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What is it that makes the history of religion fact?


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Cap, I don't doubt what you are saying about the NT, my point is that those factors aren't the same for the OT. A totally different society. The factors pertaining to the writing of the NT are simply irrelevent to the OT.

 

On the side. Why would Aramaic be the likely choice over Greek? Since those who write are the educated scribal class they must have been taught somewhere. The major influence and best schools for 300 years were in Ptolomeic Egypt. It reasonably follows that the majority of scribes were taught either in Egypt or by Egyptian trained teachers. In both cases a training in Greek would be par for the course. A scribe who couldn't write Greek would have no hope of getting any government work and the possibility of general business would be curtailed.

 

By the time of the NT, I would think that the most common written languages were Greek and Latin, reflecting the two most influential societies in the region.

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By the time of the NT, I would think that the most common written languages were Greek and Latin, reflecting the two most influential societies in the region.

Not in ancient Palestine; Aramaic was the common language and Greek was used for business, but not universal. I haven't heard any mentions of Latin in the context of 1st-century Palestine. Hebrew was also only known by the priestly class and a few other elites, so writing a Gospel in Hebrew as imatfaal suggested doesn't make sense -- who are you going to read it to?

 

More in line with your idea, however, it is apparent that, the Gospel of Luke was written by a very literate and educated Greek speaker. Mark, on the other hand, was written in somewhat rough Greek which Matthew and Luke edited and clarified.

 

Cap, I don't doubt what you are saying about the NT, my point is that those factors aren't the same for the OT. A totally different society. The factors pertaining to the writing of the NT are simply irrelevent to the OT.

Fair enough. However, some of the stories in the OT were written centuries after the fact, though supposedly written at the time of the event. (See the Book of Daniel, for example. There's also significant evidence that the NT was influenced by the non-canonical Book of Enoch, supposedly written by Noah's great-grandfather but actually written around 300BCE. Enoch is where the fall of Satan was first described.)

 

I guess my point is that storytelling may have been important, but if you wait a few hundred years and let the stories spread over hundreds of miles, major discrepancies are bound to occur.

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Fair enough. However, some of the stories in the OT were written centuries after the fact, though supposedly written at the time of the event. (See the Book of Daniel, for example. There's also significant evidence that the NT was influenced by the non-canonical Book of Enoch, supposedly written by Noah's great-grandfather but actually written around 300BCE. Enoch is where the fall of Satan was first described.)

 

I guess my point is that storytelling may have been important, but if you wait a few hundred years and let the stories spread over hundreds of miles, major discrepancies are bound to occur.

 

Agreed. I think the major difference here is that the NT was written in a much shorter time span, a couple of hundred years or so. The OT was word of mouth for a good thousand years before ever being put to paper and even then it would appear to have collected gradually.

 

I find the lack of Latin surprising, but this isn't really my area or era. It's a bit too recent for me. :D I would have thought that the Roman occupation would have given its edicts in Latin rather than the local dialect. Also, IIRC, the mosaics from the very early Christian churches in the region were in either Greek or Latin. I don't remember seeing Aramaic script in the early churches.

 

I'm not saying it's not there. I just skim those articles because my interest lies more with the Babylonians, Sumerians, Hittites and Egyptians so I might simply have missed it.

 

Can I suggest to you a magazine called Archaeological Diggings? An Australian mag published by archaeologists who specialise in the ME region, often with a view to Biblical Archaeology. I've been getting it since Issue 1 and it's a great read, especially the "News" section with quick wrapups on the most recent discoveries. They also organise dig tours which I hope to join at some point.

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I find the lack of Latin surprising, but this isn't really my area or era. It's a bit too recent for me. :D I would have thought that the Roman occupation would have given its edicts in Latin rather than the local dialect. Also, IIRC, the mosaics from the very early Christian churches in the region were in either Greek or Latin. I don't remember seeing Aramaic script in the early churches.

Well, remember that proper Roman occupation only began shortly after Jesus' birth -- ancient Israel was a client kingdom rather than a province before then. (The change to Roman occupation is what causes the census as described in one of the Gospels.) Greek was the language of business in the region up until then.

 

Can I suggest to you a magazine called Archaeological Diggings? An Australian mag published by archaeologists who specialise in the ME region, often with a view to Biblical Archaeology. I've been getting it since Issue 1 and it's a great read, especially the "News" section with quick wrapups on the most recent discoveries. They also organise dig tours which I hope to join at some point.

Sweet, thanks. I'll take a look.

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  • 3 weeks later...

One could reasonably argue that since life was so much harder then, the populace would have had better BS detectors than we have today.

One could reasonably argue that if theyy had a better "bs" detectors they would never have bought religion at all

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One could reasonably argue that if theyy had a better "bs" detectors they would never have bought religion at all

 

Not quite. The religions of the early civilisations grew from the more animistic beliefs of the shamans and tribes that preceeded them. It's no coincidence that the early Gods had animal characteristsics.

 

What many fail to see is that the early shamans were probably the brightest and quickest thinkers in the tribes. The magic they made was important to the survival of the tribe. They had to know when you can use magic and when you cannot. More importantly they had to be able to very quickly explain why the magic didn't work or else suffer a spear to the belly.

 

The thing to understand is that in those early tribes, magic worked. A shaman whos magic didn't work found himself very quickly dead.

 

Now before anybody jumps up and down about the magic working back then, think about what magic he was doing. Healing magic; He wore special clothes with magical impliments and spoke in language nobody else understood. (Not too different from Doctors today really) But the shaman had a knowledge of herbs and herbal remedies too which put him above the tribe and he could heal where others could not. In this respect, the magic worked.

 

Hunting magic; By his wits and knowledge he knew that every time the summer came a bit late, the elk would be found two valleys to the west, but if the summer was early they were two valleys to the north. So he would put on a show (ritual) and make his pronouncements. Remember that this was very important stuff, if he was wrong the tribe might starve or he personally might get killed for failure. The magic worked or else........

 

The tribes that survived to become the early civilisations were the ones whos shamans were more often right than wrong, or put another way, whos magic worked. Given that long history of magic working, why is it so difficult to understand how the early religions developed and were viewed as "right" and "working"? Given the long history of magic working, why would anybody call "BS" on it in the early civilisations?

Edited by JohnB
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Not quite. The religions of the early civilisations grew from the more animistic beliefs of the shamans and tribes that preceeded them. It's no coincidence that the early Gods had animal characteristsics.

 

What many fail to see is that the early shamans were probably the brightest and quickest thinkers in the tribes. The magic they made was important to the survival of the tribe. They had to know when you can use magic and when you cannot. More importantly they had to be able to very quickly explain why the magic didn't work or else suffer a spear to the belly.

 

The thing to understand is that in those early tribes, magic worked. A shaman whos magic didn't work found himself very quickly dead.

 

Now before anybody jumps up and down about the magic working back then, think about what magic he was doing. Healing magic; He wore special clothes with magical impliments and spoke in language nobody else understood. (Not too different from Doctors today really) But the shaman had a knowledge of herbs and herbal remedies too which put him above the tribe and he could heal where others could not. In this respect, the magic worked.

 

Hunting magic; By his wits and knowledge he knew that every time the summer came a bit late, the elk would be found two valleys to the west, but if the summer was early they were two valleys to the north. So he would put on a show (ritual) and make his pronouncements. Remember that this was very important stuff, if he was wrong the tribe might starve or he personally might get killed for failure. The magic worked or else........

 

The tribes that survived to become the early civilizations were the ones who's shamans were more often right than wrong, or put another way, who's magic worked. Given that long history of magic working, why is it so difficult to understand how the early religions developed and were viewed as "right" and "working"? Given the long history of magic working, why would anybody call "BS" on it in the early civilizations?

(i corrected you're spelling so i could better see my own spelling mistakes)

but how do religions start? someone has to come up with some BS to tell people is true and how can someone do something like that to the world?

Edited by dragonstar57
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(i corrected you're spelling so i could better see my own spelling mistakes)

"Civilisation" is the perfectly valid British/Australian form of the word, and that should be "whose," not "who's." Just saying.

 

but how do religions start? someone has to come up with some BS to tell people is true and how can someone do something like that to the world?

If you're in an ancient society, you don't know how anything works. A magical explanation that makes sense and explains why there's thunder and rain is as good as any other explanation. Why would the people doubt it?

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(i corrected you're spelling so i could better see my own spelling mistakes)

but how do religions start? someone has to come up with some BS to tell people is true and how can someone do something like that to the world?

 

Skitt's law strikes again!

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Skitt's law strikes again!

i did not correct them to be like "haha" it is just easier to correct my own mistakes (which i obviously need as much help as possible with that) if i get rid of all little red under lines in my post. i just added that part (that contained that mistake) to not be offensive to the person i was quoting

i was basically saying "I'm not correcting you just to be a jerk"

but you on the other hand said nothing about the topic so were you correcting me just to be a jerk?

"Civilisation" is the perfectly valid British/Australian form of the word, and that should be "whose," not "who's." Just saying.

well firefox spell check red flagged it so i changed it (i cant see my own errors as well if other red underlines are mixed in)

If you're in an ancient society, you don't know how anything works. A magical explanation that makes sense and explains why there's thunder and rain is as good as any other explanation. Why would the people doubt it?

whoever says "it's a god named Zeus causing thunder and he was the son of a titan named Chronos" the person stating this from thin air knows that it is BS and others would ask "and you know this how"

, and that should be "whose," not "who's." Just saying.

fire fox red-flagged it and said that it should be who's Edited by dragonstar57
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whoever says "it's a god named Zeus causing thunder and he was the son of a titan named Chronos" the person stating this from thin air knows that it is BS and others would ask "and you know this how"

fire fox red-flagged it and said that it should be who's

Firefox is not a grammar checker. Incidentally, it says it should be "whose." I just checked. I'm just pointing this out so you'll learn something, so you don't need to justify yourself.

 

Anyway, dreams and visions were often considered valid sources for information. Also, I'm certain the first legends were not fully-formed from the beginning. There weren't prehistoric men sitting around the fire eating dinner, until one perks up and says "Gee, I bet there's a dude named Zeus who made all of this, and he had some kids, and some other gods..."

 

No, you start small, by supposing there must be some Creator. Then, as you see how Nature behaves, you form ideas about the Creator. ("See that tornado? He must be angry.") You gradually build a coherent religion and culture one step at a time, so each piece is not so incredible as to be rejected.

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In the history of logic Gottlob Frege usefully introduced the distinction between sense and reference, which helps in this discussion. Thus it is certainly true that the 'sense' of the term 'Zeus' is the 'Head of the Gods of Olypus and the son of Chronos,' its reference is to nothing at all. If we then define truth with Quine as 'everything that is the case,' the fact that Zeus has a sense but no reference makes it a non-entity. This doesn't prevent it from being true, however, that with respect to its sense it is valid to say that 'Zeus is the son of Chronos and not the son of Uranos,' though with respect to its reference it is simply undefined whether non-existent entity Z fails to exist in relation r to non-existent entity U rather than C.

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dragonstar, how many things started is lost in the mists of time and we'll never really know unless someone invents a time machine.

 

The most probable development was this way. (I think)

 

The early paleolithic tribes had specialists, spear maker, bow maker, jeweller so it would be logical for them to ascribe different things in the natural world to specialist gods. So they had a God of Thunder, God of Rain etc. But tribes also had a heiracy, there was a tribal leader. From this is would be sensible for there to be a similar ranking of the Gods. This gives rise to the Zeus type figure as King of the Gods. (Somebody has to be on top) From there it is a small step to deciding that the Zeus figure must have created the lesser Gods simply because the lesser Gods couldn't reasonably be expected to create a greater God.

 

We are talking here about well before the rise of any stable civilisation, purely tribal. As one tribe conquers another the Gods get mixed up. If my tribe beats yours, then my tribe must have the better Gods and so your tribe would start to follow them too. There would be holdouts though and some facets of your Gods would be introduced into the worship of my Gods. It's a very dynamic process.

 

Gods might also have been discarded for practical reasons. Around 3,000 BC the climate shift forced the oasis dwellers to the east where they became the pharonic egyptians. They (mostly) discarded their old Gods because 1) They had failed them and the people had had to move and 2) because they weren't living on an oasis any more but on a mighty river. It's only sensible that the river would have different Gods to theose of the oases.

 

People can also be elevated to Godhood. The great pyramid designer Imhotep was elevated in this fashion. In thought if not in practice it still happens today. For many today Einstein is as much a god as Imhotep was to the early egyptians.

 

As to spelling, I couldn't remember whether it was "whos" or "whose" and was frankly too lazy to check. :D

 

Seriously though there are many mysteries as to the whys and whens. My favourite is this one. The potters wheel was invented around 3,800 BC yet the wheeled cart wasn't invented until around 3,200 BC. How did these people watch a wheel go round and round for 600 years before someone said "You know, maybe if we put it on its side it would roll". :blink::blink::doh:

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Firefox is not a grammar checker. Incidentally, it says it should be "whose." I just checked. I'm just pointing this out so you'll learn something, so you don't need to justify yourself.

A shaman whos magic didn't work found himself very quickly dead.

the early civilisations were the ones whos shamans were more often right than wrong, or put another way, whos magic worked.

whos has a red under line while I admit that it should be whose I accidentally changed it to who's.

this is why homophone errors are not as bad as spelling errors because at least when you have a homophone error what you have written is a word :D

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this is why homophone errors are not as bad as spelling errors because at least when you have a homophone error what you have written is a word

 

Very true. :D I think it's just a result of the complexities of the English language.

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Picking up on JohnB's point, since it was so common in Antiquity for prominent people to be elevated to the status of 'God' or 'the Son of God' -- so much so that the Emperor Hadrian even had to publish an edict in the Eastern Roman Empire to forbid his being deified -- the attribution of divinity to someone then cannot be taken very seriously today. So count this as yet another reason for not bothering to take the whole deified Christ story very seriously.

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