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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:25 am 
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Thanks for that, Nate. Here's the link to a pdf file for that piece:

Cosmology and New Testament Theology: A Brief Introduction by Sean McDonough and Jonathan Pennington

natselection1st wrote:
So I guess it is okay for these scholars to propose this but when the same thing and far more is stated by Acharya, she is accused of Parallelomania and lacking proper methodology!

The general public will not see the information in many of these books because the prices are prohibitive. The above mentioned book sells on amazon for (as of this writing) - (US)$105.95 . There is hope, one can get the same information here on this forum and in the books and articles of Acharya.

BINGO! You got it, Nate, that's spot on.

The parallelophobia often stems from a severe lack of knowledge on the subject of astrolatry/astrotheology and mythology even from scholars, let alone lay-people. Instead of the well-deserved appreciation, Acharya gets credentialism and worse tossed at her - even by other scholars, including other so-called freethinkers and mythicists.

I'm reminded of Acharya's review of Herb Cutner's book:

Quote:
"...the mythicist school was fought tooth and nail, and almost buried, save for the few daring individuals who kept it alive over the past decades. Cutner is one of these rare and courageous individuals who risked the malevolence and vitriol of the clergy and its zealots. In his synopsis of the historical-versus-mythical, Cutner notes that the clergy's "adversaries" were dispatched in the most unprofessional and puerile manner:

Quote:
"Long ago the celebrated Dr. Bentley, in trying to dispose of Anthony Collins, had found one very fine method: convict your Freethinking opponent of fraud, ignorance, and bad scholarship, and his thesis falls to the ground. I should say rather, try to convict your opponent by this method, for some of the mud thrown is sure to stick.... By thus concentrating on mistakes of grammar or Greek, the reader is unwarily led away from the main issue which is exactly what the critic wants. Over and over again Christian controversialists have pursued this method, as if it always mattered greatly that a present tense of Greek should be the imperfect, or that a date should be conjectured as, let us say, 1702 when it ought to be 1712 in the opinion of somebody else. (27-28)"

Indeed, there is hardly a mythicist who has not experienced such treatment, even at the hands of other mythicists and/or freethinkers, another fact highlighted by Cutner, who shows that the early modern mythicists were viciously attacked not only by Christians but also by other "rationalists" and "freethinkers" who, in their attempts to remain "respectable" with the Christian elite, mindlessly fell in line and displayed a real lack of critical thinking. Professional jealousy also factors into this type of vitriol, as various scholars want their particular interpretation to become that which is accepted by the establishment."

'Jesus: God, Man or Myth?' by Herb Cutner

I strongly feel that Acharya deserves an award for her work in astrotheology and mythology. She has been nothing but brave demonstrating great courage to continue putting out a more accurate view of our ancient religious origins against all the smears and hate from theists and atheists alike. She simply has more integrity and character in her pinky finger than most scholars, many of which are forced to cower to the institutionalized academic tyranny that does everything it can to omit or deny the information Acharya brings forth.

Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History

Perhaps we should, at least, submit her for potential nomination of a relevant prize? Such as:

Pulitzer Prize

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

Category: General Non-Fiction / Comparative Religion, Mythology and Astrotheology

Or perhaps the TED Prize would be better suited for Acharya and her work?

Any other suggestions?

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:52 pm 
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Sumerian Solar Mythology and the Sun God v. the Chaos Monster/Moses v. Pharaoh

It is difficult to believe that there are people actually running around pretending that the ancient religious worship was not largely solar, lunar, stellar, astrotheological or otherwise revolving around nature.

As yet another example of how fallacious and absurd is such a claim, let us examine the very ancient worship of the Sumerians of their sun god UD or, in the Akkadian, Utu, dating to the 3rd millennium BCE at the latest. Utu essentially was syncretized to the Babylonian/Amorite/Semitic sun god Shamash, who in turn became syncretized to both Yahweh and Jesus.

The short Wikipedia article on UD/Utu summarizes his solar worship fairly well:

Quote:
Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD "Sun", Assyro-Babylonian Shamash "Sun") is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal. His brother and sisters are Ishkur and the twins Inanna and Ereshkigal.

Utu is the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset. Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is "sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw".

The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain. Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself. He further suggested that Lugalbanda's association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened "the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor".

Marduk is spelled AMAR.UTU in Sumerian, literally, "the calf of Utu" or "the young bull of the Sun".

Obviously, UD/Utu is a sun god, as are others who were based significantly on him in later centuries, such as Marduk. Note also that here he is born of the moon god, which reflects the order of this nature worship, as in certain areas, especially desert regions and elsewhere before agriculture, lunar worship was developed initially. Hence, the moon god was first and gave birth to the sun god, whose worship followed. Note also that there have been moon and sun goddesses as well.

The denial of such facts as heliolatry and astrotheology is nonsensical and irrational. For those who wish to continue learning the facts, rather than handwaving dismissals and fingers in the ears, this field of study is absolutely fascinating and as profound as it gets on planet Earth.

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The image above is the "Chaos Monster and the Sun God," a very ancient theme reflected in the stories about snakes, serpents, dragons, leviathans, etc., in the Bible. The tale of Moses versus Pharaoh also symbolizes this battle, as I write in Did Moses Exist?:

Quote:
...the biblical prophet Ezekiel (29:3) refers to "Pharaoh king of Egypt" as "the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams," using the same term of תנין tanniyn, while the LXX employs the word δράκων drakon. Thus, the Bible identifies the pharaoh with the dragon, in turn associated with the sea monster and serpent.

At Ezekiel 32:2, Pharaoh is "like a dragon in the seas; you burst forth in your rivers, trouble the waters with your feet, and foul their rivers," the pertinent term here again is תנין tanniyn (LXX δράκων drakon). As we can see, the comparison between the pharaoh and the dragon of these various battles was noted in antiquity and is given biblical authority.

There is, of course, much more to the story.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 8:41 pm 
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This article is veddy interestink!

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The Foundation of Myth: A Unified Theory on the Link Between Seasonal/Celestial Cycles, the Precession, Theology, and the Alphabet/Zodiac, Part One

by Brian R. Pellar

There has been much speculation as to the date at which the first constellations were created. It is generally assumed that the constellations adopted by Western civilization were first created and recorded by ancient Mesopotamian observers..., with some aspects possibly being derived from Egyptian sources (Krupp 2000: 44). Based on surviving cylinder seals, boundary-stone pictographs, cuneiform texts such as MUL.APIN, and astrometric diaries, Rogers determined that the earliest zodiacal constellations were first defined around 3200 BCE, with the zodiac being divided into twelve equal signs around 600 BCE ... Hartner noted that the early proto-zodiacal artworks depicting the earliest zodiacal constellations might actually have come from Elam and not Sumer... Hartner also noted that, based on the heliacal risings of the Pleiades, Regulus, and Antares, the constellations Taurus, Leo, and Scorpio might have been first created to align with the cardinal points within them around 4000 BCE (Hartner 1965: 1–16). Hartner further surmised that the winter solstice might have been represented by an ibex, since images of this animal were common in the proto-Elamite art of approximately 4000 BCE....

These Mesopotamian constellations were copied by the Greeks and were set down in writing by Eudoxus in the fourth century BCE. Though this work, called the Phaenomena, was lost, it was copied and placed in a poem by Aratus. These Mesopotamian constellations were copied by the Greeks and were set down in writing by Eudoxus in the fourth century BCE. Though this work, called the Phaenomena, was lost, it was copied and placed in a poem by Aratus. Based on this surviving poem, which was also called Phaenomena, researchers such as Maunder, Crommelin, and Ovenden looked at the risings and settings of the constellations in the poem and calculated that they were first observed around 2600 to 2700 BCE at a latitude of 35 to 40 degrees north....

However, some researchers have noted that certain constellations are much older than 4000 BCE. Gurshtein claims that the first constellations could go back as far as 16,000 BCE..., with the largest constellations, akin to the larger US states, being the more recent. Gingerich proposed that Ursa Major, the Bear, may go back to the Ice Age or earlier, as it was known to both Siberian and North American tribes.... The Soviet philologist Y. A. Karpenko even stated that Ursa Major as a constellation might go back as far as 100,000 BCE...

Edge (1997), Congregado (1994), and Rappengluck (1997) have all made a strong claim that a bull, #17, with six dots above it, painted on a southern wall in an Upper Paleololithic cave in Lascaux represents the constellations Taurus and the Pleiades.... Marshak also presented evidence that Paleololithic cave dwellers were more sophisticated stargazers than previously thought, for he found that they used bone markings as a lunar calendar.... Recently, Chantal Jeques-Wolkiewiez presented evidence that the cave of Lascaux, and the Hall of the Bulls in particular, is aligned to the summer solstice, which was in the constellation of Taurus the Bull at the time..., and that 130 Paleololithic caves in southern France are all oriented in the direction of important solar points.... Though some have advocated the idea that the constellations were first formed in Mesopotamia as a singular act of creation (Krupp 2000:55), others such as Gurshtein advocate an evolutionary progression of the creation of the constellations.

To reiterate, "the earliest zodiacal constellations were first defined around 3200 BCE, with the zodiac being divided into twelve equal signs around 600 BCE." The fact that the earliest constellations are now determined to have been defined by 3200 BCE - with some of them known many thousands of years earlier - is significant, in consideration of the claim that they are much later. The figure of 600 BCE for the 12 divisions gives an interesting starting point for when the 12 tribes myth could have been composed, as this date fits in fairly well with the composition of some of the Pentateuch during the era of Josiah, during the previous century, to the time of the Babylonian exile in the next century.

In consideration of the fact that there are buildings with the figure of 12 such as the Horus temple in the Sinai and the Nabta Playa ruins, I would wager that this date of 600 BCE refers to a discussion of this number in extant literature only. As we know, the 12 occurs in mythology much earlier than the middle of the first millennium, associated with Horus, Osiris and so on, held to represent 12 hours of night or day. Since the constellations were already being mapped out for millennia, it would not surprise us if the 12 configuration also came much earlier than we find in the extant record. The date of 600 BCE is useful as a landmark when the "final" 12-division zodiac as created by the Neo-Babylonians began to become popular in various cultures.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:49 pm 
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Humm, nothing to see here at all ... move along now ... 8)

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The Phoenician Solar Theology: An Investigation into the Phoenician Opinion of the Sun found in Julian's Hymn to King Helios by Joseph Azize

"This is the first examination of the fragments of the solar theology of the Phoenicians. Beginning from the Emperor Julian’s fourth-century statement, that, in the opinion of the Phoenicians, "the sunlight which is sent forth everywhere is the immaculate action of pure mind itself," this book contends that there existed an authentic and ancient Phoenician solar theology, similar to that described by Julian, reaching back to the sixth or fifth century BCE. Such a theology is described in Damaskios’ quotation from Mochos, the Sidonian philosopher. A passage from Philo of Byblos, preserved in John Lydus, and referring to “the noetic light,” strengthens this argument. Phoenician funerary inscriptions are examined, together with relevant artistic evidence and some surviving accounts of Phoenician thought. Altogether, a portrait of Phoenician spiritual thought emerges: a native tradition not dependent upon Hellenic thought, but related to other Semitic cultures of the ancient Near East, and, of course, to Egypt. Many themes and motifs from ancient Phoenician religion are discussed, such as the phoenix bird (the “Phoenician” bird) which was associated with the concept of immortality, and the possibility that there was a Phoenician cult of “Yhwh”. The book abstracts seven ideas from the extant material as axial concepts. In light of this analysis, it can be seen that Phoenician religion possessed a unique organizing power in which the sun, the sun god, life, death, and humanity, were linked in a profound system, which seems to have been common amongst the Phoenician city states.


Table of Contents

Analytic Table of Contents
Figures
Introduction
The Question and the Method
Julian and the "Solar Pericope"
The Remaining Phoenician Pericopes
Julian and His Sources
Julian and Iamblichos
The Phoenicians
The Sun Goddess of Ugarit
Phoenician Solar Religion: The Funerary Inscriptions
Phoenician Solar Religion: Miscellaneous Evidence
Mochos, Eudemos, and Philo of Byblos
Other Late Evidence
Conclusion

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Dr Joseph Azize

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:01 pm 
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Babylonian Star Catalogues

Avert your eyes, as the heads of the "astrotheology debunked" crowd will be exploding once again!

For those who do not have their heads stuck firmly in the sand, here is yet another fascinating article about the antiquity of the Babylonian constellations, such as Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Capricorn, marking the fixed points of the zodiac. Note also the antiquity of other constellations.

Quote:
Babylonian star catalogues

Babylonian astronomy collated earlier observations and divinations into sets of Babylonian star catalogues, during and after the Kassite rule over Babylonia. These star catalogues, written in cuneiform script, contained lists of constellations, individual stars, and planets. The constellations were probably collected from various other sources, the earliest catalogue, Three Stars Each mentions stars of Akkad, of Amurru, of Elam and others.

Various sources have theorized a Sumerian origin for these Babylonian constellations, but an Elamite origin has also been proposed. A connection to the star symbology of Kassite kudurru border stones has also been claimed, but whether such kudurrus really represented constellations and astronomical information aside for the use of the symbols remains unclear.

Star catalogues after Three Stars Each include the MUL.APIN list, named after the first Babylonian constellation MULAPIN, "the Plough", which is the current Triangulum constellation plus Gamma Andromedae. It lists, among others, 17 or 18 constellations in the zodiac. Later catalogues reduce the zodiacal set of constellations to 12, which were borrowed by the Egyptians and the Greeks, still surviving among the modern constellations.

The Babylonian star catalogues entered Greek astronomy in the 4th century BC, via Eudoxus of Cnidus and others. A few of the constellation names in use in modern astronomy can be traced to Babylonian sources via Greek astronomy. Among the most ancient constellations are those that marked the four cardinal points of the year in the Middle Bronze Age, i.e.

* Taurus "The Bull", from GU4.AN.NA "The Steer of Heaven", marking vernal equinox
* Leo "The Lion", from UR.GU.LA "The Lion", marking summer solstice
* Scorpius "The Scorpion", from GIR.TAB "The Scorpion", marking autumn equinox
* Capricornus "Goat-Horned", from SUḪUR.MAŠ "The Goat-Fish", marking winter solstice. It is a mythological hybrid depicted on boundary stones from before 2000 BC as a symbol of Ea.

There are other constellation names which can be traced to Bronze Age origins, including Gemini "The Twins", from MAŠ.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL "The Great Twins", Cancer "The Crab", from AL.LUL "The Crayfish", among others.

The MUL.APIN gives:

* a catalogue of 71 stars and constellations of the "Three Ways" of the Three Stars Each tradition. The star names (prefixed with MUL) are listed with the associated deity (prefix DINGIR) and often some other brief epithet.
* dates of heliacal risings
* pairs of constellations which rise and set simultaneously
* time-intervals between dates of heliacal risings
* pairs of constellations which are simultaneously at the zenith and at the horizon
* the path of the moon and planets.
* a solar calendar
* the planets and the durations of their solar conjunctions
* stellar risings and planetary positions for predicting weather and for adjusting the calendar
* telling time by length of the gnomon shadow
* length of night watches during the year
* omens connected with the appearance of stars planets, MUL.U.RI.RI (comets?) and winds.

Zodiacal constellations

The path of the Moon as given in MUL.APIN consists of 17 or 18 stations, recognizable as the direct predecessor of the twelve-sign zodiac. Note that the beginning of the list with MUL.MUL "Pleiades" corresponds to the situation in the Early to Middle Bronze Age when the Sun at vernal equinox was close to the Pleiades in Taurus (closest in the 23rd century BC), and not yet in Aries.

1. MUL.MUL "The Star Cluster" or "Star of Stars" (Pleiades)
2. GU4.AN.NA "The Steer of Heaven" (Taurus)
3. SIPA.ZI.AN.NA "The Loyal Shepherd of Heaven" (Orion)
4. ŠU.GI "The Old One" (Perseus)
5. ZUBI "The Scimitar" (Auriga)
6. MAŠ.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL "The Great Twins" (Gemini)
7. AL.LUL "The Crayfish" (Cancer)
8. UR.GU.LA "The Lion" (Leo)
9. AB.SIN "The Seed-Furrow" (Virgo)
10. ZIB.BA.AN.NA/zi-ba-ni-tum "The Scales" (Libra)
11. GIR.TAB "The Scorpion" (Scorpius)
12. PA.BIL.SAG (Sagittarius)
13. SUḪUR.MAŠ.KU6 "The Goat-Fish" (Capricorn)
14. GU.LA "The Great One" (Aquarius)
15. KUN.MEŠ "The tails" (Pisces)
16. SIM.MAḪ "The Great Swallow" (SW Pisces and Epsilon Pegasi)
17. A.NU.NI.TUM/A-nu-ni-tum (Andromeda)
18. LU.ḪUŊ.GA "The Agrarian Worker" (Aries)

The "Tail of the Swallow" (Pisces) has also been read as two constellations, "The Tail" and "The Swallow", whence the uncertainty whether the "zodiac" consists of 17 or 18 constellations. All constellations of the Iron Age twelve-sign zodiac are present among them, most of them with names that clearly identify them, while some ("Furrow" for Virgo, Pabilsag for Sagittarius, "Great One" for Aquarius, "Swallow Tail" for Pisces and "Agrarian Worker" for Aries) reached Greek astronomy with altered names.

For Virgo, and for her main star Spica, Babylonian precedents are present. The MUL.APIN associates Absin "The Furrow" with "the goddess Shala's ear of corn", and Shala is conventionally depicted as holding an ear of corn on boundary stones of the Kassite era. Regarding Sagittarius, Pabilsag is a comparatively obscure Sumerian god, later identified with Ninurta. Another name for the constellation was Nebu "The Soldier". Aquarius "The Water-Pourer" represents Ea himself, dubbed "The Great One" in the MUL.APIN. It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age. In the Greek tradition, he became represented as simply a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha "water-pitcher", showing that the zodiac reached India via Greek intermediaries. The current definition of Pisces is the youngest of the zodiacal constellations. The "Swallow" of Babylonian astronomy was larger, including parts of Pegasus. Late Babylonian sources mention DU.NU.NU "The Fish-Cord". It is unclear how the "Agrarian Worker" of the MUL.APIN became Aries "The Ram" of Greek tradition, possibly via association with Dumuzi the Shepherd.

Chew on that for awhile! There are so many directions we could go in, including a discussion of Dumuzi/Tammuz, who was turned into the Jewish harvest god, replacing the Semitic harvest goddess, his sister.

All of the constellations of the 12-sign zodiac are present within the Babylonian star charts by the end of the second millennium at the latest, with some certainly thousands of years older. During the Bronze Age (3600-1200 BCE), the zodiac had 17 or 18 favored constellations, but this number was reduced to the familiar 12 by the Iron Age (1200-500 BCE). Since there is no evidence for the existence of the Pentateuch before the seventh or sixth centuries BCE, it is quite possible that Josephus and Philo were correct in their assessment that the 12 tribes represent the signs of the zodiac.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:19 pm 
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Oh, dear. Someone needs to tell the ancient creators of the alphabet that astrotheology has been debunked.

Fascinating article!

Quote:
On the Origins of the Alphabet
by Brian R. Pellar

...Moran then looked to astronomy, the Near East, and China (with its conservative and unbroken history) for an answer. While focusing on China, he noted an interesting correspondence between the twenty-two Hebrew letters of the alphabet, the twenty-two Chinese calendar signs, and the twenty-eight lunar asterisms or lunar constellations, as he felt that an astronomical template for the alphabet would satisfy his above five conditions. He then attempted to correlate all twenty-two Hebrew letters with the twenty-eight Chinese lunar stations, and in 1953 he published the results in his book The Alphabet and the Ancient Calendar Signs (Moran and Kelley 1969). Following Moran’s lead, in 1994 Gordon then noted a correlation between the thirtyletter Ugaritic alphabet and the thirty-day lunar zodiac (Gordon 1994: 38). Mair (Mair, 1992, 1996) and Wei (Wei, 1999) also looked at the correlations (and Mair, a possible means of transmission) between the twenty-two Phoenician letters and the twenty-two Chinese calendar signs (tiangan dizhi, or ganzhi) and noted many “unquestionable” correspondences between them — too many, in fact, to be merely “explained away as the result of sheer coincidence” (Mair, 1996: 34)....

Thesis

In 2003, completely unaware of Moran and the others’ work, I discovered that if you rotate the Phoenician alphabet ninety degrees counter-clockwise, and join the twenty-two letters into sequential couplets, a pattern appears that resembles the eleven constellations of the Egyptian solar zodiac. The alphabet doesn’t follow a simple circular pattern, but instead follows a more complex pattern that incorporates letter reversals at the solstices. It also forms two loops that meet at the constellation Gemini. Furthermore, this astro-alphabetic pattern is not only found in Modern Hebrew, the Chinese Lunar Zodiac, Phoenician, Proto-Sinaitic, Egyptian Hieratic and Hieroglyphs, but, in accord with Petrie’s assertion, proto-astro-alphabetic glyphs also appear on a European stag bone from 3800 BC, and on a Karanovo Culture zodiac from 4800 BC. All of these manifestations will be discussed in the course of this study.

Evidence for the Origin of the Alphabet

It turns out that the correct pattern, like Moran’s, starts with the letter couplet ’aleph and beth, which join to form the solar zodiacal constellation Taurus, the bull. See Figure 2a and 2b for a simplified example of the eleven couplets.1 A complete chart appears in Figure 3.4...

In Figure 3, rows “A,” “B,” and “E,” note that after ’aleph/beth, the sequence then moves backwards to Aries (gimmel/daleth, which form a ram’s head), and then to Pisces (he/waw, which forms a bull’s leg/oar/chisel). However, instead of continuing backward to Aquarius, the sequence then jumps forward to Gemini (zayin/heth, which form a candle and flame/gate in the center of the Milky Way), then to Cancer (teth/yodh, a crocodile), then to Leo (kaph/lamedh, a lion), then to Virgo (mem/nun, a goddess on her back), then to Libra (samekh/ ‘ayin, a scale), then to Scorpio (pe/tsade, a scorpion), then to Sagittarius (qoph/reš, a bow and arrow/ram’s head), and then, finally, to Capricorn (š in/taw, which form a goat/fish). Thus, two loops are formed. A small one composed of four constellations (Taurus, Aries, Pisces, plus the silent/unseen Aquarius), and a larger one composed of eight constellations (Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn). These two loops all join at zayin, letter 7 in Gemini. Since there are twenty-two letters of the zodiac “circle” being divided/joined at this seventh letter, the astroalphabetic pattern suggests a relationship to Pi (22/7 = 3.14…).2 The small loop from Aquarius to Taurus is not only clearly seen in the Egyptian sky chart of Senemut (on the South wall), but is also seen in several Mesopotamian cylinder seals. An example of both is seen in Figure 4.

Robert in particular will enjoy this study - take a look at the images!

If this theory is correct, it would push the identification of these various constellations back before the creation of the alphabet, obviously, possibly as far back as the Karanovo disk era, some 6,000-7,000 years ago.

Adding to this discussion is an older book that looks like it has some interesting scholarship:

A Dissertation on the Calendar and Zodiac of Ancient Egypt

I haven't read that one yet - I've got these resources coming out of my ears! :lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:31 pm 
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Quick - somebody tell the Wiki editors that we must abandon all study of the SOLAR aspects of Christ and Christianity's origins. Shield your eyes from such knowledge! Ignore it and remain ignorant! [/sarc] All the while pretending to be a "leading expert" on the subject.

Quote:
Christ as Sol

Ceiling Mosaic - Christus helios, the mosaic of Sol in Mausoleum M, which is interpreted as Christ-Sol (Christ as the Sun).

Detail of vault mosaic in the Mausoleum of the Julii. From the necropolis under St. Peter's Mid-3rd century Grotte Vaticane, Rome.

Mosaic of the Vatican grottoes under St. Peter's Basilica, on the ceiling of the tomb of the Julii. Representation of Christ as the sun-god Helios or Sol Invictus riding in his chariot. Dated to the 3rd century AD.

"Early Christian and pagan beliefs are combined in this third century mosaic of Christ as a sun-god. The triumphant Christ/god, with rays shooting from his head, is pulled aloft by two rearing horses in his chariot. The Dionysian vines in the background become the vines of Christ."

Title: Christ as Sol Invictus
Late 3rd century

"The First Apology" by St. Justin Martyr, an early Christian, quotes Psalm 19:5-6, a verse that was very popular with early Christians. It was associated with the ancient Christian custom of praying toward the East, the direction of Christ's Ascension and second coming, instead of toward Jerusalem as Jews did:

"And hear how it was foretold concerning those who published His doctrine and proclaimed His appearance, the above-mentioned prophet and king [David] speaking thus by the Spirit of prophecy. "....In the sun has He set His tabernacle, and he as a bridegroom going out of his chamber shall rejoice as a giant to run his course."

Christ was also associated with "the Sun of justice with its healing rays", a Messianic image from Malachi 3:20.
From "THE BONES OF ST. PETER : The First Full Account of the Search for the Apostle's Body (Doubleday, 1982) by John Evangelist Walsh"; plate 7 shows a larger black-and-white image; p.26 says that three other mosaics in the tomb on the walls show (a) Jonah falling from a ship and being swallowed by the whale, (b) a fisherman standing on rocks fishing (c) the good shepherd with a sheep across his shoulders. The mosaic on the dome comes half-way down the walls. The rays of light "strongly suggest the form of a cross." The tomb was decorated about 250 with these motifs. The damage to the mosaic on the left is in fact a hole in the centre of the ceiling. The tomb was accessed from the street of pagan Roman tombs, and the access covered by a slab. When this was lifted, the hole in the middle of the dome was accessible. The tomb is described, not as a papal tomb, but as the "tomb of the golden mosaic." Originally it contained a pagan burial of a child and no adornment. Around 250 the family had converted to Christianity, and redecorated it. Three Christian burials were located under the floor. A story from 1574 relates how workmen had opened "a tomb with golden mosaics and two white horses", and found a body on a slab on the floor covered with quicklime; the body was not present when the tomb was located again during the 1941 excavations.

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Tomb of the Julii

The popularly-named "Tomb of the Julii" (Mausoleum "M") survives in the Vatican Necropolis beneath St. Peter's Basilica. The serendipitous discovery near the crypt has a vaulted ceiling bearing a mosaic depicting Helios (Roman Sol Invictus) with an aureole riding in his chariot, within a framing of rinceaux of vine leaves, which are not given their usual pagan Dionysiac reading in this context but are related to the True Vine imagery of Gospel of John 15.1. The mosaic is dated to the late 3rd century to early 4th century. Other mosaics in this tomb depicting Jonah and the whale, the good shepherd carrying a lamb (the kriophoros motif), and fishermen have encouraged its interpretation as a Christian tomb.

Be sure also to read my ebook:

Jesus as the Sun throughout History

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Cosmic Symbolism in the Bible
Robert Tulip
27 November 2013

Matthew 13:10-11 says "The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them." Mark 4:11 says "He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables. Mark 4:34 says "He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything." Luke 8:10 says "He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’ John 16:25 says ""Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father."

These Gospel statements show that the Gospels use allegory, non-literal symbolic meaning, and extend this concealed method beyond the parables to include everything Jesus says in public. The Gospel of Mark asserts that everything conveyed to the general public is allegorical. The distinction is plainly made between the esoteric or secret teachings within the school, what Mark and Matthew and Luke all call 'the secret of the kingdom of God', and the exoteric or public teachings provided outside the school. On face value, this Synoptic teaching makes most sense if we consider all the miracles as having an allegorical intent as stories, rather than as claims of literal impossible historical events.

The statements by Christ in all the Gospels indicate that everything He said to the general public contained a hidden meaning, to be revealed only to initiates. When we read accounts of miracles, such as the loaves and fishes in Mark 8:17, Jesus fumes impatiently at the inability of His disciples to comprehend the obviously allegorical meaning.

John's declaration of an intent to speak literally rather than figuratively in the future makes most sense if we read it against the framework of the parable of the wheat and tares, as saying that the 'figurative' teachings of conventional literalism are literally false - the supernatural weeds or tares, while the actual truth is the allegorical meaning, the scientific wheat concealed in symbolic language. To say the Gospel authors believed in the literal truth of their statements fails to engage with their intent.

Allegory served as a form of protection for ideas that were considered secret. A wide range of ancient religions and mystery cults used oral teaching - from mouth to ear - due to the view that writing down such matters would risk them being shared more widely, with potential dangers for both the ideas and their holders. The Book of Enoch, lost until its rediscovery in the nineteenth century in Ethiopia, presents a story of the danger of committing teachings to writing, saying “an angel named Penemue taught men the bitter and the sweet, and he taught them all the secrets of their wisdom. And he instructed mankind in writing with ink and paper, and thereby many sinned from eternity to eternity and until this day. For men were not created for such a purpose, to give confirmation to their good faith with pen and ink.” Copernicus explains this secretive practice of oral teaching in his great work Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres - in a section of his work expanding on knowledge of precession of the equinox that was not published until several centuries after his death.

In his covering letter to the Pope, Copernicus said
"I debated with myself for a long time whether to publish the volume which I wrote to prove the earth’s motion or rather to follow the example of the Pythagoreans and certain others, who used to transmit philosophy’s secrets only to kinsmen and friends, not in writing but by word of mouth, as is shown by Lysis’ letter to Hipparchus. And they did so, it seems to me, not, as some suppose, because they were in some way jealous about their teachings, which would be spread around; on the contrary, they wanted the very beautiful thoughts attained by great men of deep devotion not to be ridiculed by those who are reluctant to exert themselves vigorously in any literary pursuit unless it is lucrative; or if they are stimulated to the non-acquisitive study of philosophy by the exhortation and example of others, yet because of their dullness of mind they play the same part among philosophers as drones among bees. When I weighed these considerations, the scorn which I had reason to fear on account of the novelty and unconventionality of my opinion almost induced me to abandon completely the work which I had undertaken."

In the Section following his exposition of precession, Copernicus said
“From Lysis to Hipparchus, greetings.
I would never have believed that after Pythagoras’ death his followers’ brotherhood would be dissolved. But now that we have unexpectedly been scattered hither and yon, as if our ship had been wrecked, it is still an act of piety to recall his godlike teachings and refrain from communicating the treasures of Philosophy to those who have not even dreamed about the purification of the soul. For it is indecent to divulge to everybody what we achieved with such great effort, just as the Eleusinian goddesses’ secrets may not be revealed to the uninitiated. The perpetrators of either of these misdeeds would be condemned as equally wicked and impious. “

The need for secrecy in Biblical times is illustrated by the conflict of astronomical teaching with the Jewish view of belief in Yahweh as aiming to provide transcendental political protection and security for Israel, a dogma that led to strenuous efforts to stamp out what Deuteronomy 4:19 termed worship of the sun, moon and stars. Such naturalistic practices were extremely widespread in Israel, and remained so for centuries, for example with the zodiac used on the high priest's breast plate as attested by Philo and Josephus.

There are examples of fiction being fraudulently passed off as fact. The question is to what extent that happened with the Bible, in examples such as the creation myths. My view is that deliberate fraud by the originators is less than some atheist critics believe. The gradual corruption of an originally coherent message is often more likely than the invention of a lie. Similarly with the Gospels, the texts I quoted above about use of parables illustrate that the fraud of literalism was more likely a later development than an original fiction.
To explore the hiding of cosmic symbols in the Bible, consider the creation myth presented in Genesis. If the cosmology of the seven days of creation had a coherent natural origin, this had to be artfully concealed to enable its inclusion in the public text of the Bible. For the illiterate general public, the simple myth of God in Heaven could not be put into doubt by talk of it being allegory. The consequence of this concealment was that it was unable to resist suppression. The orthodox faction arose within the church, condemning allegory as Gnostic heresy, and seeking to eliminate allegory almost entirely in favour of a claimed literal history of Christ. This censorship was extremely successful, so we now only have fugitive traces of the authentic natural origins of Christian ideas, such as the synoptics assertion that everything Jesus said in public was a parable with a secret meaning.

Biblical interpretation should be about the balance of probabilities based on evidence and logic, and should apply an interpretive lens that respects the integrity of the authors' scientific and ethical intentions. This means assessing what they could have known, and considering what motives could have inspired them.

All Biblical texts have undergone a process of memetic mutation. This means the texts we now have emerged from oral traditions which evolved considerably under the impact of cultural change and interaction, and that later religious views actively changed older texts to align them to their perceived priorities. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Form_criticism

I don't agree that the gospels lend themselves to literalism, except in a very weak sense. The main literal claim of orthodoxy, which was the undoing of early Gnosticism, was the idea (akin to Anselm's ontological proof) that a God who exists is far better and more powerful than one who doesn't, and the application of this idea to the messianic vision. The Gnostics stood accused of worshiping a God who had not really been incarnate on earth except in imagination, and therefore did not exist, whereas orthodoxy held to the literal claim that Jesus Christ was a real human being, the existing presence of God in history. The doctrinal and political clash between orthodoxy and Gnosticism was therefore existential in scope, reflecting conflicting views on the nature of human existence.

The absence of Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee and Jerusalem from Paul’s depiction of the work of Christ indicates that the historical story of Jesus of Nazareth was a fictional overlay upon a cosmic myth. Indeed, the very name of Nazareth has strong allegorical content, linking to the Nazarene sect whose doctrinal origins appear linked to the idea of Christ as a branch or netser of Jesse, and to the Samson Nazirite story with its strong cosmic dimension as seen in its etymological link back to the pillar of heaven in Vedic thought and forward to the Finnish cosmic mill, the Sampo. The evidence indicates that Nazareth was named after Jesus, not Jesus after Nazareth.

John 20:31 says the gospel story was written primarily to inculcate belief, implying that historical accuracy is secondary. As I mentioned above, John also notes that his claims are figurative (ie symbolic and fictional) and their literal meaning will be explained at a later time. These ideas are more compatible with a Gnostic intent than with literalist views.

The literalist interpretation is something that was imposed by early church dogma as a distorted reading, entrenched by subsequent editing and interpretation, and by the suppression and expulsion of Gnosticism. I agree with Professor Elaine Pagels of Princeton University Department of Religion that Paul's Epistles speak at two levels, for initiates and the public. It is likely that this dual purpose code was in the Gospels from the start, as per the key from all the synoptics of the distinction Christ makes between public and private teachings.

The Gnostic Paul by Elaine Pagels, Christ In Egypt by DM Murdock, and The Forbidden Universe by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince illustrate the abundance of material exploring the back story of the Bible. My view is that we are just at the start of systematic analysis of the probable allegorical content, free of the mind-forged manacles of church tradition.

The Lord's Prayer text "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" is a restatement of the central hermetic teaching in the Emerald Tablet of Thoth - 'as above so below'. This teaching provides an axiomatic heuristic of ancient science in its view that the part always reflects the whole. Applying this heuristic to the Bible enables us to unlock its mysterious symbolic language as a coded reflection between history and the cosmos.

Framing of theology in terms of the activity of God as agent is wrong. God is an imaginary projection of human thought, not an actual entity. These questions should be studied as matters of evolutionary psychology and sociology, not by accepting supernatural premises as legitimate.

The fact is, religion in the ancient world was highly secretive. Priesthoods jealously guarded their teachings on mystery questions, while also providing a cultic function for the whole society. Within this context, astronomy was readily subject to misunderstanding. The popular teachings involved a literalised simplification and distortion through allegorical use of scientific observation. For example, Jesus Christ is allegory for the sun as light of the world, but this solar natural basis of the myth was suppressed by the church because the literal myth of an incarnate messiah was central to its political power.

God does not have tactics. If God is understood as the power of nature, then we have to analyse belief in terms of social function. The idea of God emerged among religious initiates who had a culture of secrecy.

In any case, the Gospels do not aim to prevent those of good will from learning. In the section of Mark 8 that I mentioned earlier, Jesus uses the formula of 'those with ears to hear', implying that failure to learn is a result of psychological blockage.

Jesus of the Gospels is eager to bring everyone to higher understanding, but recognises that the majority are simply incapable of comprehension. So Christ targets his real teaching, in which the allegory is explained, to those who are receptive, and says he finds very few of them even among his chosen disciples. In the loaves and fishes example in Mark 8, we first get the astounding statement that miraculous production of abundant food is not a sign from heaven, implying it is allegory, and then Jesus practically tears his hair out in exasperation at the failure of the disciples to understand that the bread in this miracle story is symbolic not literal.

The Christian God, in the anthropomorphic metaphor of agency, does not desire destruction, but rather transformation. The context is that people are headed for destruction on their own, and the Jesus story is about changing these dangerous attitudes by placing life within its real cosmic context so people may choose life.

The secrecy inherent in the production of the Bible is based on the fact that the writers were highly sophisticated and wished to conceal their real methods from popular view. Among these methods, the connection with other ancient traditions in Egypt, Babylon and India was concealed as part of the broad call for a single messianic vision, but the hidden links to these wisdom teachings are central to the construction, and can be seen by reverse engineering the text to find the source and nature of its key ideas.

The Hermetic code of as above so below pervades the Bible. For example the story of how the snake on a pole mentioned by Moses at Numbers 21:4-9 became the Christian cross at John 3, with echoes of the snake in the tree in the Garden of Eden, is a clearly Hermetic teaching that points directly to the existence of a secret back story which was used to construct the myth but has been heavily suppressed by the church.

The Bible does not say God plans destruction, but that humanity is on a path to hell of our own free will. Predestination does not suggest that God wants people to be totally depraved, but rather that this is the unfortunate result of the fall from grace by free choice unleashing the power of evil in the world. Romans 8-9 does not say that God wants people to suffer. John 3:17 says Christ came not to condemn the world but to save it.

The doctrine of predestination has a central role for free will. People can choose to pursue the truth, and the truth will set them free. The unfortunate reality, seen today in the ability to respond to existential crises such as climate change, is that our species is on a path to extinction and needs to change direction to construct a new global paradigm. This is a scientific context where the need for transformation is compatible with the path indicated by the God of the Bible.

The clearest example of this path to hell metaphor is the story of Dives and Lazarus. Dives is like the rich young man to whom Christ presents the choice of following God or following his own desires. Similarly, the Last Judgment says that the choice people make to perform works of mercy determines their salvation. Eve chose to accept the apple from the snake, placing free will at the origin of moral responsibility in the Biblical scheme. I do not believe in fairy tales, and nor am I preaching. I am simply arguing that the Bible makes rational sense when considered as allegory. That argument is offensive to theists and atheists alike, but it makes sense as a rational philosophical explanation.

Biblical texts often emerged from combination of various oral traditions, as we see for example in the two creation stories in Genesis and the overall documentary hypothesis. The intent of these myths has to be assessed against the secretive practice of mystery religion, and its link to hermetic cosmology. It is not valid to claim a simple demarcation between scientific and pre-scientific literature. However, in ancient times when prevalent illiteracy produced a general ignorance, it appears that religious literature was intended to be read to an audience. The origins of the ideas could include scientific knowledge, while the presentation of them changed over time under audience influence.

The ancients had extensive accurate astronomical knowledge from close study of the skies. It appears that the seven days of creation are allegory for 7000 years, as widely believed through Christendom. Allegorical interpretation of Genesis is explained [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegorical_interpretations_of_Genesis#Days_of_creation"]here[/url].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irenaeus#Millennium states that
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Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon held to the old Jewish tradition that the first six days of creation week were typical of the first six thousand years of human history, with Antichrist manifesting himself in the sixth period. And he expected the millennial kingdom to begin with the second coming of Christ to destroy the wicked and inaugurate, for the righteous, the reign of the kingdom of God during the seventh thousand years, the millennial Sabbath, as signified by the Sabbath of creation week.


Coherent reading of the Gospels should assume that everything impossible in them is allegory, including the miracle stories, resurrection, virgin birth and existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Church dogma may have considered it "obvious" that miracles were not intended as parables, but that reading is only due to the malevolent scheming power politics of an obsolete Christendom.

Honest assessment of the textual evidence indicates the Gospel authors were too intelligent to be like the White Queen who told Alice in Wonderland that she had believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Literalism is a late evil imposition that corrupted understanding of the Christ story. As the church now moves out from the spell of this sick literalism it can begin to reform to achieve a scientific and ethical interpretation of the Bible.

The story of Noah clearly draws from the Babylonian story of Gilgamesh. This means that at some point, the meme mutated to the version we have. It must have had a long oral history before achieving final form. This raises the question of who is the author of the Noah story. Earlier versions must have known of Gilgamesh in view of the extensive overlap. As Judaism developed its distinct identity, the content gradually changed. The Noah story contains considerable Gnostic elements, and the Biblical account appears intended to signal a deeper knowledge than the public myth.

The Bible contains material intended as historical record, but this agenda is mixed in with other purposes including secret encoding and the presentation of the beliefs of the monotheist Yahweh cult. The secrecy regarding cosmology appears to be intended more to protect the hidden teachings, using allegorical language, since the overt doctrine of Judaism explicitly distinguished the transcendental God from natural appearance.

If writers such as Ezekiel wished to convey an understanding of how divinity is revealed in nature, this had to be done covertly because explicit statements would have been redacted out. Ezekiel’s descriptions of ‘wheels within wheels’ and of the four living creatures (bull, lion, eagle, man) match precisely to accurate knowledge of the visible structure of the cosmos. The wheels are the apparent circles in the sky formed by the motion of the sun and planets and stars, including the outer sphere of the precession of the stars against the seasons, while the four creatures are the four cardinal points of the path of the sun, marked by the stars of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius. People who wished to explore such teachings could have entered an initiation process to learn about them, but like today, the cultural atmosphere surrounding such astronomical learning was repressive, in view of its conflict with dogma.

King Josiah focussed on a critique of how Israel had strayed from Yahweh into sun worship, using his doctrine of God as a basis for political power and military security, and ensuring that this monotheist imperial vision was reflected in accepted texts. The condemnation of the worship of Baal as a solar cult illustrates that sun worship was widespread, and that the power to define religious truth was contested politically. Adherents of suppressed traditions could maintain a covert presence and influence within the newly dominant political context.

The dogmatic conflict between monotheism and polytheism appears in the real Ten Commandments at Exodus 34, where the first commandment from God is to destroy the sacred places of the Asherah cult. Since Asherah was Yahweh’s wife (or El’s wife), this patriarchal takeover of public religion meant that any teachings from the suppressed myth had to be concealed in order to survive. A significant element of sexual politics emerges here, with the suppressed teachings often reflecting a higher status for women and feminine myths.

The strategy of encoding older suppressed teachings within the public text appears to be a way to maintain them. We see this in the Gospel of John, in the miracle of the raising of Lazarus from the dead, where Lazarus, Mary, Martha and Christ perform the same mythic roles as Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and Horus respectively, and have a range of supporting conceptual and etymological links with the Egyptian myths. As a hidden nod of respect to the ancient Egyptian mythos, the Lazarus-Osiris story must have arisen in dialogue with the old Egyptian traditions, preserving them in covert form to protect them from the savagery of the new dispensation of Rome.

Contributors to Biblical texts had motive, method and opportunity to conceal teachings that were uncongenially regarded by the dominant view. The main secret goal was to enable the publicly agreed text to also convey Hermetic Gnostic wisdom, especially knowledge of astronomy, and of older suppressed myths. The texts therefore operate at multiple levels, combining public mystery and secret knowledge. The suppression of Gnosticism by Rome meant that the conceptual infrastructure which had provided the theoretical context to construct the texts was lost and forgotten. This especially applies in the book of Revelation, which is full of cosmic allegory. The task of exploring non-literal readings now means that this conceptual infrastructure must be reconstructed, upon a deconstruction of the conventional literal supernatural myth of Christianity.

My view is that the highest good in ethics is to base action on facts. This means that evidence and logic – the scientific method – are primary values. This scientific heuristic applied to the Bible can sift the scientific wheat from the supernatural weeds. My view is that this method can produce a coherent ethic within the Jesus story, for example with texts such as the Sermon on the Mount and the Last Judgment containing a transformative and liberating ethic of love. The idea that whatever you do to the least of the world you do to Jesus Christ is an ethical message with strong evolutionary content, in terms of the need to enhance the evidentiary focus of contemporary morality.

While the God story is trapped like a Russian doll within the enigmatic riddling mystery of beliefs that are incompatible with scientific knowledge, the ethics associated with the false supernatural cosmology fall into contempt. If these ethical teachings can be grounded in a true cosmology, as I maintain is possible against a Hermetic scientific framework, they can be rehabilitated to help make religion a force for good in the world.

An ethical injunction might contain different levels of meaning, as in the orders not to kill and steal which have exceptions. Such teachings were intended as explicit social rules. Whether all the authors thought their ethical teachings had actually been revealed by God, or whether this device of transcendental absolute origin was just intended to promote obedience, is a further question.

Rival ethical systems can be assessed in terms of truth and falsity. If an ethical system depends on claims that are not true, such as the literal readings of Biblical myth, it is intrinsically flawed and delusional and dangerous. So to find a valid ethic, the epistemic foundations have to be correct. That means science.

Stories such as Noah and the Flood and Adam and Eve have a literal surface meaning that produces a bad ethical view when accepted as fact. To construct a good ethical view, claims that are contrary to science have to be read as poetry, concealing a deeper allegorical meaning.

For example, Biblical allegory may be compared to Melville’s depiction of the whale in Moby Dick. I view the whale as allegory for the power of the virgin continent of America, with Captain Ahab representing the settler culture that wrongly imagines it can control nature. Moby Dick is a powerful moral story. The Beatitudes also call for human humility before nature, suggesting the arrogant dismissal of the poor, the meek, the pure, the merciful, mourners, peacemakers and the just is a primary cause of separation between human culture and divine blessing. Just as Moby Dick stands as symbol for something real, it is entirely possible, and more illuminating, to consider this divine blessing of the least of the world in natural evolutionary terms rather than against the conventional assertions of epistemic claims about a supernatural God.

Ethical systems have epistemic foundations. When religion claims that its ethics are absolute, validated by revelation from a divine being, this validation process can be assessed as a flawed scientific hypothesis, grounded in incorrect knowledge claims. To construct a valid ethical system, we need to apply accurate epistemic method. Moral claims that are grounded in an understanding of evolutionary biology are superior to claims grounded in young earth creationism. It is far better to base our values on facts rather than on fantasy.

I construe the highest good upon the moral axiom that human flourishing is good. So hypothetical alien morality is not relevant. Jesus says the highest good is to treat the lowly as though they were him, presenting love as an ethic of solidarity with the earth and everything in it. I see the teaching that the last shall be first as compatible with human interest in basing values on facts.

The Sermon on the Mount also says “You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' 5:39But I tell you, don't resist him who is evil;” The purpose is to update the covenant with God, amending teachings from Moses and the prophets to serve a new morality. We need a new religious covenant now, updating ideas to be compatible with science. New Testament references to the Old Testament illustrate the continuity of the Jesus of Nazareth myth with the old ‘branch of Jesse’ from Isaiah 11:1, phrases which in the original language are nearly identical. This cultural continuity illustrates an effort to distil within a covenant of grace what remains valid from the old covenant of law.

Interestingly, this shift of covenant from law to grace matches precisely to the astrological meaning of the shift of the autumn equinox from Libra (law) to Virgo (grace). Christianity sought to establish a new age building upon the evolutionary precedent of the old age. There is a similar need to transform religious sensibility today through a new covenant with nature.

In the astrological beliefs of the ancient world, the sign of Libra was associated with law, and the sign of Virgo was associated with grace. The symbol of the balance for Libra indicates justice, while the symbol of the Virgin for Virgo is picked up in the hymn 'Hail Mary full of grace'.

From centuries before the common era, astronomer-priests could see for themselves with their own eyes that the equinox points, noted by Philo (On The Creation 39) as the basis of the great Jewish religious festivals, would shift at the time of Christ from Aries and Libra into Pisces and Virgo.

The use of precession is simple scientific fact and key astral element within the construction of Christianity. Intense bigotry surrounds any discussion of astrology in scientific and religious circles. I have not asserted any superstitious astrological claims, but rather have shown how symbolism available in the ancient world indicates an exact match between the observed movement of the heavens and the emerging Christian theology. That is a perfectly reasonable scientific research project.
The ethical standing of the Hebrew prophets is ambiguous. I personally regard all calls for cultural genocide as evil, so the Moses story is pretty bad in that regard. But the idea in Jeremiah and other prophets that improved ethical practice would enhance Israel’s national security seems to me to be an idea with enduring value. For example Amos 3 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... ersion=NIV prophesies the fall of Israel because “They do not know how to do right,” declares the LORD, “who store up in their fortresses what they have plundered and looted.” 11 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “An enemy will overrun your land, pull down your strongholds and plunder your fortresses.”

As with the ‘eye for an eye’ example, the Gospels present an evolving morality obeying the biological law of cumulative adaptation. The new covenant of Christ seeks to retain what is good and discard what is evil. There are some aspects of these choices we might not agree with in a new covenant today. However, the covenant idea in Christ contains a strong element of solar imagery to indicate it calls for understanding of nature and harmony with the natural order of the universe. There is a back story in the Gospels in which Jesus is allegory for the sun as light of the world. This allegory built upon the precedent of solar cults in earlier religion, while adapting them to a thoroughly anthropomorphic historicised context for myth, based on the Anselmian ontological view that an existing messiah is better than an imaginary one.

There is a contradiction between the apparent total support for the old prophets in the ‘not an iota will be changed’ line and Jesus’ statement just before this rejecting the eye for eye morality. So there is a revision of the old covenant, but within a context of respect for the overall vision of prophecy. The more compassionate doctrine of Christ was prefigured in prophetic lines such as ‘let justice roll’ from Amos, ‘do justice, show mercy and walk humbly’ from Micah, and the prophecy of a despised and rejected messiah in Isaiah.

Sexual morality is one area where many people today do not accept Biblical views. Jesus explicitly supports monogamy in the Sermon on the Mount. While people will differ on the value of monogamy compared to other practices, the context is valuing marriage as the bedrock of society and the family as a sacred unit. As well, the Gnostic context is that carnal desire corrupts spiritual vision. Even if we agree today that preventing divorce is wrong, this teaching from Christ remains valuable in the ethical focus it puts on marriage and the family. Adultery causes suffering, through damaged relationships and sexually transmitted diseases. Divorce should not be considered lightly, and marriage vows should be considered as sacred. Obviously if a relationship breaks down people will divorce, but people should try to make their relationships work through compromise and dialogue and respect. This teaching supports a range of such positive values, even if it is harsh if applied too literally.

My view of the Bible overall is that a natural Hermetic wisdom underpins the supernatural surface myths. In line with the evolutionary morality of adaptation, all human religious heritage deserves respect, except traditions that fail to support mutual respect and dialogue. Considered allegorically, Christian eschatology contains a potentially accurate vision of world history, with the vision of apocalyptic destruction prevented by messianic transformation in a new covenant with nature. This Hermetic scientific allegory may be understood against the cosmology of precession, which serves as a star clock for how the ancients envisaged this transformation of the world in the Christian vision, with Christ coming twice, in belief and imagination to inaugurate the Age of Pisces and Virgo, and in knowledge and power to inaugurate the Age of Aquarius and Leo.

The four living creatures mentioned by Ezekiel and Revelation are the bull, lion, eagle and man. The four brightest stars of the zodiac, visible to us now as to the ancients, are Aldebaran in the Bull Taurus, Regulus in the Lion Leo, Antares in the Scorpion Scorpio, and Fomalhaut near the Man Aquarius. These stars mark the four cardinal points every 6000 years. For example Aldebaran was the spring equinox star in 3000 BC, in the position now occupied by the circlet, a group of faint stars at the western end of Pisces just before Aquarius. In a thousand years, Aldebaran will mark the summer solstice point in June. These star positions were routinely used by the ancients to measure the seasons, as stated by Hesiod in Works and Days.

The four living creatures in Ezekiel and Revelation are the four cardinal points of the sky. These four creatures also symbolise the four evangelists – Mark the lion, Matthew the man, Luke the ox and John the Eagle. The four living creatures were routinely depicted with Christ Pantocrator in the Mandorla – the icon of the cosmic king – in an iconic symbol known as the Tetramorph. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetramorph ... _creatures This mandorla with the four corners of the heavens was also used in the Tarot card of The World.

The change of the symbol of the Israeli tribe Dan from scorpion or snake to eagle, and the position of Aquila the Eagle just to the north of Scorpio, illustrate how the eagle was substituted for the scorpion as a more dignified creature in the cosmology.

Looking again at the sources of how cosmic mystery is embedded in ancient religion, we find the Book of Enoch as a primary reference. Enoch says in chapter 33: “I saw how the stars of heaven come forth, and I counted the portals out of which they proceed, and wrote down all their outlets, of each individual star by itself, according to their number and their names, their courses and their positions, and their times and their months.”

This documentation of the times of rising of the stars enabled observation of precession, with the four cardinal stars as primary markers. Precession links to the Babylonian sexagesimal time system, with the number of seconds in three days, 259,200, equal to ten times the estimated number of years in the precession cycle, 25,920. Here we see how the ancients saw ‘wheels within wheels’, because the celestial colure or great circle of the equinox was observed to move against the colure of the celestial equator, one degree of arc per 72 years. The wheel of the equator is within the wheel of the ecliptic stars, and the equator in turn contains the wheels of the motion of the planets. This observational cosmology was detailed in the astronomy of Claudius Ptolemy as the spheres of the heavens. Although some ancient hermetic texts state that the earth revolves, the wheels within wheels vision works just as well in a geocentric or heliocentric astronomy.

Enoch continues in Chapter 43: “I saw how the stars are weighed in a righteous balance according to their proportions of light: the width of their spaces and the day of their appearing, and … how they keep faith with each other. And I asked the angel who went with me who showed me what was hidden: 'What are these?' And he said to me: 'The Lord of Spirits hath showed thee their parable: these are the names of the holy who dwell on the earth and believe in the name of the Lord of Spirits for ever and ever.'

This discussion of stellar measurement in Enoch indicates how accurate observation of the positions of the stars was central to ancient religion, with the idea that the movement of the heavens was a reflection of events on earth. This framework explains how the hidden parable of the stars must have influenced Christian myth. What Enoch calls the “day of their appearing” changed against the seasons to indicate the exact time when the spring equinox would move from Aries to Pisces, the alpha and omega point of the dawn of Christianity.

In Chapter 82, Enoch explains the role of the four cardinal stars encoded in Ezekiel and Revelation: “And these are the orders of the stars, which set in their places, and in their seasons and festivals and months. And these are the names of those who lead them, who watch that they enter at their times, in their orders, in their seasons, in their months, in their periods of dominion, and in their positions. Their four leaders who divide the four parts of the year enter first; and after them the twelve leaders of the orders who divide the months;”

Enoch says the four leading stars divide the four parts of the year. This means the stars at the positions on the ecliptic where the sun enters each of the four seasons, the four corners of heaven. When Enoch was written these four cardinal stars were Aldebaran, Regulus, Antares and Fomalhaut, the stars of the bull, the lion, the scorpion or eagle, and the man or water bearer.

This material from Enoch shows that the literal symbols of the Biblical cosmology are allegorical references to a coherent scientific cosmology.

In amending the law of Moses, the new covenant of Christ recognised that the old covenant of Moses was no longer adequate, that some of its teachings could be retained but others, notably the vision of God as vengeful, jealous and retaliatory, did not fit with a doctrine of forgiveness for the repentance of sin. Putting love at the centre, the new Christian covenant said the Mosaic law of revenge - ‘an eye for an eye’ – should be replaced by a new ethic of not repaying evil with evil. This basic change of moral theory reflected the differing political context, from the isolation of early Israel to its inclusion within the Roman Empire, and the need for a new theory of God to adapt to the new situation.

The material difference between the visions of God in the New and Old Testaments indicate that respect for an older tradition is compatible with rejection of some of its teachings. So the New Testament respects Jewish monotheism while rejecting its avenging cruel theory of God, in favour of a focus on love, grace, mercy and belief.

The status of Moses is the subject of a forthcoming book by DM Murdock. It appears probable that Moses was mythical. And much of the ethical teaching of the Torah is obsolete and bad. The theories of creation, dominion and genocide in the Torah underpin much of the alienation, delusion and evil in the world today, and deserve critique and rejection. Nonetheless, the Torah has some valuable teachings amidst the dross, and also remains immensely influential, so its theory of Yahweh cannot be just dismissed as irrelevant. In any case, the whole Jewish prophetic model of God as providing imperial security for Israel if they obey him had become somewhat obsolete by the time of the Hellenistic and Roman Empires, which demonstrated that belief is not adequate to provide temporal protection against the power of the sword.

At the time of Christ, a new covenant, as an encompassing moral theory, was needed to respond to the new imperial context. Similarly today, humanity has established a global context but lacks the ethical framework to ensure sustained flourishing. The old religious frameworks contain false supernatural theories, while science lacks the ability to place its facts within a compelling moral vision of the ethical need for harmony with nature. A reformed Christianity can provide resources to help articulate what such a scientific covenant with nature would involve, through robust analysis of human identity within an ethical and rational framework of reverence for the universe.

Such thinking is needed because our current planetary path is highly risky in terms of the danger of human extinction, and the level of public delusion that fails to see the dangers. While religion insists on supernatural beliefs it marginalises itself from politics. By seeing myths as allegory for accurate observation, we can start to discuss what is actually meant by such cryptic ideas such as the will of God being done on earth as in heaven, and the establishment of a new heaven and new earth.

There is a scientific undercurrent in the Bible, concealed by a surface myth. Jesus said the truth will set you free, and told Pilate he had come into the world to bear witness to truth. Philosophically, truth is coherent and unitary, and has been the primary agenda of logic. We can say that the Jesus story only has a partial vision about what is true, but as the Enoch quotes I gave above illustrate, there is also an accurate scientific vision which underpins the symbolic language.

What is a "covenant with nature"? A covenant is an encompassing ethical agreement. Traditionally, God was envisaged as the other party to the human covenant of life, but this model assumed God existed as an active transcendental agent. Modern science has demonstrated that the only ‘agent’ encompassing human life is the remorseless power of the physical laws of nature. So the question for human life is how we can live in ways that are compatible with the laws of nature. This agenda can usefully be understood against the ethical framework of covenant.

Who needs that covenant? My view is that the primary natural risk today is climate change, and that on planetary scale humanity should work out how to stabilise the climate. ‘Covenant with Nature’ may seem an overly religious way of describing this agenda, but it illustrates that a climactic struggle is brewing between good and evil, and that efforts for good should reclaim ethical language from their harmful use. For example rapture theology is a harmful misuse of the idea of a divine covenant, implying that God wishes to destroy the earth rather than save it. A new covenant is needed to save the earth from the power of human evil.

What's the astrological claim, more precisely? Astrology is only part of the question. An excellent book on the mythology around precession of the equinoxes is Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock (1993). His big point is that ancient religion understood the concept of zodiacal ages, and used the observation of precession as a star clock to develop its theory of history. Hancock shows that this vision goes back to the Vedas in India, as the origin of the name of Samson which became the Sampo or cosmic mill of Finnish lore.

Hancock also describes how this cosmology is entirely compatible with the actual cyclic patterns of world history seen in the glaciation record. Precession drives insolation as the basis of climate science, in a pattern marked by the 21,000 year cycle of the solstices against orbital perihelion and aphelion, modulated by slower patterns of obliquity and ellipticity, as detailed in scientific analysis of ice cores and sedimentary data over the last million years.

My view on astrology is that until any claim can be demonstrated statistically, the entire framework of correspondences is unproven. However, our planet has been stable for four billion years, with its three main motions of the day, the year and the precession. The day and year are embedded in DNA due to evolution, seen in all diurnal and annual biological rhythms. It appears likely that the precession-perihelion cycle should also be embedded in DNA, having occurred more than 20,000 times since life began. Against this 21,000 year cycle, the December solstice passed the perihelion in 1246 AD, marking a low point of insolation, and the insolation will increase for the next ten thousand years until the June solstice reaches perihelion. Against the day and year model, this means we have passed midnight and midwinter in the precession pattern, and have commenced the ascent towards a new midday and midsummer in ten thousand years time.

What do you consider Christian eschatology claims, if one removes what you described as supernatural claims? Expanding on my last comment, the idea behind Biblical eschatology is that humanity fell from divine grace into a state of corruption, and is on a path to destruction, but will achieve a cosmic reconciliation to restore a state of grace. The cosmic model I have described of the seven thousand year framework of history uses the tree of life as its symbol of the state of grace before the fall in Genesis, and after the reconciliation as described in the holy city of Revelation.
The dawn of the Holocene about 12000 years ago was a time of abundance and stability. We may think of this time as a cosmic summer, or Golden Age, when the June summer solstice was last at perihelion, closest to the sun. With precession, insolation decreased steadily through the Holocene. This decreasing seasonal light matched the rise of technology, especially metal, which enabled a fall from grace into corruption. The Bible starts at the midway point of the fall, with the Garden of Eden in 4000 BC occurring when the equinox was at perihelion, with the cosmic movement of the earth producing a fall in temperature matching the fall from grace. The climate cycle was masked by anthropogenic factors, with speculation that methane from agriculture caused temperatures to remain higher than they would have otherwise been.

Against this scientific model of time, my view is that the 7000 year framework of Biblical eschatology defines the 3.5 ages of tribulation from Taurus through Aries and Pisces to half of Aquarius, with the low point occurring in the Age of Pisces, and symbolised by the alienation required to crucify Christ.

More precisely, do you make any specific claims about the end of the world, the Fall, and other usual Christian beliefs? Yes, I think all of these have to be seen against the scientific model of climate change, with the Milankovitch orbital climate cycles matching to the Biblical cosmology. ‘End of the world’ is a mistranslation of ‘end of the age’, which indicates a shift in consciousness to enable replacement of the covenant that ruled the old age by a new covenant of harmony with nature.

With Christian belief, I see this shift of ages prefigured in the parable of the wheat and the tares, with the wheat understood as scientific knowledge and the tares seen as supernatural belief. This shift from belief to knowledge as a governing paradigm matches to the thematic change from Pisces (whose theme in conventional astrology is ‘compassionate mystical belief’), to Aquarius, which conventional astrology says has the theme of ‘innovative humanitarian knowledge’. Leaving aside the absence of a mechanism to explain this correspondence between thematic symbol and history, it is useful to consider the shift of the zeitgeist today as involving the replacement of belief by knowledge as the governing principle of the world. Rather than an end of religion, this change suggests a paradigm shift from religion based on belief to religion based on knowledge.

What is the evidence on which you support your beliefs? Biblical symbols can be read as an accurate and coherent allegory for natural observation of the slow movement of the stars, and of the actual climate change that this stellar movement causes, producing a vision of cultural change that has enduring value. The Book of Enoch proposed a matching between astronomy and history. There is abundant evidence within the Bible for this cosmology of precession. For example, the loaves and fishes – appearing six times in the Gospels – are the constellations of Virgo and Pisces marking the Christian age, the Alpha and Omega of Jesus Christ are the beginning and end of the Great Year and the Ages of the Zodiac, the river of life is the galaxy, the tree of life is the zodiac, the twelve jewels of the holy city are the twelve ages of the Great Year, the lion-bear-leopard taking the power, seat and authority of the dragon is the movement of the North Celestial Pole from Draco the Dragon to Ursa the Bear over Biblical times, the moon at the foot of the woman in Revelation 12 is the blood moon seen in Virgo at Passover in Jerusalem in 4 BC, and the end of the age is the end of the Age of Pisces.

Christ draws a distinction between a parable which contains a hidden message – which Jesus says is the case for everything he says to the general public – and the ‘secrets of the kingdom’ which explain the hidden message of the parable to the disciples. Jesus gives an example of this method with the parable of the sower, where the seed falling on rock, among thorns, on paths and in fertile soil is parable for teachings that meet resistance, obstruction, indifference and understanding respectively. We can apply this model more broadly to infer a range of non-literal teachings in the Bible.

The fact that the Jesus stories are all stated to be parables – conveying hidden meaning - does not of itself make them untrue, but as evidence for their truth the parabolic status is more negative than positive. The use of facts as parables is distinct from the direct statement of the facts. Jesus says everything he says is a parable, but not that he told the audience everything was a parable. So the audience might be left thinking a literal surface message was the entire teaching. This especially applies to miracles, where the surface message is ‘hey wow God can break the laws of nature’, while the parable is some entirely other meaning that the story conceals. The similarity between the events in the story and meaning is not explicitly told to the audience, but must be inferred. A problem in Biblical exegesis is that this act of inference often does not occur, especially regarding miracles as supposed evidence of the supernatural rather than as conveying a deeper natural lesson.

This essay is drawn from comments made at http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=328727


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