Friday, December 4, 2009

St. John Damascene and the "Ishmaelites"

When I first came upon this post, I wondered at first glance which ultramontane rabble-rouser had authored it, before realizing that it was from the writings of St. John Damascene. He was the last of the Greek Fathers and lived at a time when the ancient Christian communities were falling into Moslem hands. St. John did not mince words.
They furthermore accuse us of being idolaters, because we venerate the cross, which they abominate. And we answer them: ‘How is it, then, that you rub yourselves against a stone in your Ka’ba [107] and kiss and embrace it?’ Then some of them say that Abraham had relations with Agar upon it, but others say that he tied the camel to it, when he was going to sacrifice Isaac. And we answer them: ‘Since Scripture says that the mountain was wooded and had trees from which Abraham cut wood for the holocaust and laid it upon Isaac, [108] and then he left the asses behind with the two young men, why talk nonsense? For in that place neither is it thick with trees nor is there passage for asses.’ And they are embarrassed, but they still assert that the stone is Abraham’s. Then we say: ‘Let it be Abraham’s, as you so foolishly say. Then, just because Abraham had relations with a woman on it or tied a camel to it, you are not ashamed to kiss it, yet you blame us for venerating the cross of Christ by which the power of the demons and the deceit of the Devil was destroyed.’ This stone that they talk about is a head of that Aphrodite whom they used to worship and whom they called Khabár. Even to the present day, traces of the carving are visible on it to careful observers.

2 comments:

Terry Nelson said...

Amazing! I never read this!

elena maria vidal said...

I thought it was pretty interesting, too.

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