Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A New Addition to My Book - What is the Theological Justification of the Union of Secret Mark

We all think we know the story – on the sixth day God created man. Yet many of the details were left out of our surviving narrative. There is more than meets the eye here. Like the story of the controversy over the Mar Saba document, the Genesis narrative is principally a statement about the importance of intimacy. Let’s start with the first important detail that is left unsaid with respect to Adam being created – this ‘first man’ was made with two heads and without sexual organs. The oral tradition of the Jewish people makes this absolutely certain and given what follows in Genesis it makes perfect sense. Indeed the idea of a two headed Adam also by the fact that it goes back well past the establishment of the Jewish people, before Moses and the Exodus.

In the Jordanian city of ‘Ain Ghazal two headed androgynous statues of Adam from 7500 years ago have been recently unearthed. The basic idea here is that a two headed Adam is only made in the image of the Jewish god who is clearly understood to be a pair of heavenly powers - “so God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Of course ‘in his own image’ simply means that the idea of man as a paired species comes from God. He cuts Eve out one side of Adam and as such the head of the woman had to have already been there as part of his original. Moreover according to the earliest interpretations of the narrative God wasn’t there alone making the world, making Adam but had a partner alongside him.

The two-headedness of Adam is a reflection of the masculine pairing of beings designated by the titles ‘God’ and ‘Lord.’ According to our earliest Biblical interpreters ‘God’ and ‘Lord’ are not names for one divine being but appelations for two separate powers that make up the holy godhead. God and Lord are represented as heavenly cherubs in the Holy of Holies of the temple. It is terribly unfortunate that so many Christians haven’t the foggiest idea of the traditional beliefs of Judaism. From the very beginning, God is understood to be manifest in two powers in heaven – mercy and judgement – which clearly correspond to these same names used in different places throughout the Bible.

The point of course is that we never see God Almighty displayed in the Pentateuch. Instead what we get is an almost continuous narrative of humanity interacting with two entities who manifest his presence on earth. It is this divine couple which speaks about creating man in their image. Yet we should be careful to observe that there is a clear attempt in the subsequent ‘correction’ of this two-headed Adam to fashion him as a subordinate being. “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” This word translated as ‘alone’ in English is bad in the original Hebrew. It has nothing to do with the Michael Jackson song title, but instead has deep significance throughout the rest of the Biblical narrative as denoting a state of separation and uniqueness.

The Israeli scholar Moshe Florentine has correctly suggested ‘peerless’ for the proper translation of the terminology when used in conjunction with God. The idea can be seen reflected in various nuances used in the Hebrew of the original Pentateuch. For instance, the word bad is used whenever the ancient Patriarchs, who were shepherds, separated one species of animals from another. The sheep going here away from the goats is described as badde. So when Adam is originally described as bad in his primal created form he is clearly understood to resemble not the form of the lower powers who formed him, but the Almighty Being in the supernal realms.

Jewish mysticism has always been focused on encouraging ‘intimacy’ or lovingness between the powers that make up the divine pair. In doing so, the mystics are in fact making God and Lord resemble the ultimate Being, the power that cannot be seen with the eyes, a figure called Ayn Sof – i.e. ‘without end’ or God prior to His self-manifestation in the production of any spiritual Realm. In order to understand the traditional Jewish conception of man’s threefold relationship with God we have to separate (a) the one who exists as the ultimate Being who cannot be seen or comprehended, (b) the twin powers of God and Lord who manifest his presence on earth and then finally (c) Adam the two-headed being made after their divided likeness.

When this mystical framework is properly understood the critical reader should notice that there are already two creations of man cleverly woven into the first two chapters of Genesis. In the first case it is ‘God’ who makes the androgynous, two headed man but in the next chapter it is an already divided power – ‘Lord God’ – who is said seek out a partner or ‘helpmeet’ for this Adam. The term ‘helpmeet’ used is explicitly referencing Eve’s inequality. The woman is conceived as an inferior being specifically manufactured to correct a danger they saw in the original creation and only made explicit at the end of the section - what if “the man becomes like us.”

In other words, it is not the absolute power who exists ‘alone’ in heaven who divided us but a pair of powers who are themselves similarly divided – i.e. the ‘Lord God.’ These beings have laid out a concerted effort to prevent Adam from becoming divine. It is interesting to note that our oldest commentary on these words from Genesis sees already in Adam’s division the hope of ‘communion’ or partnership, albeit not between man and woman but man and man. “By these words God intimates that there is to be a communion, not with all men, but with those who are willing to be assisted and in their turn to assist others, even though they may scarcely have any power to do so; since love consists not more in utility than in the harmonious concord of trustworthy and steadfast manners; so that every one who joins in a communion of love may be entitled to utter the expression of Pythagoras, ‘A friend is another I.’”

The idea of course that in spite of the efforts of the twin powers to divide God the ultimate Being wants to reconcile humanity with himself was a critical concept within earliest Christianity. It is not surprising that the writer who wrote these words – Philo of Alexandria, a Jew from the first century – was so influential within the nascent religion. He anticipates the idea that was once at the heart of the movement, namely that Jesus was sent to circumvent the appointed powers the Jewish people had traditionally associated with their godhead in order to establish ‘communion’ with them directly with their heavenly Father.

As we shall demonstrate within the material that follows, the letter found by Morton Smith in the Mar Saba monastery reinforces this traditional interpretation of Genesis. Jesus offered up his body as the promised means of ‘partnership.’ Yet hints of what is to come – the reestablishment of the primal Adam lebaddow (Genesis 2:18 Hebrew ‘Adam alone’ or peerless Adam) – is already found in the existing narrative. Jacob before wrestling with God is similarly identified as Jacob lebaddow. Moses, the historical exemplification of the man-God is called to meet the Lord in the following manner in Exodus “There shall come Moshe lebaddow near to the Lord, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him." All of which reinforces the traditional role of the highest being as ‘peerless’ and alone.

Email stephan.h.huller@gmail.com with comments or questions.

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