BODY...SOUL...SPIRIT.....THE MESSIANIC HOPE............the source

by Terry 31 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Terry

    BODY: what we use to become conscious of the the world around us.

    SOUL: what we use to become conscious of our SELF as an identity, ego and will.

    SPIRIT: what we use to become conscious of the divine: God.

    The above largely comes to us by way of Greek philosophy.

    And, thanks to the conquests of Alexander the Great (pupil of Aristotle) that philosophy soaked into every nation, tribe, tongue and religion it encountered.

    So what, then, is all this leading to?

    Two points:

    1. We today are influenced by Greek philosophy (but are probably not aware of it) just as the conquered world was back then.

    2. Greek science, philosophy and especially vocabulary caused a mutation in cultures, religions and thinking.

    The middle east (and Judaism) was shattered by the impact of Greek conquest. It met this disturbance by adapting and changing its thinking except for some radical elements who went underground.

    Our view of Hebrew religion is from a point in time looking backward. It is not unlike the difference between looking through a colored pane of glass in a window at the outside world. The view is different depending on which side of the glass you are on.

    We look at Judaism through the eyes of Christianity. Christianity colors our view just as Greek philosophy colored Christianity.

    But, let us stop right here and look at what had happened to change everything.

    Round about 322 B.C.E. the known world changed. The success of Alexander the Great (pupil of Aristotle) in defeating nations, tribes and tongues in battle created a resounding shockwave that rippled through cultures and altered their shape and reasoning ever afterward.

    How can I get this across to you?

    Think of Japan BEFORE and AFTER their defeat in WWII.

    BEFORE WWII Japan was a feudal society with God as its political and theocratic leader in the person of the Emperor.

    When the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki all this was virtually wiped out in a very short span of time!!

    Imagine how this must impact the psychology of people who believe their view of the world and god is entirely and absolutely true.

    It creates an awful split in thinking! THIS INVARIABLY LEADS TO ADAPTING BY TAKING ON THE VIEWS OF THE VICTOR and BLENDING THEM with what already exists.

    Japanese society could never go backward to what it was before. They have become a mirror of Western cultured by blending all things Japanese with the ethos of Western thought. Note: it is not identical with Western thought; but, swallows it whole and mutates existing Japanese thought.

    I posit that this is what happened to the cultures in the East when Alexander the Great defeated local armies and wiped out the illusion that God(s) was/were protecting them. BEING DEFEATED causes a rethink.

    JUDIASM was no exception.

    From this point forward three things happened.

    1.Greek language swallowed up Hebrew because it was vastly superior in details of expression and encompassed the science and philosophy of technology superior to primitive tribal society.

    2.Greek explanations had greater scope and allowed more choices of causes and effects, thus, allowing the population at large to think and choose on a greater scale of personal freedom.

    3.Greek ways demonstrated success was to be wrought by actual flesh and blood heroes led by a son of God (Alexander was the "son of Zeus" and descendant of Achilles).

    A split took place in Jewish conception of how Israel was to achieve its "proper" status among all the peoples of the earth.

    1.The MESSIANIC hero was held to be the savior of Israel

    2.The changeover that would place Israel foremost among nations was to be Political and Military FIRST and religious SECOND.

    How this was to be achieved mimicked Greek success in every way.

    The political/religious/scientific/logical community in Israel began to absorb its young men with visions of grandeur and achievement.

    This is similar to what has happened in Muslim countries today. Young men are filled with heroic ideas of HOW TO ACHIEVE paradise by becoming politically radical. They become pawns for achieving the political ends of the leadership through the trappings of GOD and RELIGIOUS MARTYRDOM.

    THE MESSIANIC MOVEMENT was born, but, quickly split into two competing ideas.

    1.Pacifists who thought of the Messiah as a tool of God and who would succeed by divine miracles on the battlefield.

    2.Practical men who thought the Messiah was an earthly King/Priest/Warrior like Alexander.

    The Messiah hope split the religion of Judaism forever after.

    In much the same way as we see young Arab boys and other Muslim ethnicities lured into the excitement of political and religious activism leading to martyrdom--so too, in Israel the young men were lured into Messiah fever. Many a man fell into the trap of believing he might be the "chosen one" only to suffer death (martyrdom) and creating sect after sect of disillusioned followers.

    One such sect after another split Judaism into competing philsophies, rituals and views of what pure worship was all about.

    Among these sectarian splinters we find Gnosticism, Rabbinical Judiasm, Temple ritual sects and mystical leaders. Pharisees, Saducees and other radicals regularly argued with each other as to who was right and who was wrong. .

    NOTE: All this arguing was in the style and manner of the famous Greek, SOCRATES. SOCRATES had forever changed the art of discourse by replying to questions with a question of his own. He cut to the essence of every argument in this way. He taught his pupils be getting them to "think out loud" about what they were claiming "to know".

    Now enters Jesus.

    Every thing we admire about Jesus is influenced by Greek thinking; especially his Socratic method of teaching. He is the embodiment of latter day Socratic instruction with his disciples mirroring the Platonic Academy in Athens.Two points:

    1.Jesus use of the words: BODY, SOUL, and SPIRIT are Greek thoughts grafted on to Jewish theology.

    2.Paul (the Hellenized Jew) used Greek Logic to explain how Jesus could fit the Greco-Hebrew conception of Messianic hope.


    The Church was able to use the IDEAL of a spiritualized Messiah TO PROP UP POLITICAL STRENGTH in the Roman empire under Constantine.


    Jesus was absorbed into the CHURCH which was absorbed into the political will of the EMPEROR. The resulting theological war over WHO WAS JESUS was really a scrutiny of this THREEFOLD IDENTITY.

    The TRINITY doctrine reflects this identity.

  • LittleToe

    What an exquisite post. For the most part I agree with the content, but whether or not I agree with all the details is neither here or there. It's enlightening to a mind that's willing to have the soil turned over and sifted.

    Thank you Terry

    (Now please don't go and ruin my good mood by turning it into an opportunity for an anti-faith rant )

  • Terry

    What an exquisite post. For the most part I agree with the content, but whether or not I agree with all the details is neither here or there. It's enlightening to a mind that's willing to have the soil turned over and sifted.

    Thank you Terry

    (Now please don't go and ruin my good mood by turning it into an opportunity for an anti-faith rant )

    Ahh geeee.

    Thanks for the gardening metaphor, too.

    I have a headache right now and no energy for my anti-faith rant

    Thanks, LT


  • Leolaia

    Terry....Interesting post. I personally would not accept some of the more sweeping connections, but it is very interesting to think about what consequences there were to Alexander's conquest. It is definitely viewed as a key turning point in the Hebrew apocalypse of Daniel, and in the Aramaic apocalypse the kingdom of Alexander is the final kingdom of history, more fearsome and mighty than the previous kingdoms. What is stressed tho in the Hebrew apocalypse is Alexander's untimely death at the height of his power...this was a very useful event for apocalyptic expectations, that human kingdoms can easily and suddenly be cut down.

    As for the Jews however, the reaction was somewhat delayed. I've actually been writing a very detailed and documented thread on Daniel and the origins of apocalyptic movement (now running 35 pages) for the past month, and it is clear when Messianism got its the late third century BC during the reign of Antiochus III. (Of course, there were earlier "restored Israel" dreams in the Persian period.) There are multiple sources that point quite specifically to that time (including the Animal Apocalypse, the Apocalypse of Weeks, the Damascus Document, and ch. 11 of Hebrew Daniel), and Aramaic Daniel is itself a product of that time. Since Alexander, the Jews were under the sway of Egypt and the Ptolemies were quite supportive of the Jews and their religious traditions, meanwhile Hellenization was not something controversial in Jewish society. In fact, the original collection of Daniel stories (ch. 4-6) that was collected in Egypt in the third century (not the version in Aramaic but the LXX version) very strikingly have a non-apocalyptic character. They instead hope for the conversion of the world ruler (i.e. the Egyptian king) to the Jewish faith and the adoption of Judaism as the state religion.

    It is not until the late third century, during the stressful wars between Egypt and Syria during the reign of Antiochus III (related in unprecedented detail in Daniel 11:10-20) that Jews began to take sides, some aligning with Syria, others remaining loyal to Egypt, and others (the apocalypticists) who wished for divine deliverance and destruction of both Gentile kingdoms. This division of Jewish society fomented until the bloody civil war of the Maccabees during the horrific reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (who inherited his control of Judea from Antiochus III). But even before the time of Antiochus IV, there was already a precursor of the Maccabean revolt during the reign of Antiochus III, which was the prototype of all later Jewish revolts. Daniel 11:14 dates this first Jewish revolt quite precisely to about 205-202 BC, during the war of Scopas and Antiochus III in which Judea went back and forth between Egyptian and Syrian hands (related in Josephus, Antiquities 12.3.3-4), most importantly this text notes that the rebels were members of the apocalyptic movement trying to "fulfill" their prophecies. Now, the original Danielic apocalypse was quite clear that divine intervention was NOT going to be through human agency, but these "violent men" tried to make the prophecy come true by fighting againt Scopas. The author of Hebrew Daniel viewed these people negatively, and also looked down on the Maccabees during his own time. The Maccabees were not apocalyptically motivated (as 1 Maccabees makes clear), but many in the apocalyptic movement and the Hasidim as well joined up with the Maccabean warriors to end the persecution during 168-164 BC. Now, the Hasidim was a religious movement that also got started in the third century BC as a reaction to the Zadokite priesthood (the Zadokites being the precursors of the Sadducees), and aimed at applying priestly holiness rules to Jews in general. Later on in the second century BC, the Hasidim split up into the Essene and the Pharisee movements, largely over disputes over halakha and the calendar (the Pharisees preferring the Syrian lunar calendar, the Essenes preferring the old solar Zadokite calendar). The Hasidim were also split on whether they were apocalyptically oriented (and looked to a coming Messiah) or not. Not everyone bought into the apocalyptic worldview. The Essenes got started about 20 years after the initial apocalyptic movement arose (i.e. around 180-170 BC), when the "Teacher of Righteousness" began to lead his own schismatic sect. During the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, Hebrew Daniel was written which took a clear apocalyptic viewpoint but was thoroughly pacifist/quietistic and looked only to God for deliverance. The Animal Apocalypse was also written during the same time but supported the militarism of the Maccabees. Later, when the Maccabees established the native Hasmonean dynasty, the Essenes regarded the Sadducean priest-kings as the final evil before the end of the world....and when Pompey conquered Judea in 66 BC, the Romans became the new focus of apocalyptic interest.

    Anyway, the historical situation was a lot messier and complicated than may seem at first. In general, Alexander the Great did not provoke an apocalyptic movement...this occurred a little more than a century later, but these later visionaries looked back to Alexander as a turning point of some sort, and as a political model of how Gentile power can be quickly taken away (the Aramaic apocalypse of Daniel also looks to Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar's madness as other examples of this). If you're interested in some of the earliest apocalyptic expectations of the Jews (that is, after the proto-apocalypses of Zechariah and Trito-Isaiah during the Persian period), ch. 2 of Daniel, the Apocalypse of Weeks (1 Enoch 91:12-17, 93:1-10), and the Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 85-90) are great places to start.

  • Terry
    The author of Hebrew Daniel viewed these people negatively, and also looked down on the Maccabees during his own time

    Where would you place the actual date of the DANIEL writing. Don't you factor THAT into your reasoning?

    T. Wikepedia: The dating and authorship of Daniel has been a matter of great debate. The traditional view holds that the work was written by a prophet named Daniel who lived during the 6th century BC. In contrast, modern scholarly views generally regard the book as having been written much later, during the mid-2nd century BC. According to this view, the author gave the book the appearance of having been written some 400 years earlier in order to establish credibility by including correct "predictions" of numerous historical events which had occurred during the 5th-2nd centuries BC. A third view argues that while parts of Daniel were written during the 2nd century BC, other parts may have been written by other authors at an earlier date.

  • Leolaia

    It is agreed by almost all scholars that Hebrew Daniel (i.e. ch. 8-12) was written during the persecution of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The present form of ch. 7 also is Maccabean.

    A majority also feel that the book is a composite and the "court tales" are earlier. There is much evidence from the Greek that ch. 4-6 originally circulated independently in a very different form apart from Aramaic Daniel. The tales themselves in oral form may go back to the Persian or early Hellenistic periods, but their present written form is most likely pre-Maccabean. The Aramaic apocalypse is dated by some as Maccabean and some as pre-Maccabean. An increasing number of scholars in the past decade (especially in considering the relationship between Daniel and the Danielic DSS material recently released, as well as its relationship with the Enochic material) now regard it as largely pre-Maccabean. Albertz, Collins, Nickelsburg, and many others have worked out the probable social milieu of the early apocalyptic movement. The date of the start of this movement is indicated by multiple sources to roughly 210-200 BC. That is the date Daniel 11:14 points to for the "visions" that led to the first Jewish revolt, the date the Essenes pointed to as the start of their movement, the date the Animal Apocalypse points to the "opening of the eyes" of the lambs, and the general time (i.e. at the end of the seventh week) that the Apocalypse of Weeks points to for this.

    The post I mentioned that I was working on will discuss all the evidence on dating and the historical setting of the various portions of Daniel....

  • Narkissos


    Thanks for this very promising preview.


    Only on very reduced maps do rivers have one source. Actually they all have many.

    The apocalyptic movement, including messianism, reflects a lot of influences. Neo-Babylonian through Ezekiel. Persian through Deutero-Isaiah (the inventor of pure monotheism as a reaction to dualism, who already calls Cyrus a "messiah") and many later writers (resurgence of dualism within a modified monotheism, with the rise of angelology and demonology, eschatology, resurrection). Greek, of course. But much of apocalypticism sounds more like a reaction to than a mere influence from Hellenism, deliberately reviving older patterns (Persian but also "native," such as the El/Baal model) against the Greek. While some Greek thought made its way into apocalyptical Judaism (especially body vs. soul), other Hellenistic influences worked in the opposite direction (e.g. epicurism on the Sadducees, cf. Qoheleth = Ecclesiastes). All of this results in a complex picture which is far from linear.

  • Quentin

    Good read Terry...good comments too...don't know much about the details, linear or not seems to me the Greeks burst on the scene creating a catalyst with Greek thought which redefined old thinking...sigh, gotta go take care of the three year old. life goes on...anyway great post, interesting comments...

  • Leolaia

    To see the Greek influence, one needs only to look at the Jewish institutions of the Sanhedrin (< Greek synedrion "council", from Hellenistic models) and the synagogue (< Greek). Or look at some of the oldest synagogues excavated by archaeologists which are decorated with motifs from Greek mythology.

  • Narkissos

    Or, the most Greek-friendly literature of Judaism, e.g. 4 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Philo and Josephus... back to Terry's topic, one has to note that messianic expectations are comparatively low in such works, if not completely absent from them.

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