Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Joseph D. L.
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Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sat Jan 04, 2020 11:39 pm

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Mithras, right, and Corax, the Apostle/Paraclete of Mithras

Add to this the conspicuous relation of Corax, Mercury, and Hermes ( Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.)

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Sol and Jupiter Dolichenus

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YHWH upon his winged throne, Zeus upon his heavenly throne

Jove, pronounced Ya-ho-ve, and Yehovah

Thus it is recorded that among the Arians Zathraustes claimed that the Good Spirit gave him his laws, among the people known as the Getae who represent themselves to be immortal Zalmoxis asserted the same of their common goddess Hestia, and among the Jews Moyses referred his laws to the god who is invoked as Iao.

Diodorus, Library of History


Be merciful to me, O Zeus-Iao-Zen-Helios

/

I call upon you, Master of the gods, high-thundering Zeus, sovereign Zeus, ADŌNAI, lord IAŌ, OYĒE.

/

Lord of the {sunrise}, risen fury,
Titan, I call {you}, flaming messenger
Of Zeus, divine IAO, and you, too,
Who rule the Heaven's realm, {RAPHAEL}

Various Greek Magical Texts


The cures, or the exorcisms, of demons in the name of Jesus which are mentioned in the New Testament and the Talmud (see Exorcism) imply that Jesus was regarded as a god and that his name was considered as efficacious as the Tetragrammaton itself, for which it was even substituted. It was in connection with magic that the Tetragrammaton was introduced into the magic papyri and, in all probability, into the writings of the Church Fathers, these two sources containing the following forms, written in Greek letters: (1) "Iaoouee," "Iaoue," "Iabe,"; (2) "Iao," "Iaho," "Iae"; (3) "Aia"; (4) "Ia." It is evident that (1) represents , (2) , (3) , and (4) . The three forms quoted under (1) are merely three ways of writing the same word, though "Iabe" is designated as the Samaritan pronunciation. There are external and internal grounds for this assumption; for the very agreement of the Jewish, Christian, heathen, and Gnostic statements proves that they undoubtedly give the actual pronunciation (Stade's "Zeitschrift," iii. 298; Dalman, l.c. p. 41; Deissmann, "Bibelstudien," pp. 1-20; Blau, l.c. p. 133). The "mystic quadriliteral name" (Clement, "Stromata," ed. Dindorf, iii. 25, 27) was well known to the Gnostics, as is shown by the fact that the third of the eight eons of one of their systems of creation was called "the unpronounced," the fourth "the invisible," and the seventh "the unnamed," terms which are merely designations of the Tetragrammaton (Blau, l.c. p. 127). Even the Palestinian Jews had inscribed the letters of the Name on amulets (Shab. 115b; Blau, l.c. pp. 93-96); and, in view of the frequency with which the appellations of foreign deities were employed in magic, it was but natural that heathen magicians should show an especial preference for this "great and holy name," knowing its pronunciation as they knew the names of their own deities.

/

"Yah,"an abbreviated form of the Tetragrammaton, occurs 23 times: 18 times in the Psalms, twice in Exodus, and three times in Isaiah. This form is identical with the final syllable in the word "Hallelujah," which occurs 24 times in the last book of the Psalms (comp. also "be-Yah," Isa. xxvi. 4 and Ps. lxviii. 5). It is transcribed by the Greek "Ia," as "Ehyeh" is represented by "Aia," thus showing that "Yah" was the first syllable of . The form corresponding to the Greek "Iao" does not occur alone in Hebrew, but only as an element in such proper names as Jesaiah ("Yesha'yahu"), Zedekiah ("Ẓidḳiyahu"), and Jehonathan. According to Delitzsch ("Wo Lag das Paradies?" 1881), this form was the original one, and was expanded into ; but since names of divinities are slow in disappearing, it would be strange if the primitive form had not been retained once in the Bible. The elder Delitzsch thought that "Yahu" was used independently as a name of God (Herzog-Plitt, "Real-Encyc." vi. 503); but, according to Kittel, "This could have been the case only in the vernacular, since no trace of it is found in the literary language" (Herzog-Hauck, "Real-Encyc." viii. 26, 533). All the critics have failed to perceive that the name "Yao" was derived from the same source as "Yaoue," namely, from Gnosticism and magic, in which Jews, Christians, and heathen met. "Yahu" was in fact used in magic, as is clear from the "Sefer Yeẓirah," which shows many traces of Gnosticism; in the cosmology of this work the permutation of the letters furnishes the instruments of the Creation.

Jewish Encyclopedia

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Sabazios, Hand of God/Benediction

Gnaeus Cornelius Hispalus, praetor peregrinus in the year of the consulate of Marcus Popilius Laenas and Lucius Calpurnius, ordered the astrologers by an edict to leave Rome and Italy within ten days, since by a fallacious interpretation of the stars they perturbed fickle and silly minds, thereby making profit out of their lies. The same praetor compelled the Jews, who attempted to infect the Roman custom with the cult of Jupiter Sabazius, to return to their homes.

Valerius Maximus


On attaining manhood you abetted your mother in her initiations and the other rituals, and read aloud from the cultic writings ... You rubbed the fat-cheeked snakes and swung them above your head, crying Euoi saboi and hues attes, attes hues.

Demosthenes, De corona

[That's 'Attis', btw]

For, says (the Naassene), Attis has been emasculated, that is, he has passed over from the earthly parts of the nether world to the everlasting substance above, where, he says, there is neither female or male, but a new creature, a new man, which is hermaphrodite.

...

Therefore, he says, when, on the people assembling in the theatres, any one enters clad in a remarkable robe, carrying a harp and playing a tune (upon it, accompanying it) with a song of the great mysteries, he speaks as follows, not knowing what he says: Whether (you are) the race of Saturn or happy Jupiter, or mighty Rhea, Hail, Attis, gloomy mutilation of Rhea. Assyrians style you thrice-longed-for Adonis, and the whole of Egypt (calls you) Osiris, celestial horn of the moon; Greeks denominate (you) Wisdom; Samothracians, venerable Adam; Haemonians, Corybas; and them Phrygians (name you) at one time Papa, at another time Corpse, or God, or Fruitless, or Aipolos, or green Ear of Grain that has been reaped, or whom the very fertile Amygdalus produced — a man, a musician. This, he says, is multiform Attis, whom while they celebrate in a hymn, they utter these words: I will hymn Attis, son of Rhea, not with the buzzing sounds of trumpets, or of Idaean pipers, which accord with (the voices of) the Curetes; but I will mingle (my song) with Apollo's music of harps, evoe, evan, ' inasmuch as you are Pan, as you are Bacchus, as you are shepherd of brilliant stars."

Hippolytus, Refutations of all Heresies


Not long after this the king sent an Athenian senator* to force the Jews to abandon the laws of their ancestors and live no longer by the laws of God, also to profane the temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus,* and the one on Mount Gerizim to Zeus the Host to Strangers, as the local inhabitants were wont to be. This was a harsh and utterly intolerable evil. The Gentiles filled the temple with debauchery and revelry; they amused themselves with prostitutes and had intercourse with women even in the sacred courts. They also brought forbidden things into the temple, so that the altar was covered with abominable offerings prohibited by the laws. No one could keep the sabbath or celebrate the traditional feasts, nor even admit to being a Jew. Moreover, at the monthly celebration of the king’s birthday the Jews, from bitter necessity, had to partake of the sacrifices, and when the festival of Dionysus* was celebrated, they were compelled to march in his procession, wearing wreaths of ivy. Following upon a vote of the citizens of Ptolemais, a decree was issued ordering the neighboring Greek cities to adopt the same measures, obliging the Jews to partake of the sacrifices and putting to death those who would not consent to adopt the customs of the Greeks. It was obvious, therefore, that disaster had come upon them.

2 Maccabees, ch. 6


The time and character of the greatest, most sacred holiday of the Jews clearly befit Dionysus. When they celebrate their so-called Fast, at the height of the vintage, they set out tables of all sorts of fruit under tents and huts plaited for the most part of vines and ivy. They call the first of the two days Tabernacles. A few days later they celebrate another festival, this time identified with Bacchus not through obscure hints, but plainly called by his name, a festival that is of a sort of ‘Procession of Branches’ or ‘Thyrsus Procession,’ in which they enter the temple each carrying a thyrsus. What they do after entering we do not know, but it is probable that the rite is a Bacchic revelry, for in fact they use little trumpets to invoke their god as do the Argives at their Dionysia. Others of them advance playing harps. … I believe that even the feast of the Sabbath is not completely unrelated to Dionysus. Many even now call the Bacchants Sabi and utter that cry when celebrating the god. Testimony to this can be found in Demosthenes and Menander … they keep the Sabbath by inviting each other to drink and to enjoy wine; when more important business interferes with this custom, they regularly take at least a sip of neat wine. Now thus far one might call the argument only probable, but the opposition is quite demolished, in the first place by the High Priest, who leads the procession at their festival wearing a mitre and clad in a gold-embroidered fawnskin, a robe reaching to the ankles, and ringing below him as he walks. All this corresponds to our custom. In the second place, they also have noise as an element in their nocturnal festivals, and call the nurses of the god ‘bronze rattlers’. The carved thyrsus in the relief on the pediment of the Temple and the drums (provide other parallels). All this surely befits (they might say) no divinity but Dionysus.

Plutarch, Moralia

And remember the hymn recording by Hippolitus that already equate Attis with Bacchus/Dionysus by the first century ad.

It is said that the Jews were originally exiles from the island of Crete who settled in the farthest parts of Libya at the time when Saturn had been deposed and expelled by Jove. An argument in favour of this is derived from the name: there is a famous mountain in Crete called Ida, and hence the inhabitants were called the Idaei, which was later lengthened into the barbarous form Iudaei. Some hold that in the reign of Isis the superfluous population of Egypt, under the leadership of Hierosolymus and Iuda, discharged itself on the neighbouring lands; many others think that they were an Egyptian stock, which in the reign of Cepheus was forced to migrate by fear and hatred. Still others report that they were Assyrian refugees, a landless people, who first got control of a part of Egypt, then later they had their own cities and lived in the Hebrew territory and the nearer parts of Syria. Still others say that the Jews are of illustrious origin, being the Solymi, a people celebrated in Homer's poems,5 who founded a city and gave it the name Hierosolyma, formed from their own.

Most authors agree that once during a plague in Egypt which caused bodily disfigurement, King Bocchoris6 approached the oracle of Ammon and asked for a remedy, whereupon he was told to purge his kingdom and to transport this race into other lands, since it was hateful to the gods. So the Hebrews were searched out and gathered together; then, being abandoned in the desert, while all others lay idle and weeping, one only of the exiles, Moses by name, warned them not to hope for help from gods or men, for they were deserted by both, but to trust to themselves, regarding as a guide sent from heaven the one whose assistance should first give them escape from their present distress. They agreed, and then set out on their journey in utter ignorance, but trusting to chance. Nothing caused them so much distress as scarcity of water, and in fact they had already fallen exhausted over the plain nigh unto death, when a herd of wild asses moved from their pasturage to a rock that was shaded by a grove of trees. Moses followed them, and, conjecturing the truth from the grassy ground, discovered abundant streams of water. This relieved them, and they then marched six days continuously, and on the seventh seized a country, expelling the former inhabitants; there they founded a city and dedicated a temple. To establish his influence over this people for all time, Moses introduced new religious practices, quite opposed to those of all other religions. The Jews regard as profane all that we hold sacred; on the other hand, they permit all that we abhor. They dedicated, in a shrine, a statue of that creature whose guidance enabled them to put an end to their wandering and thirst,9 sacrificing a ram, apparently in derision of Ammon. They likewise offer the ox, because the Egyptians worship Apis. They abstain from pork, in recollection of a plague, for the scab to which this animal is subject once afflicted them. By frequent fasts even now they bear witness to the long hunger with which they were once distressed, and the unleavened Jewish bread is still employed in memory of the haste with which they seized the grain.11 They say that they first chose to rest on the seventh day because that day ended their toils; but after a time they were led by the charms of indolence to give over the seventh year as well to inactivity.12 Others say that this is done in honour of Saturn, whether it be that the primitive elements of their religion were given by the Idaeans, who, according to tradition, were expelled with Saturn and became the founders of the Jewish race, or is due to the fact that, of the seven planets that rule the fortunes of mankind, Saturn moves in the highest orbit and has the greatest potency; and that many of the heavenly bodies traverse their paths and courses in multiples of seven.

Whatever their origin, these rites are maintained by their antiquity: the other customs of the Jews are base and abominable, and owe their persistence to their depravity. For the worst rascals among other peoples,15 renouncing their ancestral religions, always kept sending tribute and contributions to Jerusalem, thereby increasing the wealth of the Jews; again, the Jews are extremely loyal toward one another, and always ready to show compassion, but toward every other people they feel only hate and enmity. They sit apart at meals, and they sleep apart, and although as a race, they are prone to lust, they abstain from intercourse with foreign women; yet among themselves nothing is unlawful. They adopted circumcision to distinguish themselves from other peoples by this difference. Those who are converted to their ways follow the same practice, and the earliest lesson they receive is to despise the gods, to disown their country, and to regard their parents, children, and brothers as of little account. However, they take thought to increase their numbers; for they regard it as a crime to kill any late-born child,16 and they believe that the souls of those who are killed in battle or by the executioner are immortal: hence comes their passion for begetting children, and their scorn of death. They bury the body rather than burn it, thus following the Egyptians' custom; they likewise bestow the same care on the dead, and hold the same belief about the world below; but their ideas of heavenly things are quite the opposite. The Egyptians worship many animals and monstrous images; the Jews conceive of one god only, and that with the mind alone: they regard as impious those who make from perishable materials representations of gods in man's image; that supreme and eternal being is to them incapable of representation and without end. Therefore they set up no statues in their cities, still less in their temples; this flattery is not paid their kings, nor this honour given to the Caesars. But since their priests used to chant to the accompaniment of pipes and cymbals and to wear garlands of ivy, and because a golden vine was found in their temple, some have thought that they were devotees of Father Liber, the conqueror of the East, in spite of the incongruity of their customs. For Liber established festive rites of a joyous nature, while the ways of the Jews are preposterous and mean.

Tacitus, Histories

[Liber is another name for Bacchus/Dionysus]



In the hundred and thirty and seventh year of the kingdom of the Greeks, in those days went there out wicked men, who persuaded many, saying, Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them licence to do after the ordinances of the heathen: Whereupon they built a place of exercise according to the customs of the heathen: And made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen, and were sold to do mischief. …

Not long after this the king sent an old man of Athens to compel the Jews to depart from the laws of their fathers, and not to live after the laws of God: And to pollute also the temple, and to call it the temple of Jupiter Olympius; and that in Garizim, of Jupiter the Defender of strangers, as they did desire that dwelt in the place. …

And when the feast of Dionysus was kept, they were compelled to go in procession to Dionysus, carrying ivy. Moreover there went out a decree to the neighbour cities of the heathen, by the suggestion of Ptolemee, against them, that they should observe the same fashions, and be partakers of their sacrifices. …

Those who spoke against it should be taken by force and put to death; and that those who were registered should even be branded on their bodies with an ivy-leaf, the emblem of Dionysus, and be reduced to their former limited status. But that he might not appear an enemy to all, he added, But if any of them prefer to join those who are initiated into the mysteries, they shall have equal rights with the citizens of Alexandria. Some obviously hating the price paid for the religion of their city readily gave themselves up, expecting to gain great glory from their association with the king.

Epitome of Jason of Cyrene


May Horus answer us in our troubles; may Adonai answer us in troubles. O bowman in heaven, Sahar, shine forth; send your emissary from the temple of Arash, and from Zephon may Horus help us. May Horus grant us what is in our hearts! May the lord grant us what is in our hearts. All (our) plans may Horus fulfill. May Horus fulfill – may Adonai not fall short in satisfying – every request of our hearts. Some with the bow, some with the spear; behold as for us – lord god Horus-Yaho, our bull, is with us. May El of Bethel answer us on the morrow. May Baal, lord of heaven, bless you; to your pious ones, your blessings.

Aramaic Amherst Papyrus 63 (4th cen. BCE)

https://mythodoxy.wordpress.com/2019/07 ... tile-gods/
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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Evolution of the cross, Part 1

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:33 pm

In his seminal work, Ancient Egypt, the Light of the World, Gerald Massey argued that primitive modes of "sign language", body language and unspoken gestures, were worked into religious expressions as totem and fetish symbols. The reason for this is due to how humans perceive the external world. The phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" would have been axiomatic then as religion was tied to natural phenomenon that could not be easily expressed through language alone. Religion in fact predates language.

So when sculpting or depicting their gods, primitive man were inspired by the most easily recognizable shape they knew: their own bodies.

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Chalk xaonon, 1800 bc


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Vitruvian Man, 1490 ad

Through evolution the human body stands upright with arms appendages protruding from the top of the chest area, and a head, the so-called seat of the soul, resting upon it. When the arms are extended outward the whole of the human form can be seen unrestricted.

Image

If God mad man in his image, then the above image was the most perfect representation of God. Thus a cross came to be regarded as a totem symbol for God, and/or his spirit.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Post by GakuseiDon » Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:06 am

Serious question: why is syncretism a 'rabbit hole'? I'm guessing that you believe that mainstream scholarship is against the idea that that occurred, or its extent? If I am reading you correctly there, can you show where mainstream scholarship is wrong (preferably with quotes)? If I am not reading you correctly, can you correct me please?

Syncretism as a concept doesn't appear to be discussed here very often, because the concept itself is non-controversial. There has been controversy around specific examples though. Are any of the examples that you've given in the two posts above that you regard as not accepted as syncretism by mainstream scholarship? It would be an interesting topic to discuss.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: Evolution of the cross, Part 1

Post by GakuseiDon » Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:20 am

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:33 pm
If God mad man in his image, then the above image was the most perfect representation of God. Thus a cross came to be regarded as a totem symbol for God, and/or his spirit.
Minucius Felix, 2nd/3rd C Christian apologist, wrote that pagans also (indirectly) venerated the form of the cross:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... avius.html

Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. For your very standards, as well as your banners; and flags of your camp, what else are they but crosses glided and adorned? Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it. We assuredly see the sign of a cross, naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up, it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with hands outstretched. Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason, or your own religion is formed with respect to it.

So there is that link there, which you may find useful.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:28 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:06 am
Serious question: why is syncretism a 'rabbit hole'?
This illustration by the author of the Lost-History blog sums it up nicely:

Image

Now even if I don't agree fully with this image, syncretism is a rabbit hole in much the same way any evolution works, be it biological evolution... :

Image

... or the evolution of the New Testament... :

Image

... or language:

Image

Because of this syncretism can be quite complex, although the mechanisms behind it are simple enough.

I'm guessing that you believe that mainstream scholarship is against the idea that that occurred, or its extent? If I am reading you correctly there, can you show where mainstream scholarship is wrong (preferably with quotes)? If I am not reading you correctly, can you correct me please?
No, it is correct wherein it is applied to religion. My issue is that Judaism and Christianity are treated as somehow emerging within a unique environment, or are somehow unique phenomena outside the realm of the natural selection of religion. Mainstream scholarship is heavily against studying the Abrahamic faiths with syncretism as a measurement of analysis.
Syncretism as a concept doesn't appear to be discussed here very often, because the concept itself is non-controversial. There has been controversy around specific examples though. Are any of the examples that you've given in the two posts above that you regard as not accepted as syncretism by mainstream scholarship? It would be an interesting topic to discuss.
On the contrary, besides a hand full of users on here willing to discuss syncretsim, the reason why it receives so little discussion is because it is looked down upon. This is in no small part due to how it has been (mis)used by... others... It is now so bad that even the field of comparative religion has been maligned, and "history of religion" as an idea is rejected as being a fringe idea from the 19th century. Even me so much as mentioning Massey (a man so misunderstood by even those promoting pagan parallel arguments) would be enough to make everything I say worthless on the matter.

Syncretism isn't the end-all, be-all of my overall views on Christianity, and I am not a mythicist in the purest form. Nevertheless, to ignore it as a contributing model is extremely ignorant to my mind.
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Joseph D. L.
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Re: Evolution of the cross, Part 1

Post by Joseph D. L. » Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:31 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 3:20 am
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:33 pm
If God mad man in his image, then the above image was the most perfect representation of God. Thus a cross came to be regarded as a totem symbol for God, and/or his spirit.
Minucius Felix, 2nd/3rd C Christian apologist, wrote that pagans also (indirectly) venerated the form of the cross:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/t ... avius.html

Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. For your very standards, as well as your banners; and flags of your camp, what else are they but crosses glided and adorned? Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it. We assuredly see the sign of a cross, naturally, in the ship when it is carried along with swelling sails, when it glides forward with expanded oars; and when the military yoke is lifted up, it is the sign of a cross; and when a man adores God with a pure mind, with hands outstretched. Thus the sign of the cross either is sustained by a natural reason, or your own religion is formed with respect to it.

So there is that link there, which you may find useful.
Spoilers! This was for later.

Justin Martyr and Tertullian said the same thing though.
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Re: Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Post by GakuseiDon » Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:26 am

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:28 am
This illustration by the author of the Lost-History blog sums it up nicely:
Thanks, that's a great chart!
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:28 am
My issue is that Judaism and Christianity are treated as somehow emerging within a unique environment, or are somehow unique phenomena outside the realm of the natural selection of religion.
I'd strongly disagree there. You just need to look at any peer-reviewed publication to see that there are heaps and heaps of articles and studies into the influences on the origin and development of Christianity and Judaism. Can you explain a little more about what you mean here please? Your statement just seems to be the opposite of what appears to be the case with modern scholarship, that I'd like to understand where you are coming from, if you have time. If you have any quotes from mainstream scholars that highlights the issue, that would be good.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:28 am
On the contrary, besides a hand full of users on here willing to discuss syncretsim, the reason why it receives so little discussion is because it is looked down upon. This is in no small part due to how it has been (mis)used by... others...
As you know, I disagree with your definition of syncretism, so I'd probably be on your list of people mis-using it (and I'd put you on my list, of course! :D) But I'm not a mainstream scholar by any definition (0% scholar, a 100% genuine amateur enthusiast!) How are mainstream scholars misusing it, in your opinion, and what should they be doing? Again, any quotes from mainstream scholars highlighting the issue would be appreciated.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: Evolution of the cross, part 2

Post by Joseph D. L. » Mon Jan 20, 2020 1:27 am

There are of course examples wherein a cross alone came to represent the god.

天 is the name of the primeval sky god of the ancient Chinese .

Image Image

As you can see the logogram for the god resembles the idea figure of a man, with his arms outward from his body.

Probably the most recognizable character is that of the ankh of Egypt.

Image

Image

A line of ankhs. Note the arms holding ws scepters.

The ankh held various different meanings in Egypt. In one instance it was the life giving water of the Nile. It's most prominent meaning was as life itself, not to be confused with "soul" or Ka. Which brings us to...

Image

The Ka.

A person's Ka was their life force, depicted as a pair of outstretched arms. Egyptian concepts of spirit divided the individual into ht, ba, ka, akh, and swt. But unlike traditional ideas of spirit, soul, mind, and body, the Egyptians viewed these as corporeal identities dependent upon one another. To them, an individual was not a Babushka doll, wherein these ideas were stuffed inside one another. Nor were they dualists that separated body and spirit. Each portion contained %100 of the individual. A person could not survive without their ht, just as they could survive with their ba, and so on.

The Ka was depicted with arms as it would embrace the individual to give it power. So in certain ritual formulas, Horus must embrace Osiris with his Ka to give life back to the dead god.
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Re: Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Post by Joseph D. L. » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:50 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 10:26 am
I'd strongly disagree there. You just need to look at any peer-reviewed publication to see that there are heaps and heaps of articles and studies into the influences on the origin and development of Christianity and Judaism. Can you explain a little more about what you mean here please? Your statement just seems to be the opposite of what appears to be the case with modern scholarship, that I'd like to understand where you are coming from, if you have time. If you have any quotes from mainstream scholars that highlights the issue, that would be good.
I don't know who you have read or what you have read that informs you of this. At the very most mainstream scholars concede that Christianity and Judaism (and Islam) were, very tenuously, influenced by pagan ideas. That's as far as they go, and that's a far cry from the kind of syncretism that was actually occurring back then. You would never hear these scholars say that Judaism is paganism (which it is), or that Christianity is paganism (which it is), because they have culturally built-in biases against such ideas. (Hell, a lot of them still regard the Gospels as quasi-historic).
As you know, I disagree with your definition of syncretism, so I'd probably be on your list of people mis-using it (and I'd put you on my list, of course! :D) But I'm not a mainstream scholar by any definition (0% scholar, a 100% genuine amateur enthusiast!) How are mainstream scholars misusing it, in your opinion, and what should they be doing? Again, any quotes from mainstream scholars highlighting the issue would be appreciated.
I think it was pretty clear by my sarcasm that I'm referring to people like Acharya S., who set back this field by fifty years with her nonsense in the Christ Conspiracy that even stating that gods had virgin births before Jesus was met with immediate outrage. But Acharya was only one person, the real culprits were those using her book on online boards who only made generalized statements of generalized statements. Because these people were amateurs themselves who didn't know the proper sources, they only knew the boldface "HOURS WAS BORN OF A VIRGIN!!!, and so the critics who didn't know any better themselves upon seeing this would do a cursory search and then come back with "NAH UH!!!" All this did was make the very topic of pagan parallelism a taboo subject and was at one point universally rejected by mainstream academia, and the "what are your credentials" became almost proverbial. And now today, almost no scholar is willing to fully admit it as a legitimate field of inquiry. They only shrug and say "paganism influenced Christianity the same way Newton influenced Einstein", as in the influence was minute and the latter was the superior of the two.

Also, as an aside, you don't seem to have any understanding of how syncretism works and I'm tired of explaining it to you.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: Down the rabbit hole of syncretism

Post by GakuseiDon » Wed Jan 22, 2020 3:36 am

Joseph D. L. wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:50 am
I don't know who you have read or what you have read that informs you of this.
Heaps and heaps! Scholarly literature on the influences of paganism on early Christianity is extensive, with some ideas more controversial than others of course. Cynicism, Stoicism, Platonism, lots more. For example, in the Wiki entry on Cynicism:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicism_(philosophy)

Some historians have noted the similarities between the teachings of Jesus and those of the Cynics. Some scholars have argued that the Q document, a hypothetical common source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke, has strong similarities to the teachings of the Cynics. Scholars on the quest for the historical Jesus, such as Burton L. Mack and John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar, have argued that 1st-century AD Galilee was a world in which Hellenistic ideas collided with Jewish thought and traditions. The city of Gadara, only a day's walk from Nazareth, was particularly notable as a centre of Cynic philosophy,[75] and Mack has described Jesus as a "rather normal Cynic-type figure."

With regards to Stoicism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism

In his letters, Paul reflected heavily from his knowledge of Stoic philosophy, using Stoic terms and metaphors to assist his new Gentile converts in their understanding of Christianity.[47] Stoic influence can also be seen in the works of St. Ambrose, Marcus Minucius Felix, and Tertullian.[48]

The Fathers of the Church regarded Stoicism as a "pagan philosophy";[49][50] nonetheless, early Christian writers employed some of the central philosophical concepts of Stoicism. Examples include the terms "logos", "virtue", "Spirit", and "conscience".[25] But the parallels go well beyond the sharing and borrowing of terminology...

Stoic writings such as Meditations by Marcus Aurelius have been highly regarded by many Christians throughout the centuries.

As for discussions around the influence of Platonism on early Christianity, you can easily find many articles on that.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:50 am
At the very most mainstream scholars concede that Christianity and Judaism (and Islam) were, very tenuously, influenced by pagan ideas. That's as far as they go...
"Very tenuously"? No. Again I would ask for quotes from mainstream scholars to support that idea. It is certainly counter to what I've found in the literature.
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:50 am
You would never hear these scholars say that Judaism is paganism (which it is), or that Christianity is paganism (which it is), because they have culturally built-in biases against such ideas.
I don't understand what you mean by "Judaism is paganism" or "Christianity is paganism". What do you mean? The definition of paganism is: The religious beliefs and practices of pagans; religious opinion, worship, and conduct which is not Christian, Jewish, or Mohammedan. Is the definition incorrect?
Joseph D. L. wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:50 am
Also, as an aside, you don't seem to have any understanding of how syncretism works and I'm tired of explaining it to you.
My apologies. We have differing definitions, so it makes discussion on the topic difficult. But that's fine. Thanks for your input on it though.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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