Mary=Matter/physical body?

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nightshadetwine
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Mary=Matter/physical body?

Post by nightshadetwine » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:32 pm

I'm someone who's pretty convinced that the books of the New Testament(and Hebrew scriptures) are highly allegorical and symbolic. I actually think most religious myths are allegorical and symbolic. One idea that I have come across is the idea that Mary or the mother of a lot of the saviors represent matter or the physical body while the savior himself represents the soul/spirit. I wanted to get your opinions on this idea. Maybe some of you are familiar with this and know more about it.

From "The Lost Light: An Interpretation of Ancient Scriptures" by Alvin Boyd Kuhn:
Now man is distinctly a creature compounded of two natures, a higher and a lower, a spiritual and a sensual, a divine and a human, a mortal and an immortal, and finally a fiery and a watery, conjoined in a mutual relationship in the organic body of flesh. Says Heraclitus: "Man is a
portion of cosmic fire, imprisoned in a body of earth and water."... Our natural body gives the soul of man its baptism by water; our nascent spiritual body is to give us the later baptism by fire! We are born first as the natural man; then as the spiritual. Or we are born first by water and then by fire...The virgin mothers are all identified with water as symbol and their various names, such as Meri, Mary, Venus (born of the sea-foam), Tiamat, Typhon and Thallath (Greek for "sea") are designations for water...In the Pistis Sophia of the Gnostics the doctrine of the incubation finds clear expression when Jesus says: "I found Mary, who is called my mother, after the material body; I implanted in her the first power which I had received from the hands of Barbelo, and I planted in her the power which I had received from the hands of the great, the good Sabaoth" (Mead’s Trans., Bk. I, 13). It is of transcendent importance to note that the Greek (Gnostic) work directly identifies Mary, the mother of divinity, with the physical body! Let Christian theology be advised of the long-lost truth of this matter. The mother in all ancient allegories typifies nothing more than the physical body which in man becomes the womb or matrix in which the radiant Christ-body of spirit is brought to birth.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Mary=Matter/physical body?

Post by GakuseiDon » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:49 pm

I wonder if Plutarch might not provide support towards something similar, when describing the relationships between Osiris, Isis and Horus:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/plu/pte/pte04.htm

For Isis is the Female Principle of Nature, and that which is capable of receiving all generation, in virtue of which she is styled by Plato, "Nurse," and "All-receiving," but by the generality, "The one of numberless names;" because she is converted by the Logos (Reason) into, and receives, all appearances and forms. But she has, implanted in her nature, the love for the First and Supreme of all, the which is identical with the Good...

... of herself always inclining towards the Better One, and permitting it to generate and discharge into herself emissions and likenesses, wherewith she rejoices and is glad to be impregnated, and to be filled with births—for birth is an image of existence in Matter, and that which is born is a copy of that which is...


Also:

... Now the better and more divine Nature is made up of Three—the Intelligible, Matter, and that formed out of these two, which the Greeks denominate World. Plato calls the Intelligible "Idea," "Model," "Father," and Matter he terms "Mother," "Nurse," the seat and receptacle of generation; and that which results from both he is accustomed to denominate "Issue," and "Birth," and we may conjecture that the Egyptians [reverence] the most beautiful kind of triangle, because they liken it to the nature of the universe... We must therefore compare the line forming the right angle to the male, the base to the female, the hypothenuse to the child of the two; and the one to be Osiris, as the Final Cause; the other, Isis as the recipient; the third, Horus as the result...

Also:

... And as they hold and believe the Nile the issue of Osiris, so do they regard the earth as the body of Isis: not indeed the whole earth but just as much as the Nile inundates, fecundating and mingling with it; for from the union they beget Horus. Horus is that which preserves and nourishes all thing, namely the Seasons and the regulator of the circumambient air...
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

nightshadetwine
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Re: Mary=Matter/physical body?

Post by nightshadetwine » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:13 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:49 pm
I wonder if Plutarch might not provide support towards something similar, when describing the relationships between Osiris, Isis and Horus:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/plu/pte/pte04.htm

For Isis is the Female Principle of Nature, and that which is capable of receiving all generation, in virtue of which she is styled by Plato, "Nurse," and "All-receiving," but by the generality, "The one of numberless names;" because she is converted by the Logos (Reason) into, and receives, all appearances and forms. But she has, implanted in her nature, the love for the First and Supreme of all, the which is identical with the Good...

... of herself always inclining towards the Better One, and permitting it to generate and discharge into herself emissions and likenesses, wherewith she rejoices and is glad to be impregnated, and to be filled with births—for birth is an image of existence in Matter, and that which is born is a copy of that which is...


Also:

... Now the better and more divine Nature is made up of Three—the Intelligible, Matter, and that formed out of these two, which the Greeks denominate World. Plato calls the Intelligible "Idea," "Model," "Father," and Matter he terms "Mother," "Nurse," the seat and receptacle of generation; and that which results from both he is accustomed to denominate "Issue," and "Birth," and we may conjecture that the Egyptians [reverence] the most beautiful kind of triangle, because they liken it to the nature of the universe... We must therefore compare the line forming the right angle to the male, the base to the female, the hypothenuse to the child of the two; and the one to be Osiris, as the Final Cause; the other, Isis as the recipient; the third, Horus as the result...

Also:

... And as they hold and believe the Nile the issue of Osiris, so do they regard the earth as the body of Isis: not indeed the whole earth but just as much as the Nile inundates, fecundating and mingling with it; for from the union they beget Horus. Horus is that which preserves and nourishes all thing, namely the Seasons and the regulator of the circumambient air...
Yeah! I was almost going to add this to my original post.

nightshadetwine
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Re: Mary=Matter/physical body?

Post by nightshadetwine » Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:55 pm

There seems to be a tradition of 'mother-matter'. The father(god,spirit) impregnates the mother(matter) and she gives birth to the son(spirit-matter).

From A Story of the Soul’s Journey in the Nag Hammadi Library: A Study of Authentikos Logos By Ulla Tervahauta:
The active principle (cause, god, or...) is always present in matter, giving it some quality or another...The active and passive aspects and interaction of cause and matter are rooted in Platonic and Aristotelian traditions...many Platonists identified the mother-principle as and considered it corporeal and fundamentally opposite to the incorporeal God...The Timaeus-based mother-matter image can be encountered in works of several Platonists who were active from the first centuries CE onwards.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Mary=Matter/physical body?

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:54 pm

nightshadetwine wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:55 pm
There seems to be a tradition of 'mother-matter'. The father(god,spirit) impregnates the mother(matter) and she gives birth to the son(spirit-matter).
Yes, but... isn't that tradition inevitable? We see reproduction within nature. Reproduction is a female function, thus "Mother" Nature. It isn't too far then to have the Father as the one sending the rain to fill the rivers and water the ground, and the fruit of nature as the son. See the quote from Plutarch above, where "Father" Osiris is the one to fill the Nile, that 'impregnates' the earth which is "Mother" Isis.

The thing is: the stories that Plutarch is re-interpreting are almost certainly (at least as far as I understand) based on very old myths of an Osiris walking around Egypt, marrying Isis, getting chopped up and thrown in the Nile, etc. It is later writers like Plutarch and other allegorists that derive a cosmic meaning from these old myths. They are re-interpreting these old myths, to find a meaning in their own day, and then seeing that meaning as being there from the very start, when the earthly myths were first created.

We see early Christian writers like Origen doing something along those lines. And that re-interpreting process continues today. IMHO Earl Doherty and our own Giuseppe are modern day Plutarchs and Origens: taking the old stories and finding a cosmic drama within them, of a celestial Jesus crucified by Satan and demons in some larger mythical realm. And then seeing that that meaning was there from the beginning.

Later writers took the myth of Attis doing all kinds of things, and found a more philosophical pleasing interpretation to them. I think the Attis myths were originally meant to be taken at face-value. Re-interpreting them as stories about nature doesn't mean that the newer interpretation was there at the beginning.

Assume for argument's sake that the Gospel of Mark was a simple hagiography about Jesus. No larger meaning intended. You could still go through it and pull out "Mary" as Mother Nature, God or the Holy Spirit as the Father impregnating the Mother, and Jesus as the fruit that nourishes the world. Or whatever you like: the Gospel as a retelling of the Old Testament, or a retelling of the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. It's not shining a light on the Gospel, but rather on the imagination of the allegorist.

I'd be interested in seeing the argument that the Gospels were in fact originally meant to be allegorical in the first place, as the prerequisite to investigating the allegorical meaning behind them.

(Nightshadetwine, I'll note here that I have no academic qualifications in ancient cultures, no skills in ancient languages. It's just that I've read a lot of primary sources and secondary sources in English translations, and have built up my own 'head space' about what we find in the ancient writings.)
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

nightshadetwine
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Re: Mary=Matter/physical body?

Post by nightshadetwine » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:03 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:54 pm
Yes, but... isn't that tradition inevitable? We see reproduction within nature. Reproduction is a female function, thus "Mother" Nature. It isn't too far then to have the Father as the one sending the rain to fill the rivers and water the ground, and the fruit of nature as the son. See the quote from Plutarch above, where "Father" Osiris is the one to fill the Nile, that 'impregnates' the earth which is "Mother" Isis.

The thing is: the stories that Plutarch is re-interpreting are almost certainly (at least as far as I understand) based on very old myths of an Osiris walking around Egypt, marrying Isis, getting chopped up and thrown in the Nile, etc. It is later writers like Plutarch and other allegorists that derive a cosmic meaning from these old myths. They are re-interpreting these old myths, to find a meaning in their own day, and then seeing that meaning as being there from the very start, when the earthly myths were first created.
What I think may have happened is that these myths were meant to have allegorical meanings from the beginning. For example, maybe Osiris is based on some historical king but the mythical Osiris(as opposed to any possible historical Osiris) was "created" to convey this concept of the interaction between spirit and matter. As time went on people may have started taking it more literally and even believed that the myth actually happened. So maybe the Platonists weren't re-interpreting myths but actually interpreting them correctly. I suspect that the more educated and the 'priesthoods' may have known the allegorical meaning behind these myths.
Later writers took the myth of Attis doing all kinds of things, and found a more philosophical pleasing interpretation to them. I think the Attis myths were originally meant to be taken at face-value. Re-interpreting them as stories about nature doesn't mean that the newer interpretation was there at the beginning.

Assume for argument's sake that the Gospel of Mark was a simple hagiography about Jesus. No larger meaning intended. You could still go through it and pull out "Mary" as Mother Nature, God or the Holy Spirit as the Father impregnating the Mother, and Jesus as the fruit that nourishes the world. Or whatever you like: the Gospel as a retelling of the Old Testament, or a retelling of the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. It's not shining a light on the Gospel, but rather on the imagination of the allegorist.
This idea that people were taking these myths and just coming up with their own allegorical interpretation is something I'm starting to doubt. I mean, of course some people did that but I think these stories may have originally been allegories. So there may be some historical aspects in these myths/stories and they may have even based some of the characters on historical people but they used these historical settings and characters to tell an allegorical story. The stories being allegories for spiritual/religious ideas.
I'd be interested in seeing the argument that the Gospels were in fact originally meant to be allegorical in the first place, as the prerequisite to investigating the allegorical meaning behind them.

(Nightshadetwine, I'll note here that I have no academic qualifications in ancient cultures, no skills in ancient languages. It's just that I've read a lot of primary sources and secondary sources in English translations, and have built up my own 'head space' about what we find in the ancient writings.)
I have no academic qualifications either, it's just a subject I like to read up on. After reading about all these myths I suspect that they may be allegorical. For example, here's a quote that explains the main allegorical meaning that I suspect may be behind these stories:
The stories were devised to convey cosmical history, theogony, anthropogenesis, and finally individual experience of humans in the psycho-physiological development of mortal life. The whole cycle of the history of unfolding divinity in humanity was dramatized for stage enactment in the annual round of Mystery festivals. And portions of this drama have filtered down into the ritualism of practically every religion in the world. The epic of the human soul in earthly embodiment was the theme of every ancient poet and dramatist, and each strove to dress out the elements of the struggle in a new allegorical garb, with a new hero, whether Achilles, Hercules, Horus, Theseus, Aeneas, Orpheus, Jason, Dionysus, Buddha, Ulysses or Jesus, enacting the central role of the divine genius conquering the animal nature...And novelty could be introduced only by the device of depicting the soul’s experiences under a new allegorical situation, symbolizing afresh the old, old story of the immortal spirit’s immersion in the sea of matter. In all, combats with dragons, wrestling with serpents, harassments by brute creatures, enchantments by Sirens, plottings of conspirators, imprisonment in dungeons and struggling through to an ultimate return to the original home of felicity, find their place. In one type of adventure after another the many features of the history of the divine Ego in its progress from earth back to the skies were allegorically portrayed. Every aspect of the experience had its appropriate myth...The study shifts to another aspect of the water symbolism, but one intimately related to the baptism, if it is not but another typing of the same thing. It is one of the most frequent of religious figurations, and demands sufficient attention to settle clearly its function and scope. This is "the crossing of the waters." Best known are the Biblical crossing of the Red (Reed) Sea and the Jordan, the classical ferrying of the souls of the departed over the underworld Styx by Charon in the Greek mythos, the crossing of the sea by Ulysses and Aeneas in the Odyssey and the Aeneid, the crossing of the Euxine Sea by Jason, and others. Baptism by immersion was a simple glyph of the incarnation[of soul/spirit into physical body/matter and then out again], but a crossing of some water permitted a more extended play of fancy to elaborate the symbolism...The crossing of a stream was a serviceable allegory of the passage of the life spark through and across its span of experience in the watery body[physical body]. As the crossing involved the use of a boat or ark, the chain of ideas carries the research into the whole mass of material dealing with the crossing, the Passover, the cross, the ark and the flood or deluge.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Mary=Matter/physical body?

Post by MrMacSon » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:10 pm

nightshadetwine wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:55 pm

There seems to be a tradition of 'mother-matter'. The father(god,spirit) impregnates the mother(matter) and she gives birth to the son(spirit-matter).
From 'A Story of the Soul’s Journey in the Nag Hammadi Library: A Study of Authentikos Logos' by Ulla Tervahauta:
The active principle (cause, god, or...) is always present in matter, giving it some quality or another...The active and passive aspects and interaction of cause and matter are rooted in Platonic and Aristotelian traditions...many Platonists identified the mother-principle as and considered it corporeal and fundamentally opposite to the incorporeal God...The Timaeus-based mother-matter image can be encountered in works of several Platonists who were active from the first centuries CE onwards.

'A Story of the Soul’s Journey in the Nag Hammadi Library: a Study of Authentikos Logos', by Ulla Tervahauta, looks like an interesting work, with a major theme of "the journey of the soul from above to a life on earth and the soul's ascent after a life below" [Introduction, p. 14].

" ... there is some distinctly Christian terminology in the writing, such as the emphatic reference to following the evangelists (35:4-6), a reference to the virgin (..), and the unfavourable comparison of criticised peoples with pagans in connection with apparently Christian polemics (33:4 - 34:32)." [Introduction, p.11]


Tervahauta places Authentikos Logos

"in its context within early Christian traditions ... the Christianity of the third and fourth centuries CE, and the ascetic and monastic currents that drew from the well of the Christian Platonic, including Origenist heritage, but also... [drew] from second to early third century sources, such as the Gospel of Mary, and the Apocryphon of John, and perhaps Valentinian and Sethian traditions." [p.11]

and proposes

.
... it is a Christian writing with ascetic emphasis that could originate within early Egyptian7 Christianity. [Introduction, p.12].

. . 7 ... understood broadly, not only as Coptic, but Coptic and Greek-speaking Christianity that connects with ascetic traditions elsewhere; one needs to keep in mind the close connection of Egyptian Christianity with Palestine, and other areas of the late Roman world. For example, Origen fled Alexandria in 231 to Caesarea, and Egyptian monks were influential in the development of Palestinian monastacism. For the latter, see Bitton-Ashekolny & Kofskey (eds.), The Monastic School of Gaza (VCSup 78; Leiden, Brill, 2006), 6-7).
.


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GakuseiDon
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Re: Mary=Matter/physical body?

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:51 pm

nightshadetwine wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:03 pm
What I think may have happened is that these myths were meant to have allegorical meanings from the beginning. For example, maybe Osiris is based on some historical king but the mythical Osiris(as opposed to any possible historical Osiris) was "created" to convey this concept of the interaction between spirit and matter. As time went on people may have started taking it more literally and even believed that the myth actually happened. So maybe the Platonists weren't re-interpreting myths but actually interpreting them correctly. I suspect that the more educated and the 'priesthoods' may have known the allegorical meaning behind these myths.
It's certainly possible.
nightshadetwine wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:03 pm
This idea that people were taking these myths and just coming up with their own allegorical interpretation is something I'm starting to doubt. I mean, of course some people did that but I think these stories may have originally been allegories. So there may be some historical aspects in these myths/stories and they may have even based some of the characters on historical people but they used these historical settings and characters to tell an allegorical story. The stories being allegories for spiritual/religious ideas.
Yes, it would be wrong to dismiss the idea out of hand. Again, it's certainly possible, and I look forward to what you find on this. The Gospels were written at a time when 'allegorizing' interpretations were happening, so that counts towards your theory.
nightshadetwine wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:03 pm
I have no academic qualifications either, it's just a subject I like to read up on. After reading about all these myths I suspect that they may be allegorical.
Ancient writings are endlessly fascinating! I've always wondered about living in a time where you could go outside, look up, and see where the gods dwelt, above where the air meets the firmament, and where in the air invisible daemons lived. How did that impact their thinking? How does removing that layer of heaven and air-dwelling demons from our modern daily lives impact our religious thinking today? Wonderful to think about.
nightshadetwine wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:03 pm
For example, here's a quote that explains the main allegorical meaning that I suspect may be behind these stories:
The stories were devised to convey cosmical history, theogony, anthropogenesis, and finally individual experience of humans in the psycho-physiological development of mortal life. The whole cycle of the history of unfolding divinity in humanity was dramatized for stage enactment in the annual round of Mystery festivals. And portions of this drama have filtered down into the ritualism of practically every religion in the world. The epic of the human soul in earthly embodiment was the theme of every ancient poet and dramatist, and each strove to dress out the elements of the struggle in a new allegorical garb, with a new hero, whether Achilles, Hercules, Horus, Theseus, Aeneas, Orpheus, Jason, Dionysus, Buddha, Ulysses or Jesus, enacting the central role of the divine genius conquering the animal nature...And novelty could be introduced only by the device of depicting the soul’s experiences under a new allegorical situation, symbolizing afresh the old, old story of the immortal spirit’s immersion in the sea of matter. In all, combats with dragons, wrestling with serpents, harassments by brute creatures, enchantments by Sirens, plottings of conspirators, imprisonment in dungeons and struggling through to an ultimate return to the original home of felicity, find their place. In one type of adventure after another the many features of the history of the divine Ego in its progress from earth back to the skies were allegorically portrayed. Every aspect of the experience had its appropriate myth...The study shifts to another aspect of the water symbolism, but one intimately related to the baptism, if it is not but another typing of the same thing. It is one of the most frequent of religious figurations, and demands sufficient attention to settle clearly its function and scope. This is "the crossing of the waters." Best known are the Biblical crossing of the Red (Reed) Sea and the Jordan, the classical ferrying of the souls of the departed over the underworld Styx by Charon in the Greek mythos, the crossing of the sea by Ulysses and Aeneas in the Odyssey and the Aeneid, the crossing of the Euxine Sea by Jason, and others. Baptism by immersion was a simple glyph of the incarnation[of soul/spirit into physical body/matter and then out again], but a crossing of some water permitted a more extended play of fancy to elaborate the symbolism...The crossing of a stream was a serviceable allegory of the passage of the life spark through and across its span of experience in the watery body[physical body]. As the crossing involved the use of a boat or ark, the chain of ideas carries the research into the whole mass of material dealing with the crossing, the Passover, the cross, the ark and the flood or deluge.
It reminds me of Tatian's complaint about how the Greeks viewed the stories about the gods depicted in Homer, in his "Address to the Greeks":
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... dress.html
If you speak of the origin of the gods, you also declare them to be mortal.

For what reason is Hera now never pregnant? Has she grown old? or is there no one to give you information? Believe me now, O Greeks, and do not resolve your myths and gods into allegory. If you attempt to do this, the divine nature as held by you is overthrown by your own selves; for, if the demons with you are such as they are said to be, they are worthless as to character; or, if regarded as symbols of the powers of nature, they are not what they are called. But I cannot be persuaded to pay religious homage to the natural elements, nor can I undertake to persuade my neighbour. And Metrodorus of Lampsacus, in his treatise concerning Homer, has argued very foolishly, turning everything into allegory. For he says that neither Hera, nor Athene, nor Zeus are what those persons suppose who consecrate to them sacred enclosures and groves, but parts of nature and certain arrangements of the elements. Hector also, and Achilles, and Agamemnon, and all the Greeks in general, and the Barbarians with Helen and Paris, being of the same nature, you will of course say are introduced merely for the sake of the machinery of the poem, not one of these personages having really existed.
So 'allegorizing' was in the air.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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