Thursday, February 24, 2011

The gods-again!

“But first and foremost, a temple was the abode of a deity or a group of associated deities where they, in the form of their cult statues, were served endlessly—one might almost want to say, relentlessly—by the rituals of the cult. Our own interests, which are influenced by the religious sensibilities of western culture, understandably lead to a fascination with texts that speak to such issues as creation or cosmology or lay down rules for correct or moral conduct. Unfortunately, though, this can lead us to underestimate the central importance of the temple cult in Egypt (and in other ancient civilizations as well), which operated according to the principle of reciprocity, or do ut des [I give in order that you might give]: just as the resources of the community—and ultimately the nation of Egypt—were put to the service of the god, so the god in return would 'protect Egypt.'”—David Lorton in Born in Heaven, page 131

<idle musing>
I know I keep repeating this, but it is extremely important that we don't import our monotheistic understandings into the ancient texts. The religions of the ancient world were about taking care of the deities' needs so that the deities would take care of the people that served them. Hey! Maybe that isn't so different than some people's view of God after all :( But, it isn't biblical.
</idle musing>

No comments: