Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Christianity as war

In Athens there's a tremendous temptation to focus on the antiquities, from the Acropolis and the Archaelogical Museum to the Agora. But for my money, the most interesting attraction is the Benaki Museum, which focuses on post-Hellenic Greece from Byzantium forward.

After trolling about for a little while, I was fairly stunned by the incidence of the image of St George slaying the dragon, supposedly an allegory of Christianity's subjugation of paganism. "Supposedly" I say, because, upon reflection, the image of horses and spears seems more likely to have been a literal representation of Christianity's advance than a figurative one. Think about it, how were new converts to Christ won over? Did missionary's roll in and sweet talk them about the meek inheriting the earth? No. That whole ideology was a long way from being invented. A bunch of soldiers would come into a town, announce the arrival of a new religion, tear down pagan temples, and demand tribute. That's got to be how it worked.

Nowhere is the bellicose nature of Christianity clearer than in Greece, which stood at the Eastern edge of the Christian world, facing off against the Saracens.


Anonymous said...

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