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Author Topic:   Not Influenced by Surrounding Nations
Peg
Member (Idle past 3219 days)
Posts: 2703
From: melbourne, australia
Joined: 11-22-2008


Message 1 of 83 (500722)
03-02-2009 6:11 AM


I propose this topic in response to Granny Magna who insisted that the Hebrews and their writings (OT) were influenced by the surrounding nations. (See Msg 226 of the Bibles Flat Earth thread in the Accuracy and Inerrency forum.)

I would like to offer evidence to the contrary and prove that their beliefs and teachings were not influenced by the nations around them.

(As this is centered around the Old Testament writings, i would ask that Apocryphal books are not included in any responses. The Apocrypha books were not part of the Old Testament and as it is the Old Testament teachings that are being discussed, the apocryphal writings are not applicable here.)
________________________________________________________________

MEDICAL

One of the oldest Egyption medical texts available is the Ebers Papyrus , which is a compilation of practices, dating about 1550 B.C.E.
It has 700 remedies for various afflictions, some of them were extremely dangerous. For the treatment of a wound, one of the prescriptions recommended applying a mixture of human excrement to open wounds.

while the egyptions were using their own excrement as a wound salve the Mosaic Law demanded sanitary regulations that required excrement be buried away from people. Deuteronomy 23:13
This is significant because Moses was raised in Egypt and was educated in the finest Egyptian schools yet his words show that excrement was to be viewed as something unclean not to be touched'

The Hebrews practiced quarantining & sanitization Lev13.2 'In case a man develops in the skin of his flesh an eruption or a scab or a blotch ...he must then be brought to Aaron the priest ... the priest must look at it, and he must declare him unclean...the priest must then quarantine the plague seven days. 5 And the priest must look at him on the seventh day, and if in the way it looks the plague has stopped, the plague has not spread in the skin, the priest must also quarantine him another seven days...'6 And the priest must look at him on the seventh day the second time, and if the plague has grown dull and the plague has not spread in the skin, the priest must also pronounce him clean. It was a scab. And he must wash his garments and be clean.

The babylonians to the contrary placed their sick in public for all to come and see

quote:
'They have no physicians, but when a man is ill, they lay him in the public square, and the passers-by come up to him, and if they have ever had his disease themselves or have known any one who has suffered from it, they give him advice...'

Under the Mosaic Law the dead body was viewed as making those touching it unclean for a seven-day period. If someone was in a house or tent where a death occurred, as well as the dwelling itself and all open vessels, they were made unclean. They had to wash everything.

This was unlike the egyptions who would spend over 1 month embalming the dead Egyption emablming customs] the process of emabalming was a high contact sport...they certainly did not mind touching dead bodies.

Its only been since the 19th century that doctors began using sanitation as a way to control disease. Actually [has been recently voted the worlds number 1 medical advancement] of our time...perhaps of all time. Not that moses knew that, but the law he practiced was given to him by God who Did know these important things whereas the nations around them were in the dark with regard to such matters.

__________________________________________________________________

EARTH AND COSMOLOGY

GREEK Hesiod, who wrote his Theogony in the eighth century B.C.E. explains how the gods and the world began. He starts off with Gaea, or Gaia (Earth), gave birth to Uranus (Heaven). First Uranus was supreme, but he suppressed his children, and Gaia encouraged his son Cronos to castrate him. Cronos in turn devoured his own children, until his wife Rhea gave him a stone to eat in place of Zeus; the child Zeus was brought up in Crete, compelled his father to disgorge his siblings, and with them and other aid defeated Cronos and his Titans and cast them down into Tartarus.

Sumerian belief was similar and likely influenced the Greeks. They believed in a succession of gods, and the goddess Nammu who is called "the mother, who gave birth to heaven and earth"

Chinese folk religion states (213-191 BCE)that Chaos was like a hen’s egg. Neither Heaven nor Earth existed. From the egg P’an-ku was born, while of its heavy elements Earth was made and Sky from the light elements. P’an-ku is represented as a dwarf, clad in a bearskin or a cloak of leaves. For 18,000 years the distance between Earth and Sky grew daily by ten feet, and P’an-ku grew at the same rate so that his body filled the gap. When he died, different parts of his body became various natural elements. . . . His body fleas became the human race.

Genesis 1:1 simply states that 'In the beginning God created the Heaven and Earth'

Genesis described the 2 luminaries (Sun & Moon) that caused the Light and Dark at Gen. 1:14-18

Egyptian cosmology said the universe is a rectangular box, placed in a north-south position, like Egypt. The earth is located on the bottom, as a slightly concave plain with Egypt in the center. . . . At the four cardinal points very high peaks hold up the sky. The sky is a metallic cover, flat or curving outward, pierced with holes. From it hang stars, like lamps hanging on cables.

Some believed that the earth was supported by four elephants standing on a big sea turtle. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and scientist of the fourth century B.C.E., taught that the heavenly bodies were fixed to the surface of solid, transparent spheres

The bible described the Creator as 'hanging the earth upon nothing', and in the eighth century B.C.E., it spoke of 'the circle of the earth' which indicated a round or circular object as opposed to any other shape. (Job 26:7; Isa. 40:22)

______________________________________________________________

ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY

Ancient Egypt belief was that Mankind was created from the tears of the god Ra. the goddess of moisture gave birth to Geb and Nut, the earth god and the sky goddess. And so the physical universe was created. Men were created from Ra's tears.
Gen. 2:7 says that the Almighty Creator created man from the dust from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life.'

Egyptionking married his own sister occasionally his own daughter to preserve the purity of the royal blood.

The Law given Israel after they had left Egypt forbade incestuous marriage, saying, 'The way the land of Egypt does . . . you must not do' Le 18:6 ‘YOU people must not come near, any man of YOU, to any close fleshly relative of his to lay bare nakedness...'

_____________________________________________________________________
AFTERLIFE BELIEFS OF EGYPTIONS, GREEKS, ROMANS

AncientS believed that the deceased had need of food and clothing after death. Maps and eyes were painted on Egyptian wooden coffins to guide the departed. Tools and personal effects, such as jewelry, were also left on the assumption that the dead would be glad to have them in an afterlife.

The Greeks and the Romans believed that the dead needed to be ferried across the Styx, the principal river of the underworld. This service was performed by Charon, a demonic boatman. He was paid for his services by a coin placed in the mouth of the deceased, a practice that continues to this day in many parts of the world.

Many nations were convinced of an afterlife but the bible clearly stated at that death is the end of life.
Eccl 9:5 '...the dead are conscious of nothing at all'

Ezekiel 18:4 '...the soul that is sinning, it itself will die'

Eccl 3:19 'For there is an eventuality as respects the sons of mankind and an eventuality as respects the beast... All are going to one place. They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.'

________________________________________________________________

GOD

Here is an interesting quote from http://www.isi.org/books/content/396chap1.pdf][A Student’s Guide to Natural Science Page 20]

quote:
'When Genesis says that
the sun and moon are merely “lamps” placed by God in
the heavens to light the day and night, it is attacking the
pagan religions that worshipped the sun and moon. When
it says that man is made “in the image of God” and is to
exercise “dominion” over the animals, Genesis is, among
other things, attacking the paganism in which men worshipped
and bowed down to animals or to gods made in
the image of animals.

It is recognized that many ancient religions are based on the natural world where the elements and nature are gods, this is called polyotheism.
Hinduism has many thousands of such gods, Egypt had the sun god, the moon god the crocodile god, the god of the nile river etc etc etc

This is in stark contrast to the hebrew religion which was based on one single almighty Creator God known in the OT as Yahweh or Jehovah.
The were not influenced in the slightest in believing that there were any other gods besides this one God.
This explains why the Mosaic law stipulates that 'You must not have any other gods against my face' and 'You must not make carved images/idols and be induced to serve them'

______________________________________________________________

All these examples show that the bible is contrary to what the popular opinions were of the time.

I have presented only a few examples I would be interested to see examples of where the Hebrews were influenced by the beliefs of the nations around them...or any more examples that anyone might like to add.

Edited by Peg, : adding urls

Edited by Peg, : No reason given.

Edited by Peg, : No reason given.

Edited by Peg, : separated subjects

Edited by Peg, : No reason given.


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Admin
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Message 2 of 83 (500732)
03-02-2009 9:12 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Peg
03-02-2009 6:11 AM


Please edit your proposal to include links or references for the sources of your excerpts. Once you're done post a note to this thread and I'll take another look.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

This message is a reply to:
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Message 3 of 83 (500910)
03-03-2009 8:30 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Peg
03-02-2009 6:11 AM


Hi Peg,

Very nice job adding links to the text, but what I meant was providing links for your excerpts. For example, a Google search reveals that your first excerpt appears at three different sites on the web. Let's say you cut-n-pasted from the first link Google lists, in that case you should have written something like this:

MEDICAL (taken from http://br.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060608102828AAVUnQS)

quote:
One of the oldest medical texts available is the Ebers Papyrus...etc...

Please post a note here when you're done. It's only sheer luck that I noticed that you'd edited your post. If you don't post a note when you're done I'm much less likely to notice.


--Percy
EvC Forum Director

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Peg
Member (Idle past 3219 days)
Posts: 2703
From: melbourne, australia
Joined: 11-22-2008


Message 4 of 83 (501081)
03-04-2009 4:29 AM


i've put the urls in

but i've used the quote box's to separate the subjects as opposed to quoting another source...should i change that? is there a better way to divide the post up so each subject is clearly marked???

actually i'll separate with *********************************** instead.


    
Peg
Member (Idle past 3219 days)
Posts: 2703
From: melbourne, australia
Joined: 11-22-2008


Message 5 of 83 (501085)
03-04-2009 5:20 AM


I hate long posts and i hate making long posts

I hope this suffices...its probably too long and winded but i've looked at the following examples and tried to break them up so they are easily identified.

Medical - compares the Egyption & Babylonian practices

Earth & Cosmology - compares other creation accounts & the shape of the earth.

Anatomy & Physilogy looks at mankind, & Egyption customs of incest

Afterlife Beliefs showing other nations believed in life after death whereas the bible writers had no such beliefs...i've only mentioned a few scriptures, there are more that i can cite if needed.

Gods - monotheistic religions were abundant in the days of the hebrews...they were not monotheistic though.


    
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Message 6 of 83 (501093)
03-04-2009 8:03 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

    
Modulous
Member (Idle past 394 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 7 of 83 (501094)
03-04-2009 8:43 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Peg
03-02-2009 6:11 AM


Influences
Hi Peg,
I agree that the Israelites had unique aspects. Some of them rather stark and surprising. On the other hand, every culture had its unique aspects and I don't think you can show that the Israelites were not influenced by their neighbours through highlighting the unique parts. While some may dispute some of your claims of uniqueness, since I don't think it important to establish the influences, I'll just jump right in with a little of my own evidence I gathered.

Creation of the world

Genesis 1:6-7, KJV writes:


And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.

Compared with Enuma Elish:

Enuma Elish writes:

He split her {Tiamat, the salty waters} like a shellfish into two parts.
Half of her he set up and ceiled it as sky,
Pulled down the bar and posted guards.
He bade them to allow not her waters to escape

In Enuma Elish, Marduk commands a wind that rushes over and into the waters (Tiamat) in order to slay her and from this he creates the world. Likewise Genesis 1 has the "wind of God" moving over the 'deep' and some suggest that the deep, tĕhowm is linked to the word Tiamat - but this is disputable. Various other passages in the Bible have a giant sea dragon monster including (Isaiah 51, Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? NIV) being subdued by God, but why would God need to subdue such monsters? It is a clear allusion to the Marduk story of the battle with Tiamat.

Battle with Tiamat

Enuma Elish writes:

Then joined issue Tiamat and Marduk, wisest of gods,
They swayed in single combat, locked in battle.
The lord spread out his net to enfold her,
The Evil Wind, which followed behind, he let loose in her face.
When Tiamat opened her mouth to consume him,
He drove the Evil Wind that she close not her lips.
As the fierce winds charged her belly,
Her body was distended and her mouth was wide open.
He released the arrow, it tore her belly,
It cut through her insides, splitting the heart.
Having thus subdued her, he extinguished her life.
He cast down her carcass to stand upon it...

Let there be lights

Genesis 1:14-16, KJV writes:


And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.

Enuma Elish writes:


The Moon he caused to shine, entrusting the night to him.
He appointed him a creature of the night to signify the days:
"Monthly, without cease, form designs with a crown.
At the month's very start, rising over the land,
You shall have luminous horns to signify six days,
On the seventh day reaching a half-crown.
At full moon stand in opposition in mid-month.
When the sun overtakes you at the base of heaven,
Diminish your crown and retrogress in light."

Creation of Man

The Epic of Atrahasis writes:


Nintu mixed clay with his flesh and blood.
That same god and man were thoroughly mixed in the clay.
For the rest of the time they would hear the drum.
From the flesh of the god the spirit remained.
It would make the living know its sign.
[230] Lest he be allowed to be forgotten, the spirit remained.
After she had mixed the clay,
she summoned the Anunna, the great gods.
The Igigi, the great gods, spat upon the clay.

Genesis 2:7, KJV writes:


And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Loss of innocence, the fall

Genesis 2:17, KJV writes:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

As we know, 'to know' is a euphemism for sex.

Genesis 3:4, KJV writes:

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Serpents are phallic symbols and themselves are often symbols of fertility (they shed their skin and so renew themselves and have 'eternal youth'). So eve was tempted by a...symbolic cock, perhaps?

Sometimes 'eating' is seen as a sexual euphemism too, once the humans 'eat' of the tree of sex knowledge of good and evil they become as gods

Genesis 3:22a writes:

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:

Where am I going with this?

Epic of Gilgamesh writes:

Shamhat unclutched her bosom, exposed her sex, and he took in her voluptuousness.
She was not restrained, but took his energy.
She spread out her robe and he lay upon her,
she performed for the primitive the task of womankind.
His lust groaned over her;
for six days and seven nights Enkidu stayed aroused,
and had intercourse with the harlot
until he was sated with her charms.
...
The harlot said to Enkidu:
"You are beautiful," Enkidu, you are become like a god.

Eternal Life

When Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh confronts his own mortality and goes hunting for a way out. He eventually hears about a plant that will give him eternal youth...some kind of 'Tree of Life'. He finally acquires this wonderful plant but unfortunately,

Epic of Gilgamesh writes:


A snake smelled the fragrance of the plant,
silently came up and carried off the plant.

(And that's how the snake gained its eternal youth).

Clearly the intended audience for the Genesis story was familiar with this story of the hunt for the plant of eternal life because

Genesis 3:22b-3:24 writes:


...and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

The flood

Just about everybody knows this stuff, but allow me to draw direct parallels

The Epic of Atrahasis writes:

Flee the house, build a boat,
forsake possessions, and save life.
The boat which you build...
Roof her over like the depth,
so that the sun shall not see inside her.
Let her be roofed over fore and aft.
The gear should be very strong,
the pitch should be firm, and so give the boat strength.

The Epic of Gilgamesh writes:

Tear down the house and build a boat!
Abandon wealth and seek living beings!
Make all living beings go up into the boat.
The boat which you are to build,
its dimensions must measure equal to each other:
its length must correspond to its width.
Roof it over like the Apsu.

Genesis 6:14, NIV writes:


So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.

Epic of Gilgamesh writes:


I fell to my knees and sat weeping,
tears streaming down the side of my nose.
I looked around for coastlines in the expanse of the sea,
and at twelve leagues there emerged a region (of land).
On Mt. Nimush the boat lodged firm,
Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway.
One day and a second Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing
no sway.
A third day, a fourth, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing
no sway.
A fifth day, a sixth, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing
no sway.

Genesis 8:4, NIV writes:


And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

Epic of Gilgamesh writes:

When a seventh day arrived
I sent forth a dove and released it.
The dove went off, but came back to me;
no perch was visible so it circled back to me.
I sent forth a swallow and released it.
The swallow went off, but came back to me;
no perch was visible so it circled back to me.

Genesis 8:7-9, KJV writes:

And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.
Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters [were] on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

After this:

Epic of Gilgamesh writes:

Then I sent out everything in all directions and sacrificed
(a sheep).
I offered incense in front of the mountain-ziggurat.
Seven and seven cult vessels I put in place,
and (into the fire) underneath (or: into their bowls) I poured
reeds, cedar, and myrtle.
The gods smelled the savor,
the gods smelled the sweet savor,
and collected like flies over a (sheep) sacrifice.

And Noah:

Genesis 8:20-21a, KJV writes:


And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
And the LORD smelled a sweet savour;

Cloud surfing

Psalms 68:4, HNV writes:

Sing to God! Sing praises to his name! Extol him who rides on the clouds: To the LORD, his name! Rejoice before him!

Psalms 145:13 writes:

Thy kingdom [is] an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion [endureth] throughout all generations

The Baal cycle writes:

"Did I not tell Thee, O Prince Baal,
Nor declare, O Rider of Clouds?
'Lo, Thine enemies, O Baal,
Lo, Thine enemies wilt Thou smite
Lo, Thou wilt van quish Thy foes.
Thou wilt take Thine eternal kingdom;
Thine everlasting sovereignty!'"

The Laws

The Code of Hammurabi writes:

If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out....If he break another man's bone, his bone shall be broken. ... If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out

I don't think I need to quote the Biblical equivalent here, given its fame. This is another case of 'same but different'. The Biblical equivalent is more 'equal rights' than the Code of Hammurabi, but it is clear that these forms influenced the format/structure of Israelite law making.

Lillith

Isaiah 34:14, HNV writes:


The wild animals of the desert shall meet with the wolves, and the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; yes, the Lilit shall settle there, and shall find her a place of rest.

Epic of Gilgamesh writes:


Then the Zu-bird flew into the mountains with its young,

while Lilith, petrified with fear, tore down her house and fled into the wilderness

Asherah

Asherah, a Canaanite goddess was worshipped by the Israelites too as a consort of Yahweh, "Queen of Heaven". William G. Dever, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Archeology and Anthropology at the University of Arizona, writes that it seems to be the case that Monotheism was really only followed by the elite Israelites, whereas Joe the gleaner would be plenty into folk religions. . The OT even confirms this to have been the case:

Jeremiah 7:18, NIV writes:


The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger.

and

Jeremiah 44:17-19, NIV writes:


We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm.
But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine."
The women added, "When we burned incense to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did not our husbands know that we were making cakes like her image and pouring out drink offerings to her?"



Hopefully, that's a good enough start to at least present a fairly decent case that Israelite beliefs were influenced by their neighbours. There are other avenues of investigation, the forms of the Covenants and so on. But I'm happy with this as a start.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


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Replies to this message:
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kuresu
Member (Idle past 803 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 8 of 83 (501095)
03-04-2009 8:51 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Peg
03-02-2009 6:11 AM


Interesting how you use ancient chinese culture in support of your argument. I did not realize the ancient chinese were contemporaries with judaism (I'm sure there was trade connecting the middle east and china, but really).

Also, you have completely ignored Zoroastrianism, especially as regards the monotheistic nature of judaism.


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Coragyps
Member
Posts: 5399
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 9 of 83 (501099)
03-04-2009 9:17 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Peg
03-02-2009 6:11 AM


GREEK Hesiod, who wrote his Theogony in the eighth century B.C.E. explains how the gods and the world began. He starts off with Gaea, or Gaia (Earth), gave birth to Uranus (Heaven).

But that isn't where the Theogony "starts off." What the text says is

Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundations of all (4) the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love), fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether (5) and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. She bare also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love. But afterwards she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.

(from http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hesiod/theogony.htm)

Chaos is first, right? Doesn't that sound a bit like this?

1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Now that's not to say that Hesiod influenced the authors of Genesis - but, as your text notes, the Greek story may be related to the Sumerian. The Hebrew story most certainly is.

And it's odd that your source fibs about what Hesiod wrote, don't you think?


"The wretched world lies now under the tyranny of foolishness; things are believed by Christians of such absurdity as no one ever could aforetime induce the heathen to believe." - Agobard of Lyons, ca. 830 AD

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caffeine
Member
Posts: 1702
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Joined: 10-22-2008
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Message 10 of 83 (501236)
03-05-2009 10:00 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Peg
03-02-2009 6:11 AM


quote:
It is recognized that many ancient religions are based on the natural world where the elements and nature are gods, this is called polyotheism.
Hinduism has many thousands of such gods, Egypt had the sun god, the moon god the crocodile god, the god of the nile river etc etc etc

This is in stark contrast to the hebrew religion which was based on one single almighty Creator God known in the OT as Yahweh or Jehovah.
The were not influenced in the slightest in believing that there were any other gods besides this one God.
This explains why the Mosaic law stipulates that 'You must not have any other gods against my face' and 'You must not make carved images/idols and be induced to serve them'


Somebody else has already pointed out the monotheistic Zoroastrian religion, but it's also interesting that there were ancient Egyptian monotheists (or at least one anyway). Pharoah Akhnaton of the 18th dynasty (incidentally the father of Tutenkhamen) worshipped the monotheistic Aton, and attempted to make all of Egypt do the same. This didn't last longer than his reign, but monotheism was not unique to Israelite culture.

It's also worth pointing out that Israelite culture wasn't wholly monotheistic. Some scholars have thought that the different names for God (Yahweh, Elohim, El-Shaddai etc.) may have stemmed from previously independent gods; in much the same way as Allah was part of the polytheistic pantheon of early Arab culture.

Also, an injunction against worshipping other gods doesn't necessarily mean the religion is monotheistic. Many ancient cultures worshipped their own god without doubting the existence of foreign gods. It's entirely possible the early laws were not 'don't worship fictional gods', but 'don't worship other gods like that Ba'al chap - I'm your god.'


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Granny Magda
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Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 11 of 83 (501237)
03-05-2009 10:12 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by caffeine
03-05-2009 10:00 AM


The Hymn to the Aten
Interesting that you should mention Akheneten there Caffiene. One rather interesting piece of evidence of cross-cultural pollination is the hymn to the Aten, found in the ruins of Akhenaten's capital. It bears a striking similarity to psalm 104.

There is a comparison between the two here; http://kemet.250x.com/psalm104.html

Mutate and Survive


"The Bible is like a person, and if you torture it long enough, you can get it to say almost anything you'd like it to say." -- Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade

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NosyNed
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Message 12 of 83 (501245)
03-05-2009 10:50 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Granny Magda
03-05-2009 10:12 AM


Re: The Hymn to the Aten
That's not a terribly convincing comparison to me. It's there but pretty thin, isn't it?

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Coragyps
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Message 13 of 83 (501249)
03-05-2009 11:35 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by caffeine
03-05-2009 10:00 AM


It's entirely possible the early laws were not 'don't worship fictional gods', but 'don't worship other gods like that Ba'al chap - I'm your god.'

Not just possible, but that's pretty explicit in much of the OT. Elijah's god whups up on one of those other gods in the beef-and-priest incinerating contest in I Kings 18, and there are plenty of other examples.


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Modulous
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From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 14 of 83 (501319)
03-05-2009 4:06 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Coragyps
03-05-2009 11:35 AM


Not just possible, but that's pretty explicit in much of the OT. Elijah's god whups up on one of those other gods in the beef-and-priest incinerating contest in I Kings 18, and there are plenty of other examples.

Since Peg hasn't turned up yet, allow me to disagree. 1 Kings 18 is about Elijah proving that Ba'al is not a god, not about Yahweh 'beating' another god at a competition.

1 Kings 18:21, HNV writes:

Eliyah came near to all the people, and said, How long go you limping between the two sides? if the LORD is God, follow him; but if Ba`al, then follow him. The people answered him not a word.

and

1 Kings 18:26-29, HNV writes:


They took the bull which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Ba`al from morning even until noon, saying, Ba`al, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any who answered. They leaped about the altar which was made.
It happened at noon, that Eliyah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud; for he is a god: either he is musing, or he is gone aside, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleeps and must be awakened.
They cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.
It was so, when midday was past, that they prophesied until the time of the offering of the [evening] offering; but there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any who regarded.

Indeed - as far as I can tell, some scholars believe it was the likes of Elijah's policy of "Only Yahweh has power" that really gave birth to absolute monotheism. So although there is evidence that Ba'al/Hadad/Adad/Asherah was worshipped by the Israelites within the text - this is definitely not (in my opinion) one of the examples of 'don't worship those other real gods' but is one of the examples of 'the other gods are made up nonexistent fictions and only Yahweh is God'.


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Granny Magda
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Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 15 of 83 (501324)
03-05-2009 4:30 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by NosyNed
03-05-2009 10:50 AM


Re: The Hymn to the Aten
Hi Ned,

I wouldn't say it was thin, but it's certainly far from conclusive. I mention it because it is an interesting piece of evidence.

I do think though that the two are eerily close for supposedly unrelated works.

Both begin with a general evocation of God's greatness, mention his creation and allude to God being the sun. Both mention that God brings on night, when dangerous beasts roam the land. Both say that God banishes these beasts, come the day (furthering the sun comparison). Both mention that humanity comes out in the day to go to our work. Both make mention of birds by water. Both mention ships. Both mention breath as the God-given animating force. Both stress how God is essential to all things.

Compare these lines;

psalm 104 writes:

How countless are your works, Yahweh,
all of them made so wisely!

Hymn to the Aten writes:

How manifold are Your works!
They are hidden from before (us)

I'm not trying to pretend that this proves anything beyond doubt. The two are scarcely word-for-word. The comparison page I linked to has the psalm presented out of order for a start. The similarities are striking though. That both of these are from very early monotheistic faiths makes the comparison interesting and worth mentioning, I think, in a thread like this.

Mutate and Survive


"The Bible is like a person, and if you torture it long enough, you can get it to say almost anything you'd like it to say." -- Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade

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