The seven veils.

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Peter Kirby
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Re: The seven veils.

Post by Peter Kirby » Wed Jan 16, 2019 8:57 pm

Secret Alias wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 11:14 am
You are a complete idiot.
I don't think this is true - rakovsky is clearly intelligent - and I don't think it is persuasive to add this kind of remark.
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Re: The seven veils.

Post by rakovsky » Thu Jan 17, 2019 7:13 am

DC Hindley,
You and Peter did a good good job finding references to seven veils before Oscar Wilde, and the Talmud reference to 13 veils that includes seven veils for seven gates was good too. The Talmud is from c.200-500 AD. Which if any of the texts below from before 500 AD too? The Coptic text? The legend about the 4th century saint?
The Talmud and the Coptic text look to me the thread's best finds to answer the OP.
Still, Wilde's Dance of the Seven Veils, with its reference to nakedness, entering the underworld to find truth behind the veils, and the book's dedication to the dance's artist, For whom alone knows the meaning of the dance of the seven veils, seems closer in its elements to the Mar Saba's Letter's use of "seven veils" and Morton Smith's book dedication For the One Who Knows. I always took Smith's book dedication to have some kind of gnostic or hidden knowledge reference like this.
DCHindley wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:16 pm
References to seven veils or curtains goes back to ancient times (magic spells), and to illustrate that these concepts of veils hiding truths was known in Theosophic/Masonic/Indian circles BEFORE Oscar Wilde published his play, here are a few examples I threw together around 2012 from internet searches. For the author of the Letter to Theodore to refer to these as well may tell us nothing more than that they drew from the same general theosophic world view that embodied the "spirit of that age." "New Age" type beliefs existed all through history.

A: Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic texts of ritual power, by Marvin W. Meyer & Richard Smith (Princeton University Press, 1999):

70. Spell, with Gnostic characteristics, to protect from filthy demons
Text: London Oriental Manuscript 5987
Description- papyrus, 77 3/4 x 5 3/8 in. [unfortunately, undated]
Yoel Thiel Misiael Mioel Daithe Eleluth Ermukratos Adonai Ermusur, the invisible one within the seven veils, by him stand the seven radiant lights Sarthiel, Tharbioth and Urach and Thurach and Armuser and Eiecha, the seven inexpressible lights, the sixty golden lamps which burn in the tabernacle of the father.

You are Akramiel, Prakuel, the salvation of Israel. You are the salvation of the father. You are ..., the salvation of. . . . You are the father in whom . . . Ermukraton . . Ermusur invisible Bainchooch, O one within the seven veils.
73. Erotic spell of Cyprian of Antioch
Text: Heidelberg Kopt. 684
Description- book with sixteen pages of rag paper; the pages are 14.3 x 9 cm; pages 1-13 contain the spell of Cyprian, and the last three pages are blank; eleventh century.

According to legend, Cyprian of Antioch tried to employ magic [spells] in order to seduce a Christian virgin named Justina. As the story goes, he failed in his attempts, and so he converted to Christianity, abandoned his books of ritual power, and eventually became bishop of Antioch. Some traditions suggest that both Cyprian and Justina were martyred during the persecution of the Roman emperor Diocletian (ruled 285-305). The translation given here is of the spell of Cyprian. See also Howard M. Jackson, “A Contribution toward an Edition of the Confession of Cyprian of Antioch."
So I reproved my wrath [at not being able to seduce the Christian virgin Justina through his knowledge of magic spells], laid my anger aside, and allayed my rage with great humility. Then I got to my feet, turned my face to the west, stretched my right hand out to heaven, cleansed myself of the dirt on my feet, snorted, and directed these spells at heaven, to the tabernacle of the father within the seven veils.


.....
etc.

My research on the prophecies of the Messiah's resurrection: http://rakovskii.livejournal.com

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Re: The seven veils.

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Jan 17, 2019 8:32 am

You realize that the naked youth never goes through seven veils.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: The seven veils.

Post by Peter Kirby » Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:39 am

Morton Smith's book dedication For the One Who Knows. I always took Smith's book dedication to have some kind of gnostic or hidden knowledge reference like this.
Many of the early accusations of forgery involved taking the reference to “the one who knows” as a reference to a co-conspirator. Naturally, however, the dedication also works very well as a “gnostic or hidden knowledge reference,” as you point out above, so this is not a good argument.

And since the clearest source for Morton Smith to come up with a “gnostic” reference is actual ancient gnosticism, which is explicitly a subject of the ancient source material (not limited to the Mar Saba letter), this shows that one of the pro-modern-forgery folk’s favorite touchstones (the dedication) is not actually hard to understand without a forgery hypothesis.
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Re: The seven veils.

Post by andrewcriddle » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:31 pm

I'll just note that the link of the Mar Saba letter to Oscar Wilde's play depends on the appearance close together in both works of "seven veils" and "Salome." I think that Wilde is the first English writer to associate seven veils with Salome.

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Re: The seven veils.

Post by Peter Kirby » Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:25 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:
Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:31 pm
I'll just note that the link of the Mar Saba letter to Oscar Wilde's play depends on the appearance close together in both works of "seven veils" and "Salome." I think that Wilde is the first English writer to associate seven veils with Salome.
The Mar Saba letter, however, doesn’t “associate” a reference to “seven veils” with “Salome.” In Wilde there is what you could call an “association,” in the letter there isn’t. The “seven veils” are different - in Wilde they are used to describe a woman’s dance, while in the letter they reference hidden truth, similar to some pre-Wilde references to “seven veils” concealing heavenly things. And of course the Mar Saba letter doesn’t refer to the same Salome and also refers to Jesus’ mother being there, making the clear and present source of the Mar Saba letter’s reference to Salome the canonical gospels’ description of Jesus’ female associates.

We can definitively say that we don’t need Wilde’s play in the background to explain any aspects of the letter and that it’s more a burden than an aid to understanding its context, contents, and how it came to take shape.
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Re: The seven veils.

Post by Peter Kirby » Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:42 pm

For reference, this is what a forgery constructed with inspiration from Wilde's Salome and her "dance of the seven veils" looks like.

The Songs of Bilitis
by Pierre Louÿs (1894)

("First published in Paris in 1894, this purports to be translations of poems by a woman named Bilitis, a contemporary and acquaintance of Sappho. This caused a sensation, not only because finding an intact cache of poems from a completely unknown Greek poet circa 600 B.C. would be a miracle, but because of its open and sensitive exploration of lesbian eroticism. Actually Bilitis never existed. The poems were a clever forgery by Pierre Louÿs--the 'translator'; to lend weight, he had even included a bibliography with bogus supporting works. Louÿs actually did have a good command of the classics, and he salted Bilitis with a number of quotations from real poets, including Sappho, to make it even more convincing." - J. B. Hare)

THE FLOWER DANCE

Anthis, the Lydian dancer, has seven veils about her. She unrolls the yellow veil and her jet-black tresses spread upon the air. The rosy-veil slides from her mouth. The white veil falling shows her naked arms.

She frees her little breasts from the opening scarlet veil. She drops the green one from her round and double croup. She draws the blue veil from her shoulders, but she still retains the last transparent one, pressing it upon her puberty.

The young men plead with her; she shakes her head. Only at the music of the flutes she tears it off a bit, then altogether, and with the gestures of the dance she plucks the fresh young flowers of her body,

Singing: "Where are my roses, where my perfumed violets! Where are my sprays of parsley! --Here are my roses, and I give them to you. There are my violets, do you care for any? There are my lovely curling parsley wisps."

Wilde does (AFAIK) appear to be the first person to associate "seven veils" with a dance (or to popularize such an association). But the Mar Saba letter is absent of that strong, characteristically modern association, and its meaning for the "seven veils" is found pre-Wilde but not in Wilde. It is notable that the Mar Saba letter has escaped the influence of Wilde's play on the meaning of the phrase "seven veils," which is of course natural if the letter came before Wilde's play, just as the other references to "seven veils" that came before Wilde's play also show a different meaning of the phrase.
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Re: The seven veils.

Post by Roger Viklund » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:20 am

Peter Kirby wrote:
Thu Jan 17, 2019 3:25 pm
And of course the Mar Saba letter doesn’t refer to the same Salome and also refers to Jesus’ mother being there, making the clear and present source of the Mar Saba letter’s reference to Salome the canonical gospels’ description of Jesus’ female associates.
Although a thrilling possibility, the text is normally not interpreted as “Jesus’ mother” but the “youth’s mother”. “And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them”, in Morton Smith’s translation. AFAICT, the Greek is ambiguous here. The genitive "autou" (his) seems to refer to "neaniskou" (the youth). Jesus is part of the relative clause ¬ “hon ēgapa auton ho Iēsous” and normally the elements of the main clause are linked to each other. Maybe someone well versed in Greek here could develop this idea. Anyway, since the names of the three women at the cross (and the tomb) would match the names of the three women (not necessarily the individuals) that Jesus rejected, it is an appealing thought.

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Re: The seven veils.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:44 am

But my question through all of this is why do we keep needing to rehash theories like this? Originally - that is until Quesnell's visit to the monastery in the early 80s was revealed by me and my writing partner - there were these insinuations that the text didn't exist. Quesnell himself planted them in his accusations against Smith - i.e. that 'all we have is Smith's photographs.' If this were true, I agree, the question of forgery is worth pursuing. But since Quesnell actually held the MS and tried to reproduce something like it at Mar Saba - and failed, even using lined paper - I don't understand the scholarly relevance of all these theories. It's fair for a site like this where we discuss useless marginalia as a hobby. But the fact that the manuscript existed and it looks and sounds exactly like a 18th century copy of an older fragment of Clement - that should be the end of it.

Again, as long as we acknowledge that this marginal hobby horse scholarship - akin to one of Giuseppe's threads - by all means discuss every aspect of forgery. But surely we can't continue to pretend that scholars should 'trust' the Mar Saba MS merely because we don't like what it has to say. Surely none of you are suggesting that the progress of science should be halted by unsubstantiated rumors, innuendo and 'gut' feelings?

I think it is far more interesting to ask questions like - did Quesnell tell anyone he saw the manuscript? Did he tell Carlson? I saw no evidence of this in the archive of Quesnell at Smith college. But there was a lot missing. This was what just happened to survive from his garage.
Last edited by Secret Alias on Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
“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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Re: The seven veils.

Post by Roger Viklund » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:54 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:44 am
But the fact that the manuscript existed and it looks and sounds exactly like a 18th century copy of an older fragment of Clement - that should be the end of it.
To quote Timo Paananen and myself:
In short, if Clement’s Letter to Theodore, as we have argued in this paper, is indistinguishable from an authentic eighteenth-century manuscript, there is no basis for treating it as anything else than a manuscript copy from the eighteenth century.

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