“Why were you so ungrateful to our gods as to desert them for the Jews?”
—Julian (addressing the Christians)
Below, excerpts from the remains of the book by Julian the Apostate (Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 C.E.), Against the Galileans. Remains I say, because the totalitarian Church did not even respect the writings of one of their emperors if the emperor himself dared to criticize Christianity!
About the literary remains of Against the Galileans, Hitler said: “The book that contains the reflections of the Emperor Julian should be circulated in millions. What wonderful intelligence, what discernment, all the wisdom of antiquity! It’s extraordinary.”
Julian only reigned twenty months. In 364, his friend Libanius stated that Julian had been assassinated by a Christian. The Roman Emperor had written (ellipsis omitted between unquoted passages):
Now I will only point out that Moses himself and the prophets who came after him and Jesus the Nazarene, yes and Paul also, who surpassed all the magicians and charlatans of every place and every time, assert that [Yahweh] is the god of Israel alone and of Judaea, and that the Jews are his chosen people.
Though in Paul’s case this is strange. For according to circumstances he keeps changing his views about god, as the polypus changes its colours to match the rocks, and now he insists that the Jews alone are god’s portion, and then again, when he is trying to persuade the Hellenes to take sides with him, he says: “Do not think that he is the god of Jews only, but also of Gentiles: yea of Gentiles also.”
Now of the dissimilarity of language Moses has given a wholly fabulous explanation. For he said that the sons of men came together intending to build a city, and a great tower therein, but that god said that he must go down and confound their languages.
And then you demand that we should believe this account, while you yourselves disbelieve Homer’s narrative of the Aloadae, namely that they planned to set three mountains one on another, “that so the heavens might be scaled.” For my part I say that this tale is almost as fabulous as the other. But if you accept the former, why in the name of the Gods do you discredit Homer’s fable?
For I suppose that to men so ignorant as you I must say nothing about the fact that, even if all men throughout the inhabited world ever employ one speech and one language, they will not be able to build a tower that will reach to the heavens, even though they should turn the whole earth into bricks. For such a tower will need countless bricks each one as large as the whole earth, if they are to succeed in reaching to the orbit of the moon.
Why do we vainly trouble ourselves about and worship one [the god of the Jews] who takes no thought for us? For is it fitting that he who cared nothing for our lives, our characters, our manners, our good government, our political constitution, should still claim to receive honour at our hands?
Certainly not. You see to what an absurdity your doctrine comes. For of all the blessings that we behold in the life of man, those that relate to the soul come first, and those that relate to the body are secondary. If, therefore, he paid no heed to our spiritual blessings, neither took thought for our physical conditions, and moreover, did not send to us teachers or lawgivers as he did for the Hebrews, such as Moses and the prophets who followed him, for what shall we properly feel gratitude to him?
For you would be worshipping one god instead of many, not a man, or rather many wretched men [the Hebrew people in the Bible]. And though you would be following a law that is harsh and stern and contains much that is savage and barbarous, instead of our mild and humane laws, and would in other respects be inferior to us, yet you would be more holy and purer than now in your forms of worship.
But now it has come to pass that like leeches you have sucked the worst blood from that [Jewish] source and left the purer. Yet Jesus, who won over the least worthy of you, has been known by name for but little more than three hundred years: and during his lifetime he accomplished nothing worth hearing of, unless anyone thinks that to heal crooked and blind men and to exorcise those who were possessed by evil demons in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany can be classed as a mighty achievement.
As for purity of life you do not know whether he so much as mentioned it; but you emulate the rages and the bitterness of the Jews, overturning temples and altars, and you slaughtered not only those of us who remained true to the teachings of their fathers, but also men who were as much astray as yourselves, “heretics,” because they did not wail over the corpse [the dead Jesus] in the same fashion as yourselves.
But these are rather your own doings; for nowhere did either Jesus or Paul hand down to you such commands. The reason for this is that they never even hoped that you would one day attain to such power as you have.
Why were you so ungrateful to our Gods as to desert them for the Jews?
But if this that I assert is the truth, point out to me among the Hebrews a single general like Alexander or Caesar! You have no such man. Further, as regards the constitution of the state and the fashion of the law-courts, the administration of cities and the excellence of the laws, progress in learning and the cultivation of the liberal arts, were not all these things in a miserable and barbarous state among the Hebrews? What kind of healing art has ever appeared among the Hebrews, like that of Hippocrates among the Hellenes, and of certain other schools that came after him?
Consider therefore whether we are not superior to you in every single one of these things, I mean in the arts and in wisdom and intelligence; and this is true, whether you consider the useful arts or the imitative arts whose end is beauty, such as the statuary’s art, painting, or household management, and the art of healing derived from Asclepius.
For if any man should wish to examine into the truth concerning you, he will find that your impiety is compounded of the rashness of the Jews and the indifference and vulgarity of the Gentiles. Nay, it is from the new-fangled teaching of the Hebrews that you have seized upon this blasphemy of the Gods who are honoured among us; but the reverence for every higher nature, characteristic of our religious worship, combined with the love of the traditions of our forefathers, you have cast off.
And let us begin with the teaching of Moses, who himself also, as they claim, foretold the birth of Jesus that was to be. For the words “A prophet shall the lord your god raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; to him shall ye hearken,” were certainly not said of the son of Mary. And the words “ The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a leader from his loins,” were most certainly not said of the son of Mary, but of the royal house of David, which, you observe, came to an end with King Zedekiah. And certainly the Scripture can be interpreted in two ways when it says “until there comes what is reserved for him,” but you have wrongly interpreted it “until he comes for whom it is reserved.”
It is very clear that not one of these sayings relates to Jesus; for he is not even from Judah. How could he be when according to you he was not born of Joseph but of the holy spirit? For though in your genealogies you trace Joseph back to Judah, you could not invent even this plausibly. For Matthew and Luke are refuted by the fact that they disagree concerning his genealogy.
You are so misguided that you have not even remained faithful to the teachings that were handed down to you by the apostles. And these also have been altered, so as to be worse and more impious, by those who came after. At any rate neither Paul nor Matthew nor Luke nor Mark ventured to call Jesus god. But the worthy John, since he perceived that a great number of people in many of the towns of Greece and Italy had already been infected by this disease, John, I say, was the first to venture to call Jesus god.
However this evil doctrine did originate with John; but who could detest as they deserve all those doctrines that you have invented as a sequel, while you keep adding many corpses newly dead [the martyrs] to the corpse of long ago?