U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Happy Easter!
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Religion and Spirituality
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 10-13-2011, 09:52 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,583 posts, read 11,966,106 times
Reputation: 15414

Advertisements

Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post

I think it's quite likely that El (the main god of the Ugaritic pantheon) was represented by the various Els that pepper the earlier parts of the Bible. The very strange Elohim (a plural form of El in hebrew) is quite possibly an admixture of El and his Divine Council into one idea, or even entity: apart from Yahweh, it is the most frequent name for God in the Hebrew Bible.
It's also possible that Yahweh eventually replaced the Ugaritic Ba'al - the Storm God.

Ugarit is worth exploring - and the amazing thing about it is: most people studying the Bible have probably never even heard about it.
Good post and really interesting!

I always wondered about Elohim - which is a plural word. Not "god" but "gods"!!!

Intriguing is also old archaic name of El Shaddai - isn't that the name that appears on the little scroll that Jews put up on the doorposts of their homes called Mezzuzas ??? I understand that El Shaddai (erroneously translated as "god almighty") is but an ancient god of the mountains or protector of entranceways and hearths???

It is becoming clear that many old Mesopotamian gods with different names and attributes congealed into one "supreme deity" with many names. A little like what many modern day Hindus say about their religion: "We are monotheists who believe in but one god (Brahma), but Brahma has many names and aspects."
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 10-13-2011, 10:04 PM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,192,935 times
Reputation: 738
Quote:
Originally Posted by LookinForMayberry View Post
Thank you, it helps indeed! I am humbled by the depth of your knowledge, and the time it took you to answer as you did. Thank you, again. 8)

You're welcome, and thank you!

Brevity is not my strong point heh heh... I think most people just skip many of my posts when they see the wall of words that await them. And that makes me a saaaaaaaaad little monkey. Thanks for reading!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-13-2011, 10:35 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,583 posts, read 11,966,106 times
Reputation: 15414
Default An interesting comparison - the Judaic God and the Buddha

In my opinion a similar thing also happened in Buddhism. As the philosophy of Buddhism spread out of India it became more of a religion and the central character of the new faith - the Tathagata, Shakyamuni, Siddhartha Gautama, known by many names and honorifics; The Buddha - somehow became "deified" although the Buddha denied being god or creator of the universe.

There are three main "schools" of Buddhism: the Southern "Theravada" ... the Eastern "Mahayana" ... and the Northern "Vajrayana." In Theravada Buddhism (practiced mostly in India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc.) they believe in Siddhartha (Siddhatta in Pali) attaining "Enlightenment" and then later passing into Nirvana (Nibbana). But in the other two branches, which the majority of Buddhists belong (the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tibetan, Mongolian, Bhutanese, etc.) the Buddha somehow became "divine" after "Enlightenment" and joined other heavenly Buddhas and Buddhist deities in other supernatural realms.

I'm not trying to be off topic. Just comparing how religions change and evolve over time ... or are influenced by local previous religious belief systems.

Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-13-2011, 11:13 PM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,192,935 times
Reputation: 738
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
Good post and really interesting!

I always wondered about Elohim - which is a plural word. Not "god" but "gods"!!!

Intriguing is also old archaic name of El Shaddai - isn't that the name that appears on the little scroll that Jews put up on the doorposts of their homes called Mezzuzas ??? I understand that El Shaddai (erroneously translated as "god almighty") is but an ancient god of the mountains or protector of entranceways and hearths???

It is becoming clear that many old Mesopotamian gods with different names and attributes congealed into one "supreme deity" with many names. A little like what many modern day Hindus say about their religion: "We are monotheists who believe in but one god (Brahma), but Brahma has many names and aspects."

One of the theories put forward by Albrecht Alt in Der Gott der Všter was that a proper understanding of the religion of Israel was to be found by searching for clues amid the tribal traditions and oral traditions that were floating around long before any of the Bible was put into written form. He was continuing the work of Hermann Gunkel and his book on the Legends of Genesis, and he developed the idea of "the Gods of the Fathers". This entailed "freeing ancient cult names and divine epithets from their secondary (Yahwistic) complex" (Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, p. 4). An "epithet" is a descriptive term accompanying or taking the place of a name: think "Alexander the Great" or "Joe the Short". Wikipedia has a section under "epithet" entitled Religion that is helpful, and it directly concerns our topic. I use Cross alot because his book has become a standard in studies on the subject. He summarizes some of Alt's ideas:
"One group of epithets in the Patriarchal legends is characterized by the element 'el. Following Gunkel and especially Gressmann, Alt attributed the 'el appellations to lucal numina, local deities tied to Palestinian shrines or localities, encountered by elements of Israel when they entered the land of Canaan." (ibid)

Basically, the assimilation you're talking about is theorized to have happend starting with "epithets in which the god is identified by the name of a patriarch. He [Alt] called these 'the gods of the Fathers,' theoi patrooi; they were originally distinct deities presumably, but all belonging to a special religious type, which in the development of Israel's traditions were coalesced into a single family god by the artificial genealogical linkage of the Fathers and at the same time assimilated to Yahweh. These were the "Benefactor of Abraham", the "Fear (possibly Kinsman) of Isaac", and the "Bull of Jacob", later the "god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". We note with interest that all three epithets contain in their initial element a frozen archasim which did not survive in later Hebrew in their early, ordinary meaning." (ibid, pp. 4-5)

1- "Benefactor of Abraham" - Genesis 15:1. Some translate "Delivering-Shield"
2- "Fear of Isaac" - Genesis 31:53b. Some translate "Terror of Isaac", or "Kinsman"
3- "Bull of Jacob" - Genesis 49: 24. Some translate "Mighty One", "Stone". "Bull" has Ugaritic parallels worth exploring.
4- "god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" - Exodus 3:13-15

Check out Exodus, especially, for the ramifications of the above.

This is just a start, and an early theory JUST concerning the "gods of the Fathers". One could continue with the various 'El epithets, which are "names compounded of the element 'el with a following substantive or adjective" (ibid, pp. 46-47) and probably stem, ultimately, from the Ugaritic usage of 'El as the head of the pantheon:
1- 'el olam - Genesis 21:33
2- 'el elyon - Genesis 14:18ff
3- 'el 'elohe yisra'el - Genesis 33:20
4- 'el ro'i - Genesis 16:13
5- 'el bet-'el - Genesis 35:7
6- 'el shadday - various references in the Patriarchal narratives, and in later books - probably used archaically in latter. Here we have the name that is one of the most interesting, the one I addressed in an earlier post, and you mention above. Perhaps I'll devote another post to the question of 'el shadday: he's worthy of his own thread! This post is just scratching the surface of the material - it's a question that has occupied me for many years now, and helped awaken a desire to learn some of the ancient languages pertinent to the subject: Akkadian, Ugaritic, Hebrew.
EDIT: I made a mistake in mentioning that I wrote about 'el shadday in this thread. I did not - it was in another thread, the one on the origin of the jew's concept of God/religion, and that thread has devolved into something completely different. Here is what I wrote about 'el shadday:

"El Shaddai, for example! What a lovely fertility god he probably was! Did you know that most of his appearances in Genesis are directly related to promises of fertility? And lest that not be enough of a giveaway, the name is also telling: it could be derived from the word for "mountains" or "breasts" (which, quite frankly, can be synonomous to many ancient peoples: the earth sprouts breasts in the form of mountains). Thus for El Shaddai we get either: God of the Mountains, or God of the Breasts. Most exegetes prefer God of the Mountains, so as to remove that fertility idea a little farther away - but when you combine it with his appearances, the God of the Breasts makes more sense. In the end - I think it's just that possible confusion between the two words that make El Shaddai what he was: a fertility god."

Hope that helps, Clark Park!

Last edited by whoppers; 10-13-2011 at 11:25 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-13-2011, 11:14 PM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,192,935 times
Reputation: 738
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
In my opinion a similar thing also happened in Buddhism. As the philosophy of Buddhism spread out of India it became more of a religion and the central character of the new faith - the Tathagata, Shakyamuni, Siddhartha Gautama, known by many names and honorifics; The Buddha - somehow became "deified" although the Buddha denied being god or creator of the universe.

There are three main "schools" of Buddhism: the Southern "Theravada" ... the Eastern "Mahayana" ... and the Northern "Vajrayana." In Theravada Buddhism (practiced mostly in India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc.) they believe in Siddhartha (Siddhatta in Pali) attaining "Enlightenment" and then later passing into Nirvana (Nibbana). But in the other two branches, which the majority of Buddhists belong (the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tibetan, Mongolian, Bhutanese, etc.) the Buddha somehow became "divine" after "Enlightenment" and joined other heavenly Buddhas and Buddhist deities in other supernatural realms.

I'm not trying to be off topic. Just comparing how religions change and evolve over time ... or are influenced by local previous religious belief systems.

It's very on-topic, I think! I wonder what the Buddha would have thought if he had realized what his disciples (some of them) were planning to turn his quasi-atheistic philosophy into!!

Nice post!
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-13-2011, 11:20 PM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,192,935 times
Reputation: 738
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
I always wondered about Elohim - which is a plural word. Not "god" but "gods"!!!
Every honest, non-biased translator has to struggle with how to translate 'elohim eventually. Not only is it used as a type of collective-name for the God of Israel, it is also used of other gods plurally, and even of men. It's a strange, strange name - one wonders if the writers who used it were acting out of the superstition against using the name Yahweh that later gripped Judaism....
Or, like I suggested - it really was meant to represent the Divine Council.
The problem is that the grammar is used in the singular most of the time, though there are famous examples where the grammar is plural (the 2nd Creative Account, for example, in a few verses).
The normal suggestion that it's the "plural of royal majesty" has absolutely no basis in actual usage, since the idea is taking a Shakespearean usage in English and then assuming that the Biblical authors would have thought the same way.... not very convincing, and not attested at all in the Ancient Near East.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-13-2011, 11:51 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,583 posts, read 11,966,106 times
Reputation: 15414
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post

Hope that helps, Clark Park!
It does help! Thank you!

Your erudition is wonderful!

Your extrapolations are fascinating and I am literally enthralled by the information you have posted. Very educational. Once again, thank you!

Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-13-2011, 11:53 PM
 
Location: OKC
5,426 posts, read 5,625,025 times
Reputation: 1761
Yeah, this is good stuff.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-14-2011, 12:15 AM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,583 posts, read 11,966,106 times
Reputation: 15414
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
It's very on-topic, I think! I wonder what the Buddha would have thought if he had realized what his disciples (some of them) were planning to turn his quasi-atheistic philosophy into!!

Nice post!
Well I do not think it was his immediate disciples that re-invented the nature of Buddha-hood, but those who came a few generations later. Simply put I believe - and I may be wrong - Buddhism assimilated the mythology and religious beliefs of the different cultures and lands it spread to. For example, in Tibet the original Bon religion was very complex, ornate (with many deities and saintly figures) and mystical; therefore Tibetan Buddhism took on many aspects of Bon. Tibetan Buddhism is to Buddhism what the Russian Orthodox Church is to Christianity: esoteric, mysterious, full of ritual and ostentation. Icons and incense galore!!!

Didn't the same thing happen to Christianity? Isn't Christianity full of Greco-Roman and Pagan symbols, rituals and holidays?

The way I see it there are two kinds of Buddhism: practical Buddhism that focuses on mindfulness (meditation), truth-seeking, ethical behavior (The Noble Eight-Fold Path), compassion and philosophy; and then there is devotional Buddhism which involves making Puja (worship) in temples, venerating idols and images, prayer, and lighting candles and incense.

Buddhism is not totally or completely atheistic; it neither embraces nor denies the existence of a god or supreme being. In fact there are very vague and nebulous suggestions in the Pali Suttas that attaining Nibbana is akin to rejoining a godhead of some sort (Buddhism did grow out of Hinduism after all) ... but the main thrust was about living a correct and righteous way of life and not about metaphysics. The Buddha said that if you want to see him, read his teachings and don't be concerned with his image or where he has gone.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-14-2011, 12:28 AM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,583 posts, read 11,966,106 times
Reputation: 15414
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
Every honest, non-biased translator has to struggle with how to translate 'elohim eventually. Not only is it used as a type of collective-name for the God of Israel, it is also used of other gods plurally, and even of men. It's a strange, strange name - one wonders if the writers who used it were acting out of the superstition against using the name Yahweh that later gripped Judaism....
Or, like I suggested - it really was meant to represent the Divine Council.
The problem is that the grammar is used in the singular most of the time, though there are famous examples where the grammar is plural (the 2nd Creative Account, for example, in a few verses).
The normal suggestion that it's the "plural of royal majesty" has absolutely no basis in actual usage, since the idea is taking a Shakespearean usage in English and then assuming that the Biblical authors would have thought the same way.... not very convincing, and not attested at all in the Ancient Near East.
Good points and I agree with you.

With all the commentaries written in Talmud, I wonder what the later Rabbis have to say about it. The Rambam, for example. I guess what I'm asking is did all the post Biblical-era rabbinic teaching tow a singular "party" line that is unified concerning the nature of god or Elohim or Adonai or YHWH ... or can we detect any degree of deviation of opinion? Did any of these later learned Rabbis question or theorize on the indistinct or complex nature of the supreme being or beings? I understand there was even speculation on the gender of "god" and there was some commentary that "Divine Providence" contained both sexes ... bi-sexual or more accurately, hermaphroditic in nature???
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Religion and Spirituality
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2019, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top