On the Language of the Old Testament

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obnoxion
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On the Language of the Old Testament

Postby obnoxion » Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:50 am

It must have come up that I very much enjoy reading The Old Testament. So I thought I would write a few words and try to explain why I find that text so exceptional. This is not suppose to be a grand theory, but only an angle to a multifaceted, dynamic textual presence.

There was a famous Christian poet in Byzantium, called Romanos the Melodist (ca. 485 - 560). I've been reading a great book about him - "The Virgin in Song - Mary and the Poetry of Romanos the Melodist" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017) by Thomas Arentzen.
In one of his poems, Romanos describes the reaction of Joseph to his wife, after the Archangel Gabriel has visited Mary, profoundly changing her by the event of Annunciation. Joseph so amazed by his wife, that he is actually asking who she is:

"- Terrible and sweet appears the one who's with me;
I gaze at burning heat and snowstorm, a paradise and a furnace,
a smoking mountain, a divine flower sprouting,
an awesome throne, a lowly footstool"

When Joseph is imagined by the poet to see his familiar Mary having transformed into something miraculous that he cannot presently comprehend, he seeks his words and phrases from the Old Testament. And these images are not, as Arentzen points out, secret Marian symbols, and thus they are not a language or recognizion. Maria is beyond recognition, attractive in a new way, yet strange and frightening. The poet Romanos, in addition to imagining Joseph's reactions, convays vividly the immediately miraculous.

The language of the Old Testament is practically made for this task. The world in the Old Testament is a flatland. And I don't just meen how mountains are God's and valleys are hells. There is very little description of worlds other than the mundane. The metaphysical dimension penetrates in this flatland like a cube into a two-dimensional world. And it is always strange and powerful. The final translations of Israel's epiphanies are often compromises, where Moses or Hezekiel or the people are unable to fill the original conditions for a fuller revelation.

The language of the Old Testament, as it stands and without traditions of interpretation, is imagining of the immediacy of massive power that defies definition. When a sphere penetrates the flatland, one gets the idea. And this, I think, is the sort of effect that Jesus has in the Gospels, whereas Mary seems cubical, though stable. But when a whirling cube descends, there is the fear of the Lord; and there is also the trans-mundane poetry. Because in the aniconic tradition the understanding of the presence of the moving cube in the flatland can only be imagined through words. And the words are like fire on fire. All sorts of torches can be lit from them. One example would be the Gothic novel, which takes its basic form from the Third Chapter of Genesis.

The poetics of the Old Testament are, in a way, the poetics of a dynamic polyhedron that one cannot grasp the full dimensions of. But when reading the Old Testament, one can sense the movement of it. And this process of sensing radiates a living language of immediacy, and this language is incredibly fertile.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Smaragd
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Re: On the Language of the Old Testament

Postby Smaragd » Thu Aug 22, 2019 6:33 pm

I think the Old Testament language is deeply appropriate especially when speaking of Mary, although I appreciate the New Testament presentation of her too. The dualism between the flatlands and the extra dimension speaks of the mystery of the Great Mother, which to me seems to be about the pendency of the world. The Great Mother is down there, besides the suffering of the still coarse parts of the world, as well as, in the fine heavenly clarity. Her presence impales the dualism.
obnoxion wrote:
Thu Aug 22, 2019 9:50 am
The language of the Old Testament, as it stands and without traditions of interpretation, is imagining of the immediacy of massive power that defies definition. When a sphere penetrates the flatland, one gets the idea. And this, I think, is the sort of effect that Jesus has in the Gospels, whereas Mary seems cubical, though stable. But when a whirling cube descends, there is the fear of the Lord; and there is also the trans-mundane poetry.
If I try to see the Maternal attitude in the poem I read Joseph, who I take is on the brink of becoming fully devoted to Mary (being engaged to her), seeing both the coarse pendent aspects in her and the sweetness of the heavenly nectar. Both of these aspects are divine and mundane at the same time. Trusting her is to fall for her and to fall for her is to appreciate the demonic side of the world. I take the descending cubic form points to the idea of the Demons Cube. In the upcoming pregnancy of Mary I see there's sort of a transition from the mighty language of encountering the divine towards the motherly world where there is obvious meaning in the mundane. The frightening inconceivable is seen in the coarse horrors of the world, and there is trust and appreciation coming from the root of devotion a marriage casts around a couple. This sacred union when succesful enables the horrors to be confronted in a way that is full of meaning, it is of the compassion and mercy of the Mother that might be seen in the axis of Venus-Saturn. To me this appreciation of the demonic, and thus life, seems to be the reason for the violent language of the Old Testament, and it is full of compassion in that way. Compassion towards the mistaken, not for violent actions themselves.
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Nefastos
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Re: On the Language of the Old Testament

Postby Nefastos » Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:20 pm

How do you (Obnoxion and others too, this is an open question) see the Old and New Testament's union in the Christian Bible? Can they really be taken as one book, or one system?

In our time, people no longer understand the original definition of a "book" as a separate opus: they only think about a physical object. So, several books bound as one are thought to be one book. (For some time I tried, in vain, to struggle against this modern misunderstanding with Fosforos with its six books and their commentary, the seventh. But now I understand that this is a lost battle.)

Very few remember how quickly this has happened. For example, this week I just bought from a used books store a volume of Solovyov which holds his works "L'ebraismo e il problema cristiano" and "Kolme keskustelua". The first one is from year 1936 and is printed in Italian, the second is from year 1912 and is printed in Finnish: the owner just bound these together for his convenience, which was the usual custom at that time. Similarly, the Bible, "the big book", actually holds several books, which in many cases have little to do with each other. As every one who has read even bits of Bible knows, they are completely contradictory, and would demand special keys in order to be used as one system – and that can be done in several dozens of ways, none of these being without terrible paradoxes. Using Bible as a Christian is thus an act of chaos magic by itself.

To give a personal answer to my question about, I think that such a system which uses the both Testaments as one would demand so intricate tools that it is open only for a handful of specialists in esotericism, advanced in the shools of the heart and intellect both. In any exoterical use, the two Testaments at least should be separated to two different opuses. And much more desirably, almost every single book of the Bible should be taken as an opus of its own, intensely interlinked certainly, but not forming one organic whole.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
obnoxion
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Re: On the Language of the Old Testament

Postby obnoxion » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:17 pm

Nefastos wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:20 pm
How do you (Obnoxion and others too, this is an open question) see the Old and New Testament's union in the Christian Bible? Can they really be taken as one book, or one system?
At first this was a surprising question, if not for any other reason, than that the pairing has been much tested by the Christian hearts and minds through the centuries. And, although I am not at all aware how much of this relationship of the two testaments has been apologetic, Jesus quotes, for example, Leviticus on ethics several times. And the Gospels establish first (if not foremost) Jesus' family line to Davidic kings, and thus linking him to one of the most central and cohesive plotlines of the Old Testament.


I agree with you that:
Nefastos wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:20 pm
...
almost every single book of the Bible should be taken as an opus of its own, intensely interlinked...
I am an inclusive reader of religious texts, and I tend to interlink to the two Testaments also the Apocrypha, the Quoran, Gnostic texts, etc. On the other hand, when it comes to the esoteric depth of the Hebrew Torah, every single letter of the text could be taken as unit that in certain extent is independent of the word it is in. It is this property of the language, I think, and not it's temporal prmacy alone that makes the Old Testament stand apart from the above. One just needs, I believe, understand how etheric all this firm sounding text is.

Although I find the Testaments to be a living whole, I would not impose this view on others. I am not sure if the idea of this unity needs the two Testaments to be one opus, like you asked. And perhaps they are not, as their connections are of different kind. But I, too, would encourage that the independent books of the Bible be considered separatelly and critically. In the end, that is the only way to decide on the matter for one's self.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Nefastos
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Re: On the Language of the Old Testament

Postby Nefastos » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:51 pm

obnoxion wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:17 pm
At first this was a surprising question


Indeed, your opening post is a beautiful example of the mindset that entwines the both Testaments to one whole, so it is clear that you personally are able to make a one whole of them. But I see that you also have more faith of others being capable of that work than I do.

The old Gnostic thought about the Old Testament being about a different God than that of Jesus' makes this partly a question about Satanism, too. What is the actual, vital, life-guiding relation between Absolute God, JHVH/Adonai, Elohim, Satan; and then Logos, the demiurge, Jesus' Heavenly Father, Paul's Christ, John's Lamb, and so on. These are things that an esotericist can and must wrestle with (for this is what the Great Work is about), but even a brilliant exotericist such questions send plummeting into madness – dishonesty or violence – unless solved in a very real way. For the demands are so actual, so mundane, so close to everyday reality.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
obnoxion
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Re: On the Language of the Old Testament

Postby obnoxion » Mon Aug 26, 2019 8:01 am

Nefastos wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:51 pm
But I see that you also have more faith of others being capable of that work than I do.
I am a born optimist. It really is a blind spot for me.
Nefastos wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:51 pm
JHVH
Now that we mentioned JHVH, there are two iconic forms that we can deduce from the name, without getting very esoteric or untraditional. I would like to go throught these, because they can be an aid to Bible study.

First iconic form comes from the letter-numbering of the name. As we know, the Hebrew letters stand for numbers. The first "J" is valued 10, and the sum of the HVH makes 16. When these numbers are drawn as blocks of dots on the sand (as numbers used to be) we get a triangle of ten dots on a squere of sixteen dots. This would certainly make a perfect image of the fire on the altar, which was central to the Tetragrammaton Cult until the destruction of the Temple.

When we look at the letter-forms of JHVH, piled from top to bottom, they make up the standing human form. I have often thought that this is the Shekina or Presence (I think that this extra-biblical concept, together with the Biblical "Kavod" or the cloud-like heaviness or "Glory" would roughly correspond with the Shakti concept of Judeaism, discussed recently on the Forum; perhaps a rather more esoteric correpondence could be seen between Elohim and Fohat) of JHVH dispersed into exile with Israel, when the fire-altar has ceased its centrality.

Neither of these would be particularily esoterist discurses, I think, but quite valid and easy ways to contemplate the sameness-difference of, for example, the JHVH of Leviticus and the JHVH of Isaiah.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.

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