The war on heresy begins
Epiphanius of Salamis founded a Christian monastery in Palestine in the year 333. He was highly educated and could read five languages and eventually wrote an influential book used to condemn thousands of Christians titled, Panarion (medicine chest). It was a savage attack on 80 different Christian congregations scattered around the world who didn’t conform with Epiphanius’ rigid ideas about Christianity, attacks based mostly on hearsay and tainted by propaganda. Epiphanius was opposed to mixing any other traditions with Christianity and identified four major sources of corruption: Scythianism, Hellenism, Judaism, and barbarism.
Christians and Jews had been expelled from Judea and settled all around the Mediterranean forming unique congregations and experimenting with ritual and ceremony. Most were incorporating elements from other traditions because Christianity was a relatively new religion. Scythianism was a reference to the widespread use of cannabis, either smoked or mixed in milk. Hellenism was an attack on efforts to merge Jesus with Apollo or employ the psychoactive sacraments of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Judaism was an attack on celebrating Passover or any other Jewish traditions. Barbarism probably involved any ideas about sex prior to marriage as Epiphanius was obviously a great prude.
His most lurid attacks, however, were on the Mud People, the Borborites, who celebrated semen as a sacramental substance, and reportedly engaged in group sex, and were known to smear their bodies with semen and menstrual blood. He claimed the Borborite leaders were homosexuals who only made love to each other. His most dramatic allegation, however, was that they performed abortions and ate the babies. Of course, eating babies is always the trump card when attacking foreign cultures, and will be played again through the centuries, always by Christians against Jews, but this is where it all began.
According to Epiphanius, the Mud People employed beautiful female members as sexual bait to lure unsuspecting newcomers, and claimed to have been approached by one of these super hotties himself, which must have been a great temptation, although it’s not clear if he succumbed to this siren’s advances. Temptation was soon removed as the allegations resulted in 80 Borborites being run-out-of-town.
Three of the biggest adversaries Epiphanius tackled were Valentinius, who worshiped Sophia, the first thought of the one as the mother of the father and son, and was a rational follower of Plato and science, and Origen and Arius, who believed the son was subservient to the father and not of the same substance, but otherwise held beliefs close to Epiphanius.
But in the new conservative Christianity that was formulating, there’d be no room for public intoxication, dancing or music, or free love. And especially no room for women priests.
Here’s a brief except from the book:
“In their church seven virgins often come in carrying lamps, if you please, dressed in white, to prophesy to the people. They deceive the congregation with a show of some sort of inspiration and, as though urging them to the mourning of penitence, get them all weeping, shedding tears and pretending to mourn for humankind. They have women bishops, presbyters and the rest. They say none of this makes any difference because “in Jesus Christ there is neither male nor female.” This is what I have learned about them. However, they call them Artotyrites because they set forth bread and cheese in their mysteries and celebrate their mysteries with them. But every human illusion comes from deserting the right faith and opting for something impossible, and for various frenzies and secret rites. For it they do not cling to the anchor of the truth but entrust themselves to their own reason, their minds are always maddened, and brought to frenzy for any reason at all. Even though it is because of Eve that they ordain women to the episcopate and presbyterate, they should listen to the Lord when he says, “Thy resort shall be to thine husband, and he shall rule over thee.” And they have overlooked the apostle’s command, “I suffer not a woman to speak, or to have authority over a man,” and again, “The man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man,” and “Adam was not deceived, but Eve, deceived first, fell into condemnation.”