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varun 06-16-2015 05:48 AM

Origins of religious scriptures & rituals.
 
Having already been part of a discussion about "Gods" in another thread by River, I felt I had a few more things to add on how some creation myths and biological Gods came to be. While the other thread focussed on sheer logic & opinions, this one will explore the stories of ancient texts. I was always curious about God beginning from my early teens, being a rebel with my own opinions I began to read parts of Bible as it was the only book I could gain access to. The New Testament was quite different from my own religion i.e Brahmanism & it made me all the more confused, however when I began to read the Torah over the internet things became clearer. Judaism was one religion which gave me a lot of clarity, it made things much more clearer & logical not to mention numerous similarities with my own religion. A few years back I also stumbled upon Egyptian, Persian & Iraqi texts and it all seemed to add up so well, almost like the source is one. This post is compilation of interesting references one can look up, to understand the foundations of religious logic.

- The Genesis (creation of Earth & Heavens) : A loose extract from a much older Sumerian scripture called Enuma Elis which describes how planets affected each other using gravitational force, creating mountains, land & rivers as a foundation for life to come.

- The Genesis (creation of man) : The Sumerian books describe a creator God Enki as having created first man Adapa/Adamu. The Gods were described as tall biological beings in the Sumerian story similar to the Hebrew Nephilim.

- Flood Epic : Is mentioned in every religion beginning with Sumerians then Persians, Egyptians, Semitic religions and then Hinduism. Most of them have one thing in common, the reference to 7 days & 7 nights & a messiah who re-populated earth. Ziusudra, Atrahasis, Utnapishtim, Noah, Manu were the names of the messiah in the respective regions.

- The Heracles story : Almost half similar to the Sumerian story Epic of Gilgamesh, a Nephilim being who sets off deep into the forests to undertake many trials and face challenges.

- Zoroastrianism : A religion which always pit light vs darkness, i.e their light god Ahura Mazda vs god of darkness Angra Mainyu. This is a direct reference to Egyptian scriptures which spoke of god Horus (sun) who wins the battle with Set (darkness) on a daily basis.

- Horus himself : Born to a virgin on Dec 25th (celebrated as Saturnalia by Roman pagans), Egyptians still celebrate his birthday.

- Saturnalia :Is a celebration of the planet Saturn. Saturday (saturni-dias) is called as the day of Saturn in Roman language.

- Bull worship : Was common in the Semitic regions & India during ancient times, Moses objected to this in anger upon his return from Mt.Sinai. This may be symbolic of the Earth moving away from Taurus constellation. This was shown as the bull being slayed.

- Ram worship : Soon after bull worship Ram worship began, this maybe symbolic of the age of Aries. During the transition to Piscean age (around 4 B.C), it was shown as the ram being slayed.

- Hell : The closest reference to the New Testament "hell" is the Hebrew word Gehinnom. This was a location outside of Yerushalem where Ba'al followers (non-Jewish paganic idol worshippers) sacrificed animals & new born babies. The screams were said to be so terrifying that they beat drums to drown it out. In Arabic the word is Jahannum.

There are many more such similarities/possibilities, I'm not saying any of them are true or false but its interesting to note how cultures influenced each other at that time and it seems to me that certain references to sacrifices might have been mere symbology which had been misunderstood for actual events in those days.

mecanna 06-16-2015 07:43 AM

Persian Mithraism, I believe, played a role. It's very interesting.

Gods dying and rising from the dead was a popular theme. Some notable examples are Horus, Siris,Attis of Phrygia, Krishna, Mithra of Persia, Dionysus, Osiris, and Tammuz.

Another recurring theme is the virgin birth. A god, or demi-god, born of a virgin. In addition to the Abrahamic religions most are familiar with, Dharmic religions, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Hellenistic, and other cultures feature virgin births within their religious mythology. Oh, and the Aztec- one of my favorites to study.

It seems that religions often borrowed and overlapped as people moved around. I enjoy learning about the differences and similarities between modern and ancient religions.

varun 06-16-2015 09:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mecanna (Post 3686649)
It seems that religions often borrowed and overlapped as people moved around. I enjoy learning about the differences and similarities between modern and ancient religions.

I find it interesting too, not read much but the similarities are obvious. I think the differences are primarily due to different languages and while describing an attribute about a "God" in their own language, the names changed. The Greek Septuagint and Roman scribes made a ton of mistakes translating the Tanach and Sumerian tablets and that's where the names & hierarchy got mixed up. A lot of intermingling took place during the ancient ages and that's probably how these teachings spread. Much of the Greek, Russian & Indian population share Mizrahi genes. Since Abram himself was a native of Ur as per books, it shows that Iraq was the starting point of religion. His father Terah was a polytheistic pagan-idol worshipper as well.

I've not looked at the Aztec writings though, I feel it might be a lot more different compared to the Semitic religions, is that true?

mecanna 06-16-2015 10:21 AM

I'm not an expert, but it seems many Aztec myths are distinct from other mythologies. They had a complex system, and often added new gods from the mythology of others. Human sacrifice was a huge part of their rituals. They believed that sacrifice literally kept the sun from falling out of the sky.

varun 06-16-2015 07:03 PM

I had a brief look at Aztec religion in Wiki, most of the gods do not make sense but 3 are surely lifted from Sumerian books :

Quetzalcoatl : Has to be Sumerian creator god Enki who is also Egyptian creator god Ptah.

Tialtecuhtli : Goddess representing earth, the same has been first described in Enuma Elis as Tia'mat.

Tlaloc : Ba'al-hadad the Sumerian+Semitic god of storms.

As for the sacrifices I really don't get it, this system has not existed anywhere else where a sacrifice is looked at as a way of continued existence. The Spaniards who invaded them used this as an advantage to wipe the entire population out as they weren't a fully formed society without clear hierarchies of rulers, army & people. Unlike Sumerians the Aztech's don't have a Supreme Trinity as well. The top 3 creator gods of Sumer were Alalu (one before all) his son Anu & grandsons Enki & Enlil.

Tiger Lilly 06-17-2015 08:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by varun (Post 3686601)

- Hell : The closest reference to the New Testament "hell" is the Hebrew word Gehinnom. This was a location outside of Yerushalem where Ba'al followers (non-Jewish paganic idol worshippers) sacrificed animals & new born babies. The screams were said to be so terrifying that they beat drums to drown it out. In Arabic the word is Jahannum.

There are many more such similarities/possibilities, I'm not saying any of them are true or false but its interesting to note how cultures influenced each other at that time and it seems to me that certain references to sacrifices might have been mere symbology which had been misunderstood for actual events in those days.

I've seen some people try to link the Christian hell with the Heathen 'Hel'.

Helheim was the name of the place where you went if you died a straw death. It was ruled over by Hel. She was the daughter of Loki and had been given that place to rule over, by Odin. Probably not the smartest move, as when Ragnarok comes, all of those who went to Helheim will rise and fight on the side of the giants. (After which, there will be a big flood and everything will be nice and pure again).

As for sacrifices, it's difficult to say. I doubt it was symbolic when it came to the big events. But also, back then, using animals was not only more acceptable but there was little alternative. Within the Norse beliefs, the sagas are incredibly animal product heavy because that's what the society was like.

varun 06-17-2015 10:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly (Post 3687745)
Helheim was the name of the place where you went if you died a straw death. It was ruled over by Hel. She was the daughter of Loki and had been given that place to rule over, by Odin.

Just as I suspected, the Norse beliefs are a rip-off of Iraqi tablets as well. Loki seems to be Enki of the Sumerian Gods. Now according to Egyptians, Amenti (land where the sun sets/realm of dead) was a place in the lower depths of Egypt which was their version of hell. He also was among the rulers of Amenti and subsequently his children took over various aspects of administration.

I find the Sumerian story a little bit more practical, it has no heroes or villains, no redeemers or blasphemers.. it just shows that each god had an agenda to begin with & they struggled in their day-to-day goals of total domination over each other. The portrayal of animals as gods in those days just related to their respective virtues which all other cultures took way too seriously. For eg. baboons were used to portray intelligence, ibises were used to portray fertility (because they were large in number) and lions/tigers were symbols of warriors. Bull symbolized power i.e the ultimate God of Gods El Elyon/El Shaddai. There never were animal-looking humanic gods as some theorists believe.

Tiger Lilly 06-17-2015 08:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by varun (Post 3687945)
Just as I suspected, the Norse beliefs are a rip-off of Iraqi tablets as well. Loki seems to be Enki of the Sumerian Gods. Now according to Egyptians, Amenti (land where the sun sets/realm of dead) was a place in the lower depths of Egypt which was their version of hell. He also was among the rulers of Amenti and subsequently his children took over various aspects of administration.

I find the Sumerian story a little bit more practical, it has no heroes or villains, no redeemers or blasphemers.. it just shows that each god had an agenda to begin with & they struggled in their day-to-day goals of total domination over each other. The portrayal of animals as gods in those days just related to their respective virtues which all other cultures took way too seriously. For eg. baboons were used to portray intelligence, ibises were used to portray fertility (because they were large in number) and lions/tigers were symbols of warriors. Bull symbolized power i.e the ultimate God of Gods El Elyon/El Shaddai. There never were animal-looking humanic gods as some theorists believe.

I don't know if 'rip off' is exactly how I would put it..... But then, I'm a heathen..... So I probably have a vested interest in my beliefs not being called a counterfeit version.

I'm not really seeing a very strong correlation between the two stories or the two characters. For a start, Enki appears to be seen as a God. Loki was part Jotnar (ice giants) and so therefore was never truly accepted by either Vanir or Aesir (Norse 'Gods'). Loki's other children weren't given places to oversee, one was thrown in the ocean while the other was shackled, not to be released until Ragnarok comes.

Of course, I do expect there to be some cross over of different beliefs because the Norse travelled quite a bit. They were even body guards in Egypt at one point, I think.

The sagas (stories of the Norse Gods) aren't strictly good vs evil. Though, with one of the main texts Prose Edda there is a definite 'good vs evil' streak, that's probably more down to the guy who was writing it, in a land since converted to Christianity.

It's interesting that you say the Sumerian gods didn't 'actually' look like animals, in Norse belief shape shifting or skin walking was not only something the Gods could do, but people too. The idea being that animals had certain aspects or traits that were highly desirable. They also had animals around them a lot.

I think no matter the belief system, it points to humans admiring animals for their abilities.

varun 06-17-2015 10:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly (Post 3688841)
I don't know if 'rip off' is exactly how I would put it..... But then, I'm a heathen..... So I probably have a vested interest in my beliefs not being called a counterfeit version.

Very honestly put by you, I'm no expert myself but I'm just going by the sheer age of the tablets of creation in Sumer which are about 18000 years old but they speak of a time since before Earth itself - of a parent star (Lahmu) & subsequent split into a constellation (Lahamu). From these 2 came Anshar/Ashur i.e heaven or sky and Kishar (earth). To my present knowledge no texts are as straightforward and practical as the simple poem of Enuma Elis.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly (Post 3688841)
Of course, I do expect there to be some cross over of different beliefs because the Norse travelled quite a bit. They were even body guards in Egypt at one point, I think.

Or it could be the other way around as well, the texts say that Marduk/Bel/Zeus/Ahura Mazda had 46 other names and he started organized colonies in 50 locations on earth, this included his knowledge of building simple canals and ensuring even agriculture growth. Apparently he was the god of King Hammurabi and it was through him that the Hammurabi Code (ancient legal system) was first enforced.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly (Post 3688841)
The sagas (stories of the Norse Gods) aren't strictly good vs evil. Though, with one of the main texts Prose Edda there is a definite 'good vs evil' streak, that's probably more down to the guy who was writing it, in a land since converted to Christianity.

I agree, its the same with Indian texts as well. However I never saw the logic in the war-mongering God characters of the books in my religion.. I always felt how these Gods can ever be the representation of pure-good. Somehow in every polytheistic religion the Gods always fought with each other.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly (Post 3688841)
It's interesting that you say the Sumerian gods didn't 'actually' look like animals, in Norse belief shape shifting or skin walking was not only something the Gods could do, but people too. The idea being that animals had certain aspects or traits that were highly desirable. They also had animals around them a lot.

Yes as per Sumerian/Egyptian books the symbolism was only used to represent a god via carvings, so that recognition of various characters is easier. This way of writing was used until the beginning of the Phoenician script which first introduced alphabets to the region. However, I feel that the ancient symbolic writings were carved so far back that scribes who were trained in Phoenician writings simply could not translate it properly.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly (Post 3688841)
I think no matter the belief system, it points to humans admiring animals for their abilities.

Agree, animals have existed long before & most tribes used them to represent themselves.

Tiger Lilly 06-17-2015 10:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by varun (Post 3689153)
Very honestly put by you, I'm no expert myself but I'm just going by the sheer age of the tablets of creation in Sumer which are about 18000 years old but they speak of a time since before Earth itself - of a parent star (Lahmu) & subsequent split into a constellation (Lahamu). From these 2 came Anshar/Ashur i.e heaven or sky and Kishar (earth). To my present knowledge no texts are as straightforward and practical as the simple poem of Enuma Elis.

Really? That's interesting.

Norse belief is (this is basic, so anyone interested in Heathenry, Northern Traditionalism or anything to do with Norse beliefs, please do further reading) that the fires from the south and the ice from the north met together and created the giant Ymir. They also created a cow called Audhumla. Other giants were created from Ymir's body. Audhumla licked a block of salt, which revealed the first of the Norse Gods.

I think from there, Ymir was chopped up and used to create the world. Rather bloody affair.

:P


Though, I do need to point out that just because something is written down a long time ago, does not mean it predates something else. A lot of belief systems and stories in general are passed down as verbal histories. The 'first' written recount is only considered the first because it survived, not because it was actually the first. I'm not saying the texts you're referencing weren't the first, merely that it's important to keep in mind that large parts of many belief systems have been co-opted or destroyed over the years.

Quote:

Originally Posted by varun (Post 3689153)
Or it could be the other way around as well, the texts say that Marduk/Bel/Zeus/Ahura Mazda had 46 other names and he started organized colonies in 50 locations on earth, this included his knowledge of building simple canals and ensuring even agriculture growth. Apparently he was the god of King Hammurabi and it was through him that the Hammurabi Code (ancient legal system) was first enforced.


That is very interesting. The Prose Edda talks of 'other people' in 'other lands'. I wouldn't be surprised if all belief systems are basically following the same Gods and Goddesses. I just prefer mine because they have swords.



Quote:

Originally Posted by varun (Post 3689153)
I agree, its the same with Indian texts as well. However I never saw the logic in the war-mongering God characters of the books in my religion.. I always felt how these Gods can ever be the representation of pure-good. Somehow in every polytheistic religion the Gods always fought with each other.

Oh, I see the logic of war Gods (of course I do, ha ha, I'm a Heathen!)

We're a violent species, we need Gods that represent that. The Gods represent balance, or perhaps struggle to maintain balance, for humans.

War is a terrible thing, but I think it's also necessary as long as there are people, or beings, who are willing to do great evil. While I certainly don't want there to be war, I think conflict will always be part of the human narrative. Therefore, as long as we believe in a higher power, we will believe that higher power also engages in a form of conflict.

Go Vegan 06-18-2015 05:06 AM

Writing has not existed for 18,000 years...

"It is generally agreed that true writing of language (not only numbers) was invented independently in at least two places: Mesopotamia (specifically, ancient Sumer) around 3200 BCE and Mesoamerica around 600 BCE.

It is debated whether writing systems were developed completely independently in Egypt around 3200 BCE and in China around 1200 BCE, or whether the appearance of writing in either or both places was due to cultural diffusion (i.e. the concept of representing language using writing, if not the specifics of how such a system worked, was brought by traders from an already-literate civilization)." (from wiki)

varun 06-20-2015 08:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Go Vegan (Post 3689865)
Writing has not existed for 18,000 years..."It is generally agreed that true writing of language (not only numbers) was invented independently in at least two places: Mesopotamia (specifically, ancient Sumer) around 3200 BCE and Mesoamerica around 600 BCE.

This is correct, and what I wrote perfectly aligns with the above statement as well, give or take a few centuries. The ancient tablets that are carbon-dated to be several thousand years old had only symbolic carvings & the rest were interpreted and passed on by simple spoken language, whatever it was. Now the carbon dating is said to be anywhere from 12-18k years old though one can't confirm precisely. For eg. the simplest ancient carvings found in the form of tablets/cylinders had people sitting around arms outstretched welcoming the sun's rays. One of them also illustrates the solar system.

As for organized language itself, it probably evolved as a form of shorthand symbolism (cuneiform) used in Sumer, the dates vary from 3500 B.C- 6000 B.C. Next up was Phoenician written form, the first known alphabetical language system in the region of Canaan. Out of these evolved the ancient Aramaic, Hebrew etc. On the other hand there is also speculation that a script evolved in East Asia in the region of now Pakistan-India called Sanskrit between 2k-3k B.C. Again very hard to determine exactly, what can be comfortably said is that the Canaanite languages established the right-left writing method with extensive usage of consonants whereas the Indo-Aryan languages did the opposite and influenced a few European languages like German (Aryan here denotes Persian).

varun 06-20-2015 08:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly (Post 3689209)
Though, I do need to point out that just because something is written down a long time ago, does not mean it predates something else. A lot of belief systems and stories in general are passed down as verbal histories. The 'first' written recount is only considered the first because it survived, not because it was actually the first. I'm not saying the texts you're referencing weren't the first, merely that it's important to keep in mind that large parts of many belief systems have been co-opted or destroyed over the years.

Of course, this is the first assumption that I keep in mind when reading history. However the only scientific way to go about validating an ancient text is to believe in the one that has been carbon-dated to be the oldest. I also look for other proof like similarities with other ancient creation stories, proof of locations, actual evidence of events surviving today, etc. Many of the stories do align perfectly with kings like Hammurabi, Cyrus, Xsya-rsa (Xerxes), etc. There are also numerous ancient monuments that exist till today which have been written about in such tablets. All we have until now are only half-truths, and it may continue to be so but in order to get at least half of it right we've to go only by what we have so far.

peacefulveglady 06-24-2015 02:25 PM

Why do i want to follow a 2,000 and older text that controls people?

varun 06-25-2015 06:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by peacefulveglady (Post 3699201)
Why do i want to follow a 2,000 and older text that controls people?

Those times were tough for people in the region of Canaan, 2000B.C was a time when there was little to call a law, and the only protection for the people was the king & the outcome of that too was unpredictable as due to lack of proof it was often one man's words against another. Entered King Hammurabi who composed the world's first organized set of laws circa 1800B.C, there were about 200 such precise laws which dictated what each person must do in case of violation of laws, such as a person should not give false testimony, a witness must come out and tell the truth, no man will take what belongs to another, loyalty in marriage, documenting the livestock of farmers so that no man can rob/slay his cows & sheep etc.

Though the written laws were in place, people still needed a good reason for being moral.. for being honest to themselves & thus came the Gods. It was said the pagan god Marduk (Bel/Baal) who made kings out of Hammurabi & Cyrus helped in enforcing these laws to form the first documented society structure. Gods thus were always invoked if a man went outside of the law as a fear tactic. Today we have imperfect governments replacing such Gods. Both, methods of control which went out of hand as time progressed.


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