Friday, February 3, 2012

Strange Mixture of Pagan and Christian Mythologies

Dr. Kate Corrigan: The text of The Secret Flame is Ini-Herit's partial transcription of the great Tabula Smaragdina -- The Emerald Tablet.
Supposedly engraved by the Greek god Hermes on a stone that fell from the head of Lucifer when he was cast out of Heaven.
A pretty strange mixture of pagan and Christian mythologies, if you ask me.
Adoet de Fabre: So you do know about it.
But of course, Lucifer is not the name of the fallen angel. That mistake originates from a misreading of Isaiah 14:12.
- B.P.R.D. The Universal Machine # 3
by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis

Apparently there's truth to the whole green rock of Lucifer falling to earth after he was kicked out of heaven. Well, not truth, but the legend is actually real. Well, maybe not real, but it is part of a legend. Part of the Holy Grail legend, even.

Some versions of the Holy Grail, you know, the cup of Christ that grants immortality or something, begin with Satan's fall from paradise. The green emerald from his crown fell to earth and shattered into two pieces. The second piece was eventually crafted into the cup of the Grail legend. The first piece was a tablet found by the Greek god Hermes, or a version of Hermes, or whatever, and upon it he inscribed (or translated, or whatever) the basic instructions for alchemy.

Woah, woah, woah. You're getting your Greek mythology into my Christian beliefs! Actually, Greek culture has been influencing Christianity since Alexander decided to conquer everything centuries before Christ's birth.

Actually, Christianity is what you get when you put Greek and Jewish cultures together and squeeze them really really hard under Roman oppression.

This is probably why no one ever asks me to speak from behind a pulpit.

Nearly every culture has legends and myths that bare striking similarities to each other. Creation. Flood. Leviathan. Is it that far fetched to think some of them overlap or even originated from the same story or event? We've already seen The Unwritten deal with such a scenario, much to my delight.

Of course, Greek myths about alchemy are purely made up, right? Nonsense and fairy tales. But then, I've been told all my life that ghosts and monsters aren't real while angels, demons, and talking donkeys are completely reasonable to believe in. I believe a virgin gave birth to a man that performed a bunch of miracles, including walking on water, who then died, rose three days later, and eventually flew up to heaven.

But the devil's emerald crown crashing to earth and having the blueprints for alchemy inscribed on it? That's just plain silly.

You can't really use your own absurd religious beliefs to attack the absurdity of another belief system.

Okay, maybe that is why no one asks me to get behind a pulpit.

Oh yeah, and about that whole Lucifer name thing. Isaiah 14:12 reads:
"How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!" (NRSV)
The New Oxford Annotated Bible comments on this verse, saying:
"Draws on a Canaanite myth of the gods Helel and Shahar (Morning Star and Dawn), who fall from heaven as a result of rebellion. In Christianity the myth reemerges as the fall of Lucifer and his attendant angels."
What? Israel didn't exist in a vacuum. Cultures borrow from other cultures all the time and make it their own. Think of it like how the classic American Western movie is basically a Kurosawa samurai movie. Seriously, go watch some movies by Kurosawa and you'll never be able to watch a Western the same way again.

From the Wikipedia entry on Lucifer (I know it's not a scholarly source, but what do you want? I'm lazy):
In Latin, from which the English word is derived, Lucifer (as a noun) means "light-bearer" (from the words lucem ferre). It was the name given to the dawn appearance of the planet Venus, which heralds daylight. For this meaning, English generally uses the names "Morning Star" or "Day Star", and rarely "Lucifer".

And as far as screwing up names in the Bible goes, we've been pretty good at that. James is actually Jacob. Jude is actually Judas. And Jesus is actually Joshua. That's a big one. You'd think we would have gotten at least that one right...

And in case you're wondering, no, I haven't lost my faith. Just because I can acknowledge the absurdity of some of my beliefs doesn't mean that I can't still believe them.

Okay, it's stuff like that which would probably get me kicked out of a pulpit.

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