I have never heard this reported by CBC OR CTV or Canadian News except our trusty NATIONAL POST of course. Does anyone wonder why this is not news? Why is this an ignorable obliteration of learning?? Of course we know the answer is that the pro-islamist terrorist news media in Canada and half the western liberal leftist news wishes to pretend all of Islam is moderate as they think they are. Of course we are all learning how the liberal left is so partisan that if you call the slaughter of the unborn wrong you may not be allowed to say your point of view in the Universities of our country, well actually you may not have a different point of view in your personal life or in your religion and get a lawyers degree, well unless you are a muslim terrorist then that is alright but liberals forbid you are a Christian…oh no they are not that liberal are they…they are liberal bigots now these lawyers and our courts and justice system who cannot tolerate the religions of Christianity or Judaiism?? Talk about burning books…these Liberals in Canada can burn the Christian ones in their courts and in their lawyers and in their minds while the madmen of Islam are now burning them in Iraq as they burned the libraries of Constantinople though of course the modern pro-Islamist scholars say they did not and of course accuse the Christians or Catholics of doing so??? What would we expect today? Who would we believe today? Well doing research we can find that there were a lot of people burning temples or books or librairies but the modern pro-Islamist scholars only look at the door of the Christians which I find a curious fascist type of expression of their leftist Islamist bigotry. Hitler did the same thing burning everything Jewish and destroying all the things that did not fit into his ideology. So I have looked up this disturbing behaviour and found a lot of history suggesting a more realistic view of who the bigots are at the time like today the burning of books is definitely related to the head lopping and slaughters of the Islamic terrorists today but the Islamist have not always burned books as has the Christians not always burned books or have the Romans not always burned books.
Unfortunately we are in a day of what I believe are the final days of the Islamist Beast Deterioration of an Empire of aggressors who will not learn from the History of the world because they have been busy changing and revising everyone’s history by imputing their own Islamism into all of it.
Never call the truth a lie or a lie the truth or evil, good or good, evil. or right, wrong or wrong, right. It is the beginning of a long road down to a pit of evil. Debauchery and hatred, slaughter and rape, ignorance and destruction of civilizations are always the reaping of this terrible fall of humanity!
You can read the whole of the research done by Glenn Miller at his site I have put here.
This library was burned down by Amr bin Aas at the behest of the Second Caliph, Umar. The story goes to state that Amr fed the numerous bath furnaces of the city with the volumes of the Alexandrian library. The story also relates the oft-quoted remark allegedly made by Caliph Umar (ruled: 634-644) when he consented to the destruction of the library, “If these writing of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved; if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed”. It was, the story continues, thereupon, decided that the books were contrary to the Quran and the whole library was burned down without even opening the books.
Equating the burning of Alexandria Library with that of Nazi policy, Joseph Barnabas writes, “the arguments of Caliph Umar and the Nazi book burning are not without explanations.”1 A Hindutva theorist, B.N. Jog, was more emphatic and clear: “Many people are surprised that Caliph Umar burnt down the huge and rich library of Constantinople. The urge for him to do so was, however, provided by his religion.”
- The pre-Constantine church did NOT do ‘burnings’ or destruction of classical works and/or libraries.
The pre-Constantine situation generally precluded any such ‘censorship’ by the persecuted church. The church of the 1st and 2nd centuries had no such ‘power’ and was busy expanding its own literature and presence. We have no data whatsoever about major library destructions–much less those perpetrated by Christians. (The case of the famous library of Alexandria we will discuss below.)
- The early church leaders widely and favorably used classical works in their writings, maintained them in their personal libraries, and made attempts to preserve them.
One has only to look at the works cited and the library holdings of some of the early writers to see how some of the intelligentsia of the early church embraced the classics.
First let’s note some general observations/summaries by scholars:
By the second century, however, the most vocal among this minority were writing in defense of Christianity and addressing themselves to educated pagans. To do this, they needed at least the forms and styles of classical literature. As church doctrine was expanded, Christian writers came to rely on the discipline and vocabulary of ancient philosophy, and then to recognize that many of the ideas had considerable value.” [ME:44]
From the time of Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria, the Christian programme had been to accept and uphold the positive value of the best Greek philosophy” (CTEC:153)
Christian writers from the middle to the end of the second century–Justin, Clement, Irenaeus, and Tertullian, to name only major figures–knew and used a great many texts, scriptural and nonscriptural, Christian and non-Christian…(BREC:152)
“During the 4th century the most creative and talented people in the empire were drawn to Christianity, and educated upper-class Romans began entering the church in large numbers. These were people who were not ready, or even able, to forsake Athens because they had come to Jerusalem.” [ME:44]
Among those scholars and teachers who converted to Christianity–men like Justin in the second century, Cyprian in the third, and Augustine in the fourth–pagan literature would have constituted the original stock of their libraries, to which Christian literature was added. (BREC:176
- The post-Constantine church was NOT responsible for the burning of the famous main library at Alexandria.
These invasions created most of the following forces that account for the disappearance of masses of mss. in the West.
- The materials were very fragile and perished quickly.: “Because papyrus paper was an extremely fragile material, Latin manuscripts–rare exceptions aside–have been lost. There are even fewer Latin manuscripts than Greek manuscripts…This continued to be true up until…the fourth and especially the fifth centuries.” (HPW:61) [Note–this is BEFORE any Christian Emperor tries to suppress paganism!]
- The destruction of the classical works and libraries of the ancient world was the result of accidental fires, neglect, the barbarian invasions, de-urbanization, and the destruction of the educational system/public records systems by those invasions.
If the Christians didn’t destroy all the classical literature, then how DID it seem to disappear?
First of all, we need to point out that they did NOT disappear–“Thus it can be seen that the great writings of the classical era, particularly those of Greece, were never completely lost to the western world. They were always available to the Byzantines, and to those western peoples in cultural and diplomatic contact with the Eastern Empire. However, during most of the Middle Ages these contacts were few and tenuous, and, for all practical purposes, scarcely significant.” (HLWW:75). ( It should be noted that the Byzantine empire was a “Christian” empire, that treasured and preserved classical literature.)
The main destructive forces in the West in this arena were NOT the church, but the vast amount of “barbarian” invasions of Western Europe.
- The 1st Germanic kingdom within the Empire was founded by the Visigoths, who sacked Rome in 410ad [ME:37]
- The 2nd Germanic kingdom was established by the Vandals in N. Africa in 429. They marched/destroyed through Gaul and Spain on the way to N. Africa [ME:38]
- The disruption of order: Muslims (invaded Sicily in 827 from N. Africa), Vikings (invaded Eng 787, Franks 840-911), Magyars (related to the Huns, east Frankish devastation, end of 9th century) [ME:139-141;MMA:199-200]
- The invasions themselves destroyed public records and urban libraries. Roman legal archives were burned by the Gauls in 390bc (but probably reconstructed). [HPW:85]
- The West soon lost the ability to work in Latin and Greek, and thus the preservation of the culture and literature based on those languages was at risk.: “The period after St. Augustine is marked not only by the almost universal disappearance of a knowledge of Greek, and a steady change in the type of Latin used, but also by a great decline in intellectual culture.” [MMA:183-184] By 800 Latin had ceased to be a spoken language except among the clergy. [MMA:183]
- The Western institutional church–although considerably uneven in its estimates of the value of various classical authors–nevertheless had a number of individuals and institutions that almost single-handedly preserved the classical works that we enjoy today. The system of patronage, protecting classical scholars and texts also played a role in this.
There were several situations where the Christian leaders (above) were funded and protected by royalty (esp. the ‘barbarian’ royalty).
The Eastern institutional church preserved the major mass of Greek mss. that was used to ‘fuel’ the Renaissance in Western Europe.
The Eastern empire preserved the Greek classics, and passed those classics back to Western Europe and over to Islam (who also passed them to W.E.).
- The Eastern empire began with outstanding libraries: Constantine’s, the University, and the Church Patriarch (HLWW:72-73), and maintained most of that culture until the 15-16th centuries (HLWW:71).
- Throughout its history, the East fed mss. back to the West. Examples include:
- The Irishman John Scotus Erigena (d.877) translated works sent from Byz. to French rulers! [MMA:196-197]
- Pope Gregory (590-604) borrowed works from Constantinople (HLWW:97)
- “Charlemagne, for example, obtained copies of books from the Imperial Library at Constantinople for his palace library at Aachen.” (HLWW:75).
The pre-Constantine church was the victim of a thorough-going Christian book burning campaign by the Roman Emperors.
- “The writings of Christians were suppressed by most of the emperors before Constantine” [HLWW:66); list of persecutions below from ACH:87]
- Nero (54-68)
- Domitian (81-96)
- Marcus Aurelius (161-180)
- Septimius Severus (193-211; up to a point)
- Maximinius I Thrax (235-8; up to a point)
- Trajanus Decius (249-251)
- Valerian (253-260)
- The “Great Persecution” under Diocletian, Galerius, and Maximinus II Daia (303-313)
- What we end up with is the seemingly odd pattern that the classical works were ‘moved’ just at the right time to be ‘preserved’; and that church-based institutions arose just at the right time to allow access to the basic contours of classical culture throughout this period. The Christian church, then, was THE major factor in the preservation of classical culture–and NOT the “enemy thereof”.
- The vast majority of the censorship/book burnings of the later church were insubstantial–either symbolic or directed at non-classical works.
- As noted above, Islam was dependent on the Byzantine empire and on the Nestorian Christians for their access to the classics (see above, and also HLWW:78: “(In addition to the mss. from the Nestorian Christians at Nisibus)…Moslems also obtained Greek works from Constantinople through regular trade channels and captured others in their various wars with the Eastern Empire”).
- When they conquered Constantinople, they did as much book-damage as any Christian raid ever did (HLWW:76).
- The Islamic empire flourished for about 300 years, and was a book-looking society. They built immense libraries, rivaling even those of Constant. (HLWW:80-82).
- But their story is similar to that of the West:
Unfortunately, the story of Islamic libraries is all too similar to that of their predecessors in the classical era; they, too, ended in wholesale destruction. Many Moslem libraries suffered in civil wars and in the decline of interest in learning under various rulers at different times. Religious dissension often resulted in conquests that brought on destruction of books relating to the history and beliefs of particular Moslem sects. When Saladin, a Sunnite Moslem, conquered Egypt in 1175, a country where the Shi’ite Moslems had been in power, he is reported to have destroyed whole libraries and distributed the finer works to his victorious followers. After 1100, reactionaries gained control in most of the eastern Moslem world, and the fortunes of Moslem libraries declined sharply.” (HLWW:84)
- The greatest destruction to Moslem libraries resulted from the raids of the Mongols in the 13th century. The hordes of Genghis Kahn and Halagu Khan destroyed the major population centers of Islam–including Baghdad (HLWW:84-85), destroying libraries and killing scholars/students.
- “But what was the effect of that Moslem civilization on the western world and particularly on the libraries of the western world? Since much of their literature was lost, the effect was not as great as if the libraries had been preserved. However, the Islamic libraries, almost as much as those of Constantinople, were a connecting link between the learning of classical Greece and the cultural development of western Europe.” (HLWW:85).
The point is that Islam preserved works that Christians had already preserved (in Constantinople and Nisibis). They did play a part in filtering some of that back into the Western world (largely via Spain), before they suffered their ‘dim ages’ at the hands of Invaders.
Summary: The relative numerical ‘advantage’ of New Testament manuscripts over their classical ‘rivals’ turns out to NOT be due to Christian destruction of libraries or book collections. Rather, it was largely through the efforts of commited Christians that the classical traditions survived to this day.
glenn miller, 8/2/96 http://christianthinktank.com/qburnbx.html