Jean Hardouin

Jean Hardouin 1646 – 1729 [Paris, France]

Hardouin, a very studied and renowned Jesuit, became 1683 director of the Royal Library of France, where he prepared an edition of the Council Records of the whole lifetime of the Catholic Church and laid down the fundaments of scientific historiography.
In 1690 he started publishing surprising views: according to him, all the Fathers of the Church —St. Augustin, Isidor of Seville, etc— and all records of Councils before the 16th century are faked as well as the biggest part of Roman authors. Although his arguments could never be refuted, the Church defended the authenticity of the biggest part of the texts that Hardouin had declared fakes after his death.

Selected Publications:
– “Prolegomena ad censuram veterum scriptorum” (1693, published at Paris)
– “Ad Censuram Scriptorum veterum prolegomena” (1766, Jean Hardouin) (.pdf) []

Jean Hardouin (1646 – September 3, 1729), a French classical scholar, was born at Quimper in Brittany.
Having acquired a taste for literature in his father’s book shop, he sought and obtained admission into the order of the Jesuits in around 1662 (when he was 16). In Paris, where he went to study theology, he ultimately became the librarian of the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in 1683, and he died there.
His first published work was an edition of Themistius (1684), which included no fewer than thirteen new orations. On the advice of Jean Garnier (1612–1681) he undertook to edit the Natural History of Pliny for the Dauphin series, a task which he completed in five years. Aside from editorial work, he became interested in numismatics and published several learned works on this subject, all marked by a determination to be different from other interpreters. His works on this topic include Nummi antiqui Populorum et urbium illustrati (1684), Antirrheticus de nummis antiquis coloniarum et municipiorum (1689), and Chronologia Veteris Testamenti ad vulgatam versionem exacta et nummis illustrata (1696).
Hardouin was appointed by the ecclesiastical authorities to supervise the Conciliorum collectio regia maxima (1715); but he was accused of suppressing important documents and including apocryphal ones, and by order of the Parlement of Paris (then in conflict with the Jesuits), the publication of the work was delayed.
It is, however, as the originator of a variety of paradoxical theories that Hardouin is now best remembered. The most remarkable, contained in his Chronologiae ex nummis antiquis restitutae (1696) and Prolegomena ad censuram veterum scriptorum, was to the effect that, with the exception of the works of Homer, Herodotus, and Cicero, the Natural History of Pliny, the Georgics of Virgil, and the Satires and Epistles of Horace, all the ancient classics of Greece and Rome were spurious, having been manufactured by monks of the 13th century, under the direction of a certain Severus Archontius.

He denied the genuineness of most ancient works of art, coins, and inscriptions and declared that the New Testament was originally written in Latin. Hardouin also doubted the life span of Dante, seeing him rather in the 15th/16th century, as published in Paris 1727, which was edited with an English commentary in London 1847 by C. F. Molini. The historian Isaac-Joseph Berruyer had his Histoire du Peuple de Dieu condemned for having followed this theory, which has a modern heir in the Russian mathematician Anatoly Timofeevich Fomenko, whose conclusions being based on proprietary methods of statistical textual analysis and computational astronomy are even more radical, but considered to be pseudoscientific. Hardouin also declared that all the councils supposed to have taken place before the council of Trent were fictitious.

Further reading –
* “Bibliothèque des écrivains de la Compagnie de Jesus” (1853, by A. Debacker)

Bibliography –
* The Prolegomena of Jean Hardouin, translated into English by Edwin Johnson and published by Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1909, with a noteworthy preface of Edward A. Petherick.
Full text of the Prolegomena (via

* “The Prolegomena of Jean Hardouin Explored” (2014-06-20, by G.D.O’Bradovich III):
Jean Hardouin (1646-1729) states that the writings attributed to the Church Fathers are subtly atheistic and impious. He states that this “impious crew” have “no God, but Nature; who was the framer of the Universe by necessary and immutable laws of motion…the light of Truth…” [Chapter 2, section 2].   Hardouin suggests that the purpose of this subtle atheism is “to remove God entirely from the world, and to overthrow the whole…of the Christian faith.” [Chapter 1, section 16]. While there are no quotes of the impious Church Fathers, Hardouin does mention that “it is fearfully tedious…to read them.”[Chapter 3, section 19.

Hardouin maintains that these writings were unknown for most of history, were placed in libraries, and were brought out “by degrees” in later generations [Chapter 1, section 7].  While we may find this idea amusing, we must recall that the Sinai Codex, found in the 1840s, is one of the earliest dated and best-preserved codices of the Bible. In our own time, the provenance of the “Gospel of Judas” is no earlier than the 1960s but is dated to the first centuries.
One of the few proofs that Hardouin offers of the “impious cohort” is the use of the titles Father and Doctor of the Church.  He states that if the Church had “this custom it would still retain it. But it does not retain it.” [Chapter 15, section 3] Either he is ignorant that five saints were given the title of “Doctor” in the late 16th century, or they were made Doctors after Hardouin’s death in 1729.

Another part of the evidence against the “impious band” is the manufacture of historical heresies. Hardouin suggests that the heresies taught in university are arranged systemically and are inherently chronological: Heresies against the Trinity, Arianism, consubstantiation, Nestorianism, the Natures of Christ, the two wills, and the presence of Christ in the Eucharist [Chapter 17, section 4].
While Hardouin references Augustine over 30 times, he mentions “The city of God” only once. With this reference,  Hardouin supplies the book and chapter (18,38). To find any supporting evidence for the extraordinary claim of impiety, we will look at the 18th book of “The city of God.”

Gentle Reader, keep in mind that “impious” is defined as not showing due reverence. This can be applied to men or Gods. In modern parlance, we can say that the writer is being disrespectful.
Chapter 2. “the very voice of nature somehow proclaims, that those who happen to be conquered should choose rather to be subject to their conquerors than to be killed”
We learn Nature dictates it is better to live in slavery than to die.
– Chapter 5. “For what men can do with real colors and substances, the demons can very easily do by showing unreal forms to breeding animals.”
Details of animal husbandry are not appropriate in a Christian text.
– Chapter 6. “Varro [the historian to whom Augustine is referring] does not believe these things, because they are incompatible with the nature of the gods and of morality.”
– Chapter 13. In this chapter, Augustine relates” Jupiter’s rape of Ganymede, a very beautiful boy, ” and “his impregnating Danäe as a golden shower.” Augustine then comments as to “whether these things were really done or only fabled in those days, or were really done by others and falsely ascribed to Jupiter.”
– Chapter 18. Augustine relates many Greek myths in the preceding chapters and concludes chapter 18 with these words: “These things have not come to us from persons we might deem unworthy of credit, but from informants we could not suppose to be deceiving us.” Augustine invites us to believe these incredible stories.
– Chapter 19. “Now the Latins made Æneas one of their gods, because at his death he was nowhere to be found.” By substituting Jesus for Aeneas, the impious reader understands a denial of the Resurrection.
– Chapter 21. Augustine relates his knowledge of prostitutes and whorehouses: “(now harlots were called lupæ, she-wolves, from which their vile abodes are even yet called lupanaria)”
– Chapter 24. “Romulus, when dead, could nowhere be found, the Romans…placed him among the gods”. The impious reader may equate Roman’s inability to find a body with Mary Magdalene’s searching for the body of Christ.
– Chapter 31. Augustine questions the accuracy of the books of the minor prophets of the Old Testament by stating that these errors “happened through their error in negligently copying the works of others.”
– Chapter 32. Augustine invites the reader to question the accuracy of the New Testament by suggesting there are different versions. “But some copies have, I will joy in God my Jesus, which seems to me better than the version of those who, wishing to put it in Latin,”
– Chapter 36. “on a question having arisen among certain young men as to what is the strongest thing, when one had said kings, another wine, the third women…”
This seems more appropriate as a setup for an off-color joke and not as text to be found in alleged Christian writings.
– Chapter 37. Augustine supposes that the reader knows nothing about the Bible: “Moses…  whose writings are first in the authoritative canon”.
– Chapter 38. Augustine comments on why certain books are referred to in the Old Testament but are not included in it. “But the writings of these men could not be held as authoritative either among the Jews or us, on account of their too great antiquity, which made it seem needful to regard them with suspicion, lest false things should be set forth instead of true.”
Augustine states that old writings are not to be accepted on account of their age alone. “Nor ought it to appear strange if writings for which so great antiquity is claimed are held in suspicion.”
Hardouin would agree. Although Augustine is writing about non-canonical books,  his reasoning could also apply to the Church Fathers. “If any writings outside of it [the Old Testament] are now brought forward under the name of the ancient prophets, they cannot serve even as an aid to knowledge because it is uncertain whether they are genuine.”
– Chapter 40. Once again, Augustine must belittle the reader because he supposes that he knows nothing of the Bible when he relates that “the first man, who is called Adam.”
– Chapter 41. Augustine relates the different philosophies and opinions found in Greece. “Why, then, have the disciples dissented from their masters, and the fellow disciples from one another, except because as men they have sought after these things by human sense and human reasonings?”
“The Epicureans asserted that human affairs were not under the providence of the gods; and the Stoics, holding the opposite opinion, agreed that they were ruled and defended by favorable and tutelary gods.”
The reader may question whether or not the Gods exist.
Philosophers have varied opinions on the ultimate good. Some philosophers have “made the delight of the body the chief good, while the other asserted that man was made happy mainly by the virtue of the mind.”
The impressionable reader may start to question his beliefs after reading the following contradictions among philosophers:
“some asserting there was one world,
others innumerable worlds;
some that this world had a beginning,
others that it had not;
some that it would perish,
others that it would exist always;
some that it was governed by the divine mind,
others by chance and accident;
some that souls are immortal,
others that they are mortal–
and of those who asserted their immortality,
some said they transmigrated through beasts,
others that it was by no means so;
while of those who asserted their mortality,
some said they perished immediately after the body,
others that they survived either a little while or a longer time, but not always;
some fixing supreme good in the body,
some in the mind,
some in both;
others adding to the mind and body external good things;
some thinking that the bodily senses ought to be trusted always,
some not always,
others never. “
Augustine continues:
“Even if some true things were said in it, yet falsehoods were uttered with the same licence”.
Using reason, it is left up to the reader to determine what is true and what is false.
– Chapter 43. Augustine brings to the reader’s attention that some people “contend that the Septuagint translators have erred in many places,” thereby causing doubt in the reader’s mind.
– Conclusion. There is no doubt that impiety takes many forms in this excerpt from Augustine.
I conclude this paper by quoting from Chapter 4, section 5 of the Prolegomena:
“Those forgers so arranged among themselves…if but one of the monuments which they have invented falls away, the whole must necessarily collapse..yet it is …their mutual consent-which shows the fraud. “

Selected Quotes from Jean Hardouin:
Hardouin, Jean.  Prolegomena to a Censure of Old Writers.  1766.
2010 Dr. Hermann Detering Print & Publishing: Books on Demand GmbH, Norderstedt.
– “Soon, unless God avert the ill, the whole Christian world will become atheist against its will.” (6)
– “In the point of fact, the fellow who assumed and bares the name “Augustine” teaches absolute atheism under the guise of Christian language.” (9)
– “God they have none, except for the ‘Nature of Things;’ others call it mere ‘Ens,’ or ‘Essence…or formal Reality, Unity, and  Truth of essences, and their Permanence in that unity and truth… apart from any metaphysical composition.” (13)
– “Thence they founded a metaphysical system of religion, dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Eucharist, and the other Sacraments–of Grace, Justification, and other capital points of religion, as far as men could do so who had no true God.” (12)
– “They desired it to be believed that there was no God but Nature; who was the framer of the Universe by necessary and immutable laws of motion, and also the ruler of minds by natural light–the light of Truth, as they call it.” (13)
– “…God is either…’the All,’ or the necessary rectitude of ‘the All,’ according to the rules of Mechanics, Geometry, Prudence, and Truth, so that they might be reckoned Christians who cultivated and preached Truth.” (13)
– “The Christian Religion is the religion of the true God.  It ought, therefore, in all its doctrines show the characters of a religion which worships the true God…They ought not to be such as they would be if there were no true God at all; if there were but Nature instead of God, or the natural Light of Reason or of Truth.” (14)
– “For example: We believe Christ to be in the Eucharist…the impious Sect to whom I have referred teaches that this transmutation takes place in the mind of believers by pious thought, which they call the ‘operation of the Holy Spirit.’  And why? Because these sectarians do not believe there is any God!” (14)
– “First and above all, the careful desires of the impious gang was to deprave the Sacred Scriptures, because it utterly made an end of their impious principles.  They had to make it agree with them.  And so their first and chief task was to learn the Sacred Scriptures by heart, to weave Concordances and to make out Commentaries, to corrupt the text, to leave no jot or tittle intact that might be opposed to their principles; to depart as far as possible from the Vulgate Edition; and because they could not adulterate that Book, because they knew it was against them… they had to feign that it was recent, as compared with the Greek Books (Codices), which they declared to be far more ancient!” (51)
“The impious band, having no hope of corrupting the sacred Latin Books, which were in everybody’s hands, turned their attention to the making of Greek Books, and to the adulteration of Hebrew copies, which they wrote in elegant calligraphy.  They also corrupted Latin books, which they hid in Libraries; because the old Vulgate could not be snatched from the hands of the whole Christian people, everywhere diffused…their design being to take them out thence at suitable times, like weapons from armouries, with the object of attacking the Catholic faith.” (52)
“They also invented various readings in the Greek Codices (or Manuscripts) that they might persuade readers that there had been the like in Latin books in days of yore; and that these Various Readings existed in books which they had laid up in Libraries.  And now any rogue or liar may invent the like various readings, as they call them!” (53)
“The wicked faction invented the suspicions against the accuracy and certainty of the Vulgate Edition, intact and sound though it may be; hoping that their forged MSS., laid up on the shelves of the Libraries, might obtain authority partly from their alleged antiquity, partly from the testimony of other books.” (54)
“In that impious hypothesis from which it follows that the written word of God is nothing but the word of universal Reason…” (56)
“If there is no God, as the impious crew would have you believe, but the Nature of things, and the natural light, which is Right Reason; and there is no other Christian Religion than obedience to Right Reason, which may be (123) called philosophy, since Right Reason is also Truth and Wisdom; it follows that all those who obey Right Reason and natural light are Christians.  Therefore very many pagans were Christian, although without God, as Paul affirms.  For this reason the forgers found it expedient to write Greek and Roman History, full of the vices of Princes and People, full of homicides, slaughter, impurities of every kind, their object being to prevent readers from supposing them to have been Christians.  They must therefore be represented as not having lived under the guidance of reason.” (124)
“Numberless Codices still lie hid in the Libraries of perhaps four hundred years old (there are none, except a few sacred Codices, older) ; they have not yet seen the light.  Tell me, because they have been in the shade for four hundred years, have they any authority from the fact that through so many years none has convicted them of falsehood? It would be a folly to say so!” (145)
“The gang of forgers had Alphabets and Inks in both tongues, Greek and Latin, and parchments to suit every age….show the same form of writing, the same character; simply because the writers had the same alphabet before their eyes…So alike is the character everywhere, you might swear that that all these Codices came, not only out of one workshop, but from one hand; of if from many, certainly from those who had the same alphabet before their eye–or form of letters which they accurately preserved in painting each…” (152)
“What you read of in books as Heresies are fictions, invented for the purpose of being opposed, and so establishing Atheism.” (154)
“It is, again, clear that these heresies were feigned and fabulous, from that fact they nowhere existed in the world; none renew them, and this because they are fatuous and insane, and invented with the sole object that, by opposing them in definitions of Councils, and in special controversial writings, impiety may be suggested.” (155)
“Ought not every one to wonder at the alleged fact that the Heresies sprang up in the order in which divers tracts on Religion may be arranged in schools?” (155)