COSMOLOGY AND APOCALYPTIC - A MEDITATION
- Reading Christopher Rowland's 500 page study of apocalyptic literature from 300BC to 300AD "The Open Heaven", I am struck by the importance of viewing the whole subject through the lens afforded by Nicholas Gier's depiction of ancient cosmology. It is difficult for us, 2000 years on, to understand the degree of interpenetration of the celestial and terrestrial hemispheres in the mind of ancient man and to read books such as Mircea Eliade's " The Sacred and the Profane" and "The Myth of the Eternal Return" is to find oneself in a prescientific landscape where religion and the world of spirits are inextricably bound up in the Zeitgeist.
When one views Jesus through this lens it is much easier, in my view, to place him in context and to see his eschatological mission and resulting interim ethic in the context of the age-old conundrum of the Jews, set out in the Book of Job, where they try to reconcile a just God with the suffering of the righteous and are forced to view the solution of the problem in the return of Eden or a future Paradise. It just shows what tangles one can get into as soon as one starts postulating a God, as Epicurus so memorably summarizes. Remove the postulated God, however and, hey presto, the problem of evil disappears.
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