Archive for September, 2013

Background of Holy Mountain Myths

Posted in Astronomy, Atheist, belief, Christianity, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, prehistory, religion with tags , , , , , , on September 23, 2013 by chouck017894

In planet Earth’s distant past, which we casually dismiss as prehistory, the heavens presented a constant awe-inspiring panorama for our ancestors. Prehistory lessons of Creation and life were once given using imagined figures across the skies and these are known to us today primarily from the zodiac. In those ancient lessons the North Pole Star was considered to hold the summary position from which all lessons of cosmology and life-meaning could be observed in their entirety. This gave rise to later notions which linked the Pole Star with the tip of “holy mountains.” Ancient Sumerian inscriptions spoke of a great peak in the north as “the mountain of the word,” which was thought to be the home of the gods and which was regarded as the supporting pillar of heaven. As noted in the book The Celestial Scriptures, the man-made temple “mountains” of Sumer and Babylonia (ziggurats), the pyramids of Egypt, the pyramid temples of Central America, and the “cosmic mountain” temples of India, to mention a few, all have intimate connection to the Pole Star. The Canaanite god, Baal, as another example, was said to have his palace in the “farthest north,” meaning the Pole Star. The Hebrew “God” could not be allowed to have anything less, and so the same was claimed for him.

The North Pole Star was referred to in ancient China as “The Cosmic Mountain,” and as “The Axis of the Universe.” In eastern cultures of the ancient world this concept inspired the understanding of the “Wheel of Life” and the “Wheel of Law.” And this observable rotation of Earth upon the apparent celestial hub inspired belief in karma. The Pole Star thus epitomized the center of creative action from which birth and death was initiated. Because of the Pole Star’s position as a “fixed star,” meaning that it is constant in one fixed point, it has to be ranked as one of the most celebrated stars in our skies. It is the permanence and dependability that the Pole Star presented to travelers that it came to represent to them a divine love that never misleads—if you pay attention.

In every populated region of the world seekers and believers always regarded the loftiest mountain within their locality to be the symbol of God’s abode. Since the North Pole Star seemed to seekers to be the highest advantage, it was regarded in many cultures as being “the throne of the most high.” Thus all the “sacred mountains” of various cultures such as Mt. Parnassus of the Greeks; Mt. Meru (or Sumeru) of Hindu and Buddhist lore; the heavenly mountain of Tien Shan; the Paradise of Taoist immortals; or the Mount Zion of the Hebrews symbolized the throne of God. Consequently all “holy mountains” signified the highest purpose of Creation. Thus in the book of Isaiah 14:13 it refers to “…the mount of congregation, in the uttermost North.” It was also understood by these ancient ones that these sacred “mounts” also symbolized mental acuity, which awakens scholarly seekers to a far deeper meaning as to why scriptural characters such as Moses had to go climb a mountain to receive laws and instruction from God.

There is only one constellation which seems to pivot around the North Pole Star (Polaris) and keeps a tight revolving motion around it–the constellation Ursa Minor, which is erroneously known as the Little Bear. (No bears have ever had long tails.) Only this constellation revolves around the North Pole Star without any apparent shift in its relative position to that star. In addition, there is the curious positioning of constellation Cepheus in connection with the Pole Star. Cepheus has been pictured since extremely ancient times as the Crowned King, and in the star outline of this figure he is shown as standing with his left foot poised above the Pole Star. The brightest star in constellation Cepheus is known to us today as Alderamin, meaning “the right forearm,” and it is this arm which holds aloft the royal scepter. This star is distinguished by its unusually rapid rotation, and it also holds the distinction of being located near the path which is followed by the Earth’s axis in space throughout the precession of the equinox cycles through 25,800 years. There is thus a strong correlation with the Hebrew verses, for the right arm is held toward the grand orbit of Earth’s movement through the universe!

In the New Testament book of Hebrews 12:22 (which was written after Revelation c. 137-140 CE) it states: “But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable host of angels..” (a reference to the star cluster of Ursa Minor). This is a sly connection to a verse in Psalms (48:2) which reads, “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole Earth is Mount Zion (North Pole Star), on the sides of the north, the city of the great King (as King Cepheus). The mention of Mount Zion in both these accounts, like all other mount myths, represents the highest point from which all activity concerning Earth-life may be viewed by Creation powers (God).

The “heavenly Jerusalem” of the Revelation text is a play upon the meaning of that troublesome city’s name–which means light and peace–but has absolutely nothing to do with the earthly city by that name. As noted, the “innumerable host of angels” of the quoted verse actually refers to the stars of Ursa Minor around the North Pole Star, which to prehistory cultures symbolized the innumerable emanations of Creative Consciousness made manifest with matter-life consciousness. This brushes admirably close to possible spiritual instruction: sadly, however, this was quickly negated in the final chapter 13 where there is then listed various things that concern only the church, and offers nothing for personal enlightenment of seekers. Instead, in the closing verses we are treated with an admonishment about listening to “strange doctrines,” the designated way of worship for Christians, the obedience and sacrifice for the church, and concludes with an uninspiring benediction.

Our long-ago ancestors knew the night skies much more intimately than most of us do today. If we think of the visible heavens at all, it is most likely in terms of science fiction or religiosity, not from any personal familiarity with the awe-inspiring celestial grandeur of which our world is merely a speck of dust. In our pursuit of taking dominion over all Earth life, as is encouraged in priest-written sacred texts, we now dominate the planet through human indulgence in over breeding and industrial pollution. Today, eight billion persons strong, we humans congregate mainly in cities and suck the vital essences of nature into them and exercise our “dominion” through the habit of commercial greed. Unfortunately, greed always pollutes. We rarely see any holy mountains clearly anymore through the heavy veils of greenhouse gasses. And within the cities we have obscured the night skies with heavy pollution of artificial light. So there are few persons any longer who could find the North Pole Star even if they tried. They might, however, know the “revealed truth” about some perfect Heavenly “kingdom” from their faith system texts, but their only awareness with the actual patterns of the dimly seen stars of the heavens is from glancing at their horoscope.

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When Mediterranean Cultures Discovered Judaism

Posted in Atheist, belief, Bible, faith, Hebrew scripture, history, prehistory, random, religion, scriptures with tags , , , , , , on September 14, 2013 by chouck017894

After the conquest of the Near East by Alexander the Great, c. 332 BCE, there was a gradual and steady increase of awareness and recognition among the Mediterranean cultures in regard to the Judeans. In this 300 BCE timeframe the Etruscans had submitted to Rome, and the Etruscan influence would contribute significantly to Roman culture in matters of ritual and religion. And it was around 300 BCE, in the Hellenistic period, that foreign observers began to investigate about the laws, traditions and customs of the Jewish people. In this general timeframe the Torah, purportedly giving a continuous narrative of the Creation of the world to the death of Moses, had been canonized (by priest-authors) as God’s official word. Strangely, God never showed up to testify personally, so the priestly verdict was all based on circumstantial necessities for retaining authority.

The Greek skeptic, historian and philosopher Hecataeus of Abdera (4th century BCE) recorded observations of Jewish life in his work Peri Hyperborean. Hecataeus noted with some wonderment the Jewish traditions which in that timeframe lavished their conspiring priests with highest prestige, and he pondered over the tribal laws given in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy which prevailed over Jewish social legislation. Indeed, the Jewish monarchy which had crystallized with King Josiah (died 608? BCE), was the same timeframe in which Deuteronomy had been conveniently discovered—in the walls of the Temple no less. But by this later 300 BCE timeframe, royalty had become completely overshadowed: kingship had given way once again to priestly authority.

Jews, Hecataeus noted, were more fanatically devoted to their God than were most Pagan cultures that he had encountered. That Jewish devotion to an unseen being was more strangling than Pagan spirituality which retained a closer affiliation with Nature in which the Pagan recognized the interlocking energy aspects that were eternally at work. The Pagans respected those creative energy aspects as godlike in their displayed energy attractions. The Jews, on the other hand, long dominated by priest-transmitted commandments, had been conditioned for generations through use of priestly writings from the time of King Josiah and so shared the belief in the God-led “history” as composed by the priests of Yahweh which starred Abram/Abraham as their God-blessed progenitor. According to priestly accounts, God had no interest in regard to the rest of the world.

The priest written “holy” history asserted that from the time of Abram/Abraham a whole string of alleged Israelite ancestors could be claimed by them, all of whom had allegedly spoken directly with God. The history, as presented in Exodus, for example, asserted that God had promised that his “chosen ones” would inherit the land of Canaan–which, inexplicably, was not virgin territory but just happened to have been long inhabited by other people! It was this invented priestly “history” which provided the elements for a shared identity among the Jewish tribespeople in a psychological manner that the mythologies of other cultures could not. Thus conditioned for generations, the Jews shared priest-written law codes attributed to Moses–a whole battery of 613 laws–which, strangely had not been found until the time of young King Josiah (see related post, A Priest’s Convenient Discovery, December 2011). The unity of the Judean people was anchored upon the priest-written holy account and their allusion of their faith’s historic past.

The book of Leviticus was supposedly a testament regarding the Levite people, but that book-heading seemed intentionally deceiving to Hecataeus, for the primary focus remained on claims of priestly authority and offered precious little concerning any actual Levite persons. Foreigners puzzled, therefore, over why Leviticus seemed to have been unceremoniously jammed into the migration narrative between the books of Exodus and Numbers, which interrupted the intriguing story flow with the insertions of ceremonial laws! To foreign investigators such as Hectaeus, it seemed that to be properly explained the priestly code really extended from Genesis through the book of Joshua, which made for a literary whole. Why, then, was Joshua omitted and only the five books, with Leviticus jammed in, promoted as being most holy? Only these five books had been canonized c. 400 BCE (Pentateuch).

Unquestionably, the priests of Yahweh were accomplished story tellers who liberally borrowed inspiration from prehistory astronomy-cosmological lessons which had once taught of Creations’ energies. Those interacting creative energies from the ancient lessons were then personified by the authors as Israelites and presented as having been living historic ancestors. Mesopotamian and Persian religious epics, for example, had offered the same ancient astronomy secrets also, but those creative principles given with those lessons were not presented in a manner which seemed to be directly linked to a certain people’s special history. Neither did the epic sagas of other cultures particularly inspire any principles of moral responsibility or ethics. And the Greek myths of deities and their epics of gods and heroes, as another example, were presented in metaphorical style, which were simply meant to inspire people with a personal sense of purpose, perseverance and strength through larger-than-life examples.

By the second century BCE there had evolved a questioning spirit among the Judean people themselves, which resulted from their association with Syrian and Greek cultures after Syria was conquered by Antiochus III, the Great. Antiochus reigned from 223 to 187 BCE, and he had obtained possession of all of Palestine and Coeli-Syria by 198 BCE. But the excesses of Antiochus’ son, Antiochus IV, eventually triggered what is known as the Maccabean revolt (166 BCE). Antiochus IV had captured Jerusalem and prohibited Judaism; he sought instead to establish the worship of Greek gods. Events would eventually bring Syria (and the Jews) under Roman control (64 BCE). The world was, in this timeframe, at the entrance into the Age of Pisces (c. 60 BCE), which would bring with it the construction of two faith systems that, in their turn, would reinterpret the Jewish formula of faith for their own purpose.

Pre-Christian Jesus Cult

Posted in Atheist, belief, faith, Hebrew scripture, history, random, religion, scriptures with tags , , , , , , on September 1, 2013 by chouck017894

Belief in a soon-to-come messiah was deep-seated among the Jews after the time of the Maccabean revolt (144 BCE), and the fervor of that belief virtually elevated that expected savior into a secondary god. The book of 1 Enoch,* for example, reveals that entrenched veneration saying, “Before the sun and the signs (constellations) were created, before the stars of heaven were made, his name was called before the Lord of Spirits.”** In this glorification of the expected messiah there is found the influence of Babylonian myth. And in this veneration there is also found the seed from which Christianity would evolve. (*If you are unfamiliar with the book 1 Enoch it is because it was one of many quasi-religious Jewish writings that was not included as part of the Old Testament because it did not contribute to the idea of church authority. Consider the reference to astronomy/zodiacal influence. **It is from this passage in 1 Enoch also which inspired the claim that Jesus of the New Testament Gospels is the “Word” in the fourth Gospel According to John.)

The Jews yearned-for messiah was fashioned upon the legendary Israelite deliverer Joshua (Jeschu, from which the name Jesus was derived), and Jewish literature such as Proverbs, Ecclesiastics and Enoch reflect a background of centuries of polytheistic ideas among the Hebrews. Hellenism became an influencing factor upon tribal Jewish faith, causing mounting dissatisfaction with Judaism among the Jews of the Dispersion (Diaspora) before the destruction of the temple in the sixth century BCE. Ceremonial “law” and endless taboos, sacrifices and superstitions provided individuals little inspiration to act virtuously. Almost in defiance of these prohibitive characteristics there developed an association of Joshua with the Greek Logos, and that association as son or god or messiah is present in the Pentateuch. Thus the name Jesus, derived from Jeschu/Joshua, became revered among some factions of Judaism long before Christianity developed in the Roman Empire. This claim is strengthened in the fact that about a century before the death of Herod (4 BCE, there is recorded the stoning and the hanging upon a tree of a man named Jesus. The name given for this ritually executed man was Jesus ben Pandira, and it occurred in the reign of the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus.

There are ancient documents which show that the early Jewish cult of Jesus, in rivalry with Judaism, was attracting converts among the Jews of the Dispersion. In the oldest document of this cult the central feature was the Eucharist–the sacrament in which bread and wine (or water) are consecrated, then consumed in memory of the revered deity (a deity who was customarily sacrificed). This rite was common in many faith practices of the region in this timeframe, but was practiced in secret among the Jews who were becoming discontented with the futility of tribal ceremonial law. The point is that this places familiarity with the name Jesus as messiah nearly a century before the Roman authors of Mark and Matthew introduced the character of Jesus to the Roman public. On the whole, therefore, those texts were written and designed originally to attract those discontented Jews who wanted a more moralizing and unifying form of faith. To satisfy the messianic yearnings of the discontented the character of quasi-rebel Jesus was declared in the evolving Gospels to have descended through the royal line of David. Elsewhere in Gospel, however, an insertion has Jesus repudiating that assertion, but both versions remain in Gospel and continue to contribute to confusion.

The original character of Jeschu/Joshua in Hebrew scripture had several attributes which were always associated with Pagan sun gods–the alleged power of halting the course of the sun, for example. But in the Yahweh priests’ version the starring character was reduced to human status who happened to have god-blessed powers. This sun god relationship became echoed in Christian scriptures with Joshua’s namesake, Jesus, allegedly declaring of himself, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:23). It is thus from this sun god association that most Christian sects proclaim their faith on Sunday, the day of the sun. (The day for holy observance among the Jews is Saturday, the day of Saturn.)

In the year 60 BCE Jerusalem was captured by Rome; in 06 of present calendar notation (CE) Judea was annexed by Rome; by 55 CE the proportion of Jews in the Roman Empire was over twenty percent. In 66 CE the constant antagonism of the Jews flamed into a rebellion under the leadership of the zealot named Menahem. Briefly put, there was continuous hostility from the Jewish portion of the Empire.

The Jewish Jesus cult had not gone unobserved by the Roman aristocrats and literati. By the time that Emperor Augustus died in 39 BCE the Roman populace had become fascinated by the exotic character of cults and rituals such as Mithras (Persian), Isis (Egyptian), and Cybele (Phrygian). Their acceptance within Rome made for easier transitions with these conquered regions. When Octavian became sole master of the Roman world in 29 BCE, his empire spread from Africa, Asia, Gaul, Spain and Dalmatia, so preserving order within the Empire was vital for its continuance. But the Empire still continued to be constantly troubled with Jewish haughtiness. Thus around 50-55 CE, as the more hard-line Jews kept being fanned into periodic insurrections, a few Roman aristocrats began to toy with the idea that it could be politically advantageous to nurture that digression regarding Jesus within Jewish culture. So is it simply coincidence that it was in this general timeframe that the first version of Mark and then Matthew happened to make their appearance in the Roman Empire?

And isn’t it strange that later New Testament books appeared either during or shortly after other periods of conflict with the Jews? There was war in Judea in 69 CE, and Jerusalem fell in 70 The revisions of Mark and Matthew occurred between 70 and 80, or during the troubles that led to the destruction of the last three outposts of the Jewish resistance at Machaerus, Herodian, and Masada. After another long siege in 79 Jerusalem was captured. The book of Acts of the Apostles dates from c. 84-90 CE.

Continuing acts of civil disobedience throughout Jewish centers of the Empire necessitated constant monitoring, and in this general timeframe, 94-100 CE, the books of 1 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians were composed. Also in this timeframe the Pharisees declared that Italy, and especially Rome was “unclean.” The composition of the book of Romans just happened to occur c. 100; then 2 Corinthians, the re-editing of Ephesians came about c. 103-105: the books Timothy and Titus c. 103-105: Colossians, and 2 Timothy, 105-107. The second great revolt by the Jews began c. 115, and one million Jews took over Alexandria, Egypt and held it for nearly a year. By 116 there were also Jewish uprisings in Parthia and other places. Coincidently, the books 2 Peter, John and Jude all date c. 110-115.

Another great Jewish revolt began in 131 CE under the leadership of Bar Cocheba, and Roman troops were sent then to restore order but suffered a surprising defeat. Roman patience was running thin. The violence of the rebellion in Jerusalem lasted for four years and was climaxed by Emperor Hadrian having Jerusalem destroyed and forbidding any Jew, God’s alleged “chosen people,” from setting foot on the site. It is not exactly coincidence that the book of Revelation was written c. 135-138. But the book of Hebrews was actually the last NT book to be written, c. 135-140. In that book, 8:6-13, there is professed a new “covenant” for the Jewish people. Even at that late date the Roman rule was not out to destroy Jewish culture; Rome sought only to soften the Jewish obsessive pretense of godly favoritism.

The world would not again see a nation called Israel until 1948–one thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight years later. In that time and up to the present not much in the way of “faith” has evolved, unfortunately.