Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:42 am

I am still mulling in my brain the implications of translating Ignatius into Greek not Syriac - i.e. Πυρόεις = the planet Mars. The same planet in Latin is connected with the name Mark. It is interesting to note that the Aramaic name for Mars is derived from Nergal the god of war. I can't shake the idea that the symbolism of Polycarp/Peregrinus becoming 'the fiery one' had something to do with the statement that precedes the discussion in Lucian namely that "Coming at last to Greece under these circum­stances, at one moment he abused the Eleans, at another he counselled the Greeks to take up arms against the Romans,20 and at another he libelled a man outstanding in literary attainments and position because he had been a benefactor to Greece in many ways, and particularly because he had brought water to Olympia and prevented the visitors to the festival from dying of thirst, maintaining that he was making the Greeks effeminate." There seems to be a 'martial' underpinning to the events at Olympia.
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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:16 am

I think there are some clues in the Death of Peregrinus. The first mention of his desire to burn himself we see the connection:
I asked a bystander, “What is the meaning of his talk about fire, and what have Heracles and Empedocles to do with Proteus?” “Before long,” he replied, Proteus is going to burn himself up at the Olympic festival.”
So his being the 'fiery one' is at once linked with Hercules. Then in what follows:
If, however, he is partial to fire as something connected with Heracles, why in the world did he not quietly select a well-wooded mountain and cremate himself upon it in solitude, taking along only one person such as Theagenes here for his Philoctetes?
And again:
In fact, the thing for which one might blame Theagenes most of all is that although he copies the man in everything else, he does not follow his teacher and take the road with him, now that he is off, as he says, to join Heracles; why, he has the opportunity to attain absolute felicity instanter by plunging headlong into the fire with him!
And again:
Emulation is not a matter of wallet, staff, and mantle; all this is safe and easy and within anyone’s power. One should emulate the consummation and culmination, build a pyre of fig-wood logs as green as can be, and stifle one’s self in the smoke of them. Fire itself belongs not only to Heracles and Asclepius
And again:
Besides, if Heracles really did venture any such act, he did it because he was ailing, because the blood of the Centaur, as the tragedy tells us, was preying upon him; but for what reason does this man throw himself bodily into the fire?
So it is clear then Peregrinus is quite explicit about the connection between the para-suicidal act (i.e. becoming 'the fiery one') and a desire to become Hercules. What does this have to do with the planet Mars or Πυρόεις in Greek? Interestingly we learn that Nergal was the Chaldean Hercules. In the Scholia of Apollonius of Rhodes we read:
Et si l'on disait qu'il ressemble à Pyroeis, au sujet duquel Epigenès, Sur les mathématiques des Chaldéens, exposé préliminaire qui concerne les planètes [disant], dit qu'il y a parmi elles Pyroeis que les Grecs appellent Arès et les Chaldéens ...Heracles.
In other words, it would seem that Polycarp/Peregrinus who either come from Syria or in the case of the former his ancestry is Semitic. That Hercules was identified as Nergal in antiquity:
is proven by an inscribed altar for this syncretistic deity, and also by the name of a sacred place 'of Nergal' being called Herakleous bomoi and Ad Herculem.19 And the inscriptions of Assur do not mention Gad, but Nergal by name.20 It can therefore be assumed that temple A was dedicated to Heracles-Nergal.21 The reason why Heracles was identified with Nergal becomes understandable if we look at the Hellenistic idea of this 'son of Zeus'. This concept accentuated his character of a deliverer of mankind from pain and trouble. He was called sôter ('saviour'), the 'important sufferer' and the 'conqueror of the death'.22 Similar functions were ascribed to Nergal: the 'power of Marduk', the 'lord of peace' and the 'lord of the underworld'.
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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:22 am

An example of Mars = Hercules from astrological writings:
The third star is that of Ares (Mars), which others call the star of Heracles. https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&h ... Mars%29%22
You can start to see perhaps some understanding of Peregrinus the Christian associating 'the Son' with Hercules perhaps. Note the Mandaeans are associated with Nergal in Bar Konay:
The Mandaeans come about, in Bar Konay's account, as a derivative movement, arising only after another, related group called the Kentaeans, who in turn emerge from a Babylonian pagan background. It is the Kentaeans, in fact, who receive more attention in this passage than the Mandaeans. According to Bar Konay, the Kentaean (knty') sect began during the reign of the Sasanid Peroz (457–484). That king's persecutions of idolaters are supposed to have been a factor in the career of Battay, Bar Konay's Kentaean heresiarch.” Reportedly, the Kentaeans claimed that their teaching came from Abel (Habel) ... To prove the invalidity of this cult, he euhemerizes its idol as a representation of Goliath, the mighty man who fell to David in the biblical account (1Samuel 17). Although his interpretation comes through the lens of biblical scripture,he is clearly claiming that the kentaeans derive from an Aramaean pagan background and not from biblical patriarchs, as the Kentaeans claim.5 This is clarified when says that the Chaldeans (pagan Aramaeans of Babylonia) after Nergal. Nergal was the Babylonian god identified with Mars and Heracles, Aramaic Nergol and Nerig, who had his chief temple in Mesopotamian Kutha.6 For Bar Konay, Nerig is a euhemerized Goliath. He provides remarkable details about the idolatry of this religious group not explicable as pure polemical invention. Whatever the validity of his claims, it is important to note that he deems the first Kentaeans to have come from a local, pagan idolatrous background.

After backtracking in this way confusingly into the prehistory of the Kentaeans, Bar Konay relates a story of Kentaean origins that cannot be regarded as fully reliable, although it cannot be entirely dismissed, either not because it is our sole source of information on the matter, but because it contains numerous non-polemical details otherwise unnecessary and even cites Kentaean scriptures from the southeastern Aramaic dialect we know as Mandaic. His account says that in the days of Peroz there was a chief of "this religion" - the Mesopotamian idolatry which he had been discussing making him a priest of Nerig ... named Pappa. He had a slave named Battay ... who first hid with the Jews and then the Manichaeans ... Battay is said to have created the Kentaean religion by introducing the worship of luminaries and the veneration of fire.
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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:58 am

The Mandaean name for the planet Mars = Nerig (= Nergal). Note the Syriac for Luke 3:9:
now then the axe (nareg) is placed on the trees' root
The axe was intimately associated with Nergal - https://books.google.com/books?id=a1W2m ... al&f=false

From Wikipedia:
In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.
sa-ri-bi "fiery one." Nergal the war god sometimes is called sarbu https://books.google.com/books?id=VSAYA ... 22&f=false
From the Hymn to Nergal:
Verily he is mighty; a strong god, with a fiery surrounding he is enveloped ; for weeping he is clothed.
This hymn is particularly interesting also from the fact that the fiery nature of Nergal (Jastrow, p. 67 : Nergal is called 'glowing flame') is especially emphasized (note lines 35-37). Nergal's destructive tendencies are also well described in the reverse, where he is the overwhelming fire and not the fructifying warmth of the sun. Here it should be noted that Dr. Williams Hayes Ward has identified Nergal with a god who appears on the cylinders as surrounded by fire, holding an enemy by the beard, and pushing him against a mountain,
Here is the image - https://books.google.com/books?id=2w0ZA ... in&f=false
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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:29 am

The basic style of the man surrounded by fire in Sumero-Akkadian art is here:

Image
Last edited by Secret Alias on Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:52 am

Different from Nin-ib. who is also a god of war, Nergal symbolizes more particularly the destruction which accompanies war, and not the strong champion who aids his subjects in the fight. Nergal is essentially a destroyer, and the various epithets applied to him in the religious texts, show that he was viewed in this light. He is at times the 'god of fire,' again the raging king,' 'the violent one' 'the one who burns'; and finally identified with the glowing heat of flame. Often, he is described by these attributes, instead of being called by his real name." Dr. Jensen has recently shown in a satisfactory manner, that this phase of his character must be the starting-point in tracing the order of his development. As the “glowing flame,' Nergal is evidently a phase of the sun, and Jensen proves that the functions and aspects of the sun at different periods being differentiated among the Babylonians, Nergal is more especially the hot sun of midsummer or midday, the destructive force of which was the chief feature that distinguished it. The hot sun of Babylonia, that burns with fierce intensity, brings pestilence and death, and carries on a severe contest against man. From being the cause of death, it is but a step, and a natural one, to make Nergal preside over the region, prepared for those whom he destroyed (i.e. the underworld). https://books.google.com/books?id=BxjuI ... 22&f=false
Curious that the Sumero-Akkadian for the epithet 'one who burns (others)' 'burning one' is Sar-ra-pu. Note the etymological relationship with seraph which is an angel in Hebrew - https://books.google.com/books?id=0Y1No ... al&f=false In other words, the underlying relationship is Ignatius (Latin) Pyreios (Greek), Sarrapu ( Sumero-Akkadian), Seraph (Hebrew) Seroph Mandean. On the etymological connection in Semitic languages cf https://books.google.com/books?id=Tznmr ... pu&f=false. There is an obvious connection now between Yahweh manifesting himself on Sinai as a burning fire and this.
Last edited by Secret Alias on Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:07 am

I think by manifesting himself as the 'burning one' (= Nergal) or the one burned by Nergal Peregrinus was facilitating his desire for union with Hercules/Nergal as Lucian references.
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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by arnoldo » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:57 pm

The picture below illustrates that the concept of the fiery furnace still resonated amongst certain people after the time of Peregrinus.

From the Catacombs of Priscilla, Rome, Italy. Late 3rd century / Early 4th century.
220px-Fiery_furnace_02.jpg
220px-Fiery_furnace_02.jpg (19.68 KiB) Viewed 85 times
Note what appears to be a bird flying overhead.

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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:23 am

I am trying to figure out any other possible lines of argument to an actual connection between Nergal and Yahweh. One of the most obvious - at least potentially is the fact that the center of Nergal worship was Kutha. I used to think that the story in 2 Kings 17 about the population of Samaria being mixed with Cutheans was just hostile propaganda. Is there something beneath the surface of this (apparent) crap?
The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns ... the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the Lord. Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. The people from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, those from Kuthah made Nergal, and those from Hamath made Ashima; 31 the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim. They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought. To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. 39 Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.” They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices. Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their ancestors did.
Is this a reference to the two powers theology? I guess we have to start by asking when was the Book of KIngs written. There are two many ridiculous suggestions that it was sixth century BCE. The Pentateuch wasn't written until after the end of the Exile so the citation of Exodus here means it was written after that fact. Secondly, the anti-Samaritan rhetoric wasn't reflective of the Persian period. It was (tentatively) written likely in the period of Alexander and Greek rule. But is there any evidence for that?
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Re: Early Christian Terminology in the Death of Peregrinus

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:25 am

It is interesting to unpack this statement in 2 Kings. First this statement:
To this day they persist in their former practices. They neither worship the Lord nor adhere to the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands that the Lord gave the descendants of Jacob, whom he named Israel. When the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices. You must always be careful to keep the decrees and regulations, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods. Do not forget the covenant I have made with you, and do not worship other gods. Rather, worship the Lord your God; it is he who will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies.”
The assumption clearly at the heart of "whom he named Israel" (אֲשֶׁר-שָׂם שְׁמוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל) is that it was God himself who wrestled with Jacob. When you think of it, this interpretation may be the simplest interpretation of Genesis 32 but it has obvious difficulties (i.e. God is anthropomorphic, Jacob defeated God etc). To this end it is intriguing to see the early Christians engage in the same kinds of debates as the early Israelites viz. the accusation that the Samaritans were 'idolaters' for suggesting there were two gods.

In other words, we can presume that the 'Samaritans' (the ones argued to have been influenced by the idolatry of Kutha) argued that Genesis 32 can't be depicting the Almighty God wrestling and losing to Jacob. This is clearly stupid and debases the god of Israel - but more importantly that is the Samaritan reading today. Nevertheless it necessarily means Israel was not monotheistic - something more explicit in the use of more than one divine name. I read 2 Kings then less in terms of a slight against Samaritans (which is still present in the text) but rather part of an overarching rejection of 'orthodoxy' at that time based in Samaria. In other words, it seems absurd to suggest that Ezra or whomever wrote the Pentateuch intended to depict the Almighty God of the universe as losing a wrestling match with Jacob. This couldn't have been the original meaning of Genesis 32. Nevertheless the author of Kings perhaps in the fourth century was part of an early monarchic effort centered in Jerusalem to - on the one hand - present the story of Israel 'as if' it were about one God (something plainly contradicted by the use of more than one divine name etc) and moreover argue on behalf of a single divine monarchy that fulfilled the 'expectation' of the Pentateuch.

Remember, there is nothing in the Pentateuch which 'looks forward' to a monarchy. The Pentateuch is a document written by priests and for priests. There is no command to build a permanent temple. All that is proscribed is a flimsy 'portable tabernacle.' The point here is that if you just read the Pentateuch you would simply arrive at the conclusion that God only wanted a priesthood carrying out its duties in a portable tent. The author of Kings is necessarily presenting the Judean monarchy as the 'fulfillment' essentially of the Pentateuch even though the Pentateuch doesn't not ask for the raising of a kingdom, it doesn't look forward to it.

How do we know that the author of Kings presents the Judean kingdom in this way? Because the years of the Judean kingdom add up to 345 years a number which equals Moses. The same argument has been used by Samaritans to justify that a man named Mark (Marqa) was the ultimate exegete of the Pentateuch. Moses says that 345 will come in the future. For the author of Kings - or better yet the document 1 and 2 Kings presents the Judean kingdom (the ultimately fictitious portrait of the Judean monarchy in the past) as that fulfillment. It presents the years of the kingdom of Israel as 209 which = 'other' in Hebrew a terms which denotes 'the second class, the one one who comes behind, after' the kingdom of Judea. The point of course is that the primary difference between the Jews and Samaritans in the Second Commonwealth period is that the Samaritans had no messiah, no expectation for a king who would come after Moses. Why is this? Because it isn't in the Pentateuch, none of this in the Torah.

I have to suppose that the one idea led to the other - viz. that the Jewish interest in establishing a political monarchy prompted the writing of the pseudo-history of Kings. In other words, it must have been written in a time period when Jews were actively seeking to demean the traditional understanding and interpretation of the Pentateuch which was entirely apolitical. It was clearly a priestly doctrine by and for priests. The chiding of Samaria in 2 Kings - the accusation that their doctrine of a second god who wrestled with Jacob and named Jacob Israel was shaped by foreign influences - is in fact a way of saying that their apolitical doctrines by and for priests was not the true interpretation of the Torah (which of course it was).

We can of course get a glimpse into what the author of Kings was 'seeing' in the accusation that the traditional understanding (i.e. the Samaritan understanding) was tinged by contact with the 'idolatry' of Cutha. He is essentially saying that the second god of the Samaritans is really a worship of Nergal. This makes some sense when you think about it as you see the second god appear in fire in Exodus 3 and again on top of Sinai in the theophany. Yahweh is similarly a war god in Exodus 15. in fact one can argue that the god who manifests himself in Exodus is a lot like Nergal. Now of course this is a dangerous accusation insofar as both Jews and Samaritans had basically the same text. If you make the argument that the destructive war god who appears in fire is not the second god to a more powerful omnipotent divinity who is heard from heaven (not seen) in the theophany on Sinai you could still make the case that this one and only god was influenced by Nergal. He still has the same attributes. Nevertheless I suspect that the Israelites (both Jews and Samaritans) already had a strong notion that there was one all powerful ruler of the universe distinct from the gods of the pagans. I think it is in this context that the idea of a 'second god' is so offensive. The hatred of foreigners is what drove monotheism.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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