Thursday, January 28, 2016

No One Expects the Gothic Invasion

In reading In Search of Zarathustra I'm seeing more-clearly than ever before the extent of European demographic upheaval during the Migration Period. The Celtic and Germanic inhabitants of central and northern Europe were pushed to the margins by the arrival of immigrants from central Asia.

Two things strike me as interesting about this. One is the implications for my ancestry. My known ancestry is primarily German and Czech, with Greek and Irish components, as well. The invasion of Europe by Asian groups means I'm probably much more Asian than I would otherwise think. So when my wife and I moved to China last year, we were just completing our DNA's circumnavigation of the world.

The second point is the timing and the extent of the European upheaval. I remember reading in Ancient America and the Book of Mormon a few years back about the pre-Columbian destruction of then-native Mesoamericans; the authors' point is that Mormons who see fulfillment of prophesied destruction in European contact are looking too late. Is it possible that Late Antiquity Europeans were similarly destroyed and replaced by Asians?

Kriwaczek notes of Europe's Asian arrivals:

There was little resistance. Europe had lost about a third of its population since the Roman heyday. Huge tracts supported fewer than twenty people per square mile, about the same as the Amazon rain forest today. [Loc. 1678 of 4637]
When European immigrants came across a similarly-emptied continent 1,000 years later, they figured God had wiped it clean for them (and where His thoroughness wasn't to their liking, they helped Him finish the job). Could this state of events in Europe be the result of the receptiveness of the people to Christianity? Most people see Late Antiquity Europeans as embracing Christianity, but from a Mormon perspective, what they embraced wasn't Christianity. It could be termed Christ-themed barbarism, Christ-themed paganism, or Christ-themed statism, but it was not the Christianity of the Christ-contemporary disciples, as attested to by the Early Christian Fathers' bewilderment at the rapid change the gospel underwent when the first-generation Christians had died.

Here's my thinking: Europe gets the gospel preached to it by Paul and his companions. Those who accept it are typically martyred. Enterprising sociopaths see the life-risking dedication of Christians and want to co-opt the religion for their own megalomaniacal purposes. These new "converts" don't necessarily risk death because they aren't above changing their teachings to suit the state; this isn't their "religion," it's their "faith tradition." By the 300s, Europeans have completely bastardized Christianity. Bring on the Asiatic hordes.

I realize I'm not a trained theologian or historian. This is just a connection I think I see. I'd be interested now in re-reading Nibley's There Were Jaredites for a better understanding of my Asian ancestors.

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