Secondo una tradizione antichissima, il male ebbe origine quando tra gli uomini nacquero "ragazze belle di aspetto", e "gli angeli, figli del cielo, le videro e se ne innamorarono". Da quel momento, con l. a. discesa degli angeli e l. a. loro unione con gli esseri umani, il peccato si diffuse su tutta los angeles Terra. Questo mito delle origini, non incluso nel canone della Bibbia, è raccontato in uno dei testi attribuiti al patriarca Enoc in cui si intrecciano profonde riflessioni sul male e sul rapporto dell'uomo con Dio, scandagliate dagli ebrei fin dal pace del travagliato esilio babilonese. Non è un caso isolato. È da versioni parallele di tal fatta che fiorirono rami secondari e dimenticati della tradizione biblica, specchio della varietà d'idee che serpeggiava nella Palestina del giudaismo precristiano: visioni teologiche substitute, spesso apertamente confliggenti con le posizioni ufficiali, che approdano fino al II secolo d.C, ponendo le basi delle comunità protocristiane. Composizioni come le "apocalissi", i testamenti di patriarchi e le raccolte di proverbi e salmi si mescolano, sotto strati di secoli, a immaginifici miti e compilazioni cosmogoniche, fino a perdersi nel pace e scomparire sotto i colpi dell'ortodossia. Fu così che gli Apocrifi dell'Antico Testamento - qui raccolti in un nucleo di testi significativi, mai tradotti prima in italiano - furono trascurati in step with millenni e rivalutati nella loro importanza cruciale solo dopo i rinvenimenti di Qumran.

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On the whole, I have tended to concentrate upon the evidence of archaeology. If we have learned anything about this epoch, it is that written sources cannot be taken at face value. They must be supported by archaeology. And the archaeology of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages has, so far, produced far more puzzles than answers. So, much work remains to be done. Having said that however, I am convinced that the evidence now accumulated points decisively to a vindication of Pirenne, if not in exactly the manner he imagined.

This was particularly the case amongst a certain class of politicized intellectuals, who, as the nineteenth century progressed, adopted an increasingly hostile approach to all things European; and the trend only accelerated with the First World War. Following the cataclysmic events of those years, fewer and fewer of Europe’s and America’s intellectual class subscribed to the view that European civilization was in any way superior to others. On the contrary, an age of disillusionment dawned. As this view gathered strength, so the criticism of medieval Europe, and medieval Christendom, became more virulent.

3] And the advent of “half-barbarian” emperors was paralleled by an increasingly half- or fully barbarian army. From the third and even second century historians noted the recruitment into the Roman legions not only of great numbers of “semi-barbarians” such as Gauls and Illyrians, but of actual barbarians, such as Germans and Sarmatians. Indeed, so far had this custom gone by the fourth century that by then several distinguished Roman families boasted a barbarian ancestor many generations earlier.

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