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Date: Tue, 05 Nov 2002 06:39:30 -0600
From: James Jordan 
Subject: RE: (urth) Gnostic Wolfe

At 05:38 PM 11/4/2002, you wrote:

> > Middle-eastern
> > myth believed that the world was created well but became
> > damaged or flawed in some ur-event; most Middle-eastern
> > religious ritual was aimed at bringing back the prelapsarian
> > time, or at least making the present more like it. (Israelite
> > religion, as was usual for Israel, took up this theme and
> > transformed it into something quite different -- yes, the
> > world had Fallen, but no amount of ritual was going to undo
> > that; you had to live in the world as it was. Religion was
> > not aimed at bringing back the golden past but at present
> > blessings.) I don't really see _any_ of these attitudes in
> > "classical" myth.
>I don't see a belief in Judaism that the world has fallen.  Adam and Eve
>were punished, partly by being expelled from Paradise, but the world
>wasn't changed.  (Their descendants didn't become sinful either.)  And in
>the only other Middle Eastern myth I know, that of Gilgamesh, Paradise
>still exists and is reachable by ship.

The world is not fallen in the sense of being sinful, but is it "under a 
curse for the sake of humanity" so that it does not cooperate with sinful 
humanity. Hence, only as humanity shapes up will the world return toward 
paradise. The issue in Middle Eastern religion can from this perspective be 
boiled down to this: Does the world get renewed as a result of bargaining 
with various gods, and/or as a result of doing rituals right, and/or as a 
result of searching for paradise; OR does the world get renewed as a result 
of the spiritual/moral renewal of humanity (the Jewish/Christian answer)?
         I would suggest that as time went along, and thought matured, the 
former answer devolved into gnosticism: the world is cursed in itself, and 
thus a bad place. The early Church had to answer that the world is good in 
itself, and that "only man is vile." A "new earth" is coming, but only when 
humanity is redeemed and resurrected.




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