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Ancient & Modern Inquiries

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Looking for context see this

An Ancient Inquiry

 

22. How did the Athenians’ many theories about their gods affect their way of worship?

22 In the first century of our Common Era, Athens, Greece, was a prominent center of learning. Among the Athenians, however, there were many different schools of thought, such as the Epicureans and the Stoics, each with its own idea about the gods. Based on these various ideas, many deities were venerated, and different ways of worship developed. As a result, the city was full of man-made idols and temples.​—Acts 17:16.

23. What totally different view about God did the apostle Paul present to the Athenians?

23 In about the year 50 C.E., the Christian apostle Paul visited Athens and presented to the Athenians a totally different point of view. He told them: “The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples, neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things.”​—Acts 17:24, 25.

24. In effect, what was Paul telling the Athenians about true worship?

24 In other words, Paul was telling the Athenians that the true God, who “made the world and all the things in it,” is not a fabrication of man’s imagination, nor is he served by ways that man might devise. True religion is not just a one-sided effort by man to try to fill a certain psychological need or quell a certain fear. Rather, since the true God is the Creator, who gave man thinking ability and power of reason, it is only logical that He would provide a way for man to come into a satisfying relationship with Him. That, according to Paul, was exactly what God did. “He made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, . . . for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.”​—Acts 17:26, 27.

25. Explain the key point of Paul’s argument about mankind’s origin.

25 Notice Paul’s key point: God “made out of one man every nation of men.” Even though today there are many nations of men, living all over the earth, scientists know that, indeed, all mankind is of the same stock. This concept is of great significance because when we speak of all mankind’s being of the same stock, it means much more than their being related just biologically and genetically. They are related in other areas as well.

Care to read on…

26. What is known about language that supports Paul’s key point?

26 Note, for instance, what the book Story of the World’s Worship says about man’s language. “Those who have studied the languages of the world and compared them with each other have something to say, and it is this: All languages can be grouped into families or classes of speech, and all these families are seen to have started from one common source.” In other words, the languages of the world did not originate separately and independently, as evolutionists would have us believe. They theorize that cave-dwelling men in Africa, Europe, and Asia started with their grunts and growls and eventually developed their own languages. That was not the case. Evidence is that they “started from one common source.”

27. Why is it logical to think that man’s ideas about God and religion started from one common source?

27 If that is true of something as personal and as uniquely human as language, then would it not be reasonable to think that man’s ideas about God and religion should also have started from one common source? After all, religion is related to thinking, and thinking is related to man’s ability to use language. It is not that all religions actually grew out of one religion, but the ideas and concepts should be traceable to some common origin or pool of religious ideas. 

[excerpted: Mankind’s Search for God, Chapter 2, Religion–How Did It Begin?]

9/30/18 @ 1:21 a.m.

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beginnings

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Happy Saturday…the beginning(?) of the week-end.
Or may be (?) Friday night is the real beginning of the week-end, eh?

Anyway, have You read…so, You have some context for current post.

Questions for Consideration(s): Don’t be scared to think!

Are the Many Religions too different or too similar? Is it like comparing apples to oranges? Both are fruit. Can we trace the ‘beginning’ of religion? What do the world’s religions produce? Edible fruit? Inedible fruit?

28. How can we find out if there is a common origin for the world’s religions?

28 We can get the answer in the same way that linguistic experts got their answers about the origin of language. By placing the languages side by side and noting their similarities, an etymologist can trace the various languages back to their source. Similarly, by placing the religions side by side, we can examine their doctrines, legends, rituals, ceremonies, institutions, and so on, and see if there is any underlying thread of common identity and, if so, to what that thread leads us.

29. To what can many of the differences among religions be attributed?

29 On the surface, the many religions in existence today seem quite different from one another. However, if we strip them of the things that are mere embellishments and later additions, or if we remove those distinctions that are the result of climate, language, peculiar conditions of their native land, and other factors, it is amazing how similar most of them turn out to be.

30. What similarities do you see between Roman Catholicism and Buddhism?

30 For example, most people would think that there could hardly be any two religions more different from each other than the Roman Catholic Church of the West and Buddhism of the East. However, what do we see when we put aside the differences that could be attributed to language and culture? If we are objective about it, we have to admit that there is a great deal that the two have in common. Both Catholicism and Buddhism are steeped in rituals and ceremonies. These include the use of candles, incense, holy water, the rosary, images of saints, chants and prayer books, even the sign of the cross. Both religions maintain institutions of monks and nuns and are noted for celibacy of priests, special garb, holy days, special foods. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it serves to illustrate the point. The question is, Why do two religions that appear to be so different have so many things in common?

31. What similarities do you see among other religions?

31 As enlightening as the comparison of these two religions turns out to be, the same can be done with other religions. When we do so, we find that certain teachings and beliefs are almost universal among them. Most of us are familiar with such doctrines as the immortality of the human soul, heavenly reward for all good people, eternal torment for the wicked in an underworld, purgatory, a triune god or a godhead of many gods, and a mother-of-god or queen-of-heaven goddess. Beyond these, however, there are many legends and myths that are equally commonplace. For example, there are legends about man’s fall from divine grace owing to his illicit attempt to achieve immortality, the need to offer sacrifices to atone for sin, the search for a tree of life or fountain of youth, gods and demigods who lived among humans and produced superhuman offspring, and a catastrophic flood that devastated nearly all of humanity.

32, 33. (a) What can we conclude from the remarkable similarities among the world’s religions? (b) What question needs an answer?

32 What can we conclude from all of this? We note that those who believed in these myths and legends lived far from one another geographically. Their culture and traditions were different and distinct. Their social customs bore no relationship to one another. And yet, when it comes to their religions, they believed in such similar ideas. Although not every one of these peoples believed in all the things mentioned, all of them believed in some of them. The obvious question is, Why? It was as if there was a common pool from which each religion drew its basic beliefs, some more, some less. With the passage of time, these basic ideas were embellished and modified, and other teachings developed from them. But the basic outline is unmistakable.

33 Logically, the similarity in the basic concepts of the many religions of the world is strong evidence that they did not begin each in its own separate and independent way. Rather, going back far enough, their ideas must have come from a common origin. What was that origin?

An Early Golden Age

34. What legend regarding man’s beginning is common to many religions?

34 Interestingly, among the legends common to many religions is one that says humankind began in a golden age in which man was guiltless, lived happily and peacefully in close communion with God, and was free from sickness and death. While details may differ, the same concept of a perfect paradise that once existed is found in the writings and legends of many religions.

35. Describe the ancient Zoroastrians’ belief about an early golden age.

35 The Avesta, the sacred book of the ancient Persian Zoroastrian religion, tells about “the fair Yima, the good shepherd,” who was the first mortal with whom Ahura Mazda (the creator) conversed. He was instructed by Ahura Mazda “to nourish, to rule, and to watch over my world.” To do so, he was to build “a Vara,” an underground abode, for all the living creatures. In it, there “was neither overbearing nor mean-spiritedness, neither stupidity nor violence, neither poverty nor deceit, neither puniness nor deformity, neither huge teeth nor bodies beyond the usual measure. The inhabitants suffered no defilement from the evil spirit. They dwelt among odoriferous trees and golden pillars; these were the largest, best and most beautiful on earth; they were themselves a tall and beautiful race.”

36. How did the Greek poet Hesiod describe a “Golden Age”?

36 Among the ancient Greeks, Hesiod’s poem Works and Days speaks of the Five Ages of Man, the first of which was the “Golden Age” when men enjoyed complete happiness. He wrote:

“The immortal gods, that tread the courts of heaven,

First made a golden race of men.

Like gods they lived, with happy, careless souls,

From toil and pain exempt; nor on them crept

Wretched old age, but all their life was passed

In feasting, and their limbs no changes knew.”

That legendary golden age was lost, according to Greek mythology, when Epimetheus accepted as wife the beautiful Pandora, a gift from the Olympian god Zeus. One day Pandora opened the lid of her great vase, and suddenly there escaped from it troubles, miseries, and illness from which mankind was never to recover.

37. Describe the ancient Chinese legendary account of a “paradise” at the beginning of history.

37 Ancient Chinese legends also tell of a golden age in the days of Huang-Ti (Yellow Emperor), who is said to have ruled for a hundred years in the 26th century B.C.E. He was credited with inventing everything having to do with civilization​—clothing and shelter, vehicles of transportation, weapons and warfare, land management, manufacturing, silk culture, music, language, mathematics, the calendar, and so on. During his reign, it is said, “there were no thieves nor fights in China, and the people lived in humility and peace. Timely rain and weather resulted in abundant harvest year after year. Most amazing was that even the wild beasts did not kill, and birds of prey did no harm. In short, the history of China began with a paradise.” To this day, the Chinese still claim to be the descendants of the Yellow Emperor.

38. What conclusion can we draw from all the similar legendary accounts of man’s beginning?

38 Similar legendary accounts of a time of happiness and perfection at the beginning of man’s history can be found in the religions of many other peoples​—Egyptians, Tibetans, Peruvians, Mexicans, and others. Was it just by accident that all these peoples, who lived far from each other and who had totally different cultures, languages, and customs, entertained the same ideas about their origin? Was it just by chance or coincidence that all of them chose to explain their beginnings in the same way? Logic and experience tell us that this could hardly be so. On the contrary, interwoven in all these legends, there must be some common elements of truth about the beginning of man and his religion.

39. What composite picture can be assembled from the elements common to the many legends about man’s beginning?

39 Indeed, there are many common elements discernible among all the different legends about man’s beginning. When we put them together, a more complete picture begins to emerge. It tells how God created the first man and woman and placed them in a paradise. They were very content and very happy at first, but soon they became rebellious. That rebellion led to the loss of the perfect paradise, only to be replaced by labor and toil, pain and suffering. Eventually mankind became so bad that God punished them by sending a great deluge of waters that destroyed all but one family. As this family multiplied, some of the offspring banded together and started to build an immense tower in defiance of God. God thwarted their scheme by confusing their language and dispersing them to the far corners of the earth.

40. Explain the Bible’s relationship to the legends about the origin of man’s religions.

40 Is this composite picture purely the result of someone’s mental exercise? No. Basically, that is the picture presented in the Bible, in the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis 1-11. While we will not go into a discussion of the authenticity of the Bible here, let it be noted that the Bible’s account of man’s early history is reflected in the key elements found in many legends. The record reveals that as the human race began to disperse from Mesopotamia, they carried with them their memories, experiences, and ideas everywhere they went. In time these were elaborated and changed and became the warp and woof of religion in every part of the world. In other words, going back to the analogy used earlier, the account in Genesis constitutes the original, crystal-clear pool from which stemmed the basic ideas about the beginning of man and worship found in the various religions of the world. To these they added their particular doctrines and practices, but the link is unmistakable.

41. What should you bear in mind as you study subsequent chapters in this book?

41 In the following chapters of this book, we will discuss in greater detail how specific religions began and developed. You will find it enlightening to note not only how each religion is different from the others but also how it is similar to them. You will also be able to note how each religion fits into the time scheme of human history and the history of religion, how its sacred book or writings relate to the others, how its founder or leader was influenced by other religious ideas, and how it has influenced mankind’s conduct and history. Studying mankind’s long search for God with these points in mind will help you to see more clearly the truth about religion and religious teachings.

Why Is Man Religious?

▪ John B. Noss points out in his book Man’s Religions: “All religions say in one way or another that man does not, and cannot, stand alone. He is vitally related with and even dependent on powers in Nature and Society external to himself. Dimly or clearly, he knows that he is not an independent center of force capable of standing apart from the world.

Similarly, the book World Religions​—From Ancient History to the Present says: “The study of religion reveals that an important feature of it is a longing for value in life, a belief that life is not accidental and meaningless. The search for meaning leads to faith in a power greater than the human, and finally to a universal or superhuman mind which has the intention and will to maintain the highest values for human life.

So religion satisfies a basic human need, much as food satisfies our hunger. We know that eating indiscriminately when we are hungry may stop the pangs of hunger; in the long run, however, it will damage our health. To lead a healthy life, we need food that is wholesome and nutritious. Likewise, we need wholesome spiritual food to maintain our spiritual health. That is why the Bible tells us: “Not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth.”​—Deuteronomy 8:3. [excerpted reading: Mankind’s Search for God, Chapter 2, Religion–How Did It Begin? pp. 39-40]

2:03 p.m. 9/29/18

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Searching: Truth

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Greetings Truth Searcher🙂 Keep UP Your Search!🙂

We learned this: Myths can contain kernels/morsels of Truth…e.g., The Flood…(more than a legend).

(May be? these kernels serve as Morse code? an S.O.S. of sorts?)

Thus far, we’ve also learned this: Myths don’t always have a basis in fact or “in the Bible.” E.g., illusion of Immortality of the Soul…(false belief/incorrect teaching).

Ready to read…some more? (my blue highlights)

Sun Worship and Human Sacrifices

31. (a) What did the Egyptians believe about the sun-god Ra? (b) How does that contrast with what the Bible says? (Psalm 19:4-6)

31 The mythology of Egypt embraces an extensive pantheon of gods and goddesses. As in so many other ancient societies, while the Egyptians searched for God, they gravitated toward worshiping that which sustained their daily life​—the sun. Thus, under the name of Ra (Amon-Ra), they venerated the sovereign lord of the sky, who took a boat ride every day from east to west. When night fell, he followed a dangerous course through the underworld.

32. Describe one of the festivals to the fire-god Xiuhtecutli (Huehueteotl).

32 Human sacrifices were a common feature in the sun worship of the Aztec, Inca, and Maya religions. The Aztecs celebrated a constant cycle of religious festivals, with human sacrifices to their various gods, especially in the worship of the sun-god Tezcatlipoca. Also, in the festival of the fire-god Xiuhtecutli (Huehueteotl), “prisoners of war danced together with their captors and . . . were whirled about a dazzling fire and then dumped into the coals, fished out while still alive to have their still palpitating hearts cut out to be offered to the gods.”​—The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas.

33. (a) What did Inca worship include? (b) What does the Bible say about human sacrifices? (Compare 2 Kings 23:5, 11; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 8:16.)

33 Farther south, the Inca religion had its own sacrifices and myths. In ancient Inca worship, children and animals were offered to the sun-god Inti and to Viracocha, the creator.

Various Gods & Goddesses…

Mythical Gods and Goddesses

34. Who made up the most prominent Egyptian triad, and what roles did they play?

34 The most prominent of the Egyptian triads is that made up of Isis, symbol of divine motherhood; Osiris, her brother and consort; and Horus, their son, usually represented by a falcon. Isis is sometimes portrayed in Egyptian statues offering her breast to her child in a pose very reminiscent of Christendom’s virgin-and-child statues and paintings, which came on the scene over two thousand years later. In time Isis’ husband, Osiris, achieved popularity as the god of the dead because he offered hope of an eternally happy life for the souls of the dead in the hereafter.

35. Who was Hathor, and what was her chief annual festival?

35 Egypt’s Hathor was the goddess of love and joy, music and dancing. She became the queen of the dead, helping them with a ladder to achieve heaven. As the New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology explains, she was celebrated with great festivals, “above all on New Year’s Day, which was the anniversary of her birth. Before dawn the priestesses would bring Hathor’s image out on to the terrace to expose it to the rays of the rising sun. The rejoicing which followed was a pretext for a veritable carnival, and the day ended in song and intoxication.” Have things changed all that much in New Year celebrations thousands of years later?

36. (a) What was the religious setting for Israel in the 16th century B.C.E.? (b) What special significance did the Ten Plagues have?

36 The Egyptians also had many animal gods and goddesses in their pantheon, such as Apis the bull, Banaded the ram, Heqt the frog, Hathor the cow, and Sebek the crocodile. (Romans 1:21-23) It was in this religious setting that the Israelites found themselves in captivity as slaves in the 16th century B.C.E. To release them from Pharaoh’s stubborn grip, Jehovah, the God of Israel, had to send ten different plagues against Egypt. (Exodus 7:14–12:36) Those plagues amounted to a calculated humiliation of the mythological gods of Egypt.

37. (a) What kind of characters were some of the Roman gods? (b) How did the conduct of the gods affect their followers? (c) What experience did Paul and Barnabas have in Lystra?

37 Now let us move on to the gods of ancient Greece and Rome. Rome borrowed many gods from ancient Greece, along with their virtues and vices. (See boxes, pages 43 and 66.) For example, Venus and Flora were brazen prostitutes; Bacchus was a drunkard and reveler; Mercury was a highway robber; and Apollo was a seducer of women. It is reported that Jupiter, the father of the gods, committed adultery or incest with about 59 women! (What a reminder of the rebel angels who cohabited with women before the Flood!) Since worshipers tend to reflect the conduct of their gods, is it any wonder that Roman emperors such as Tiberius, Nero, and Caligula led debauched lives as adulterers, fornicators, and murderers?

38. (a) Describe the kind of worship practiced in Rome. (b) How did religion influence the Roman soldier?

38 In their religion, the Romans incorporated gods from many traditions. For example, they took up with enthusiasm the worship of Mithras, the Persian god of light, who became their sun-god […], and the Syrian goddess Atargatis (Ishtar). They converted the Grecian Artemis the huntress into Diana and had their own variations of the Egyptian Isis. They also adopted the Celtic triple goddesses of fertility.​—Acts 19:23-28.

39. (a) Who ruled the Roman priesthood? (b) Describe one of the Roman religious ceremonies.

39 For the practice of their public cults at hundreds of shrines and temples, they had a variety of priests, all of whom “came under the authority of the Pontifex Maximus [Supreme Pontiff], who was the head of the state religion.” (Atlas of the Roman World) The same atlas states that one of the Roman ceremonies was the taurobolium, in which “the worshiper stood in a pit and was bathed in the blood of a bull sacrificed over him. He emerged from this rite in a state of purified innocence.”

“Christian Myths”…

40. How do many scholars view the events of early Christianity?

40 According to some modern critics, Christianity also embraces myths and legends. Is that really so? Many scholars reject as myths the virgin birth of Jesus, his miracles, and his resurrection. Some even say he never existed but that his myth is a carryover from more ancient mythology and sun worship. As mythology expert Joseph Campbell wrote: “Several scholars have suggested, therefore, that there was never either John [the Baptizer] or Jesus, but only a water-god and a sun-god.” But we need to remember that many of these same scholars are atheists and thus reject totally any belief in God.

41, 42. What evidence is there to support the historicity of early Christianity?

41 However, this skeptical point of view flies in the face of historical evidence. For example, the Jewish historian Josephus (c.37-c.100 C.E.) wrote: “To some of the Jews the destruction of Herod’s army seemed to be divine vengeance, and certainly a just vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist. For Herod had put him to death, though he was a good man.”​—Mark 1:14; 6:14-29.

42 This same historian also testified to the historical existence of Jesus Christ, when he wrote that there arose “a certain Jesus, a wizard of a man, if indeed he may be called a man . . . whom his disciples call a son of God.” He continued by saying that “Pilate had sentenced him . . . And even now the race of those who are called ‘Messianists’ after him is not extinct.”*(According to the traditional text of Josephus, footnote, page 48 of the Harvard University Press edition, Volume IX.)​—Mark 15:1-5, 22-26; Acts 11:26.

43. What basis did the apostle Peter have for believing in Christ?

43 Therefore, the Christian apostle Peter could write with total conviction as an eyewitness of Jesus’ transfiguration, saying: “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories [Greek, myʹthos] that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when words such as these were borne to him by the magnificent glory: ‘This is my son, my beloved, whom I myself have approved.’ Yes, these words we heard borne from heaven while we were with him in the holy mountain.”​—2 Peter 1:16-18. * (According to the traditional text of Josephus, footnote, page 48 of the Harvard University Press edition, Volume IX.)

44. What Bible principle should prevail in any conflict between man’s opinions and the Word of God?

44 In this conflict between man’s “expert” opinion and God’s Word, we must apply the principle stated earlier: “What, then, is the case? If some did not express faith, will their lack of faith perhaps make the faithfulness of God without effect? Never may that happen! But let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, even as it is written: ‘That you might be proved righteous in your words and might win when you are being judged.’”​—Romans 3:3, 4.

Let’s focus on threads now…

Common Threads

45. What are some of the common threads found in world mythology?

45 This brief review of some of the world’s mythologies has served to indicate some common features, many of which can be traced back to Babylon, the Mesopotamian cradle of most religions. There are common threads, whether in the facts of creation, or in accounts about a period when demigods and giants occupied the land and a deluge destroyed the wicked, or in the basic religious concepts of sun-worship and an immortal soul.

46, 47. (a) What Biblical explanation can we offer for the common origin and threads of mythology? (b) What further aspects of ancient worship will we cover?

46 From a Biblical viewpoint, we can explain these common threads when we recall that after the Flood, at God’s behest mankind spread out from Babel in Mesopotamia more than 4,200 years ago. Although they separated, forming families and tribes with different languages, they started off with the same basic understanding of prior history and religious concepts. (Genesis 11:1-9) Over the centuries, this understanding became distorted and adorned in each culture, resulting in many of the fictions, legends, and myths that have come down to us today. These myths, divorced from Bible truth, failed to bring mankind nearer to the true God.

47 However, mankind have also expressed their religious sentiments in various other ways​—spiritism, shamanism, magic, ancestor worship, and so on. Do they tell us anything about mankind’s search for God?

[excerpted reading reference: Mankind’s Search For God, Chapter 3, Common Threads in Mythology, pp. 57-61]

9/28/18 @ 3:11 p.m.

p.s. Extensive lists (excerpted from book of various “fake” gods): (and including reference to:  Potent, Almighty, True God of Bible, Yahweh/Jehovah.)

Greek and Roman Divinities

Many gods and goddesses of Greek mythology held similar positions in Roman mythology. The table below lists some of them.

Greek Roman Role

Aphrodite Venus Goddess of love

Apollo Apollo God of light, medicine, and poetry

Ares Mars God of war

Artemis Diana Goddess of hunting and childbirth

Asclepius Aesculapius God of healing

Athena Minerva Goddess of crafts, war, and wisdom

Cronus Saturn To the Greeks, ruler of the Titans and

father of Zeus. In Roman mythology,

also the god of agriculture

Demeter Ceres Goddess of growing things

Dionysus Bacchus God of wine, fertility, and wild

behavior

Eros Cupid God of love

Gaea Terra Symbol of the earth, and mother and

wife of Uranus

Hephaestus Vulcan Blacksmith for the gods and god of fire

and metalworking

Hera Juno Protector of marriage and women. To

the Greeks, sister and wife of Zeus;

to the Romans, wife of Jupiter

Hermes Mercury Messenger for the gods; god of

commerce and science; and protector of

travelers, thieves, and vagabonds

Hestia Vesta Goddess of the hearth

Hypnos Somnus God of sleep

Pluto, Hades Pluto God of the underworld

Poseidon Neptune God of the sea. In Greek mythology,

also god of earthquakes and horses

Rhea Ops Wife and sister of Cronus

Uranus Uranus Son and husband of Gaea and father of

the Titans

Zeus Jupiter Ruler of the gods

Based on The World Book Encyclopedia, 1987, Volume 13.

[Box on page 45]

Assyro-Babylonian Gods and Goddesses

Anu​—the supreme god, reigning over the heavens; father of Ishtar

Asshur​—national warrior-god of the Assyrians; also god of fertility

Ea​—god of water. Father of Marduk. Warned Utnapishtim of the flood

Enlil (Bel)​—lord of the air; later paralleled in Greek mythology by Zeus. Assimilated by the Babylonians into Marduk (Bel)

Ishtar​—divine personification of the planet Venus; sacred prostitution a part of her cult. She was Astarte in Phoenicia, Atargatis in Syria, Ashtoreth in the Bible (1 Kings 11:5, 33), Aphrodite in Greece, Venus in Rome

Marduk​—first among the Babylonian gods; “absorbed all the other gods and took over all their various functions.” Called Merodach by the Israelites

Shamash​—sun-god of light and justice. Forerunner of the Greek Apollo

Sin​—moon-god, member of the triad that included Shamash (the sun) and Ishtar (the planet Venus)

Tammuz (Dumuzi)​—the harvest-god. Ishtar’s lover

(Based on the New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology)

[Box/​Pictures on page 60, 61]

Gods of the Roman Soldier

Rome was famous for its disciplined army. The cohesion of its empire depended on the morale and the effectiveness of the military legions. Was religion a factor to be reckoned with? Yes, and fortunately for us, the Romans left behind clear evidence of their occupation in the form of highways, fortresses, aqueducts, coliseums, and temples. For example, in Northumbria, in the north of England, there is the famous Hadrian’s Wall, built about 122 C.E. What have excavations revealed about Roman garrison activity and the role of religion?

In the Housesteads Museum, located near the excavated ruins of a Roman garrison on Hadrian’s Wall, an exhibit states: “The religious life of a Roman soldier was divided into three parts. Firstly . . . the cult of the Deified Emperors and the worship of the protecting gods of Rome such as Jupiter, Victory and Mars. An altar was dedicated to Jupiter every year on the parade ground of each fort. All soldiers were expected to participate in the festivals celebrating the birthdays, accession days and victories of the Deified Emperors.” How similar to the customs of armies of today, in which chaplains, altars, and flags are a regular part of army worship.

But what was the second feature of the Roman soldier’s religious life? It was the worship of the protecting gods and the guardian spirit of their particular unit “as well as the gods brought from their native lands.”

“Finally there were the cults followed by the individual. As long as a soldier fulfilled his obligations to the official cults he was free to worship any god he wished.” That sounds like a very liberal freedom-of-worship situation, but “exceptions were those religions, of which Druidism was one, whose practices were considered inhumane, and those whose loyalty to the State was suspect, for example Christianity.”​—Compare Luke 20:21-25;23:1, 2; Acts 10:1, 2, 22.

Interestingly, in 1949 a temple to Mithras was discovered in a bog at Carrawburgh, quite close to Hadrian’s Wall. (See photo.) Archaeologists estimate that it was built about 205 C.E. It contains a sun-god image, altars, and a Latin inscription that states, in part, “To the invincible god Mithras.”

[Box on page 62]

Egypt’s Gods and the Ten Plagues

Jehovah executed judgment on Egypt’s impotent gods by means of the Ten Plagues.​—Exodus 7:14–12:32.

Plague Description

1 Nile and other waters turned to blood. Nile-god Hapi

disgraced

2 Frogs. Frog-goddess Heqt powerless to prevent it

3 Dust turned to gnats. Thoth, lord of magic, could not help

the Egyptian magicians

4 Gadflies on all Egypt except Goshen where Israel dwelt. No

god was able to prevent it​—not even Ptah, creator of the

universe, or Thoth, lord of magic

5 Pestilence on livestock. Neither sacred cow-goddess Hathor

nor Apis the bull could prevent this plague

6 Boils. Healer deities Thoth, Isis, and Ptah unable to help

7 Thunder and hail. Exposed the impotence of Reshpu,

controller of lightning, and Thoth, god of rain and

thunder

8 Locusts. This was a blow to the fertility-god Min,

protector of crops

9 Three days of darkness. Ra, the preeminent sun-god, and

Horus, a solar god, disgraced

10 Death of the firstborn including Pharaoh’s, who was

considered to be a god incarnate. Ra (Amon-Ra), sun-god

and sometimes represented as a ram, was unable to impede

it

[Box on page 66]

Mythology and Christianity

Worship of the mythical gods of ancient Greece and Rome was in full sway when Christianity came on the scene nearly two thousand years ago. In Asia Minor the Greek names still prevailed, which explains why the people of Lystra (in present-day Turkey) called the Christian healers Paul and Barnabas “gods,” referring to them as Hermes and Zeus respectively, rather than as the Roman Mercury and Jupiter. The account says that “the priest of Zeus, whose temple was before the city, brought bulls and garlands to the gates and was desiring to offer sacrifices with the crowds.” (Acts 14:8-18) Only with difficulty did Paul and Barnabas convince the crowd not to make sacrifices to them. It illustrates how seriously those people took their mythology back then.

begs the questions:

To which God am i making sacrifices??

an impotent, fake god??

a Potent, Almighty, True God?!

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God insights Joan Winifred knowledge mind food never giving up! science & spirituality spiritual food things i learned True v. False Religion trust Truth

For current post context please read.

With any quest, we may not always look in the most obvious places…Truth may pop up when least expected and slap us in the face. Or wake us up like an irritating-obnoxious alarm clock at 5 a.m. after only 3-4 hours of limited sleep.

Okay, Hungry-Truth-Seeker…another excerpt to read/digest…a spiritual “snack“…worthwhile point for contemplation:

NOT ALL MYTHS HAVE A BASIS IN FACT OR IN THE BIBLE”

The All-Pervasive Immortal Soul Belief

20. What was the Assyro-Babylonian belief regarding the afterlife?

20 However, not all myths have a basis in fact or in the Bible. In his search for God, man has clutched at straws, deluded by the illusion of immortality. As we will see throughout this book, the belief in an immortal soul or variations thereof is a legacy that has come down to us through the millenniums. The people of the ancient Assyro-Babylonian culture believed in an afterlife. The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology explains: “Under the earth, beyond the abyss of the Apsu [full of fresh water and encircling the earth], lay the infernal dwelling-place to which men descended after death. It was the ‘Land of no return’ . . . In these regions of eternal darkness the souls of the dead​—edimmu—​‘clad, like birds, in a garment of wings’ are all jumbled together.” According to the myth, this subterranean world was ruled over by the goddess Ereshkigal, “Princess of the great earth.”

21. According to Egyptian belief, what happened to the dead?

21 The Egyptians likewise had their idea of an immortal soul. Before the soul could reach a happy haven, it had to be weighed against Maat, the goddess of truth and justice, who was symbolized by the feather of truth. Either Anubis, the jackal-headed god, or Horus, the falcon, helped in the procedure. If approved by Osiris, that soul would go on to share bliss with the gods. As is so often the case, here we find the common thread of the Babylonian immortal soul concept shaping people’s religion, lives, and actions.

22. What was the Chinese concept of the dead, and what was done to help them?

22 The old Chinese mythology included a belief in survival after death and the need to keep ancestors happy. Ancestors were “conceived as living and powerful spirits, all vitally concerned about the welfare of their living descendants, but capable of punitive anger if displeased.” The dead were to be given every aid, including companions in death. Thus, “some Shang kings . . . were buried with anywhere from a hundred to three hundred human victims, who were to be his attendants in the next world. (This practice links ancient China with Egypt, Africa, Japan, and other places, where similar sacrifices were made.)” (Man’s Religions, by John B. Noss) In these cases belief in an immortal soul led to human sacrifices.​—Contrast Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Isaiah 38:18, 19.

23. (a) In Greek mythology, who and what were Hades? (b) What is Hades according to the Bible?

23 The Greeks, having formulated many gods in their mythology, were also concerned with the dead and their destination. According to the myths, the one put in charge of that realm of murky darkness was the son of Cronus and brother of the gods Zeus and Poseidon. His name was Hades, and his realm was named after him. How did the souls of the dead reach Hades? *(“Hades” appears in the Christian Greek Scriptures ten times, not as a mythological person, but as the common grave of mankind. It is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew she’ohlʹ.​—Compare Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27Kingdom Interlinear.)

24. (a) According to Greek mythology, what happened in the underworld? (b) What similarity to the Epic of Gilgamesh was there in Greek mythology?

24 Writer Ellen Switzer explains: “There were . . . frightening creatures in the underworld. There was Charon, who rowed the ferry that transported those who had recently died from the land of the living to the underworld. Charon required payment for his ferry service [across the river Styx], and the Greeks often buried their dead with a coin under the tongue to make sure that they had the proper fare. Dead souls who could not pay were kept on the wrong side of the river, in a kind of no-man’s-land, and might return to haunt the living.” *(Interestingly, Utnapishtim, the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, had his boatman, Urshanabi, who took Gilgamesh over the waters of death to meet the flood survivor.)

25. Who were influenced by Greek thinking regarding the soul?

25 The Greek mythology of the soul went on to influence the Roman concept, and the Greek philosophers, such as Plato (about 427-347 B.C.E.), strongly influenced early apostate Christian thinkers who accepted the immortal soul teaching into their doctrine, even though it had no Biblical basis.

26, 27. How did the Aztecs, Incas, and Maya view death?

26 The Aztecs, Incas, and Maya also believed in an immortal soul. Death was as much a mystery to them as it was to other civilizations. They had their ceremonies and beliefs to help them reconcile themselves to it. As the archaeological historian Victor W. von Hagen explains in his book The Ancient Sun Kingdoms of the Americas: The dead were in reality living: they had merely passed from one phase to another; they were invisible, impalpable, invulnerable. The dead . . . had become the unseen members of the clan.”​—Contrast Judges 16:30; Ezekiel 18:4, 20.

27 The same source tells us that “the [Inca] Indian believed in immortality; in fact he believed one never died, . . . the dead body merely became undead and it took on the influences of the unseen powers.” The Maya too believed in a soul and in 13 heavens and 9 hells. Thus, wherever we turn, people have wanted to deny the reality of death, and the immortal soul has been the crutch to lean on.​—Isaiah 38:18; Acts 3:23.

28. What are some beliefs that have prevailed in Africa?

28 Africa’s mythologies likewise include references to a surviving soul. Many Africans live in awe of the souls of the dead. The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology states: “This belief is bound up with another​—the continuing existence of the soul after death. Magicians are able to call on souls to aid their powers. The souls of the dead often transmigrate into the bodies of animals, or may even be reincarnated in plants.” As a consequence, the Zulu will not kill some snakes that they believe to be the spirits of relatives.

29. Explain the legends of some tribes of southern Africa. (Compare Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-5.)

29 The Masai of southeastern Africa believe in a creator called ’Ng ai, who places a guardian angel by each Masai as a protection. At the moment of death, the angel takes the warrior’s soul to the hereafter. The previously quoted Larousse supplies a Zulu death-legend involving the first man, Unkulunkulu, who for this myth had become the supreme being. He sent the chameleon to tell mankind, “Men shall not die!” The chameleon was slow and got distracted on the way. So Unkulunkulu sent a different message by means of a lizard, saying, “Men shall die!” The lizard got there first, “and ever since no man has escaped death.” With variations, this same legend exists among the Bechuana, Basuto, and Baronga tribes.

30. In this book what will we further see about the soul?

30 As we pursue the study of mankind’s search for God, we will see even further how important the myth of the immortal soul has been and still is to mankind. 

[excerpted reading reference: Mankind’s Search For God, Chapter 3, Common Threads in Mythology, pp. 52-57]

9/27/18 @ 5:42 p.m.

p.s. off to Mind Gym soon…(will “try” to continue this post topic).

 

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