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Justinian was born in 482 as Petrus Sabbatius in the region we now call the Balkans. Because he was the Emperor Justin's adopted nephew, when his accession to the throne came, he was called Flavian Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus. Justinian had a great deal of power in his uncle's government from 518 onward, but he reigned as the sole emperor of the east from 527 to 565.
Like most Christian emperors since the rise of Constantine's Imperial marriage to the church, Justinian incorporated religious intolerance into the legal framework of his regime. Most had been ruthless and The age of Justinian was a very important junction in late antiquity and the early Medieval Period. Justinian achieved far reaching victories for the Nicene religious war against classical thought, Christian heterodoxy, and paganism. This was achieved by oppressive imperial decrees, government support of forced conversions, the continuation of temple destruction, and the use of imperial troops to these ends. Using troops to force a religious viewpoint on people was a habit in these times. This state enforced agenda of religious repression started by Constantine in the early fourth century made huge gains under Justinian that held its ground until the tide began to be reversed in the high middle ages. From that changing worldview came the Renaissance, the scientific revolution and the best ideas of the Enlightenment.
Justinian continued the work of Constantine and Theodosius in persecuting Christian heresy and paganism. Like most of the Christian Emperors and all of the clergy, he was convinced that the empire's stability required a empire wide conformity to the Nicene Creed. This idea is just the opposite of what had worked for a thousand Roman years. Justinian's Codex and Novella parts of the Corpus Juris Civilis were specificly designed to wipe out religious diversity and choice. They were written to secure and protect the Nicene Church with the might and law of the empire. Nicea based Christianity, which is found in every denomionation in the world, may have never have grown to its proportions without imperial might because of the popularity of paganism and other versions of Christianity. Pagans had always said that Christianity offered them nothing new; they had their virgin births, their miracles, their Godmen and their resurrections. (See Luther and Melancthon's Confession of Augsburg which is distinctly Nicene). With Justinian, it was for the good of the empire to wipe out individual choice. Ironicly, heresy means "choice". To Justinian, choice meant disorder. To the Christian emperor, individuality and freedom of conscience meant chaos. Justinian was a despot's despot.
This Nicene Roman empire required all to conform. That is totalitarianism by definition. In 523 his uncle Justin did what other emperors had done; he outlawed Arianism. Since it is believed by some that Justinian was the real power, this could be considered Justinian's first move against Arian Christianity. Scholars disagree of course. Arianism had been under attack since Constantine and the Council of Nicea. Campaigns and persecutions against Arians became widespread. Justinian was no different with regard to heresies but with one exception; Monophysitism to which his wife Theodora was an adherent. Monophysitism was never wiped out and became the foundation for major churches in Syria and North Africa. Egyptian Coptic, Ethiopian, and some Syrian churches are Monophysite and began with the denominational fracture at the Council of Chalcedon. The doctinal difference was that with these Monophysites, Christ had only one nature and it was divine. With Nicenes he had two, fully human and and fully divine. With Arians, Jesus was an annointed human messenger from God. Christ means annointed in Greek.
In this period there was an historian named Procopius. Procopius is the most important historian of the early Byzantine era. During Justinian's reign, he wrote on the wars, the building programs, the Hagia Sophia, and the problems with the racing factions that led to the Niki rebellion cited at the top of the page. But there was one book he wrote in secet which was not released until after his death. It was called The Secret History and it was all about Justinian and his wife Theodora. At the beginning of this work, Procopius puts it this way:
"You see, it was not possible, during the life of certain persons, to write the truth of what they did, as a historian should. If I had, their hordes of spies would have found out about it, and they would have put me to a most horrible death. I could not even trust my nearest relatives. That is why I was compelled to hide the real explanation of many matters glossed over in my previous books."
(Procopius quotes from the Internet Medieval Sourcebook; Procopius translation by Richard Atwater, in Procopius, Secret History, Chicago: P. Covicii; New York: Covicii Friedal, 1927)
Justinian threatened severe penalties for all other heresies but Monophysites from the start. Justinian savagely persecuted the Manicheans, the Montanists, and the Sabbatians. His inquision brought about penalties such as the loss of citizen rights, exile and death for paganism and heresy. The execution of many by burning or drowning was performed in his presence.
Procopius wrote in chapter 11 of his Secret History.
"Now among the Christians in the entire Roman Empire, there are many with dissenting doctrines, which are called heresies by the established church: such as those of the Montanists and Sabbatians, and whatever others cause the minds of men to wander from the true path. All of these beliefs he ordered to be abolished, and their place taken by the orthodox dogma: threatening, among the punishments for disobedience, loss of the heretic's right to will property to his children or other relatives."
Another of Justinian's early decrees was to order the total destruction of Hellenism, the post-Alexandrian spread of Hellenic thought. Hellenism was the later offspring of the Golden Age of Hellenic classical tradition that began centuries before Alexander. During the American Enlightenment it was termedThe Saturnian Age. An example comes from the Library of Congress online exhibits (LOC.gov). In July, 1788, the City Gazette of Charleston ran an article called "Tenth Pillar" which announced the ratification of the Constitution. It announced the return of the golden age of Saturn. In the article we can see ten pillars of classical orders holding up a roof. On the roof is Fame trumpeting the announcement. Fame is actually Pheme, the goddess of fame and report, daughter to Earth goddess Gaia. At this point, there are still three states that haven't ratified the Constitution but the 2/3 majority has been reached. Fame has a job to do! It is now a time of report and proclamation of, as our Great Seal says in Latin, the "New Order For The Ages". Another example also comes from the LOC. On August 2, 1789, the Massachusetts Centinel published an article titled "Redeunt Saturnia Regna" which heralded the return of the Saturnian Age as the eleventh pillar was raised under the Constitution. The Saturnian Age had returned as far as these people are concerned. The Golden Era of Greece and Rome that was almost extirpated and extinguished by religious and intellectual intolerance had returned. The article's illustration shows each state as an allegorically raised classical pillar which supports the Dome of the Constitution. There is a poem below it which speaks of eleven stars, eleven columns under a dome, the house that the Goddess Columbia built for Freedom, and Wisdom, Religion, Justice, Law and Peace in the return of the Saturnian Age.
During the Hellenic age there arose Olympic games and great athleticism. There arose humanism with great emphasis on arts, literature and lyrical poetry. There arose philosophical schools and traditions that founded the core of what we call a liberal arts education. There arose epics, tragedies and symbolicly stunning Greek mythologies. So stunning in symbolism that the entire architecture of Washington, DC is based on the offsprings of the Hellenic age found in Greco-Roman classicism. There arose Socrates, Plato and Aristotle who was to be one of Alexander's teachers. There was Pythagoras, the father of mathematics. Hellenic tradition, six centuries before Christianity existed, gave us Thales, the father of western science and the first philosophical naturalist. Thales was the first person in recorded history to posit that the universe could be explained in naturalist terminology. The traditions of that age gave the world it's first democratic constitutional reforms under Solon, Cleisthones and Pericles in Athens. The Hellenic tradition gave us the Greek tragedies that were the first in the west speak to individual human dignity and western civilization's earliest notions of 'natural rights'. The Greeks became the first people on record to question the morality of slavery. On the othert hand. the victors over classicism, the Christians, did not seriously question its ethics or its moral value for over a thousand years of church-state domination. Constantine never considered the morality of slavery and it continued for more than fifteen centuries as part of God's decreed natural order.
Procopius wrote in Chapter 7 of The Secret History:
"Without hesitation he wrote decrees for the plundering of countries, sacking of cities, and slavery of whole nations, for no cause whatever. So that if one wished to take all the calamities which had befallen the Romans before this time and weigh them against his crimes, I think it would be found that more men had been murdered by this single man than in all previous history."
Alexander the Great had founded Antioch and it became one of the jewels of the Mediterranean, being situated fifteen miles from the Mediterranean in the northern part of what we now call Syria. It was at the crossroads of many trade routes. Because it was a center of commerce and trade, it was also a melting pot of ideas and expressions. Antioch became a bustling multicultural center of philosopy, religion, arts, humanities, theater and literature. Antioch was so busy that it's streets were lighted at night while traders, peddlers, theater, circus and restaurant goers filled the busy streets into the late hours of the nights. Antioch became the Athens of the middle east, opening schools of philosophy, music and poetry. In the Hellenist tradition, alongside athletic competitions, there were those of music, poetry and the two as one: the great classical tradition of lyrical poetry.(The Muses of Lyrical Peotry are found in abundance in the Library of Congress). The Hellenic tradition was the first humanist culture in world history, dedicated to knowledge and excellence. As long ago as the Sixth century BCE, it embraced democratic reforms. That is why Solon stands next to Moses on the US Supreme Court's east entrance's pediment, has a medallion in the US House of Representatives and stands alone as the representative of Law in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. See The Classical Architecture of Washington, DC Antioch was a special place. It even had its own Olympics every four years but in 528, Justinian outlawed these popular eight centuries old games. Theodosius had done the same to the Olympic games and other traditional pan-Hellenic games.
In his decrees, recorded as Codex Justinianus. 1.11.9-10, he ordered the execution of those who practice sorcery, divination, magic or idolatry. In one translation, Justinian refers to them as "the ones suffering from the blasphemous insanity of the Hellenes". Execution was by fire, crucifixion, wild beasts in an arena, or being shredded to pieces by sharp iron nails.
"...one finds persons possessed by the error of the unclean and abominable Hellenes, and performing their practices, and this arouses in God, in his love for mankind, a righteous anger."
"All those who have not yet been baptized must come forward, whether they reside in the capital or in the provinces, and go to the very holy churches with their wives, their children, and their households, to be instructed in the true faith of Christians. And once thus instructed and sincerely renounced their former error, let them be judged worthy of redemptive baptism. Should they disobey, let them know that they will be excluded from the State and will no longer have any rights of possession, neither goods nor property; stripped of everything, they will be reduced to penury, without prejudice to the appropriate punishments that will be imposed on them"
"We forbid anyone stricken with the madness of the impure Hellenes to teach, so as to prevent them, under the guise of teaching those who by misfortune happen to attend their classes, from in fact corrupting the souls of those they pretend to educate. They will not receive state pensions, having no license either by Sacred Scripture or earthly law, to claim for themsleves any immunity whatsoever"
We have seen this kind of suppression over and over in the religious history of the west. Remember Emperor Julian's point of view regarding Christians teaching classical philosophy? They were banned from teaching the classics because they would likely mock them.
Procopius wrote in Chapter 11 of The Secret History:
"The Emperor's malice was also directed against the astrologer. Accordingly, magistrates appointed to punish thieves also abused the astrologers, for no other reason than that they belonged to this profession: whipping them on the back and parading them on camels throughout the City, though they were old men, and in every way respectable, with no reproach against them except that they studied the science of the stars while living in such a city."
Back in 306, the Synod of Elvira had attacked theaters, circuses and other public entertainments loved by the culture. These attacks on entertainment continued for centuries. In fact, today's religious right is always attacking theater, film and arts. The anti-Semitic and homophobic Saint John Chrysostom, in the early 5th century, begrudged the fact that more people went to circuses and threaters on the Lord's Day than went to church. To the zealots that militantly forged the alliances of church and state, which were no different than the alliances of mosque and state in Islamic countries, that made a good reason to outlaw them both. The far right of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all attack the logic of secularism and seek governments to incorporate their dogmas as law. It is the nature of the beast, past and present. The Christian extremist Randall Terry reveals the minds of the religious right in America. In The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 16, 1993 he said "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good.. Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."
In the article called Evil Freedom Should be Disallowed, the tencommandments.org site tells us, "We, the corporeal citizens of America (and the world community), should acquiesce to the fact that many of the so-called "rights" and "freedoms" guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, its Amendments and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not genuine rights and freedoms, but moral evils in the sight of God."
The kind of thinking presented by these two views is more more akin to despotic emperors, the Medieval churches, Calvinist theocracies, Iran and the Taliban than like the ideas of Jefferson, Madison and Washington. In fact, Randall Terry doesn't seem to have any idea what our founders created. The right wing Christian aims against secular liberties are near identical to those of right wing Muslims.
Justinian not only wished to destroy dissenter's religious and intellectual lives, he sought to extend this policy to their civil service requirements, prohibiting any public service if they were not orthodox. This kind of religious testing lasted right into the 18th century American colonies where most of them had discriminating constitutions establishing Protestantism. In order to hold office one had to be a Protestant. Catholics, Jews and Muslims had no rights in this regard because a Protestant version of the Nicene Creed and articles of faith was a required declaration in religious tests. for oaths of office. No other person person but a Protestant had full religious liberty and no other person could run for public office and perform civil duties. The pre-ratification charters and constitutions were extensions and expressions of the principles found in the old legal order of Imperial Christianity and the subsequent church-state alliances of history. They were archaic and ethicly antithetical to the breakthrough in liberties found in the United States Constitution. See The Ten Commandments and The Evolution of American Constitutional Framing for a detailed look at Colonial Charters and State Constitutions prior to the ratification of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Procopius also wrote in Chapter 11 of the Secret History,
"Next he turned his attention to those called Gentiles, torturing their persons and plundering their lands. Of this group, those who decided to become nominal Christians saved themselves for the time being; but it was not long before these, too, were caught performing libations and sacrifices and other unholy rites. And how he treated the Christians shall be told hereafter."
Following in the footsteps of Constantine and Theodosius, Justinian decreed pagans could not participate in political or administrative service and they could no longer own property. Justinian also intruded right into the authority of the family, removing the authority of a father over a son should the son convert to Christianity and decapitating the son who didn't convert when the father did.
As soon as he became sole emperor of the Christian empire, Justinian decreed in 527, recorded as Codex Justinianus 1.5.12:
"Pagans Barred from Office and their Real Property Confiscated. ... It is our intention to restore the existing laws which affect the rest of the heretics of whatever name they are, (and we label as heretic whoever is not a member of the Catholic Church and of our orthodox and holy faith); likewise the pagans who attempt to introduce the worship of many gods, and the Jews and the Samaritans, we have resolved not only to reinforce them with this present law, but also to enforce other measures which will provide those who share our shining faith with greater security, order and honor... We forbid any of the above mentioned persons to aspire to any dignity or to acquire civil or military office or to attain to any rank."
Forbidden to aspire to human dignity? Barred from official positions? Don't try to attain rank or succeed in life? Loss of property rights? All because of religious beliefs? This is a far cry from the Edict of Milan which was one of tolerance. It said in one place,
We have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made we that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion." Justinian's decrees, like so many other emperors' decrees and church councils' canons, clearly represented the antithesis of classical diversity and principles of religious tolerance. The foundation on which the principles of liberty rest in respect and recognition of every individual's personal dignity and desire for autonomy. This means freedoms of conscience and choice. Belief comes from within but both radical Islam and Christianity right there is a wish to impose it from outside with the use of the state's authority.
In this same law, the emperor Justinian says of the unbelievers:
"It is more than enough for them merely to be alive. Heretics are all such as do not belong to the Catholic faith including Jews. They are not to hold any office; or follow profession of law"
It is more than enough for them merely to be alive? And forbidden to aspire to serve their community? This kind of thinking is what is behind the required religious tests of the old legal order before the American Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century. In the legal order of the colonies, in order to be serve the public trust, one had to be a Nicene Trinitarian Protestant and a believer in a divinely inspired Bible. See The Evolution of American Constitutional Framing for the texts of these constitutionally required religious tests.
Hitler also banned Jews from being lawyers as did the Church Council of Clermont (now France) in 535. (Claremont, France). Martin Luther wrote a book called The Jews and their Lies. Like the language of Saint John Chrysostom's Homilies on the Jews, it was meant to incite hatred. In the Nuremburg laws, the Nazis, like Christian emperors and church councils, outlawed intermarriage, social and sexual intercourse, and even sharing a meal with a Jew. The first council to do this was the Council of Elvira circa 306.
Liberty arose as people and governments began to understand human nature and see that there needed to be a more humane balance of the needs of the state with the needs of the individual. George Washington noted in his 1783 Circular to the States that, "The foundation of our Empire was not laid in the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epocha when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period, the researches of the human mind, after social happiness, have been carried to a great extent, the Treasures of knowledge, acquired by the labours of Philosophers, Sages and Legislatures, through a long succession of years, are laid open for our use, and their collected wisdom may be happily applied in the Establishment of our forms of Government..."
Justinian and the church councils were no better regarding the issues of liberty than any other totalitarian ideology that sought to crush human dignity. Enough that you were alive! Twentieth century dictators like Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Stalin, Franco, Marcos and Pinochet also crushed human dignity and anything approaching dissent. The same is seen in right wing Islam. Like these dictators, in the name of the Church, and with it's blessings, Justinian crushed dissent with force and jailed intellectuals. It was good enough for them that they were allowed to live. Soon afterward, in 528 and 529 Justinian had many pagans removed from public service in his government. This was one of three purges of pagans from the imperial courts during his reign. Two more came in 546 and 562.
Acts 19:19: "Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver"
In 529, Justinian ordered the closing of Plato's ancient academy in Athens and it's property was confiscated. The academy was subversive in the emperor's view. One can't forget that even before Justinian, wrong belief was treated as treason at times. Emperor Valentinan III had decreed that if you didn't accept the primacy of the Roman See over all others, you were a traitor. Justinian's decree set off a wave of property seizures. All over Athens, temples and shrines were seized and converted to Christian properties. Trials ensued and many were executed. Classical libraries were plundered and converted and their writings probably torched. In 531 or early 532, the academy's wealthy endowment was confiscated by the State. The academy was then turned into a Christian school. (Religiously motivated property seizures revisited the same region again when in 1456, the conquering Muslims turned Christian properties of Asia Minor into Muslim ones. The famous Church of the Hagia Sophia which Justinian had broke the bank building was turned in a Mosque).
A writer of Justinian's time named John Malalas of Antioch (498-571) wrote of the Athens situation in two separate entries in his Chronographia:
"In that year there was a great persecution of Hellenes. Many had their property confiscated. Some of them died: Makedonios, Asklepiodotos, Phokas, the son of Krateros, and Thomas the quaestor. This caused great fear. The emperor decreed that those who held Hellenic beliefs should not hold any state office, while those who belonged to the other heresies were to disappear from the Roman state, after they had been given a period of three months to embrace the orthodox faith. This sacred decree was displayed in all provincial cities."
"During the consulship of Decius, the emperor issued a decree and sent it to Athens ordering that no one should teach philosophy nor interpret the laws."
After nearly a millenium of teaching classical philosophy, law, and the first ideas of western science, Christianity triumphed over it's rivals by the use of threats and force. Literacy, hygiene and diversity became empire wide casualties as the world under church-state alliances slipped into a long dark night of intellectual stagnancy after the near total suppression of classical philosophy. The classical culture of baths, hygiene and athleticism nearly disappeared as Europe descended. Notions of philosophy, democracy and natural rights died for nearly a millenium. Music, poetry and the theater suffered. The love of knowledge, art and the humanities was submerged under a sea of religious intolerance and literary ignorance until the late middle ages and the times of the Renaissance. That rebrth was one of the diversity, intellectuality and creativity of the lost classical world which Christianity had sought to exterminate by the force of decree, canon and the might of troops. It is because of this rebirth that the notions of democracy, separation of powers and liberty re-entered the western mind and eventually changed the nature of the relationship between government and religon. Governments became increasingly secular and even some religions began to co-opt classical humanist ideals of liberty, diversity and tolerance.
Due to the progressively threatening persecutions under Justinian, classical teachers and philosophers looked for greener pastures, flee or be forced into exile. Because a war had again broke out with the Persian Empire (Iran), some of these Hellenist teachers headed for Persia where King Khusro protected these teachers. Khusro even made this protection a part of his peace treaty with Justinian. The historian Agathia wrote in his Histories II: 30:3-4, regarding the teachers that journeyed to Persia:
"they did not share the view of God prevailing among the Romans and thought that the Persian state was far better. ..They were forbidden by law to take part in public life with impunity owing to the fact that they did not conform to the established religion."
But the teachers weren't content in Persia and journeyed to Harran on the banks of the Euphrates (Iraq) where they founded a school which lasted five centuries into the golden years of the Islamic empire. Only when the unrest caused by the invasion of Seljuk Turks rose to an unbearable level did the school finally close. The Muslim world had made classical philosophy a part of its learning culture for several centuries so the classal schools were an asset to the Muslim culture of the time. In a major way, it was from Islam that Europe rediscovered science, humanism and the classical thinking of antiquity. And Europe was ready, as it was emerging from the long night. For the next seven centuries after Justinian, Classical thought was tucked away on dusty monastery shelves and in the learning centers of Islam, where a more advanced civilization was developing while Europe entered an age of stagnation. In the beginning of its rebirth, in the later middle ages, it crept slowly onto the European continent. Then it became a surge of ideas into Europe as the golden age of Islam came to an end with the brutality and intolerance of the Turks. The Seljuk Turks did to its world what Constantine, Theodosius and Justinian had done to the high culture of classical thought in theirs. This is the point where Islamic culture began its own slide into a long night that in many ways has not yet ended. The Mosque-State model in Islam is based on the same model underlying church-state alliances: Civil law is based on religious doctrine. This became sadly apparent recently when the Iraqi people decided that their new constitution would be based on Islamic law.
While the voices of the American religious right slam Islam they don't understand that Islamic learning and science of its golden age made important contributions to the rebirth of classical culture and philosophical naturalism in the EuropeanRenaissance. Here are two very enlightening articles that bust myths about Islam's earlier centuries.
Setting the Record Straight, Islamic Science
Islamic foundation of European Renaissance
Classical philosophy and humanism returned to Europe in a similar fashion it left Europe; on the run from violence and religious intolerance. After centuries of an advancing level of civilization and general tolerance, Islam reached the same fevered pitch of religious intolerance expressed so mercilessly in fourth, fifth and sixth century Christendom. When the classical world returned, it sparked the European Renaissance with its classical art, architecture and literature. It re-ignited notions of natural liberty, brought about a scientific revolution and the best ideas of the Enlightenment were steeped in classical foundations. It is truly ironic that Islam helped sparked the Renaissance while at the same time drifted into the stagnation that Christendom was leaving behind. This transfer of knowledge in the twelfth century helped herald the long slow decline of Christianity as defining Europe and the rebirth of the humanist, classical traditions in the political foundations of the west. It continues to this day. It is no coincidence the architecture of Washington, DC was built with Classical and Palladian orders. (Palladian - or Georgian - architecture is an Italian revival of Greco-Roman architecture). It is also no coincidence that themes of democracy and liberty didn't emerge in medieval Europe until Greco-Roman philosophies and art returned to Europe. The architects were keenly aware of the place of classicism and the Enlightenment in the founding of the American Republic.
Justinian's edict regarding Plato's Academy was part of the larger plan of a total destruction, by law and by force, of paganism and classical philosophy. Humanism, the City of Man, was to be forever wiped from the face of the Earth and upon its ruins were built iron-fisted alliances of church and state which ruled the City of God.
Pierre Chuvin wrote on page 11 of his book, A Chronicle of the Last Pagans:
"When freedom of conscience disappeared under Justinian, pagans chose either a dangerous but exciting clandestine existence that promised the manifestation of supernatural powers or else a withdrawal to hinterlands as far removed as possible from the eyes of imperial authority."
"Justinian's ruling of 529 that prohibited pagans from teaching shuttered the last window that enabled us to see them clearly. From then on their existence can be glimpsed only during periods of forced conversion. The single exception is a Platonic school in Upper Mesopotamia, which survived after the Arab conquest until the arrival of the Seljuk Turks in the eleventh century,"
"During this period pagans were not the only ones persecuted for their faith, nor was theirs the most brutal persecution; Gnostics, Manichaeans, Jews, and of course Christian heretics came in for their share as well. But only the pagans had always been intimately associated with the power and culture that dominated the Greco-Roman world. Their decline, beyond the human drama that it engendered, was a political, intellectual and religious revolution."
In 528 Justinian began to organize nearly a millennia of Roman law just as Theodosius the Younger attempted in 438. But the Theodosian Code was bulky and disorganized so Justinian sought to clean it up and refine it, so to speak. Other private collections of Roman were also used as sources. The Codex Gregorianus and Codex Hermogenianus were two such sources. This body of civil law was done in four parts. First done was the Codex. It comprised Imperial Decrees from the time of Emperor Hadrian in the second century. Then the Digest (also called Pandects) and the Institutes were done. The most important part of Justinian's body of organized law was the Digest which was designed for attorneys and judges. It brought together all of the greatest legal ideas and writings in Rome's history and established case law and judicial guidelines.
The writings of thirty-nine classical Roman jurists make up the bulk of the Digest. Most of these jurists are Ciceronians. The writings of the great jurist Ulpian make up a third of the entire project. Paulus' writings make a significant contribution, too. The Institutes were meant for students of law and gave a generalized, outlined view of Roman law and its history. Gaius' Institutionus, from the time of Emperor Hadrian, also made up a good portion of the Institututes. The Institutes also contained many excerpts from the Digest. The jurist Modestinus also made important contributions. When there were differences of opinion between these Roman jurists' writings, the Corpus gave the jurist Papinian the final authority in these matters. The Novellas were made up of Justinian's imperial edicts, decrees and legislation issued between 535 and 565. They were never organized into a single volume except in private collections.
Gaetano Cipolla, professor of Italian history and language, in his lecture to the Italian Club at St. John's University reminds us:
"It is not difficult to see the great influences that the Roman Empire had on the countries of Europe. Today, in Italy people drive on the same roads built by the Romans, drink water brought in by Roman aqueducts, are governed by laws codified by the great Roman Emperor Justinian. What is less known is that Britain was part of the Roman Empire for centuries. It was governed as a Roman province, and the effects of that experience did not disappear. It is present in English law. The so called Common Law of England, which supposedly is completely different from the legal system prevalent in Europe, is translated from the Roman "jus comune gentium" and can be shown to have been greatly influenced by Roman law. The greatest document of English law bears a Latin title Magna Carta."
James Allen Evans of the University of British Columbia, writing in the online encyclopedia of Roman Emperors also noted:
"The Codex Justinianus, the Institutes and the Digest of Roman jurisprudence, all commissioned by Justinian, are monuments to the past achievements of Roman legal heritage. Justinian's reign sums up the past. It also provides a matrix for the future."
Although a great deal of Justinian's Code was founded on the Ciceronian (Cicero was a conservative pagan) writings of the famed classical jurists Ulpian, Gaius, Papinian, Modestinus and Paulus, the Code also incorporated Church Canon as law. Outside of the Digest and the institutes, civil law and church canon law were wed according to Justinian's church-state model. The Codex and Novellae were filled with legislation and edicts against heretics, pagans, intellectuals, Jews and every other kind of infidel, making the empire a forceful theocracy of a kind. This is the same religion-state model that we see in radical conservative Islam. It was certainly Justinian's intention to create an empire wide conformity to a politically correct religion of the state. There were to be no borders separating politics and religion. Like radical Islam's model of mosque and state, the alliance of Justinian's government and Christianity officially promulgated bigotry and discrimination.
Jeremiah 43:12-13: "He shall kindle a fire in the temples of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them and carry them away captive; and he shall clean the land of Egypt, as a shepherd cleans his cloak of vermin; and he shall go away from there in peace. He shall break the obelisks of Heliopolis which is in the land of Egypt; and the temples of the gods of Egypt he shall burn with fire.'"
From the decrees recorded in the Codex and Novellas came campaigns of religious tyranny supported by the church-state alliances. Temples were destroyed, pagans were executed, and Christian heretics were persecuted and anathematized. Dissenting churches were seized and turned into Nicene churches. Synagogues were burned or closed and a Church put in it's place by renovation or construction. Christians who returned to paganism faced death, exile and the loss of testamentary (inheritance) rights. Jews were systematicly and progressively oppressed. A Jew could not judge cases, practice law, or testify against a Christian. A Jew could not own a Christian slave or convert any slave to Judaism. They were forbidden to celebrate Passover before or at the time of Easter. It was considered offensive to see them on the streets during Easter. Their scriptures were scrutinized and censored before they could be used in a Synagogue. The Talmud was considered blasphemous. No writings or prayers were allowed in their synagogues that could be interpreted as opposing the Nicene doctrine of Trinitarianism.
Over time, these religious laws did not survive the enlightenment in the governments of the west but the Digest and Institutites, along with Common law, are still the foundation of most western civil law. The English common law tradition has Roman foundations from when Roman law ruled Britain. Rome lost Britain during the reign of Valentinian III but Britain retained Roman law in the form of its common law traditions. The Digest and The Institutes hybernated until Europe's Renaissance when all things classical re-animated Europe and slowly brought it out of Augustinian darkness and stagnancy.
On July 28, 531, recorded as Codex Justinianus 1.5.21, Justinian decreed:
"Concerning Heretics And Manichaeans And Samaritans: Since many judges, in deciding cases, have addressed us in need of our decision, asking that they be informed what ought to be done with witnesses who are heretics, whether their testimony ought to be received or rejected, we therefore ordain that no heretic, nor even they who cherish the Jewish superstition, may offer testimony against orthodox Christians who are engaged in litigation, whether one or the other of the parties is an orthodox Christian. But a Jew may offer testimony on behalf of an orthodox Christian against some one who is not orthodox".
During this period, recorded as Codex Justinianus 1.5.17, Justinian ordered all the Samaritan synagogues destroyed and forbade any Samaritan from making a will to leave property or gifts to anyone except an Orthodox Christian. They were forbidden to leave anything to anyone but Christians of the right persuasion. At this point the church-state alliance had been denying basic Roman testamentary rights to unbelievers and apostates for most of the last two centuries.
"The synagogues of the Samaritans shall be destroyed, and if they dare to build others, they shall be punished. They may have no testamentary or other legal heirs except Orthodox Christians"
When Samaritan synagogues were destroyed, the people rose up, fought back and as a result Christians were killed. Justinian retaliated and sent the army to put down the uprising. Troops again, to enforce Christianity. The military campaigns and religious persecutions of the Samaritans were barbarous, and bloody. Thousands died in the uprisings against Justinian's tyranny and twenty thousand Samaritans were sold into slavery. Under the Christian church-state alliances, slavery continued unabated. It was a legitimate, ordained station in life and the Bible was used to support its continuance in this new world order. With slavery, the new order changed nothing. And it continued for another thirteen centuries. In fact, in the 1840s, every major American denominational church council defended slavery in this way, proclaiming it moral and part of Biblical Order. Abolitionist dissenters, like proponents of women's suffrage, were labeled socialists and atheists. Thanks to the work of the troops, the head of Julian the Samaritan leader was presented to Justinian as he had requested. Tragicly, the agricultural fields of the region became unproductive until Muslims took over the land.
Procopius wrote of this event in chapter 11 of The Secret History:
"A similar law was then passed against the Samaritans, which threw Palestine into an indescribable turmoil. Those, indeed, who lived in my own Caesarea and in the other cities, deciding it silly to suffer harsh treatment over a ridiculous trifle of dogma, took the name of Christians in exchange for the one they had borne before, by which precaution they were able to avoid the perils of the new law."
"The country people, however, banded together and determined to take arms against the Emperor;..but finally, defeated in battle, were cut down, together with their leader. Ten myriads of men are said to have perished in this engagement, and the most fertile country on earth thus became destitute of farmers."
For the last century, North Africa had remained under the control of the Vandals, an Arian Christian people. Arian Vandals had persecuted Nicenes the way Nicenes had persecuted Arians, exiling leaders, reducing rights, using violence and confiscating churches for Arian Christian use. Between 523 and 530, there arose a Vandal King named Hilderic that promoted some tolerance for the Nicenes. Exiled Bishops returned and churches were returned. But this was to end when his cousin Gelimer deposed and imprisoned him and reinstated the policies of persecution. Demented and insane stated the decree of Emperors Theodosius the Great and Gratian about Arian Christians and in kind, the sentiment was always returned in these forgotten religious battles. It is claimed that Hilderic, from his prison cell, managed to get letters off to Justinian, pleading for him to intervene. Even though the eastern empire could not afford such a war, Justinian ordered his Magister Militum Belisarius to invade and conquer the Vandal Kingdom of North Africa. It was Justinian's intention to reconstitute the ancient territories of the Roman Empire. This Arian Christian kingdom stretched from the the Libyan shores right into Spain. It had existed as an independant empire for a century and Justinian wanted it back. He was willing to break the bank to do it.
In 533, Belisarius succeeded in reconquering North Africa and then Sicily in 535. In 535, Justinian issued laws targeting Jews, pagans, and heretics in North Africa. In his Novella 37 to Salomon, Governor of Africa, Justinian promulgated that Jews couldn't attend church or own Christian slaves. Their synagogues were to be seized and turned into orthodox Churches. Those found guilty of being Arian Christians were barred from holding public office (religious tests again). The exiled and displaced returned and the seized churches became Nicene once again. Synagogues were confiscated and rebuilt as churches.
Novella 37 stated (excerpts):
"Jews may not keep Christian slaves, nor may they make proselytes by circumcision."
"Their synagogues shall be rebuilt in the style of churches."
"Jews, pagans, Arians, and other heretics may not have 'speluncas' [a sacred cavern] nor observe any of the ceremonies of the Orthodox Church".
In that same year of 535, the Church Council of Clermont in France declared Jews could no longer hold adminstrative positions or public office. They were forbidden to stand in any kind of civil authority over any Christian and Canon 13 prohibited any Jew from becoming a judge.
Justinian's Novella 6 was also issued in 535. This Novella not only decreed the laws on church heirarchy and operation, it promulgated a church-state alliance by uniting priesthood and kingdom, guarding the true dogmas of God and the honour of the priesthood.
"The greatest blessings granted to human beings by God's ultimate grace are priesthood and kingdom, the former taking care of divine affairs, while the latter guiding and taking care of human affairs, and both, come from the same source, embellishing human life."
"Therefore, nothing lies so heavy on the hearts of kings as the honour of priests, who on their part serve them, praying continuously for them to God. And if the priesthood is well ordered in everything and is pleasing to God, then there will be full harmony between them in every thing that serves the good and benefit of the human race."
"Therefore, we exert the greatest possible effort to guard the true dogmas of God and the honour of the priesthood, hoping to receive through it great blessings from God and to hold fast to the ones which we have".
In ten more years Justinian expanded on this theocratic model by making the canons of the first four Ecumenical Councils the law of the Empire. Other Emperors also did this. Emperor Emperor Marcianus, in an alliance with Pope Leo and the clergy, did this after the Council of Chalcedon of 451.
It would not be until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that these church and state notions would be challenged with vigor. To this day there are still those religious zealots that look with nostalgia upon the old ways of controlling the people. As in Islamist Iran, Christian fundamentalists yearn for a union of their strict orthodox brand of Christianity with the state. Like so many fanatics in Christian history, their zealotry has blinded them to the lessons of the past. Even now, in the Christian fundamentalist world, the principles of liberty have taken a back seat to the zeal to establish an old order church-state alliance. It took until 1833 before the last state in the USA, Massachusetts, complied with the federal constitution and disestablished their state supported church. Madison addressed these old order church-state beliefs that Christians held on to as long as they coould when he wrote to Robert Walsh on March. 2, 1819  and to F.L. Schaeffer on Dec 3, 1821 :
"The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State."
"The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well-meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity."
The statements above are complete denunciations of the fifteen century tradition of church-state alliances supported by religious tests. Those that support the Pledge with under God have no idea what the principles of the Constitution and the secular foundations of the United States government are. They are distinctively religion-neutral. States admitted to the union have to previously ban religious establishment by the governmente. A great example is the admission of Utah in 1894. The separation of church and state in this constitution is beautiful constitution framing. Utah had tried to enter twice before but were rejected by the US because they were not willing to separate church and state. On the third try, they succeeded, finally giving up the alliance:
Section 3: The State of Utah is an inseparable part of the Federal Union and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.
Section 3 is based upon Article 6, clause 2 of the Federal Constitution.
Section 4: The rights of conscience shall never be infringed. The State shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust or for any vote at any election; nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror on account of religious belief or the absence thereof. There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions. No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment. No property qualification shall be required of any person to vote, or hold office, except as provided in this Constitution.
Section 4 of the Utah constitution is based upon Clause 3 of Article 6 and the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution. Not very Justinian to say the least,
In 536, the Synod of Constantinople forbade any belief or activity in any church that didn't meet Justinian's religious and organizational requirements. The canon was designed to enforce Nicene doctrine and suppress all elements of religious dissent and diversity. In 537, Justinian issued Novella 45, to Johannes, Pretorian Prefect, stating Jews are to perform decurionate, the traditional civic duty of the Roman citizen, without its honors and privileges:
"Relating to the law that Jews, Samaritans, or heretics are not to be exempt from the office of magistrate on pretext of their belief, but that, on the contrary, they shall bear the burdens of the magistracy without enjoying its privileges."
The Novella continued, reinforcing the decree of 531 which limited their rights to give testimony:
"..may, in a suit involving orthodox persons, only give evidence for them or for the state."
In 537, the Temple of Isis was closed. Procopius reports in his Wars I that Narses, successor to Belisarius as Justinian's top military commander, closed this temple on the Egyptian island of Philae. He then had the temple's priests imprisoned. In 538 Justinian again issued an edict that prohibited Jews from owning Christian slaves. These prohibitions against Jews would be recorded in the Justinian Code as 1.10.2 and 1.3.54.
In the spirit of the emerging church-state empire, church synods in Gaul at the time also attacked Jews. Like the ratification of canon law by the Emperors, church councils in Gaul needed their canons approved by the King, which was usually a given. Canon 19 of the second Council of Orleans in 533 prohibited intermarriage between Christian and Jew. Any Christian who did so faced excommunication. In 535, the synod at Clermont outlawed sexual intercourse between Christian and Jew in Canon 6. Canon 9 at Clermont barred Jews from becoming judges. In 538 at the 3rd synod of Orleans, Canon 13 re-stated for its region that Jews could not hold public office, become judges, own Christian slaves, employ Christian servants, or marry Christians. Christians were also forbidden to attend Jewish festivities and celebrations. This was in the same spirit of the Council of Elvira of 306 that excommunicated those who lent pagans anything for their festivities or watched them. Like these Gallic councils, Elvira forbade Christians from marrying, have relationships with or sharing a meal with a Jew. Elvira also ordered landowners to forbid Jews from blessing their crops and animals in Judaic fashion because it insulted the true God. Landlords were to forbid pagans their idols in their homes. Later on in the Sixth century, Pope Gregory told the landlords to jack up their rents until they converted. Canon 13 also declared Christians could not convert to Judaism. Orleans declared the clergy was even forbidden to eat with Jews. The 538 synod at Orleans decreed that Jews had to be out of all Christians' site during the Easter festivities because their appearance is an insult to Christianity.
Canon 30 stated:
"From the Thursday before Easter for four days, Jews may not appear in the company of Christians."
The Merovinian King Childebert approved the measure. Once again, church and state joined together in an allance of religious intolerance and persecution. This anti-Jew strategy continued in the region in 541, when the fourth council of Orleans convened. Jews were now forbidden to share their religious beliefs. If they caused one of their Jewish friends to return to Judaism, or converted a Christian, a Jew would be punished by the loss of his slaves. The loss of one's slaves would destroy one's livelihood. To further the economic toll on Jews, Canon 30 stated that any slave of a Jew could attain freedom just by converting to Christianity. Canon 31 decreed that no slave could be freed on converting to the Jewish faith. It didn't seem right to the council that a slave could enjoy freedom by converting to Judaism. The council ruled any such contract was null and void. Christian leaders of Gaul, like those of Rome and Constantinople, made Christianity the religion of the region by making it illegal to evangelize any other faith. In the pluralist religious world of late antiquity, Christian leaders sought to wipe out all competitors by law, by decree, by persecution, by economic sanctions, and by force if necessary.
Soon afterward came Justinian's Italian campaign which would help empty the treasury. This was compounded by Byzantium's first experience with the plague in 540. Justinian became so frightened by this new plague and fearing it was God's punishment for the people's sins, he made laws against blasphemy. (This kind of madness afflicts many a zealot. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell told us that abortion rights, growing acceptance of homosexuality, civil rights advocates, and the separation of church and state brought the terrorism of 2001 upon America. Zealots also told us God was punishing New orleans with Hurrican Katrina for its way of life.) When the plague hit Constantinople the state and the clergy acted together and convinced the deeply superstitious people of the time that disobedience towards the church brought the plague upon them. Like every age's preachers, they preyed on the fears of the people. As a result of the fearmongering, housands became desperate for salvation, filling the churches with the sick, fearful and displaced. Later on in the Medieval period, the clergy preyed on their ignorance, convincing them it was the Jews that caused the plague. To the clergy's delight, Jews were murdered and synagogues were burned to the ground.
Justinian's laws emboldened zealous monks. His decrees inspired a fanatical inquisitor named Ioannis Asiacus in the same way Cyril and Martin were by the edicts of Theodosius the Younger. Beginning in 532, Asiacus began a four decade crusade against pagans in Asia Minor. In 542, Asiacus began to forcibly convert pagans. In that same year, the inquisitor John of Ephesus was put in charge of evangelizing the pagans of Asia Minor. John's campaigns against pagans began in 544 when he evangelized and cleansed the rural region around Ephesus which was close to the Aegian Sea. He claims he built twenty-four churches and four monasteries where pagan temples sat at one time. Justinian subsidized John's inquisitions, paying for and supplying the needed baptismal robes for the converts. Like the violent and confrontational Martin of Tours and Cyril of Alexandria, this inquisitor was sure he was doing God's work when he destroyed temples, stole property, and forced Christianity upon the people, Ironicly, John of Ephesus was a Monophysite who was eventually persecuted!
Ezekiel 6:13: "And you shall know that I am the LORD, when their slain lie among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, on all the mountain tops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak, wherever they offered pleasing odor to all their idols."
In Constantinope, hundreds of pagans were murdered in 546 because they resisted the emperor's edicts. Justinian encouraged Asiacus' forced conversions and temple destruction. (See Timeline of temple destruction from the fourth to the ninth centuries) By 577, ninety-nine churches and twelve monasteries had been built on the ruins of pagan religious sites. The missions of John of Ephesus, Julian to Nubia and James Baradaeus were part of Justinian's strategy to forcibly convert pagans. John of Ephesus claimed that he converted 70,000 pagans during his cleansing crusades. The record shows that it was by intimidation.
2 Samuel 5:21: "And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them"
Procopius writes in chapter 11 of Secret History:
"Agents were sent everywhere to force whomever they chanced upon to renounce the faith of their fathers. This, which seemed impious to rustic people, caused them to rebel against those who gave them such an order. Thus many perished at the hands of the persecuting faction, and others did away with themselves, foolishly thinking this the holier course of two evils; but most of them by far quitted the land of their fathers, and fled the country."
In 545, Justinian issued Novella 131. This new law covered a wide range of things. In Chapter 1, it declared the canons of the first four ecumencal councils to be the law of the empire. This made official the Christian theocracy whose seeds were sown with the state's establishment of Christianity under Constantine and Theodosius' ban on all religions but the Nicene one. This united church and state, placing the future of Europe in the iron grip of tyrants, Popes and councils for more than a thousand years.
"Concerning Four Holy Councils: Therefore We order that the sacred, ecclesiastical rules which were adopted and confirmed by the four Holy Councils, that is to say, that of the three hundred and eighteen bishops held at Nicea, that of the one hundred and fifty bishops held at Constantinople, the first one of Ephesus, where Nestorius was condemned, and the one assembled at Chalcedon, where Eutyches and Nestorius were anathematized, shall be considered as laws. We accept the dogmas of these four Councils as sacred writings, and observe their rules as legally effective."
Chapter 2 would again support the primacy of the See of Rome as the highest authority in the Christian realm.
"Concerning The Precedence of Partriarchs: Hence, in accordance with the provisions of these Councils, We order that the Most Holy Pope of ancient Rome shall hold the first rank of all the Pontiffs, but the Most Blessed Archbishop of Constantinople, or New Rome, shall occupy the second place after the Holy Apostolic See of ancient Rome, which shall take precedence over all other sees."
Chapter 14 of Novella 131 reinforced the church-state alliance's official policies of religious intolerance by forbidding Nicenes from willing their religious property to Jews, pagans or Arians. That land would be promptly seized by the church. It was okay for Nicenes to steal or receive other's properties but having a Nicene church replaced by a pagan temple, heretic church or a synagogue was unbearable. Justinian also banned the building of pagan temples and Jewish synagogues. Note that Monophysites are not included in this edict:
"If an Orthodox Christian has sold or willed to a Jew or pagan or Arian a piece of land on which there is a church, the church of that locality shall seize such property."
"Heretics may not build a 'spelunca' [a sacred cave] for their heresies, nor may the Jews erect any new synagogues".
In February, 553, Justinian issued Novella 146 limiting the Jews' own religious rituals in their synagogues. In this way, the church and the emperor controlled the content of Judaic worship services. Not only did Justinian stop the building of synagogues, order many converted into churches, enact the loss of civil rights, but the church-state's spies monitored and controlled the internal workings of the existing synagogues. This is the same sort of religious meddling and interference seen in 536 when the Synod at Constantinople forbade any belief or activity in any church that didn't meet Justinian's doctinal requirements.
Jewish Psychohistorian Ernest Rappaport, who was arrested by the Gestapo and fled from Nazi Germany wrote regarding Justinian in Chapter 4 of his book A Study in the Origins of Hatred: A Psychohistory of Anti-Judaism:
"He also ordered under the threat of severe punishment, that at the Jewish Sabbath services the scriptures must be read instead of in Hebrew, in Greek and Latin, using the Septuagint whose text had already been adulterated by the monks, that the Public hearing might induce some Jews to convert."
"The phrase "Our God is the one and only one" was forbidden to be recited in the synagogues because it was understood as a blasphemous protest against the twofold splitting of the image of God in the holy trinity. For the same reason chanting the verse "holy, holy, holy is the Lord Zeboath" was prohibited. Also the reading on Sabbath of the verses by Isaiah promising consolation for downtrodden Zion was not permitted. Overseers were placed into the synagogues to prevent transgressions against the prohibitions but they could not prevent secret whispering of the forbidden parts of prayer at communal prayers at other times of the day and behind the backs of the government spies."
Although this Novella's content is longer than the excepts I usually quote, this declaration of Justinian deserves to be seen in its entirety. It speaks volumes about the mind of this emperor. Like the council at Elvira, it helped lay the foundation for centuries of anti-Semitism, synagogue burning and finally, the holocaust.
"A Permission granted to the Hebrews to read the Sacred Scriptures according to Tradition, in Greek, Latin or any other Language, and an Order to expel from their community those who do not believe in the judgment, the Resurrection, and the Creation of Angels."
"Necessity dictates that when the Hebrews listen to their sacred texts they should not confine themselves to the meaning of the letter, but should also devote their attention to those sacred prophecies which are hidden from them, and which announce the mighty Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
"And though, by surrendering themselves to senseless interpretations, they still err from the true doctrine, yet, learning that they disagree among themselves, we have not permitted this disagreement to continue without a ruling on our part."
"From their own complaints which have been brought to us, we have understood that some only speak Hebrew, and wish to use it for the sacred books, and others think that a Greek translation should be added, and that they have been disputing about this for a long time."
"Being apprised of the matter at issue, we give judgment in favour of those who wish to use Greek also for the reading of the sacred scriptures, or any other tongue which in any district allows the hearers better to understand the text."
"We therefore sanction that, wherever there is a Hebrew congregation, those who wish it may, in their synagogues, read the sacred books to those who are present in Greek, or even Latin, or any other tongue. For the language changes in different places, and the reading changes with it, so that all present may understand, and live and act according to what they hear."
"Thus there shall be no opportunity for their interpreters, who make use only of the Hebrew, to corrupt it in any way they like, since the ignorance of the public conceals their depravity. We make this provision so that those who use Greek shall use the text of the seventy interpreters, which is the most accurate translation, and the one most highly approved, since it happened that the translators, divided into two groups, and working in different places, all produced exactly the same text."
"i. Moreover who can fail to admire those men, who, writing long before the saving revelation of our mighty Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, yet as though they saw its coming with their eyes completed the translation of the sacred books as if the prophetic grace was illuminating them."
"This therefore they shall primarily use, but that we may not seem to be forbidding all other texts we allow the use of that of Aquila, though he was not of their people, and his translation differs not slightly from that of the Septuagint."
"ii. But the Mishnah, or as they call it the second tradition, we prohibit entirely. For it is not part of the sacred books, nor is it handed down by divine inspiration through the prophets, but the handiwork of man, speaking only of earthly things, and having nothing of the divine in it."
"But let them read the holy words themselves, rejecting the commentaries, and not concealing what is said in the sacred writings, and disregarding the vain writings which do not form a part of them, which have been devised by them themselves for the destruction of the simple."
"By these instructions we ensure that no one shall be penalised or prohibited who reads the Greek or any other language. And their elders, Archiphericitae and presbyters, and those called magistrates, shall not by any machinations or anathemas have power to refuse this right, unless by chance they wish to suffer corporal punishment and the confiscation of their goods, before they yield to our will and to the commands which are better and clearer to God which we enjoin."
"If any among them seek to introduce impious vanities, denying the resurrection or the judgment, or the work of God, or that angels are part of creation, we require them everywhere to be expelled forthwith; that no backslider raise his impious voice to contradict the evident purpose of God. Those who utter such sentiments shallbe put to death, and thereby the Jewish people shall be purged of the errors which they introduced."
"We pray that when they hear the reading of the books in one or the other language, they may guard themselves against the depravity of the interpreters, and, not clinging to the literal words, come to the point of the matter, and perceive their diviner meaning, so that they may start afresh to learn the better way, and may cease to stray vainly, and to err in that which is most essential, we mean hope in God."
"For this reason we have opened the door for the reading of the scriptures in every language, that all may henceforth receive its teaching, and become fitter for learning better things. For it is acknowledged that he, who is nourished upon the sacred scriptures and has little need of direction, is much readier to discern the truth, and to choose the better path, than he who understands nothing of them, but clings to the name of his faith alone, and is held by it as by a sacred anchor, and believes that what can be called heresy in its purest form is divine teaching."
"This is our sacred will and pleasure, and your Excellency and your present colleague and your staff shall see that it is carried out, and shall not allow the Hebrews to contravene it. Those who resist it or try to put any obstruction in its way, shall first suffer corporal punishment, and then be compelled to live in exile, forfeiting also their property, that they flaunt not their impudence against God and the empire. You shall also circulate our law to the provincial governors, that they learning its contents may enforce it in their several cities, knowing that it is to be strictly carried out under pain of our displeasure."
"For he was at once villainous and amenable; as people say colloquially, a moron. He was never truthful with anyone, but always guileful in what he said and did, yet easily hoodwinked by any who wanted to deceive him. His nature was an unnatural mixture of folly and wickedness."
"This Emperor, then, was deceitful, devious, false, hypocritical, two-faced, cruel, skilled in dissembling his thought, never moved to tears by either joy or pain, though he could summon them artfully at will when the occasion demanded, a liar always, not only offhand, but in writing, and when he swore sacred oaths to his subjects in their very hearing. Then he would immediately break his agreements and pledges, like the vilest of slaves, whom indeed only the fear of torture drives to confess their perjury."
"A faithless friend, he was a treacherous enemy, insane for murder and plunder, quarrelsome and revolutionary, easily led to anything, but never willing to listen to good counsel, quick to plan mischief and carry it out, but finding even the hearing of anything good distasteful to his ears."
"These and many even worse vices were disclosed in him as in no other mortal: nature seemed to have taken the wickedness of all other men combined and planted it in this man's soul."
"Of the plundering of property or the murder of men, no weariness ever overtook him. As soon as he had looted all the houses of the wealthy, he looked around for others; meanwhile throwing away the spoils of his previous robberies in subsidies to barbarians or senseless building extravagances. And when he had ruined perhaps myriads in this mad looting, he immediately sat down to plan how he could do likewise to others in even greater number."
"Consequently no place, mountain or cave, or any other spot in Roman territory, during this time remained uninjured; and many regions were pillaged more than five times.
"..an imperial victory which would establish the form of absolutism by which Byzantine history is generally characterized". -- JB Bury, The History of the Later Roman Empire, Vol 1, page 345, on the 30,000 slaughtered in the Hippodrome racetrack stadium by Justinian's order.