This post is the introduction to a series focusing on the origins and intentions of the Old Testament (in Christian parlance), or the Tanakh (in the Judaic), in relation to the underpinnings of Western civilization. With some minor exceptions this series will generally focus on the narratives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David and Solomon, the so-called Divided Monarchy, and the Babylonian Exile, all of which formed the core of the transitional Judaic Temple Cult period. This, in turn, became the basis of manipulation for the Seleucid Greeks, and then the Romans, in their ongoing efforts to integrate a new and ‘approved’ Judaism into an overarching social control mechanism.
The Old Testament (especially in contrast to Homeric and, later, Roman epic) also forms the basis of the primary false dialectic of Western civilization, namely that of the Gentile versus the Jew. It is this contrived oppositional thread of tension that runs continuously through our collective historical narratives, since the time fictively attributed for Moses, that keeps the majority distracted from what really matters and constantly blaming institutionalized scapegoats for real or perceived problems. The sad irony here is when we hear some modern day Jews complain that they were made, and still are, scapegoats for the doings of others.
It is ironic because
we assert that, within the Western schema, this was indeed the assigned role of the Jewish people from day one of their troubled existence, as formulated by the ‘real wise guys’. In this ‘assignment’ the Jews were ‘romantically’ encouraged by their various leaders, and later rabbis, to collectively adopt the metaphoric mantle of the Suffering Servant, from Isaiah, for atonement’s sake, ostensibly in the tortuously eventual betterment of all humanity. Importantly, this same victimological mantle was claimed by Christianity for Christ.
Of course, this is a radical proposal that will require the reader to drop their contextual presuppositions and cultural biases in order to grasp the new Postflavian framework. In a nutshell, we believe that the Judaic, and then the Christian (merged Homeric and Judaic typology) narratives, their respective theologies and even their ‘ethnic identities’, have been progressively tweaked so as to continually pit two otherwise similar (or maybe even otherwise identical) groups of common peoples against each other so as to profitably disguise the elite sponsors, the oligarchs <i>du jour</i>. This tweaking was masterfully done via numerous figurative ‘sleight of hand’ techniques ranging from the literary domain to various psychological and physical brutalities, not a few of which have been put to use again in more modern times.
The contrived creation of this dialectic is initially achieved wherein we find, with the Mosaic Law and Pentateuch, a radical new society formed with hundreds of its laws and customs inverted from those of the surrounding ‘heathens’ such as Egypt, and even from that of the surrounding fellow Semitic tribes (Jan Assmann, <a href=”http://amzn.to/1MiCirF”><em>Moses the Egyptian</em></a>, pp. 55-74). Doing so, and including for what is prior claimed in the narratives for Abraham and the First Covenant (a Christian term), thus made this new society of transformed heathens into an exclusively ‘chosen’ Elect for a demanding and curious singular god. It was this god, Yahweh, who inscrutably preferred this particular group for the revelation of his latest plan, at the time, for how humans should relate to each other and to him. But, the invocation of such a monotheistic god, jealously demanding singular fealty while lovingly wielding a carrot and iron rod, was provocatively against the widespread grain of tolerantly syncretistic polytheism.
So, let us reflect upon what happens when either one individual or an entire group is set high up on a pedestal above all others, while rejecting all others’ customs and cultures. Hmmm … How to win friends and influence enemies? This is not to say that many, such as women, didn’t find attractive features (for instance, monogamy) in this radically new religious and social paradigm. A variety of such attractive forms of Judaism eventually came to achieve approximately 10 percent of the Roman Empire’s population. But later on we’ll see that the Romans also portrayed themselves as another exclusive set of Chosen people. However, they played a <em>seemingly</em> (but not really) opposite game of overtly absorbing others’ gods, and then even the Jews’ god, who finally supplanted all the others.