When in Rome, Don't Do As the Romans
And sect it was -- of Judaism. As Ruden reminds us, the members of this sect were not yet calling themselves "Christians." Indeed, the term actually "started as a taunt, perhaps best translated as 'the hyped-up fans/political mob of the Anointed One" (probably said with hushed sarcasm, the way Rush says the hhhh-Rrreverend-a--Jackssson-ahhh).
Yesterday Tigtog asked the question of whether or not Jesus was literate, which of course he was. He now wants to know if the disciples were literate, for which I suppose there is no direct evidence. But since they were Jewish, there is a good chance they were. Breiner, in his Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today, writes that in the ancient world, "teaching sons was incumbent on all Jews. Though the primary concern for education was for the son, it was considered a mitzvah (good deed) if daughters were educated as well."
Breiner maintains -- and I can't vouch for his scholarship, but he cites plenty of references -- that "By the second Diaspora every Jewish male could read and write and understand the law," so that the Hebrews were "the first people in the history of mankind whose male population was 100% literate."
But that's ultimately here nor there in the case of Jesus, since Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 that the resurrected Jesus was seen by some 500 brethren, so, who at the time would have thought that writing down what they had witnessed was better evidence than having witnessed it? In the same passage, Paul says that the witnesses are beginning to die off, and he himself would be dead within a decade.
Therefore, perhaps it is no coincidence that this is when some bright follower raised his hand and said, "er, maybe we ought to write this stuff down, before the Romans kill us all?" The situation was undoubtedly made more urgent by the persecutions that began in 64 AD, when Nero decided to blame Christians for that big ol' fire. That greatly thinned the herd of direct witnesses, so that is when it became necessary to get it all down in writing. Just a guess.
At any rate... Say, where were we? Oh yes, preaching to the gentiles. In the past, I have posted about the vast differences between the Jews vs. the other peoples of antiquity -- especially the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It was over three years ago, so perhaps we'd better review, since there's no need for me to reinvent this wheel of karma:
Breiner devotes a chapter to the striking differences between the ancient Hebrews and some of their contemporaries with regard to the treatment of women and children. I have no doubt that the treatment of women and children is the leading edge of psychohistorical evolution, and that a culture can only develop as far as its treatment of women and children will allow.
To put it another way, the more evolved the culture, the more women and children will be valued (as women and children, I might add, thus excluding radical feminism as a philosophy that particularly values either). This variable, more than anything else, explains why the Muslim world is at the bottom of the evolutionary heap, and conversely, why the Jews have thrived everywhere they have landed, despite the most adverse circumstances.
Just look at Israel, which is persecuted by virtually everyone except the U.S. [update -- now including the U.S.], vs. the Arab world, which is persecuted by no one except themselves -- and yet, fantasizes that 15 million Jews are somehow controlling and holding down a billion or so Muslims. Madness! But if you think madness is a deviation rather than the norm, I don't see how you can understand anything of history, which is absolutely littered with similarly insane mind parasites.
It is almost impossible for us to imagine the barbarity of the ancient world -- very similar to how contemporary liberals find it impossible to comprehend the evil savagery of the Islamists with whom we are in a mortal struggle, so they instead fill the moral vacuum by fantasizing that George Bush or Dick Cheney are evil (for if your moral compass is so broken that you cannot recognize evil, you will hate something that is not evil, which is why the left is at war with so much that is good, e.g., the Boy Scouts, the ROTC, "traditional" marriage [which is to say, marriage], racial equality, school vouchers, our healthcare system, etc.).
In all other ancient lands, the abuse of women and children, including infanticide, was common. Breiner notes, for example, that On, the King of the Swedes, sacrificed nine of his ten sons in the belief that it would prolong his life. Think about it. It was if the entire ancient world consisted of Palestinians who think that murdering children will lead to their own salvation.
Surely it is no coincidence, therefore, that the story of the Jews as a people begins with the motif of child sacrifice. The story of Abraham and Isaac allows us to assume that, up to that time, the ancient Hebrews were just as barbaric as any other ancient people. This biblical story preserves one of the truly shocking and unexpected “right turns” in human history -- when something caused us to empathize with the sacrificial victim and lay down the knife. Not that it wasn’t a struggle afterwards. The Bible chronicles many instances of backsliding and regression, which gives it even more of a ring of authenticity. The struggle against absuing children was (and is) very real.
But the benefits were obvious. For the first time in history, Jews were also able to intuit the one God. Not only that, but he was a just and loving God. Other primitive peoples lived in the psychological fragmentation of polytheism. In my opinion, they did not know God because they could not know God. Early childhood trauma leads to what is called “borderline personality structure,” in which the mind is subject to vertical splitting and the inability to maintain psychological unity and coherence. Therefore, primitive polytheism was actually an indirect measure of child abuse and the psychological fragmentation and projection that occur as a consequence.
Note as well that the gods of ancient Greece and Rome were arbitrary, selfish, and narcissistic, and even got a kick out of lording it over the little humans. They were suspiciously simlar to abusive and uncaring parents. It would never have occurred to anyone that they were either lovable or loving. A psychospiritual breakthrough was required in order for that to happen.
I see a direct relationship between the Hebrews' increased empathy toward children and the new sense of having an intimate relationship with a benevolent God who took a deep and abiding interest in them, instead of having to live in fear of a multitude of arbitrary and self-absorbed gods.
Again, we are not comparing the ancient Hebrews to modern peoples but to their own contemporaries in the ancient world, and by that standard, they were mohels ahead of the package. Marriage began to be viewed as a sacred institution composed of two individuals who were in the image and likeness of God.
Here again, this cannot be separated from issues of developmental psychology. One will not be capable of a stable and loving marriage so long as one lives with the psychological fragmentation produced by vertical splitting. It is no coincidence that the “one loving God” was discovered at roughly the same time that it became possible to conceive of a monogamous, loving, companionate marriage between two equals.
Breiner notes (and Ruden confirms this) that the women of ancient Greece were essentially slaves. A wife’s function was to “look after the household and produce children -- preferably boys.” While courtesans -- who were used for pleasure rather than procreation -- could be educated, wives were illiterate.
Similar to Islamic societies today, the ancient Greeks “viewed men as sane and stable while women were considered mad, hysterical, and possibly dangerous and destructive to men.” Furthermore, “a woman’s freedom was severely restricted” and she was without power. “A man could sell his daughter or sister into concubinage if he wished.” Children of concubines were simply “aborted, killed or sold into slavery.”
At the time of Pericles in the late 5th century BC, out of a population of 400,000, only 14,240 people had full civil rights. The rest were women, children, slaves of varying degrees. Unwanted and "imperfect" children were simply exposed on a mountainside to die. “In all the Greek cities except Thebes the father had the right to kill his child at birth without question. In all cities except Athens the father could sell his children to slave dealers.” Female infanticide was the norm. Like China today, very few families raised more than one daughter. Even then, girls were given inferior food and no education.
Breiner feels that the revulsion towards women was at the basis of Greek male homosexuality. Can you think of a better explanation? The fashionable modern idea -- a fine example of leftist anti-scientific magical thinking, by the way -- is that homosexuality is purely “genetic” and not subject to environmental influences. If so, how does one account for the prevalence of Ancient Greek homosexuality? “It was considered quite proper for the young men of Athens to engage sexually with older men, and most did.” “Merchants would import handsome boys to be sold to the highest bidder”; these boys would “be first used as concubines and later as slaves.” (Ruden goes into more detail of the true horror of male pederasty in the ancient world; it makes NAMBLA look humane.)
Breiner speculates that “homosexual pederasty was so universal in Greek society” because it was “a means of ‘rescuing’ the male child from the perceived dangers of women...” “Boy brothels flourished in every city and a child prostitute could be rented, even at the height of Athenian culture... A freeborn child might see his father having sexual relations with a child his own age who was a slave."
In this context, the evolution of so-called "homophobia" by the ancient Hebrews was clearly an advance, not a regression, as it particularly benefitted women and children. Here again, Ruden says much the same thing vis-a-vis Paul's condemnation of homosexuality. At the time, there was no such thing as a homosexuality that wasn't cruel, aggressive, sadistic, and exploitative. Love had nothing to do with it.
I don’t even have time to get into the pervasive human and animal sacrifice. “Human life was considered so short and cheap that there was little concern about killing. When a town was captured the men were automatically killed or sold into slavery and the women were taken as concubines or slaves.” Traits such as “gentleness, kindness, industry, honesty, and integrity were scorned as effeminate and inferior.”
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Obviously, human beings were desperately in need of a vertical intervention to save them from the hell on earth they had created. All of us continue to benefit everyday from that little sliver of light that miraculously opened up in a world of infrahuman darkness.