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by Friedrich Nietzsche

Published 1895

translation by H.L. Mencken

Published 1920


This book belongs to the most
rare of men. Perhaps not one of
them is yet alive. It is possible
that they may be among those
who understand my
"Zarathustra": how could I
confound myself with those who
are now sprouting ears?--First
the day after tomorrow must
come for me. Some men are
born posthumously.

The conditions under which any
one understands me, and
necessarily understands me--I
know them only too well. Even
to endure my seriousness, my
passion, he must carry
intellectual integrity to the
verge of hardness. He must be
accustomed to living on
mountain tops--and to looking
upon the wretched gabble of
politics and nationalism as
beneath him. He must have
become indifferent; he must
never ask of the truth whether it
brings profit to him or a fatality
to him... He must have an
inclination, born of strength, for
questions that no one has the
courage for; the courage for the
forbidden; predestination for
the labyrinth. The experience of
seven solitudes. New ears for
new music. New eyes for what is
most distant. A new conscience
for truths that have hitherto
remained unheard. And the will
to economize in the grand
manner--to hold together his
strength, his
enthusiasm...Reverence for self;
love of self; absolute freedom of

Very well, then! of that sort only
are my readers, my true readers,
my readers foreordained: of
what account are the rest?--The
rest are merely humanity.--One
must make one's self superior to
humanity, in power, in loftiness
of soul,--in contempt.



--Let us look each other in the
face. We are Hyperboreans--we
know well enough how remote
our place is. "Neither by land
nor by water will you find the
road to the Hyperboreans": even
Pindar1,in his day, knew that
much about us. Beyond the
North, beyond the ice, beyond
death--our life, our
happiness...We have discovered
that happiness; we know the
way; we got our knowledge of it
from thousands of years in the
labyrinth. Who else has found
it?--The man of today?--"I don't
know either the way out or the
way in; I am whatever doesn't
know either the way out or the
way in"--so sighs the man of
today...This is the sort of
modernity that made us ill,--we
sickened on lazy peace,
cowardly compromise, the
whole virtuous dirtiness of the
modern Yea and Nay. This
tolerance and largeur of the
heart that "forgives" everything
because it "understands"
everything is a sirocco to us.
Rather live amid the ice than
among modern virtues and
other such south-winds! . . . We
were brave enough; we spared
neither ourselves nor others;
but we were a long time finding
out where to direct our courage.
We grew dismal; they called us
fatalists. Our fate--it was the
fulness, the tension, the storing
up of powers. We thirsted for
the lightnings and great deeds;
we kept as far as possible from
the happiness of the weakling,
from "resignation" . . . There was
thunder in our air; nature, as we
embodied it, became
overcast--for we had not yet
found the way. The formula of
our happiness: a Yea, a Nay, a
straight line, a goal...


What is good?--Whatever
augments the feeling of power,
the will to power, power itself,
in man.
What is evil?--Whatever springs
from weakness.
What is happiness?--The feeling
that power increases--that
resistance is overcome.
Not contentment, but more
power; not peace at any price,
but war; not virtue, but
efficiency (virtue in the
Renaissance sense, virtu, virtue
free of moral acid).
The weak and the botched shall
perish: first principle of our
charity. And one should help
them to it.
What is more harmful than any
vice?--Practical sympathy for
the botched and the


The problem that I set here is
not what shall replace mankind
in the order of living creatures
(--man is an end--): but what
type of man must be bred, must
be willed, as being the most
valuable, the most worthy of
life, the most secure guarantee
of the future.

This more valuable type has
appeared often enough in the
past: but always as a happy
accident, as an exception, never
as deliberately willed. Very
often it has been precisely the
most feared; hitherto it has been
almost the terror of terrors
;--and out of that terror the
contrary type has been willed,
cultivated and attained: the
domestic animal, the herd
animal, the sick brute-man--the
Christian. . .


Mankind surely does not
represent an evolution toward a
better or stronger or higher
level, as progress is now
understood. This "progress" is
merely a modern idea, which is
to say, a false idea. The
European of today, in his
essential worth, falls far below
the European of the
Renaissance; the process of
evolution does not necessarily
mean elevation, enhancement,

True enough, it succeeds in
isolated and individual cases in
various parts of the earth and
under the most widely different
cultures, and in these cases a
higher type certainly manifests
itself; something which,
compared to mankind in the
mass, appears as a sort of
superman. Such happy strokes
of high success have always been
possible, and will remain
possible, perhaps, for all time to
come. Even whole races, tribes
and nations may occasionally
represent such lucky accidents.


We should not deck out and
embellish Christianity: it has
waged a war to the death against
this higher type of man, it has
put all the deepest instincts of
this type under its ban, it has
developed its concept of evil, of
the Evil One himself, out of
these instincts--the strong man
as the typical reprobate, the
"outcast among men."
Christianity has taken the part
of all the weak, the low, the
botched; it has made an ideal out
of antagonism to all the
self-preservative instincts of
sound life; it has corrupted even
the faculties of those natures
that are intellectually most
vigorous, by representing the
highest intellectual values as
sinful, as misleading, as full of
temptation. The most
lamentable example: the
corruption of Pascal, who
believed that his intellect had
been destroyed by original sin,
whereas it was actually
destroyed by Christianity!--


It is a painful and tragic
spectacle that rises before me: I
have drawn back the curtain
from the rottenness of man. This
word, in my mouth, is at least
free from one suspicion: that it
involves a moral accusation
against humanity. It is
used--and I wish to emphasize
the fact again--without any
moral significance: and this is so
far true that the rottenness I
speak of is most apparent to me
precisely in those quarters
where there has been most
aspiration, hitherto, toward
"virtue" and "godliness." As you
probably surmise, I understand
rottenness in the sense of
decadence: my argument is that
all the values on which mankind
now fixes its highest aspirations
are decadence-values.

I call an animal, a species, an
individual corrupt, when it loses
its instincts, when it chooses,
when it prefers, what is injurious
to it. A history of the "higher
feelings," the "ideals of
humanity"--and it is possible
that I'll have to write it--would
almost explain why man is so
degenerate. Life itself appears
to me as an instinct for growth,
for survival, for the
accumulation of forces, for
power: whenever the will to
power fails there is disaster. My
contention is that all the highest
values of humanity have been
emptied of this will--that the
values of decadence, of nihilism,
now prevail under the holiest


Christianity is called the
religion of pity.-- Pity stands in
opposition to all the tonic
passions that augment the
energy of the feeling of
aliveness: it is a depressant. A
man loses power when he pities.
Through pity that drain upon
strength which suffering works
is multiplied a thousandfold.
Suffering is made contagious by
pity; under certain
circumstances it may lead to a
total sacrifice of life and living
energy--a loss out of all
proportion to the magnitude of
the cause (--the case of the
death of the Nazarene). This is
the first view of it; there is,
however, a still more important
one. If one measures the effects
of pity by the gravity of the
reactions it sets up, its character
as a menace to life appears in a
much clearer light. Pity thwarts
the whole law of evolution,
which is the law of natural
selection. It preserves whatever
is ripe for destruction; it fights
on the side of those disinherited
and condemned by life; by
maintaining life in so many of
the botched of all kinds, it gives
life itself a gloomy and dubious
aspect. Mankind has ventured to
call pity a virtue (--in every
superior moral system it appears
as a weakness--); going still
further, it has been called the
virtue, the source and
foundation of all other
virtues--but let us always bear
in mind that this was from the
standpoint of a philosophy that
was nihilistic, and upon whose
shield the denial of life was
inscribed. Schopenhauer was
right in this: that by means of
pity life is denied, and made
worthy of denial--pity is the
technic of nihilism. Let me
repeat: this depressing and
contagious instinct stands
against all those instincts which
work for the preservation and
enhancement of life: in the role
of protector of the miserable, it
is a prime agent in the
promotion of decadence--pity
persuades to extinction....Of
course, one doesn't say
"extinction": one says "the other
world," or "God," or "the true
life," or Nirvana, salvation,
blessedness.... This innocent
rhetoric, from the realm of
religious-ethical balderdash,
appears a good deal less innocent
when one reflects upon the
tendency that it conceals
beneath sublime words: the
tendency to destroy life.
Schopenhauer was hostile to
life: that is why pity appeared to
him as a virtue. . . . Aristotle, as
every one knows, saw in pity a
sickly and dangerous state of
mind, the remedy for which was
an occasional purgative: he
regarded tragedy as that
purgative. The instinct of life
should prompt us to seek some
means of puncturing any such
pathological and dangerous
accumulation of pity as that
appearing in Schopenhauer's
case (and also, alack, in that of
our whole literary decadence,
from St. Petersburg to Paris,
from Tolstoi to Wagner), that it
may burst and be discharged. . .
Nothing is more unhealthy, amid
all our unhealthy modernism,
than Christian pity. To be the
doctors here, to be unmerciful
here, to wield the knife
here--all this is our business, all
this is our sort of humanity, by
this sign we are philosophers,
we Hyperboreans !--


It is necessary to say just whom
we regard as our antagonists:
theologians and all who have
any theological blood in their
veins--this is our whole
philosophy. . . . One must have
faced that menace at close hand,
better still, one must have had
experience of it directly and
almost succumbed to it, to
realize that it is not to be taken
lightly (--the alleged
free-thinking of our naturalists
and physiologists seems to me to
be a joke--they have no passion
about such things; they have not
suffered--). This poisoning goes
a great deal further than most
people think: I find the arrogant
habit of the theologian among
all who regard themselves as
"idealists"--among all who, by
virtue of a higher point of
departure, claim a right to rise
above reality, and to look upon
it with suspicion. . . The idealist,
like the ecclesiastic, carries all
sorts of lofty concepts in his
hand (--and not only in his
hand!); he launches them with
benevolent contempt against
"understanding," "the senses,"
"honor," "good living," "science";
he sees such things as beneath
him, as pernicious and seductive
forces, on which "the soul" soars
as a pure thing-in-itself--as if
humility, chastity, poverty, in a
word, holiness, had not already
done much more damage to life
than all imaginable horrors and
vices. . . The pure soul is a pure
lie. . . So long as the priest, that
professional denier, calumniator
and poisoner of life, is accepted
as a higher variety of man, there
can be no answer to the
question, What is truth? Truth
has already been stood on its
head when the obvious attorney
of mere emptiness is mistaken
for its representative.


Upon this theological instinct I
make war: I find the tracks of it
everywhere. Whoever has
theological blood in his veins is
shifty and dishonourable in all
things. The pathetic thing that
grows out of this condition is
called faith: in other words,
closing one's eyes upon one's
self once for all, to avoid
suffering the sight of incurable
falsehood. People erect a
concept of morality, of virtue, of
holiness upon this false view of
all things; they ground good
conscience upon faulty vision;
they argue that no other sort of
vision has value any more, once
they have made theirs
sacrosanct with the names of
"God," "salvation" and "eternity."
I unearth this theological
instinct in all directions: it is the
most widespread and the most
subterranean form of falsehood
to be found on earth. Whatever a
theologian regards as true must
be false: there you have almost a
criterion of truth. His profound
instinct of self-preservation
stands against truth ever coming
into honour in any way, or even
getting stated. Wherever the
influence of theologians is felt
there is a transvaluation of
values, and the concepts "true"
and "false" are forced to change
places: what ever is most
damaging to life is there called
"true," and whatever exalts it,
intensifies it, approves it,
justifies it and makes it
triumphant is there called
"false."... When theologians,
working through the
"consciences" of princes (or of
peoples--), stretch out their
hands for power, there is never
any doubt as to the fundamental
issue: the will to make an end,
the nihilistic will exerts that


Among Germans I am
immediately understood when I
say that theological blood is the
ruin of philosophy. The
Protestant pastor is the
grandfather of German
philosophy; Protestantism itself
is its peccatum originale.
Definition of Protestantism:
hemiplegic paralysis of
Christianity--and of reason. ...
One need only utter the words
"Tubingen School" to get an
understanding of what German
philosophy is at bottom--a very
artful form of theology. . . The
Suabians are the best liars in
Germany; they lie innocently. . . .
Why all the rejoicing over the
appearance of Kant that went
through the learned world of
Germany, three-fourths of
which is made up of the sons of
preachers and teachers--why
the German conviction still
echoing, that with Kant came a
change for the better? The
theological instinct of German
scholars made them see clearly
just what had become possible
again. . . . A backstairs leading to
the old ideal stood open; the
concept of the "true world," the
concept of morality as the
essence of the world (--the two
most vicious errors that ever
existed!), were once more,
thanks to a subtle and wily
scepticism, if not actually
demonstrable, then at least no
longer refutable... Reason, the
prerogative of reason, does not
go so far. . . Out of reality there
had been made "appearance"; an
absolutely false world, that of
being, had been turned into
reality. . . . The success of Kant is
merely a theological success; he
was, like Luther and Leibnitz,
but one more impediment to
German integrity, already far
from steady.--


A word now against Kant as a
moralist. A virtue must be our
invention; it must spring out of
our personal need and defence.
In every other case it is a source
of danger. That which does not
belong to our life menaces it; a
virtue which has its roots in
mere respect for the concept of
"virtue," as Kant would have it, is
pernicious. "Virtue," "duty,"
"good for its own sake,"
goodness grounded upon
impersonality or a notion of
universal validity--these are all
chimeras, and in them one finds
only an expression of the decay,
the last collapse of life, the
Chinese spirit of Konigsberg.
Quite the contrary is demanded
by the most profound laws of
self-preservation and of
growth: to wit, that every man
find hisown virtue, his own
categorical imperative. A nation
goes to pieces when it confounds
its duty with the general concept
of duty. Nothing works a more
complete and penetrating
disaster than every "impersonal"
duty, every sacrifice before the
Moloch of abstraction.--To
think that no one has thought of
Kant's categorical imperative as
dangerous to life!...The
theological instinct alone took it
under protection !--An action
prompted by the life-instinct
proves that it is a right action by
the amount of pleasure that goes
with it: and yet that Nihilist,
with his bowels of Christian
dogmatism, regarded pleasure
as an objection . . . What destroys
a man more quickly than to
work, think and feel without
inner necessity, without any
deep personal desire, without
pleasure--as a mere automaton
of duty? That is the recipe for
decadence, and no less for
idiocy. . . Kant became an
idiot.--And such a man was the
contemporary of Goethe! This
calamitous spinner of cobwebs
passed for the German
philosopher--still passes today!
. . . I forbid myself to say what I
think of the Germans. . . . Didn't
Kant see in the French
Revolution the transformation
of the state from the inorganic
form to the organic? Didn't he
ask himself if there was a single
event that could be explained
save on the assumption of a
moral faculty in man, so that on
the basis of it, "the tendency of
mankind toward the good" could
be explained, once and for all
time? Kant's answer: "That is
revolution." Instinct at fault in
everything and anything,
instinct as a revolt against
nature, German decadence as a
philosophy--that is Kant!----


I put aside a few sceptics, the
types of decency in the history
of philosophy: the rest haven't
the slightest conception of
intellectual integrity. They
behave like women, all these
great enthusiasts and
prodigies--they regard
"beautiful feelings" as
arguments, the "heaving breast"
as the bellows of divine
inspiration, conviction as the
criterion of truth. In the end,
with "German" innocence, Kant
tried to give a scientific flavour
to this form of corruption, this
dearth of intellectual
conscience, by calling it
"practical reason." He
deliberately invented a variety
of reasons for use on occasions
when it was desirable not to
trouble with reason--that is,
when morality, when the
sublime command "thou shalt,"
was heard. When one recalls the
fact that, among all peoples, the
philosopher is no more than a
development from the old type
of priest, this inheritance from
the priest, this fraud upon self,
ceases to be remarkable. When a
man feels that he has a divine
mission, say to lift up, to save or
to liberate mankind--when a
man feels the divine spark in his
heart and believes that he is the
mouthpiece of supernatural
imperatives--when such a
mission in. flames him, it is only
natural that he should stand
beyond all merely reasonable
standards of judgment. He feels
that he is himself sanctified by
this mission, that he is himself a
type of a higher order! . . . What
has a priest to do with
philosophy! He stands far above
it!--And hitherto the priest has
ruled!--He has determined the
meaning of "true" and "not true"!


Let us not under-estimate this
fact: that we ourselves, we free
spirits, are already a
"transvaluation of all values," a
visualized declaration of war
and victory against all the old
concepts of "true" and "not true."
The most valuable intuitions are
the last to be attained; the most
valuable of all are those which
determine methods. All the
methods, all the principles of the
scientific spirit of today, were
the targets for thousands of
years of the most profound
contempt; if a man inclined to
them he was excluded from the
society of "decent" people--he
passed as "an enemy of God," as a
scoffer at the truth, as one
"possessed." As a man of science,
he belonged to the Chandala2...
We have had the whole pathetic
stupidity of mankind against
us--their every notion of what
the truth ought to be, of what
the service of the truth ought to
be--their every "thou shalt" was
launched against us. . . . Our
objectives, our methods, our
quiet, cautious, distrustful
manner--all appeared to them
as absolutely discreditable and
contemptible.--Looking back,
one may almost ask one's self
with reason if it was not actually
an aesthetic sense that kept men
blind so long: what they
demanded of the truth was
picturesque effectiveness, and
of the learned a strong appeal to
their senses. It was our modesty
that stood out longest against
their taste...How well they
guessed that, these turkey-cocks
of God!


We have unlearned something.
We have be come more modest
in every way. We no longer
derive man from the "spirit,"
from the "god-head"; we have
dropped him back among the
beasts. We regard him as the
strongest of the beasts because
he is the craftiest; one of the
results thereof is his
intellectuality. On the other
hand, we guard ourselves
against a conceit which would
assert itself even here: that man
is the great second thought in
the process of organic evolution.
He is, in truth, anything but the
crown of creation: beside him
stand many other animals, all at
similar stages of development...
And even when we say that we
say a bit too much, for man,
relatively speaking, is the most
botched of all the animals and
the sickliest, and he has
wandered the most dangerously
from his instincts--though for
all that, to be sure, he remains
the most interesting!--As
regards the lower animals, it
was Descartes who first had the
really admirable daring to
describe them as machina; the
whole of our physiology is
directed toward proving the
truth of this doctrine. Moreover,
it is illogical to set man apart, as
Descartes did: what we know of
man today is limited precisely by
the extent to which we have
regarded him, too, as a machine.
Formerly we accorded to man,
as his inheritance from some
higher order of beings, what was
called "free will"; now we have
taken even this will from him,
for the term no longer describes
anything that we can
understand. The old word "will"
now connotes only a sort of
result, an individual reaction,
that follows inevitably upon a
series of partly discordant and
partly harmonious stimuli--the
will no longer "acts," or "moves."
. . . Formerly it was thought that
man's consciousness, his "spirit,"
offered evidence of his high
origin, his divinity. That he
might be perfected, he was
advised, tortoise-like, to draw
his senses in, to have no traffic
with earthly things, to shuffle
off his mortal coil--then only
the important part of him, the
"pure spirit," would remain.
Here again we have thought out
the thing better: to us
consciousness, or "the spirit,"
appears as a symptom of a
relative imperfection of the
organism, as an experiment, a
groping, a misunderstanding, as
an affliction which uses up
nervous force
unnecessarily--we deny that
anything can be done perfectly
so long as it is done consciously.
The "pure spirit" is a piece of
pure stupidity: take away the
nervous system and the senses,
the so-called "mortal shell," and
the rest is miscalculation--that
is all!...


Under Christianity neither
morality nor religion has any
point of contact with actuality. It
offers purely imaginary causes
("God" "soul," "ego," "spirit," "free
will"--or even "unfree"), and
purely imaginary effects ("sin"
"salvation" "grace,"
"punishment," "forgiveness of
sins"). Intercourse between
imaginarybeings ("God," "spirits,"
"souls"); an imaginarynatural
history (anthropocentric; a total
denial of the concept of natural
causes); an imaginary psychology
(misunderstandings of self,
misinterpretations of agreeable
or disagreeable general
feelings--for example, of the
states of the nervus sympathicus
with the help of the
sign-language of religio-ethical
balderdash--, "repentance,"
"pangs of conscience,"
"temptation by the devil," "the
presence of God"); an
imaginaryteleology (the
"kingdom of God," "the last
judgment," "eternal life").--This
purely fictitious world, greatly
to its disadvantage, is to be
differentiated from the world of
dreams; the later at least
reflects reality, whereas the
former falsifies it, cheapens it
and denies it. Once the concept
of "nature" had been opposed to
the concept of "God," the word
"natural" necessarily took on the
meaning of "abominable"--the
whole of that fictitious world
has its sources in hatred of the
natural (--the real!--), and is no
more than evidence of a
profound uneasiness in the
presence of reality. . . . This
explains everything. Who alone
has any reason for living his way
out of reality? The man who
suffers under it. But to suffer
from reality one must be a
botched reality. . . . The
preponderance of pains over
pleasures is the cause of this
fictitious morality and religion:
but such a preponderance also
supplies the formula for


A criticism of the Christian
concept of God leads inevitably
to the same conclusion.--A
nation that still believes in itself
holds fast to its own god. In him
it does honour to the conditions
which enable it to survive, to its
virtues--it projects its joy in
itself, its feeling of power, into a
being to whom one may offer
thanks. He who is rich will give
of his riches; a proud people
need a god to whom they can
make sacrifices. . . Religion,
within these limits, is a form of
gratitude. A man is grateful for
his own existence: to that end he
needs a god.--Such a god must
be able to work both benefits
and injuries; he must be able to
play either friend or foe--he is
wondered at for the good he
does as well as for the evil he
does. But the castration, against
all nature, of such a god, making
him a god of goodness alone,
would be contrary to human
inclination. Mankind has just as
much need for an evil god as for
a good god; it doesn't have to
thank mere tolerance and
humanitarianism for its own
existence. . . . What would be the
value of a god who knew nothing
of anger, revenge, envy, scorn,
cunning, violence? who had
perhaps never experienced the
rapturous ardeurs of victory
and of destruction? No one
would understand such a god:
why should any one want
him?--True enough, when a
nation is on the downward path,
when it feels its belief in its own
future, its hope of freedom
slipping from it, when it begins
to see submission as a first
necessity and the virtues of
submission as measures of
self-preservation, then it must
overhaul its god. He then
becomes a hypocrite, timorous
and demure; he counsels "peace
of soul," hate-no-more,
leniency, "love" of friend and
foe. He moralizes endlessly; he
creeps into every private virtue;
he becomes the god of every
man; he becomes a private
citizen, a cosmopolitan. . .
Formerly he represented a
people, the strength of a people,
everything aggressive and
thirsty for power in the soul of a
people; now he is simply the
good god...The truth is that there
is no other alternative for gods:
either they are the will to
power--in which case they are
national gods--or incapacity for
power--in which case they have
to be good.


Wherever the will to power
begins to decline, in whatever
form, there is always an
accompanying decline
physiologically, a decadence.
The divinity of this decadence,
shorn of its masculine virtues
and passions, is converted
perforce into a god of the
physiologically degraded, of the
weak. Of course, they do not call
themselves the weak; they call
themselves "the good." . . . No
hint is needed to indicate the
moments in history at which the
dualistic fiction of a good and an
evil god first became possible.
The same instinct which
prompts the inferior to reduce
their own god to
"goodness-in-itself" also
prompts them to eliminate all
good qualities from the god of
their superiors; they make
revenge on their masters by
making a devil of the latter's
god.--The good god, and the
devil like him--both are
abortions of decadence.--How
can we be so tolerant of the
na´vetÚ of Christian theologians
as to join in their doctrine that
the evolution of the concept of
god from "the god of Israel," the
god of a people, to the Christian
god, the essence of all goodness,
is to be described as
progress?--But even Renan does
this. As if Renan had a right to
be na´ve! The contrary actually
stares one in the face. When
everything necessary to
ascending life; when all that is
strong, courageous, masterful
and proud has been eliminated
from the concept of a god; when
he has sunk step by step to the
level of a staff for the weary, a
sheet-anchor for the drowning;
when he be comes the poor
man's god, the sinner's god, the
invalid's god par excellence, and
the attribute of "saviour" or
"redeemer" remains as the one
essential attribute of
divinity--just what is the
significance of such a
metamorphosis? what does such
a reduction of the godhead
imply?--To be sure, the
"kingdom of God" has thus
grown larger. Formerly he had
only his own people, his "chosen"
people. But since then he has
gone wandering, like his people
themselves, into foreign parts;
he has given up settling down
quietly anywhere; finally he has
come to feel at home
everywhere, and is the great
cosmopolitan--until now he has
the "great majority" on his side,
and half the earth. But this god
of the "great majority," this
democrat among gods, has not
become a proud heathen god: on
the contrary, he remains a Jew,
he remains a god in a corner, a
god of all the dark nooks and
crevices, of all the noisesome
quarters of the world! . . His
earthly kingdom, now as always,
is a kingdom of the underworld,
a souterrain kingdom, a ghetto
kingdom. . . And he himself is so
pale, so weak, so decadent . . .
Even the palest of the pale are
able to master him--messieurs
the metaphysicians, those
albinos of the intellect. They
spun their webs around him for
so long that finally he was
hypnotized, and began to spin
himself, and became another
metaphysician. Thereafter he
resumed once more his old
business of spinning the world
out of his inmost being sub
specie Spinozae; thereafter he
be came ever thinner and
paler--became the "ideal,"
became "pure spirit," became
"the absolute," became "the
thing-in-itself." . . . The collapse
of a god: he became a


The Christian concept of a
god--the god as the patron of
the sick, the god as a spinner of
cobwebs, the god as a spirit--is
one of the most corrupt
concepts that has ever been set
up in the world: it probably
touches low-water mark in the
ebbing evolution of the
god-type. God degenerated into
the contradiction of life. Instead
of being its transfiguration and
eternal Yea! In him war is
declared on life, on nature, on
the will to live! God becomes the
formula for every slander upon
the "here and now," and for
every lie about the "beyond"! In
him nothingness is deified, and
the will to nothingness is made
holy! . . .


The fact that the strong races of
northern Europe did not
repudiate this Christian god
does little credit to their gift for
religion--and not much more to
their taste. They ought to have
been able to make an end of such
a moribund and worn-out
product of the decadence. A
curse lies upon them because
they were not equal to it; they
made illness, decrepitude and
contradiction a part of their
instincts--and since then they
have not managed to create any
more gods. Two thousand years
have come and gone--and not a
single new god! Instead, there
still exists, and as if by some
intrinsic right,--as if he were
the ultimatum and maximum of
the power to create gods, of the
creator spiritus in
mankind--this pitiful god of
Christian monotono-theism!
This hybrid image of decay,
conjured up out of emptiness,
contradiction and vain
imagining, in which all the
instincts of decadence, all the
cowardices and wearinesses of
the soul find their sanction!--


In my condemnation of
Christianity I surely hope I do
no injustice to a related religion
with an even larger number of
believers: I allude to Buddhism.
Both are to be reckoned among
the nihilistic religions--they are
both decadence religions--but
they are separated from each
other in a very remarkable way.
For the fact that he is able to
compare them at all the critic of
Christianity is indebted to the
scholars of India.--Buddhism is
a hundred times as realistic as
Christianity--it is part of its
living heritage that it is able to
face problems objectively and
coolly; it is the product of long
centuries of philosophical
speculation. The concept, "god,"
was already disposed of before
it appeared. Buddhism is the
only genuinely positive religion
to be encountered in history,
and this applies even to its
epistemology (which is a strict
phenomenalism) --It does not
speak of a "struggle with sin,"
but, yielding to reality, of the
"struggle with suffering."
Sharply differentiating itself
from Christianity, it puts the
self-deception that lies in moral
concepts be hind it; it is, in my
phrase,beyond good and
evil.--The two physiological
facts upon which it grounds
itself and upon which it bestows
its chief attention are: first, an
excessive sensitiveness to
sensation, which manifests itself
as a refined susceptibility to
pain, and secondly, an
extraordinary spirituality, a too
protracted concern with
concepts and logical procedures,
under the influence of which the
instinct of personality has
yielded to a notion of the
"impersonal." (--Both of these
states will be familiar to a few of
my readers, the objectivists, by
experience, as they are to me).
These physiological states
produced a depression, and
Buddha tried to combat it by
hygienic measures. Against it he
prescribed a life in the open, a
life of travel; moderation in
eating and a careful selection of
foods; caution in the use of
intoxicants; the same caution in
arousing any of the passions that
foster a bilious habit and heat
the blood; finally, no worry,
either on one's own account or
on account of others. He
encourages ideas that make for
either quiet contentment or
good cheer--he finds means to
combat ideas of other sorts. He
understands good, the state of
goodness, as something which
promotes health. Prayer is not
included, and neither is
asceticism. There is no
categorical imperative nor any
disciplines, even within the
walls of a monastery (--it is
always possible to leave--).
These things would have been
simply means of increasing the
excessive sensitiveness above
mentioned. For the same reason
he does not advocate any
conflict with unbelievers; his
teaching is antagonistic to
nothing so much as to revenge,
aversion, ressentiment
(--"enmity never brings an end
to enmity": the moving refrain of
all Buddhism. . .) And in all this
he was right, for it is precisely
these passions which, in view of
his main regiminal purpose, are
unhealthful. The mental fatigue
that he observes, already plainly
displayed in too much
"objectivity" (that is, in the
individual's loss of interest in
himself, in loss of balance and of
"egoism"), he combats by strong
efforts to lead even the spiritual
interests back to the ego. In
Buddha's teaching egoism is a
duty. The "one thing needful,"
the question "how can you be
delivered from suffering,"
regulates and determines the
whole spiritual diet. (--Perhaps
one will here recall that
Athenian who also declared war
upon pure "scientificality," to
wit, Socrates, who also elevated
egoism to the estate of a
morality) .


The things necessary to
Buddhism are a very mild
climate, customs of great
gentleness and liberality, and no
militarism; moreover, it must
get its start among the higher
and better educated classes.
Cheerfulness, quiet and the
absence of desire are the chief
desiderata, and they are
attained. Buddhism is not a
religion in which perfection is
merely an object of aspiration:
perfection is actually
normal.--Under Christianity
the instincts of the subjugated
and the oppressed come to the
fore: it is only those who are at
the bottom who seek their
salvation in it. Here the
prevailing pastime, the
favourite remedy for boredom
is the discussion of sin,
self-criticism, the inquisition of
conscience; here the emotion
produced by power (called
"God") is pumped up (by prayer);
here the highest good is
regarded as unattainable, as a
gift, as "grace." Here, too, open
dealing is lacking; concealment
and the darkened room are
Christian. Here body is despised
and hygiene is denounced as
sensual; the church even ranges
itself against cleanliness (--the
first Christian order after the
banishment of the Moors closed
the public baths, of which there
were 270 in Cordova alone) .
Christian, too; is a certain
cruelty toward one's self and
toward others; hatred of
unbelievers; the will to
persecute. Sombre and
disquieting ideas are in the
foreground; the most esteemed
states of mind, bearing the most
respectable names are
epileptoid; the diet is so
regulated as to engender morbid
symptoms and over-stimulate
the nerves. Christian, again, is
all deadly enmity to the rulers of
the earth, to the
"aristocratic"--along with a sort
of secret rivalry with them
(--one resigns one's "body" to
them--one wantsonly one's
"soul" . . . ). And Christian is all
hatred of the intellect, of pride,
of courage of freedom, of
intellectual libertinage;
Christian is all hatred of the
senses, of joy in the senses, of
joy in general . . .


When Christianity departed
from its native soil, that of the
lowest orders, the underworld
of the ancient world, and began
seeking power among barbarian
peoples, it no longer had to deal
with exhausted men, but with
men still inwardly savage and
capable of self torture--in brief,
strong men, but bungled men.
Here, unlike in the case of the
Buddhists, the cause of
discontent with self, suffering
through self, is not merely a
general sensitiveness and
susceptibility to pain, but, on the
contrary, an inordinate thirst
for inflicting pain on others, a
tendency to obtain subjective
satisfaction in hostile deeds and
ideas. Christianity had to
embrace barbaric concepts and
valuations in order to obtain
mastery over barbarians: of
such sort, for example, are the
sacrifices of the first-born, the
drinking of blood as a
sacrament, the disdain of the
intellect and of culture; torture
in all its forms, whether bodily
or not; the whole pomp of the
cult. Buddhism is a religion for
peoples in a further state of
development, for races that
have become kind, gentle and
over-spiritualized (--Europe is
not yet ripe for it--): it is a
summons 'that takes them back
to peace and cheerfulness, to a
careful rationing of the spirit, to
a certain hardening of the body.
Christianity aims at mastering
beasts of prey; its modus
operandi is to make them ill--to
make feeble is the Christian
recipe for taming, for
"civilizing." Buddhism is a
religion for the closing,
over-wearied stages of
civilization. Christianity
appears before civilization has
so much as begun--under
certain circumstances it lays the
very foundations thereof.


Buddhism, I repeat, is a hundred
times more austere, more
honest, more objective. It no
longer has to justify its pains, its
susceptibility to suffering, by
interpreting these things in
terms of sin--it simply says, as it
simply thinks, "I suffer." To the
barbarian, however, suffering in
itself is scarcely understandable:
what he needs, first of all, is an
explanation as to why he suffers.
(His mere instinct prompts him
to deny his suffering altogether,
or to endure it in silence.) Here
the word "devil" was a blessing:
man had to have an omnipotent
and terrible enemy--there was
no need to be ashamed of
suffering at the hands of such an

--At the bottom of Christianity
there are several subtleties that
belong to the Orient. In the first
place, it knows that it is of very
little consequence whether a
thing be true or not, so long as it
is believed to be true. Truth and
faith: here we have two wholly
distinct worlds of ideas, almost
two diametrically opposite
worlds--the road to the one and
the road to the other lie miles
apart. To understand that fact
thoroughly--this is almost
enough, in the Orient, to make
one a sage. The Brahmins knew
it, Plato knew it, every student
of the esoteric knows it. When,
for example, a man gets any
pleasure out of the notion that
he has been saved from sin, it is
not necessary for him to be
actually sinful, but merely to feel
sinful. But when faith is thus
exalted above everything else, it
necessarily follows that reason,
knowledge and patient inquiry
have to be discredited: the road
to the truth becomes a
forbidden road.--Hope, in its
stronger forms, is a great deal
more powerful stimulans to life
than any sort of realized joy can
ever be. Man must be sustained
in suffering by a hope so high
that no conflict with actuality
can dash it--so high, indeed,
that no fulfillment can satisfy it:
a hope reaching out beyond this
world. (Precisely because of this
power that hope has of making
the suffering hold out, the
Greeks regarded it as the evil of
evils, as the most malign of evils;
it remained behind at the source
of all evil.)3--In order that love
may be possible, God must
become a person; in order that
the lower instincts may take a
hand in the matter God must be
young. To satisfy the ardor of
the woman a beautiful saint
must appear on the scene, and to
satisfy that of the men there
must be a virgin. These things
are necessary if Christianity is
to assume lordship over a soil on
which some aphrodisiacal or
Adonis cult has already
established a notion as to what a
cult ought to be. To insist upon
chastity greatly strengthens the
vehemence and subjectivity of
the religious instinct--it makes
the cult warmer, more
enthusiastic, more
soulful.--Love is the state in
which man sees things most
decidedly as they are not. The
force of illusion reaches its
highest here, and so does the
capacity for sweetening, for
transfiguring. When a man is in
love he endures more than at
any other time; he submits to
anything. The problem was to
devise a religion which would
allow one to love: by this means
the worst that life has to offer is
overcome--it is scarcely even
noticed.--So much for the three
Christian virtues: faith, hope
and charity: I call them the three
ingenuities.--Buddhism is in too
late a stage of development, too
full of positivism, to be shrewd
in any such way.--


Here I barely touch upon the
problem of the origin of
Christianity. The first thing
necessary to its solution is this:
that Christianity is to be
understood only by examining
the soil from which it sprung--it
is not a reaction against Jewish
instincts; it is their inevitable
product; it is simply one more
step in the awe-inspiring logic
of the Jews. In the words of the
Saviour, "salvation is of the
Jews." 4--The second thing to
remember is this: that the
psychological type of the
Galilean is still to be recognized,
but it was only in its most
degenerate form (which is at
once maimed and overladen
with foreign features) that it
could serve in the manner in
which it has been used: as a type
of the Saviour of mankind.

--The Jews are the most
remarkable people in the
history of the world, for when
they were confronted with the
question, to be or not to be, they
chose, with perfectly unearthly
deliberation, to be at any price:
this price involved a radical
falsification of all nature, of all
naturalness, of all reality, of the
whole inner world, as well as of
the outer. They put themselves
against all those conditions
under which, hitherto, a people
had been able to live, or had
even been permitted to live; out
of themselves they evolved an
idea which stood in direct
opposition to natural
conditions--one by one they
distorted religion, civilization,
morality, history and
psychology until each became a
contradiction of its natural
significance. We meet with the
same phenomenon later on, in
an incalculably exaggerated
form, but only as a copy: the
Christian church, put beside the
"people of God," shows a
complete lack of any claim to
originality. Precisely for this
reason the Jews are the most
fateful people in the history of
the world: their influence has so
falsified the reasoning of
mankind in this matter that
today the Christian can cherish
anti-Semitism without realizing
that it is no more than the final
consequence of Judaism.

In my "Genealogy of Morals" I
give the first psychological
explanation of the concepts
underlying those two
antithetical things, a noble
morality and a ressentiment
morality, the second of which is
a mere product of the denial of
the former. The
Judaeo-Christian moral system
belongs to the second division,
and in every detail. In order to
be able to say Nay to everything
representing an ascending
evolution of life--that is, to
well-being, to power, to beauty,
to self-approval--the instincts
of ressentiment, here become
downright genius, had to invent
an other world in which the
acceptance of life appeared as
the most evil and abominable
thing imaginable.
Psychologically, the Jews are a
people gifted with the very
strongest vitality, so much so
that when they found
themselves facing impossible
conditions of life they chose
voluntarily, and with a profound
talent for self-preservation, the
side of all those instincts which
make for decadence--not as if
mastered by them, but as if
detecting in them a power by
which "the world" could be
defied. The Jews are the very
opposite of decadents: they have
simply been forced into
appearing in that guise, and with
a degree of skill approaching the
non plus ultra of histrionic
genius they have managed to put
themselves at the head of all
decadent movements (--for
example, the Christianity of
Paul--), and so make of them
something stronger than any
party frankly saying Yes to life.
To the sort of men who reach
out for power under Judaism
and Christianity,--that is to say,
to the priestly class-decadence is
no more than a means to an end.
Men of this sort have a vital
interest in making mankind sick,
and in confusing the values of
"good" and "bad," "true" and
"false" in a manner that is not
only dangerous to life, but also
slanders it.


The history of Israel is
invaluable as a typical history of
an attempt to denaturize all
natural values: I point to five
facts which bear this out.
Originally, and above all in the
time of the monarchy, Israel
maintained the right attitude of
things, which is to say, the
natural attitude. Its Jahveh was
an expression of its
consciousness of power, its joy
in itself, its hopes for itself: to
him the Jews looked for victory
and salvation and through him
they expected nature to give
them whatever was necessary to
their existence--above all, rain.
Jahveh is the god of Israel, and
consequently the god of justice:
this is the logic of every race
that has power in its hands and a
good conscience in the use of it.
In the religious ceremonial of
the Jews both aspects of this
self-approval stand revealed.
The nation is grateful for the
high destiny that has enabled it
to obtain dominion; it is grateful
for the benign procession of the
seasons, and for the good
fortune attending its herds and
its crops.--This view of things
remained an ideal for a long
while, even after it had been
robbed of validity by tragic
blows: anarchy within and the
Assyrian without. But the people
still retained, as a projection of
their highest yearnings, that
vision of a king who was at once
a gallant warrior and an upright
judge--a vision best visualized
in the typical prophet (i.e., critic
and satirist of the moment),
Isaiah. --But every hope
remained unfulfilled. The old
god no longer could do what he
used to do. He ought to have
been abandoned. But what
actually happened? simply this:
the conception of him was
changed--the conception of him
was denaturized; this was the
price that had to be paid for
keeping him.--Jahveh, the god
of "justice"--he is in accord with
Israel no more, he no longer
visualizes the national egoism;
he is now a god only
conditionally. . . The public
notion of this god now becomes
merely a weapon in the hands of
clerical agitators, who interpret
all happiness as a reward and all
unhappiness as a punishment for
obedience or disobedience to
him, for "sin": that most
fraudulent of all imaginable
interpretations, whereby a
"moral order of the world" is set
up, and the fundamental
concepts, "cause" and "effect,"
are stood on their heads. Once
natural causation has been
swept out of the world by
doctrines of reward and
punishment some sort of
unnatural causation becomes
necessary: and all other
varieties of the denial of nature
follow it. A god who
demands--in place of a god who
helps, who gives counsel, who is
at bottom merely a name for
every happy inspiration of
courage and self-reliance. . .
Morality is no longer a
reflection of the conditions
which make for the sound life
and development of the people;
it is no longer the primary
life-instinct; instead it has
become abstract and in
opposition to life--a
fundamental perversion of the
fancy, an "evil eye" on all things.
What is Jewish, what is Christian
morality? Chance robbed of its
innocence; unhappiness polluted
with the idea of "sin"; well-being
represented as a danger, as a
"temptation"; a physiological
disorder produced by the
canker worm of conscience...


The concept of god falsified; the
concept of morality falsified
;--but even here Jewish priest
craft did not stop. The whole
history of Israel ceased to be of
any value: out with it!--These
priests accomplished that
miracle of falsification of which
a great part of the Bible is the
documentary evidence; with a
degree of contempt
unparalleled, and in the face of
all tradition and all historical
reality, they translated the past
of their people into religious
terms, which is to say, they
converted it into an idiotic
mechanism of salvation,
whereby all offences against
Jahveh were punished and all
devotion to him was rewarded.
We would regard this act of
historical falsification as
something far more shameful if
familiarity with the
ecclesiastical interpretation of
history for thousands of years
had not blunted our inclinations
for uprightness in historicis. And
the philosophers support the
church: the lie about a "moral
order of the world" runs
through the whole of
philosophy, even the newest.
What is the meaning of a "moral
order of the world"? That there
is a thing called the will of God
which, once and for all time,
determines what man ought to
do and what he ought not to do;
that the worth of a people, or of
an individual thereof, is to he
measured by the extent to which
they or he obey this will of God;
that the destinies of a people or
of an individual arecontrolled by
this will of God, which rewards
or punishes according to the
degree of obedience
manifested.--In place of all that
pitiable lie reality has this to say:
the priest, a parasitical variety
of man who can exist only at the
cost of every sound view of life,
takes the name of God in vain:
he calls that state of human
society in which he himself
determines the value of all
things "the kingdom of God"; he
calls the means whereby that
state of affairs is attained "the
will of God"; with cold-blooded
cynicism he estimates all
peoples, all ages and all
individuals by the extent of their
subservience or opposition to
the power of the priestly order.
One observes him at work:
under the hand of the Jewish
priesthood the great age of
Israel became an age of decline;
the Exile, with its long series of
misfortunes, was transformed
into a punishment for that great
age-during which priests had
not yet come into existence. Out
of the powerful and wholly free
heroes of Israel's history they
fashioned, according to their
changing needs, either wretched
bigots and hypocrites or men
entirely "godless." They reduced
every great event to the idiotic
formula: "obedient or
disobedient to God."--They
went a step further: the "will of
God" (in other words some
means necessary for preserving
the power of the priests) had to
be determined--and to this end
they had to have a "revelation."
In plain English, a gigantic
literary fraud had to be
perpetrated, and "holy
scriptures" had to be
concocted--and so, with the
utmost hierarchical pomp, and
days of penance and much
lamentation over the long days
of "sin" now ended, they were
duly published. The "will of
God," it appears, had long stood
like a rock; the trouble was that
mankind had neglected the "holy
scriptures". . . But the ''will of
God'' had already been revealed
to Moses. . . . What happened?
Simply this: the priest had
formulated, once and for all
time and with the strictest
meticulousness, what tithes
were to be paid to him, from the
largest to the smallest (--not
forgetting the most appetizing
cuts of meat, for the priest is a
great consumer of beefsteaks);
in brief, he let it be known just
what he wanted, what "the will
of God" was.... From this time
forward things were so
arranged that the priest became
indispensable everywhere; at all
the great natural events of life,
at birth, at marriage, in sickness,
at death, not to say at the
"sacrifice" (that is, at
meal-times), the holy parasite
put in his appearance, and
proceeded to denaturize it--in
his own phrase, to "sanctify" it. . .
. For this should be noted: that
every natural habit, every
natural institution (the state, the
administration of justice,
marriage, the care of the sick
and of the poor), everything
demanded by the life-instinct, in
short, everything that has any
value in itself, is reduced to
absolute worthlessness and even
made the reverse of valuable by
the parasitism of priests (or, if
you chose, by the "moral order
of the world"). The fact requires
a sanction--a power to grant
values becomes necessary, and
the only way it can create such
values is by denying nature. . . .
The priest depreciates and
desecrates nature: it is only at
this price that he can exist at
all.--Disobedience to God,
which actually means to the
priest, to "the law," now gets the
name of "sin"; the means
prescribed for "reconciliation
with God" are, of course,
precisely the means which bring
one most effectively under the
thumb of the priest; he alone can
"save". Psychologically
considered, "sins" are
indispensable to every society
organized on an ecclesiastical
basis; they are the only reliable
weapons of power; the priest
lives upon sins; it is necessary to
him that there be "sinning". . . .
Prime axiom: "God forgiveth
him that repenteth"--in plain
English, him that submitteth to
the priest.


Christianity sprang from a soil
so corrupt that on it everything
natural, every natural value,
every reality was opposed by the
deepest instincts of the ruling
class--it grew up as a sort of
war to the death upon reality,
and as such it has never been
surpassed. The "holy people,"
who had adopted priestly values
and priestly names for all things,
and who, with a terrible logical
consistency, had rejected
everything of the earth as
"unholy," "worldly,"
"sinful"--this people put its
instinct into a final formula that
was logical to the point of
self-annihilation: asChristianity
it actually denied even the last
form of reality, the "holy
people," the "chosen people,"
Jewish reality itself. The
phenomenon is of the first order
of importance: the small
insurrectionary movement
which took the name of Jesus of
Nazareth is simply the Jewish
instinct redivivus--in other
words, it is the priestly instinct
come to such a pass that it can no
longer endure the priest as a
fact; it is the discovery of a state
of existence even more fantastic
than any before it, of a vision of
life even more unreal than that
necessary to an ecclesiastical
organization. Christianity
actually denies the church...

I am unable to determine what
was the target of the
insurrection said to have been
led (whether rightly or wrongly)
by Jesus, if it was not the Jewish
church--"church" being here
used in exactly the same sense
that the word has today. It was
an insurrection against the
"good and just," against the
"prophets of Israel," against the
whole hierarchy of society--not
against corruption, but against
caste, privilege, order,
formalism. It was unbelief in
"superior men," a Nay flung at
everything that priests and
theologians stood for. But the
hierarchy that was called into
question, if only for an instant,
by this movement was the
structure of piles which, above
everything, was necessary to the
safety of the Jewish people in
the midst of the "waters"--it
represented theirlast possibility
of survival; it was the final
residuum of their independent
political existence; an attack
upon it was an attack upon the
most profound national instinct,
the most powerful national will
to live, that has ever appeared
on earth. This saintly anarchist,
who aroused the people of the
abyss, the outcasts and "sinners,"
the Chandala of Judaism, to rise
in revolt against the established
order of things--and in
language which, if the Gospels
are to be credited, would get
him sent to Siberia today--this
man was certainly a political
criminal, at least in so far as it
was possible to be one in so
absurdly unpolitical a
community. This is what brought
him to the cross: the proof
thereof is to be found in the
inscription that was put upon
the cross. He died for his own
sins--there is not the slightest
ground for believing, no matter
how often it is asserted, that he
died for the sins of others.--


As to whether he himself was
conscious of this
contradiction--whether, in fact,
this was the only contradiction
he was cognizant of--that is
quite another question. Here,
for the first time, I touch upon
the problem of the psychology of
the Saviour.--I confess, to begin
with, that there are very few
books which offer me harder
reading than the Gospels. My
difficulties are quite different
from those which enabled the
learned curiosity of the German
mind to achieve one of its most
unforgettable triumphs. It is a
long while since I, like all other
young scholars, enjoyed with all
the sapient laboriousness of a
fastidious philologist the work
of the incomparable Strauss.5At
that time I was twenty years old:
now I am too serious for that
sort of thing. What do I care for
the contradictions of "tradition"?
How can any one call pious
legends "traditions"? The
histories of saints present the
most dubious variety of
literature in existence; to
examine them by the scientific
method, in the entire absence of
corroborative documents, seems
to me to condemn the whole
inquiry from the start--it is
simply learned idling.


What concerns me is the
psychological type of the
Saviour. This type might be
depicted in the Gospels, in
however mutilated a form and
however much overladen with
extraneous characters--that is,
in spite of the Gospels; just as
the figure of Francis of Assisi
shows itself in his legends in
spite of his legends. It is not a
question of mere truthful
evidence as to what he did, what
he said and how he actually died;
the question is, whether his type
is still conceivable, whether it
has been handed down to
us.--All the attempts that I
know of to read the history of a
"soul" in the Gospels seem to me
to reveal only a lamentable
psychological levity. M. Renan,
that mountebank in
psychologicus, has contributed
the two most unseemly notions
to this business of explaining the
type of Jesus: the notion of the
genius and that of the hero
("heros"). But if there is anything
essentially unevangelical, it is
surely the concept of the hero.
What the Gospels make
instinctive is precisely the
reverse of all heroic struggle, of
all taste for conflict: the very
incapacity for resistance is here
converted into something moral:
("resist not evil !"--the most
profound sentence in the
Gospels, perhaps the true key to
them), to wit, the blessedness of
peace, of gentleness, the
inability to be an enemy. What is
the meaning of "glad
tidings"?--The true life, the life
eternal has been found--it is not
merely promised, it is here, it is
in you; it is the life that lies in
love free from all retreats and
exclusions, from all keeping of
distances. Every one is the child
of God--Jesus claims nothing
for himself alone--as the child
of God each man is the equal of
every other man. . . .Imagine
making Jesus a hero!--And what
a tremendous misunderstanding
appears in the word "genius"!
Our whole conception of the
"spiritual," the whole conception
of our civilization, could have
had no meaning in the world
that Jesus lived in. In the strict
sense of the physiologist, a quite
different word ought to be used
here. . . . We all know that there
is a morbid sensibility of the
tactile nerves which causes
those suffering from it to recoil
from every touch, and from
every effort to grasp a solid
object. Brought to its logical
conclusion, such a physiological
habitus becomes an instinctive
hatred of all reality, a flight into
the "intangible," into the
"incomprehensible"; a distaste
for all formulae, for all
conceptions of time and space,
for everything
institutions, the church--; a
feeling of being at home in a
world in which no sort of reality
survives, a merely "inner" world,
a "true" world, an "eternal"
world. . . . "The Kingdom of God
is withinyou". . . .


The instinctive hatred of reality:
the consequence of an extreme
susceptibility to pain and
irritation--so great that merely
to be "touched" becomes
unendurable, for every
sensation is too profound.

The instinctive exclusion of all
aversion, all hostility, all bounds
and distances in feeling: the
consequence of an extreme
susceptibility to pain and
irritation--so great that it
senses all resistance, all
compulsion to resistance, as
unbearable anguish (--that is to
say, as harmful, as prohibited by
the instinct of
self-preservation), and regards
blessedness (joy) as possible
only when it is no longer
necessary to offer resistance to
anybody or anything, however
evil or dangerous--love, as the
only, as the ultimate possibility
of life. . .

These are the two physiological
realities upon and out of which
the doctrine of salvation has
sprung. I call them a sublime
super-development of hedonism
upon a thoroughly unsalubrious
soil. What stands most closely
related to them, though with a
large admixture of Greek
vitality and nerve-force, is
epicureanism, the theory of
salvation of paganism. Epicurus
was a typical decadent: I was the
first to recognize him.--The
fear of pain, even of infinitely
slight pain--the end of this can
be nothing save a religion of love.
. . .


I have already given my answer
to the problem. The prerequisite
to it is the assumption that the
type of the Saviour has reached
us only in a greatly distorted
form. This distortion is very
probable: there are many
reasons why a type of that sort
should not be handed down in a
pure form, complete and free of
additions. The milieu in which
this strange figure moved must
have left marks upon him, and
more must have been imprinted
by the history, the destiny, of the
early Christian communities; the
latter indeed, must have
embellished the type
retrospectively with characters
which can be understood only as
serving the purposes of war and
of propaganda. That strange and
sickly world into which the
Gospels lead us--a world
apparently out of a Russian
novel, in which the scum of
society, nervous maladies and
"childish" idiocy keep a
tryst--must, in any case, have
coarsened the type: the first
disciples, in particular, must
have been forced to translate an
existence visible only in symbols
and incomprehensibilities into
their own crudity, in order to
understand it at all--in their
sight the type could take on
reality only after it had been
recast in a familiar mould.... The
prophet, the messiah, the future
judge, the teacher of morals, the
worker of wonders, John the
Baptist--all these merely
presented chances to
misunderstand it . . . . Finally, let
us not underrate the proprium
of all great, and especially all
sectarian veneration: it tends to
erase from the venerated
objects all its original traits and
idiosyncrasies, often so
painfully strange--it does not
even see them. It is greatly to be
regretted that no Dostoyevsky
lived in the neighbourhood of
this most interesting
decadent--I mean some one who
would have felt the poignant
charm of such a compound of
the sublime, the morbid and the
childish. In the last analysis, the
type, as a type of the decadence,
may actually have been
peculiarly complex and
contradictory: such a possibility
is not to be lost sight of.
Nevertheless, the probabilities
seem to be against it, for in that
case tradition would have been
particularly accurate and
objective, whereas we have
reasons for assuming the
contrary. Meanwhile, there is a
contradiction between the
peaceful preacher of the mount,
the sea-shore and the fields,
who appears like a new Buddha
on a soil very unlike India's, and
the aggressive fanatic, the
mortal enemy of theologians
and ecclesiastics, who stands
glorified by Renan's malice as "le
grand maitre en ironie." I myself
haven't any doubt that the
greater part of this venom (and
no less of esprit) got itself into
the concept of the Master only as
a result of the excited nature of
Christian propaganda: we all
know the unscrupulousness of
sectarians when they set out to
turn their leader into an
apologia for themselves. When
the early Christians had need of
an adroit, contentious,
pugnacious and maliciously
subtle theologian to tackle other
theologians, they created a "god"
that met that need, just as they
put into his mouth without
hesitation certain ideas that
were necessary to them but that
were utterly at odds with the
Gospels--"the second coming,"
"the last judgment," all sorts of
expectations and promises,
current at the time.--


I can only repeat that I set
myself against all efforts to
intrude the fanatic into the
figure of the Saviour: the very
word imperieux, used by Renan,
is alone enough to annul the
type. What the "glad tidings" tell
us is simply that there are no
more contradictions; the
kingdom of heaven belongs to
children; the faith that is voiced
here is no more an embattled
faith--it is at hand, it has been
from the beginning, it is a sort of
recrudescent childishness of the
spirit. The physiologists, at all
events, are familiar with such a
delayed and incomplete puberty
in the living organism, the result
of degeneration. A faith of this
sort is not furious, it does not
denounce, it does not defend
itself: it does not come with "the
sword"--it does not realize how
it will one day set man against
man. It does not manifest itself
either by miracles, or by
rewards and promises, or by
"scriptures": it is itself, first and
last, its own miracle, its own
reward, its own promise, its own
"kingdom of God." This faith
does not formulate itself--it
simply lives, and so guards itself
against formulae. To be sure, the
accident of environment, of
educational background gives
prominence to concepts of a
certain sort: in primitive
Christianity one finds only
concepts of a Judaeo--Semitic
character (--that of eating and
drinking at the last supper
belongs to this category--an
idea which, like everything else
Jewish, has been badly mauled
by the church). But let us be
careful not to see in all this
anything more than symbolical
language, semantics6 an
opportunity to speak in
parables. It is only on the theory
that no work is to be taken
literally that this anti-realist is
able to speak at all. Set down
among Hindus he would have
made use of the concepts of
Sankhya,7and among Chinese he
would have employed those of
Lao-tse 8--and in neither case
would it have made any
difference to him.--With a little
freedom in the use of words, one
might actually call Jesus a "free
spirit"9--he cares nothing for
what is established: the word
killeth,10 a whatever is
established killeth. 'The idea of
"life" as an experience, as he
alone conceives it, stands
opposed to his mind to every
sort of word, formula, law,
belief and dogma. He speaks
only of inner things: "life" or
"truth" or "light" is his word for
the innermost--in his sight
everything else, the whole of
reality, all nature, even
language, has significance only
as sign, as allegory. --Here it is
of paramount importance to be
led into no error by the
temptations lying in Christian,
or rather ecclesiastical
prejudices: such a symbolism
par excellence stands outside all
religion, all notions of worship,
all history, all natural science,
all worldly experience, all
knowledge, all politics, all
psychology, all books, all
art--his "wisdom" is precisely a
pure ignorance11 of all such
things. He has never heard of
culture; he doesn't have to make
war on it--he doesn't even deny
it. . . The same thing may be said
of the state, of the whole
bourgeoise social order, of
labour, of war--he has no
ground for denying" the world,"
for he knows nothing of the
ecclesiastical concept of "the
world" . . . Denial is precisely the
thing that is impossible to
him.--In the same way he lacks
argumentative capacity, and has
no belief that an article of faith,
a "truth," may be established by
proofs (--his proofs are inner
"lights," subjective sensations of
happiness and self-approval,
simple "proofs of power"--).
Such a doctrine cannot
contradict: it doesn't know that
other doctrines exist, or can
exist, and is wholly incapable of
imagining anything opposed to
it. . . If anything of the sort is
ever encountered, it laments the
"blindness" with sincere
sympathy--for it alone has
"light"--but it does not offer
objections . . .


In the whole psychology of the
"Gospels" the concepts of guilt
and punishment are lacking, and
so is that of reward. "Sin," which
means anything that puts a
distance between God and man,
is abolished--this is precisely
the "glad tidings." Eternal bliss is
not merely promised, nor is it
bound up with conditions: it is
conceived as the only
reality--what remains consists
merely of signs useful in
speaking of it.

The results of such a point of
view project themselves into a
new way of life, the special
evangelical way of life. It is not a
"belief" that marks off the
Christian; he is distinguished by
a different mode of action; he
acts differently. He offers no
resistance, either by word or in
his heart, to those who stand
against him. He draws no
distinction between strangers
and countrymen, Jews and
Gentiles ("neighbour," of course,
means fellow-believer, Jew). He
is angry with no one, and he
despises no one. He neither
appeals to the courts of justice
nor heeds their mandates
("Swear not at all") .12 He never
under any circumstances
divorces his wife, even when he
has proofs of her
infidelity.--And under all of this
is one principle; all of it arises
from one instinct.--

The life of the Saviour was
simply a carrying out of this way
of life--and so was his death. . .
He no longer needed any
formula or ritual in his relations
with God--not even prayer. He
had rejected the whole of the
Jewish doctrine of repentance
and atonement; he knew that it
was only by a way of life that one
could feel one's self "divine,"
"blessed," "evangelical," a "child
of God."Not by "repentance,"not
by "prayer and forgiveness" is
the way to God: only the Gospel
way leads to God--it is itself
"God!"--What the Gospels
abolished was the Judaism in the
concepts of "sin," "forgiveness of
sin," "faith," "salvation through
faith"--the wholeecclesiastical
dogma of the Jews was denied
by the "glad tidings."

The deep instinct which prompts
the Christian how to live so that
he will feel that he is "in heaven"
and is "immortal," despite many
reasons for feeling that he isnot
"in heaven": this is the only
psychological reality in
"salvation."--A new way of life,
not a new faith.


If I understand anything at all
about this great symbolist, it is
this: that he regarded only
subjective realities as realities,
as "truths"--hat he saw
everything else, everything
natural, temporal, spatial and
historical, merely as signs, as
materials for parables. The
concept of "the Son of God" does
not connote a concrete person in
history, an isolated and definite
individual, but an "eternal" fact,
a psychological symbol set free
from the concept of time. The
same thing is true, and in the
highest sense, of the God of this
typical symbolist, of the
"kingdom of God," and of the
"sonship of God." Nothing could
he more un-Christian than the
crude ecclesiastical notions of
God as a person, of a "kingdom
of God" that is to come, of a
"kingdom of heaven" beyond,
and of a "son of God" as the
second person of the Trinity. All
this--if I may be forgiven the
phrase--is like thrusting one's
fist into the eye (and what an
eye!) of the Gospels: a disrespect
for symbols amounting to
world-historical cynicism. . .
.But it is nevertheless obvious
enough what is meant by the
symbols "Father" and
"Son"--not, of course, to every
one--: the word "Son" expresses
entrance into the feeling that
there is a general
transformation of all things
(beatitude), and "Father"
expresses that feeling itself--the
sensation of eternity and of
perfection.--I am ashamed to
remind you of what the church
has made of this symbolism: has
it not set an Amphitryon story13
at the threshold of the Christian
"faith"? And a dogma of
"immaculate conception" for
good measure? . . --And thereby
it has robbed conception of its

The "kingdom of heaven" is a
state of the heart--not
something to come "beyond the
world" or "after death." The
whole idea of natural death is
absent from the Gospels: death
is not a bridge, not a passing; it is
absent because it belongs to a
quite different, a merely
apparent world, useful only as a
symbol. The "hour of death"
isnot a Christian idea--"hours,"
time, the physical life and its
crises have no existence for the
bearer of "glad tidings." . . .

The "kingdom of God" is not
something that men wait for: it
had no yesterday and no day
after tomorrow, it is not going
to come at a "millennium"--it is
an experience of the heart, it is
everywhere and it is nowhere. . .


This "bearer of glad tidings" died
as he lived and taught--not to
"save mankind," but to show
mankind how to live. It was a
way of life that he bequeathed to
man: his demeanour before the
judges, before the officers,
before his accusers--his
demeanour on the cross. He
does not resist; he does not
defend his rights; he makes no
effort to ward off the most
extreme penalty--more, he
invites it. . . And he prays, suffers
and loves with those, in those,
who do him evil . . . Not to
defend one's self, not to show
anger, not to lay blames. . . On
the contrary, to submit even to
the Evil One--to love him. . . .


--We free spirits--we are the
first to have the necessary
prerequisite to understanding
what nineteen centuries have
misunderstood--that instinct
and passion for integrity which
makes war upon the "holy lie"
even more than upon all other
lies. . . Mankind was
unspeakably far from our
benevolent and cautious
neutrality, from that discipline
of the spirit which alone makes
possible the solution of such
strange and subtle things: what
men always sought, with
shameless egoism, was their own
advantage therein; they created
the church out of denial of the
Gospels. . . .

Whoever sought for signs of an
ironical divinity's hand in the
great drama of existence would
find no small indication thereof
in the stupendous question-mark
that is called Christianity. That
mankind should be on its knees
before the very antithesis of
what was the origin, the
meaning and the law of the
Gospels--that in the concept of
the "church" the very things
should be pronounced holy that
the "bearer of glad tidings"
regards as beneath him and
behind him--it would be
impossible to surpass this as a
grand example of
world-historical irony--


--Our age is proud of its
historical sense: how, then,
could it delude itself into
believing that the crude fable of
the wonder-worker and Saviour
constituted the beginnings of
Christianity--and that
everything spiritual and
symbolical in it only came later?
Quite to the contrary, the whole
history of Christianity--from
the death on the cross
onward--is the history of a
progressively clumsier
misunderstanding of an original
symbolism. With every extension
of Christianity among larger and
ruder masses, even less capable
of grasping the principles that
gave birth to it, the need arose
to make it more and more vulgar
and barbarous--it absorbed the
teachings and rites of all the
subterranean cults of the
imperium Romanum, and the
absurdities engendered by all
sorts of sickly reasoning. It was
the fate of Christianity that its
faith had to become as sickly, as
low and as vulgar as the needs
were sickly, low and vulgar to
which it had to administer. A
sickly barbarism finally lifts
itself to power as the
church--the church, that
incarnation of deadly hostility
to all honesty, to all loftiness of
soul, to all discipline of the
spirit, to all spontaneous and
kindly humanity.--Christian
values--noble values: it is only
we, we free spirits, who have
re-established this greatest of
all antitheses in values!. . . .


--I cannot, at this place, avoid a
sigh. There are days when I am
visited by a feeling blacker than
the blackest
melancholy--contempt of man.
Let me leave no doubt as to what
I despise, whom I despise: it is
the man of today, the man with
whom I am unhappily
contemporaneous. The man of
today--I am suffocated by his
foul breath! . . . Toward the past,
like all who understand, I am
full of tolerance, which is to say,
generous self-control: with
gloomy caution I pass through
whole millenniums of this mad
house of a world, call it
"Christianity," "Christian faith"
or the "Christian church," as you
will--I take care not to hold
mankind responsible for its
lunacies. But my feeling changes
and breaks out irresistibly the
moment I enter modern
times,our times. Our age knows
better. . . What was formerly
merely sickly now becomes
indecent--it is indecent to be a
Christian today. And here my
disgust begins.--I look about
me: not a word survives of what
was once called "truth"; we can
no longer bear to hear a priest
pronounce the word. Even a
man who makes the most modest
pretensions to integrity must
know that a theologian, a priest,
a pope of today not only errs
when he speaks, but actually
lies--and that he no longer
escapes blame for his lie
through "innocence" or
"ignorance." The priest knows,
as every one knows, that there is
no longer any "God," or any
"sinner," or any "Saviour"--that
"free will" and the "moral order
of the world" are lies--: serious
reflection, the profound
self-conquest of the spirit,allow
no man to pretend that he does
not know it. . . All the ideas of
the church are now recognized
for what they are--as the worst
counterfeits in existence,
invented to debase nature and
all natural values; the priest
himself is seen as he actually
is--as the most dangerous form
of parasite, as the venomous
spider of creation. . - - We
know, our conscience now
knows--just what the real value
of all those sinister inventions of
priest and church has been and
what ends they have served, with
their debasement of humanity to
a state of self-pollution, the
very sight of which excites
loathing,--the concepts "the
other world," "the last
judgment," "the immortality of
the soul," the "soul" itself: they
are all merely so many in
instruments of torture, systems
of cruelty, whereby the priest
becomes master and remains
master. . .Every one knows
this,but nevertheless things
remain as before. What has
become of the last trace of
decent feeling, of self-respect,
when our statesmen, otherwise
an unconventional class of men
and thoroughly anti-Christian
in their acts, now call
themselves Christians and go to
the communion table? . . . A
prince at the head of his armies,
magnificent as the expression of
the egoism and arrogance of his
people--and yet acknowledging,
without any shame, that he is a
Christian! . . . Whom, then, does
Christianity deny? what does it
call "the world"? To be a soldier,
to be a judge, to be a patriot; to
defend one's self; to be careful
of one's honour; to desire one's
own advantage; to be proud . . .
every act of everyday, every
instinct, every valuation that
shows itself in a deed, is now
anti-Christian: what a monster
of falsehood the modern man
must be to call himself
nevertheless, and without
shame, a Christian!--


--I shall go back a bit, and tell
you the authentic history of
Christianity.--The very word
"Christianity" is a
misunderstanding--at bottom
there was only one Christian,
and he died on the cross. The
"Gospels" died on the cross.
What, from that moment
onward, was called the "Gospels"
was the very reverse of what he
had lived: "bad tidings," a
Dysangelium.14It is an error
amounting to nonsensicality to
see in "faith," and particularly in
faith in salvation through Christ,
the distinguishing mark of the
Christian: only the Christian
way of life, the life lived by him
who died on the cross, is
Christian. . . To this day such a
life is still possible, and for
certain men even necessary:
genuine, primitive Christianity
will remain possible in all ages. .
. . Not faith, but acts; above all,
an avoidance of acts, a different
state of being. . . . States of
consciousness, faith of a sort,
the acceptance, for example, of
anything as true--as every
psychologist knows, the value of
these things is perfectly
indifferent and fifth-rate
compared to that of the
instincts: strictly speaking, the
whole concept of intellectual
causality is false. To reduce
being a Christian, the state of
Christianity, to an acceptance of
truth, to a mere phenomenon of
consciousness, is to formulate
the negation of Christianity. In
fact, there are no Christians. The
"Christian"--he who for two
thousand years has passed as a
Christian--is simply a
psychological self-delusion.
Closely examined, it appears
that, despite all his "faith," he has
been ruled only by his
instincts--and what
instincts!--In all ages--for
example, in the case of
Luther--"faith" has been no
more than a cloak, a pretense, a
curtain behind which the
instincts have played their
game--a shrewd blindness to the
domination of certain of the
instincts . . .I have already called
"faith" the specially Christian
form of shrewdness--people
always talk of their "faith" and
act according to their instincts. .
. In the world of ideas of the
Christian there is nothing that
so much as touches reality: on
the contrary, one recognizes an
instinctive hatred of reality as
the motive power, the only
motive power at the bottom of
Christianity. What follows
therefrom? That even here, in
psychologicis, there is a radical
error, which is to say one
conditioning fundamentals,
which is to say, one in substance.
Take away one idea and put a
genuine reality in its place--and
the whole of Christianity
crumbles to nothingness
!--Viewed calmly, this strangest
of all phenomena, a religion not
only depending on errors, but
inventive and ingenious only in
devising injurious errors,
poisonous to life and to the
heart--this remains a spectacle
for the gods--for those gods who
are also philosophers, and
whom I have encountered, for
example, in the celebrated
dialogues at Naxos. At the
moment when their disgust
leaves them (--and us!) they will
be thankful for the spectacle
afforded by the Christians:
perhaps because of this curious
exhibition alone the wretched
little planet called the earth
deserves a glance from
omnipotence, a show of divine
interest. . . . Therefore, let us not
underestimate the Christians:
the Christian, false to the point
of innocence, is far above the
ape--in its application to the
Christians a well--known
theory of descent becomes a
mere piece of politeness. . . .


--The fate of the Gospels was
decided by death--it hung on
the "cross.". . . It was only death,
that unexpected and shameful
death; it was only the cross,
which was usually reserved for
the canaille only--it was only
this appalling paradox which
brought the disciples face to
face with the real riddle: "Who
was it? what was it?"--The
feeling of dismay, of profound
affront and injury; the suspicion
that such a death might involve a
refutation of their cause; the
terrible question, "Why just in
this way?"--this state of mind is
only too easy to understand.
Here everything must be
accounted for as necessary;
everything must have a meaning,
a reason, the highest sort of
reason; the love of a disciple
excludes all chance. Only then
did the chasm of doubt yawn:
"Who put him to death? who was
his natural enemy?"--this
question flashed like a
lightning-stroke. Answer:
dominant Judaism, its ruling
class. From that moment, one
found one's self in revolt against
the established order, and began
to understand Jesus as in revolt
against the established order.
Until then this militant, this
nay-saying, nay-doing element
in his character had been
lacking; what is more, he had
appeared to present its
opposite. Obviously, the little
community had not understood
what was precisely the most
important thing of all: the
example offered by this way of
dying, the freedom from and
superiority to every feeling of
ressentiment--a plain indication
of how little he was understood
at all! All that Jesus could hope
to accomplish by his death, in
itself, was to offer the strongest
possible proof, or example, of
his teachings in the most public
manner. But his disciples were
very far from forgiving his
death--though to have done so
would have accorded with the
Gospels in the highest degree;
and neither were they prepared
to offer themselves, with gentle
and serene calmness of heart,
for a similar death. . . . On the
contrary, it was precisely the
most unevangelical of feelings,
revenge, that now possessed
them. It seemed impossible that
the cause should perish with his
death: "recompense" and
"judgment" became necessary
(--yet what could be less
evangelical than "recompense,"
"punishment," and "sitting in
judgment"!) --Once more the
popular belief in the coming of a
messiah appeared in the
foreground; attention was
riveted upon an historical
moment: the "kingdom of God" is
to come, with judgment upon his
enemies. . . But in all this there
was a wholesale
misunderstanding: imagine the
"kingdom of God" as a last act, as
a mere promise! The Gospels
had been, in fact, the
incarnation, the fulfillment,
therealization of this "kingdom
of God." It was only now that all
the familiar contempt for and
bitterness against Pharisees and
theologians began to appear in
the character of the Master was
thereby turned into a Pharisee
and theologian himself! On the
other hand, the savage
veneration of these completely
unbalanced souls could no
longer endure the Gospel
doctrine, taught by Jesus, of the
equal right of all men to be
children of God: their revenge
took the form of elevating Jesus
in an extravagant fashion, and
thus separating him from
themselves: just as, in earlier
times, the Jews, to revenge
themselves upon their enemies,
separated themselves from their
God, and placed him on a great
height. The One God and the
Only Son of God: both were
products of resentment . . . .


--And from that time onward an
absurd problem offered itself:
"how could God allow it!" To
which the deranged reason of
the little community formulated
an answer that was terrifying in
its absurdity: God gave his son as
a sacrifice for the forgiveness of
sins. At once there was an end of
the gospels! Sacrifice for sin,
and in its most obnoxious and
barbarous form: sacrifice of the
innocent for the sins of the
guilty! What appalling paganism
!--Jesus himself had done away
with the very concept of "guilt,"
he denied that there was any
gulf fixed between God and man;
he lived this unity between God
and man, and that was precisely
his "glad tidings". . . And not as a
mere privilege!--From this time
forward the type of the Saviour
was corrupted, bit by bit, by the
doctrine of judgment and of the
second coming, the doctrine of
death as a sacrifice, the doctrine
of the resurrection, by means of
which the entire concept of
"blessedness," the whole and
only reality of the gospels, is
juggled away--in favour of a
state of existence after death! . . .
St. Paul, with that rabbinical
impudence which shows itself in
all his doings, gave a logical
quality to that conception, that
indecent conception, in this way:
"If Christ did not rise from the
dead, then all our faith is in
vain!"--And at once there
sprang from the Gospels the
most contemptible of all
unfulfillable promises, the
shameless doctrine of personal
immortality. . . Paul even
preached it as a reward . . .


One now begins to see just what
it was that came to an end with
the death on the cross: a new
and thoroughly original effort
to found a Buddhistic peace
movement, and so establish
happiness on earth--real, not
merely promised. For this
remains--as I have already
pointed out--the essential
difference between the two
religions of decadence:
Buddhism promises nothing, but
actually fulfills; Christianity
promises everything, but fulfills
nothing.--Hard upon the heels
of the "glad tidings" came the
worst imaginable: those of Paul.
In Paul is incarnated the very
opposite of the "bearer of glad
tidings"; he represents the
genius for hatred, the vision of
hatred, the relentless logic of
hatred. What, indeed, has not
this dysangelist sacrificed to
hatred! Above all, the Saviour:
he nailed him to his own cross.
The life, the example, the
teaching, the death of Christ, the
meaning and the law of the
whole gospels--nothing was left
of all this after that
counterfeiter in hatred had
reduced it to his uses. Surely not
reality; surely not historical
truth! . . . Once more the priestly
instinct of the Jew perpetrated
the same old master crime
against history--he simply
struck out the yesterday and the
day before yesterday of
Christianity, and invented his
own history of Christian
beginnings. Going further, he
treated the history of Israel to
another falsification, so that it
became a mere prologue to his
achievement: all the prophets, it
now appeared, had referred to
his "Saviour." . . . Later on the
church even falsified the history
of man in order to make it a
prologue to Christianity . . . The
figure of the Saviour, his
teaching, his way of life, his
death, the meaning of his death,
even the consequences of his
death--nothing remained
untouched, nothing remained in
even remote contact with
reality. Paul simply shifted the
centre of gravity of that whole
life to a place behind this
existence--in the lie of the
"risen" Jesus. At bottom, he had
no use for the life of the
Saviour--what he needed was
the death on the cross, and
something more. To see
anything honest in such a man as
Paul, whose home was at the
centre of the Stoical
enlightenment, when he
converts an hallucination into a
proof of the resurrection of the
Saviour, or even to believe his
tale that he suffered from this
hallucination himself--this
would be a genuine niaiserie in a
psychologist. Paul willed the
end; therefore he also willed the
means. --What he himself didn't
believe was swallowed readily
enough by the idiots among
whom he spread his
teaching.--What he wanted was
power; in Paul the priest once
more reached out for
power--he had use only for such
concepts, teachings and symbols
as served the purpose of
tyrannizing over the masses and
organizing mobs. What was the
only part of Christianity that
Mohammed borrowed later on?
Paul's invention, his device for
establishing priestly tyranny
and organizing the mob: the
belief in the immortality of the
soul--that is to say, the doctrine
of "judgment".


When the centre of gravity of
life is placed, not in life itself,
but in "the beyond"--in
nothingness--then one has
taken away its centre of gravity
altogether. The vast lie of
personal immortality destroys
all reason, all natural
everything in the instincts that is
beneficial, that fosters life and
that safeguards the future is a
cause of suspicion. So to live
that life no longer has any
meaning: this is now the
"meaning" of life. . . . Why be
public-spirited? Why take any
pride in descent and
forefathers? Why labour
together, trust one another, or
concern one's self about the
common welfare, and try to
serve it? . . . Merely so many
"temptations," so many strayings
from the "straight path."--"One
thing only is necessary". . . That
every man, because he has an
"immortal soul," is as good as
every other man; that in an
infinite universe of things the
"salvation" of every individual
may lay claim to eternal
importance; that insignificant
bigots and the three-fourths
insane may assume that the laws
of nature are constantly
suspended in their behalf--it is
impossible to lavish too much
contempt upon such a
magnification of every sort of
selfishness to infinity, to
insolence. And yet Christianity
has to thank precisely this
miserable flattery of personal
vanity for its triumph--it was
thus that it lured all the botched,
the dissatisfied, the fallen upon
evil days, the whole refuse and
off-scouring of humanity to its
side. The "salvation of the
soul"--in plain English: "the
world revolves around me." . . .
The poisonous doctrine, "equal
rights for all," has been
propagated as a Christian
principle: out of the secret
nooks and crannies of bad
instinct Christianity has waged a
deadly war upon all feelings of
reverence and distance between
man and man, which is to say,
upon the first prerequisite to
every step upward, to every
development of
civilization--out of the
ressentiment of the masses it has
forged its chief weapons against
us, against everything noble,
joyous and high spirited on
earth, against our happiness on
earth . . . To allow "immortality"
to every Peter and Paul was the
greatest, the most vicious
outrage upon noble humanity
ever perpetrated.--And let us
not underestimate the fatal
influence that Christianity has
had, even upon politics!
Nowadays no one has courage
any more for special rights, for
the right of dominion, for
feelings of honourable pride in
himself and his equals--for the
pathos of distance. . . Our
politics is sick with this lack of
courage!--The aristocratic
attitude of mind has been
undermined by the lie of the
equality of souls; and if belief in
the "privileges of the majority"
makes and will continue to make
revolution--it is Christianity,
let us not doubt, and Christian
valuations, which convert every
revolution into a carnival of
blood and crime! Christianity is
a revolt of all creatures that
creep on the ground against
everything that is lofty: the
gospel of the "lowly" lowers . . .


--The gospels are invaluable as
evidence of the corruption that
was already persistent within
the primitive community. That
which Paul, with the cynical
logic of a rabbi, later developed
to a conclusion was at bottom
merely a process of decay that
had begun with the death of the
Saviour.--These gospels cannot
be read too carefully;
difficulties lurk behind every
word. I confess--I hope it will
not be held against me--that it is
precisely for this reason that
they offer first-rate joy to a
psychologist--as the opposite of
all merely naive corruption, as
refinement par excellence, as an
artistic triumph in psychological
corruption. The gospels, in fact,
stand alone. The Bible as a
whole is not to be compared to
them. Here we are among Jews:
this is the first thing to be borne
in mind if we are not to lose the
thread of the matter. This
positive genius for conjuring up
a delusion of personal "holiness"
unmatched anywhere else,
either in books or by men; this
elevation of fraud in word and
attitude to the level of an
art--all this is not an accident
due to the chance talents of an
individual, or to any violation of
nature. The thing responsible is
race. The whole of Judaism
appears in Christianity as the art
of concocting holy lies, and
there, after many centuries of
earnest Jewish training and
hard practice of Jewish technic,
the business comes to the stage
of mastery. The Christian, that
ultima ratio of lying, is the Jew
all over again--he is threefold
the Jew. . . The underlying will
to make use only of such
concepts, symbols and attitudes
as fit into priestly practice, the
instinctive repudiation of every
other mode of thought, and
every other method of
estimating values and
utilities--this is not only
tradition, it is inheritance: only
as an inheritance is it able to
operate with the force of nature.
The whole of mankind, even the
best minds of the best ages (with
one exception, perhaps hardly
human--), have permitted
themselves to be deceived. The
gospels have been read as a book
of innocence. . . surely no small
indication of the high skill with
which the trick has been
done.--Of course, if we could
actually see these astounding
bigots and bogus saints, even if
only for an instant, the farce
would come to an end,--and it is
precisely because I cannot read
a word of theirs without seeing
their attitudinizing that I have
made am end of them. . . . I simply
cannot endure the way they
have of rolling up their
eyes.--For the majority, happily
enough, books are mere
literature.--Let us not be led
astray: they say "judge not," and
yet they condemn to hell
whoever stands in their way. In
letting God sit in judgment they
judge themselves; in glorifying
God they glorify themselves; in
demanding that every one show
the virtues which they
themselves happen to be capable
of--still more, which they must
have in order to remain on
top--they assume the grand air
of men struggling for virtue, of
men engaging in a war that
virtue may prevail. "We live, we
die, we sacrifice ourselves for
the good" (--"the truth," "the
light," "the kingdom of God"): in
point of fact, they simply do
what they cannot help doing.
Forced, like hypocrites, to be
sneaky, to hide in corners, to
slink along in the shadows, they
convert their necessity into
aduty: it is on grounds of duty
that they account for their lives
of humility, and that humility
becomes merely one more proof
of their piety. . . Ah, that humble,
chaste, charitable brand of
fraud! "Virtue itself shall bear
witness for us.". . . . One may
read the gospels as books of
moral seduction: these petty
folks fasten themselves to
morality--they know the uses of
morality! Morality is the best of
all devices for leading mankind
by the nose!--The fact is that the
conscious conceit of the chosen
here disguises itself as modesty:
it is in this way that they, the
"community," the "good and just,"
range themselves, once and for
always, on one side, the side of
"the truth"--and the rest of
mankind, "the world," on the
other. . . In that we observe the
most fatal sort of megalomania
that the earth has ever seen:
little abortions of bigots and
liars began to claim exclusive
rights in the concepts of "God,"
"the truth," "the light," "the
spirit," "love," "wisdom" and
"life," as if these things were
synonyms of themselves and
thereby they sought to fence
themselves off from the "world";
little super-Jews, ripe for some
sort of madhouse, turned values
upside down in order to meet
their notions, just as if the
Christian were the meaning, the
salt, the standard and even
thelast judgment of all the rest. .
. . The whole disaster was only
made possible by the fact that
there already existed in the
world a similar megalomania,
allied to this one in race, to wit,
the Jewish: once a chasm began
to yawn between Jews and
Judaeo-Christians, the latter
had no choice but to employ the
self-preservative measures that
the Jewish instinct had devised,
even against the Jews
themselves, whereas the Jews
had employed them only against
non-Jews. The Christian is
simply a Jew of the "reformed"


--I offer a few examples of the
sort of thing these petty people
have got into their heads--what
they have put into the mouth of
the Master: the unalloyed creed
of "beautiful souls."--

"And whosoever shall not
receive you, nor hear you, when
ye depart thence, shake off the
dust under your feet for a
testimony against them. Verily I
say unto you, it shall be more
tolerable for Sodom and
Gomorrha in the day of
judgment, than for that city"
(Mark vi, 11)--How evangelical!

"And whosoever shall offend one
of these little ones that believe
in me, it is better for him that a
millstone were hanged about his
neck, and he were cast into the
sea" (Mark ix, 42) .--How
evangelical! --

"And if thine eye offend thee,
pluck it out: it is better for thee
to enter into the kingdom of God
with one eye, than having two
eyes to be cast into hell fire;
Where the worm dieth not, and
the fire is not quenched." (Mark
ix, 47)15--It is not exactly the
eye that is meant.

"Verily I say unto you, That
there be some of them that stand
here, which shall not taste
death, till they have seen the
kingdom of God come with
power." (Mark ix, 1.)--Well lied,
lion!16 . . . .

"Whosoever will come after me,
let him deny himself, and take
up his cross, and follow me. For .
. ." (Note of a psychologist.
Christian morality is refuted by
its fors: its reasons are against
it,--this makes it Christian.)
Mark viii, 34.--

"Judge not, that ye be not
judged. With what measure ye
mete, it shall be measured to you
again." (Matthew vii, l.)17--What
a notion of justice, of a "just"
judge! . . .

"For if ye love them which love
you, what reward have ye? do
not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren
only, what do ye more than
others? do not even the
publicans so?" (Matthew V,
46.)18--Principle of "Christian
love": it insists upon being well
paid in the end. . . .

"But if ye forgive not men their
trespasses, neither will your
Father forgive your trespasses."
(Matthew vi, 15.)--Very
compromising for the said

"But seek ye first the kingdom of
God, and his righteousness; and
all these things shall be added
unto you." (Matthew vi, 33.)--All
these things: namely, food,
clothing, all the necessities of
life. An error, to put it mildly. . . .
A bit before this God appears as
a tailor, at least in certain cases.

"Rejoice ye in that day, and leap
for joy: for, behold, your reward
is great in heaven: for in the like
manner did their fathers unto
the prophets." (Luke vi,
23.)--Impudent rabble! It
compares itself to the prophets. .

"Know yea not that yea are the
temple of God, and that the
spirit of God dwelt in you? If any
man defile the temple of God,
him shall God destroy; for the
temple of God is holy, which
temple yea are." (Paul, 1
Corinthians iii, 16.)19--For that
sort of thing one cannot have
enough contempt. . . .

"Do yea not know that the saints
shall judge the world? and if the
world shall be judged by you,
are yea unworthy to judge the
smallest matters?" (Paul, 1
Corinthians vi,
2.)--Unfortunately, not merely
the speech of a lunatic. . .

This frightful impostor then
proceeds: "Know yea not that we
shall judge angels? how much
more things that pertain to this
life?". . .

"Hat not God made foolish the
wisdom of this world? For after
that in the wisdom of God the
world by wisdom knew not God,
it pleased God by the foolishness
of preaching to save them that
believe. . . . Not many wise men
after the flesh, not men mighty,
not many noble are called: But
God hat chosen the foolish
things of the world to confound
the wise; and God hat chosen the
weak things of the world
confound the things which are
mighty; And base things of the
world, and things which are
despised, hat God chosen, yea,
and things which are not, to
bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his
presence." (Paul, 1 Corinthians i,
20ff.)20 --In order to understand
this passage, a first rate example
of the psychology underlying
every Chandala-morality, one
should read the first part of my
"Genealogy of Morals": there, for
the first time, the antagonism
between a noble morality and a
morality born of ressentiment
and impotent vengefulness is
exhibited. Paul was the greatest
of all apostles of revenge. . . .


--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?". . .


--The thing that sets us apart is
not that we are unable to find
God, either in history, or in
nature, or behind nature--but
that we regard what has been
honoured as God, not as "divine,"
but as pitiable, as absurd, as
injurious; not as a mere error,
but as acrime against life. . . We
deny that God is God . . . If any
one were to show us this
Christian God, we'd be still less
inclined to believe in him.--In a
formula: deus, qualem Paulus
creavit, dei negatio.--Such a
religion as Christianity, which
does not touch reality at a single
point and which goes to pieces
the moment reality asserts its
rights at any point, must be
inevitably the deadly enemy of
the "wisdom of this world,"
which is to say, of science--and
it will give the name of good to
whatever means serve to poison,
calumniate and cry down all
intellectual discipline, all
lucidity and strictness in matters
of intellectual conscience, and
all noble coolness and freedom
of the mind. "Faith," as an
imperative, vetoes science--in
praxi, lying at any price. . . . Paul
well knew that lying--that
"faith"--was necessary; later on
the church borrowed the fact
from Paul.--The God that Paul
invented for himself, a God who
"reduced to absurdity" "the
wisdom of this world"
(especially the two great
enemies of superstition,
philology and medicine), is in
truth only an indication of Paul's
resolute determination to
accomplish that very thing
himself: to give one's own will
the name of God, thora--that is
essentially Jewish. Paul wants
to dispose of the "wisdom of this
world": his enemies are the good
philologians and physicians of
the Alexandrine school--on
them he makes his war. As a
matter of fact no man can be a
philologian or a physician
without being also Antichrist.
That is to say, as a philologian a
man sees behind the "holy
books," and as a physician he
sees behind the physiological
degeneration of the typical
Christian. The physician says
"incurable"; the philologian says
"fraud.". . .


--Has any one ever clearly
understood the celebrated story
at the beginning of the Bible--of
God's mortal terror of science? .
. . No one, in fact, has
understood it. This priest-book
par excellence opens, as is
fitting, with the great inner
difficulty of the priest: he faces
only one great danger; ergo,
"God" faces only one great

The old God, wholly "spirit,"
wholly the high-priest, wholly
perfect, is promenading his
garden: he is bored and trying to
kill time. Against boredom even
gods struggle in vain.21What
does he do? He creates
man--man is entertaining. . . But
then he notices that man is also
bored. God's pity for the only
form of distress that invades all
paradises knows no bounds: so
he forthwith creates other
animals. God's first mistake: to
man these other animals were
not entertaining--he sought
dominion over them; he did not
want to be an "animal"
himself.--So God created
woman. In the act he brought
boredom to an end--and also
many other things! Woman was
the second mistake of
God.--"Woman, at bottom, is a
serpent, Heva"--every priest
knows that; "from woman comes
every evil in the world"--every
priest knows that, too.