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Jesus Christ killing Olympian gods

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in response to reader comment: Hellenistic ideals?

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), May 14, 2009 at 18:44

Hi, Ugri !

Thanks for your critical comment!

> There are contemporaneous literary sources with early Christianity where neighboring pagan, Hellenistic observers marveled at the peculiar habits of Christians. They e.g. didn't kill disabled newborn children or deem a baby unwanted (and abandon them), and their family life seemed to be harmonious, their manners calm and peaceful.<

I may add that e.g. emperor Alexander Severus in his private shrine had a statue of Christ next to that of Abraham, Orpheus and portraits of his ancestors (Historia Augusta , Vita Alexandrii Severi, 29).

I willingly agree that early Christian morals justly attracted some contemporaries. But I am not so sure if they paid enough attention to early Christian personal and theological quarrels and altercations that were to play a sinister role quite soon. As long as Christians remained a small minority in the Empire and were lucky to enjoy the peace assured by the "pagan" Romans for their missionary activities they were no doubt a pleasant and refreshing sight in the Roman Empire. Unfortunately enough, their missionary success gave them power in the state and they used it as if their God had said "Hate and destroy thy enemies if he doesn't give in voluntarily" and not "Love your enemy". They imposed upon all without exception their only happy-making worldview and broke resistance both of pagans and heretics with raw force and psychological terror.

The central and most serious problem Christianity has engendered stems from its monotheism. Jesus' monotheism was a death sentence to all Greek and Roman religion and antiquity which was based on polytheism. Arthur Schopenhauer summed up the sad implications of monotheism so :

"As a matter of fact, it is only to monotheism that intolerance is essential; an only god is by his nature a jealous god, who can allow no other god to exist. Polytheistic gods, on the other hand, are naturally tolerant; they live and let live; their own colleagues are the chief objects of their sufferance, as being gods of the same religion. This toleration is afterwards extended to foreign gods, who are, accordingly, hospitably received, and later on admitted, in some cases, to an equality of rights; the chief example of which is shown by the fact, that the Romans willingly admitted and venerated Phrygian, Egyptian and other gods. Hence it is that monotheistic religions alone furnish the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, heretical tribunals, that breaking of idols and destruction of images of the gods, that razing of Indian temples, and Egyptian colossi, which had looked on the sun three thousand years, just because a jealous god had said, Thou shalt make no graven image. (A dialogue about religion , ch.1 )

In other words, had Alexandrus Severus under emperor Justinian placed Christ's statue next to Zeus' , he would have been punished probably with death or mutilation or exile and his property would have been confiscated. The statue of Zeus would have been most probably damaged in the process as 'idololatrous'. Christians laws and practices against the so called "pagans" were appalling and in comparison the "pagan persecutions of Christianity" look like a mild joke.

Best regards , Jan

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