H. Detering," The Gnostic meaning of the Exodus"- A commentary

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nightshadetwine
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H. Detering," The Gnostic meaning of the Exodus"- A commentary

Post by nightshadetwine » Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:37 pm

I've been reading this series of posts over at http://www.mythicistpapers.com/2018/10/ ... ary-pt-38/ and I think the Egyptian books of the afterlife support some of the conclusions Detering and Rene Salm come to regarding allegorical meanings of "crossing over" water and baptism in the NT.

From the posts:
Beginning with the gnostic interpretation of the Exodus motif and the question of its origin, we have arrived at an element of critical importance: the metaphor of transcendence, expressed figuratively as [reaching] the “other shore”... Once the Buddhist origin of the Therapeutae is seen as plausible, it can be shown that their central mystery consisted of an interpretation of the Exodus, an interpretation based upon Buddhist sources. This interpretation, in turn, was the seed of the Christian sacrament of baptism... In Mark’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly crosses the Sea of Galilee ‘to the other side.’ Detering’s analysis and the foregoing discussions now open the door to an allegorical understanding of those Marcan passages. According to the foregoing view, earliest Christianity was a religion of ‘crossing over.’ Both Dr. Detering and myself have argued that ‘the other side’ was originally a gnostic construct: the transformation from ignorance to gnosis...

"One encounters the expression “to the other side" (eis to peran) astonishingly often in the canonical gospels: 4 times in Matthew, 5 times in Mark, and once in Luke—a total of 11 times. In comparison, the expression occurs only 9 times in the entire Old Testament. Mark employs the phrase in three distinctive passages: at the stilling of the storm (4:35 f), at the crossing of the sea (6:45 f), and at the multiplication of loaves (8:13 f). "[H. Detering, p. 64]

I have long been convinced that the repeated ‘crossings over’ of the Sea of Galilee in GMark are allegorical. As actual events they are immediately problematical, for no purpose is served in ‘crossing over,’ while the destination is unimportant. Detering also notes the ambiguity of Mark’s language—in two of three ‘crossing’ passages, the evangelist does not specify a destination. “This is not about travel itineraries and geography,” Detering writes, “but is a metaphor for reaching the world beyond"
In the ancient Egyptian texts of the afterlife the deceased along with the sun god cross waters on boats until they eventually "cross over" to the "other side". The journey through the netherworld is a transition/transformation/transfiguration that the deceased and sun god go through. The waters have to be crossed when they first enter the netherworld from the land of the living and then again when they make their way through and out of the netherworld into a "heavenly" realm. While the sun god is in the netherworld he goes through a baptism/renewal, transfiguration, resurrection/rebirth, raises the dead for judgement, etc. A lot of the same motifs you find in the NT.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day Eva Von Dassow
...the dominant theme of the work is the land and water routes through the beyond...What the two paths represent is subject to much debate, but clearly the deceased must travel before reaching his or her final destination in the next world, a motif which constantly recurs in the BD
In the following quote the sun god "calms the storm" in the netherworld and helps the deceased "proceed in peace".
http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/coffintext.htm
By the center of the last section of this text, we find three boats, all of which may perhaps be intended as the solar barque, from which the serpent Apophis must be repelled. In spell 1,130, the "Lord of All" gives us his final monologue from his barque:

WORDS SPOKEN BY HIM WHOSE NAMES ARE HIDDEN.
The Lord to the Limit speaks
before those who still the storm, at the sailing of the entourage:

'Proceed in peace!
I shall repeat to you four good deeds
that my own heart made for me
within the serpent's coils, for love of stilling evil.
I did four good deeds within the portals of the horizon:

I made the four winds that every man might breathe in his place.
This is one deed thereof.

I made the great inundation, that the wretched should have power over it like the great.
This is one deed thereof.
I made every man like his fellow;
I did not ordain them to do evil, (but) it was their own hearts which destroyed that which I pronounced. *
This is one deed thereof.
I made that their hearts should refrain from ignoring the west,
for love of making offerings to the gods of the nomes.
This is one deed thereof.
I created the gods from my sweat.
Man is from the tears of my eye.

I shine, and am seen every day
in this authority of the Lord to the Limit.
I made the night for the Weary-hearted. **
I will sail aright in my bark;
I am the lord of the waters, crossing heaven.
I do not suffer for any of my limbs.
Utterance together with Magic
are felling for me that evil being.
I shall see the horizon and dwell within it.
I shall judge the wretch from the powerful,
and do likewise against the evildoers.
Life is mine; I am its lord.
The sceptre shall not be taken from my hand.
I have placed millions of years
between me and that Weary-hearted one, the son of Geb;
then I shall dwell with him in one place.
Mounds will be towns.
Towns will be mounds.
Mansion will destroy mansion.'

I am the lord of fire who lives on truth,
the lord of eternity, maker of joy, against whom the otherworldly serpents have not rebelled.
I am the god in his shrine, the lord of slaughter, WHO CALMS THE STORM,
who drives off the serpents, the many-named who comes forth from his shrine,
the lord of winds who foretells the northwind,
many-named in the mouth of the ennead,
lord of the horizon, creator of light,
who illumines heaven with his own beauty.
I am he! Make way for me
so that I shall see Niu and Amen.
For I am a blessed spirit, equipped with otherworldly knowledge;
I shall pass by the fearful ones -
They cannot speak (the spell) which is on the end of the book-roll;
they cannot speak for fear of him whose name is concealed, who is within my body.
I know him; I am not ignorant of him.
I am equipped, excellent in opening portals.

As for any man who knows this spell,
he shall be like Re in the east of heaven,
like Osiris within the Netherworld;
he descends into the entourage of fire,
without there being a flame being against him, for all time and eternity!
Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt by Jan Assmann
This first phase was carried out in the name of purification. Everything “foul,” that is, everything perishable that could represent a danger to the goal of achieving an eternal form, was removed from the body. For this reason, in the few representations of the embalming ritual, this phase is represented as a purifying bath. The corpse lay “on” (that is, in) a basin, and water was poured over it. The Egyptian word for such a basin is sj, “lake,” and such a “lake” is mentioned repeatedly in the accompanying spells, some of which we shall cite in chapter 5. Old Kingdom inscriptions describe the deceased’s crossing into the afterlife with turns of expression such as the following:

Going down into his house of eternity in very great peace,
that he might be provisioned by Anubis and Khentamentiu
after a mortuary offering is brought for him at the opening of the shaft,
after crossing the lake after he is transfigured by the lector priests.
Setting out to the western mountain,
after crossing the lake while he was transfigured by the lector priest
and the rites were carried out for him by the embalmer in the presence of
Anubis.
May the crossing of the lake be earned, out for him,
may he be transfigured through the carrying out of the rites by the lector priest.

“Crossing the lake” and “transfigured,” that is, being changed into a transfigured ancestral spirit by the lector priest, who recited the funerary liturgies from a roll of papyrus, often go closely together. Both turns of expression refer to the embalming, the one to its physical and the other to its spiritual-magical aspect. The phrase “crossing the lake” refers to passing safe and sound through the purification phase.
It seems to me that there is another central motif here, one that Hornung has also connected with the idea of regeneration: the motif of the primeval waters. In the netherworld, the deceased, just like the sun god, comes into contact with elements of the pre-cosmos or preexistence, that “primal matter” (so Hornung) out of which the cosmos emerged at the beginning and which remained ever present as the source of regen-
eration. Every morning, the sun god emerged from the primeval waters, and the annual Nile inundation that renewed the fertility of the land also fed on these netherworldly primeval waters.

we live again anew,
after we enter the primeval water,
and it has rejuvenated us into one who is young for the first time.
The old man is shed, a new one is made .
Thus, the external fact of the place where it was represented already reveals that the renewal of the sun god in the depths of the world has to do with a mystery. In hymns, mortuary texts, and other genres of Egyptian literature, only brief turns of expression allude to this mystery, which receives detailed verbal and visual representation in only one genre: the Books of the Netherworld...During this journey, the sun god descends into the netherworld, waking the dead from their sleep, giving them light and air, and addressing them with his regal words; he grants them nourishment, judges the evil, overcomes the dragon Apopis, who opposes him even here, decides the fate of the dead, and unites himself with Osiris, who is his corpse. From this union, he gains the power of renewal.
The Search for God in Ancient Egypt By Jan Assmann
A major part of the Egyptians' astronomical knowledge served specifically to measure time, especially the lunar month, whose beginning rested on observation, not calculation, as well as the hours, whose length varied--for day and night, from sunrise to sunset and sunset to sunrise, were always each divided into twelve segments of equal length. Above all, however, this knowledge was related to the course of the sun, which was conceived of as a journey through the sky and the netherworld and described down to the last detail...Whence does the king--or the priest who represents him in the cult--derive this knowledge? From a literature that describes it's own function thus (I cite here the title of the Amduat):
Knowing what is in the hours and their gods
knowing the course of the hours and their gods,
knowing their "transfigurations" for Re,
Knowing what he cries out to them,
knowing the flourishing ones and the annihilated ones.
Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: The One and the Many by Erik Hornung
in his daily descent into the realm of the dead the sun god Re must also become “Osiris,” for he dies and appears in the underworld as a “corpse.” But in this case the Egyptians imagine that there is a true union. Unlike the rest of the deceased, Re does not assume the title “Osiris”; instead he incorporates the ruler of the dead into his own being so profoundly that both have one body and can “speak with one mouth.” Osiris does indeed seem to be absorbed into Re, and becomes the night sun, which awakens the underworld dwellers from the sleep of death.
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Richard H. Wilkinson
The great sun god Re was thought to grow old each day and to 'die' each night(though for the same reason, specific mention of the god's death is not found), and then to be born or resurrected each day at dawn."
Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt By John H. Taylor
The first stage was the purification of the corpse by washing...According to Egyptian belief, water held important purifying and life giving qualities. Each dawn was a repetition of the original birth of the sun god from the watery chaos of Nun. Hence lustration came to be closely associated with rebirth...A ritual purification was necessary before the dead king could ascend to heaven...The 'hery seshta' was closely linked with the god Anubis, who had mummified Osiris, according to mythology. In the ritualized process of mummification the deceased was identified with Osiris.
The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife By Erik Hornung
The nightly journey of the sun is the focus of all the books of the Netherworld...This nocturnal regeneration of the sun demonstrates, by the way of example, what powers of renewal are at work on the far side of death. At the same time, the journey occurs in the spaces of the human soul, in which a renewal from the depths becomes possible...The nocturnal journey leads through an inner region of the cosmos that was regarded not only as the netherworld and the depths of the earth, but also as water (the primeval water, called Nun)

nightshadetwine
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:35 am

Re: H. Detering," The Gnostic meaning of the Exodus"- A commentary

Post by nightshadetwine » Sun Dec 02, 2018 10:56 pm

http://www.mythicistpapers.com/2018/10/ ... ary-pt-38/
We have seen that ancient sources (including some Church Fathers) considered the Therapeutae to be Christians. Detering agrees. Furthermore, he proposes that Therapeutic teaching and praxis link on the one hand back to Buddhism, and on the other hand forward to Christian gnostic doctrine. The nub of this link derives from the sect’s view regarding ‘crossing over’—a critical concept meaning many things, but particularly the self-transformation from ignorance to gnosis (death to life, darkness to light, etc). For Detering, this central concept also links the Therapeutae with Joshua ben Nun and with a core event in Jewish mythology: the crossing of the Jordan River. That crossing, so vital in Jewish mythology, was reinterpreted by early Christian gnostics in a spiritual way. Their reinterpretation, in turn, was known to the evangelist Mark. In Mark’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly crosses the Sea of Galilee ‘to the other side.’ Detering’s analysis and the foregoing discussions now open the door to an allegorical understanding of those Marcan passages.
This concept of "crossing over" isn't unique to Christianity and Buddhism. That's not to say that I don't think there's any Buddhist influence on Christianity, I think the authors of the NT were most likely pretty knowledgeable on the different religions/cults in that area during that time period, but you can find this concept of "crossing over" or "death to life, darkness to light" within Greco-Roman-Egyptian religion which obviously had an influence on Christianity. This is what happened to the initiate in the mystery cults. They were purified, reborn/resurrected and went from "darkness to light" like the deceased and sun god in the ancient Egyptian books of the netherworld and the pharaoh in his coronation rituals. Some of the ancient Egyptian mortuary and royal coronation rituals survived in the Greco-Roman mysteries of Isis.

Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt by Jan Assmann
It is not until the reign of Hadrian, that is, in the first half of the second century C.E., that we encounter such a text, and we find ourselves no longer in an Egyptian, but an Egyptianizing, context. But the text is so rich in genuinely Egyptian allusions, and it touches so closely on our theme that it is well worth considering here.

The text in question deals with the initiation of Lucius into the mysteries of Isis, as related by Apuleius in his novel "The Golden Ass.” The scene is not Egypt but Cenchreae, the harbor of Corinth, where there was an Isis sanctuary. In the Hellenistic Isis religion, the goddess embodied her
adherents’ hope for eternal life, and she brought a great deal from her Egyptian past to this role. It was she who had awakened Osiris to new life
through the power of her magical spells. And since, according to Egyptian belief, every individual became an Osiris by means of the mortuary rituals, his hope for immortality depended on Isis as well. There is good reason to think that ancient Egyptian burial customs lived on in the Hellenistic Isis mysteries, though in the latter case, they were enacted and interpreted not as a burial of the deceased but as an initiation of the living.

When Lucius, who has been transformed back from an ass into a man, wishes to be initiated into the mysteries of Isis, the priest advises caution:

For the doorbolt of the netherworld and its saving protection lie in the hand
of the goddess, and the ordination itself is celebrated as the reflection of a
voluntary death and a salvation granted upon request. For when a lifetime
is over and men stand on the threshold where light ends, then the goddess
calls back from the netherworld those to whom the great mystery of
religion was confidently entrusted, and she sets those who have in a certain
sense been reborn through their providence once again on the course of a
new life.

Initiation thus clearly had the sense of a prefiguration of death, one that conveyed to the mystic a divine presence that otherwise, according to the Egyptian view of things, was imparted only to the ritually “transfigured” dead. By voluntarily experiencing this symbolic death, the mystic qualified himself to be brought back to life by Isis on the day of his actual death.

When the day of the initiation finally comes, Lucius is first bathed (baptized), and the priest “expresses the forgiveness of the gods.” The bath thus has the sacramental sense of a remission of sins.

Lucius is initiated into the mysteries of the netherworld. He carries out the descensus of the sun god, descending into the netherworld and beholding the sun at midnight. With these sentences, we cannot help but think of the Books of the Netherworld that are to be found on the walls of the Ramesside royal tombs and in the Osireion at Abydos. We may imagine that the mystic was led into similarly decorated rooms — perhaps the crypts — of a temple. In any case, the process seems to be a symbolic journey through the netherworld, in which the netherworld is depicted, in an entirely Egyptian sense, as the subterranean realm of the midnight sun.
Dionysos by Richard Seaford
The god then describes the strange behaviour of Pentheus failing to bind him within the house. Details of this behaviour, and of the experience of the chorus, reappear in accounts of mystic initiation, notably in a fragment of Plutarch (178) in which he compares the experience of dying with the experience of mystic initiation: in both passages there are exhausting runnings around, uncompleted journeys through darkness, fear, trembling, sweat, and then light in the darkness. And they also appear in the description, in the Acts of the Apostles(16.25–9), of the miraculous liberation from prison at Philippi: the missionaries of the new religion, Paul and Silas, are imprisoned, singing to their god in the darkness of midnight when there is a sudden earthquake, and (as at Bacchae 447–8) the doors open and the chains fall away from the prisoners. The gaoler seizes a sword, is reassured by Paul that the prisoners are still there, asks for light, rushes inside, falls trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas, and is converted to Christianity. So too Pentheus seizes sword, rushes inside into the darkness, and finally collapses, while Dionysos remains calm throughout and reassures Pentheus that he will not escape. But Pentheus – in attacking with his sword the light made by the god in the darkness –expresses his obdurate resistance to being initiated/converted (antithetically to the chorus, and to the gaoler at Philippi).The Bacchae passage is also similar in several respects to the various accounts in Acts of the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus. Here the persecutor of the new religion is converted (like the gaoler at Philippi, and in contrast to Pentheus). Divine intervention is sudden (Bacchae576, Acts9.3, 16.26). The group hears the voice of the god but does not see him (Bacchae576–95, Acts9.7). To the lightning in Bacchae corresponds the description of the light appearing to Saul in terms of lightning (9.3, 22.6). The Dionysiac chorus falls to the ground and Pentheus collapses, and Saul falls to the ground (as does also, at 26.14, the group that accompanies him). The command to rise up, marking the transition, is given by Dionysos to the chorus and by the Lord to Saul. The chorus and Pentheus identify Dionysos with light; Saul saw the Lord, and it has been inferred that ‘Saul’s companions saw only a formless glare where he himself saw in it the figure of Jesus’(Haenchen)... For instance, as the culmination of Pentheus’ anxiety there appears a miraculous light, which he attacks with a sword, identifying it with the god (editors, not understanding the mystic allusion, generally change the manuscript ‘light’ to ‘apparition’). This corresponds with the mystic light (in the darkness) that brings salvation. Whereas the isolated and terrified chorus-members greet Dionysos as ‘greatest light’, Pentheus persists– horrifyingly – in his stubborn hostility. Why is his persistent hostility so horrifying? Because the light appearing in the darkness transformed the ignorant suffering of the initiand into enlightened joy. And there is more to it than that. Plutarch(fragment 178) compares the experience of the soul at death to mystic initiation: he describes various agitated experiences (much like those of Pentheus) that are transformed into bliss by the appearance of a wonderful light in the darkness.

nightshadetwine
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:35 am

Re: H. Detering," The Gnostic meaning of the Exodus"- A commentary

Post by nightshadetwine » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:23 am

The crossing of seas or submergence into waters(like baptism) in myths/religious stories is usually associated with crossing over into another realm or rebirth into a new state of being. The waters give birth to new life and signify a transition into something new.

http://ancienthistorybulletin.org/wp-co ... lieu-1.pdf
Marie-Claire Beaulieu, The Sea in the Greek Imagination. Philadelphia (PE) :
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. Pp. x + 267. ISBN 978-0-8122-4765-7.
In this study, Marie-Claire Beaulieu explores the concept of the sea in Greek
imagination. Her book is divided into six chapters, each respectively devoted to a
particular case study involving humans, gods, and the sea. She actually demonstrates
that the sea, because of its situation between the earth, the Underworld, and
Olympus, mediates between the worlds of the living, the dead, and the gods. Her
research is well documented examining evidence in literature as well as from
archaeological material (kylix, oinochoe, dinos, lekythos, frieze principally)...
To pursue the analogy in the metaphorical terms of cult practice,
when young heroes face death beyond or in the sea, they perform rites that symbolize
such an experience and the renewal that follows (i.e. the reestablishment of order)...
The sixth and final chapter questions how and why Dionysius is associated with
the sea, and this not only in the story of the Tyrrhenian pirates who attack Dionysus
to be transformed into dolphins. First of all, the author argues that Dionysus’ life and
personality (he has a human parent, he experiences death when he is dismembered
by the Titans for example) reflect a close parallel to the Greek conception of the sea:
“Like the sea itself, Dionysus unites life, death, and the divine.” (p.169).
http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/toc/15411.html
The sea also held a large place in the religious life of the Greeks. Seawater was used for various kinds of purification, many rituals were held on the seashore, and some festivals required throwing offerings to the gods into the sea... In part for these reasons, psychoanalysts have viewed the sea as a representation of the mother figure. For instance, in the Iliad, Achilles comes to the seashore to lament his trials and is comforted by his divine mother, Thetis, who comes out of the sea to help her son. In this episode, the sea provides a backdrop for maternal reassurance. Thetis, as a Nereid, can also be thought to represent the maternal aspects of the sea since she is a kourotrophic divinity, a goddess who helps rear the young. In the same line of thought, the sea has been put in parallel with the earth as a nurturing mother, particularly in view of the sea's role in the Greek cosmogony. In the Theogony 131, the sea (Pontus) is one of the children born out of Gaia's parthenogenesis. Thus, the sea is one of the primeval elements that help conceive and shape the world. Similarly, the Titan Oceanus, the river that encircles the world beyond the sea, is called the father of all things in the Iliad... The two visions of Hades as located beyond the sea or under the earth are not antithetical. In Greek cosmology, the earth is surrounded by the encircling river Ocean, which can be accessed by sailing out of the Mediterranean through the Pillars of Heracles (the Strait of Gibraltar), or out of the Black Sea in the east. On the Ocean, the water meets the vault of the sky and the corresponding chasm of the Underworld, forming a sphere whose diameter is occupied by the Ocean... Thus, when death is represented as a sea voyage to the Ocean, it can lead either to the Underworld or to the Islands of the Blessed. In the case of Heracles, who acquires immortality as a result of his exploits on the Ocean, he travels upward to Olympus. As this book demonstrates, the sea, because it is in between the earth, the Underworld, and Olympus, mediates between the worlds of the living, the dead, and the gods.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styx
In Greek mythology, Styx is a deity and a river that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld, often called "Hades", which is also the name of its ruler... The ferryman Charon often is described as having transported the souls of the newly dead across this river into the underworld.

nightshadetwine
Posts: 112
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:35 am

Re: H. Detering," The Gnostic meaning of the Exodus"- A commentary

Post by nightshadetwine » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:28 pm

http://www.mythicistpapers.com/2018/04/ ... aterialism
The opening paragraphs above cover a lot of territory, and I’ll devote this and the next post to commenting on them. At the outset, let’s be clear that Detering is discussing allegory as used around the turn of the era, particularly in Alexandria, Egypt. Thus, he writes above: “an allegorical interpretation first appeared in Alexandria and quite outside Jewish orthodoxy.” An interesting thing about allegory is that common terms have associations that are, in fact, not common at all. So, Philo writes above: Egypt is “the body” and “Jordan means descent.” (In fact, “Jordan” in Hebrew does literally mean “descent”—more on this below.) In other words, we are dealing with a sort of code, and without any accompanying explanation, allegorical writing can be quite cryptic (cf. The Revelation of John). Philo famously indulged in allegory, but he usually ‘explains’ the code as he goes along for the benefit of his readers. Origen and many Church Fathers do the same. But the gnostics often did not explain their terms. They prided themselves in ‘knowing the code,’ in being apart—hence the intentionally cryptic nature of so many of their texts, which are truly “esoteric” (requiring special or privy knowledge).

In this article Detering focusses on the Exodus, and ‘getting to the other side’ plays a crucial, central role in the discussion. After all, the Exodus is a passage across (or through) water: the Israelites were successful in passing from one side to the other side of a body of flowing water, while the Egyptians were not. As discussed in Pt. 1 of this series, ‘reaching the other shore’ is common in both Buddhism and Christianity. It figuratively describes transcendence—ultimately, the transcendence of ‘death.’...

So, Philo views the “Jordan” as a place of tribulation, while the Peratae view water as “ignorance.” Detering discusses the views of both in his article, and also of an aspect of Buddhism where the metaphorical river is a place of disaster ‘to be crossed.’ All of these negative views of water are consistent with the allegory of crossing over, of transcendence.

Nevertheless, another tradition exists in Buddhism, as also in Gnosticism, where water is metaphorically good. The positive view, indeed, leads directly to the Christian sacrament of baptism, and it is critical that we understand it. The positive view is able to exist side-by-side with the negative view because they express the same thing in slightly different ways. In the scenario of crossing the river, the other shore is the goal (gnosis) and the river itself (water) is an impediment (variously: life, materiality, carnality, desire, ignorance). However, the conceptual background of baptism derives from a different scenario, one in which water is itself symbolic of gnosis. In this scenario, the metaphorical goal is to dip into or immerse in water. What I am getting at is that both scenarios are found in the ancient texts, and both are correct.
The esoteric/occult author Alvin Boyd Kuhn wrote about this in his book "The Lost Light: An interpretation of Ancient Scriptures" http://www.hourofthetime.com/lib/Bill%2 ... ALight.pdf
The crossing of the rivers and seas and the immersion of solar heroes in water in olden mythologies, and the rite of baptism in theology, signified nothing beyond the fact of the soul’s immersion in a physical body of water nature in its successive incarnations. 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." Speaking of man Plato affirms: "Through body it is an animal; through intellect it is a god." To create man God incarnated the fiery spiritual principle of his life in the watery confines of material bodies. That is the truest basic description of man that anthropology can present. All problems spring from that foundation and are referable for solution back to it. Man is, then, a natural man and a god, in combination. 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. Of vital significance at this point are two statements by St. Paul: "That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural"; and, "First that which is natural, then that which is spiritual."... The water symbol yields a series of special scriptural and theological interpretations which will correct much insufferable misconception. It is questionable if today any hierophant of orthodox religion has the most distant idea of the esoteric meaning of the rite of baptism. People receive baptism or impose it on their children with a sanctimonious acquiescence, but with heads guiltless of comprehension. It is vaguely felt to betoken an outpouring of divine grace upon the recipient. This may be conceded to be a part of the meaning. Yet in the form in which it is conceived by the participants, it is not in the faintest degree an image of the hidden truth. It is hardly a quarter of the full import. In consonance with the force of the great Law of the Two Truths, or the doubleness of truth, it is not only the mortal who is baptized by the god; the profoundest understanding flows from the knowledge that it is the god himself who is undergoing a baptism. Indeed, as long as it is a baptism with water, it is not at all the baptism of the spring of life. It is more truly the baptism of the god by the animal. For John, the pre-solar or natural man, says: "I indeed baptize you with water," while the baptism of the lower by the higher nature was with fire! Jesus, the god, was baptized by John, the mortal, in the waters of the river Jordan. Jesus was there baptized as part of the process of his further divination. The water baptism was the god’s submergence under the waters in the body of man. What, then, is the basic meaning of the ceremonial? It is simple indeed. Reverting to the four elemental signs, we have the adequate data for interpretation. Bluntly, water is the symbol of bodily life, the body being mainly water in composition. Also water symbols man’s second psychological principle, emotion, because it is intimately linked with the body and its humors. The sea, the swamp or Reed Sea, or the mire, is the typical picturization of life in the body. Water types soul in body, or the god in matter. Baptism with water, then, is just the experience of the god in this bodily life. It means what the incarnation means, and nothing more. The ceremonial of sprinkling or immersion is but the dramatic representation of the fact of this life itself. By the application of the Law of the Two Truths it can be made to typify the baptism of the lower nature by the celestial water. But this is the obverse of the meaning usually intended in symbolism, and would involve the baptism of water by or in water, which wrecks the typism. It is the god’s immersion in the waters of generation that is the theme of most baptismal ritual. That this statement embodies the correct view is competently attested by the zodiacal signatures used in the typology. The sun in the lower half of the zodiac is symbolically pictured as being immersed in a sea of water; and according to one derivation the word "Galilee" signifies "waterwheel." The Sea of Galilee is the lower material world--in man the watery body itself--through or across which the fiery spark of soul must pass in rounding its cycles of necessity. Heraclitus’ statement that "man is a portion of cosmic fire, imprisoned in a body of earth and water" (Plato’s "mire") is apt here. And earth and water stand for the physical and emotional aspects of man’s life, or sense and feeling, both sub-mental. The soul in its rounds must dip down into a life that is irrational, motivated by elemental impulses that are not amenable to reason. It comes under the sway of the pure instinct of life itself and is overswept by the surging tides of elemental being. This is its baptism, its going into or under the water. It is not by chance that the name Galilee was given to the lake or sea of mortal life in the Jewish adaptation of the uranograph. For on it the savior of mankind had to quell or quiet the raging storm of sensual passion. The storm is a true mythograph of the sweep of the forces at play in the lower segment of man’s constitution, for they blow through his life, for the long first cycle of his evolution, in nearly uncontrolled intensity. They rush in upon his spirit, which is as yet unawakened, asleep like Jonah and Jesus in the hold of the ship, and stir up a welter of animal instincts and rapacities in lower man.Proserpine, the soul, was held for half of each year in duress in the underworld of Pluto. Merely put under water symbolism, this is the soul’s baptism. It is earthly embodiment... It was out of the primordial "waters" of space that the first forms of cosmic life were generated. From the infinite bosom of watery night flashed out the first rays of that light which was to be the life of all things. So in the rain-storm of summer, fire is born out of the banks or moisture or suspended water. Hence the very deities had to be incubated in bodies of water like the foetus in the watery egg. This accounts for the presence of the god in the lake of the moist human body. Horus is born from the lotus plant in the water, as Venus from the sea-foam.

Giuseppe
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Re: H. Detering," The Gnostic meaning of the Exodus"- A commentary

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:34 pm

Dr. Detering is going to persuade me that the baptism with water is the top of iceberg of an entire old tradition about the redeeming value of the Gnosis. So the Baptism of John represents the historicization (that is in the same time a judaization) of the original concept of the baptism.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

nightshadetwine
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Re: H. Detering," The Gnostic meaning of the Exodus"- A commentary

Post by nightshadetwine » Tue Dec 04, 2018 3:00 pm

The crossing of the rivers and seas and the immersion of solar heroes in water in olden mythologies, and the rite of baptism in theology, signified nothing beyond the fact of the soul’s immersion in a physical body of water nature in its successive incarnations.
Kuhn seems to think that the crossing of or the immersion in water in myths has more to do with the "crossing" from a spiritual plane to the physical plane. I think it can represent either a "crossing" from the physical into the spiritual or the spiritual into the physical. Either way, being reborn into a new state of being, whether it's physical or spiritual, means "crossing" or passing through waters. Like the sungod passing through waters into and out of the netherworld in Egyptian religion, Israelites passing through the sea when leaving Egypt, or a baptism where the person is submerged into the waters and then lifted up out of the waters. I think these all possibly have the same meaning.

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