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Denethor and Abraham

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  • "Beregond, Anders Stenström"
    A theology student who is writing a paper on Denethor s attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue to Abraham s stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked me about
    Message 1 of 18 , Apr 9, 2013
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      A theology student who is writing a paper on Denethor's
      attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue to Abraham's
      stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked me about previous
      literature on the topic. Perhaps people on this list
      have better memories than I have, and can help?

      Chivalrously,

      Beregond
    • not_thou
      ... While the parallel has certainly been noted many times before, e.g., from a quick web search:
      Message 2 of 18 , Apr 9, 2013
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        ---"Beregond, Anders Stenstrom" <beregond@...> wrote:
        >
        > A theology student who is writing a paper on
        > Denethor's attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue
        > to Abraham's stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked
        > me about previous literature on the topic. Perhaps
        > people on this list have better memories than I
        > have, and can help?


        While the parallel has certainly been noted many times before, e.g., from a quick web search:

        http://southfarthingmathom.blogspot.com/2007/04/reading-group-meeting-14407.html

        http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=141348#141348

        http://www.henneth-annun.net/Stories/chapter_print.cfm?stid=7572&spordinal=2

        (and for that matter, Frodo's entire quest, because it requires him to be [nearly] sacrificed for what some of the tale's characters--like Boromir and Denethor--see as an irrational reason, has been passingly compared to the Abraham and Isaac story:

        http://newboards.theonering.net/forum/gforum/perl/gforum.cgi?post=86187#86187 )

        I don't know if there have been more thorough comparisons.

        -Merlin
      • not_thou
        ... Well, I haven t found any scholarly comparisons between Denethor and Abraham, but here are some references to Abraham I did find in Tolkien scholarship.
        Message 3 of 18 , Apr 9, 2013
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          --- "Beregond, Anders Stenstrom" <beregond@...> wrote:
          >
          > A theology student who is writing a paper on
          > Denethor's attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue
          > to Abraham's stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked
          > me about previous literature on the topic. Perhaps
          > people on this list have better memories than I
          > have, and can help?

          Well, I haven't found any scholarly comparisons between Denethor and Abraham, but here are some references to Abraham I did find in Tolkien scholarship.

          First, Tolkien himself wrote (LETTERS p. 383): "As for the 'land of Moriah' (note stress): that has no connexion (even 'externally') whatsoever. Internally there is no conceivable connexion between the mining of Dwarves, and the story of Abraham. I utterly repudiate any such significances and symbolisms. My mind does not work that way".

          There is a reference to Abraham and Isaac in the Old English version of EXODUS, of which Tolkien's edition and translation appeared posthumously in 1982. There is a J.R.R. TOLKIEN ENCYCLOPEDIA entry on "The Old English EXODUS" by Larry Swain. Jane Chance also discusses Tolkien's work on EXODUS in TOLKIEN'S ART: A MYTHOLOGY FOR ENGLAND.

          There is additionally a J.R.R. TOLKIEN ENCYCLOPEDIA entry, by Yvette Kisor, on the Old English GENESIS poems, which, Kisor says, include the Abraham and Isaac story. Certainly Tolkien knew those poems, though I don't know what he wrote about them.

          Two critics have identified a different Tolkienian analogue for Abraham and Isaac. First, Verlyn Flieger, in SPLINTERED LIGHT, p. 100, writes:
          "Aule's unquestioning acceptance of Eru's chastisement and his willingness to destroy his creatures recalls the unquestioning obedience of biblical Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac at his God's command."

          And Bradley J. Birzer, in J.R.R. TOLKIEN'S SANCTIFYING MYTH, p. 95, has:
          "Like Abraham with Isaac, Aule attempts to kill the Dwarves in obedience, but Ilúvatar prevents their destruction, as he has given each of the Dwarves independent consciousness and free will."

          One more mention of the Biblical tale in the context of Tolkien's work appears in Linda Greenwood's "Love: 'The Gift of Death'" in TOLKIEN STUDIES 2, which on p. 188 reads:
          "Arwen's love for Aragorn mirrors the love one must have for God. This love must transcend man's duty to those he loves here on earth for his absolute duty toward God. Derrida explains this type of love in his exploration of the story of Abraham and Isaac."

          -Merlin
        • "Beregond, Anders Stenström"
          ... Too long since I read that book, so I looked in it now. Tolkien notes that the poet had a strange idea of the manner of sacrifice, shared by the poet of
          Message 4 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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            Thank you, Merlin, for those references! You wrote:

            > There is a reference to Abraham and Isaac in the Old English version of
            > EXODUS, of which Tolkien's edition and translation appeared posthumously
            > in 1982.

            Too long since I read that book, so I looked in it now. Tolkien
            notes that "the poet had a strange idea of the manner of sacrifice,
            shared by the poet of _Genesis_ . . . Isaac is placed on the burning
            pyre before he is slain . . . fire was thought of as one of the means
            of death". In the Bible, Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac, the
            fire is prepared to be lit afterwards. Tolkien's story combines the
            motifs: Denethor's original intent is death by fire, then when that
            is hindered he draws a knife.

            Chivalrously,

            Beregond
          • Croft, Janet B.
            Interesting topic, and I don t have anything related in the Mythlore index or my own files - most of what I ve seen written on sacrifice in LotR deals with
            Message 5 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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              Interesting topic, and I don’t have anything related in the Mythlore index or my own files – most of what I’ve seen written on sacrifice in LotR deals with Gandalf, Aragorn, or Frodo.

               

              Janet Brennan Croft

              Editor of Mythlore http://www.mythsoc.org/mythlore.html

               

              From: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mythsoc@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of "Beregond, Anders Stenström"
              Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 2:47 PM
              To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [mythsoc] Denethor and Abraham

               

               

              A theology student who is writing a paper on Denethor's
              attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue to Abraham's
              stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked me about previous
              literature on the topic. Perhaps people on this list
              have better memories than I have, and can help?

              Chivalrously,

              Beregond

            • Carl F. Hostetter
              This reversal of instruments is perhaps in keeping with the reversal of motive. The Genesis story is a test of Abraham s faithfulness to God, while Denethor s
              Message 6 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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                This reversal of instruments is perhaps in keeping with the reversal of motive. The Genesis story is a test of Abraham's faithfulness to God, while Denethor's is an act of despair, i.e. faithlessness in God and His Providence.

                Carl

                On Apr 10, 2013, at 3:48 AM, "Beregond, Anders Stenström" <beregond@...> wrote:

                Thank you, Merlin, for those references! You wrote:

                There is a reference to Abraham and Isaac in the Old English version of
                EXODUS, of which Tolkien's edition and translation appeared posthumously
                in 1982.

                   Too long since I read that book, so I looked in it now. Tolkien
                notes that "the poet had a strange idea of the manner of sacrifice,
                shared by the poet of _Genesis_ . . . Isaac is placed on the burning
                pyre before he is slain . . . fire was thought of as one of the means
                of death". In the Bible, Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac, the
                fire is prepared to be lit afterwards. Tolkien's story combines the
                motifs: Denethor's original intent is death by fire, then when that
                is hindered he draws a knife.

                Chivalrously,

                Beregond



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              • Larry Swain
                I don t know of any scholarship on the question, but I actually don t see the connection. Other than a father and a son where dad intends to kill son, I just
                Message 7 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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                  I don't know of any scholarship on the question, but I actually don't
                  see the connection. Other than a father and a son where dad intends to
                  kill son, I just don't see it: the characters are different, the
                  motivations are utterly opposed, the motifs are different, the placement
                  of the scenes, even the "angel"...who is sent to the scene in LoTR by
                  Peregrin who I certainly do not think a divine messenger. I do like
                  Anders' note of how the sacrifice of Isaac is depicted in Exodus and
                  Genesis, so one might argue an influence of the poems on that detail,
                  though I'd want to check more widely in Bede, Tacitus, the Eddas and
                  Sagas, etc about human sacrifice and funereal practices before drawing
                  too firm a line. It strikes me that Denethor's action is typical
                  Germanic pre-Christian practice (and perhaps other cultures) that the
                  poems are also depicting rather than a direct connection between poem
                  and novel. But at the moment, I can't prove that, but suggest that your
                  student, Anders, might want to check on it.



                  --
                  Larry Swain
                  Bemidji State University
                  theswain@...

                  On Wed, Apr 10, 2013, at 02:48 AM, Beregond, Anders Stenström wrote:
                  > Thank you, Merlin, for those references! You wrote:
                  >
                  > > There is a reference to Abraham and Isaac in the Old English version of
                  > > EXODUS, of which Tolkien's edition and translation appeared posthumously
                  > > in 1982.
                  >
                  > Too long since I read that book, so I looked in it now. Tolkien
                  > notes that "the poet had a strange idea of the manner of sacrifice,
                  > shared by the poet of _Genesis_ . . . Isaac is placed on the burning
                  > pyre before he is slain . . . fire was thought of as one of the means
                  > of death". In the Bible, Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac, the
                  > fire is prepared to be lit afterwards. Tolkien's story combines the
                  > motifs: Denethor's original intent is death by fire, then when that
                  > is hindered he draws a knife.
                  >
                  > Chivalrously,
                  >
                  > Beregond
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > ------------------------------------
                  >
                  > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                  >
                  >
                  >

                  --
                  http://www.fastmail.fm - Faster than the air-speed velocity of an
                  unladen european swallow
                • Jason Fisher
                  I agree with Larry on this, particularly because Denethor makes a point of saying, We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship sailed hither from the
                  Message 8 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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                    I agree with Larry on this, particularly because Denethor makes a point of saying, "We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship sailed hither from the West." That sounds like it points to a pagan source (if any explicit source at all), and not a Jewish/Christian one.

                    Best,
                    Jason


                    From: Larry Swain <theswain@...>
                    To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 10:05 AM
                    Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Denethor and Abraham

                     
                    I don't know of any scholarship on the question, but I actually don't
                    see the connection. Other than a father and a son where dad intends to
                    kill son, I just don't see it: the characters are different, the
                    motivations are utterly opposed, the motifs are different, the placement
                    of the scenes, even the "angel"...who is sent to the scene in LoTR by
                    Peregrin who I certainly do not think a divine messenger. I do like
                    Anders' note of how the sacrifice of Isaac is depicted in Exodus and
                    Genesis, so one might argue an influence of the poems on that detail,
                    though I'd want to check more widely in Bede, Tacitus, the Eddas and
                    Sagas, etc about human sacrifice and funereal practices before drawing
                    too firm a line. It strikes me that Denethor's action is typical
                    Germanic pre-Christian practice (and perhaps other cultures) that the
                    poems are also depicting rather than a direct connection between poem
                    and novel. But at the moment, I can't prove that, but suggest that your
                    student, Anders, might want to check on it.

                    --
                    Larry Swain
                    Bemidji State University
                    theswain@...

                    On Wed, Apr 10, 2013, at 02:48 AM, Beregond, Anders Stenström wrote:
                    > Thank you, Merlin, for those references! You wrote:
                    >
                    > > There is a reference to Abraham and Isaac in the Old English version of
                    > > EXODUS, of which Tolkien's edition and translation appeared posthumously
                    > > in 1982.
                    >
                    > Too long since I read that book, so I looked in it now. Tolkien
                    > notes that "the poet had a strange idea of the manner of sacrifice,
                    > shared by the poet of _Genesis_ . . . Isaac is placed on the burning
                    > pyre before he is slain . . . fire was thought of as one of the means
                    > of death". In the Bible, Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac, the
                    > fire is prepared to be lit afterwards. Tolkien's story combines the
                    > motifs: Denethor's original intent is death by fire, then when that
                    > is hindered he draws a knife.
                    >
                    > Chivalrously,
                    >
                    > Beregond
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------
                    >
                    > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    >
                    >

                    --
                    http://www.fastmail.fm - Faster than the air-speed velocity of an
                    unladen european swallow



                  • Tony Zbaraschuk
                    ... I tend to agree. Denethor isn t doing this in obedience to a command from God, like Abraham; he s doing it in total despair and abandonment of any divine
                    Message 9 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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                      On Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 11:30:03AM -0700, Jason Fisher wrote:
                      > I agree with Larry on this, particularly because Denethor makes a
                      > point of saying, "We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship
                      > sailed hither from the West." That sounds like it points to a
                      > pagan source (if any explicit source at all), and not a Jewish/Christian one.

                      I tend to agree. Denethor isn't doing this in obedience to a command
                      from God, like Abraham; he's doing it in total despair and abandonment
                      of any divine mandate the Numenoreans might have received or remembered.
                      I think there are common elements, but the core is an inversion of
                      Abraham's faith, not an allusion to it.


                      Tony Zbaraschuk

                      --
                      There is a reason most German philosophy scholarship consists of
                      trying to parse what German philosophers actually meant.
                      --Lady Wisdom's Favorite
                    • Troels Forchhammer
                      That also fits well with Gandalf s response about only heathen kings ‘slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own
                      Message 10 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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                        That also fits well with Gandalf's response about only heathen kings ‘slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.’ 

                        Digging through memory I seem to remember hearing about an Arab writing about a visit to Russia and describing a Viking funeral involving burning a ship, and also accompanying the dead chief with servants or family ...? Mainly I hope to jog the memory of someone who knows more about it than I ;-) 

                        But that of course doesn't preclude anything — it would be rash to suppose that there can be only one source to a given situation in The Lord of the Rings and exploring the Abraham & Isaac situation, but leaving out the command from God might also contribute along with other sources. 

                        Venligst,
                        /Troels




                        On 10 April 2013 20:30, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:


                        I agree with Larry on this, particularly because Denethor makes a point of saying, "We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship sailed hither from the West." That sounds like it points to a pagan source (if any explicit source at all), and not a Jewish/Christian one.

                        Best,
                        Jason


                        From: Larry Swain <theswain@...>
                        To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 10:05 AM
                        Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Denethor and Abraham

                         
                        I don't know of any scholarship on the question, but I actually don't
                        see the connection. Other than a father and a son where dad intends to
                        kill son, I just don't see it: the characters are different, the
                        motivations are utterly opposed, the motifs are different, the placement
                        of the scenes, even the "angel"...who is sent to the scene in LoTR by
                        Peregrin who I certainly do not think a divine messenger. I do like
                        Anders' note of how the sacrifice of Isaac is depicted in Exodus and
                        Genesis, so one might argue an influence of the poems on that detail,
                        though I'd want to check more widely in Bede, Tacitus, the Eddas and
                        Sagas, etc about human sacrifice and funereal practices before drawing
                        too firm a line. It strikes me that Denethor's action is typical
                        Germanic pre-Christian practice (and perhaps other cultures) that the
                        poems are also depicting rather than a direct connection between poem
                        and novel. But at the moment, I can't prove that, but suggest that your
                        student, Anders, might want to check on it.

                        --
                        Larry Swain
                        Bemidji State University
                        theswain@...

                        On Wed, Apr 10, 2013, at 02:48 AM, Beregond, Anders Stenström wrote:
                        > Thank you, Merlin, for those references! You wrote:
                        >
                        > > There is a reference to Abraham and Isaac in the Old English version of
                        > > EXODUS, of which Tolkien's edition and translation appeared posthumously
                        > > in 1982.
                        >
                        > Too long since I read that book, so I looked in it now. Tolkien
                        > notes that "the poet had a strange idea of the manner of sacrifice,
                        > shared by the poet of _Genesis_ . . . Isaac is placed on the burning
                        > pyre before he is slain . . . fire was thought of as one of the means
                        > of death". In the Bible, Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac, the
                        > fire is prepared to be lit afterwards. Tolkien's story combines the
                        > motifs: Denethor's original intent is death by fire, then when that
                        > is hindered he draws a knife.
                        >
                        > Chivalrously,
                        >
                        > Beregond
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        > ------------------------------------
                        >
                        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                        >
                        >
                        >

                        --
                        http://www.fastmail.fm - Faster than the air-speed velocity of an
                        unladen european swallow








                        --
                            Love while you've got
                                love to give.
                            Live while you've got
                                life to live.
                         - Piet Hein, /Memento Vivere/
                      • Mike Foster
                        Tolkien to Clyde Kilby, 1966: “Gandalf was an angel.” From: Troels Forchhammer Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:22 PM To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject:
                        Message 11 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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                          Tolkien to Clyde Kilby, 1966: “Gandalf was an angel.”
                           
                          Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:22 PM
                          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Denethor and Abraham
                           
                           

                          That also fits well with Gandalf's response about only heathen kings ‘slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.’ 
                           
                          Digging through memory I seem to remember hearing about an Arab writing about a visit to Russia and describing a Viking funeral involving burning a ship, and also accompanying the dead chief with servants or family ...? Mainly I hope to jog the memory of someone who knows more about it than I ;-)

                          But that of course doesn't preclude anything — it would be rash to suppose that there can be only one source to a given situation in The Lord of the Rings and exploring the Abraham & Isaac situation, but leaving out the command from God might also contribute along with other sources.
                           
                          Venligst,
                          /Troels
                           
                           


                          On 10 April 2013 20:30, Jason Fisher <visualweasel@...> wrote:


                          I agree with Larry on this, particularly because Denethor makes a point of saying, "We will burn like heathen kings before ever a ship sailed hither from the West." That sounds like it points to a pagan source (if any explicit source at all), and not a Jewish/Christian one.

                          Best,
                          Jason


                          From: Larry Swain <theswain@...>
                          To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 10:05 AM
                          Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Denethor and Abraham
                           
                           
                          I don't know of any scholarship on the question, but I actually don't
                          see the connection. Other than a father and a son where dad intends to
                          kill son, I just don't see it: the characters are different, the
                          motivations are utterly opposed, the motifs are different, the placement
                          of the scenes, even the "angel"...who is sent to the scene in LoTR by
                          Peregrin who I certainly do not think a divine messenger. I do like
                          Anders' note of how the sacrifice of Isaac is depicted in Exodus and
                          Genesis, so one might argue an influence of the poems on that detail,
                          though I'd want to check more widely in Bede, Tacitus, the Eddas and
                          Sagas, etc about human sacrifice and funereal practices before drawing
                          too firm a line. It strikes me that Denethor's action is typical
                          Germanic pre-Christian practice (and perhaps other cultures) that the
                          poems are also depicting rather than a direct connection between poem
                          and novel. But at the moment, I can't prove that, but suggest that your
                          student, Anders, might want to check on it.

                          --
                          Larry Swain
                          Bemidji State University
                          mailto:theswain%40operamail.com

                          On Wed, Apr 10, 2013, at 02:48 AM, Beregond, Anders Stenström wrote:
                          > Thank you, Merlin, for those references! You wrote:
                          >
                          > > There is a reference to Abraham and Isaac in the Old English version of
                          > > EXODUS, of which Tolkien's edition and translation appeared posthumously
                          > > in 1982.
                          >
                          > Too long since I read that book, so I looked in it now. Tolkien
                          > notes that "the poet had a strange idea of the manner of sacrifice,
                          > shared by the poet of _Genesis_ . . . Isaac is placed on the burning
                          > pyre before he is slain . . . fire was thought of as one of the means
                          > of death". In the Bible, Abraham raises his knife to kill Isaac, the
                          > fire is prepared to be lit afterwards. Tolkien's story combines the
                          > motifs: Denethor's original intent is death by fire, then when that
                          > is hindered he draws a knife.
                          >
                          > Chivalrously,
                          >
                          > Beregond
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > ------------------------------------
                          >
                          > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                          >
                          >
                          >

                          --
                          http://www.fastmail.fm - Faster than the air-speed velocity of an
                          unladen european swallow







                           
                          --
                              Love while you've got
                                  love to give.
                              Live while you've got
                                  life to live.
                          - Piet Hein, /Memento Vivere/
                        • not_thou
                          ... From Wikipedia: Ahmad ibn Fadlan ... famous for his account of his travels as a member of an embassy of the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to the king of the
                          Message 12 of 18 , Apr 10, 2013
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                            --- Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo@...> wrote:
                            > Digging through memory I seem to remember hearing
                            > about an Arab writing about a visit to Russia and
                            > describing a Viking funeral involving burning a
                            > ship, and also accompanying the dead chief with
                            > servants or family ...?

                            From Wikipedia:

                            "Ahmad ibn Fadlan ... famous for his account of his travels as a member of an embassy of the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to the king of the Volga Bulgars. His account is most known for providing a description of the Volga Vikings, including an eyewitness account of a ship burial."

                            Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_ibn_Fadlan

                            That episode is summarized here:

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_funeral#Ibn_Fadlan.27s_account

                            It's a bit grisly.

                            -Merlin
                          • wendell_wagner
                            The story of Ahmad ibn Fadlan was turned into the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton and then into the movie The Thirteen Warrior. The plots of
                            Message 13 of 18 , Apr 11, 2013
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                              The story of Ahmad ibn Fadlan was turned into the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton and then into the movie The Thirteen Warrior.  The plots of these two stories have him travel even further north and enter the story of Beowulf.  It's Beowulf with the supernatural elements removed though.
                               
                              Wendell Wagner
                               
                              In a message dated 4/10/2013 7:23:18 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, emptyD@... writes:
                               

                              --- Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo@...> wrote:
                              > Digging through memory I seem to remember hearing
                              > about an Arab writing about a visit to Russia and
                              > describing a Viking funeral involving burning a
                              > ship, and also accompanying the dead chief with
                              > servants or family ...?

                              From Wikipedia:

                              "Ahmad ibn Fadlan ... famous for his account of his travels as a member of an embassy of the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to the king of the Volga Bulgars. His account is most known for providing a description of the Volga Vikings, including an eyewitness account of a ship burial."

                              Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_ibn_Fadlan

                              That episode is summarized here:

                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_funeral#Ibn_Fadlan.27s_account

                              It's a bit grisly.

                              -Merlin

                            • Jason Fisher
                              It s Beowulf with the supernatural elements removed though. But a very enjoyable novel. For anyone who might be interested, I blogged about Eaters of the
                              Message 14 of 18 , Apr 11, 2013
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                                "It's Beowulf with the supernatural elements removed though."

                                But a very enjoyable novel. For anyone who might be interested, I blogged about Eaters of the Dead after Crichton died in 2008: http://lingwe.blogspot.com/2008/11/michael-crichtons-beowulf.html

                                Best,
                                Jason


                                From: "WendellWag@..." <WendellWag@...>
                                To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                                Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:43 AM
                                Subject: Re: [mythsoc] Re: Denethor and Abraham

                                 
                                The story of Ahmad ibn Fadlan was turned into the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton and then into the movie The Thirteen Warrior.  The plots of these two stories have him travel even further north and enter the story of Beowulf.  It's Beowulf with the supernatural elements removed though.
                                 
                                Wendell Wagner
                                 
                                In a message dated 4/10/2013 7:23:18 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, emptyD@... writes:
                                 
                                --- Troels Forchhammer <troelsfo@...> wrote:
                                > Digging through memory I seem to remember hearing
                                > about an Arab writing about a visit to Russia and
                                > describing a Viking funeral involving burning a
                                > ship, and also accompanying the dead chief with
                                > servants or family ...?

                                From Wikipedia:

                                "Ahmad ibn Fadlan ... famous for his account of his travels as a member of an embassy of the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad to the king of the Volga Bulgars. His account is most known for providing a description of the Volga Vikings, including an eyewitness account of a ship burial."

                                Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_ibn_Fadlan

                                That episode is summarized here:

                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_funeral#Ibn_Fadlan.27s_account

                                It's a bit grisly.

                                -Merlin



                              • Christopher Couch
                                For an example of going through with it, Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia to the god Poseidon for a safe crossing of the Greek armada to Troy.  For
                                Message 15 of 18 , Apr 14, 2013
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                                  For an example of going through with it, Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia to the god Poseidon for a safe crossing of the Greek armada to Troy.  For that sacrifice and his return from Troy with Cassandra, Agamemnon is the victim of revenge by his wife Clytemnestra.

                                  Good luck!

                                  Christopher



                                  From: ""Beregond, Anders Stenström"" <beregond@...>
                                  To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
                                  Sent: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 3:46 PM
                                  Subject: [mythsoc] Denethor and Abraham

                                   
                                  A theology student who is writing a paper on Denethor's
                                  attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue to Abraham's
                                  stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked me about previous
                                  literature on the topic. Perhaps people on this list
                                  have better memories than I have, and can help?

                                  Chivalrously,

                                  Beregond



                                • Tony Zbaraschuk
                                  ... Two other possibilities I might suggest. First, from the Old Testament, the tradition of sacrifices to Moloch, passing one s seed through the fire , and
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Apr 14, 2013
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                                    On Sun, Apr 14, 2013 at 09:12:52AM -0700, Christopher Couch wrote:
                                    > For an example of going through with it, Agamemnon sacrifices his
                                    > daughter Iphigenia to the god Poseidon for a safe crossing of the
                                    > Greek armada to Troy.  For that sacrifice and his return from Troy
                                    > with Cassandra, Agamemnon is the victim of revenge by his wife
                                    > Clytemnestra.

                                    Two other possibilities I might suggest.

                                    First, from the Old Testament, the tradition of sacrifices to
                                    Moloch, "passing one's seed through the fire", and its parallels
                                    in Phoenecian culture.

                                    Second, from Tolkien's own _Akallabeth_ in the Silmarillion, the
                                    specific tradition that Sauron in Numenor had human sacrifices
                                    made to Melkor by burning. (And in other unspecificed ways,
                                    but fire is mentioned a couple of times.)


                                    Tony Zbaraschuk


                                    >  
                                    > A theology student who is writing a paper on Denethor's
                                    > attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue to Abraham's
                                    > stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked me about previous
                                    > literature on the topic. Perhaps people on this list
                                    > have better memories than I have, and can help?
                                    >
                                    > Chivalrously,
                                    >
                                    > Beregond
                                    >
                                    >
                                    >
                                    --
                                    There is a reason most German philosophy scholarship consists of
                                    trying to parse what German philosophers actually meant.
                                    --Lady Wisdom's Favorite
                                  • lynnmaudlin
                                    Tony, no no no (she screams), probably not what you meant but your statement, from the Old Testament, the tradition of sacrifices to Moloch, passing one s
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Apr 24, 2013
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                                      Tony, no no no (she screams), probably not what you meant but your statement, "from the Old Testament, the tradition of sacrifices to Moloch, "passing one's seed through the fire", and its parallels in Phoenecian culture" makes it sound like this was part of Judaism or acceptable in some way. NO, this was NOT a Jewish tradition but a corruption of the people where the worship of a foreign god (Molech, in this case) has been embraced in specific disobedience to the law given in Leviticus 18:21 ('You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD'). So yes, that horrible thing happened and it is noted in the Bible but even with the general lack of editorial comment, it's clear this is an abomination before YHWH.

                                      You could argue Jepthah, in Judges 11: "Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering." (v. 30-31); he is horrified when his daughter, his only child, comes dancing out with tambourines to celebrate his victory. What isn't clear, according to rabbis, is the way in which the vow was kept: did he burn her or did she become "as dead" and never married or produced offspring?

                                      Of course, the problem with making Denethor's madness-induced attempt to burn his son alive is hardly comparable to the Akedah, the great testing of Abraham, where YHWH instructs him to offer his son as a sacrifice. Denethor didn't think he was making a sacrifice of his son in obedience to his god, he was acting out of palantir/Sauron-induced madness and despair. I suppose the theology student is looking at some correspondence in the salvation aspect: God stops Abraham and supplies him with a ram caught in a thicket; Gandalf rescues Faramir and only Denethor is burned.

                                      -- Lynn --


                                      --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Tony Zbaraschuk <tonyz@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > On Sun, Apr 14, 2013 at 09:12:52AM -0700, Christopher Couch wrote:
                                      > > For an example of going through with it, Agamemnon sacrifices his
                                      > > daughter Iphigenia to the god Poseidon for a safe crossing of the
                                      > > Greek armada to Troy.  For that sacrifice and his return from Troy
                                      > > with Cassandra, Agamemnon is the victim of revenge by his wife
                                      > > Clytemnestra.
                                      >
                                      > Two other possibilities I might suggest.
                                      >
                                      > First, from the Old Testament, the tradition of sacrifices to
                                      > Moloch, "passing one's seed through the fire", and its parallels
                                      > in Phoenecian culture.
                                      >
                                      > Second, from Tolkien's own _Akallabeth_ in the Silmarillion, the
                                      > specific tradition that Sauron in Numenor had human sacrifices
                                      > made to Melkor by burning. (And in other unspecificed ways,
                                      > but fire is mentioned a couple of times.)
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > Tony Zbaraschuk
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > >  
                                      > > A theology student who is writing a paper on Denethor's
                                      > > attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue to Abraham's
                                      > > stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked me about previous
                                      > > literature on the topic. Perhaps people on this list
                                      > > have better memories than I have, and can help?
                                      > >
                                      > > Chivalrously,
                                      > >
                                      > > Beregond
                                      > >
                                      > >
                                      > >
                                      > --
                                      > There is a reason most German philosophy scholarship consists of
                                      > trying to parse what German philosophers actually meant.
                                      > --Lady Wisdom's Favorite
                                      >
                                    • Tony Zbaraschuk
                                      ... Of course it is, and I never intended to imply otherwise. I was just pointing out that, if you re looking for parallels in the Bible to Denethor wanting
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Apr 26, 2013
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                                        On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 12:57:55AM -0000, lynnmaudlin wrote:
                                        > Tony, no no no (she screams), probably not what you meant but your
                                        > statement, "from the Old Testament, the tradition of sacrifices to
                                        > Moloch, "passing one's seed through the fire", and its parallels in
                                        > Phoenecian culture" makes it sound like this was part of Judaism or
                                        > acceptable in some way. NO, this was NOT a Jewish tradition but a
                                        > corruption of the people where the worship of a foreign god (Molech
                                        > , in this case) has been embraced in specific disobedience to the
                                        > law given in Leviticus 18:21 ('You shall not give any of your offspring
                                        > to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your
                                        > God; I am the LORD'). So yes, that horrible thing happened and it
                                        > is noted in the Bible but even with the general lack of editorial
                                        > comment, it's clear this is an abomination before YHWH.

                                        Of course it is, and I never intended to imply otherwise. I was just
                                        pointing out that, if you're looking for parallels in the Bible to
                                        Denethor wanting to burn his own son, this one is probably worth
                                        considering as well.

                                        Not everythign in the Bible is there as an example to be followed;
                                        sometimes they're examples to be avoided. Which doesn't mean that
                                        people looking for literary comparisons can't use them in various
                                        ways.

                                        <snip Jepthah -- no comment there>

                                        > Of course, the problem with making Denethor's madness-induced
                                        > attempt to burn his son alive is hardly comparable to the Akedah,
                                        > the great testing of Abraham, where YHWH instructs him to offer his
                                        > son as a sacrifice.

                                        Agreed.

                                        > Denethor didn't think he was making a sacrifice of his son in
                                        > obedience to his god, he was acting out of palantir/Sauron-induced
                                        > madness and despair. I suppose the theology student is looking at
                                        > some correspondence in the salvation aspect: God stops Abraham and
                                        > supplies him with a ram caught in a thicket; Gandalf rescues
                                        > Faramir and only Denethor is burned.

                                        Now that's an interesting way of seeing the inversion of a pattern.


                                        Tony Zbaraschuk


                                        > --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, Tony Zbaraschuk <tonyz@...> wrote:
                                        > >
                                        > > On Sun, Apr 14, 2013 at 09:12:52AM -0700, Christopher Couch wrote:
                                        > > > For an example of going through with it, Agamemnon sacrifices his
                                        > > > daughter Iphigenia to the god Poseidon for a safe crossing of the
                                        > > > Greek armada to Troy.  For that sacrifice and his return from Troy
                                        > > > with Cassandra, Agamemnon is the victim of revenge by his wife
                                        > > > Clytemnestra.
                                        > >
                                        > > Two other possibilities I might suggest.
                                        > >
                                        > > First, from the Old Testament, the tradition of sacrifices to
                                        > > Moloch, "passing one's seed through the fire", and its parallels
                                        > > in Phoenecian culture.
                                        > >
                                        > > Second, from Tolkien's own _Akallabeth_ in the Silmarillion, the
                                        > > specific tradition that Sauron in Numenor had human sacrifices
                                        > > made to Melkor by burning. (And in other unspecificed ways,
                                        > > but fire is mentioned a couple of times.)
                                        > >
                                        > >
                                        > > Tony Zbaraschuk
                                        > >
                                        > >
                                        > > >  
                                        > > > A theology student who is writing a paper on Denethor's
                                        > > > attempt to burn Faramir as an analogue to Abraham's
                                        > > > stopped sacrifice of Isaac has asked me about previous
                                        > > > literature on the topic. Perhaps people on this list
                                        > > > have better memories than I have, and can help?
                                        > > >
                                        > > > Chivalrously,
                                        > > >
                                        > > > Beregond
                                        > > >
                                        > > >
                                        > > >
                                        > > --
                                        > > There is a reason most German philosophy scholarship consists of
                                        > > trying to parse what German philosophers actually meant.
                                        > > --Lady Wisdom's Favorite
                                        > >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > ------------------------------------
                                        >
                                        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >
                                        --
                                        There is a reason most German philosophy scholarship consists of
                                        trying to parse what German philosophers actually meant.
                                        --Lady Wisdom's Favorite
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