8 months ago


missing material gods,

missing material gods, it seems fairly clear that different cultures did collaborate in an effort to create a universal figure, which could at least suite the Hellenistic world. We thus assist to a mutual interchange between the new born Christian doctrines and the classical culture, which has had a considerable influence in later centuries. Just think of the preaching of one of the most important Fathers of the IV century Church, St. Ambrose. 32 His sermons of neo-platonic inspiration were based on one of the major works produced by that philosophy: Plotinus Enneads, a true compendium of philosophical doctrines drawn from the thought of the Greek philosopher Plato. 33 The differences Of course, between the Fourth Gospel and the other Hellenistic writings there are also deep differences about the concept of God, the eschatological view of the human destiny and the path of growth in choosing his faith, but these do derive from the different historical or speculative basis, generating the religious reflection. For example, in Poimandres, the soul that follows the words of divine guidance lives a mystical experience and undertakes a sort of “astral travel” during which it runs through the seven planetary spheres, to reach the Heaven of the fixed stars, called Ogdoade. It then joins the other blessed ones and reaches its final goal, represented by the regenerating reunion with God, without having to go through the experience of death. 34 Also different were the goals: the disciple John (as he himself had chosen on the basis of his personal experience) was to deliver his readers a specific message with reference to the figure of that Master he was bound to for some years. To do so, and to convince the sceptics of what he claimed, he had to use those forms and contents, characteristic of his time, revising the figure of Christ in the light of the doctrines most widely used and accepted by those social classes to which he was addressing. We can not blame him for this choice, but at the same time we can not help 174

asking a few questions: Did the God Christians are asked to believe in really reveal in the forms we know? On what basis should we believe in John's Logos instead of the Corpus Hermeticum's? Brief Reflections on Esotericism in the Jewish-Christian doctrine The Gospel of John is not the only text containing elements that suggest a link between Christian doctrine and the esoteric and hermetic culture of the time. Matthew In Matthew 7:6 Jesus explicitly says: 35 Do not give the holy [holy things] to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. This expression is interpreted by many as a clear and severe call not to indiscriminately spread the knowledge, not to disclose the secrets of a profound wisdom to an audience unable to understand it and therefore likely to turn the message against the same people who have conveyed it: But isn't this exactly what happened? Hasn't the Church begun its largest development ever since it became a mass religion, losing its connotations as mystery and a cult initiator? Yet it is Jesus himself who openly reveals his desire to talk to few, to communicate only with those who are able to understand, to unveil the true knowledge only to those who are ready to receive it. When disciples would ask him why he talked in parables, he used to answer (Mt 13,10-17): To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to those [others] was not given [...] because seeing [watching] they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand... Then the evangelist continues supporting this Christ's last statement with a 175

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