Wednesday, December 23, 2009

An Addendum

All sacred literatures are subject to interpretation. They are all "sacred lies", "mythologies", or "parables." This is because NO ONE can really ever, ever know the exact nature of the divine. The prequel of the Christian story of salvation is read INTO the Torah and Tanach; however, it is really NOT there. It is a much later interpretation (much later than the 1st century of the Common Era in fact) of some statements in prophetic literature, which can be read any number of different ways. St. Augustine was the theologian who derived Original Sin out of Genesis. The concept is utterly foreign to Judaism. In addition, later so-called apocraphal Jewish literature which is very questionable (I don't believe that it is in the Tanach and it is not in Protestant versions of the Old Testament) has been used as much of the buttress, along with a watered-down dualism which came from Persia and the later Gnostics, to help cobble together much of what was to become "orthodox" Christianity. I am not going to dispute the idea of an historial Yeshua ben Yosef, one of many so-called messiahs in the early 1st century, though there really is no actual historical "proof" since the Josephus citation in his history of the Judaic Wars, written for Vespasian, was later added by some unknown scribe. His mission was in continuing rabbinic Judaism, which had started during the first century before the common era. He was never interested in anyone except his own ethnic group. In fact, up to Constantine, there was never universal religion of any sort. It was always known that people worshipped the gods of their ancestors and the land in which they lived. In the Tanach it is stated any number of times that the gods of their neighbours existed; however, the Hebrews were told not to worship them along with Yahweh. The Tanach can also be said to be a sort of history of the formation of what was to become modern Judaism.
Now, seguing into the issue of "demons" as being evil -- sorry, these ideas are quite different from the ancient Greek word daimone, which is an emanation (like a numa) from a deity. They can also come from our ancestors, heroes, etc. (and saints and angels). Even in that most problematic book of the Tanach, Job, the Light Bringer who inflicts misery upon Job is sent by Yahweh in order to test the strength of his belief and love. He is NOT an evil being. In most of the ancient world the divine realm was not purely good at all. In most cases it was neutral. The gods were beings beyond good and evil -- they just were and they were deathless.
(Here is another bit of information about me: I did study Christian theology and Biblical Literature when I was an undergraduate History major at Muhlenberg College, which is still associated with the Lutheran Church. Though I am no longer Christian, I was originally brought up in the Lutheran flavour of Christianity. I was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta, international honour society in history while still a junior, and I graduated with high honors in my major.)

1 comment:

Laura Hartness said...

Wow-- you are clearly more educated than I am! And while our views don't match, I certainly am not qualified to tackle the big issues that you raise. Gotta work on that.

I hope Dr. Verbugge stops by again and offers up some thoughts, too.

But regardless, thanks so much for stopping by my blog and offering up this interaction!

Laura Hartness
The Calico Critic