Posted by: ken98 | May 10, 2010

Glorious Sufferers, Arian Ruin, and Visigothic Jew-Hating

Day 242 – Ken here (M)(5-10-2010)
(DEF II, v.3, ch.37 pp.440-450)(pages read: 1540)

Feeling very tired and sick, but still, very happy at FINALLY getting through yet another chapter of Gibbon-religion (the occasional chapters Gibbon throws in on Christianity – we have a couple more in the next 3 volumes – not looking forward to it). I’m a little tired, so this is a little wordy, but hopefully not totally unintelligible – bear with me…

We end chapter 37 (blessedly) today with the miracles and frauds of the Catholic Imperial Church, and the conversion of the barbarian nations to Catholic (Nicene, Tritheist) faith (repudiating Arianism). Gibbon ends with a small aside on Jews in early Visigothic Spain. Gibbon gives his typical, long, florid sections of praise for doctrine that (eventually) was inherited by the Protestant Anglican Church, and denigrates (in general) the Catholic Church.

It’s a tricky operation – especially for a man of the Enlightenment (dedicated to reason) who is writing (and participating) in the beginning of serious Critical Biblical scholarship (treating the Bible as a historical document and attempting to trace the history of its text, and its meaning both internally and externally). Poor Gibbon. It all ends up pretty muddy and confusing. Add to it his (my thesis) need to buttress up his reputation in the Upper Classes of the British Isles by generously supporting current 18th century cultural Anglican Christianity, and Gibbon ends up biting and snapping at Christian belief in one paragraph, and giving himself over to almost embarrassing purple devotional prose in the next. It makes for a difficult 10 pages to read – without getting purple in the face yourself.

I won’t even touch the small page on the Visigothic Jewish persecution (p.449) where Gibbon (predictably) paints all Jews as rich, absolutely passive trader/financiers who brought persecution on themselves (by being rich), and who (when physically forced into the baptismal font) were wont to renege on their sacred oaths and go back to their (erroneous) beliefs. The Jews, of course, were responsible for the downfall of the entire Visigothic kingdom in Spain in 711 when the Muslims invaded (Gibbon throws this out in an aside as if it were an established fact). Suffice it to say that similar to the rest of the empire, hatred of Jews was becoming a fashionable prejudice to add to your spiritual portfolio in both the Imperial Churches and the Barbarian Churches. About the best you can say is that Christians of the later empire didn’t treat their own “Christian heretics” with any more gentleness, love, or mercy than they treated their “permanent heretics” (the Jews). But, Like I said, sometimes a little hard to get through at times.

So…

On we go..

The Story
 
Miracles and Frauds
 
  • FRAUDS: Catholics add many words centuries after the fact to the Bible verse I John 5:7 – Gibbon is INCENSED – the anti-Catholic Gibbon in full force
  • MIRACLES: Catholics get their tongues ripped out and right hands cut off in the beautiful town of Tipasa (see below – Glorious Sufferers) – YET continue to speak plainly – and the Sufferers appear all over the empire – Gibbon is all for the Pro-Nicene Creed people here
  •  

    Conversion of the Arians (to the Nicene Creed) among the Barbarians (500-700)
     
  • the Visigoths convert when their prince (Recared) converts (586-589) – this is way way way in our future – like 120 years away – so Spain is Arian for almost 200 years, then Catholic for a 100, then Muslim for 700 (starting in 711), then Catholic again (1492)
  • the Franks converted already to the Nicene creed
  • The Lombards (who invade Italy in the later 500’s) were Arian, they convert in the 600’s
  • Now all barbarian-successor nations are Nicene Creed (Tritheist)
  •  

    Persecution of the Jews in Spain (612-712)
     
  • Gibbon traces the Jewish Diaspora to Hadrian’s war in the 130’s – I think Jews were spread over the empire before then – but the 130’s is a long, long time before 612 – 500 years.
  • Jews = rich = bring persecution on themselves. Gibbon makes the thesis that as the barbarian nations converted to the Nicene creed, and paganism disappeared, the only “heretics” available for persecution became, by definition, the Jews
  • He offhandedly notes that the Jews handed over the Spanish kingdom (Visigoths) to the Muslims in 711 when the Berbers invaded. Really? Even the slightest historical research makes that thesis on a par with Attila’s invasion of Western Europe only caused by an empress “inviting” the Huns in. The ease with which Gibbon allows the “conspiracy” theories of Jews to enter into his “rational” history is unsettling. You always have to read Gibbon with one eye open and kept firmly fixed on his own peculiar cultural and personal prejudices
  •  
     

     

    Photo of Tipasa (Tisalli, Algeria).  In a strange twist of fate, the home-town of the Glorious Sufferers (Catholics who spoke without having tongues - the Arian Vandals ripped them out during persecution), is one of the best preserved Roman cities of North Africa and is a World Heritage Site.  Who knew?

    Photo of Tipasa (Tasilli, Algeria). In a strange twist of fate, the home-town of the Glorious Sufferers (Catholics who spoke without having tongues - the Arian Vandals ripped them out during persecution), is one of the best preserved Roman cities of North Africa and is a World Heritage Site. Who knew?

    Who Is This Man, and Where Have You Hidden Gibbon? The Glorious Sufferers of Tipasa (Tassili, Algeria)
     

    Continuing with the schizophrenia theory of Gibbon’s prose in support of Christianity, we come to the account of the “Glorious Sufferers.” These Catholics (natives of the African town of Tipasa) refused to become anything other than Catholics – persecuted by Donatists and Arians alike. Eventually, with the advent of the Vandals (militant Arians all), the remnants of the town who remained (most had fled to Spain to escape persecution by now) were ordered to the central plaza, their tongues ripped out and their right hands cut off. But they continued to speak plainly.

    This miracle supported the Catholic cause (well, per Gibbon – actually to the Late Roman mind, miracles were a dime a dozen – practiced by pagans, heretics, and Catholics alike – it was only the “Powers” that differed – miracles by a heretics/pagans were “powered” by demons, miracles by true-believers were “powered” by God and the Holy Spirit. Of course, determining who was a heretic, a pagan, and a true-believer involved other means other than miracles – mainly the religious convictions of those who controlled the armies controlling your neighborhood: true belief = those with armies).

    Some of the Sufferers apparently lost the power of speech through “fornication”. Is that like going blind by overly-frequent self-abuse? I’m sure we’re mired deep in cultural misunderstandings at this point. Gibbon (from the late 1700’s Enlightenment) is quoting sources from the 1600’s (the Reformation/Counter-Reformation) quoting sources from the 500’s (Time of Justinian – the re-conquering of North Africa from the Vandals for the Empire) who were relating events from the 400’s (Imperial Catholics persecuted by the Vandals). Who knows what the original witnesses were really describing, lost in this tangled spaghetti-like mish-mash of cultural assumptions and (probable) mis-translations.

    But…

    Gibbon seems to be believing this, or at least offering it up to debate, or writing with such heavy irony that it would be next to impossible to figure out (in this massive 3000 page history of Rome) when Gibbon is being serious, and when Gibbon is writing tongue-in-cheek. I’m voting for the mild schizophrenia theory – together with the saying-it-for-political-spin-reasons theory – I think he did it just to get the political right off his back.

    This from Gibbon on the Glorious Sufferers of Tapasa:

    The example of fraud must excite suspicion: and the specious miracles by which the African catholics have defended the truth and justice of their cause may described, with more reason, to their own industry than to the visible protection of Heaven. Yet the historian who views his religious conflict with an impartial eye may condescend to mention one preternatural event, which will edify the devout and surprise the incredulous.

    Tipasa, a maritime colony of Mauritania, sixteen miles to the east of Caearea, had been distinguished in every age by the orthodox zeal of its inhabitants. They had braved the fury of the Donatists; they resisted or eluded the tyranny of the Arians. The town was deserted on the approach of an heretical bishop; most of the inhabitants who could procure ships passed over to the coast of Spain; and the unhappy remnant, refusing all communion with the usurper, still presumed to hold their pious, but illegal, assemblies. Their disobedience exasperated the cruelty of Hunneric.

    A military count was despatched from Carthage to Tipasa: he collected the catholics in the Forum, and, in the presence of the whole province, deprived the guilty of their right hands and their tongues. But the holy confessors continued to speak without tongues; and this miracle is attested by Victor, an African bishop, who published an history of the persecution within two years after the event.

    “If any one,” says Victor, “should doubt of the truth, let him repair to Constantinople, and listen to the clear and perfect language of Restitutus, the subdeacon, one of these glorious sufferers, who is now lodged in the palace of the emperor Zeno, and is respected by the devout empress.” At Constantinople we are astonished to find a cool, a learned, and unexceptionable witness, without interest, and without passion. Aeneas of Gaza, a Platonic philosopher, has accurately described his own observations on these African sufferers. “I saw them myself: I heard them speak: I diligently inquired by what means such an articulate voice could be formed without any organ of speech: I used my eyes to examine the report of my ears: I opened their mouth, and saw that the whole tongue had been completely torn away by the roots; an operation which the physicians generally suppose to be mortal.”

    The testimony of Aeneas of Gaza might be confirmed by the superfluous evidence of the emperor Justinian, in a perpetual edict; of Count Marcellinus, in his Chronicle of the times; and of pope Gregory the First, who had resided at Constantinople as the minister of the Roman pontiff. (125) They all lived within the compass of a century; and they all appeal to their personal knowledge or the public notoriety for the truth of a miracle which was repeated in several instances, displayed on the greatest theatre of the world, and submitted during a series of years to the calm examination of the senses.

    This supernatural gift of the African confessors, who spoke without tongues, will command the assent of those, and of those only, who already believe that their language was pure and orthodox. But the stubborn mind of an infidel is guarded by secret, incurable suspicion; and the Arian, or Socinian, who has seriously rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, will not be shaken by the most plausible evidence of an Athanasian miracle.

    and this from the footnote:

    Note 125
    Justinian. Codex, 1. i. tit. xxvii. [leg. 1]; Marcellin. in Chron. p. 45, in Thesaur. Temporum Scaliger; Procopius, de Bell. Vandal. l. i. c. 8, p. 196 [ed. Par.; tom. i. p. 345, ed. Bonn]; Gregor. Magnus, Dialog. iii. 32. None of these witnesses have specified the number of the confessors, which is fixed at sixty in an old menology (apud Ruinart, p. 486). Two of them lost their speech by fornication; but the miracle is enhanced by the singular instance of a boy who had never spoken before his tongue was cut out.

    (DEF II, v.3, ch.37, p.443-444, fn.125)

    Photo of reconstructed Roman amphitheater at Tipasa (Algeria) - hometown of the miraculous tongue-less speakers called Glorious Sufferers (by Gibbon) - a very beautiful place - but 1600 years ago the site of riots and torture

    Photo of a reconstruction of a Roman amphitheater at Tipasa (Algeria) - hometown of the miraculous tongue-less speakers called Glorious Sufferers (by Gibbon) - a very beautiful place - but 1600 years ago the site of riots and torture


     
    Map showing the location of the well-preserved Roman town of Tipasa on the Algerian coast.  It was famous for other (miraculous) reasons in the late 400's and the 500's.

    Map showing the location of the well-preserved Roman town of Tipasa on the Algerian coast. It was famous for other (miraculous) reasons in the late 400's and the 500's.


     
     
     
     
     

     

    The Bible - literally means "the Book" in Greek - a collection of histories and letters, written by people from a certain time, gathered together by other people from later times, and altered (probably not maliciously at first) by even more people at even later times.  Arguing about words and specific phrases is a fool's game at best and a cop-out at worst.  I John 5:7 is just such an example of that

    The Bible - literally means - the Book - in Greek - a collection of histories and letters, written by people from a certain time, gathered together by other people from later times, and altered (probably not maliciously at first) by even more people at even later times. Arguing about words and specific phrases is a fool's game at best and a cop-out at worst. I John 5:7 is just such an example of that. Gibbon spends a couple of pages proving an early Catholic conspiracy in altering the Bible

     
     
     

    Last Word…
    The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions, OR Words, Words, and More Words. An Example of Why it is Foolish to Sword-Fight (Biblical-ese for Arguing Bible Verse Against Bible Verse)
     

    The moral of this story: fighting about words is a fool’s game. If you have to know Ancient Greek and Latin, have all the relevant manuscripts open and available to you, understand the history and culture of the men who wrote the Bible, and understand the history and the culture of the men who compiled the Bible – IT CAN”T BE IMPORTANT by definition in a spiritual meaning.

    The Long, Complicated, Silly History of the Single Verse I John 5:7

    Gibbon notes (in his “Catholic Frauds” section of the pages for today – he devotes 3 pages with lengthy footnotes to the whole matter of untrustworthy papists) how devious the Catholic Church was (is) – they even change the Bible to suit their purposes! As usual, Gibbon is not to be trusted in religious matters and his rampant schizophrenia (is he an Enlightened Deist Man of Reason or a hard-boiled conservative Anglican? – his predilections change from chapter to chapter and topic to topic), makes this section as difficult for a modern reader to appreciate as a late 19th century scholarly dissertation on the inherent racial/genetic inferiority of Eastern Europeans or Africans etc. It’s all a little bizarre for me.

    Here is the verse in question:

    Original manuscripts of this verse:

    For there are three that testify:
    (New American Standard Bible)

    Additions to this verse:

    For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
    (King James Bible)

    The facts are: in 1 John 5:7 the original verses in Latin and Greek is simple – a saying about three testifying which has vague allusions to courts of law, and vaguer allusions to deity. It was only a couple of words long. Then, much after the fact, the additional words appeared.

    (the following are all taken from bible.cc here

    Around the time of the 400’s and onwards, the addition of the last section which sounds like it was written for/by the Athanasian Tritheists (Catholic) Party Committee Platform – absolutely nails down the Catholic doctrine of Tritheism through the convenient method of INSERTING YOUR INTERPRETATION DIRECTLY INTO THE BIBLE. Neat, huh?

    But no, there’s more. Actually it all makes sense, in a very indirect way. In the Greek, the word three is used in the masculine (Greek nouns can be feminine, masculine, or neuter) which is strange. Why? Because three has to agree in gender and number with whatever its referring to. So… you can guess at what its referring to by looking at the gender of the noun used (in this case “three”). Usually if you’re referring to “things in general”, or to two or more things which may be either masculine or feminine you HAVE TO USE NEUTER (neuter is the catch-all category for mixed stuff – by definition three things is mixed stuff – you’ve got three, not just one). But they used masculine. Therefor, whatever the person who wrote First John was thinking about in Greek, he was thinking about three masculine things. Now this could be any 3 nouns in the language that happened to be masculine – not just people. But the INFERENCE is that it MIGHT have referred to people. If it referred to people it MIGHT HAVE BEEN the trinity. So, probably at some point, someone wrote a note (a gloss, or a margin note in the manuscript), which , in the heat of the African controversy, and the Arian persecutions (per Gibbon’s thesis) was subtly introduced into the text. The part about “and these three are one” reeks of Catholic partisanship, you have to admit (Gibbon is right on this).

    NOTE: Critical Biblical Textual Scholarship (in the sense of comparing ancient texts and trying to reconstruct more accurate versions of ancient texts from what we have today – that is: detective work in the literary sense) really did not take off until the 1700’s and much later. That is why the King James still has this verse in it with the additions, and why the American Standard Version omits the additions (see below).

    (by the way – yes, that is a .cc suffix on the end of the internet address – that is it’s the Cocos Islands (.cc), and I guess is getting popular as a way to purchase already-used domain names in the .com world, by getting them as a .cc – which makes sense, the Bible.com must have been purchased back in the early 90’s)

    And some commentaries on this verse from an online Bible:

    Scofield Reference Notes

    Margin v. 7

    It is generally agreed that v.7 has no real authority, and has been inserted. 1Jn 5:7.

    Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

    7. three-Two or three witnesses were required by law to constitute adequate testimony. The only Greek manuscripts in any form which support the words, “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness in earth,” are the Montfortianus of Dublin, copied evidently from the modern Latin Vulgate; the Ravianus, copied from the Complutensian Polyglot; a manuscript at Naples, with the words added in the Margin by a recent hand; Ottobonianus, 298, of the fifteenth century, the Greek of which is a mere translation of the accompanying Latin.

    All the old versions omit the words. The oldest manuscripts of the Vulgate omit them: the earliest Vulgate manuscript which has them being Wizanburgensis, 99, of the eighth century.

    A scholium quoted in Matthæi, shows that the words did not arise from fraud; for in the words, in all Greek manuscripts “there are three that bear record,” as the Scholiast notices, the word “three” is masculine, because the three things (the Spirit, the water, and the blood) are SYMBOLS OF THE Trinity. To this Cyprian, 196, also refers, “Of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it is written, ‘And these three are one’ (a unity).” There must be some mystical truth implied in using “three” (Greek) in the masculine, though the antecedents, “Spirit, water, and blood,” are neuter.

    That THE Trinity was the truth meant is a natural inference: the triad specified pointing to a still Higher Trinity; as is plain also from 1Jo 5:9, “the witness of God,” referring to the Trinity alluded to in the Spirit, water, and blood. It was therefore first written as a marginal comment to complete the sense of the text, and then, as early at least as the eighth century, was introduced into the text of the Latin Vulgate.

    The testimony, however, could only be borne on earth to men, not in heaven. The marginal comment, therefore, that inserted “in heaven,” was inappropriate. It is on earth that the context evidently requires the witness of the three, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, to be borne: mystically setting forth the divine triune witnesses, the Father, the Spirit, and the Son. Luecke notices as internal evidence against the words, John never uses “the Father” and “the Word” as correlates, but, like other New Testament writers, associates “the Son” with “the Father,” and always refers “the Word” to “God” as its correlate, not “the Father.” Vigilius, at the end of the fifth century, is the first who quotes the disputed words as in the text; but no Greek manuscript earlier than the fifteenth is extant with them. The term “Trinity” occurs first in the third century in Tertullian [Against Praxeas, 3].

    (taken from bible.cc here

    RECAPITULATION

    The moral of this story: fighting about words is a fool’s game. If you have to know Ancient Greek, have all the relevant manuscripts open and available to you, and understand the history and culture of the men who wrote the Bible, and the men who compiled the Bible – IT CAN”T BE IMPORTANT by definition in a spiritual meaning.

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