Salvation / Mythic Origins
08-07-2012, 11:33 PM
RE: Salvation / Mythic Origins
Looks interesting but... why did you had to use bold seriff font???
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30-08-2012, 08:30 AM (This post was last modified: 30-09-2013 10:22 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Salvation / Mythic Origins
Sorry folks. There were a lot of spelling errors, and things to fix here. This is just a redo of the OP.
Salvation / Mythic Origins
The Mythic Origins of Genesis
or salvation, ,,, why you don't need to run out and get any this week.
So I have always been fascinated by humans who preach that Jebus came to save us, and I need to go git me some of that salvation stuff, at my local 7-11, (church).
When I look at the roots of it all, in the history of human ideas, in Comparative Religion, and Comparative Mythology, I find I don't really need any. But thanks anyway.
When above the heavens were not named
Below the earth was not called by name
Apsu, the primeval, was their progenitor
Mummi-Tiamat was the bearer of all of them
(The first 4 lines of the Amorite Creation Myth, the "Enuma Elish").
Sound familiar ?
1. The myths
a. Prologue : Syncretism.
Syncretism is a combination of similar, but sometimes contradictory belief systems, while ostensibly merging the various underlying belief systems, to make a seeming whole. There are so many similarities with Greek, Sumerian, Babylonian and Egyptian myth systems in the Bible texts, that is simply cannot be a coincidence. They borrowed ideas from each other all the time, in almost every text.
For example, take the great (sometimes) sea-beast, Leviathan. Leviathan is the primeval dragon beast which Yahweh subdued in Isaiah 27:1, Job 3:8, Amos 9:3, and Psalms 74:14. The sea beast is also referred to by the name Rahab, (Job 9:13, and Psalm 89:10). The Syro-Palestinian version of this myth was ubiquitous in the Ancient Near East, and occasionally just as the Abyss, (Habakkuk 3:10). The biblical references to the battle between Yahweh and Leviathan reflect the Syro-Palestinian version of a myth, where the act of creation is represented as the victory of the creator-god over a monster of chaos.
The closest parallel we know of to the Biblical version is the Ra's Shamrah, (from 1400 BCE), in which Baal defeats a dragon-like monster: “You will crush Leviathan the fleeing serpent; you will consume the twisting serpent, the mighty one with seven heads.” (see Isaiah 27:1 which uses the same phrase.)
An older version of this myth is found in the Babylonian Creation Epic, in which the storm god Marduk defeats the sea monster Tiamat, (in other places, the Dragon of Chaos), and creates the earth and sky by cutting her corpse in two parts. The latter motif appears a number of times in the Bible verses that extol Yahweh’s military skills: “Was it not you who split Rahab in half, who pierced the dragon through?” (Isaiah 51:9; see also Job 26:12; Psalms 74:13, and 89:10). It is important to understand the writers of Job were at least aware of the Dragon Myth.
Between 1792-1750 BCE, 1000 years before any Bible text had even begun to be written, Hammurabi made Babylon into the most powerful city in Mesopotamia and set up Marduk as his divine patron, in the divine assembly, or council of gods. About 600 years later, around 1100 BCE, a creation myth was created from the various traditions to specifically celebrate the military accomplishments of the city, and it's leaders. This written myth was called the Enuma Elish, and was recovered by archaeologists in 1849 CE, in the ruins of the Royal library at Ashurbanipal, in the ancient city of Nineveh. It was written on clay tablets. In the Enuma Elish the head of the council of gods, is Apsu, and he is identified with sweet/clean/fresh water, and the goddess, Tiamet, with the sea, (salt water). Their son Mummu symbolized the mist that rises from the waters.
In the myth, (the Enuma Elish), Tiamat marries Apsu, and many evil deities were born. Tiamat was an evil woman, whose purpose was to create conflict, strife, and confusion. She decided to kill her children, and a great war followed. Apsu, her husband was killed by Ea, (his son), and he, fearing Tiamat, fled to the farthest distance of the Fresh Waters. Tiamat, then remarried her son Kingu, and had more kiddies, and battled them also, and eventually was killed by her grandson, Marduk, the Sun God.
In Sumerian mythology, there was a council of gods, and Enhil, or Enki, who was boss, who lived in Abzu, which was a place synonymous with "the deep", or the place from whence the rivers and lakes, and swamps, drew their water. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aps%C3%BB .
(For the Egyptian parallels, see the god Nun, the cosmic egg,and the Ogdoad. http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/nun.html )
b. The origins. The Talmud
One cannot read the Bible, (the Torah) without also reading the Talmud, it's companion Jewish literary effort.
In the Talmud, a whole world of Hebrew thinking is revealed. There was a world called Adam Kademon. The word Adam, (which I was taught means "the man", in grade school), actually does not mean "the man" in Sumerian, and Hebrew. The word Adam, by itself), meant "in the likeness of", (Ha-Adam means "from the earth"). Kademon is translated as "primordial". Ok. So we got a myth goin'on. Get it ? A myth. What's a myth ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mythology . Myths are literary "explanation rituals". Not history. (There was no word for "history" in Ancient Hebrew). Explanation rituals were how they explained the world they saw around themselves, to themselves, in pre-scientific times.
In the Talmud, the Adam Kademon is a sublime world, which is the likeness of the infinite light, which is the most sublime level. (The Adam Kademon is NOT the Infinite Light.) There are complexities concerning the nature of this world, which one can further investigate. http://m.chabad.org/m/article_cdo/aid/380321 , and too long to go into here. The world of the Adam Kademon is a world of potentiality, (only). A world of unity, and simultaneity, (not eternity). There was no space, no time, no inside, no outside, no up, and no down, no before, no after. As light descends from this world, in this worldview/myth, (yeah, I know, descend is "down"..shut up), from the Adam Kademon, a primeval "order" which is an unstable world/level, is shattered, and breaks into ten individual "qualities", called the sefirot, or "the Sefirot of Tohu", which was a world of chaos and disorder. So there is the highest level, (the level of the infinite light), the next level... the level of the unstable Adam Kademon, and then the lower levels of the "broken light" or the sefirot, (Chaos). These ten "qualities" or "sefir", (plural sefirot), break up, and become "incompatible" with each other, and are completely independent of each other, (non-integrated). Each is a powerful concentration of the original light, from which it originated. The Tohu is also an unstable "plane" of reality. As a result of the lack of integration, or interaction, each of the Sefirot members, can not limit the activity or expansion of any of the others, and Chaos and disintegration results, and thus the Sefirot also shatters. Chaos and Order play a huge part in Ancient Near Eastern mythology, and is a very common theme, as we shall see.
FYI, there is a (supposedly), a somewhat lame attempt in Genesis to replicate this "shattering" of the Sefirot in the (known) incorrect listing of the Kings of Edom, as each one independently succeed, (Genesis 36:31-39), according to the Torah scholar Rabbi Yitzchak Luria. In any case, the shattering serves a purpose, and creates diversity, and an ontological state of separation, and partitioning, and is rectified in the Tikun.
In the world of the Tikun, the highest level, is that of "Emenation", which is derived from a word which means, "near" or "close". One tries to get back to the Infinite Light, and return to the world of Adam Kadmon. The world of Adam Kadmon, being lower than the Infinite Light, possess less "structure", (more Chaos), than the higher level. It's a matter of degree. or distance, ...devolution. The difference is one of inner structure. As one approaches the Atzilut, inner structure is revealed, from the inside out. Atzilut is the highest plane, or the world of Immanence. There is a rather technical discussion of the meanings of vessels and light, by Talmudic scholars, but for this it serves to know that the higher one goes to (re)-approach Emenation, (which is not "analyzable", but a "flash of intuition", (mysticism), the vessel both contains and limits the light. It's spoken of as a "eureka" moment, or sudden insight, and it's quality is dependent of the receptive ability of the "vessel". One who exists in a chaotic state cannot be receptive to the light. If the vessels are not receptive the light goes on to oblivion, and eureka moment cannot happen.
c. More Sumerian Myths
In Babylonian mythology, there is the concept of the "mes", (traits, or skills), which were collected by Enhil/Enki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_(mythology).The mes were an interesting aspect of this system. The mes were the skills or traits of a civilized life. The mes were collected and then handed over to the safe-keeping of Enki who was to broker them out to the various Sumerian cities, beginning with his own city of Eridu and then Ur, Meluhha, and Dilmun. This is described in the epic poem, "Enki and the World Order" which tells how he grants the gifts for various crafts and natural phenomena to the lesser gods. After telling himself, and everyone what a great guy he is, Enki's daughter, Inanna comes before him, complaining that he gave her too little in the way of divine influence. Her main intent is to bring more of the Arts of Civilization, (the mes)to Uruk", but mainly Inanna's discontent is the theme. She is the protector deity of Uruk and desires to increase its power, glory by bringing more mes to it from Eridu. She travels to Enki's Eridu shrine, the E-abzu, in her "boat of heaven", and asks the mes from him, when he is drunk, and he agrees. After she departs with them, he comes to his senses and notices they are missing from their usual place, and on being informed what he did with them attempts to retrieve them. The attempt fails and Inanna triumphantly delivers them to Uruk.We never learn what any of the mes look like, exactly, but they are represented as physical objects of some sort. Not only are they stored in a prominent location in the E-abzu, but Inanna is able to display them to the people of Uruk after she arrives with them in her boat. Some of them are indeed physical objects such as musical instruments, but many are technologies like basket weaving or abstractions like "victory". It is not made clear in the poem how such things can be stored, handled, or displayed.
Not all the mes are admirable or desirable traits. Alongside functions like "heroship" and "victory" we also find "the destruction of cities", "falsehood", and "enmity". The Sumerians apparently considered such evils and sins an inevitable part of humanity's lot in life, divinely and inscrutably decreed, and not to be questioned.
The mes were found by archaeologists in at least 4 separate lists. There are 64 mes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_(mythology)#List_of_mes .
In Babylonian mythology, the Tablet of Destinies, (a legal document, or "covenant") was conferred upon Enki, the Supreme Deity, as a measure of his authority. He was da boss, by virtue of the Tablet of Destiny. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tablets_of_Destiny .
The most important myth for our purpose here, is Marduk slaying the Dragon of Chaos, (Tiamat). First here are a few of the other well known Babylonian myths, just to get a feel what the themes were, in general. Then I'll tell the Marduk story.
Enki, the (supreme and Water-god, and God of wisdom), impregnates his half-sister, Nin-Hursang. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninhursag . Enki wants a boy, but gets a girl. Then he impregnates the daughter, who also has a daughter. Nin-Hursang decides to stop all this immoral stuff by sowing eight poisonous plants in the garden. Enki eats the plants, and becomes ill. One of the sick organs is his rib. Nin-ti is created to heal Enki. Her name means, "she who makes live". Nin-ti means the same thing as the Hebrew word for "Eve". Nin-ti, is usually translated as the "lady of the rib". "Ti" means "to make live". Note : "Eve" is translated from the Hebrew chavvaòh , for lifegiver, as in "the mother of all living." Its root,
Chaya, means "serpent" in Aramaic. Eve and serpent are taken to be synonymous. Thus a "pun" is set up in the Hebrew, (which was used later.)
From the Babylonians also comes the legend of of Adapa. The son of the God of Wisdom (Ea, also called Enki), broke the wing of the Storm bird, who had attacked him in what is today, the Persian Gulf. Ea summons Adapa, and warned him about his behavior, and told him he would be offered food and drink which would be deadly, and he must refuse it. When Anu, (one of the council of three highest gods), found out about the disclosure, attempted to foil Ea, by offering Adapa the bread of life, and the water of life, instead. He, Adapa, refused, and Anu sent him to earth as a mortal.
In the myth of Gilgamesh and the Serpent, Gilgamesh heard about a plant that held the secret to immortality. By much effort, he pulled it up from the bottom of the ocean. On the way back to his peeps, he set the plant aside at a spring where he stopped to take a bath. A serpent came up from the water and grabbed the plant. As it returned to the water, it shed its skin. In so doing, the serpent robbed humans of the potential for rejuvenation and acquired an ability to renew itself by shedding its skin.
So we have poisonous plants, ribs, Eve, death by eating stuff, bread of heaven, water of life, plants which offer immortality, and snakes which bring about death, and most important, Chaos and Order.
( For a much more detailed summary of Sumerian Mythology see :
Another interesting Babylonian myth, is the Enuma Elish, and it's perhaps the most famous, (where Marduk slays the Dragon of Chaos), the quintessential Babylonian Chaos Myth. Tiamt is a chaos monster, and such as Laviathon, a goddess of the Ocean. She had mated with Abzu, and produced many other gods. First she is the mother-god, in a Sacred marriage, of fresh water, and salt water, in which the cosmos is generated. Then she becomes the evil monstrous embodiment of Primordial Chaos, and through her chaos reigns. Eventually she is killed by the Storm god Marduk, and he splits her corpse, and in making that order out of her, the heavens and the earth are formed, each from one half of her body.
(In the Hellenistic Babylonian Berossus' first book of universal history, Tiamat is called "Thalatte", ...Greek "sea" is "thalassa".) The Greeks knew about this stuff.
So what's all this got to do with salvation ?
Biblical scholars agree on the approximate dates and order of the actual writing of the Bible texts, in general. There was no written "bible" at all, until the long process of assembling, writing, and re-writing began around 600-500 BCE.
The ancient Hebrews were, up until the time of one of the several writers of the Isaiah text, who are known by Biblical scholars as Second and Third Isaiah, a monolaterist polytheist culture. That means they acknowledged that many gods existed, but chose to have a "covenant" with one, and only worship one, in order to obtain his/her special favor and protection. There are still some fundamentalist scholars who still refuse to accept the facts that archaeology has found, and insist that they always were monotheists, and then "fell" into idolatry in Egypt. That is simply not historically true, and there are mountains of evidence for this fact, and these fundie scholars are not as numerous as they used to be. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monolatrism...ent_Israel , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg .
c. The cult of Yahweh. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahweh .
Yahweh, (El-Elion),and his covenant with the Isra-EL-ites.
The Ancient Hebrews believed in many gods. One of them was El-Elyon, and they eventually incorporated his name into what they called themselves. Isra-EL-ites. Isreal is actually a pun. It can mean both "struggles with god", (the name Jacob was given after his "wounding in the thigh".. his Grail Myth "experience"), and "walk with El",(Elyon).
In his earliest iteration, Yahweh was one of the 70 children of El. The 70 nations of the world were portioned out to the sons of El, and the Isra-El was given to Yahweh.
The Hebrew people made a covenant with one of the gods, and they did it for a specific purpose. The god they made a covenant with was Yahweh Sabaoth, the God of the Armies, also known as the Lord of Hosts. (A "host" was an arrayed group of soldiers, in battle formation). They picked this one god out from all the ones they had available because they wanted the god of the armies to help them with their expansionary land ambitions, against their neighboring city-states .. a theme which runs throughout the entirety of the Old Testament texts. They told themselves that a certain part of Ancient Canaan was their "promised land", and thus justified almost any act to get and maintain the land they picked out to be their "promised land". For much of the time, Yahweh had a wife, and her name was Ashura, or Ashera. In their world, the highest level of gods was the Elohim. The word Elohim was originally a plural form, (the COUNCIL of 3 highest deities), but we can leave that for another time. (There is also much archaeological evidence for the wife of Yahweh, Ashera.
The subject of the feminine god is also interesting, and remains to this day in it's present development, (the church as the "bride if Christ"). http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/biblia...ovah02.htm . Statues of Ashera were found in the temples of Yahweh in Jerusalem, Beth-el, and Samaria.
The word Yahweh, is simply the vocalization of what was called the "tetragramaton", (YHWH), which came about because they were forbidden to actually write out Yahweh's name, (the "naming" of something implies power over, and definition of something). There is also evidence that the traditional "I am who am" meaning which was given in the Mosaic tradition, is NOT the same as it was in the earlier forms. The tetragramaton may be a shortened form of a worship statement, which was "he causes to be" or "he creates". (el du yahwi seba'ot,...) "el/El who creates the hosts", meaning the heavenly army accompanying the god El, as he marched out beside the earthly armies of Israel. JAVEH, on the other hand, was originally not a Judaic god, or even a Canaanite god, but probably originated in Edom, to the South of Judah, and was worshiped by the Edomites. The worship of Yahweh alone, in Hebrew culture, did not occur until Second Isaiah, and Third Isaiah in the post exilic period, who insisted they finally give up their other gods. All the evidence for the origins point South, and Southeast, to Edom, and Midian, and maybe even Arabia, as in Arabic, for Javeh, The name could be "one who causes to fall", (a rain/storm god), which makes sense because Javeh appropriates some of the attributes of the rival storm god, (Baal).
The Hebrews erected sanctuaries in various places and they were used to express devotion to Yahweh by means of "sacrifice, festival meals and celebrations, prayer, and praise". Toward the end of the seventh century BCE in Judea, the worship of Yahweh was restricted to the temple in Jerusalem, while the major sanctuaries in the Northern Kingdom were at Beth-El (near the southern border) and Dan (in the far north). Certain times were set for the gathering of the people to celebrate the gifts of Yahweh and the deity’s acts of deliverance and power.
d. The Babylonian Exile
In the late 7th Century BCE, the Kingdom of Judah, was a client state of the very powerful Assyrian Empire. The enemy of the Assyrians was the Babylonians. The history of the Hebrew peoples is interesting, but too long to recount here. The "Babylonian Exile" was a series of three separate "exilic" events, in which King Nebuchadnezzar, (Babylon), besieged and defeated King Jeconiah and the Jews, and hauled them off to Babylon, and these events happened during 587-538 BC. Obviously, if one's priestly class, and national consciousness tells one that one is "chosen", and "promised" land by a god, and then is defeated, one is going to "go".."WTF !". Why is this happening to us ? Eventually Cyrus the Great, (Persia) defeated ole Nebuchadnezzar, and told the Hebrews they could return to their old lands, the Yehud Province, of the old Kingdom of Judah. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_captivity . An interesting question is what caused the transition to 2nd and 3rd Isaiah's insistence on a monotheistc perspective. Seems it might have been cultural change, in social structure. At Ugarit, social identity was strongest at the family level. Ugarit's religion, with its divine family headed by El and Asherah, mirrored this human reality, (just as today the common "god is love" business mirrors this culture's view of what is ultimately important). The same was true in ancient Israel through most of the monarchy period, as seen the story of Achan, (in Joshua 8), which suggests an extended family as the major social unit. However, the family lineages went through trauma in the eighth century due to major social stratification disruption, followed by Assyrian incursions. In the seventh and sixth centuries, there is seen expressions of individual identity (Deuteronomy 26:16; Jeremiah 31:29–30; Ezekiel 18). A culture with a diminished lineage system, deteriorating over a long period from the ninth or eighth century onward, less embedded in traditional family lines, would be set up to hold the individual accountable for his behavior, and to see an individual deity accountable for the cosmos. In short, the rise of the individual as the basic social unit led to the rise of a single god replacing a divine family.
A second major cultural factor in making the change to monotheism may have been the rise of the powerful neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian empires. As long as Israel was part of a community of similar small city-state nations, it made sense to see the Israelite pantheon on par with the other nations, each one with its own patron god – the picture described in Deuteronomy 32:8–9. Each nation was as powerful as its patron god. However, with the neo-Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BCE, this was challenged obviously, as if the neo-Assyrian empire were so powerful, so must be its god; and conversely, if Israel could be conquered (and later Judah, in 586 BCE), it implied that Yahweh in turn was a minor divinity. The crisis was met by separating the heavenly power and earthly kingdoms. Even though Assyria and Babylon were so powerful, the new monotheistic thinking in Israel reasoned, (rationalized), this did not mean that the god of Israel and Judah was weak. Assyria had not succeeded because of the power of its god Marduk, but rather it was Yahweh who was using Assyria to punish and purify the one nation which Yahweh had chosen.
In the post-Exilic period, full monotheism had emerged: Yahweh was the sole god, not just of Israel, but of the whole world. If the nations were tools of Yahweh, then the new king who would come to reestablish Israel might not be a Judean as was taught in older literature (e.g. Psalm 2). Now, even a foreigner such as Cyrus the Persian could serve as the Lord's anointed (Isaiah 44:28, 45:1). (The Messiah was the "anointed one").
During the period of the Exile, the priests saw that it would be useful for PR purposes, for the development and maintainance of political unity and cohesion and order, to have in hand, a "national story", for the purpose of political cohesion. Thus the Bible was born, as a written text.
The Judean priests started assembling the traditions and sources they had at their disposal, and they started writing first the book of Job, (as they had the very real pressing problem of explaining to their people the problem of suffering, and how their deity could allow such horrible things to happen as they had just experienced, and witnessed), then Genesis, then Isaiah, then Exodus. In the writing, they were influenced by the cultures that had surrounded them for a thousand years. Sumerian Eden was located in the city of Dilmun, which is modern day Bahrain. The word "eden" came from the Babylonian name for Mesopotamia, which was gan-Eden, a "garden", (beautiful), city. Thus Genesis was written around the time of the Babylonian Exile. It is presumed by scholars that the essential elements of the Creation Myths, (Genesis), were made available to Judean priests, in Babylon, who re-wrote them, in forming their own national myth, (again, Job first, then Genesis and Isaiah, and then Exodus), The four major elements of the Enki myth which were appropriated from the Sumerian/Babylonian sources were : 1) the flood, 2) the confusion of speech, 3) the forbidden fruit, and 4) the general creation story.
We're only going to "do" the forbidden fruit myth.
If you're interested, here is the "confusion of speech" origin : http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...n-deniers, (scroll to the Bucky Ball post 1).
E.Genesis and the Garden Myth.
In the Garden myth, the Judean priests take over the Chaos myths, and change the "poisonous plants" to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and add their own unique spin. The man and the "life giving" woman exist in a primordially innocent mythological state, in Eden, and they are enjoined from eating of this one tree. The injunction was that if they attempted to eat, or even touch it,"they would surely die". The actual temptation in the Genesis myth is not to eat of the fruit of this tree, really, but the real temptation as mythologically presented by the serpent, was that in "eating from the tree" they would "become like gods", (Genesis 3: 1-7) "knowing good and evil". The Apple itself is NOT the temptation. This CANNOT be overemphasized. The temptation is to attempt to escape the limits of the Human Condition, and encompass opposites. The Genesis text says, "But the serpent said to the woman, "You will surely not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will know what is good and what is evil", ie acquire the ability to "know" both, or "encompass opposites". On a practical level this is simply about choice. "Do I do my homework, or goof off ?". If I do my homework, I chose the path that promotes who I really am, and know I should and can be. It about the bringing into actuality, that which is possibility. It's about the promotion of the authentic self, (in Existentialist terms), (See Paul Tillich, "The Courage to Be" .. famous Christian Existentialist Theologian).
So, what's so bad about "knowing" / "experiencing" those two things ? Nothing. Trouble is, it's not possible. First of all, "knowing", as every Biblical scholar agrees, in every other use of this form of the word "know", means "to experience". The actual temptation is to try to "know, (both..at the same time), Good and Evil. It's simply impossible. One must choose, as we live in the dimension of spacetime. The temptation is not to disobey, or to eat apples. The real mythological temptation was to attempt to "encompass the opposites", ("good and evil"). Encompassing opposites is impossible, ontologically, in one discreet and unique temporal being. The point is the attempt is stupid, and misguided. The attempt is a mistake, an ontologically impossible error, but NOT a "disobedient act". It's not a "sin". It has nothing to do with ingesting apples. It is a mythological statement of the human condition. It is interesting that later Western cultures have deliberately chosen to look at the mythological "eating of the fruit of the tree" ... the tree which is now, and always has been the precise definition of "opposites", (Chaos and Order..Good and Evil), and instead chose to interpret/deflect to the "eating" as a "fall" instead of a mythological "error". The Genesis text says, when they ate they realized they were naked. Duh. They understood, (mythologically), they were humans, and could not "encompass opposites". It makes perfect sense. It's obvious. It requires no faith. It's an insight into the nature of humans existing in the dimension of time. Choices must be made. Chaos vs Order. Nothing more. Nothing less. The Human Condition remains the SAME, both before and after the attempt. The only thing that changes, (mythologically), is that they are "expelled" from the state of moral innocence, (Eden).
Another interesting sidelight in comparative mythology here is the "heel striking", in verse 15, which is a form of the vulnerability theme the Greeks used in the Achilles myth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achilles , and more proof that that the Judean priests were well aware of myths from other cultures.
Also interesting that the heel striking is picked up in Cretian de Troyes's Grail Myth, as the heel of the horse is clipped as it crossses the bridge, into the Grail castle. This myth also is the SAME theme as the fight of Jacob (wrestling with the stranger, and obtaining the "gererative" wound), yet another example of syncretism.
The fundie interpretation is that (a) the "fallen state" actually results from the "attempt at encompassing". But actually the fundie interpretation misses the point completely, and says it's about eating apples and completely fails to understand that myths were, and are, explanation rituals, not "causation" rituals. The myth was an "insight", (an explanation) into the Human Condition. One cannot encompass opposites, (and live authentically). One's authentic self ceases to exists, if one does not make (moral) choices. It's simply ignorance of ancient literature, and it's intent. This ignorance has two important consequences. A. The actual unique, albeit simple, insight of the ancients is obscured, and B. a new fundamentalist set of occurrences are set in motion, which continue to this day. The "fall" is absent from the Old Testament, and "original sin" is not present here, at all ..never..anywhere, any place, ever, until this myth was hijacked by another growing cult, about 600 years later, by one of the main formulators of the new cult, Saul of Tarsus, (St. Paul).
So that's the setup.
If there is no actual fallen state, but an explanation of the Human Condition, how (and why) in hell did they market both the need, and the possibility, to be saved from the Human Condition ?
Answer .. it was useful. "Useful you say" what's wrong with useful ?" Useful to whom ? Apart from whether it's "true", is also the utility. It is useful, if you need a job as a "keeper of the secret knowledge/power", (a priest), and need to increase the number of adherents to your cult.
Thus the myths were assembled, and reassembled into books, which eventually they called "that which is written", and used in worship "events". ("scripture"). Well, "duh". What is written is written. No kidding. Anything which is written is "scripture", technically. Sacred scripture is something else, obviously. Calling it "sacred" imputes "authority" to the myths, and gives the priestly class the right to interpret it, (and provides them with a job description), and presumes an uneducated group, which needs explanations. That is simply no longer the case.
When the Judean priests assembled the myth systems, they combined this Babylonian originated system, with the Mosaic tradition, which probably originated from a completely different source, in which Javeh, (this is known as the Kenite Hypothesis), (a god with a similar name) a mountain or volcano deity was grafted into the texts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtI-lSvS028 , and there is much evidence of the working and reworking of multiple traditions into a common unified text. The proof of this is that the El-Elyon god of Genesis, is replaced in the Exodus myth, with the mountain, (or volcano god) Javeh, who was needed as they were "on the move", and had expansionary ambitions. The fist king, Saul, was a Gibeonite, a tribe with roots in Edom, who needed to unify his kingdom under one main deity, instead of the usual many "family gods" that each tribe had, up to that point. He picked an Edomite god.
Many Torah scholars believe there was an "upgrade", in the philosophical understanding of the Chaos myths, common to the culture, when it was changed, and presented in the Genesis myths. And I agree with them, completely. The myths advance from explanation rituals to a unique insight into the Human Condition, which remains to this day, the only truly unique lasting gift to human civilization of Hebrew culture. (It might have stood alongside the other unique advance, that of the "confederation of tribes" concept, from the Southern traditions, but they chose to give that up, and chose to become a kingdom, when they decided to "become like the nations", in their history, even though their own prophets well understood the monumental mistake they were making, and what a missed opportunity it was .. ""Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up." (Amos 5:2), when they abandoned their confederate tribal status, (which could have developed into one of the first democracies on the planet), and chose political similarity with their neighboring city states, and demanded a king, instead of retaining their unique position as a tribal confederation.
So we have the injunction in the Garden Myth, in which the Hebrews took the Chaos myths and used them for their system. In my opinion, the slight change in the use of the Chaos mythology of the Hebrews represents a very unique and insightful development in human thought, especially for ancient desert dwellers. But, because of the overlay of fundamentalism onto the ancient texts it is almost always obscured. It it were understood, in it's original, (apparent) context, (Choas and Order), rather than slapped with the later "sin and disobedience" paradigm, the actual unique insight would be revealed. The insight was quite remarkable, actually.
The expectation for a political leader, (Messiah/"savior") did not arise in Hebrew history until Second and Third Isaiah introduced it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Isaiah . Jewish Apocalypticism and Messianism are huge interesting topics, but essentially irrelevant. They were historical political movements and expectations.
(Only) after the unfortunate historical events around 575 BC, did any of the Hebrews hope for, or think they needed a hero / "kingdom restorer". It never crossed their minds. The expectation by some, of a political hero, who would restore the former glory of the kingdoms, Messianism has various iterations, but was always a minority expectation. The Jews were not, in general, looking for a savior, nor are they today. Salvation from Chaos is meaningless. No one can make decisions for anyone else. They can market themselves as those with the "secret access to knowledge and secret powers", (priests), ...
2. the Hijacking
a. The salvation paradigm did not exist in the minds of the Nazorenes, (a subgroup of Jews, who were followers of Yeshua ben Josef, who eventually came to be called Christians, and who for many decades, and in some cases centuries, continued to think of themselves as Jews, who practiced what was called the "Way"), until it was introduced there by Saul of Tarsus. The proof is that the concept is absent in the Gospel of Mark, which was the first "proclamational faith document", (gospel) produced by the Nazarenes), and present on it's first version, (and there were many versions which developed, even as just proposed by Saul), the first version being presented in the 1st letter to the Corinthians.
The gospels were neither "biographies", nor "historical" documents in any way, and no one claimed they were. They were used, (proclaimed) only in liturgical worship events, (services), to believers who already accepted them as "authentic". Since they had no concept of "history", as we in the modern West think about that word, the authenticity, did not, in any way rest on any sort of "historical" authenticity. The "authenticity" was determined by the communities of worshipers, depending on whether the text reflected their subjective faith experience of the "Jesus events"and their HOPE for what they thought was about to happen. (Acts 22:9 "My companions saw the light, but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me"...a perfectly subjective self-admitted experience.) Trouble was, nothing happened, (except bad things). the Temple was destroyed in 72 CE, and still the Apocalyptic events did not happen. The bar Kochba revolt (135 CE), brought complete destruction to Jerusalem, after the turn of the century, and still Yahweh did nothing. Now what ? Go out of business ? Hell no. "I know. I know. Let's re-write the job descriptions, and try to justify the bullshit with an appeal to ancient Chaos myths, and market the salvation paradigm".
The gospels were assembled in the same way the texts of the Old Testament were assembled. Mark says nothing about Yeshua preaching about "salvation". No scholar disputes that. The attempt to make any "historical" claims from "proclamational faith documents" is obviously misguided. The intent of the authors was to present a position of faith, as a confirmation al ritual document, for those who already believed. They were NOT attempts at historical asserts of historical events. That was simply NOT the intended nature of their use. All the statements/verses in all the gospels were "placed" there for only one reason. To proclaim the gospel, only. Using them to prove anything about Yeshua is the ultimate circular argument, and a completely ignorant Argument from Ignorance of the nature of those kinds of literary texts. They are NOT 'historical" in any way we mean that word. A writer can at any time for any reason "place" something in a character's mouth. It's evidence of nothing, except the author's subjective opinion.
Messianism and Apocalipticism grafted onto/into the Nazareene, (Nazorean) sect the salvation paradigm for a reason. Yeshua and his followers expected the Apocalyptic event to occur during their lifetime, and it did not happen, and they needed a structural paradigm to rationalize keeping it going.
So how did Saul of Tarsus get the grafting accomplished ? It was not easy. He was hated by the James community in Jerusalem, and in fact at one point had to pay them off. He caused so much constant trouble in Jerusalem he decided to send himself away, and declare himself the "apostle to the Gentiles".
b. In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19, even that late, when the young man asked Yeshua, "Teacher, what must I do to gain eternal life?", Yeshua replies, "If you wish to enter life, keep the commandments". This in no way involves a convoluted cosmic pay-back scheme, where death was going to purchase the non-anger/angry state of a cosmic angry being. Yeshua did not teach Paul's "salvation" Paul invented it. The only question is, where did he get the idea. Two sources. By combining the "secret gospel" of Mark..(Mark's gospel's theme is that no one who heard Yeshua really understood his secret meaning, until later, when the secrets were revealed to insider), with the Greco-Roman Mystery cults, with which Paul was conversant. Paul was from Tarsus, a well known hot-bed of Mithraism. He knew well the braod popular appeal at the time, of the Greek mystery cults.
The word "gospel" comes from the English "godspell", which is a translation of the Greek "euangelion", which means "good news". Not the news. The "good news". Not the bad news. Not the good and bad news. Just the good news. The addition of that one word, (good) refutes any historicity. They were proclamations of subjective experiences, which were interpreted as "good", (not neutral, not "objective". Therefore not one historical claim can be made, based on the gospel texts.
No one sat around reading gospels. Written documents were relatively rare. The only place and reason a gospel was used, and proclaimed was in a worship event, (service), which had in attendance only already believing adherents. At most 5% of the population was literate. The gospel documents were locked in the homes of the leaders of the cult. They were not available for anyone to just stop by and read.
According to the eminent scholars, Klauch and McNeil, ( Klauck, Brian; McNeil (2003), The Religious Context of Early Christianity, Continuum International Publishing Group), "the Christian doctrine of the sacraments, in the form in which we know it, would not have arisen without this interaction; and Christology too understood how to 'take up' the mythical inheritance, purifying it and elevating it". In other words, the competition was the Mystery Cults. Paul had to offer something to compete. The main competition for adherents was the mystery cults.
The thought system of Paul is generally considered to be summarized in the Epistle to the Romans. Paul starts out by stating he did not believe in a miraculous virgin birth, (Romans 1:3)."his son, descended from David according to the flesh"). Paul was a maverick. he basically operated on his own, assuming he possessed the truth. Saul of Tarsus, with no compunction at all, changed the original message of Yeshua ben Joseph, in order to market it. It is also possible that he was a Roman "mole", sent to stir up dissension in the Way sect, of Judaism, from the inside. If so, he certainly succeeded. I"ll leave that to others.
So to sum up :
The ancient myths do not, in any way support the claims of Paul, and Augustine, ("original sin")..it's not what it's about, and any cultural historian knows that, and certainly not about Paul's invention, ..the salvation paradigm. The Torah and Talmudic scholars, who are THE most expert on their own texts do not need "salvation", in the Pauline sense.
Essentially, the need for salvation is a cognitive requirement, and an Argument from Ignorance, to attempt an external mechanistic explanation for why human moral evil exists, and Neuroscience and the rest of science, has now provided us with very good answers to that, and progress no longer requires an appeal to ancient mythological systems.
Yeshua ben Joseph did not preach the salvation paradigm, indeed told the young man to follow the Jewish law, and if he wished to be perfect, not to accumulate wealth..(why bother if the end times were immanent).
A "perfect" ancient deity who was cooked up to help one tiny specific local group in their local battles, who supposedly requires human sacrifices, before he will say "it's ok, I forgive you", is no role model for my little brother.
A being who is immutable, and eternal, but changes, (thereby refuting it's own definition), and can even imagine "change", (after the death of someone as appeasement to itself),as part of it's existence, who supposedly exists in a non-temporal dimension is too ridiculous to even consider.
Apart from all of the above is the entire question of "what" exactly is being "saved" anyway. By this I mean, that in 21st Century Christian Theology, it is assumed we're talking about a "soul", and on TOP of that, an "immortal" soul. That notion was NOT, (I repeat) NOT present as apart of the thought system of the human beings who wrote the Bible texts. We KNOW when, and why the concept developed, and how it changed. We also know how it changed at history passed through the epoch during which what is today called "Christianity" developed. This is another HUGE complex topic, and is another subject on it's own. I am addressing this in a thread called "Who was Saint Paul", and eventually will be broken out on it's own. The links are, or will be here -->>
http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...aint+Paul, and eventually will be broken out as a separate thread.
So relax. No need to run out and buy you some salvation. Nothing, and no one. can "save" us from the Human Condition.
Insufferable know-it-all. Apocalypse : pretty soon / Jebus is lard / Yea, for verily my dog is a jealous (and dyslexic) dog.
The following 3 users Like Bucky Ball's post:3 users Like Bucky Ball's post
Erxomai (30-08-2012), houseofcantor (30-08-2012), Mark Fulton (24-12-2012)
30-08-2012, 09:58 AM
RE: Salvation / Mythic Origins
I preferred it the first time.
30-08-2012, 10:32 AM
RE: Salvation / Mythic Origins
Insufferable know-it-all. Apocalypse : pretty soon / Jebus is lard / Yea, for verily my dog is a jealous (and dyslexic) dog.