Ancient History

Exultation of Sehetep-ib-Re

From THE STORY OF SI-NUHE, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament

“Well, of course, his son has entered
into the palace and has taken the inheritance of his
father. Moreover, he is a god without his peer. There
is no other who surpasses him. He is a master of understanding,
effective in plans and beneficent of decrees.
Going forth and coming back are in conformance with
his command. He it was who subdued the foreign
countries while his father was in his palace, and he
reported to him that what had been charged to him had
been carried out How joyful is this land which he
has ruled!

Exultation of Aton

From The Hymn to the Aton, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament

How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face (of man).
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone:
All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.

Exhalations to the pagan deity Enlil

From The Hymn to Enlil, from Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament:

Enlil whose command is far-reaching, lofty his word (and) holy,
Whose pronouncement is unchangeable, who decrees destinies unto the distant future,
Whose lifted eye scans the land,
Whose lifted beam searches the heart of all the land—When Father Enlil seats himself broadly on the holy dais, on the lofty dais,
When Nunamnir [another name for Enlil] carries out to supreme perfection lordship
and kingship,
The earth-gods bow down willingly before him, The Anunna humble themselves before him, Stand by faithfully in accordance with (their) instructions.
The great (and) mighty lord, supreme in heaven (and) earth, the all-knowing one who understands the judgement,

When in his awesomeness he decrees the fates,
No god dares look at him,

Not (even) a god can behold your countenance.

Who are the judge (and) decision-maker of the universe
Your noble word is as weighty as heaven, you know no opposition,

The lofty one, whose words are firmly grounded,
Whose command and favor are unalterable,
Whose pronouncements is all enduring,
Whose plans “confirm the word”—
Oh Great Mountain Enlil, exalted is your praise.

On Ancient Contempt of the Material World

What I have tried to show in this chapter is that contempt for the human condition and hatred for the body was a disease endemic in the entire culture of the period [first few centuries CE]; that while its more extreme manifestations are mainly Christian or Gnostic, its symptoms show themselves in a milder form in pagans of purely Hellenistic education; and that this disease found expression in a wide variety of myths and fantasies, some drawn from Greek, others from oriental originals (often with a changed meaning or a changed emphasis), while others again are apparently new.

E. R. Dodd, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety

Cicero on Zeno’s Idea of God

‘I come now, Balbus, to the philosophers of your school.* Zeno* proposes that the law of nature is divine, with the power of enjoining what is right and of forbidding the opposite. How he lends life to this law—and we certainly require a god to be a living creature—we fail to understand. He also says elsewhere that the upper air is god; but can we fathom a god which is without feeling, a god which never confronts us in our prayers, aspirations, or vows? 36 ‘In other books he states his belief that there is a kind of reason which pervades the whole of nature and is endowed with divine power. This same power he assigns also to the stars, and to the years and months and changing complexion of the years. In interpreting Hesiod’s Theogony* (which means ‘The Birth of the Gods’), he dispenses totally with customary notions of the gods. He does not regard Jupiter, Juno, Vesta, or deities similarly named as among the company of the gods, but teaches that these names by a sort of symbolism have been pinned on things without life and speech.

Cicero. The Nature of the Gods (Oxford World’s Classics) (p. 16). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.

Dead Sea Scrolls – Determinism in the Community Rule

From The Community Rule:

From the God of knowledge stems all there is and all there shall be. Before they existed he made all their plans and when they came into being they will execute all their works in compliance with his instructions, according to his glorious design without altering anything. In his hand are the laws of all things and he supports them in all their needs. He created man to rule the world and placed within him two spirits so that he would walk with them until the moment of his visitation: they are the spirits of truth and of deceit. In the hand of the Prince of Lights is dominion over all the sons of justice; they walk on paths of light. And in the hand of the Angel of Darkness is total dominion over the sons of deceit; they walk on paths of darkness. Due to the Angel of Darkness all the sons of justice stray, and all their sins, their iniquities, their failings and their mutinous deeds are under his dominion in compliance with the mysteries of God, until his moment; and all their punishments and their periods of grief are caused by the dominion of his enmity; and all the spirits of their lot cause the sons of light to fall. However, the God of Israel and the angel of his truth assist all the sons of light. He created the spirits of light and of darkness and on them established all his deeds [on their p]aths all his labors ‘and on their paths [all] his [labors.]”. God loved one of them for all eternal ages and in all his deeds he takes pleasure for ever; of the other one he detests his advice and hates all his paths forever.

In agreement with man’s birthright in justice and in truth, so he abhors injustice; and according to his share in the lot of injustice he acts irreverently in it and abhors the truth. For God has sorted them into equal parts until the appointed end and the new creation. He knows the result of his deeds for all times [everlas]ting and has given them as a legacy to the sons of men so that they know good [and evil], so they decide the lot of every living being in compliance with the spirit there is in him [at the time of] the visitation.

Atticus on Plato and God

ATTICUS fr. 9, quoted from his book ‘against those who interpret Plato through Aristotle’ at Eusebius, Preparation
for the Gospel 15.13.1–5

The thoughts [noēmata] of god are prior to things: they are incorporeal and intelligible paradigms of what comes to be. They are always and in all ways the same, existing pre-eminently and principally, but are contributory causes of every other thing’s being the kind of thing it is, each according to its similarity with them. So Plato perceived things that are not easily seen, nor even capable of being clearly explained in words; and he dealt with them as far as it was possible to speak and think about them, and to prepare those who were to follow on afterwards. He arranged the whole of his philosophy with this in view: he says that in these things and their understanding are rooted wisdom and knowledge, through which comes the human end and the most blessed form of life.

The Hebrew Concept of Time

From On Not-Time:

In ‘Greco-Roman-Christian’ thought time is mechanistic.33 At some undefined or semi-defined point in the past it began at some point in the future usually thought of as infinity it will (may) end and the person is at some median point-a one-dimensional vector progressing with measurable and constant velocity.34 Time is a principle part of Western Martial culture. Graves defined “’Time’ is our method of measuring the intervals between events”.35 This idea looks at the mechanism; as the end product of the enquiry system. Compare Rabbi Nahman’s view with purely mechanistic Graves’ or with that of the novelist Charles Morgan (“The Fountain”; c. 1932) who said “It is not time that passes away from them but they who recede from the constancy the immutability of time…” These are the themes concerning time in Western thought: mechanistic, constancy, immutability, vectorial. While in Hebrew language and Jewish philosophy we see ideas of control, subjectivity use of time as a tool. Indeed the difference of view of time between the two cultures is vast, but quite different from what has been described by Shirts, Thienhous et al.

Select Excerpts from the Enuma Elish

Tablet 1
[Ea]
Ea, the all-wise, saw through their scheme. (60)

[Nudimmud]
Anu begot in his image Nudimmud.
This Nudimmud was of his fathers the master;
Of broad wisdom, understanding, mighty in strength,

[Marduk]
He rendered him perfect and endowed him with a double godhead.
Greatly exalted was he above them, exceeding throughout.
Perfect were his members beyond comprehension,
Unsuited for understanding, difficult to perceive.
Four were his eyes, four were his ears;
When he moved his lips, fire blazed forth.
Large were all four hearing organs,
And the eyes, in like number, scanned all things.

[Tiamat]
Mother Hubur, she who fashions all things,
Added matchless weapons, bore monster-serpents,

[Tiamat to Kingu, who are later defeated by Marduk and the Tablet of Destinies transferred (x4)]
Your utterance shall prevail over all the Anunnaki! She has given him the Tablet of Destinies, [fastened on his breast]: As for you, your command shall be [unchangeable, your word shall endure]!

Tablet 2
[Tiamat (x3)]
Her decrees are firm, they are beyond resisting.

[Anshar to Anu]
“My son, you who knows all wisdom,

[Anu, before his failed attempt against Tiamat, Nudimmud, before his failed attempt against Tiamat]
Let my word, instead of you, determine the fates.
What I may bring into being shall be unalterable;
The command of my lips shall be neither recalled nor changed.”

[The lessor gods]
All the great gods who decree the fates. (130)

Tablet 3

[Marduk]
Let my word, instead of you, determine the fates. (120)
Unalterable shall be what I may bring into being;
Neither recalled nor changed shall be the command of my lips!’
Now hasten here and promptly fix for him your decrees,

Tablet 4
[Marduk, before attacking Tiamat]
“You are the most honored of the great gods,
Your decree is unrivaled, you command is Anu.
You, Marduk, are the most honored of the great gods,
Your decree is unrivaled, your word is Anu.
From this day your pronouncement shall be unchangeable.
To raise or bring low–these shall be in your hand.
Your utterance shall be true, your command shall be unimpeachable.
No one among the gods shall transgress your bounds!
Adornment being wanted for the seats of the gods,
Let the place of their shrines ever be in your place.
O Marduk, you are indeed our avenger.
We have granted you kingship over the universe entire.
When you sit in Assembly your word shall be supreme.
Your weapons shall not fail; they shall smash your foes!
O lord, spare the life of him who trusts you,
But pour out the life of the god who seized evil.”

Tablet VII

[Marduk, who is Tutu]
Truly, he is supreme in the Assembly of the gods;
No one among the gods is his equal.
Tutu is Ziukkinna, life of the host of the gods,
Who established for the gods the holy heavens;
Who keeps a hold on their ways, determines their courses;
He shall not be forgotten by the beclouded. Let them

[Marduk, who is Shazu]
Shazu, who knows the heart of the gods,
Who examines the inside;
From whom the evildoer cannot escape;
Who sets up the Assembly of the gods, gladdens their hearts;
Who subdues the insubmissive; their wide-spread protection;
Who directs justice, roots out crooked talk,
Who wrong and right in his place keeps apart. (40)

[Marduk, who is Aranunna]
Aranunna, counselor of Ea, creator of the gods, his fathers,
Whose princely ways no god whatever can equal.

[Marduk]
Aside from him no god knows the answer as to their days.

Epilogue
[Marduk]
Let him rejoice in Marduk, the Enlil of the gods,
That his land may be fertile and that he may prosper. (150)
Firm in his order, his command unalterable,
The utterance of his mouth no god shall change.
When he looks he does not turn away his neck;
When he is angry, no god can withstand his wrath.
His heart is unfathomable, his purpose is broad,

Clement likely an Open Theist

Clement of Rome is one of the earliest Church Fathers, student of, perhaps, Peter. His writings sound Open-Theistic. His idea is that God actively watches the world and sees everything we are doing. This is not a “timeless” knowledge, but an active scanning. God is “receiving” information, which Calvinists claim God cannot do. We also have Clement encouraging people to reform their ways to avoid judgement. The future is not set, but open.

1Clem 27:5
Who shall say unto Him, What hast thou done? or who shall resist
the might of His strength? When He listeth, and as He listeth, He
will do all things; and nothing shall pass away of those things that
He hath decreed.
1Clem 27:6
All things are in His sight, and nothing escapeth His counsel,
1Clem 27:7
seeing that The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament
proclaimeth His handiwork. Day uttereth word unto day, and night
proclaimeth knowledge unto night; and there are neither words nor
speeches, whose voices are not heard.
1Clem 28:1
Since therefore all things are seen and heard, let us fear Him and
forsake the abominable lusts of evil works, that we maybe shielded by
His mercy from the coming judgments.
1Clem 28:2
For where can any of us escape from His strong hand? And what world
will receive any of them that desert from His service?

Predestination in the Dead Sea Scrolls

From the Manual of Discipline:

All that is and ever was comes from a God of knowledge. Before things came into existence He determined the plan of them; and when they fill their appointed roles, it is in accordance with His glorious design that they discharge their functions. Nothing can be changed. In His hand lies the government of all things. God it is that sustains them in their needs.

Josephus on Omnipresence and Omniscience

From Josephus’ Antiquities, 6.11.8:

8. But Jonathan heard these last words with indignation, and promised to do what he desired of him, and to inform him if his father’s answers implied any thing of a melancholy nature, and any enmity against him. And that he might the more firmly depend upon him, he took him out into the open field, into the pure air, and sware that he would neglect nothing that might tend to the preservation of David; and he said, “I appeal to that God, who, as thou seest, is diffused every where, and knoweth this intention of mine, before I explain it in words, as the witness of this my covenant with thee, that I will not leave off to make frequent trims of the purpose of my father till I learn whether there be any lurking distemper in the most secret parts of his soul; and when I have learnt it, I will not conceal it from thee, but will discover it to thee, whether he be gently or peevishly disposed; for this God himself knows, that I pray he may always be with thee, for he is with thee now, and will not forsake thee, and will make thee superior to thine enemies, whether my father be one of them, or whether I myself be such. Do thou only remember what we now do; and if it fall out that I die, preserve my children alive, and requite what kindness thou hast now received to them.” When he had thus sworn, he dismissed David, bidding him go to a certain place of that plain wherein he used to perform his exercises; for that, as soon as he knew the mind of his father, he would come thither to him, with one servant only; “and if,” says he, “I shoot three darts at the mark, and then bid my servant to carry these three darts away, for they are before him, know thou that there is no mischief to be feared from my father; but if thou hearest me say the contrary, expect the contrary from the king. However, thou shalt gain security by my means, and shalt by no means suffer any harm; but see thou dost not forget what I have desired of thee in the time of thy prosperity, and be serviceable to my children.” Now David, when he had received these assurances from Jonathan, went his way to the place appointed.

From Josephus’ Antiquities, 8.8.4:

And when [Jeroboam] had called those ten tribes together over whom he ruled, he made a speech to the people in these words: “I suppose, my countrymen, that you know this, that every place hath God in it: nor is there any one determinate place in which he is: but he every where hears and sees those that worship him. On which account I do not think it right for you to go so long a journey to Jerusalem, which is an enemies city, to worship him. It was a man that built the temple: I have also made two golden heifers, dedicated to the same God; and the one of them I have consecrated in the city Bethel; and the other in Dan: to the end that those of you that dwell nearest those cities may go to them, and worship God there.