Neo-Assyrian Origins Of Gnosticism/Jewish Esoterica? Parpola

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yakovzutolmai
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Neo-Assyrian Origins Of Gnosticism/Jewish Esoterica? Parpola

Post by yakovzutolmai »

I have just read a review of Simo Parpola's theory of the existence of an esoteric cult in Neo-Assyria whose details were never properly recorded textually. He claims the systems of this cult are the direct, genealogical ancestors of Gnosticism and what is now called Kabbalah. Even basic Christian theology descends from this cult's Ishtar and the trinity of Bel, Ishtar and Nabu. Ishtar models Sophia, serves as the Holy Spirit, and plays a role in the salvation of man from death and sin. The perfect man is a savior type who models salvific behavior.

The theory is mostly discounted, while simultaneously heralding the credentials of Parpola. The Neo-Assyrian prophet class does resemble the Hebrew prophet class, and some of their recorded literature hints at the beginning of the literary tradition which sees expression in the Hebrew bible. Otherwise, the reviewer is not convinced.

I'm partial to the importance of Neo-Assyrian religion in influencing Gnosticism and Christianity because of my exploration of the geopolitical importance of Assyrian kings in the first and second century CE, influencing Christianity and later Islam.

Either way, whether anyone has anything to add on this subject, here is the place. See attached image for a demonstration of the hypothesis. Parpola takes tree motifs which adorn religious carvings in Assyria. He proposes these are exoteric symbols which stand in for esoteric/philosophical trees with which initiates would be familiar.

Assyrian prophecies, the Assyrian Tree, and the Mesopotamian origins of Jewish monotheism, Greek philosophy, Christian theology, Gnosticism and much more. Cooper, Jerrold. Johns Hopkins University.
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billd89
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Re: Neo-Assyrian Origins Of Gnosticism/Jewish Esoterica? Parpola

Post by billd89 »

yakovzutolmai wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 4:43 amI have just read a review of Simo Parpola's theory of the existence of an esoteric cult in Neo-Assyria whose details were never properly recorded textually. He claims the systems of this cult are the direct, genealogical ancestors of Gnosticism and what is now called Kabbalah. Even basic Christian theology descends from this cult's Ishtar and the trinity of Bel, Ishtar and Nabu. Ishtar models Sophia, serves as the Holy Spirit, and plays a role in the salvation of man from death and sin. The perfect man is a savior type who models salvific behavior.
Intriguing.
I first read Hans Jonas about 20 years ago. And I've been reading academic PhD level papers on Gnosticism for at least five years. I am no clearer on the true origins of "Gnosticism" now, and there's nothing like a consensus among specialists. However, a good number of the better minds insist Gnosticism originates in Egypt. (I should be partial to this theory, but I remain doubtful.) Much depends on how narrowly we choose to define "Gnosticism."

I suspect the oldest Merkavah-type ('Enochic') mysticism (~300 BC) pre-dates (Judeo-Egyptian Proto-)"Gnosticism" (~150 BC) by a few hundred years. And whatever proto-Enochic 'Jewish' mysticism (Proto-Gnosticism) was definitely Chaldean, viz. of Assyrian origin ... dating as far back as c.500 BC, if not further. As ancient histories tell, 'Abraham's (Chaldean) wisdom, taught later to the Egyptians' is myth, but I think Jewish legend preserved some truth in the process or timeline of how relevant culture passed along.

Mesopotamia is the cradle of (Proto-) Judaic Gnosticism: if we can even call them 'Jews' or 'Gnostic' so far back (debatable). This esoteric knowledge travelled to Egypt, where there was a constant demand, tradition and trend towards mystical inquiry in some Temples.

Secondarily, Kabbalah (c.200-400 AD?) originates in Babylon, surely. Not Egypt. My own dating is earlier than the evidence because I suppose the earliest teachings were 'underground' for several hundred years. However, Wiki says "early kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel" - that's waaaaay too early. I also suppose what we call 'Kabbalah' must have been influenced by the (Egyptian) Hermetica as a final stage in the development, given the traces. But I know little about medieval Jewish esoterica, and that's my view from the Hermetic angle (my own focus). A significant part of the Corpus Hermeticum is Judaicized, and I believe that translation of Hermetica happened c.75 BC-35 AD, which impacts my opinion; I often disagree with Late Daters (most academic scholars).
yakovzutolmai wrote:The perfect man is a savior type who models salvific behavior.
Philo Judaeus describes the Aletheian Anthropos (prototype and model A.A.= Actualized Man) in a few works - he did not originate that, the concept must have been known if not established (throughout the Diaspora, at least Coastal Asia Minor?). So where did it begin?
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