YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

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YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by tlxxxviii » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:37 am

First post. Hi.

I have recently come across an exegetical Christian scholar who has, to my mind, explained a good deal of some of the weirder parts of the Bible. Much of his scholarship is concerned with the Divine Council, which permeates both Old and New Testament writings, and which goes a good way to explain the power structure of The World.

What I find particularly interesting is that he allows, and to my mind proves, Biblically and with other second-temple literature, that acceptance of powers and principalities, in other words, a full pantheon of gods (elohim) to exist subordinately to YHWH, was a ubiquitous mind-set in the writers of both OT and NT.

It seems that this lines up rather spectacularly with Buddhist (/Gnostic) cosmology, and I offer it for your consideration:



<3,
t

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by DNS » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:00 pm

That is correct, the hebrew word elohim actually means "gods" not a singular God as many believe. It was translated that way (God with a capital G) to make the "God" more universal. In original biblical hebrew the god of Israel was their god, but the Israelites probably believed there were other other gods, who represented other nations.

I have written about this in some parts of my book I wrote:
https://thedhamma.com/

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Iconodule » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:54 pm

I suspect it would be really impossible to prove either way, from archaeological evidence, whether the monotheism that appears in the Old Testament is a revisionist movement within a previously polytheistic Israelite religion, or whether it was the original Hebrew faith later corrupted by polytheism. Of course the Old Testament is full of rebukes against the Israelites for worshipping various Canaanite deities.

By the time of the New Testament, though, it's simply not the case that the Jewish God- and the Christian God- could be regarded as one among many.

Saint Paul of course talks about the principalities and powers ruling the world, from whom we must be freed, in language that sounds similar to the Gnostics. And the various orders of angels in orthodox Christian angelology would certainly qualify as gods in other religions. If someone wants to argue that angels are therefore Christian gods, I won't make a fuss about it. In this sense though the One God is not a god... he is not one deity among deities, even if regarded as the supreme deity among them. He transcends them utterly. However powerful the angels might be, they are created and conditioned beings. The One God cannot be placed in the same category and does not belong among the Buddhist devas. He is absolute and as such, our understanding of him might be more fruitfully compared with Buddhist teaching about sunyata, tathagatagharba, etc. though key differences will remain.

Comparisons with Gnosticism tend to miss the point. It would rather make more sense to see how both Christianity and Gnosticism (along with late antique Judaism) all inhabited the same broad Hellenistic religious environment and inherited common ideas and assumptions from it. A lot of what popular discourse frames as "Gnosticism" is really just Neoplatonism. New Testament talk about spirit and flesh need to be read in conversation with Platonic and other pagan conceptions.

Needless to say both late antique Judaism and early Christianity were much more "pagan" than what is usually assumed today. Scholastic Catholicism and Protestantism, having sterilized the cosmos, get very uncomfortable about honestly facing the ancient Christian worldview. Yet in its own way, Reformed Protestantism is very pagan in its phobia of all material realities to the point where it comes close to reducing Christianity to a Platonic abstraction.
The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your soul. Dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which you are to ascend. - St. Isaac of Syria

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Nicholas » Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:50 pm

Greetings tlxxxviii, your first video-post looks very interesting.

[off topic - is T 88 the right way to read your screen name?]
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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Nicholas » Thu Apr 11, 2019 4:36 pm

DNS wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:00 pm
That is correct, the hebrew word elohim actually means "gods" not a singular God as many believe. It was translated that way (God with a capital G) to make the "God" more universal. In original biblical hebrew the god of Israel was their god, but the Israelites probably believed there were other other gods, who represented other nations.
This was a minority view among English scholars as far back (at least) as early 19th century, Godfrey Higgins for example. Here is WW Westcott, a friend of HP Blavatsky, on elohim:
Elohim (Heb.). Also Alhim, the word being variously spelled. Godfrey
Higgins, who has written much upon its meaning, always spells it
Aleim. The Hebrew letters are aleph, lamed, hé, yod, mem, and are
numerically 1, 30, 5, 10, 40 = 86. It seems to be the plural of the
feminine noun Eloah, ALH, formed by adding the common plural form
IM, a masculine ending; and hence the whole seems to imply the
emitted active and passive essences. As a title it is referred to “Binah”
the Supernal Mother, as is also the fuller title IHVH ALHIM, Jehovah
Elohim. As Binah leads on to seven succeedent Emanations, so
“Elohim” has been said to represent a sevenfold power of godhead.
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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Nicholas » Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:07 pm

More of the works of Dr. Heiser, the narrator/author of the OP video:

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-S.-Heise ... dp_epwbk_0

If for no other reason than he debunks those stupid monomaniacs at Ancient Aliens TV show, I like him - so far.
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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by tlxxxviii » Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:14 am

Iconodule wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:54 pm
By the time of the New Testament, though, it's simply not the case that the Jewish God- and the Christian God- could be regarded as one among many.
Gnosticism, as a word, has been about as abused as a word can be abused, but I've always found in interesting that the name YHWH isn't used in any way, shape, or form in the NT. I forget which of the old Gnostics it was—Valentinius, maybe?—who outlined the difference between the OT YHWH and the NT "father", but it continues to be an interesting point of trivia/intrigue. Whatever the case, neither, we can hopefully agree, are The One (either real or purported); and it was through Buddhism and Christian apophaticism that I have come to have something like a coherent view of the experiential qualities of various mystical writers / experiences (unrelated to toxins!) / &c.

The Darkness of God by Denys Turner is a really nice treatment of it, for those who like such things.
Nicholas wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:50 pm
is T 88 the right way to read your screen name?
Yep! I used it for six months as a nod to my birthday/initials (TL / 8AUG), before realizing that it was a very good username to get flagged by anti-porn/anti-spam filters. Alas! As for the doc's anti-ancient-aliens stuff: that's how I came across him, originally. I find the whole genre/movement fascinating!

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by tlxxxviii » Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:20 am

DNS wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:00 pm
I have written about this in some parts of my book I wrote:
https://thedhamma.com/
Thanks for this!

And speaking of fascinating, weird things—I spent about 5 years in Las Vegas. My parents are still in Aliante. Yow!

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Nicholas » Sat Apr 13, 2019 3:10 pm

Dr. Heiser has quite an internet presence, perhaps because his teaching resume does not feature much (if any) work at a major university, mainly community colleges. Still I admire his emphasis on the reality of non-human beings, without calling them aliens from another planet.

In Buddhism among the criteria for having a Right View of his teachings, one must not reject the notion of devas, demons, gandharvas etc., all the many sorts generally invisible creatures. Modern converts to the Dharma often do reject any such panoply of creatures. This secular, materialist society loses a great deal in also scoffing at such realms of beings. So for Heiser's bringing them into focus I wish him well.
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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by DNS » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:40 am

tlxxxviii wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:20 am
DNS wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:00 pm
I have written about this in some parts of my book I wrote:
https://thedhamma.com/
Thanks for this!

And speaking of fascinating, weird things—I spent about 5 years in Las Vegas. My parents are still in Aliante. Yow!
Cool, small world. :thumbsup:

You are in Riyadh right now? As in Saudi Arabia? I assume you're not Muslim, perhaps there teaching? I haven't been to Saudi Arabia yet; Jews aren't allowed (afaik, unless the rules have changed) but perhaps as a convert to Buddhism, I might be allowed in.

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by tlxxxviii » Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:18 am

DNS wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:40 am
You are in Riyadh right now? As in Saudi Arabia? I assume you're not Muslim, perhaps there teaching? I haven't been to Saudi Arabia yet; Jews aren't allowed (afaik, unless the rules have changed) but perhaps as a convert to Buddhism, I might be allowed in.
Israelis no. Jews yes. I have had a number of Jewish coworkers here. I'm not sure the Saudis knew they were Jews, but there is a kind of Don't Ask Don't Tell policy about all sorts of stuff here in the Kingdom. I've very much enjoyed living here, but I'm not sure there's much for a tourist to see/do. Unless you're into Mad Max post-apocalyptic desert wastelands. In which case it is peerless... and being a Las Vegan, maybe this is exactly the case!

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Iconodule » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:54 pm

tlxxxviii wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:14 am
Iconodule wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:54 pm
By the time of the New Testament, though, it's simply not the case that the Jewish God- and the Christian God- could be regarded as one among many.
Gnosticism, as a word, has been about as abused as a word can be abused, but I've always found in interesting that the name YHWH isn't used in any way, shape, or form in the NT.
Two things:

1.As a rule, the name YHWH would not be said aloud; someone reciting would substitute it with "Adonai" or another title.
2. The New Testament is in Greek and references to the Old Testament are usually referring to the Greek version, the Septuagint. This is the version that the writers would have been most familiar with. The Septuagint uses "kyrios" (Lord) instead of YHWH.

That said, Christ himself references this Name when he says, "Before Abraham was, I AM", thereby identifying himself with YHWH.
I forget which of the old Gnostics it was—Valentinius, maybe?—who outlined the difference between the OT YHWH and the NT "father", but it continues to be an interesting point of trivia/intrigue. Whatever the case, neither, we can hopefully agree, are The One (either real or purported); and it was through Buddhism and Christian apophaticism that I have come to have something like a coherent view of the experiential qualities of various mystical writers / experiences (unrelated to toxins!) / &c.
Not sure what you mean, but as an Orthodox Christian of course I recognize the God of the scriptures as the true One, as did St Dionysius the Areopagite, the giant of apophatic theology. While I think it is definitely fruitful to compare notes among different traditions, I don't think it's possible to abstract a single universal philosophy/ theology from them without some distortion.
The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your soul. Dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which you are to ascend. - St. Isaac of Syria

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by tlxxxviii » Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:27 am

Iconodule wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:54 pm
As a rule, the name YHWH would not be said aloud;...
6,519 times in the OT.
0 times in the NT.

k

EDIT: But just to be clear, I didn't come to dharmapaths.com to discuss the dogma of Orthodoxy, so we need not go any further down this path.

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Iconodule » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:15 pm

tlxxxviii wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:27 am
Iconodule wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:54 pm
As a rule, the name YHWH would not be said aloud;...
6,519 times in the OT.
0 times in the NT.

k
0 times aloud, in any language. 0 times written in the Greek OT (Septuagint), the Old Testament used by the New Testament writers. And again... "Before Abraham was, I am."
EDIT: But just to be clear, I didn't come to dharmapaths.com to discuss the dogma of Orthodoxy, so we need not go any further down this path.
You can discuss or not discuss what you like within the forum rules, and I can respond by the same parameters.
The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your soul. Dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which you are to ascend. - St. Isaac of Syria

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Iconodule » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:27 pm

tlxxxviii wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 10:18 am
DNS wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:40 am
You are in Riyadh right now? As in Saudi Arabia? I assume you're not Muslim, perhaps there teaching? I haven't been to Saudi Arabia yet; Jews aren't allowed (afaik, unless the rules have changed) but perhaps as a convert to Buddhism, I might be allowed in.
Israelis no. Jews yes. I have had a number of Jewish coworkers here. I'm not sure the Saudis knew they were Jews, but there is a kind of Don't Ask Don't Tell policy about all sorts of stuff here in the Kingdom. I've very much enjoyed living here, but I'm not sure there's much for a tourist to see/do. Unless you're into Mad Max post-apocalyptic desert wastelands. In which case it is peerless... and being a Las Vegan, maybe this is exactly the case!
There was a minor kerfuffle years ago when the Saudi tourism ministry announced that Jews would not be issued visas- it looks like they retracted that. Of course the Saudi government is perfectly happy to form a de facto alliance with Israel- both nations share a pathological hatred of Iran and also of Arab nationalism. From what I gather, there was a lot more cultural heritage to see and explore on the Arabian peninsula before the Wahhabis destroyed almost all of it.
The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your soul. Dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which you are to ascend. - St. Isaac of Syria

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by tlxxxviii » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:46 am

Iconodule wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:15 pm
You can discuss or not discuss what you like within the forum rules, and I can respond by the same parameters.
True enough. And on reflection, I did not come here because I am looking for an echo chamber in which to validate my views. I am just having trouble understanding how you and I can move forward in any sense if I am willing to concede that your dogma is factually true, but limited, and under an umbrella subsumed by "Buddhism." What is there to discuss?

If you say "Jesus is the son of YHWH and it is through [the eucharist / the church] that one comes to be part of God's Kingdom," and I say "Yes, I agree, but I do not care a whit for God's Kingdom," where do we go from there?

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Iconodule » Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:41 pm

tlxxxviii wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:46 am
Iconodule wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:15 pm
You can discuss or not discuss what you like within the forum rules, and I can respond by the same parameters.
True enough. And on reflection, I did not come here because I am looking for an echo chamber in which to validate my views. I am just having trouble understanding how you and I can move forward in any sense if I am willing to concede that your dogma is factually true, but limited, and under an umbrella subsumed by "Buddhism." What is there to discuss?

If you say "Jesus is the son of YHWH and it is through [the eucharist / the church] that one comes to be part of God's Kingdom," and I say "Yes, I agree, but I do not care a whit for God's Kingdom," where do we go from there?
As a Buddhist of course you are bound to regard Christianity as an inferior vehicle to the Buddha Dharma. I understand and respect this position. We don't have to agree on everything to have useful discussions. Now if you say, "I do not care a whit for God's Kingdom," because you regard it as a transient (if long and blissful) deva realm, I might explain why I consider God (and God's kingdom) to be quite different from the devas described in Buddhism. Am I going to convince you? Highly unlikely (and not my purpose here) but I think it is always good when people with different views understand each other better.
The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and is found in your soul. Dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the rungs by which you are to ascend. - St. Isaac of Syria

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by tlxxxviii » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:31 pm

Iconodule wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:41 pm
As a Buddhist of course you are bound to regard Christianity as an inferior vehicle to the Buddha Dharma. I understand and respect this position. We don't have to agree on everything to have useful discussions. Now if you say, "I do not care a whit for God's Kingdom," because you regard it as a transient (if long and blissful) deva realm, I might explain why I consider God (and God's kingdom) to be quite different from the devas described in Buddhism. Am I going to convince you? Highly unlikely (and not my purpose here) but I think it is always good when people with different views understand each other better.
I recently lived in St. Petersburg for half a year, and before that spent a year (in Las Vegas) attending an Orthodox church (All Saints; Hello Bishop Nikolai, if you're out there). I've read everything by Seraphim Rose, he being my on-ramp to Orthodox thought, and much more from the tradition, from the desert fathers, &c.

I do not posit that theosis is in any way the rather curious and cartoonish Cloud City Stuff of popular culture, and I have zero doubt, honestly zero, about the (so to speak) conventional truth of the mystery of Christ. The reason I started this thread was precisely because I believe in the fact of God. The reason I started this thread here is because I found the above's conceptualization of YHWH's status, alongside lower-g co-creators, to have an interesting analogue in Buddhist cosmology.

The Buddha was pretty clear about the pointlessness of such thinking, but being culturally Christian (having been born a Catholic, having spent my youth in a Pentacostal church, having gone through various other permutations, (Gnosticism, Calvinism, Sedevacantist congregations...), I find it basically personally impossible to work fully from within the terms set out by both orthodox/Orthodox Christianity and the various cultural Buddhisms.

It's a bit of a pickle, you see.

What I find particularly interesting, and this probably comes from having spent a lot of time in-and-among the perennialists, is the possibility that certain mystical strains in the various manifestations of ultimate (non-conventional) Truth actually resolve themselves harmoniously, in something like a Godhead, which for whatever reason has resolved itself in my thinking to approximate (or at the very least is best spoken of by) a kind of radical emptiness. I really do think that Buddhists, Sufis, "mystical" Christians, Vedantists, &c., share a more-or-less complementary, and perhaps even somehow necessary, approach to Truth that should be explored.

Whatever the case: Happy Easter. (Even though it's not Orthodox Easter of course.) <3

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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by Nicholas » Sat Apr 20, 2019 12:56 pm

I have found that putting doctrine as primary in discussions with those of other spiritual views will usually result in conflict or at best separation. Thus dump doctrine (difficult for intellectuals) and share values, virtues, meditative practices etc.

One curious fact I discovered, at least in Chinese Mahayana, is that YHVH or 'Jehovah' is accepted as a high & noble deva who met Buddha & became a Dharma protector & friend. Of course he is known by another name in the East- Indra or Shakra.

One of Buddha's other titles is Teacher of Devas & Men. There are many suttas/sutras where Buddha or some bodhisattva is asked questions by devas.
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Re: YHWH, The Divine Council = The Devas

Post by tlxxxviii » Sat Apr 20, 2019 4:44 pm

Nicholas wrote:
Sat Apr 20, 2019 12:56 pm
One curious fact I discovered, at least in Chinese Mahayana, is that YHVH or 'Jehovah' is accepted as a high & noble deva who met Buddha & became a Dharma protector & friend. Of course he is known by another name in the East- Indra or Shakra.
There is something quite charming about the idea of Thor and the Buddha sitting down to have a chat. Whatever the case, I am thoroughly guilty of having certain neuroses about YHWH and often find that my metaphysical speculations about dukkha, for example, resolve themselves in harboring a kind of resentment at the entity responsible for creating such a mess. Of course this is strictly unBuddhist thinking.

I like the idea put forward in Jung's Answer to Job where he makes the argument (forgive me for rough paraphrasing; it has been years since reading it) that God, too, is unfolding in his wisdom/wholeness. This dovetails very nicely with the explicitly harmonious relationship between the Buddha and the devas, of course, and I endeavor to be better in my aversions.

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