim Rose to Jesus Christ, I am comparing the logic of the statements only. 

  9. Fr. Justin Frederick says

    Good work, George!

  10. Michael Bauman says

    Monk James, you are being too literal.  He is not “legitimizing” anything.  What I perceived is him recognizing that the document, regardless of it’s source, is a really good summary of the nihilist spirit of revolution and that spirit is in anyone who denies Jesus Christ.  Jews are often times a part of that but not only the Jews.  

    • Well said! Amen.

    • Thanks Michael, I’ll highlight that.
      “Monk James, you are being too literal.  He is not “legitimizing” anything.  What I perceived is him recognizing that the document, regardless of it’s source, is a really good summary of the nihilist spirit of revolution and that spirit is in anyone who denies Jesus Christ.  Jews are often times a part of that but not only the Jews.”  

    • Monk James Silver says

      In order to resist antisemitism, it’s necessary to identify it properly, and not conceal its real and evil purposes under a mask of social utility.

      Let’s remember, please, that this libelous document was not about the ‘Protocols of Nihilists’ but about the ‘Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’.

      It was a forgery and its purposes were brazenly obvious.

  11. Michael Bauman says

    Steven, I assume God as the foundation for logical thought because I have encountered Him as a real person.  That is a step beyond simple experience.  I encountered Him in a moment of existential crises wanting to know if He was real or not.  He graciously let me know He is real.  My encounter was similar to the one had Met. Anthony Bloom.  

  12. Steven J. M. Nov. 17, 2019 at 7:02 pm,

    I think you exert a lot of energy to make  simple life VERY COMPLICATED.
    Is this because you hate the subject, or you cannot or do not want to understand it? Is this a scientific approach?
    Please allow me an analogy (nothing personal):
    Just to illustrate an argument let us make a theoretical assumption:
    If you were born blind, whatever one says to you about colorful things, you will not be able to understand. If (as a blind man) you are nevertheless a very good scientist (in some field not requiring eye-sight) you may want to talk scientifically to others BUT you will always be limited if the subject of discussion needs eyesight. You will insist that something they say has no scientific proof. They will reply to you, “if you had eye-sight you would understand”. That would  sound all Greek to you.
    However if you believed them you would say: “Ok, friends, I cannot understand you, but I believe you!”
    Now, coming back to real life (with your eye-sight):
    You assume that the common senses like eye-sight, smell, taste etc are all there is in the world. Socrates, the famous ancient philosopher, once said:
    “One thing I know, I know nothing!”.
    In our credo we say, 
    ” I believe in one God…Maker of…all things visible and invisible…”
    Steven, I assume you believe in God, do you not?
    If yes, then, in your sophisticated logical model presented here, where does the factor BELIEF IN GOD come in?  If nothing else, would you PLEASE address this point only?
    Needless to say, if you do NOT believe in God, that ends our discussion here.
    Now, then, please explain to me how could the following thing happen to members of my  wider family:
    There was a BIG problem and no solution in sight. After fervent prayer to Christ, 6 or 7 things occured AT THE SAME TIME AND PLACE and the problem was solved. Being a scientist you will know that the combined probability of many things happening at the same time is the mathematical product of the individual probabilities of the various events. In the particular case, the typical probability of each one of the 6 events was like 1 in 1000 (0.001). The product was:
    1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,
    ie one in one quintillion!
    now then if that is not a miracle, what is?
    Let us be honest, either you believe in God or you believe in your theories! 

    • Steven J. M. says

      Ioannis, I believe in God. This is amply implied in all I’ve said. The purpose of going to these lengths was for the purpose of a kind of apology and for providing ammunition for anyone who may need this type of thing in the future, during moments of doubt or whatever. There’s also the fact that I dislike scientism and took great pleasure in bringing it down. It’s not meant to be everything, just something. If it’s not your cup of tea, so be it. It is mine, however, and I see nothing wrong in it ( at leastfor now). Should I be enlightened at some stage to know that this is too much, I’ll act then. In the meantime, let’s hope I haven’t caused any damage.

      Now, to round off what I started, I’d like to add the following:

      While the above does not address the theory of evolution directly, the following can nevertheless reasonably be said:

      1. Anything like scientism, which so easily contradicts its own claims to knowledge and importance, must automatically become suspect in the areas which most help this delusion along; namely, evolution, which claimed to kill off God, making science the font of all wisdom.

      2. With the relationship between scientism and evolution established, and the absurdity of at least the former now firmly exposed, materialistic science can in no way object to admitting other forms of knowledge, such as theology. With that, consider these three points: i). The supposed non-intelligent formation of the world still seems to be smarter than the intelligent human being. If it were otherwise, then the first sign of human intelligence would have immediately been able to start curing all diseases, cheating death and creating even better worlds. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. ii) Science begins with the assumption that the universe is knowable and ordered and that reason and rationality correspond to reality. These assumptions are basically Christian. iii). The saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church, from ancient times to present, from both the East and West, have seen God and attest to the same thing. All things considered, believing them is no more of a leap than a blind man accepting that men with vision have seen the sky.

      3. Although it’s been conceded that evolutionary science now has some answers to classic ‘intelligent design’ science, this is not to say that the latter has been definitely defeated. It’s one thing to have studies which claim to confirm evolutionary conclusions, and quite another for them to be the final say, given that i) Science is just as prone to corruption as any other pursuit involving humans. Moreover, it is just in the area of evolution that much fraud has been known to happen in the past. ii). ‘Intelligent design’ scientists are no slouches iii). Science often buckles under the weight of conflicting ideas, with few being able to really sort them.

      All-in-all, then, I think it’s fair to say that scientism, along with its little bulldog evolution, have more holes in them than a 10-year-old pair of underwear.

      • Steven and Michael,
        brethren please forgive me.
        I fully agree with the explanations from both of you.

        Please blame it on my mental fatigue to follow the extended logic involved.
        I do hope this settles that.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Steven, when you say: “It’s one thing to have studies which claim to confirm evolutionary conclusions, and quite another for them to be the final say…” It brings my mind the essential mutability of ‘facts’.

        In the construction of any narrative of past events, especially one as vast as the nature, purpose and mechanism of creation, requires many decisions regarding facts:
        1. What is a ‘fact’
        2. What is a relevant ‘fact’
        3. What is the hierarchy of value of a ‘fact’ within a set of ‘facts’
        4. What is the evidence for each decision 1-3.

        Here is the rub: facts are always recognized, selected, ranked and used based on the assumptions of the author and his set of biases, known and unknown. ‘Facts’ never speak for themselves because they do not exist independent of context. Even deciding a particular data point or set of such points are ‘factual’ is dependent on the context and the bias of the author of the narrative.

        If one assumes philosophical materialism as a necessary and adequate foundation for exploration of the visible universe a radically different narrative will be produced based on the same evidence because of the selection, valuing and interrelationship of what is consider factual than if one assumes a loving God, outside time and space, created out of nothing all that we perceive, seen and unseen.

        Since, in reality, we are a small part of any perceived universe or creation, and a product of the same, there is no way that we can fully grasp its nature on our own. It is impossible. The best we can do is to describe what we see and experience as accurately as possible.

        Good science is an out growth of a Christian cosmology. A cosmology created under the assumptions of philosophical materialism is simply not adequate to describe or perceive anything bigger than us. Except in the excessively sentimental and romantic pseudo-poetry of Carl Sagan talking about the “billions and billions of stars…” which is an extrapolation of an assumption based on data observed within a philosophy that rejects the possibility of a loving creator God who is fully inside what He created.

        It has long been my contention that science can only reach its full potential when the craft is practiced within an incarnational Christian cosmology. That alone will allow the space and the receptivity for God to reveal to us what we need to see about the nature, function and mechanism of His creation AND to properly use such knowledge.

        Of course the ultimate end point of that journey is Theosis. Just as it is with any discipline of craft and learning we humans practice with the correct assumptions while seeking the Truth.

        • Steven J. M. says

          Michael Bauman 
          To borrow an expression I came across recently, your welcome addition here hits like a 90 pound jack hammer. 
          Now that these ideas are online (and have a chance of being passed down), let’s hope that they can help clear things for enough people.  

          • Michael Bauman says

            Steven, thank you for your comment. Not the first time I have laid out that approach on the internet but you are the first person to engage with it and comment. I learned this approach studying history, more specifically the history of the writing of history. It is the process any competent historian combines with empathetic projection to write good history. Historians are trained, the good ones, to evaluate evidence in the context of a particular time and community and discover how we are connected to what went before and what came after. Also to recognize bias and account for it.

            My understanding of the process is one of the main reasons that I find, for instance, any criticism of Blessed Seraphim’s book Genesis, Creation and Early Man, that is done from a bunch of scientistic assumptions to be irrelevant.

            It is quiet possible to practice science from a fully Christian understanding of cosmology, apply the same standards for validation and repeatability, etc. that are supposed to be part of the scientific method. Even if the possibility for an Incarnate Lord, God and Savior is at least allowed for, the data will reveal the truth to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. After all, “He is everywhere present and filling all things”.

            A deep humility is required.

            Many years ago back in the 1960s, Johnny Carson had as a guest a cosmologist who was a former Jesuit priest. This was long before he hosted Sagan and Dawson. Johnny and his guest were talking about the big bang theory and the man in discussing the big bang posed this: “Who is to say that the big bang did not come from the undivided and the infinite, i.e., God?

            I wish I could recover the man’s name. Contrast this to the statement from a supposedly Orthodox cosmologist who grew up in my home parish and then went away to school. He came back as an invitee to talk about how his faith and profession interacted. His approach was, well, God fills in the spaces, we only need to take Him into account when we can’t figure out the facts, yet.

            In another session in the same series, Anthony Gythiel of blessed memory (also a Jesuit priest before becoming Orthodox) but since an historian and translator. In commenting on his profession, history professor, he said that history reveals the activity of God, through the Incarnation, transforming all of time. Through our faith and devotion, we participate in that. Those words were neither radical, nor surprising to me, but were a deep confirmation of what the study of history reveals of humanity, our activities, our interrelationship with God and His providence. Also a wonderful reminder of why I love exploring history so much.

            The practice of science, or math or any learning discipline has the same capacity within it. Just depends on how it is approached.

            May the mercy and blessings of our Lord Jesus be with us all.

            • Steven J. M. says

              Michael Bauman, 
              Yes I see. And so when science made the overt claim, at an early enough time in its history, that God wasn’t to be allowed in its halls, the bias was there for all to see – despite repeatedly being missed by the news. 
              You said that science can be fully practiced in line with Christian cosmology. I believe this to be true too. Moreover, where the Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans etc. saw the world as either illusory or divine, which isn’t most conducive to inspiring science – something borne out in the overall scientific and technological history of these civilizations – the Christian perspective (if only by comparison) demands it.
              Consider this: God is the Christian God; therefore, creation and science are His. The devil hates the Christian God and creation, and will have a science all of his own. 
              With that, perhaps it’s fair to say that it’s no surprise how the West – the place of Western and eventual schismatic Christianity – is the home of the greatest scientific and technological advancements of all time – for good and for bad. 
              At the same time that medicine and useful technology help in the lives of many people, it can also be seen that the knowledge gained in these firlds might very well create hell on earth (in the form of really complete digital dictatorships and the like).
              I’m struck here by the parallels between creation and the risk of falling, and good science (the heights of which we’ll probably never know) and the danger of science being one of the most truly diabolical influences on earth. 
              Between your statement and what I’ve written, this can’t be just a coincidence. 

              • Michael Bauman says

                Steven, some important distinctions: 1. “Science” did not banish God, influential scientists did. That being the case, there is no reason why good science done from a thoroughly Christian cosmology; 2. The schismatic RCC, Catholic humanism, Cartesian blasphemy and the rebellion of the Enlightenment was, for the most part, the milieu in which modern science developed. And let’s not forget the 100 years war. That was the overriding goad toward secularism, not surprisingly. People and kingdoms fighting each other unendingly in the name of “God” will naturally drive people away. Add to that the truly odious theologies that came from the Reformation and you have quite a stew. Rationalism even atheism can easily be seen as a safe place. Some of the unseen consequences of that view however is the radical separation between spirit and matter, the seen and the unseen none of which is in accord with the revealed truth received in the Orthodox Church or even simple reality.

                That has been reflected in Western Theology. I was reading a small portion of St. Mark of Ephesus reply to the RC doctrine of purgatory this morning that hit on just that point. Purgatory as the RCC defines it requires a distinct separation of soul and body that has never been the teaching of the Orthodox Church. That separation is the philosophical soup in which we all now live. So, we modern’s have trouble with many, many things that should be no trouble at all including but not limited to: icons, the intercession of the saints, the holiness of the Theotokos and actual sacraments in which the seen and the unseen are united vs simple rituals that may increase a certain kind of piety but no more. But the overriding rejection by we moderns tends to be that God actually incarnated as fully human while remaining fully divine.

                Shoot, that difficulty surfaced quite early with the Monophsites and the Monothelites. I tend to think that the increasing stance that the Monophysites are really no different that we are is in part due to our unconscious acceptance of the separation that rationalism requires.

                The difference involves much more than we can usually comprehend I think so we reduce it. Such reduction inevitably leads to the belief that what difference there is, is minor or due only to language differences. Frankly, I find that insulting to the people on both sides of the question.

                Our uncalled for destructive use of the natural world we find around us is also a consequence of such double mindedness. Two great historians of Kansas summed up that reality in their marvelous little book: The End of Indian Kansas. They called it the “capitalization of nature” and unfortunately decided that such capitalization was absolutely necessary to progress and that was a good thing.

                Of course what really happened was the banishing of the sense of the sacred from everyday lives and also a sense of the providential gifts to us from our loving Creator. They are correct however in that such a belief is essential to the false eschatology of the Myth of Progress that destroys not just the natural world but continually assaults our souls on every level.

                Islam and its iconoclasm had much the same effect in the east. The 550 year long Islamic yoke under which the Patriarchate of Constantinople has labored has tended to flatten and diminish robust teaching and understanding of the fundamental goodness of all of creation and its ability to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That reality is only fulfilled however because Jesus “became man”. He is still fully man–a reality.

                The modern paradigm of “evolution” is totally blind to this reality and so rejects any possibility that it is the way creation is. In fact, they essentially reject creation as real. Although there is a real disconnect that such “rational” people are forced to posit a random, essentially irrational method by which the natural world exists.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Great points, Michael.

                  FWIW, all of the great scientists: Newton, Linnaeus, Pasteur, Kelvin, et al were devout Christians. The Scientific Method originated in the Franciscan abbeys in England.

                  Minor quibble: it was the 30 Years War which soured people on religion, not the 100 Years War.

                • Steven J. M. says

                  Michael Bauman 
                  “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it”
                  Thanks very much for sharing your valuable insights with me. 

                  • Steven J. M. says

                    And just for the record, it would have been better if I was more accurate with my words by saying that in the West we saw, first, Orthodox Christianity, then heretical, secret societies, enlightenment thinking and secularism.

                • Michael,“Science” did not banish God, influential scientists did. That being the case, there is no reason why good science done from a thoroughly Christian cosmology;”
                  If I may, I think that,  Fake Science tries to banish God.
                  Good science, or Real Science “knows” that the simplest machine has a creator. Therefore it also “understands” that a Man or any other creature, or the Universe with its precision has a creator too.
                  Michael, I think you will enjoy reading the book:
                  Limitations of Science Paperback – (reprinted) November 22, 2017by J. W. N. Sullivan
                  1st printing 1949!

                  “”Limitations of Science” is a vintage treatise on the state and limitations of science in the early twentieth century. John William Navin Sullivan (1886 – 1937) was a literary journalist and popular science writer most famous for his study of Beethoven. He is also responsible for having written some of the earliest non-technical accounts of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and he was acquainted with many important writers in London in the 1920s, including John Middleton Murry, Aldous Huxley, Wyndham Lewis, Aleister Crowley and T. S. Eliot. Other notable works by this author include “Aspects of Science” (1923), “Aspects of Science: Second Series” (1926), and An Outline of Modern Knowledge (1931). Contents include: “The Expanding Universe”, “The Mystery of Matter”, “The Web of Reason”, “The Nature of Mind”, “The Limitations of Science”, “The Values of Science”, “Towards the Future”, etc.
                  This volume will appeal to those with an interest in the history and development of modern scientific understanding. Many vintage books such as this are increasingly scarce and expensive. It is with this in mind that we are republishing this volume now in an affordable, modern, high-quality edition complete with the original text and artwork.”

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Ioannis, thank you again for the book recommendation. Your statement is correct, the “science” is fake but let me reiterate: if one looks at the history of the idea of Darwinism, it becomes quite clear that from at least the time of Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus Darwin the quest was to find a “scientific theory” with the power to replace the Western European Christian paradigm to specifically exclude God is evident. It is largely presented now as this rational, unbiased exploration of the natural world to find out the truth. That is fake history. Now, there was a lot wrong with that Christian paradigm but the quest to understand “evolution” began on the assumption there was no God and an outright distaste for God–false premise.

                    Darwin’s Bulldog, Thomas Huxley, who was influential in popularizing the philosophical foundation of Darwinism was an outright atheist and was quite interested in doing away with the restrictions on sexual activity among other moral restrictions that he disliked. The fact that Dawinism was essentially racist and misogynistic is indisputable. Darwin’s rabid supporter in Germany, Ernst Haeckel was a proto-Nazi and his “work” had a direct influence on Hitler and the eugenics movement here in the United States along with its virulent racism. My own grandmother and her sister participated in that movement while employed by the US government and the Department of Agriculture. They promoted such things as “Beautiful Baby” contests at State Fairs in which the white (only white) children entered were judged on their confirmation to certain “scientific” physical norms just like the cattle contests. My Grandmother was the first women to get an MD from the University of Iowa and went on to be an influential teacher at Kansas University until her death in the 1940’s. All in the name of “Science” and “Progress”

                    My grandmother died before I was born and according to my mother and aunt, she heartily disliked children but my great aunt I knew well as a child and she was an intelligent, imaginative and caring person by and large any yet she had this core of delusion in her that resulted in hatefulness. The evolutionary community has not done enough to renounce these early manifestations of their “science”. Instead we see prominent spokesmen for the cause simply redouble their hateful denunciations of any belief in God.

                    The late 19th century produced in Western Europe and violent cesspool of ideas who’s initial fruit was the new 100 years war that began with the run up to WWI and continues to this day.

                    I wish I had the energy, skill and credentials to write a comprehensive intellectual history of the time from 1848 to the fall of the Berlin Wall (a natural endpoint but it has not yet ended).

                    One of the best cases for pacifism is the fact that every war, no matter the outcome or the changes they bring about contains within it the seeds of the next war–horror built on horror driving and being driven by ever more destructive technologies.

                    Darwinism, evolutionary biology and the false idol of progress they support are not acceptable. Perhaps one of the worst effects their “science” is that it has derailed and prevented many legitimate inquires into the nature of creation, our place in it and our interrelationships.

                    As the old proverb of economics states: “Bad money drives out good.”

                • Antiochene Son says

                  It seems that “scientific” cosmology has hit a major crisis, such that the age of the universe is now wildly uncertain (2-3 standard deviations) under what was for a long time “settled science”.


                  I recommend Jay Dyer’s YouTube talks on evolution and Orthodoxy.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    AS, a lot of what we consider to be “scientifically settled” is not. Surprises constantly await.

        • Michael. Again very good and yes. 
          Sargon is actually argueing from the same point of view as medevalists, ie it’s the physical position of our planet that tells us either way if we have purpose , he just does not see his own contraditions !
          In reality what is central is NOT geographical position in the Cosmos but CONSCIOUSNESS!!  
          I had a atheist friend who actually told me that it is a question that need not be asked,  how the material substance of world came to be here.!! ITS JUST HERE SHE SAID!! ? . 
          Imagine if a believer came out with ‘there are questions you do not need to ask’? 

          • Michael Bauman says

            Nikos, there are many genuine scientific questions and perhaps answers that simply are not asked/answered in the naturalistic model of evolution. I think that if approached properly that are a great number of things we could learn about ourselves, the outward mechanisms of growth, change and decay as well as our overall play in the heart of creation. That is the saddest thing of all.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Ioannis, I think you are being overly harsh to Steven. He does not appear anti-God to me at all. Just caught in the login trap. Of course there is no “logical proof” of God because if there were, God would have to be smaller or at least no larger than we are. That is no God at all.

      So faith is required to know God or to even know that we do not know Him.

      The important key in approaching God is to ask genuine questions. The Theotokos and Zacharias, St. John the Baptist’s father asked nearly identical questions when confronted with God in the persons of angels. Mary had her question answered, Zacharias was struck dumb. Mary asked her question in faith, Zacharias asked his question in doubt and even cynicism.

      If Steven is asking with a good heart and really wants an answer, those will be given if he listens.

      It is important, however, to reject as many prior conceptions of who/what God is.

  13. Michael Bauman says

    George the confusion between the 30 years war and the 100 years war may be common, but I should do better. I should have checked sources. Thanks for the correction.

  14. Orthodox theology as good science IN ITS AREAS OF RESEARCH, always starts from WHAT GOD IS NOT. 

    • Michael Bauman says

      Nikos, indeed. Reading God into science and other areas of life where it is not critical is a mistake as well. Yet, if a person is open to what is there (eyes to see and ears to hear) then God will reveal Himself at the heart of all matter and in the essential identity of all things, especially we humans.

  15. To add that all theology is not infalliable. Yes it’s guided by the Holy Spirit but through the faculties and understanding we have at that time ,  not in deus ex – machina fashion as in some Cecil B Demille holywood epic. 
    It’s judged against the living life and worship of the Church which will separate truth from falsehood and allow us, as we gain more knowledge, to see things at a  deeper level