Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yeah, I’m stretching a bit, but toward Plato

Obviously I didn’t bring any nuance to my last post. My apologies. When I wrote that Hebrews 11:15 was talking about reincarnation I wasn’t meaning it in the modern/new age/karmic/etc sense. I was talking about it in the way Plato’s Republic explains the afterlife. Plato envisions a Dante style ending in which the good and bad are judged, and then, after having been punished for a time, all but tyrants are sent back in a new body according to their nature. For example Agamemnon becomes an eagle and a jester a monkey. At any rate I assume the writers of the New Testament are familiar with the cultures which surround them (for example Paul quotes Epimenides and Aratus in Acts 17:28) and that they know Plato. So I think the author may be alluding to the Platonic view of the afterlife, maybe even condemning it.
Read through Hebrews 11. We are being told about how these various figures from the book of Genesis did the things they did by faith, waiting in hope. Yet all of them died without receiving the promise, they died as sojourners. Of course this is the literal truth, but in Hebrews 11 I think it is being talked about in a metaphorical way. They are alienated from the earthy life and yearn for a heavenly one. If this is so, and the author also writes “If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return,” he could also be talking about this heavenly/earthly question again. Thus he could be talking about Platonic reincarnation.
And if he is doing this what is he saying about that metaphysical system? He’s saying man was not meant to be sojourners in heaven, but instead are offered a permanent place with God our Father and Jesus our Lord.
As for the Bible being timeless and disregarding the opinions of man I’d have to say yes and no. Yes, God’s word is our guide, and will always be, but no, it isn’t a magic book devoid of the messes and messages of man. It is a book that interacts with humanity’s funny opinions from a particular time period and a particular place. If the Bible was written today I have little doubt it would use different language, it would have as its backdrop different philosophies and worldviews. Paul would say, “I see that you talk about projecting the I into the Thou,” or “I have been told you are a country of Rule of Law… well let me tell you about the rule of love!” In this instance I’ve been writing about, Hebrews 11:15 it might well be written “yet because they trusted God they didn’t worry about their Karma, or their Dogma!”
That’s my attempt at nuance for the day.

1 comment:

Judah Gabriel Himango said...

Cool, fair enough.