Spring Reflections and Tips
This month we’ve talked about religious holidays, and I hope you discovered some new facts you did not know before. I hope you continue reading about what interest you, and find out the facts by yourself. As a school librarian I always tried to present facts to my students and help them distinguish between propaganda and reality. Everything we know as the wisdom of different religions started before it had a name. It was not instantaneous, it evolved through hundreds of years of observation, and the human power of thinking. In antiquity, people did not know how to read, and had to follow what they were told, but today, we have no excuse to to simply follow, we are responsible to discover what is behind our beliefs. But, don’t take my word for it, or any “hear say” for that matter, instead search for the truth.
Let’s start with the word “Pagan”, it comes from the Latin word pāgānus “rural”, “rustic”, a.k.a. as peasant/uneducated.
During the first century when the Roman Empire reached from Syria to Africa and Europe all the way to England, everybody was “Pagan” in other words they practiced a polytheistic religion like that of the Greeks, Vikings, or Romans, all except the Jews which everyone knew believed in one god, and that made them different from the rest of the world at that time.
You can imagine how difficult it must have been to rule over so many different cultures, religions, languages, particularly keeping order and creating edicts of law that would apply to everyone.
In 381 A.D. Theodosious the Great, born in Spain and converted Christian himself called for a second Council in Constantinople to ratify the creed of the Council of Nicaea (325) as the universal norm for Christian doctrine, and implemented The Codex Theodosianus forbidding all forms of pagan religious practices including Arianism considered heresy. He made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
Pagan religions go back to the pre-historic times with the first humans trying to express their feelings for loved ones with funeral rites, they believed everything in nature was sacred, from a rock to all human beings, and that there was a powerful god behind each element of nature, such as sky, earth, thunder, rain. They worshiped their gods and goddesses through seasonal festivals. Solstices were particularly important. However, all Pagan religions had a moral code.
Did you know...?
For the Egyptians Ma’at was a Goddess, but she was also a concept or principle, of justice or ‘right attitude’. Ma’at had two main aspects; she represented balance and justice, concepts which the Egyptians believed had been established at the time the earth was created. The principle of Ma’at was understood by the ancient Egyptians to be the foundation of their society. If a person lived their life according to the will of the gods and in harmony with other people and the earth, then that person would be said to be living according to Ma’at.
Ma’at presided over the judgment of souls after death, and it was she who decided if a person would precede to the afterlife or be destroyed forever. for example: the Egyptian statements “I have not told lies” and “I have not committed adultery” correspond with two of Moses’ the Ten Commandments.
Urukagina’s code Reform text of, king of Lagash. From Girsu, Iraq. 24th century BC. has been widely hailed as the first recorded example of government reform, seeking to achieve a higher level of freedom and equality. It limited the power of the priesthood and large property owners, and took measures against usury, burdensome controls, hunger, theft, murder, and seizure (of people’s property and persons); as he states, “The widow and the orphan were no longer at the mercy of the powerful man”. Here, the word “freedom” (“ama-gi“), appears for the first time in recorded history.[
Zoroastrianism exalts an uncreated and benevolent deity of wisdom known as Ahura Mazda (lit. ’Lord of Wisdom’) as its supreme being. Historically, the unique features of Zoroastrianism, such as its monotheism, messianism, belief in free will and judgement after death, conception of heaven, hell, angels, and demons, among other concepts, may have influenced other religious and philosophical systems, including the Abrahamic religions and Gnosticism, Northern Buddhism, and Greek philosophy.
With possible roots dating back to the 2nd millennium BCE, Zoroastrianism enters recorded history around the middle of the 6th century BCE. It served as the state religion of the ancient Iranian empires for more than a millennium (approximately from 600 BCE to 650 CE), and spread in India by Iranian immigrants and It likely influenced the other major Western religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and even Hinduism. NOTE: Abraham was born in the city of UR [ Iran]. It helps to know your geography.
The Egyptian “Wisdom of Amenemope“, dated between the 10th and 6th centuries BC, an introduction and thirty chapters of “wise sayings.”Proverbs 22:20 refers to “thirty” sayings. Major Christian denominations have recognized the parallels between the Wisdom of Amenemope and the compilation of the Book of Proverbs 22:17–24:22, written by Solomon so closely that it effectively opened up the field of the comparative study of ancient Middle Eastern wisdom literature.One example:
“Do not rob the poor because he is poor,
|“Guard yourself from robbing the poor|
From being violent to the weak” (Amenemope iv, 4–5).
According to Ecclesiastes 12:9, Solomon “pondered and searched out and set in order many proverbs,” which could mean he was a compiler of proverbs from many different cultures. This does not invalidate any portion of Proverbs. All wisdom ultimately comes from God, and Solomon was still guided by the Holy Spirit when he referenced, modified, and edited other sources in his writing.
Books you might want to read or gift.