Page 2 of 2

Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:35 pm
by rakovsky
GakuseibDon,
I am still going through what you wrote because you brought up a good parallel with the fighting in both realms.
So it makes sense that he means And as he saw fighting on the firmament, so he saw fighting on earth. But the author does not leave it at that. To interpret his second statement as "for the likeness of that FIGHTING which is in the firmament is here on the earth", would make the whole second statement redundant. So instead, Isaiah is giving a general principle. He us saying that as there is fighting on the firmament, so he saw it on earth BECAUSE the likeness of one matches the other. When he makes this second statement he does not refer to the likeness of any one thing alone (eg. fighting) that is the same on both planes, so instead he is making a general observation or principle about the general likeness of affairs on both planes. And in that case, his general statement about mutual correspondence really begs the question of why such matching would exist. The answer seems to be that he is referring to a Platonic principle, because Plato and Greek philosophy seem to have some idea about mirroring on planes. Plus, something like this shows up in the Odes and I cited alot of authors who talk about this on my Odes thread. But still, the Asc. Isa. seems to have a special version of the rule because it us mirroring earth with the firmament rather than with an ideal heavenly plane...... So he is certainly at least alluding to some philosophical principle but he doesn't seem to explain exactly why the likenesses of the things on the firmament and earth would match.

In other words, instead of saying that the fighting matches both places because of the results of Fall, or because the angels of the firmament influence what happens on Earth, or because of some other specific theological explanation, he just says the likeness of what is on the firmament matches what is on Earth. And that sounds like a general statement, and it is actually ambiguous without more explanation. Because it's not actually true necessarily that what is on the firmament matches what is on Earth. For example, there are waterfalls and gold mines and parrots and dogs and humans on Earth. To say that everything in the firmament matches those things does not sound like what Jews or Christians or Greeks who helped to the classic idea of the firmament would think about the firmament. Instead he probably means in particular that spiritual things that happen on one plane happen on the other. But, why should that be the case? I guess that you could respond to me that he is just making a general observation, since he has been on both planes and is able to make an assessment like that. I think that this is actually your basic answer to me. And that might be fine except it sounds so much like known philosophical phrases and sayings like as above so below and the likeness of one matches the likeness of the other. So it looks like he is alluding to those philosophical sayings, which could explain why he doesn't go into more detail about why those two planes should mirror each other. The audience would already be familiar with the philosophical principle that he was referring to and therefore he did not need to explain it to them when he used the saying.

Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:50 pm
by GakuseiDon
rakovsky wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:35 pm
GakuseibDon,
I am still going through what you wrote because you brought up a good parallel with the fighting in both realms.
So it makes sense that he means And as he saw fighting on the firmament, so he saw fighting on earth. But the author does not leave it at that. To interpret his second statement as "for the likeness of that FIGHTING which is in the firmament is here on the earth", would make the whole second statement redundant.
I would argue that it is the opposite. The statement is sandwiched right in between the "fighting" and "envying" ones, so I would say it is specific to that idea, and a call-back to what is happening on earth with the fighting and jealousy between the Christian elders, presumably happening in the author's time. So the reader would understand that the fighting between the Christian elders was akin to the behaviour of Satan's angels rather than God's representatives on earth.

You might be right in that it is a general statement as well, but its placement between the fighting and envying statements seems clearly specific to me.
rakovsky wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:35 pm
So instead, Isaiah is giving a general principle. He us saying that as there is fighting on the firmament, so he saw it on earth BECAUSE the likeness of one matches the other. When he makes this second statement he does not refer to the likeness of any one thing alone (eg. fighting) that is the same on both planes, so instead he is making a general observation or principle about the general likeness of affairs on both planes.
Fair enough. We just have to agree to disagree there, I'm afraid.
rakovsky wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:35 pm
And in that case, his general statement about mutual correspondence really begs the question of why such matching would exist. The answer seems to be that he is referring to a Platonic principle, because Plato and Greek philosophy seem to have some idea about mirroring on planes.
Well, yes and no, if I understand correctly. Platonism isn't really about planes mirroring each other. It's about things on earth being imperfect copies of ideal forms. The classical example is the horse. We have all kinds of horses on earth. But we recognise them as horses because we have an idea of what a horse is. So there must exist the perfect idea of 'horse', of which we see imperfect examples on earth. There is no idea of planes mirroring each other at this point.

When Christianity adopted this, these Ideal Forms were thought of as existing within the mind of God. Since God and Heaven are perfect, they became associated with Plato's Ideal Forms, and that's when we start to get the idea that the Perfect Upper Heavens had imperfect copies on earth. For example, the earthly Jerusalem Temple 'mirrors' the Perfect one in Heaven.

The thing is, everything from the firmament and below are part of the corrupted world. To talk about a Platonic principle in which one part of the corrupted world -- the firmament -- mirrors another part of the corrupted world -- the earth -- makes no sense, if what I understand is correct. Are there corrupted corrupted things on earth mirroring perfect corrupted forms in the firmament? I just don't see it. Whatever you want to call that type of general principle, it's not Platonic. (Dr Carrier calls them "half-corrupt imitations" in OHJ, page 194, which makes about as much sense as using the term "outer space")

That's why I see the statement as an analogy, and specifically an analogy relating to how jealous Christian elders fighting between each other is the same as the fighting going on between envious Satan's angels in the firmament.
rakovsky wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:35 pm
But, why should that be the case? I guess that you could respond to me that he is just making a general observation, since he has been on both planes and is able to make an assessment like that. I think that this is actually your basic answer to me.
No, that's not my basic answer. My answer is that it is specific in regards to the fighting and envying, as the statement appears sandwiched in between those statements in the text. The author might have a more general principle in mind in the background, but if he is, it is being applied specifically to the fighting and envying. (In my humble opinion!) I can't imagine any Platonic-like general principle involving two parts of the corrupted world.

Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:28 pm
by rakovsky
Dear GakuseiDon,
Thanks for your replies in the thread, because they gave me a new aspect to see in the "As above so below on earth" verse: ie. the correlations between pairings of strivings and envying, like you mentioned. This afternoon I added a lot my to my answer that I posted ealier (Dated "Tue Aug 11, 2020 2:28 pm"), based on the correlation that you pointed out. The main weakness in my explanation is that while Isaiah narrates striving as happening on Earth and in the firmament during his ascent there, when it comes to his prediction about the much contention leading up to the second coming, he only narrates specifically contention on Earth, like the striving of the Shepherds. Although he later narrates The Descent of Beliar into the form of the Antichrist, he doesn't seem to specifically describe Strife happening in the firmament during the contention of the Shepherds. However I think that based on his declaration about as above So Below on Earth, that the implication is that there would be increased striving in the firmament. Of course, we might just not have narrated that Strife in the firmament because his vision at that point was focused on the happenings on Earth, whereas the reason Isaiah saw the Strife in the firmament in the first place had been because he ascended there as part of his Divine vision of the heavens. That is, there was a practical reason why in the first instance he saw the Strife in the firmament and the Practical reason isn't present when he was narrating the lead up to the second coming.

I am trying to consider your explanation below:
GakuseiDon wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:50 pm
"So it makes sense that he means And as he saw fighting on the firmament, so he saw fighting on earth. But the author does not leave it at that. To interpret his second statement as "for the likeness of that FIGHTING which is in the firmament is here on the earth", would make the whole second statement redundant."

I would argue that it is the opposite. The statement is sandwiched right in between the "fighting" and "envying" ones, so I would say it is specific to that idea, and a call-back to what is happening on earth with the fighting and jealousy between the Christian elders, presumably happening in the author's time. So the reader would understand that the fighting between the Christian elders was akin to the behaviour of Satan's angels rather than God's representatives on earth.
You are referring to the lines surrounding v. 10:
9. And we ascended to the firmament, I and he, and there I saw Sammael and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein and the angels of Satan were envying one another.
10. And as above so on the earth also; for the likeness of that which is in the firmament is here on the earth.
11. And I said unto the angel (who was with me): “(What is this war and) what is this envying?”
12. And he said unto me: “So has it been since this world was made until now, and this war (will continue) till He, whom you shalt see will come and destroy him”.
13. And afterwards he caused me to ascend (to that which is) above the firmament; which is the (first) heaven.
You are saying that since v. 10 is sandwiched between the fighting and envying in vv. 9 and 11-12, that 10 must be fully referring to that fighting.

In verse 9, he says that he sees Satan fighting in the firmament. You take his next declaration, verse 10, to mean: "And as there was FIGHTING above so there was FIGHTING on the earth also; because the likeness of that FIGHTING which is in the firmament is here on the earth."
Next, in verse 11 he asks the angel what is the war about, and the angel answers that the war continues until Christ destroys Satan. The "war" in question is Satan's war that Isaiah just saw.

I thought that your interpretation of the second part of verse 10 was unlikely, because it would mean that the second part of verse 10 is a simple rewording of the first part of the verse, and it would be both redundant and use circular reasoning. Obviously if fighting in one place is "as" the fighting on the other place, then this is another way of saying that likenesses of the fighting match. There is no need to assert "because" or "for" here between those two sentences. The fact that Isaiah went on to ask about the war does not change this redundancy.

To illustrate, imagine that I see you mowing both your lawn and your neighbor's lawn, and then commented, "AS he mows his lawn, so he mows his neighbor's lawn, BECAUSE the LIKENESS of that mowing on his lawn is on the other lawn." I ask my friend, "What is this mowing?" And my friend replies that you will continue to mow until your landlord stops you.

In the illustration above, it doesn't matter that the italicized statements are sandwiched between two others about your mowing, the italicized statements are still a logical fallacy of circular reasoning. I even tried a few other ways in my head to avoid them being redundant that didn't work. For instance, Isaiah could be saying that he REALIZED that AS there was fighting in the firmanent there was fighting on earth BECAUSE the likenesses matched. But that wouldn't make sense either.

So the best explanation seems to me that he means that the fighting in both places matched BECAUSE of the observation or principle that the likeness in the one place in general matched the likeness in the other place in general.

Next, you gave a good explanation that compared the Platonic ideal forms or likenesses matching their earthly examples with the Christian idea of heavenly forms corresponding to earthly ones, eg. The two Jerusalems concept:
GakuseiDon wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 11:50 pm
rakovsky wrote:
Tue Aug 11, 2020 9:35 pm
And in that case, his general statement about mutual correspondence really begs the question of why such matching would exist. The answer seems to be that he is referring to a Platonic principle, because Plato and Greek philosophy seem to have some idea about mirroring on planes.
Well, yes and no, if I understand correctly. Platonism isn't really about planes mirroring each other. It's about things on earth being imperfect copies of ideal forms. The classical example is the horse. We have all kinds of horses on earth. But we recognise them as horses because we have an idea of what a horse is. So there must exist the perfect idea of 'horse', of which we see imperfect examples on earth. There is no idea of planes mirroring each other at this point.

When Christianity adopted this, these Ideal Forms were thought of as existing within the mind of God. Since God and Heaven are perfect, they became associated with Plato's Ideal Forms, and that's when we start to get the idea that the Perfect Upper Heavens had imperfect copies on earth. For example, the earthly Jerusalem Temple 'mirrors' the Perfect one in Heaven.
You also made a point that I agree with here about the difference between the Platonic two forms concept and the concept of two matching planes in Asc. Isa.:
The thing is, everything from the firmament and below are part of the corrupted world. To talk about a Platonic principle in which one part of the corrupted world -- the firmament -- mirrors another part of the corrupted world -- the earth -- makes no sense, if what I understand is correct. Are there corrupted corrupted things on earth mirroring perfect corrupted forms in the firmament? I just don't see it. Whatever you want to call that type of general principle, it's not Platonic. (Dr Carrier calls them "half-corrupt imitations" in OHJ, page 194, which makes about as much sense as using the term "outer space")
That is, to compare either perfect ideal or perfect heavenly forms with earthly ones is not the same as to compare the likenesses on what Asc. Isa. portrays as the corrupted firmament and Earth. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the concepts are related indirectly and that Asc. Isa. took his concept from the better known "perfect ideal forms correspondence" concept. The basic, fundamental, cosmological ideal is a perfect heaven somehow corresponding to the potential earthly reality, so ideas about one corrupt created firmament reality matching a created earthly reality is secondary to that, and anyway is less well known.

One source for the Asc. Isa.'s theory is probably the close association between the firmament and the heavens in the ancient mind. In ancient cosmology, the firmament is a "firm layer" that has the stars and holds the water over the firmament. Genesis 1 says:
7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8. And God called the firmament Heaven.
You can respond correctly that the supernatural "heaven" is not necessarily the same as the physical "heaven" firmament in the ancient mind, but nonetheless the two concepts of "heaven" were associated enough (eg. there was astronomers' physical sun, Greek mythology's Apollo the sun god, and what Asc. Isa. 4 calls the "angel of the sun") for ideas about how the perfect heaven works to potentially affect ideas on how the firmament could work.

The second source is how more standard texts like the Bible treat heavenly beings taking earthly ie earthlike forms, in comparison to how the Asc. Isa treats specific firmanent beings taking on earthly form. In the Bible, God visits Abraham in the form of three angels. God went before the Israelites in a cloud and a fire and spoke from a burning bush that did not burn out to Moses. The Holy Spirit appears to Jesus at His Baptism in the form of a dove. By comparison, in the Ascension of Isaiah, Isaiah predicted that would Beliar dwell in Manasseh (1:9). Then in Chp. 3,
Beliar dwelt in the heart of Manasseh and in the heart of the princes of Judah and Benjamin and of the eunuchs and of the councilors of the king.
Then in Chp. 4, Beliar comes down as the Antichrist in the form of a man:
2. Beliar the great ruler, the king of this world, will descend, who has ruled it since it came into being ; yea, he will descend from his firmament in the likeness of a man, a lawless king, the slayer of his mother: who himself (even) this king
...
4. This ruler in the form of that king will come and there will come with him all the powers of this world, and they will hearken unto him in all that he desires.
Finally, Christ rebukes the various manifestations of Beliar, like mountains and the angel of the sun and that of the moon:
Then the voice of the Beloved will in wrath rebuke the things of heaven and the things of earth and the mountains and the hills and the cities and the desert and the forests and the angel of the sun and that of the moon, and all things wherein Beliar manifested himself and acted openly in this world.
Regarding R. Carrier's term "half corrupt images", I agree with your criticism. If something is half corrupt, it is still "corrupt". An apple with only one side rotten is still a rotten apple. Maybe what he means is that the created world is only half bad or half corrupt, because there is both good and bad in the world. There are both good angels and bad acting in the world in the classic angelology. But anyway in classic Christian theology, while it is true that people like the bad Shepherds in Isaiah's vision have both good and bad, since after all the shepherds are still part of the Christian Community, and Manasseh eventually repented in 2 Chronicles 33, normal sinners are still considered corrupt. The world although it has good and bad, is still considered corrupted.

The term outer space on the other hand makes sense to me. Outer space is the area of the universe that is beyond the atmospheric layers that surround Earth. I guess that you could expand the definition to include the Moon if you define it as being everything within Earth's own orbit.

I appreciate the thoughtful discussion and believe that we solved this question. You can respond to what I wrote if you like, or even better to the unsolved OP Questions (#2-3, 7-9) like Question Number 9 about the demons praising Christ as He ascends.

Re: MARTYRDOM AND ASCENSION OF ISAIAH (1st - early 3rd century AD) Questions

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:36 pm
by GakuseiDon
rakovsky wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:28 pm
So the best explanation seems to me that he means that the fighting in both places matched BECAUSE of the observation or principle that the likeness in the one place in general matched the likeness in the other place in general.
Actually I think it is the "envying" that is being emphasized, rather than the fighting alone. The author is making the point that the jealousy seen among the Christian elders is like that seen between Satan's angels, so that (the implication goes) they should cut it out. But you might be right that the author is referencing a general principle in doing so.

Thanks rakovsky, I appreciate your perspective. Good discussion!