Philo's guide to decoding the Hebrew Bible

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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Post by Ishtar » Fri Sep 05, 2008 10:58 am

That's very interesting, KB. I think there are quite a few of these natural-seeming earthworks serpents around.

In this country, some say that Avebury Mound used be called Abury Mound - in fact, I've seen an old map showing this. The mound was originally the head of a serpent with a winding old road that led to it, but the Romans build roads across it, so it's barely visible now.

Also, there's one at Peyrolles, near Rennes le Chateau in France. It is known as Le Serpent Rouge. You can see it on this map.

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Post by john » Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:41 pm

Ishtar wrote:
john wrote:
I will repeat a post/reference I made a while back re: Hopi snake Ceremonies, by none other than Theodore Roosevelt.

http://www.worldspirituality.org/hopi-snake-dance.html

So where are the Gnostics, or Christians, in this arena?
Well, John, I think I can answer your question, and show you the join between serpent worship (as in your Hopi snake ceremony) and Gnosticism.

In Palestine, serpent worship later became Ophism, and this Gnostic sect appears to have its serpent imagery well hidden under layers of prudish petticoats - aka allegory. Iranaeus thunders against the Ophites in his Against Heresies.

The story of Pistis Sophia, one of the Nag Hammadi gospels, is basically set 11 days after the crucifixion and is about Jesus giving the hidden wisdom mystery teachings to Mary, Peter and Thomas.

Here is an extract from the introduction to Pistis Sophia from Mead:

"In this tradition, there must have been a supreme personage possessing characteristics that could be brought into close connection with their ideal of the Saviour, for they equate a certain Aberamentho with him.”

[as discussed earlier, AB means serpent, and with RAM means ‘king of serpents’ – Ish]

“The name occurs once or twice elsewhere; but who or what it suggested, we do not know. In any case, as they utilised and attempted to sublimate so much else which was considered by many in those days to be most venerable, in order that they might extend and exalt the glory of the Saviour and take up into it what they considered the best of everything, so did they with what was presumably the highest they could find in the hoary tradition of magical power, which had enjoyed empery for so long in the antique world and still continued to maintain itself even in religio-philosophical circles, where we should, from the modern standpoint, least expect to find it.”

Mead, writing at the end of the 19th century, has interpreted the Gnostics' Pistis Sophia as incorporating the symbols of previous spiritual/magical beliefs in order to make their own new one more acceptable.

I don’t necessarily interpret it that way. I think that this brand of Gnosticism could actually be the serpent cult with clothes on. I read somewhere of Ophites performing a Eucharist with bread and wine and a snake. This would be in keeping with the Eleusinian Mystery Rites where the initiates would file in procession past actors impersonating Demeter and Persephone and take cakes from a basket which also contained a snake.

Basically, the serpent is synonymous with 'wisdom', as was Sophia. The Wisdom books of the OT are probably also the serpent dressed up in his Sunday best to look respectable.

John, in a nutshell, I'm coming to the following broad brush stroke view, or at least, impression of what happened in the Middle East:

1. Palaeolithic shamanism led to

2. Neolithic serpent wisdom rituals, which led to

3. Mystery serpent wisdom teachings of Bacchus/Orpheus, which led to

4. Gnostic serpent wisdom teachings of Moses and Joshua/Jesus, which led to

5. Literalism.


All of those in the above list require two, three and sometimes more initiations - apart from Literalism which only requires one. The one that Literalism requires is the first one of a stepped process. Literalists, in other words, miss out the rest of the process, which is what Valentinus tried to point out to them and was probably why he got fired.

The Sumerians had EA, the serpent of wisdom. The Egyptians had the mundane egg and two serpents. The Zoroastrians/ Magi are also in there somewhere with their two serpents circling the mundane egg, and would have had an influence during the Hasmonean period. And they, in turn, I believe, would have been influenced by the Indians with their king of the serpents, Nagabushana Vyalakalpa, aka Siva.

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Appollonius of Tyana (b. 40 BCE), the Greek philosopher, visited the Naga (serpent) kings of India and Kashmir, but the Greeks already had Sophia from Pythagorus's times (c 500 BCE). The name of Delphi was originally Pytho - where the Oracle or Pythoness was asked for prophecies. Pythagorus's father asked the Pythoness at Pytho about the upcoming birth of his son - and then he named his son Pythagorus after that Pythoness. So this means that the Greeks had the serpent before Pythagorus, and in fact Pytho gets its name from the mythological python slain by Apollo. (The same story is told in the Rig Veda, where it was Indra who slayed Vritra, the water serpent and, of course, we can now see where George and the Dragon comes from).

I think the two roads from Jewish and Christian Gnosticism to Jewish and Christian Literalism may have been more or less parallel, and devolve from Alexandria and Antioch.

On your gauntlet throwing, I won’t be taking it up because there is only one way that that discussion can go - Stone Age boats. I know most threads on this board usually default to Stone Age boats in the end, but we are not yet ready here to go the way of all flesh.

(I'm just waiting for someone to ask: Which came first, the serpent or the mundane egg? :D )



.

Ishtar -

The way of all flesh redux..........

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpVffsJ0OhA

Now, a personal bit of family history:

My mother and father attended a revival meeting in North Carolina

In the late forties (nevermind the circumstances).

It was a classic "tent" meeting

With wall to wall people.

The woman next to my mother started

"Speaking in tongues" and fell to the dirt

In convulsions.

My mother, obviously concerned, knelt down by

Her to help, only to be phsysically pulled up and off

By another woman, who looked at her fiercely, and said

"Leave her lay where Jesus flang her. She's with the Lord".


This vignette demonstrates perfectly to me the difference

Between the "Isness" of a Shaman(ess) speaking in tongues and

The "Business" of the Christian Lord God at a revival meeting.

Needless to say, the root remains the same.

So, in answer to your serpent and egg question,

I'll ask the question of just how exactly did

The Appalachian Pentacostals choose snake handling?

Yup, just another example of Multiple Independent Invention, or?

As to your morphology:

1. Palaeolithic shamanism led to

2. Neolithic serpent wisdom rituals, which led to

3. Mystery serpent wisdom teachings of Bacchus/Orpheus, which led to

4. Gnostic serpent wisdom teachings of Moses and Joshua/Jesus, which led to

5. Literalism.


You are singing to the choir, here.

I would add one point, that,

The genesis which led to Literalism was not limited to Christianity.

Worldwide, it seems to be linked to urban populations.

So here's snake and egg question #2.

Did cities create Literalism,

Or did Literalism create cities?


hoka hey

john
"Man is a marvellous curiosity. When he is at his very, very best he is sort of a low-grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm."

Mark Twain

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Post by Minimalist » Fri Sep 05, 2008 7:02 pm

The "Business" of the Christian Lord God at a revival meeting.
There was a video on Youtube a while back about this "slain in the spirit" crap. I wonder if it is still there?
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 4:12 am

John

A shaman is someone who crosses over from this dimension into other dimensions to gain, from the benign entities that inhabit these other dimensions, information, guidance or healing for their tribe, community or an individual person.

I don’t know much about Pentecostalism or “rapture”. But I can say that unless those dancing with snakes, wriggling around on the floor and speaking in tongues come back into normality with the gifts of healing and guidance for their community, and increased wisdom, then they aren’t going into a shamanic trance.

On to your question about Literalism –

Did you know that there are also Serpent Literalists? These are the people that inhabit boards like Graham Hancock’s or Atlantis-type boards, and who have taken the stories on the Sumerian tablets literally.

The story on the Sumerian tablets is the same wisdom teaching that is told time and time again, in every religion, about a battle in the heavens between a good god and his angels and a bad god and his demons. We see this same story in the Zend Avesta and the Vedas. It’s also in Enoch. And I’m also finding that it comprises Book One of Pistis Sophia, where Jesus, after his crucifixion, goes into the heavens and rearranges them so that the ‘bad gods’ can no longer prevent man from reaching his destiny, i.e. spiritual perfection.

As I said, all these stories originate from the Sumerian one about the wise serpent god EA, who becomes Enki. Enki is the wise and loving serpent god, the benefactor of mankind who wars against Enlil, the bad god, because Enlil is holding man up in his spiritual progress. In this story, Enlil doesn’t want man to realise his essential ‘god-ness’ because then man will go beyond the Wheel of Karma and not have to incarnate in a human body anymore.

This is pure Vedic/Buddhist teaching too, by the way, that man has to keep reincarnating into a human body, time and time again, until he transcends his material desires and merges with his true Self, which is within him. We have Jesus reflecting this same teaching when he is made to say: “The kingdom of heaven is within you.”

The whole point of the wisdom teachings is that man is God, and not that he has to obey one.

However, the wicked Enlil doesn’t want man to realise his true nature, his god-ness within. Enlil wants to keep man in ignorance of his true divine nature, so he can continue to use him as a slave in his garden, to grow his fruit and vegetables and to tend his cattle. He doesn’t want the human being getting ideas “above his station.”

So this is a classic wisdom teaching story with the Sumerians using Enki, the wise serpent, as their spiritual protagonist and Enlil as man’s ego that gets in the way of his spiritual progress.

It would also explain the Garden of Eden story, with the wise serpent telling Eve that she should eat the apple of the wisdom tree (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) and the bad god Enlil saying no, and banishing her and Adam when they do eat it, and before they can eat from the tree of immortality.

In these sorts of teachings, the knowledge of good and evil represents the wisdom which leads to immortality, or one-ness with one’s true inner god nature.

However, as I said, there are Literalist Serpentists who believe, purely on this basis of these allegorical wisdom teaching stories, that we really all do descend from serpents, some good and some who want to enslave us. And some of these Serpent Literalists even take it so far as to insist that Moses was the bad god Enlil’s emissary (who became Yahweh) and that when Moses and Joshua were fighting to gain Palestine from the Canaanites (children of Cain = Adam’s direct descendants), they were fighting the legions of the good Enki, and won! And so these Serpent Literalists conclude that the Judaeo-Christian religion is the religion of Enlil, the wicked god.

However, it does look as if the Jews at one time, (Bible minimalists would say around the 6th century BC) took the Sumerian Garden of Eden story and either misunderstood it, or deliberately turned it on its head to invent "Original Sin".

Or maybe it happened by accident in translation, later. Possibly the translators substituted the words 'Enlil' or 'El Elyon' for the Greek for god, 'Adonai', and then this was later translated into Latin as "Deus" and finally into English as 'the Lord God.''

KB also mentioned, a while back, that the original translation of the first verse of John contained the word 'god', and not 'God'. Possibly the stories of the Bible at one time, as the original stories of polytheists, were all about different gods, and they have all been translated or transposed somehow into the one monotheistic God.

In any case, however it happened, the original story about spiritual adepts Adam and Eve and their wise serpent teacher Enki was turned into one that transformed Enki into a bad god who had corrupted Adam and Eve, who because they were now tarnished with 'sin', would be banished forever more.

Talk about a guilt trip!

So we can see from this how ridiculous Literalism is and the sorts of confusions it can bring about when in the wrong hands. And that is why, I presume, the wisdom teachings were given secretly, so that they didn’t fall into the hands of people who would take them literally.

However, Pandora’s Box had now been well and truly opened and there’s no going back.



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Post by seeker » Sat Sep 06, 2008 8:02 am

Nice summation of the Enki-Enlil story.

I think that the whole question of literalism comes from writing things down. Once the stories are written out you end locking in whatever the words say and locking out everything else. When you add to that the competitiveness between civilizations that leads them to claim greater understanding than their predecessors (which is the reason the Adam and Eve story distorts the Enlil-Enki tale) you get all sorts of confusions.

Speaking of distortions though one of the biggest distortions that people ignore is the fact that the bible is written by a country that had been kicked around for all of its existence. They needed a cruel god who strikes against his enemies because they were so weak.

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:16 am

Well, it's ironic really, because although Enki and Enlil don't literally exist, we have ended up for the last 2,000 years with the religion of Enlil - the church that combined with the state to herd us into politico-economic units and told us to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to obey the commandments of a 'god' that we could never even be good enough to stand before because of our Original Sin.

While, if the Gnostics' teachings had prevailed, we would have the inner realisation of Enki that we are God, that we are all co-creators, that we are beautiful, divine beings and that we owe obeisance to no god or God.





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Post by kbs2244 » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:24 am

John:
In answer to your question of where the Appalachian snake handling idea came from:

It is based on Mark Chapter 16 Verses 17 and 18, where, in the King James Version, it says something to the effect that true teachers would be able to “take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them”

But nearly all modern Bible scholars have concluded that Mark 16:9-20—was not written by Mark.
Those verses are not in either Sinaitic or the Vatican 1209 manuscripts.

This has led most modern translations, while they print the verses, to have what has become known as the “long conclusion” of Mark noted as being doubtful.

I doubt the practice has any relationship to other “snake worship.”
When it became popular these people were historically very insular, and had only the KJV as any kind of “Holy Book.”
Many of them had a hard time reading it, even though they spoke in it’s version of English.
Their haveing any kind of knowledge of any kind of “Shamanistic” practices is slight.
This is one time when I come down on the side of "independent invention."

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Post by kbs2244 » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:28 am

Ish:
I didn’t know there were Old World versions of the Snake and Egg “mounds.”
Now you have given me something to research.
One more piece of evidence of long boat trips?

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 9:32 am

kbs2244 wrote:Ish:
I didn’t know there were Old World versions of the Snake and Egg “mounds.”
Now you have given me something to research.
One more piece of evidence of long boat trips?
KB, did you not realise that the B word is banned from this thread?



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Post by seeker » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:22 am

Ishtar wrote:Well, it's ironic really, because although Enki and Enlil don't literally exist, we have ended up for the last 2,000 years with the religion of Enlil - the church that combined with the state to herd us into politico-economic units and told us to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to obey the commandments of a 'god' that we could never even be good enough to stand before because of our Original Sin.

While, if the Gnostics' teachings had prevailed, we would have the inner realisation of Enki that we are God, that we are all co-creators, that we are beautiful, divine beings and that we owe obeisance to no god or God.





.
Are you sure of that? In the Sumerian story it is Enki (some versions have it as the god Ea who is apparently also Enki) who tricks Adapa out of immortality by warning him not to partake of any food or drink offered by Anu (the third god of what was basically a triad with Enlil and Enki, Anu was considered the father of the gods including the other two.)

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Post by Minimalist » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:29 am

Ishtar wrote:
kbs2244 wrote:Ish:
I didn’t know there were Old World versions of the Snake and Egg “mounds.”
Now you have given me something to research.
One more piece of evidence of long boat trips?
KB, did you not realise that the B word is banned from this thread?



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.


WHAT!!!

Your myths spread by boat, too!!!!


Boats good. Ish bad.

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Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 10:56 am

Minimalist wrote:
WHAT!!!

Your myths spread by boat, too!!!!


Boats good. Ish bad.

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No Min.

No boats. Boats bad.

Boats in another thread please.


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And Min - they are not my myths - any more than the archaeology on this board is your archaeology.
Last edited by Ishtar on Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:02 am

seeker wrote:
Ishtar wrote:Well, it's ironic really, because although Enki and Enlil don't literally exist, we have ended up for the last 2,000 years with the religion of Enlil - the church that combined with the state to herd us into politico-economic units and told us to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to obey the commandments of a 'god' that we could never even be good enough to stand before because of our Original Sin.

While, if the Gnostics' teachings had prevailed, we would have the inner realisation of Enki that we are God, that we are all co-creators, that we are beautiful, divine beings and that we owe obeisance to no god or God
Are you sure of that? In the Sumerian story it is Enki (some versions have it as the god Ea who is apparently also Enki) who tricks Adapa out of immortality by warning him not to partake of any food or drink offered by Anu (the third god of what was basically a triad with Enlil and Enki, Anu was considered the father of the gods including the other two.)
Yes, as I said EA the serpent became Enki. I'm not an expert on the Sumerian stories, and there are many different versions. But I'll look into it. Maybe Enki had a good reason for wanting to prevent Adapa from having immortality - maybe Adapa was a naughty boy and tried to steal the ambrosia of immortality, like Garuda! :lol:



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Post by Ishtar » Sat Sep 06, 2008 11:10 am

Here we are. This is the original Sumerian Flood story, upon which the Genesis one was based. And I think this illustrates well the nature of Enki and the relationship between Enki and Enlil:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enki

According to Sumerian mythology, Enki also assisted humanity to survive the Deluge designed to kill them.

In the Legend of Atrahasis [Noah/Zisudra], Enlil, the king of the gods, sets out to eliminate humanity, whose noise of them mating is offensive to his ears. He successively sends drought, famine and plague to eliminate humanity, but Enki thwarts his half-brother's plans by teaching Atrahasis irrigation, granaries and medicine. Humans again proliferate a fourth time.

Enraged Enlil, convenes a Council of Deities and gets them to promise not to tell humankind that he plans their total annihilation. Enki does not tell Atrahasis, but tells of Enlil's plan to the walls of Atrahasis'(aka Noah) reed hut, thus covertly rescuing the man Atrahasis, or Ziusudra by either instructing him to build some kind of a boat for his family, or by bringing him into the heavens in a magic boat.

After the seven day Deluge, the flood hero, Utnapishtim, Atrahasis or Ziusudra [three different Noahs for three different versions of the story - Ish] frees a swallow, a raven and a dove in an effort to find if the flood waters have receded. On the boat landing, a sacrifice is organized to the gods. Enlil is angry his will has been thwarted yet again, and Enki is named as the culprit. As the god of what we would call ecology, Enki explains that Enlil is unfair to punish the guiltless Atrahasis for the sins of his fellows, and secures a promise that the gods will not eliminate humankind if they practice birth control and live within the means of the natural world. The threat is made, however, that if humans do not honor their side of the covenant the gods will be free to wreak havoc once again. This is apparently the oldest surviving Middle Eastern Deluge myth.

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Post by seeker » Sat Sep 06, 2008 12:33 pm

Ish - You might want to read the Adapa myth, it is Enki who tricks man out of the immortality offered by the Gods.

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