reply to post by Wandering Scribe
This only makes sense though, as there are some things which are always a good idea to practice (like the not murdering thing).
I want to point out that the documentary hypothesis is a pretty much worthless relic of faulty 18th century research. Current literary analysis of the
Hebrew Scriptures is revealing the theological consistency and harmony of the 5 books of Moses. Contrary to what has been taught and promulgated since
the beginning of the Christian era, the Hebrew Bible is not strictly a book of 'revelation', as Tertullian popularized with his dictum "what does
jerusalem have to do with carthage?". The Hebrew Bible is philosophy. Consciously so. The Hebrew scribes were not some band of ignoramuses that didn't
understand the significance of their scriptures, and the core ideas, as found in Genesis, are not mere replications of themes that appeared in
Babylonian mythology. Yes, certain themes are reproduced, but with a certain twist. The twist is the difference in theological attitude.
This notion that the early Hebrews were pagans through and through while the Jews at the return from Babylonian exile 'all of a sudden' became
monotheists, is ridiculous. And it's based on such flimsy evidence, and frankly, complete artifice, probably with the purpose to discredit the Hebrew
Bible. Rather, the Torah was probably compiled in its current form (5 books of Moses, the prophets and the writings) by the prophet Jeremiah. Before
that, there was a large corpus of writings which were selected and organized into it's present form.
I would also like to point out the antimony that exists between Jewish metaphysics/theology and Christian metaphysics. Joseph Atwill argues in his
'caesers messiah', pretty convincingly, that Christianity was the creation of the Flavian dynasty of Rome along with it's Jewish cadres the house of
Alexander and the House of Herod. These 3 families created a religion amenable to Rome. If this proves true, it goes to show how Christianity
distorted the theology of the Hebrew religion. Even the Talmud, particularly the aggadic portions, remains largely unintelligible (in terms of it's
theology) due to the persecutions and wanderings of the Jews over the last 2 millenia.
I personally wouldn't be too surprised if the Roman Catholic church retains the memory of it's origins, and is currently involved in a process of
'stripping itself' of it's Jewish accretions, as appears have to been happening for the last 200 years or so.
The same theme is found throughout all of the pagan cultures. The "giants" are always chaotic, monstrous, and uncivilized; replaced by an orderly,
civilized, and more-friendly (but not necessarily benevolent) race of ruling beings.
Interesting. I would argue that it was just that which the Israelites sought to replace in the peoples who inhabited ancient Canaan. The pagans looked
upon the uncivilized and unorganized primitive as an evil. Likewise, the Hebrews looked upon the pagan, despite his cultural and technological
sophistication, as the same 'giant' which the pagans applied to the primitive, due to what the Hebrews felt were their moral insensitivity.
There's an essential difference between Hebrew and pagan morality. The former sees morality as an all encompassing divine command, as every man's
responsibility, not just to others, or to God, but to his very self.. The Hebrews saw things dramatically different from the pagan. The pagan looked
upon morality as a necessity, and necessity compelled his drawing up of a moral code. But there was nothing particular essential about it. Of course,
I don't want to reduce all pagandom to just one formula. The Babylonians were different from the Egyptians, who were different from the Anatolians.
But perhaps one underlying feature of their religious feeling was a sense of moral relativism. While the masses certainly had to cultivate good
character, their gods were hardly examples for the type of morality that they should have cultivated. Rather, their gods were in constant battle with
one another. Dysfunction, Tension, battle, was metaphysical grounding of their religion.
The Hebrews conversely conceived of a very anthropomorphic God with human sensibility. He had pathos. He was intimately concerned with human deeds,
whereas the animalistic inhumanity of Babylonian mythology expressed the conflict inherent in human existence, the Hebrews tried to emphasize mans
being 'created' in the image of it's Creator. That we possessed within ourselves the hidden traits of God. Not just that, but that our very existence
was about knowing this God, not simply as a metaphysical 'it', but as metaphysical "he", what Martin Buber termed the "I-Thou" dialectic. The Hebrews
elevated the personhood of man to primary ontological status!
Look at this how you will, but this was a radical change from earlier religious sentiment, and the Hebrew bible from it's very beginning to it's very
hand retains this basic attitude.
For instance, the documentary hypothesis talks about 'elohim literature', 'yahwist literature', etc, as if they were different gods, as if the Hebrews
were some pissant ignoramuses that gathered literature without knowing how to make heads or tails of it. But current literary analysis, beginning with
Umberto Cassuto 80+ years ago, has shown that these different names for God reflected different conceptions of the same
deity. The binding of
Isaac is a case in point of this difference. Abraham is commanded by Elohim to sacrifice Isaac. Elohim, as you well know, is derived from the
Canaanite El, and El means "power". Elohim is therefore the masculine plural meaning 'powers'. The powers of nature. Elohim commands Abraham to commit
a ritualistic murder of his most beloved son. In this narrative, something treasured to Abraham is being snatched from him. The 'powers' demand this
of him, perhaps for 'necessity'? Necessity was and remains an all enduring concept in pagan philosophical traditions. But before he lowers his knife
onto his sons throat, the "melek YHWH" interferes, and tells Abraham to desist.
Genesis 1 only uses the name Elohim in it's creation narrative, whereas in Genesis 2, the name YHWH is used. Scholars falsely assume that this is just
a mishmash of two different traditions, neglecting any analysis of literary intent. But when you bother to analyze what the intent could be, you touch
on the heart of Hebrew religion. Elohim is the 'creator' of the physical universe. Physical law, physical forces, all the product of Elohim's
activity. But in Genesis two, YHWH appears besides the name Elohim. The Hebrews saw YHWH as an addition to Elohim. As the second part of a two stage
spiritual evolution. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Cain was rejected because he did not desire to "add" like Abel did. Cain served the land, as
Adam was condemned by God to do. Abel conversely departed from the natural way and became a shepherd, and it was he who was accepted by YHWH. YHWH is
that notion of the good, the righteous, the responsible. These are two very different concepts each with their own sphere of activity.
Similarly, in Egypt the myth of Set and Osiris' conflict has the same core. Set is an agricultural farming deity with ties to the Anatolian
farm-and-weather god Teshub, called Sutekh. Osiris, meanwhile, is a shepherding god. The Pharaoh himself, of which Osiris was the mythological first,
was a shepherd of the people; uniting and leading them, while simultaneously acting as the avatar and representation of the Hidden God (Atum during
the most profitable age in Egypt) on Earth.
And yet, as the Hebrew Bible notes, shepherds were 'detestable' to the Egyptians. Wasn't Khnum symbolized by sheep? And wasn't it looked upon as
sacrilege to kill a sheep, similar to how its sacrilege to kill a cow in India? And didn't Egypt/Babylon essentially base itself upon mass farming? An
unusual feature of Israelite religion, which, despite the aspersion cast upon it, is certainly commendable, is the idea of leaving the land 'fallow'
every 7th year. Forget about monetary profit. Forget about filling the coffers of the nobility. The land, the people, the animals, everyone was
granted respite from activity. That's a definite moral criticism of the avarice of pagan civilization.
Have you ever heard of, or read about, Asherah, the Phoenician mother-goddess and wife of El? While I've read various articles on why she is not a
part of Hebrew mythology, reading the bible remnants of her, as Yahweh's possible-wife, are definitely still present
Well the Bible makes ample mention of those Israelites who profaned themselves by combining Israelite religion with pagan religion. Hence, the relics
discovered which talk of Ashera, etc. Again, I think this reflects the moral relativism inherent in the pagan viewpoint. The Israelites sought to make
God a 'man' because the man, or masculine, is anterior to the manifestation brought about by the feminine, imitating processes like the 'seed'
transmitted by the man to the woman, who brings into expression a living being. The Hebrews felt that man is receptive, the feminine, relative to God.
That all was involved in an eternal drama between the masculine God and his Beloved, mankind. God issued commands - the ten commandments (which I
think have eternal validity) - which mankind had to accept upon themselves. Ironically, the strength of this relationship was predicated on whether
man accepted this obligation. Responsiveness underlied this relationship. Man could only come to accept these precepts when he understood that they
represented an eternal good. But if he rejected them, as the Israelites often did, woe befell them, as has happened.
However, my knowledge of the culture spread of pagan archetypes, myths, and the like is very extensive.
And I appreciate it very much. Just as your knowledge of Hebrew/Biblical/Talmudic etc is slim, my knowledge of what you're talking about is not nearly
as great as what you're providing.
I've always been intensely interested in Sumerian/Babylonian religion.
However, you didn't really address the 39 firsts. What do you think led to that transformation? And in the region of the southern Euphrates, Eridu, in
particular?? It's hard to explain. If you accept the psychedelic mushroom hypothesis, than we would expect that area of the southern euphrates to
contain specimens. But that area is all desert today.
So, if the Hebrew's intended to escape from all things pagan, I think I feel safe in saying that they did not succeed
No, there are definitely admirable qualities in pagan doctrine. I think what they tried to escape from was the moral laxity they showed, which their
theological doctrine supported. The great difference is personality versus impersonality. The human heart is an area of deeper concern to the Hebrews
than it was, or is, for pagandom.
edit on 7-11-2012 by dontreally because: (no reason given)