the fusion of differing systems of belief as in philosophy or religion. All cultures,
religions, human systems are on some level syncretistic.
people like to think some religions aren't syncretistic (like judaism or christianity)
but everything in life is syncretistic.
when thinking about all these gods, think about how these gods operate in their
a lot of people think god(s) give culture down to earth but it is rather the opposite
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW
a model in antiquity that the terrestrial kingdom was understood to be a mirror
reflection of what was happening in heaven. kings on earth were not just people
who ruled the kingdom but they were seen as the mirror reflection of god.
the gods would do very similar thing as the earthly king and his court were doing.
this wasnt just naivety, this was keeping cosmological order! not just a proper
political system, but as god wanted.
so a better way of looking at it:
AS BELOW, SO ABOVE
the justification being: "if the gods didnt look like the way our system looks, then
why would i be king? the gods clearly value my model."
when a new king came to order, scribes went around and dug up prophesies that
said a new king would topple the old and in this way the king would justify his
it was not just the doing of the king. this was the work of the scribes. 95% of
people could not read or write and this often included the royalty themselves.
scribes, intellectual elite of ancient world. the word was a very powerful pseudo
magical thing if you could write and record for posterity.
in the middle east you had each of the different schools of different civilizations
meeting in the middle. isrealites would go to babylon to become a scribe, a
babylonian would go to egypt to become a scribe, etc etc, then they would return
home to work for their native king. ideas spread this way since these people were
keepers of the ideas. scribes would share this info and propoganda.
scribal class: their job was to make the king look good.
all the date we had from this time was from the rich educated people. we don't
know what farmers were doing or thinking.
functions of myth in ancient world: entertainment, acculturation, moralization,
inspiration, insight into human nature, etc. (keep in mind the myths were written so
they were recorded by rich urban elites who were working for kings so they reflect
for this reason myths deal with big questions kings are trying to find out: origins,
identity. ANCIENT COSMOLOGY
there are many ways this works out but you get a lot of gods conquering chaos
and establishing order. it is a way of justifying the current situations by casting
their roots into the past.
there is an implicit myth making going on.
in antiquity the world was tenuous, slave economies, constant warfare,
people bought and sold as chattel, your rights were determined by the people who
had the weapons or could afford to hire the people with weapons
king representative of god and you don't wanna mess with god so don't mess with
in classical myth, particularly greek, humans are perpetually doing immoderate
things, hyperbolized human characteristics. Nothing in Excess. know your place
and do your best to do the function your place is supposed to carry out the best you
flood myths, another example of a myth that says to know your place and not to
mess with God.
humans took care of their gods and their gods were supposed to take care of
isrealites were not the only ones with the circumcision ritual!
most rituals done in secret away from public scrutiny; meticulous performance;
must be done right.
these rituals were set up in very legal terms in covenants. they were explicit
contracts. we will do these rituals, mutilate ourselves, etc and you will spare us
from disaster, give us kids and health etc
sacrifices were most ritual act. takes a worldly object and makes it acceptable to
symbolic ritual purification (washing hands, face, etc) before entering sacred
animal sacrifices were central, performed on altars exposed to elements allowing
the smoke to reach the gods.
rituals were not necessarily done out of fear but it was more of a respect, a