FRDB Archives

Freethought & Rationalism Archive

The archives are read only.


Go Back   FRDB Archives > Philosophy & Religious Studies > History of Abrahamic Religions & Related Texts
Welcome, Peter Kirby.
You last visited: Today at 01:23 AM

Notices

 
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 03-02-2013, 06:21 AM   #1
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default Subversion of the Greek "daimon" [δαίμων] in the Gospels

What purpose would the Gospel authors have had for subverting the original Greek meaning of the term "daimon"? The Greek usage of the term "daimon" [δαίμων] in the Gospels (an evil spirit) appears to be distinctly different from how the term is used in the Greek classical tradition (a god, a goddess or an inferior deity, whether good or bad). The WIKI page on "daemon" provides some basic information.

Classical Greek usage outside Gospels

The classical uses of the term as a god, a goddess or an inferior deity, whether good or bad are to be found in the following. The daimon is often presented as the "Guardian spirit".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon

◦Aeschines, Against Ctesiphon, 111
◦Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 1569
◦Aeschylus, Persians, 601
◦Aeschylus, Persians, 620
◦Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, 812
◦Antiphon, Second Tetralogy, 3.4
◦Aristophanes, Birds, 544
◦Aristophanes, Wasps, 525
◦Bacchylides, Dithyrambs, 15.23
◦Bacchylides, Dithyrambs, 16.117
◦Euripides, Alcestis, 1003
◦Herodotus, Histories, 1.111
◦Hesiod, Works and Days, 122
◦Hesiod, Works and Days, 314
◦Homer, Iliad, 11.792
◦Homer, Iliad, 17.98
◦Homer, Odyssey, 10.64
◦Homer, Odyssey, 11.61
◦Homer, Odyssey, 1.8.166
◦Homer, Odyssey, 3.27
◦Homer, Odyssey, 5.396
◦Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 8.2.5
◦Lysias, Funeral Oration, 78
◦Lysias, Against Agoratus, 63
◦Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.39.5
◦Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.6.8
◦Plato, Republic, 392a
◦Plato, Phaedo, 107d
◦Plato, Cratylus, 398b
◦Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1443
◦Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1480
◦Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 76
◦Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1194
◦Homer, Iliad, 1.222
◦Homer, Iliad, 3.420
◦Homer, Iliad, 5.438
◦Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 1342
◦Aretaeus, De causis et signis acutorum morborum (lib. 2), 1.4
◦Plutarch, Artaxerxes, 15
◦Plutarch, Caesar, 69
◦Lucian, De luctu, 24
Classical Greek usage within Gospels

The gospel authors uses the word "daimon" in three places,
translated in the KJV below as "devil".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mat 8:31
So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mar 5:12
And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luk 8:29
(For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)
Here is an example of classical use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plato

"We should think of the most authoritative part of the soul as the
"Guardian Spirit" given by God which lifts us to our heavenly home."
Here is an example of the same classical usage via Latin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ammianus Marcellinus (Book 21) - from the obituary to Constantius II

3. For the theologians maintain that there are associated
with all men at their birth, but without interference with
the established course of destiny, certain divinities
of that sort, as directors of their conduct
; but they
have been seen by only a very few, whom their
manifold merits have raised to eminence.

4. And this oracles and writers of distinction have shown;
among the latter is also the comic poet Menander,
in whom we read these two searii:
"A daemon is assigned to every man
At birth, to be the leader of his life".
5. Likewise from the immortal poems of Homer
we are given to understand that it was not the gods
of heaven that spoke with brave men, and stood by
them or aided them as they fought, but that guardians
spirits
attended them; and through reliance upon
their special support, it is said, that Pythagoras,
Socrates, and Numa Pompilius became famous; also
the earlier Scipio, and (as some believe) Marius and
Octavianus, who first had the title of Augustus
conferred upon him, and Hermes Trismegistus,
Apollonius of Tyana, and Plotinus, who ventured to
discourse on this mystic theme, and to present
a profound discussion on the question by what
elements these spirits are linked with men's souls,
and taking them to their bosoms, as it were,
protect them (as long as possible) and give them
higher instruction, if they perceive that they are
pure and kept from the pollution of sin through
association with an immaculate body.

What purpose would the Gospel authors have had for subverting the original Greek meaning of the term "daimon"?

Quote:
Subversion refers to an attempt to transform the established social order and its structures of power, authority, and hierarchy.


ADDENDUM:

(1) Mani writes about his spirit guide as his "heavenly twin".

(2) The Acts of John have something about Jesus having a visit from his twin.

(3) The Acts of Thomas mentions twins ... (Is the name Thomas Aramaic for twin)?
mountainman is offline  
Old 03-02-2013, 09:57 AM   #2
Toto
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Los Angeles area
Posts: 40,549
Default

This is not a subversion so much as an outright rebellion against the Greek gods. Christianity rejected paganism. Why look for another level of meaning?

The change in meaning of demon is well known. Modern computer professionals revived the original meaning by naming some processes daimons, or friendly guides.

The question of twins is more complex. The heavenly twins were the Boanerges, the sons of thunder - twins born of Zeus and a mortal woman, one of whom was human, the other divine. There has been a lot written about this theme.
Toto is offline  
Old 03-02-2013, 10:09 AM   #3
avi
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Location: eastern North America
Posts: 1,468
Default

HI Pete!

Yeah, Thomas is coming, so far as I am aware, from the Hebrew, and means "twin".

The Greek equivalent is Didymus.
avi is offline  
Old 03-03-2013, 03:24 AM   #4
wordy
Contributor
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sweden, Europe
Posts: 12,091
Default

My wild guess is that the Holy Ghost/Spirit is supposed
to be the only thing you submit to so to have a daimon
that is a Guarding Spirit is something that comes in
between you and God so they had to talk bad about all
the other daimons except the loyal Angels that do God's work.

Compare with Islam that see music as a distraction
that makes you be too far from Allah. So music is restricted pleasure.

I talked to an Imam and he said music only allowed on Weddings
and at pilgrimage to Mecca. They have a special place where they
sing hymns to Allah so all other music was haram and not allowed.
wordy is offline  
Old 03-03-2013, 03:40 AM   #5
Clivedurdle
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: London UK
Posts: 16,024
Default

Isn't this to do with the urbanisation of humanity?

For possibly two million years humans have been nomadic hunter gatherers with various permutations of settlement.

Our gods were these daemons.

With settlement and agriculture not only our basic health and disease ecologies changed, but our ways of thinking and our myths.

Formal learning, reading and writing, rules of cities, surpluses for new forms of control - armies, bureaucracies, priesthoods, new gods, leading to Ahura Mazda, the definition of good and evil.

Xianity is a further iteration of the urban, it attacks "paganism" 'country bumpkins" precisely because the old ways are muddled and untidy, everyone with their own gods. Xianity is like the twentieth century revolution in farming methods - to the huge American monoculture farming, away from everyone growing their own set of crops and animals.

Islam is a further iteration to the idea of submission to the one true god.

Whole chunks of the planet though have never given up the old ways.

Maybe we need a new term - god ecology.
Clivedurdle is offline  
Old 03-03-2013, 04:37 AM   #6
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default

From WIKI on "daimon" [Greek]; "daemon" [Latin]

Quote:
In the Hellenistic ruler cult that began with Alexander the Great, it was not the ruler but his guiding daemon that was venerated.

In the Archaic or early Classical period, the daimon had been democratized and internalized for each person, whom it served to guide, motivate and inspire, as one possessed of such good spirits.[14]

Similarly, the first-century Roman Imperial cult began by venerating the genius or numen of Augustus, a distinction that blurred in time.
mountainman is offline  
Old 03-03-2013, 08:10 PM   #7
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toto View Post
This is not a subversion so much as an outright rebellion against the Greek gods. Christianity rejected paganism. Why look for another level of meaning?

The rebellion was not just against the Greek gods and paganism but also against the established pagan social order and its structures of power, authority, and hierarchy.

The rebellion was conducted by using subversion.

The Gospel authors took one of the focal words ["daimon"] of the Greek philosophical conceptual framework which was reserved to describe the notion of "a god, a goddess or an inferior deity, whether good or bad" and then purposely subvert its meaning in their political-religious manifesto to become the notion of "an evil spirit".



Quote:
The change in meaning of demon is well known.
Not to be picky but ... the OP is about the change in the (original) meaning of "daimon".

Are you aware of much written about this?



Quote:
Modern computer professionals revived the original meaning by naming some processes daimons, or friendly guides.
Good point. They did.


Quote:
The question of twins is more complex. The heavenly twins were the Boanerges, the sons of thunder - twins born of Zeus and a mortal woman, one of whom was human, the other divine. There has been a lot written about this theme.

The reason I mentioned it is because there appears to be a parallel between what Mani meant when he described his "heavenly twin" and what the Greeks meant when they described the "daimon" as a kind of "Guardian spirit"
mountainman is offline  
Old 03-03-2013, 08:31 PM   #8
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by avi View Post
HI Pete!

Yeah, Thomas is coming, so far as I am aware, from the Hebrew, and means "twin".

The Greek equivalent is Didymus.
Heya avi, thanks for that.

It makes one wonder whether there was any form of interchange between the Manichaean community and the Christian community of the mid to late 3rd century in the eastern empire. Theoretically they both flourished in Alexandria and Rome, both had churches and Gospels to be read aloud inside them, both had apostolic succession.

The Thomas literature from the Gnostics is interesting.


(1) The Gospel of Thomas starts with ......
"These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke
and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down."
In regard to the Gospel of Thomas Robert Grant writes:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Two Gnostic Gospels, Robert M. Grant

Journal of Biblical Literature > Vol. 79, No. 1, Mar., 1960
On the Gospel of Thomas:

"... a carefully selected announcement of basic Gnostic doctrines. His monotonous repetition of the phrase "Jesus said", does not prove that his gospel is Christian ....[...]... the environment in which Thomas did his work is almost certainly Gnostic. Indeed, if we make a point-by-point comparison between Thomas and the Naassenes described in the fifth book of Hippolytus's "Refutation", we may well conclude that his gospel not only was used by them but was also composed in support of their doctrines. ......It is important as a witness to the development of Gnostic Christology, not to the teaching of the historical Jesus.



(2) The Acts of Thomas OTOH presents two types of Jesus. It is also characterised by the preservation of a text called "The Hymn of the Pearl" by placing it into the mouth of Thomas in an Indian jail. This text is often seen as related to Persian themes. I have a few translations of it collected here.

I have yet to have a look for the references to Didymus Thomas.

Would this not mean "twin twin"?

It's a strange path ....



mountainman is offline  
Old 03-03-2013, 08:47 PM   #9
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by wordy View Post
My wild guess is that the Holy Ghost/Spirit is supposed
to be the only thing you submit to so to have a daimon
that is a Guarding Spirit is something that comes in
between you and God so they had to talk bad about all
the other daimons except the loyal Angels that do God's work.

I think that I tend to agree with wordy's wild guess.

In other words the original Greek concept of the term "daimon" was first subverted to "demon" and then replaced with the Christian concept of the "holy ghost". There are a significant number of similarities between the two concepts to discuss.

There may also be a significant number of differences, so perhaps the similarities and differences should be compared between the original Greek concept of "Daimon" and the standard issue replacement "The Holy Ghost".
mountainman is offline  
Old 03-03-2013, 08:57 PM   #10
mountainman
Contributor
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Falls Creek, Oz.
Posts: 11,192
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clivedurdle View Post
Isn't this to do with the urbanisation of humanity?

For possibly two million years humans have been nomadic hunter gatherers with various permutations of settlement.

Our gods were these daemons.

With settlement and agriculture not only our basic health and disease ecologies changed, but our ways of thinking and our myths.

Formal learning, reading and writing, rules of cities, surpluses for new forms of control - armies, bureaucracies, priesthoods, new gods, leading to Ahura Mazda, the definition of good and evil.

Xianity is a further iteration of the urban, it attacks "paganism" 'country bumpkins" precisely because the old ways are muddled and untidy, everyone with their own gods. Xianity is like the twentieth century revolution in farming methods - to the huge American monoculture farming, away from everyone growing their own set of crops and animals.

Islam is a further iteration to the idea of submission to the one true god.

Whole chunks of the planet though have never given up the old ways.

Maybe we need a new term - god ecology.
To do that we must be able to perceive the ecosystem of the gods.

We may certainly perceive how the Greeks viewed this ecosystem.

There seemed to have been a hierarchical pantheon of gods operating in the external world. Where the individual ancient Greek plugged into the world and the ecosystem of the gods was, as far as I can make it out, via this
"daimon" as some sort of individual guardian angel or guide.

The urbanisation of these concepts was undertaken by centralised state monotheistic religions where individuality was suppressed and the One True Spirit was introduced to become the Friend and Saviour, but also the Judge and Executioner. I like the Greek ideas of the ecology of the gods better than I do the monotheistic bullshit.
"Save for the wild forces of Nature
nothing moves in this world
that is not Greek in its origin."



--- Acton

What did the Greeks know about psychology?
mountainman is offline  
 

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:39 AM.

Top

This custom BB emulates vBulletin® Version 3.8.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.