Friedrich Nietzsche
Translation: H.L. Mencken


--What follows, then? That one had better put on gloves before reading the New Testament. The presence of so much filth makes it very advisable. One would as little choose "early Christians" for companions as Polish Jews: not that one need seek out an objection to them . . . Neither has a pleasant smell.--I have searched the New Testament in vain for a single sympathetic touch; nothing is there that is free, kindly, open-hearted or upright. In it humanity does not even make the first step upward--the instinct for cleanliness is lacking. . . . Only evil instincts are there, and there is not even the courage of these evil instincts. It is all cowardice; it is all a shutting of the eyes, a self-deception. Every other book becomes clean, once one has read the New Testament: for example, immediately after reading Paul I took up with delight that most charming and wanton of scoffers, Petronius, of whom one may say what Domenico Boccaccio wrote of Ceasar Borgia to the Duke of Parma: "e tutto Iesto"--immortally healthy, immortally cheerful and sound. . . .These petty bigots make a capital miscalculation. They attack, but everything they attack is thereby distinguished. Whoever is attacked by an "early Christian" is surely not befouled . . . On the contrary, it is an honour to have an "early Christian" as an opponent. One cannot read the New Testament without acquired admiration for whatever it abuses--not to speak of the "wisdom of this world," which an impudent wind bag tries to dispose of "by the foolishness of preaching." . . . Even the scribes and pharisees are benefitted by such opposition: they must certainly have been worth something to have been hated in such an indecent manner. Hypocrisy--as if this were a charge that the "early Christians" dared to make!--After all, they were the privileged, and that was enough: the hatred of the Chandala needed no other excuse. The "early Christian"--and also, I fear, the "last Christian," whom I may perhaps live to see--is a rebel against all privilege by profound instinct--he lives and makes war for ever for "equal rights." . . .Strictly speaking, he has no alternative. When a man proposes to represent, in his own person, the "chosen of God"--or to be a "temple of God," or a "judge of the angels"--then every other criterion, whether based upon honesty, upon intellect, upon manliness and pride, or upon beauty and freedom of the heart, becomes simply "worldly"--evil in itself. . . Moral: every word that comes from the lips of an "early Christian" is a lie, and his every act is instinctively dishonest--all his values, all his aims are noxious, but whoever he hates, whatever he hates, has real value . . . The Christian, and particularly the Christian priest, is thus a criterion of values. --Must I add that, in the whole New Testament, there appears but a solitary figure worthy of honour? Pilate, the Roman viceroy. To regard a Jewish imbroglio seriously--that was quite beyond him. One Jew more or less-- what did it matter? . . . The noble scorn of a Roman, before whom the word "truth" was shamelessly mishandled, enriched the New Testament with the only saying that has any value--and that is at once its criticism and its destruction: "What is truth?". . .

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