Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, April 19, 1917:
NOTES BY TRANSLATORNote 1. Julian had received a strict Christian education; during his internment in Cappadocia he began to doubt the validity of Christianity and when sent to Athens in 354, the intellectual centre of Greece, he secretly abandoned Christian beliefs. His treatise “Against the Galileans” (referred to here) summarizes his polemical arguments against Christianity. Briefly they are as follows: Knowledge of God is natural to man and does not come by teaching. The story of Eden in the Old Testament is a fable and the account of Creation is inferior to that of Plato. The idea of a jealous God and a chosen people is unacceptable. The Mosaic law is barbarous; the Decalogue common to all nations. No man is better for reading the Jewish scriptures. The New Testament is full of inconsistencies. Matthew and Luke disagree on the genealogy of Jesus. Peter and Paul were hypocrites. Matt. IV, 5, is illogical and in Luke XXII, 42-47, since the disciples were asleep, who could have told him the story of the angel? The Christians were fanatics and cheerfully massacred heretics. By contrast the Greeks were mild and forbearing, they were superior in wisdom and intelligence. Christianity has achieved little or nothing in the fields of science, astronomy, arithmetic and music. The achievements of Plato, Socrates, Aristides, Thales, Lycurgus, Agesilaus and Archedemus, the Sibyls, the Delphic Oracle and the pagan Mysteries surpassed anything that Christianity had to offer.The formal refutation of Julian's treatise was “Pro Christiana Religione” composed between A.D. 429 and 441 by Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria.Note 2. Manichaeism and Augustine. Augustine (A.D. 345–410), an African by birth, was a Manichaean for ten years. He became dissatisfied with Manichaeism and when Faustus, a leader of the sect, failed to resolve his doubts he abandoned Manichaean teachings. (See Confessions, Books IV and V.) Augustine repaired to Rome where he was converted by St. Ambrose in A.D. 386. His chief works were directed against the Manichaeans, e.g. Books against the Manichaeans and On the Utility of Believing. The Scriptures were a means to faith and hope and the Canon was the testimony of Christianity in the Church. His dictum, “Better a man's body be destroyed than his soul” leads to the Inquisition. When Christianity became the State religion he distinguished between “Civitas Dei”, which was perfect and in which all men were equal in the sight of God, and “Civitas terrena”, which of necessity was imperfect. It was the devil's domain where sinful men had to submit to the authorities. Augustine was the founder of Western monasticism and monastic spirituality and exercised considerable influence on Pascal, Fenelon and Port Royal. On Manichaeism in general, see F. C. Burkitt, Religion of the Manichees 1925) and H. C. Puesch, Le Manicheisme, son fondateur, sa doctrine (1949).Note 3. Liberal theology. The chief representatives of Liberal Protestant theology in the nineteenth century were Bauer, founder of the Tübingen school of New Testament research, and Ritschl (1822–89) who rejected metaphysics and mysticism and developed an objective and scientific method of research. The great exponent of the Ritschl school was A. von Harnack (1851–1930) whose History of Dogma and What is Christianity? are regarded as monuments of liberal historiography. Harnack eschewed metaphysical speculation, perfected the scientific-historical method and emphasized the need for source study and the faithful representation of facts. “The Gospel about Jesus does not belong to the Gospel preached by Jesus”, said Harnack. Radical historical research led to Bultmann's “demythologization”, the attempt to liberate the Church's teaching from the mythological language in which it is expressed. Myths, he said, need reinterpretation in terms of modern consciousness. The other burning question of the nineteenth century was: is the Gospel true and how can we know that it is true? Drews, Jensen and Kalthoff in Germany, J. M. Robertson, W. B. Smith and T. A. Jackson in England claimed that the Christ figure was a copy of the cult-god of pagan beliefs under another name.Note 4. Drach (1791–1865) studied at various Talmudic Schools and was converted to Christianity, 1823. He went to Rome and was appointed librarian of propaganda.