In Defence Of The Catholic Church



In Defence Of The Roman Catholic Church
Part One

Listening to Messe De La Nativité: Gaudeamus Hodie; Puer Natus Est Nobis – performed by Ensemble Gilles Binchois – I am so reminded how the Roman Catholic Church inspired such numinosity, such beauty, century following century. For it is as if such music presenced the Divine to thus remind us, we fallible error-prone mortals, of another realm beyond the material and beyond our own mortal desires.

Such presencing of the Divine – such a numinous reminder of our fallibility, century following century, as for example in Kyrie Orbis Factor as performed by Ensemble Organum – seems to have become somewhat lost in all the recent Media propaganda about how some Catholic priests and monks have allowed their personal desires to overwhelm such a presencing of the numinous and which presencing of the divine is and was manifest in compassion, empathy, and a personal humility.

Lost, in all the Media propaganda, because I from personal experience know that such incidents are perpetrated by a minority of individuals and that the vast majority of Catholic priests and monks are good individuals who strive, who often struggle, each in their own way and according to their physis, to manifest the virtues of compassion, empathy, and humility. That so many writers and readers of such Media propaganda in this our modern world seem to commit the fallacy of a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter no longer, unfortunately, surprises me.

In respect of personal experience I have to admit that I was somewhat dismayed by a recent report issued by a government sponsored Inquiry Panel. For I personally had known two of the individuals mentioned in that report, knowing from personal experience in a certain monastery that they, and the few others like them over the years, were the exception out of dozens and dozens of the other monks and priests there. I was also somewhat dismayed by what I felt was the personal opinion of the authors of that report – stated in their “Conclusions” – that those involved in placing their personal desires before compassion, empathy, and humility, are “likely to be considerably greater than numbers cited in the convictions” since no evidence was presented to substantiate such an opinion. Another example of individuals committing the fallacy of a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter? Probably.

            But why does someone who has developed a somewhat paganus weltanschauung – the mystical individualistic numinous way of pathei-mathos – now defend a supra-personal organization such as the Roman Catholic Church? Because I from personal experience appreciate that for all its many faults – recent and otherwise – and despite my disagreement regarding some of its teachings it still on balance does, at least in my fallible opinion, presence – as it has for centuries presenced – aspects of the numinous and which presencing has over centuries, again in my fallible opinion, had a beneficial affect on many human beings.

As I wrote some years ago in respect of visiting my father’s grave in Africa:

“Once I happened to be travelling to an area which colonial and imperialist Europeans formerly described as part of ‘darkest Africa’. Part of this travel involved a really long journey on unpaved roads by bus from an urban area. You know the type of thing – an unreliable weekly or sporadic service in some old vehicle used by villagers to take themselves (and often their produce and sometimes their livestock) to and from an urban market and urban-dwelling relatives. On this service, to a remote area, it [seemed to be] the custom – before the journey could begin – for someone to stand at the front and say a Christian prayer with every passenger willingly joining in.

It was quite touching. As was the fact that, at the village where I stayed (with a local family) near that grave, everyone went to Church on a Sunday, wearing the best clothes they could, and there was a real sense (at least to me) of how their faith helped them and gave them some guidance for the better, for it was as if they, poor as they were, were in some way living, or were perhaps partly an embodiment of, the ethos expressed by the Sermon of the Mount, and although I no longer shared their Christian faith, I admired them and respected their belief and understood what that faith seemed to have given them.

Who was – who am – I to try and preach to them, to judge them and that faith? I was – I am – just one fallible human being who believes he may have some personal and fallible answers to certain questions; just one person among billions aware of his past arrogance and his suffering-causing mistakes.” [1]

Is to not judge others without a personal knowing of them, to not commit fallacies such as a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter, to allow for personal expiation, perhaps to presence the numinous in at least one small and quite individual way? Personally, I am inclined to believe it is.

Pietatis fons immense, ἐλέησον
Noxas omnes nostras pelle, ἐλέησον [2]

David Myatt



[2] “Immeasurable origin of piety, have mercy. Banish all our faults, have mercy.” Kyrie Orbis Factor.

Although the Greek phrase Κύριε ἐλέησον is considered to be a Christian doxology, deriving from the Old Testament, it is possible that it was a common phrase in Greco-Roman culture, with origins dating back to the classical period, for it occurs in the Discourses of Epictetus – Book II, vii, 13 – in relation to a discussion about divination,

καὶ τὸν θεὸν ἐπικαλούμενοι δεόμεθα αὐτοῦ κύριε ἐλέησον

and in our invocations to the theos our bidding is: Master, have mercy.


Part Two: Expiation And Penance

Two of the guiding practical principles of living as a Roman Catholic seem to me, on the basis of personal experience and fallible understanding, to be expiation and penance, related as they are to what was termed the Sacrament of Confession – now re-named the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation – and thence related to one of the founding principles of the Roman Catholic Church: that an ordained Priest has the religious authority [1] to give absolution for the “sins” [2] a person has committed, and the authority to specify what penance is required for expiation, but which absolution is dependant on the person making a full and truthful confession and being repentant.

Such personal confession, penance, and expiation, are evidential of how a practising Catholic interacts with the Divine and is thus personally reminded of what is spiritual, eternal, numinous, and beyond the causal everyday world. As I wrote in my essay Numinous Expiation,

“One of the many problems regarding both The Numinous Way and my own past which troubles me – and has troubled me for a while – is how can a person make reparation for suffering caused, inflicted, and/or dishonourable deeds done […]

One of the many benefits of an organized theistic religion, such as Christianity or Islam or Judaism, is that mechanisms of personal expiation exist whereby such feelings can be placed in context and expiated by appeals to the supreme deity. In Judaism, there is Teshuvah culminating in Yom Kippur, the day of expiation/reconciliation. In Catholicism, there is the sacrament of confession and penance. In Islam, there is personal dua to, and reliance on, Allah Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem, As-Salaam.

Even pagan religions and ways had mechanisms of personal expiation for wrong deeds done, often in the form of propitiation; the offering of a sacrifice, perhaps, or compensation by the giving or the leaving of a valuable gift or votive offering at some numinous – some sacred and venerated – place or site.” [3]

This personal – and via the Confessional, this priestly – connexion to the Divine, with the attendant penitence, penance, personal expiation, seems to me to have been somewhat neglected when non-Catholics, and even some Catholics criticize the Roman Catholic Church for their past response to those accused of placing their personal (often sexual) desires before compassion, empathy, and humility.

That is, such criticism is secular; based on what is temporal, causal, such as some secular law or some personal emotive reaction, with the spiritual – the eternal – dimension to mortal life unconsidered. Which spiritual dimension is for Catholics based on allowing for personal expiation by spiritual means such as confession, penitence, and penance.

This allowance for such personal expiation by such spiritual means is what, according to my fallible understanding, informed the treatment by the Catholic hierarchy of many of those accused of placing their personal desires before obedience to their God.

For judgement according to such a spiritual dimension was, rightly or wrongly, often considered more important than secular recompense and secular punishment. Understood thus, there were no – to use a vernacular term – “cover-ups”, just the application of certain spiritual considerations, considerations which are the foundations of the Catholic faith based as such considerations are on the belief in the Eternal Life – in Heaven or in Hell – which awaits all mortals, one portal to such an Eternal Life in Heaven being, according to Catholic faith, the sacrament of confession.

Another aspect of this Catholic priority of the spiritual over the secular is the sanctity (the seal) of the confessional and which sanctity is adjudged to be more important than secular laws relating, for example, to disclosure of or information regarding actions deemed to be criminal.

            As for my personal opinions on the matter, I have none, for who am I – with my decades of hubris, my knowledge of my plenitude of mistakes – to judge others, to judge anyone? I have tried to rationally understand both the secular and the spiritual dimensions involved, having personal experience of both, and as so often these days remain somewhat perplexed by our human nature and by the need so many humans, myself included, still have for a belief in a spiritual dimension whereby we can connect ourselves to the numinous, to the Divine – however the Divine is presenced to and in us – enabling us to perhaps find some peace, some happiness, some solace, some answers, among the turmoil, the suffering, the changement, of the secular world.

My portal to the spiritual remains ‘the way of pathei-mathos’, the way of striving to cultivate, striving to live by, the virtues of humility, empathy, compassion, honour, non-interference, and self-restraint. A very individual way devoid of mythoi and anthropomorphic deities.

Perhaps it would be easier to believe in God, to accept again the Catholic expiation of the sacraments of Confession and the Mass. It would perhaps be even easier to accept some tangible votive wordless means in the form of offering some paganus propitiation, some libation, some talismata left, at some numinous paganus site.

But as Aeschylus so well-expressed it,

ἔστι δ᾽ ὅπη νῦν
ἔστι: τελεῖται δ᾽ ἐς τὸ πεπρωμένον:
οὔθ᾽ ὑποκαίων οὔθ᾽ ὑπολείβων
οὔτε δακρύων ἀπύρων ἱερῶν
ὀργὰς ἀτενεῖς παραθέλξει [4]

What is now, came to be
As it came to be. And its ending has been ordained.
No concealed laments, no concealed libations,
No unburnt offering
Can charm away that firm resolve.

Which type of sentiment I feel philosophers such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius also saught to express.

David Myatt


[1] Qv. John 20:22-23,

λάβετε πνεῦμα ἅγιον ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἀφέωνται αὐτοῖς ἄν τινων κρατῆτε κεκράτηνται

Receive Halig Spiritus: if you release anyone from their errors, they are released; if you hold onto them, they are held onto.

In regard to the term Spiritus in my commentary on John 1:31, I wrote:

τὸ πνεῦμα. Almost without exception, since Wycliffe’s Bible the Greek here has been translated as “the spirit”, although the ASV [the Anglo-Saxon Version] has gast (gast of heofenum), whence the later English word ‘ghost’. However, given what the terms ‘spirit’ and ‘ghost’ – both in common usage, and as a result of over a thousand years of Christian exegesis – now impute, it is apposite to offer an alternative and one which is germane to the milieu of the Gospels or which at least suggests something of the numinosity presenced, in this instance, via the Gospel of John. Given that the transliteration pnuema – with its modern association with terms such as pneumatic – does not unequivocally suggest the numinous, I have chosen spiritus, as referenced in respect of gast in Wright’s Anglo-Saxon And Old English Vocabularies.

In regard to the translation Halig Spiritus in my commentary on John 5:33, I wrote:

I have here used the Old English word Halig – as for example found in the version of John 17.11 in the Lindisfarne Gospel, ‘Du halig fæder’ – to translate ἅγιος rather than the later word ‘holy’ derived as that is from halig and used as it was by Wycliffe in his 1389 translation of this phrase, “in the Hooly Gost”, which itself echoes the ASV, “on Halgum Gaste.”

The unique phrase in Halig Spiritus – in place of the conventional ‘with the Holy Spirit’ – may thus express something of the numinosity, and the newness, of the original Gospel, especially as the word ‘holy’ has been much overused, imputes particular meanings from over a thousand years of exegesis, and, latterly in common parlance, has become somewhat trivialized.

[2] As I have noted in several essays, and in my translation of the Gospel of John, I prefer to translate the Greek term ἁμαρτία not by the conventional ‘sin’ but rather by ‘error’ or ‘mistake’. As I wrote in the essay Exegesis and Translation,

One of the prevalent English words used in translations of the New Testament, and one of the words now commonly associated with revealed religions such as Christianity and Islam, is sin. A word which now imputes and for centuries has imputed a particular and at times somewhat strident if not harsh moral attitude, with sinners starkly contrasted with the righteous, the saved, and with sin, what is evil, what is perverse, to be shunned and shudderingly avoided.

One of the oldest usages of the word sin – so far discovered – is in the c. 880 CE translation of the c. 525 CE text Consolatio Philosophiae, a translation attributed to King Ælfred. Here, the Old English spelling of syn is used:

Þæt is swiðe dyslic & swiðe micel syn þæt mon þæs wenan scyle be Gode

The context of the original Latin of Boethius is cogitare, in relation to a dialogue about goodness and God, so that the sense of the Latin is that it is incorrect – an error, wrong – to postulate/claim/believe certain things about God. There is thus here, in Boethius, as in early English texts such as Beowulf, the sense of doing what was wrong, of committing an error, of making a mistake, of being at fault; at most of overstepping the bounds, of transgressing limits imposed by others, and thus being ‘guilty’ of such an infraction, a sense which the suggested etymology of the word syn implies: from the Latin sons, sontis.

Thus, this early usage of the English word syn seems to impart a sense somewhat different from what we now associate with the word sin, which is why in my translation of John, 8.7, I eschewed that much overused and pejorative word in order to try and convey something of the numinous original:

So, as they continued to ask [for an answer] he straightened himself, saying to them: “Let he who has never made a mistake [ Αναμαρτητος ] throw the first stone at her.”

ὡς δὲ ἐπέμενον ἐρωτῶντες αὐτόν, ἀνέκυψεν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὁ ἀναμάρτητος ὑμῶν πρῶτος ἐπ’ αὐτὴν βαλέτω λίθον.

Jesus here is not, in my view, sermonizing about sin, as a puritan preacher might, and as if he is morally superior to and has judged the sinners. Instead, he is rather gently and as a human pointing out an obvious truth about our human nature; explaining, in v.11, that he has not judged her conduct:

ἡ δὲ εἶπεν· οὐδείς, κύριε. εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· οὐδὲ ἐγώ σε κατακρίνω· πορεύου, ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε

[And] she answered, No one, my Lord. Whereupon Jesus replied “Neither do I judge [κατακρίνω] you, therefore go, and avoid errors such as those.”

The essay is available at and was included as an Appendix to my Mercvrii Trismegisti Pymander (ISBN 978-1495470684)

[3] The essay is available at

[4] Agamemnon, 67-71


All translations by DWM

Article source:

Another Iconoclastic Translation

David Myatt


DW Myatt: The Beatitudes

The document contains David Myatt’s translation of and commentary on The Beatitudes, {1} which part of the New Testament – Matthew 5:1–10 – is an iconic part of the Christian religion.

As with his other iconoclastic translations – such as from the Corpus Hermeticum {2} and The Gospel Of John {3} – he provides a new and refreshingly different insight into an ancient text.

However, readers should be aware that Myatt’s commentary on the Greek text of The Beatitudes relies heavily on his commentary on the Greek text of the Gospel of John {3} and on his commentaries on the Greek texts of the Corpus Hermeticum which he has translated {2}.

RDM Crew
June 2018





A Review of Tu Es Diaboli Ianua

De Vita Coelitus Comparanda

The 39 page essay which is spectacularly titled Tu Es Diaboli Ianua {1} is David Myatt’s latest philosophical offering. In his Exordium – a preface by any other name – he outlines the questions which he answers in the essay. The questions are

“is Christianity a suitable presencing of the numinous… If it is not, then could that religion be reformed, by developing a Johannine Weltanschauung…Would such a reformation be a suitable presencing of the numinous, and if not, then what non-Christian alternatives – such as a paganus metaphysics – exist, and what is the foundation of such an alternative.”

He writes that the essay compliments his book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos.

While his answers are somewhat convoluted and decidedly scholarly and thus other-worldly – given the copious quotations in ancient and Hellenic Greek and his own translations – he raises many interesting issues relevant to the “real world” which most of us inhabit. For he writes that

“the problem is – or so it seems to me – in impersonal written texts. Or, more precisely, in denotatum, and thus in assigning terms – in using words – to describe an apprehension of the numinous. Which leads us to the fundamental difference between a religious apprehension of the numinous – based on received and venerated texts, on exegesis – and the paganus apprehension of the numinous as manifest in Greco-Roman culture.”

And also that

[Greco-Roman] “paganism will be examined for two reasons. Firstly, because it is manifest in a multiplicity of primary sources – from Homer to Hesiod to Cicero and beyond – and secondly because Greco-Roman culture is inextricably bound to the culture of the West and formed the basis for the European Renaissance that emerged in the 14th century, one aspect of which was a widespread appreciation of classical Art, of classical literature, and of texts such as the Corpus Hermeticum.”

Having criticized Christianity, he also declaims that an important aspect of Greco-Roman paganism is a respect for ancestral custom, writing in the last section of the last chapter that the new ‘numinous metaphysics’ he proposes includes “a spiritual and interior (and thus not political) understanding and appreciation of our own Ancestral Culture.”

Which statement about Western ancestral culture is profoundly “politically incorrect” and will be music to the ears of those few intellectuals who still champion the culture of the West.

That said, the essay is not without its problems. One is that given the copious quotations in ancient and Hellenic Greek it is, as with his book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos, difficult to classify and difficult to discern who the intended audience is. As we wrote in our review of that book, “many of those interested in Western paganism as a new way of life or as a modern, non-Christian, spirituality may find [this essay] too academic or too boring; while those academically interested in such matters will doubtless turn to other authors given Myatt’s experiential Faustian quests, his iconoclasm, his often underserved reputation, and thus his exclusion from academia.”

Personally, we think Myatt is simply making publicly available the result of his metaphysical questioning while also, as with his Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos, intending this new essay for those few Western individuals who, interested in re-discovering their Western pagan heritage, have been looking for the intellectual foundations of that pagan culture.

A second problem is that his conclusion – his description of his new pagan metaphysics – is brief to the point of almost being obscure, occupying as it does a short statement in the final paragraph, with no explanations provided.

But perhaps, given Myatt’s criticism of denotatum (words, and naming, by any other name) and his statement that “the culture of pathei-mathos has moved us, or can move us, beyond anthropomorphic deities, whether male or female; beyond myths and legends; beyond reliance on texts regarded as sacred and/or as divinely inspired; and even beyond the need for denotatum and religion” then this short statement that such “is the numinous” is all that is required.

R.S & K.S
December, 2017

{1} A copy of Myatt’s essay is available here:

Image credit: The beginning of the twenty-sixth chapter of the book De Vita Coelitus Comparanda by Marsilii Ficini published in 1489 CE

Review Of Myatt’s Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos

David Myatt

David Myatt

Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos. 2017.
ISBN 978-1979599023. 41 pages.

In the Fall of 2017 David Myatt released extracts from his forthcoming book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and which extracts led dozens of individuals interested in Myatt’s works to eagerly await the publication of the book itself given that such extracts seemed to imply that he intended to create a modern, Western, paganism founded on the warrior ethos of ancient Greece and Rome, with Myatt in his extract writing that

“such a modern paganus weltanschauung may also be a means to reconnect those in the lands of the West, and those in Western émigré lands and former colonies of the West, with their ancestral ethos, for them to thus become, or return to being, a living, dwelling, part – a connexion between the past and the future – of what is still a living, and evolving, culture. Perhaps the future of that culture depends on whether sufficient individuals can live by the high personal standards of such a modern paganus weltanschauung.”

However, when Myatt issued the first draft of the complete book in early November 2017 some individuals were disappointed since the promised ‘modern paganus weltanschauung’ seemed to be just a watered-down version of his mystical philosophy of pathei mathos. Myatt, as is his wont, then over several weeks revised this draft many times {1} culminating on November 9th 2017 in a printed version – a so-called ‘second edition’ – together with an updated ‘gratis open access’ pdf version containing the same text and which he made available on his internet blog. {2}

As Myatt notes in the Introduction to the printed edition: “For this Second Edition, I have clarified and extended the text in several places, added a revised version of my essay From Aeschylus To The Numinous Way as an Appendix, and taken the opportunity to correct some typos.”

As the blurb for the book states, it is

“a study in the difference between Christianity and the paganism of Ancient Greece and Rome, evident as that paganism is in the writings of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Cicero and many other classical authors. A study which includes developing that paganism in a metaphysical way, beyond the deities of classical mythos, thus making such paganism relevant to the modern Western world. A modern development which involves an analysis of the texts of the Corpus Hermeticum.”

The final published work does indeed develop Greco-Roman paganism in a metaphysical way, with Myatt writing in chapter 3 that

“the quintessence of such a weltanschauung, of the paganus ethos, is that ethics are presenced in and by particular living individuals, not in some written text whether philosophical or otherwise, not by some proposed schemata, and not in some revelation from some deity. Which paganus ethics, when evolved – combined with the paganus mysticism evident in the Corpus Hermeticum and the cultural pathei-mathos of the past two millennia presenced through the insight of empathy – leads us to a modern paganus weltanschauung.”

He concludes his study by writing that

“the paganus weltanschauung, ancestral to the lands of the West, that has emerged is one which, shorn of technical, Greek, and metaphysical terms, many may find familiar or already be intuitively aware of […]

[This] awareness of all these connexions is awareness of, and a respect for, the numinous, for these connexions, being acausal, are affective: that is, we are inclined by our physis (whether we apprehend it or not) to have an influence on that which, or those whom, the connexion is to or from. For what we do or do not do, consciously or otherwise, affects or can affect the cosmos and thus the other livings beings which exist in the cosmos, and it is a conscious awareness of connexions and acausal affects, with their causal consequences, which reason, perceiverance, and empathy make us – or can make us – aware of. Which awareness may incline us toward acting, and living, in a noble way, with what is noble known or experienced, discovered, through and because of (i) the personal virtue of honour, evident as honour is in fairness, manners and a balanced demeanour, and (ii) the wordless knowing of empathy, manifest as empathy is in compassion and tolerance.”

For the crux of his argument is that Western paganism differs fundamentally from – and is better than – a revealed religion such as Christianity because in that paganism ethics are “presenced in and by particular living individuals, not in some written text whether philosophical or otherwise, not by some proposed schemata, and not in some revelation from some deity,” in contrast to Christianity whose ethics can be discovered by having to interpret “the word of God” as found in the texts of the Old and New Testaments. He adds that “a reliance on written texts, as in Christianity, may well be a mistake.”

His modern pagan metaphysics therefore balances the Greco-Roman human ideal – which Myatt writes can be expressed in one Greek phrase: καλὸς κἀγαθός – with the insights resulting from millennia of pathei mathos, expressed in Studia Humanitatis, in what he calls ‘the culture of pathei-mathos’. {3}

As a result, the book – replete with copious quotations in Ancient and Hellenistic Greek – is curiously interesting explaining much about Greco-Roman paganism and hermeticism, as well as about Christianity. Yet it is difficult to know who the intended readers are since many of those interested in Western paganism as a new way of life or as a modern, non-Christian, spirituality may find it too academic or too boring; while those academically interested in such matters will doubtless turn to other authors given Myatt’s experiential Faustian quests, his iconoclasm, his often underserved reputation, and thus his exclusion from academia.

Perhaps Myatt intended the book for those few individuals who can or who aspire “to live by the high personal standards of such a modern paganus weltanschauung” because such a paganism may reconnect some of “those in the lands of the West, and those in Western émigré lands and former colonies of the West, with their ancestral ethos”.

R.S & K.S
November, 2017

N.B. As with almost all of Myatt’s printed books, the size is idiosyncratic, being 11 inches x 8.5 inches in format, which is larger than the conventional ‘trade paperback’ (6 inches by 9 inches). In terms of number of pages, 20+ pages should be added to such ‘large format’ books in order to approximate the number of pages in a standard 6 inches by 9 inches paperback.


{1} In our view Myatt is to be commended for making public his revisions of his texts. As someone recently wrote: “The extracts and subsequent revised extracts from his texts and translations that Myatt has published on his blog over the years provide an interesting insight into the creative process. A process which many authors and academics for some reason seem to want to keep secret. Perhaps some of them want to try and hide their mistakes or how their thoughts and opinions change or evolve as a result of further research, or more inspiration, or more thought.”


A copy of the pdf file is here:

{3} This ‘culture of pathei mathos’ is one of the central themes of Myatt’s philosophy of pathei-mathos. See his essay Education and the Culture of Pathei-Mathos, included in his 2014 book One Vagabond In Exile From The Gods. The essay is also available here:

This review is issued under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
(CC BY-ND 4.0) license
and can be freely copied and distributed, under the terms of that license.

Myatt: Reason And Belief


The pdf document below contains David Myatt’s now completed book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and supersedes previously issued extracts. The text was last revised on 9.xi.17.

Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos
Second Edition




Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos


The document below contains the second edition of David Myatt’s book Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos and supersedes previously issued extracts. The text was last revised and updated on 9.xi.17.

Classical Paganism And The Christian Ethos

Aside: The extracts and subsequent revised extracts from his texts and translations that Myatt has published on his blog over the years provide an interesting insight into the creative process. A process which many authors and academics for some reason seem to want to keep secret. Perhaps some of them want to try and hide their mistakes or how their thoughts and opinions change or evolve as a result of further research, or more inspiration, or more thought.


Flavius Josephus: Unreliable Witness

In a recent article {1} David Myatt quotes from one Flavius Josephus, the much vaunted Jewish ‘historian’ who lived during the time of Vespasian, the Roman general whose son destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

Myatt’s article reminded me of how unreliable Josephus is as an historical source, how boastful he was about himself, and how his writings (such as The Antiquities of the Jews, and The Jewish War) are still used as a reliable source by many authors.

Among the uncorroborated boasts of Josephus was his claim to be of “royal blood” and that he was so knowledgable at 14 years of age that High Priests and other influential people came to him for advice (The Life of Flavius Josephus, 1) . Other uncorroborated boasts are that during the Judean rebellion against Rome he was high-ranking military officer who was responsible for raising and training a large army and for fortifying cities, and that when the people of Jerusalem believed false rumors of his death they were all in morning for a month.

When what he writes can be checked with other historical accounts his errors are obvious. To present just four from dozens of examples. (1) Comparing the account of Josephus regarding the camp of Mithridates by the Nile (Antiquities, 14. 128-136) with the accounts of Cassius Dio (42.41ff), and of Alus Hirtius in De Bello Alexandrino (26ff) shows that Josephus got his facts wrong. (2) Comparing the account of Josephus regarding the expulsion of Hebrews (Antiquities, 12.414ff) with sources such as For Flaccus (28) by Cicero contradicts Josephus. (3) Josephus confuses the Persian Kings Darius the Second and Darius the Third. (4) Josephus (Antiquities, 168) claimed that Nehemiah travelled to Jerusalem in the 25th year of the reign of Xerxes despite the fact that the reign of Xerxes only lasted for 20 years.

In summary, because of his proven unreliability and his boasting Josephus comes across as someone repeating uncorroborated hearsay; as biased, and as self-serving. Someone, that is, who in this day and age would not – or who should not – be considered a reliable witness.



Another Iconoclastic Translation


Another Iconoclastic Translation

Although David Myatt’s translation of the gospel of John from the Christian New Testament is a work-in-progress, sufficient has been released for a preliminary review. Thus far he has published the completed translation of the whole of chapters 1,2 and 3, which partial and regularly updated translation is available, as a pdf file, from The Gospel According To John.

To describe the translation as iconoclastic is something of an understatement. Perhaps more aptly it is heretical in the sense that Wycliffe’s 14th century and Luther’s 16th century translations were at the time considered by some to be heretical. To understand why it might be considered heretical, by mainstream Christians at least, we need to examine Myatt’s methodology.


Myatt’s methodology is the same as that used in his translations of chapters from the Corpus Hermeticum which was written in the same Hellenistic Greek as the New Testament. His methodology is to use some transliterations – theos instead of god/God; phaos instead of light; and so on – and to find unusual English words for Greek terms which he considers are important to preserve the meaning current at the time the writings were composed. His reasoning is that particular English words – and angel, Word, spirit, prison, heaven, hour, and Jews, come to mind vis-a-vis the gospels – have acquired or now convey meanings which are not appropriate to the time of the gospels and which thus distort the text.

One very striking example is his translation of verse 24 of chapter 3. The King James Bible has “For John was not yet cast into prison.” All other English translations are similar. Myatt, however, has “And John had yet to be hurled into a guarded cage.”

In his commentary on this verse he writes,

βεβλημένος εἰς τὴν φυλακὴν. A phrase deserving some consideration, for φυλακή is not ‘prison’ as prisons are understood today and in the past few centuries but rather ‘a guarded cage’, with βεβλημένος εἰς implying a forceful ‘throwing’ or a hurling into such a cage.

A quick check of a dictionary of ancient Greek reveals that φυλάσσω – the origin of the term φυλακή – does mean “to keep guard” and figuratively, in the likes of Herodotus, implies a ‘cage’.

But possibly most controversial of all is his rejection of English terms such as Jews, angel and heaven. In place of Jews he has Judaeans, writing in a comment on chapter 1 verse 19,

After much consideration I have translated ἰουδαία not by the conventional term ‘Jews’ but rather by Judaeans, given (i) that the English terms Jews and Jewish (deriving from the 13th/14th century words gyv/gyw and Iewe) have acquired connotations (modern and medieval) which are not relevant to the period under consideration; and (ii) that the Greek term derives from a place name, Judaea (as does the Latin iudaeus); and (iii) that the Anglo-Saxon version (ASV) retains the sense of the Greek: here (iudeas) as elsewhere, as for example at 2.6, æfter iudea geclensunge, “according to Judaean cleansing.”

In a long and bound to be controversial comment on the term ‘heaven’ he writes,

Conventionally, οὐρανός here is always translated as ‘heaven’ although the term ‘heaven’ – used in the context of the Gospels – now has rather different connotations than the Greek οὐρανός, with the word ‘heaven’ now often implying something explained by almost two thousand years of exegesis and as depicted, for example, in medieval and Renaissance Christian art. However, those hearing or reading this particular Greek gospel for the first time in the formative years of Christianity would most probably have assumed the usual Greek usage of “the heavens” in the sense of the “the star-filled firmament above” or in the sense of “the sky” or as the abode of theos and/or of the gods (ἐν οὐρανῷ θεοί), an assumption consistent with the fact that the Evangelist explains and interprets certain non-Greek words (qv. the comment on 1.42) and considering also his use of a colloquial Greek expression (qv. the comment on 1.51).

It therefore seems apposite to suggest a more neutral word than ‘heaven’ as a translation of οὐρανός and one which might not only be understood in various ‘classical’ ways by an audience of Greek speakers (such as the ways described above) but also be open to a new, and Christian, interpretation consistent with the milieu that existed when the Gospel of John was written and first heard. That is, before the exegesis of later centuries and long before post-Roman Christian iconography. Hence my suggestion of the post-classical Latin term Empyrean, which can bear the interpretation of the abode of theos and/or of the gods, of “the sky”, of the “the star-filled firmament above; and a Christian one suggested by Genesis 2.8 – παράδεισον ἐν Εδεμ (the Paradise of Eden) – and also by shamayim, שָׁמַיִם

Which is why the standard translation of a verse such as chapter 1,19 – “And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you?” – is interpreted by Myatt as

For such was the evidence John gave when the Judaeans dispatched priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him: “Who are you?”


His heretical interpretation is evident in so many passages it is difficult to pick out just one or two. But the following is a typical example, from chapter 3, verses 19-21, with Myatt pointing out in his commentary that in the gospel of John the phaos is identified as Jesus himself and thus is in the gospel of John a synonym for Jesus.

And this is the condemnation: That the Phaos arrived in the world but mortals loved the darkness more than the Phaos, for their deeds were harmful. For anyone who does what is mean dislikes the Phaos and does not come near the Phaos lest their deeds be exposed. But whomsoever practices disclosure goes to the Phaos so that their deeds might be manifest as having been done through Theos.

This is conventionally translated as “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

The effect of Myatt’s interpretation of the gospel is that it not only humanizes Jesus but also Christianity so that the message we apparently get is not of “fire and brimstone” – not of evil verses good, not of sin and the need to believe – but of what the likes of Julian of Norwich, George Fox and William Penn wrote and spoke of, and it is perhaps no coincidence that Myatt mentions those persons in the Preface to his translation.


As to whether Myatt’s translation, when completed, will find a niche is an interesting question given not just his iconoclastic methodology but also the esteem in which the gospels are held by Christians the vast majority of whom, were they to read his translation, would probably be offended by his interpretation.

As to when the translation will be completed, if the rate of updates is any guide it will be in about a year from now.

June 2017

Gospel Of John: Chapter One, 1-29


The Gospel Of John, Chapter I, vv.1-29


The pdf document above is Myatt’s translation of and commentary on verses 1-29 of chapter one of the Gospel of John. As Myatt writes:

[Since] this translation is a work in progress, it will be updated as and when newly translated verses are available and is subject to revision. Extracts from the accompanying Commentary are given in the appendix. I have also included the Greek text (NA28) of vv.1-13 of chapter one so that those conversant with New Testament Greek can compare my translation of those verses to that text.