Only the Shedding of Men’s Blood

Detail of manuscript illustration, depicting Vergil and Dante encountering Mohammed in Hell, MS. Holkham misc. 48, Inferno, Canto XXVIII.
Detail of manuscript illustration, depicting Vergil and Dante encountering Mohammed in Hell, MS. Holkham misc. 48, Inferno, Canto XXVIII.

My brother Abraham has written to me from Caesarea that a false prophet has appeared among the Saracens. “For when the candidatus Sergius1 was killed by the Saracens,” says Abraham,  “I was at Caesarea, and I went by boat to Sycaminum; and they said, ‘the candidatus has been killed,’ and we Jews had great joy. And they say that a prophet has appeared coming up with the Saracens and proclaims the coming of the anointed, the Christ who cometh. And when I Abraham came to Sycaminum, I went to the elder, a very learned man, and I said to him: ‘What do you say, Rabbi, about the prophet who has appeared with the Saracens?’ And he groaned loudly and said: ‘He is false, for surely the prophets do not come with sword and chariot. Verily the troubles of today are works of confusion, and I fear lest the Christ who came first, whom the Christians worship, was himself he that was sent by God, and we shall receive Hermolaus (the Devil) instead of him. For Isaiah said that we Jews have hearts that have gone astray and been hardened, until all the earth be desolate. But go, Abraham, and enquire about the prophet that has appeared.’ And I Abraham made enquiry and learned from those that had met him, that you find nothing true in the so-called prophet, save shedding the blood of men; for he says that he holds the key of paradise, which is untrue.”

Didaskalia of Jacob.

1 On 4 February 634, dux and candidatus, Sergius, led a detachment of 300 soldiers from Caesarea against a superior Mohammedan force, commanded by Abu Umamah al-Bahili, at the Battle of Dathin, in the vicinity of Gaza (St. Theophanes the Confessor, Chronographia). The Candidatus fell alongside his men in the Byzantine defeat.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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