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Old 07-29-2001, 10:00 AM   #1
Bill
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Lightbulb The Pagan Foundations of Christianity

I was reviewing the writings of Thomas Henry Huxley on another matter entirely, when I came upon his essay entitled The Evolution of Theology : An Anthropological Study (1886), from Volume IV of his Collected Essays. This is an interesting article which, I think, clearly illustrates the pagan foundations of Judaism and, through inheritance, Christianity itself.

In this essay, after some introductory comments disclaiming anything other than an anthropological approach to the understanding of how religious traditions evolve, memetically (although he does not, of course, use the word "meme" or anything like it), Huxley proceeds to analyze the story of the Witch of Endor from Chapter 28 of the first book of Samuel. Huxley notes that, with the full authority of authors of the Old Testament, King Saul, having been deserted by Yahweh, and thus unable to obtain divine assistance in his battles, proceeds to consult the ghost of Samuel himself through requesting the assistance of a spiritual medium in the person of this same Witch of Endor.

Huxley notes that the specific word used in this passage to describe what the witch (or medium) conjures up is the very Hebrew word from Genesis used to describe God: Elohim. This whole account of the woman who is able to draw the ghost of Samuel out of the ground (or from "Sheol" in ancient Hebrew) is used to clearly demonstrate that, at least in this early phase of Jewish theology, there was "no belief in rewards and punishments after death" in ancient Israel. Instead, the ghost of Samuel only seems upset at having been "disturbed" by this act of necromancy. And in spite of the fact that Samuel represents the side of virtue in the view of the Bible writers, and that Saul represents it's opposite, Samuel's only substantive prediction given to Saul is that "Tomorrow both you and your sons will be with me" (clearly implying that both Samuel and Saul, the "good" and the "evil" ones, will be in the same place: Sheol).

Huxley then proceeds to show that this sort of familiarity with ghosts and spirits is characteristic of primitive religious beliefs, and so we should not be at all surprised to find these sorts of events preserved in the earliest traditions of the Jewish religion.

Huxley then continues on at length, and you should probably read the whole article for yourself if you are interested in this sort of thesis. In any case, Huxley ends his description of the evolution of theology with the following:
Quote:
With the growth of civilisation in Europe, and with the revival of letters and of science in the [371] fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the ethical and intellectual criticism of theology once more recommenced, and arrived at a temporary resting-place in the confessions of the various reformed Protestant sects in the sixteenth century; almost all of which, as soon as they were strong enough, began to persecute those who carried criticism beyond their own limit. But the movement was not arrested by these ecclesiastical barriers, as their constructors fondly imagined it would be; it was continued, tacitly or openly, by Galileo, by Hobbes, by Descartes, and especially by Spinoza, in the seventeenth century; by the English Freethinkers, by Rousseau, by the French Encyclopędists, and by the German Rationalists, among whom Lessing stands out a head and shoulders taller than the rest, throughout the eighteenth century; by the historians, the philologers, the Biblical critics, the geologists, and the biologists in the nineteenth century, until it is obvious to all who can see that the moral sense and the really scientific method of seeking for truth are once more predominating over false science. Once more ethics and theology are parting company.

It is my conviction that, with the spread of true scientific culture, whatever may be the medium, historical, philological, philosophical, or physical, through which that culture is conveyed, and with its necessary concomitant, a constant elevation of the standard of veracity, the end of the evolution [372] of theology will be like its beginning—it will cease to have any relation to ethics. I suppose that, so long as the human mind exists, it will not escape its deep-seated instinct to personify its intellectual conceptions. The science of the present day is as full of this particular form of intellectual shadow-worship as is the nescience of ignorant ages. The difference is that the philosopher who is worthy of the name knows that his personified hypotheses, such as law, and force, and ether, and the like, are merely useful symbols, while the ignorant and the careless take them for adequate expressions of reality. So, it may be, that the majority of mankind may find the practice of morality made easier by the use of theological symbols. And unless these are converted from symbols into idols, I do not see that science has anything to say to the practice, except to give an occasional warning of its dangers. But, when such symbols are dealt with as real existences, I think the highest duty which is laid upon men of science is to show that these dogmatic idols have no greater value than the fabrications of men's hands, the sticks and the stones, which they have replaced.
While I share Huxley's sentiments here, unlike him I am not optimistic that theology will take the admonishments of science to heart. Instead, I feel that theology must alway react against science, which seems to largely account for the modern battle over evolutionary theory; a battle that Huxley thought had been won by the time of his own death.

== Bill
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Old 07-29-2001, 04:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill:
<STRONG>I was reviewing the writings of Thomas Henry Huxley on another matter entirely, when I came upon his essay entitled The Evolution of Theology : An Anthropological Study (1886), from Volume IV of his Collected Essays. This is an interesting article which, I think, clearly illustrates the pagan foundations of Judaism and, through inheritance, Christianity itself.

In this essay, after some introductory comments disclaiming anything other than an anthropological approach to the understanding of how religious traditions evolve, memetically (although he does not, of course, use the word "meme" or anything like it), Huxley proceeds to analyze the story of the Witch of Endor from Chapter 28 of the first book of Samuel. Huxley notes that, with the full authority of authors of the Old Testament, King Saul, having been deserted by Yahweh, and thus unable to obtain divine assistance in his battles, proceeds to consult the ghost of Samuel himself through requesting the assistance of a spiritual medium in the person of this same Witch of Endor.

Huxley notes that the specific word used in this passage to describe what the witch (or medium) conjures up is the very Hebrew word from Genesis used to describe God: Elohim. This whole account of the woman who is able to draw the ghost of Samuel out of the ground (or from "Sheol" in ancient Hebrew) is used to clearly demonstrate that, at least in this early phase of Jewish theology, there was "no belief in rewards and punishments after death" in ancient Israel. Instead, the ghost of Samuel only seems upset at having been "disturbed" by this act of necromancy. And in spite of the fact that Samuel represents the side of virtue in the view of the Bible writers, and that Saul represents it's opposite, Samuel's only substantive prediction given to Saul is that "Tomorrow both you and your sons will be with me" (clearly implying that both Samuel and Saul, the "good" and the "evil" ones, will be in the same place: Sheol).

Huxley then proceeds to show that this sort of familiarity with ghosts and spirits is characteristic of primitive religious beliefs, and so we should not be at all surprised to find these sorts of events preserved in the earliest traditions of the Jewish religion.

Huxley then continues on at length, and you should probably read the whole article for yourself if you are interested in this sort of thesis. In any case, Huxley ends his description of the evolution of theology with the following: While I share Huxley's sentiments here, unlike him I am not optimistic that theology will take the admonishments of science to heart. Instead, I feel that theology must alway react against science, which seems to largely account for the modern battle over evolutionary theory; a battle that Huxley thought had been won by the time of his own death.

== Bill</STRONG>
Bill,
Could this story be related to Kabbalah?
The pagan influence of the study of Kabbalah
is well documented By Robert Gillette.
Even though it was a forbidden practice, it still grew in some circles of the Jewish people because of it's so-called mystical powers.

It is very interesting looking at the
use of mysticism in Jewish culture.

Wolf
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Old 07-29-2001, 07:41 PM   #3
Bill
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Exclamation

Wolf:

Certainly, the implication is that Saul threw all of the practitioners of mysticism out of the country, or otherwise persecuted or killed them. The interesting aspect of this chapter of the Bible is that it asserts the reality of this mystical practice of necromancy (seances). This shows that God was telling the Jews not to practice this stuff not because it was false (or fake) but because it would lead to idol worship or some such thing.

And of course, these days Kabbalah has it's own web site and everything. Get your horoscope told on-line (the Hindus do that too), etc. So, in a way, this is probably the oldest continuously-practiced religion that there is......

== Bill
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Old 07-30-2001, 08:29 AM   #4
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Qabbala (many ways of spelling it) is a lot more than just a harmless mystic adventure. It has a stranglehold on reality today by its interpretations of real situations according to their mystic, divine meaning. For example, the left sephira (counting, cosmic division) is held to be that of infidelity, and the right, to be that of belief, and thus the Jewish Qabbalists are prompted to view all deeds of the Leftist party in Israel as endangering the faith. Qabbala has swept the entire Orthodox Jewish world, even those who had opposed it.

Recommended reading: Saffi Rachlevsky's Messiah's Donkey. I don't know if it's available in English though. I've read all of it in Hebrew. A valuable read for understanding the daily Mideast news.
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