Published by Worldview Publications
July/August 2003 

“Both Jews and Greeks”1

As the Creator, God constitutes ultimate authority. “Authority” is an expression for the relational governance or oversight of the created “other” to the author (auctor = creator).

Divine authority is expressed through divine words. Thus:

And God said . . . And God called . . . And God blessed them, saying . . . And the Lord God commanded . . . — Genesis 1:3, 5, 22; 2:16, italics supplied.

Divine words require divine language, and divine language requires divine consciousness — for language is the metaphoric basis of consciousness. Reciprocally, divine consciousness requires divine words and language.2

Furthermore, the human reception of divine words requires an appropriate receptive consciousness. “In the beginning” this receptive consciousness constituted what Julian Jaynes termed “god-consciousness.”3 However, for mankind to be conscious of and governed by God’s words and language in no way meant that mankind was God. To hear and respond to the voice of another does not mean that the hearer is identical with the “other” who is the speaker or “author.”

1. The Edenic Fall

The Genesis metaphors indicate that mankind was not content with a derivative god-consciousness that involved the awareness and reception of God’s words/language and an obedient response to God’s governance. When the serpent suggested that Adam and Eve would “know” as God knew, they assumed that they had the potential for authoritatively speaking as God spoke (Genesis 3:5). They thought that they could possess an original consciousness, language and authority, just as God did. However, when Adam and Eve succumbed to the serpent’s temptation, they only “knew” that they were naked (Genesis 3:7)! Although God shortly intervened to clothe them, he expelled them from Paradise lest they should eat of the Tree of Life and thus eternally perpetuate evil.

The subsequent account of Adam and Eve’s descendants over many generations portrays their tragic violence. They pursued the desire to eliminate “others,” assuming that this would allow their own consciousness and language to alone prevail as the ultimate authority.4

2. The Diluvial Fall

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. . . .

. . . The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. — Genesis 6:5, 11-13.

In this Genesis account of the second “fall,” God employed a deluge in an attempt to end mankind’s persistent desire to uniquely possess the authoritative consciousness and language of God himself. Noah and his wife, along with their three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth and their sons’ wives, were the only human beings to survive the deluge. After the flood all the nations of the earth emerged from the three sons of Noah. In Genesis 10 the famous Table of Nations lists the ancestral forebears of the seventy nations that comprised the world.5

3. The “Tower of Babel” Fall

Immediately after the Table of Nations, the Genesis account declares that “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech [one consciousness]” (Genesis 11:1).6 The text then describes the gathering of all the nations in the plain of Shinar, where they determined to build a tower that would reach to the heavens. Their purpose was to “make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4, italics supplied). The Hebrew term for “name” is shem. HaShem was typically used as a surrogate word for the one-and-only God, YHWH.7 Since all the nations had one language or one consciousness, they now determined to become or possess the one God! It was in this context that

the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. — Genesis 11:5-9.

In the aftermath of Babel, God continued to grant mankind both language and god-consciousness, but he “confound[ed] their language” and scattered them in order to prevent mankind from attempting to appropriate and possess divinity. Nevertheless, as god-consciousness was “scattered abroad” or diminished, mankind’s self-deception extended to the emergence of other presumed means of divine revelation. Some assumed that divine authority was now asserted through power structures such as monarchs and their armies. Others believed that the authoritative presence of god was defined by nature — storms (air), floods (water), flames (fire) and earthquakes (earth). Still others were convinced that divine authority was conveyed through ethereal transmissions from “prophets, poets, oracles, diviners, statue cults, mediums, astrologers, inspired saints, [and] demon possession . . .8

Meanwhile, the Genesis account records the offspring of Noah’s son, Shem, and particularly emphasizes the ninth-generation descendant, Abram (Abraham), who became the father of the Chosen People of Israel.9 According to this account, Abram and his family originated in Eastern Semitic civilization, initially living in Ur of the Chaldees (Babylonia) but then migrating north to Harran (Haran or Charan), on the bank of the Belik (Bilichus), a small tributary of the Euphrates River (Genesis 11:31).

However, excavation of the palatial city of Mari, near the bank of the Euphrates in what is now northern Syria, has revealed a Western Semitic civilization that boasted Mari as the capital of an empire that included Haran as a dependency. Furthermore, on the wall of the palace in Mari is a painting of the Garden of Eden, with four rivers flowing from its center (cf. Genesis 2:10-14). Over 20,000 cuneiform tablets have been found on the site, and more than 8,000 of these have been translated, disclosing a language remarkably similar to Hebrew. Numerous artifacts (pottery, etc.) on the site of Mari reveal a thriving mercantile relationship between Mari and ancient Greece during the Mycenaean era.

Mari was attacked and destroyed by the Babylonian king and lawgiver, Hammurabi (ca. 1750 BCE).10, 11 The survivors became nomads and were identified with the Hapiru (Habiru), who were regarded as vagabonds and brigands.12 Nevertheless, the Hebrew refugees retained a strong identity. Their language and consciousness, then and now, were profoundly characterized by reliance on sound, movement and linear time.

According to the Israelite conception, everything is in eternal movement: God and man, nature and the world. The totality of existence, ‘elam, is time, history, life. . . .

For the Hebrew, the decisive reality of the world of experience was the word.13

By the late Bronze Age (ca. 1500 BCE) these Hebrews from Mari had migrated southward. They briefly resided in Canaan and then found refuge in Lower Egypt, near the Mediterranean coast. Here the Hebrews were later enslaved.

Meanwhile, the Mediterranean areas now known as Macedonia, Greece, the Aegean islands, and the western coast of Anatolia (Turkey) were occupied by successive waves of migrants. The first known inhabitants were the Pelasgians, who date back to the Neolithic (Stone) and Early Bronze Ages (ca. 2000 BCE). They were a short, dark-skinned race of people who are believed to survive today in what is now Albania.14-16 Around 1800 BCE this entire area was invaded from the north by tall, light-skinned and fair-haired tribes believed to be the ancient Celts. They were descendants of Japheth through his son, Javan (Genesis 10:2-5).17 The principal Aegean tribes were the Achaeans, Ionians and Aeolians along with numerous other minor tribal groups. Together, they formed what became known as the Mycenaean civilization, on the mainland of Macedonia, Greece and coastal Asia Minor, and the Minoan civilization, on Crete and adjacent islands of the Aegean Sea. Both civilizations were highly advanced in architecture, art and technology.18-22

The fundamental impression is that these “Greeks” were committed to sight rather than sound, to reflection rather than movement, and to circular or cyclic time rather than linear time.

The Greek most acutely experiences the world and existence while he stands and reflects. . . . Rest, harmony, composure, and self-control — this is the Greek way. . . . [S]pace was the given thought-form for the Greeks.23

Centuries after the incursion of the Celts into the Aegean from the north and the emergence of the advanced civilizations of Mycenaea and Minoa, the entire eastern Mediterranean was devastated by natural catastrophes (ca. 1200 BCE). Apparently, these involved a series of earthquakes followed by an enormous volcanic eruption that occurred within and between the Aegean islands of Crete and Thera.

Geologists have hypothesized that the black cloud caused by the eruption darkened the sky for days and affected the atmosphere for years. The air shock waves have been estimated at 350 times more powerful than a hydrogen bomb. Thick poisonous vapors puffed out over the blue sea for miles. A tsunami or huge tidal wave followed. Towering 700 feet high and traveling at 350 miles per hour, it smashed into the fragile coasts of the bicameral kingdoms along the Aegean mainland and its islands. Everything for two miles inland was destroyed. A civilization and its gods had ended.24

4. The “Dark Age” Fall

These events precipitated the Dark Age (ca. 1200-1000 BCE). The catastrophes brought the end of the Bronze Age, since access to both the copper and tin mines was broken. The only other option was the use of iron, and this introduced the Iron Age. Meanwhile, both the Mycenaean and Minoan civilizations were crushed and terminated. The survivors fled by ship and/or by land and became known as the Sea Peoples (Philistines).25, 26 They first attempted to settle in the Nile delta but were repulsed by Pharaoh Rameses III. They then turned northward and settled the southern coast of what became known as Palestine, remaining on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine for nearly a millennium.

About this time a tribal people known as the Dorians invaded Greece and occupied what had formerly been Mycenae and Minoa.27-29 Simultaneously, the tribal Habiru fled from Egypt, roamed through the Sinai desert, and finally arrived in the Shephelah and central highlands of Judea. Once settled in the land of “Israel,” they believed that they had reached Paradise. It was during this critical period that god-consciousness finally vanished and self-consciousness began to emerge. In this Davidic period (ca. 1000 BCE) the Israelites received the authoritative revelation from YHWH that he himself intended to return to Paradise as the truly human being. This promise was conveyed through the profound metaphors of the First Temple and its services. (See “The First Temple: United Monarchical Period,” Outlook [November 2001].)

5. The Monarchical Fall

Because the Chosen People repeatedly ignored, misconstrued or rejected YHWH’s promised human coming to Paradise, YHWH allowed his own people to suffer numerous invasions from the Egyptians, Assyrians and Babylonians. The northern monarchy of Israel was vanquished and the people forever dispersed by the Assyrians in 722 BCE. The southern monarchy of Judah was defeated and many of its people taken into Babylonian exile (ca. 597/586 BCE).

Soon, however, a number of remarkable transformations began to occur. After Cyrus II became king of the Achaemenid dynasty in Persia, he defeated the kingdoms of Media and of Babylon (539 BCE). He also conquered Asia Minor and seized control of the many Greek cities on the coast.30 At the same time, he was regarded as a Messianic figure by the Israelites in Babylonian exile (Isaiah 45:1). In 538 BCE Cyrus issued a decree that the Chosen People could return to their homeland, rebuild the Temple, and restore the worship of YHWH.

Upon the death of Cyrus II in 529 BCE, his son, Darius I, took the throne. On one hand, Darius reaffirmed his father’s desire for the exiled Jews to return to their homeland, complete the unfinished Temple, and revive the worship of YHWH. On the other hand,

Darius . . . harnessed the full aggressive capacity of the Persian state . . . to subdue the city-states of mainland Greece. Intending at first only to check the incursions of Scythians (horsemen from the Russian steppes) on the western shores of the Black Sea, Darius conquered large areas of the north Aegean, or Thracian, coast. From those Greeks and from the Ionian Greeks of western Anatolia [Turkey], Darius demanded heavy tribute. Supported by Athens, the Greek cities, although by no means united, resisted. Darius, finally overextended, had met his match.

Defeated at Marathon in 490 B.C., Darius died soon after and bequeathed to his son Xerxes (485-465 B.C.) the problem of a recalcitrant western frontier. When Xerxes (even less effectively than Darius) turned his attention to Greece, the Greeks repelled a joint Persian land and naval force at Salamis and Platea in 480-479 B.C.31

The Return from Exile

After Xerxes I died (ca. 465 BCE), his successor, Artaxerxes I (464-424 BCE), took the throne of Persia. This transition involved dramatic changes for both Jews and Greeks.

. . . [E]ndless strife mellowed into cultural interaction between Greeks and Persians. Greek merchants, mercenaries, and historians, most notably Herodotus, traveled widely in the east, familiarizing themselves with the area’s history, religions, and science.32

During this period of Persian and Greek cultural and religious interaction, two high officials of Artaxerxes I were Jews — Nehemiah the cupbearer, who was committed to rebuilding Jerusalem, and Ezra the scribe, who was deeply involved in redacting (editing and revising) the Hebrew scriptures. Quite obviously, there was close contact between Nehemiah and Ezra on one hand and Greek emissary scholars on the other.33 Both Jews and Greeks were very aware that they had similarly suffered a fivefold “fall” — Eden, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, the Dark Age, and repeated invasions and exile. Now they both became committed to a fivefold restoration!

As Jews and Greeks focused on their understanding of reality, parallel views emerged. For example:

1. Both Jews and Greeks believed in a Supreme God. For the Jews, God was YHWH. For the Greeks, the Supreme God was Zeus. Many Jews and most Greeks believed that YHWH and Zeus were two names for the same God.

2. Both Jews and Greeks agreed that there were four basic earthly elements — air, water, earth and fire. And both agreed that there also was a fifth and heavenly element — ether.34

3. Both Jews and Greeks believed that these five fundamental elements had their archetypal counterparts in human consciousness.

a. For the Jews the mystical counterpart of the four earthly elements was knowledge of the Tetrateuch — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. The fifth or ethereal element was found in Deuteronomy. Together, these five books formed the Hebrew Pentateuch or Torah (instruction).35 To truly know the first four books was to prevail in this world. To truly know all five books was to further prevail in heaven.

For the Jews the ethereal realm involved three levels. The first heavenly level was the Mosaic Law. The second level was the angelic realm of Lucifer, Michael, Gabriel, etc. The third and highest level was that of YHWH himself on his throne.36, 37 Thus, for the Jews there were seven levels altogether (earth, air, fire, water, Mosaic Law, angels, throne of God). The seventh-day Sabbath — the time and place of divine rest — signified the achievement of all seven levels (Genesis 2:2, 3)! Significantly, it was only during the latter period of the Babylonian Exile and the time of Ezra and Nehemiah that the Jews adopted this mystical meaning of their heritage. Reversing the historical Davidic conviction that YHWH would descend from the ethereal realm to become human in the domain of earth, air, fire and water, the Chosen People now believed that they were to ultimately reach the divine throne — the level that they contended Moses had already achieved.

b. While the Jews were adopting the beliefs associated with this Second Temple period, the Greeks were embarking on the Axial Age of philosophy during the time of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. For the Greeks ultimate knowledge was secured through paideia (instruction). This instruction took place in the Greek institutions of the gymnasium and ephebeion and also required five levels (metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, aesthetics) to reach the status of the divine indwelling “idea.”38, 39

Both Jews and Greeks, therefore, generally recognized themselves and each other as “philosophers” — those who loved and determined to achieve wisdom (knowledge).40 Meanwhile, both Jews and Greeks retained their unique identities. Although tiny countries located on major trade routes and surrounded by vast continents, they have been regarded as the co-authors of the civilization(s) that have emerged and survived for the last 3,000 years. Thus, in our postmodern world virtually all religions, peoples and nations believe that mankind’s ultimate destiny is to achieve/possess the authoritative status of divinity. In this respect nothing has changed since Babel! All mankind is still striving to achieve one language, one consciousness, one Name! This stands in stark contrast to the original Davidic conviction that YHWH himself had promised to leave the heavenly, ethereal realm and to fully adopt Creation as his own reality, thereby becoming our human Father, Brother and Friend. This promise YHWH explicitly fulfilled when he became our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Surely, after 2,000 years, it is now time to abandon our fallen mania to possess divinity. It is time to accept YHWH’s revelation of his own humanity. It is time to hear his voice, accept his revelation, and rejoice in his soon return to consummate the transformation of humanity into his own image.

Annotations

  1. . . . but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” — 1 Corinthians 1:24, italics supplied. (go back)
  2. . . . [C]onsciousness is based on language. . . . Consciousness comes after language!” — Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1990), p. 66. (go back)
  3. See Jaynes, Origin of Consciousness. (go back)
  4. See Gil Bailie, Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Co., 1997). (go back)
  5. See Genesis 10; see also Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. “Nations, The Seventy.” Interestingly, in this Table of Nations both Israel and Babylon are noticeably absent! The conjecture is that this “Table” was composed after the Persian defeat of Babylon and before the post-exilic restoration of Israel. Alternatively, the biblical text quotes the words of the prophet Balaam, who declared, “ . . . [T]he people [Israel] shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9). (go back)
  6. The Hebrew term for language is saphah = “lip,” while the term for speech is dabar = “word.” (go back)
  7. HaShem (‘the Name’) is a euphemism for YHVH.” — David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996), p. 239. (go back)
  8. Jaynes, Origin of Consciousness, p. 320. (go back)
  9. The listed descendants of Shem are Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, Terah, Abram (Genesis 11:10-27). (go back)
  10. See Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. “Mari.” (go back)
  11. See Hershel Shanks, “The History Behind the Bible: BAR Interviews Avraham Malamat,” Biblical Archaeology Review 29, no. 1 (January/February 2003): 40-46. (go back)
  12. See Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. “Habiru.” (go back)
  13. Thorleif Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1960), pp. 205, 206. (go back)
  14. See The 1911 Encyclopedia, s.v. “Pelasgians,” at 38.1911encyclopedia.org/P/PE/PELASGIANS.htm. (go back)
  15. See Our Obsession with Origins, at members.aol.com/plaku/origins.htm. (go back)
  16. See “The Earliest Settlers of Albania,” at www.albanian.com/main/history/origins.html. (go back)
  17. See Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. “Javan.” (go back)
  18. See Bruce R. Gordon, Hellenic Tribes, at www.hostkingdom.net/gktrib.html. (go back)
  19. See The 1911 Encyclopedia, s.v. “Achaeans,” at 26.1911encyclopedia.org/A/AC/ACHAEANS.htm. (go back)
  20. See History of Minoan Crete, at www.ancient-greece.org/history/minoan.html. (go back)
  21. See The Collapse of Mycenaean Palatial Civilization and the Coming of the Dorians [Trustees of Dartmouth College], at devlab.cs.dartmouth.edu/history/bronze_age/lessons/28.html. (go back)
  22. See “Bureaucrats and Barbarians: The Minoans,” at www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/MINOA/MINOANS.HTM. (go back)
  23. Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek, pp. 205, 206. (go back)
  24. Jaynes, Origin of Consciousness, p. 212. (go back)
  25. See Tristan Barako, “How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan? One: By Sea,” Biblical Archaeology Review 29, no. 2: 24-33, 64, 66. (go back)
  26. See Assaf Yasur-Landau, “How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan? Two: By Land,” Biblical Archaeology Review 29, no. 2: 34-39, 66, 67. (go back)
  27. See John Porter, “The Archaic Age and the Rise of the Polis,” at duke.usask.ca/~porterj/CourseNotes/Polis.html. (go back)
  28. See “Dorian Invasion,” at www.publicbookshelf.com/public_html/ The_Story_of_the_Greatest_Nations _ and_the_Worlds_Famous_Events_Vol_1/dorianin_beb.html. (go back)
  29. See “Dorians,” at 83.1911encyclopedia.org/D/DO/DORIANS.htm. (go back)
  30. See Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. “Cyrus.” (go back)
  31. A. Bernard Knapp, The History and Culture of Ancient Western Asia and Egypt (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1988), pp. 263, 264. (go back)
  32. Ibid., p. 264. (go back)
  33. At this strategic time and place in world history, there was serious interaction among the Persians, who were committed to Zoroastrianism, the Greeks, who worshiped multiple gods, including Zeus, and the Jews, who worshiped YHWH. There is increasing evidence that these three religious groups extensively borrowed from each other’s foundational beliefs. An entire essay is needed to address the syncretism that followed. (go back)
  34. For example, see Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. “Cosmology.” (go back)
  35. “While there was a notion of a Greek paideia, they recognized that other peoples had their own paideia. Torah was accepted as the Jewish paideia.” — “Judaism in the Second Temple Period,” at www.kahalbraira.org/hellenistic.html. (go back)
  36. In ancient times there were numerous definitions of the “ethereal” realm. For one example, see Harry Austryn Wolfson, Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1947), p. 404. (go back)
  37. The philosophical definitions of the ethereal realm are reminiscent of the mythological Egyptian Ennead (Nine), which assumed a fourfold downward emanation of the gods, a fifth earthly or “return” level of the Pharaohs, and finally, at death, a fourfold upward level back to Atmun-Ra. See Karl W. Luckert, Egyptian Light and Hebrew Fire: Theological and Philosophical Roots of Christendom in Evolutionary Perspective (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press), 1991. (go back)
  38. See Werner Jaeger, Early Christianity and Greek Paideia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1961). (go back)
  39. See “Philosophy,” at 85.1911encyclopedia.org/P/PH/PHILOSOPHY.htm. (go back)
  40. “Aristotle . . . on his first meeting with a Jew, saw in him the representative of a race of philosophers.” — Wolfson, Philo, p. 20. (go back)

 

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