Re: [mythsoc] Re: "Was Tolkien a Manichean?"
- There is a great deal about the Jewish mystic tradition that captures my
imagination - in a very healthy way, I think - and the tikkun olam is
certainly an aspect of that.
Maybe I'm looking at this in too black-and-white a fashion, but to me there
is a theological divide between those who engage themselves in the 'ethical
property' of the universe and those who turn away from from it, whether from
anger or indifference or love of self or any other motive. I don't see that
big a difference created by the motive, except in so far as anger might be
appeased by greater understanding and indifference probably will not be?
Yes, I did say *Talmud*, but equally cannot handle the Torah as co-eternal,
unless this is supposed to be a (limited? restricted?) manifestation of the
Sophia of God. I don't quite like the thought of the third person of God as
so much paper and ink, good and bad poetry, so much butchery, envy, malice
mixed with so much love and self-recognition.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jan Theodore Galkowski" <disneylogic@...>
Sent: Thursday, June 13, 2002 2:09 PM
Subject: [mythsoc] Re: "Was Tolkien a Manichean?"
> On Wed, 12 Jun 2002 at 18:48:23 -0400 Christine
> Howlett <chowlett@...> wrote:
> Let me invert the order of responses to your comments,
> if you will forgive me, to deal with the more
> important to clarify first. You wrote
> >The Talmud as coeternal with God?! Hm. Can't quite
> >handle that theologically.
> No, I didn't write that. I said the Talmudists a.k.a.
> "the Sages" reasoned that the Torah, meaning the
> Pentateuch in this case, was coeternal with God. The
> Talmudists had a high opinion of themselves, sometimes
> deserved, but they weren't _that_ megalomaniacal. I don't
> recall the precise line of reasoning but, as usual, it's
> hermeneutical. I can look it up.
> >As a staunch Lutheran, I would strongly defend both
> >statements, that God created everything that is, 'seen
> >and unseen', and also that God endowed creation with
> >freewill. Yes, I think that's a good way to phrase
> >what evil seems to be at root - the diminishment of
> >good or turning away from good, turning back on God as
> >the author of all good.
> There are two kinds of turning away. One is turning
> away in the sense of having anger at God and going out
> to do harm in response or retribution. The other is
> ignoring God or ignoring the spiritual and other
> aspects of people and existence. Somehow they are both
> manifestations of evil and a "turning away" but it's
> hard to see how they can readily be lumped together.
> The mystical tradition, Jewish and otherwise, held that
> the universe itself has an ethical aspect, that it is
> a property of the universe and that wrongdoing introduces
> disunity and disharmony into it. Thus, the original
> meaning of "tikkun olam" or "the healing of the world"
> (lit. "the healing of everything") was motivated by good
> deads and compassion repairing these rifts. In the
> Jewish mystical tradition there's also a lot of detail
> about Shechinah, one of the aspects of God, the prototype
> for the Holy Spirit of Christianity, being dispersed
> through the universe and the mystic's job of going and
> collecting this light back together again.
> I can't help but feel parallels between this and the
> Valor, and a connection with that enigmatic line that
> apparently moved much of Tolkien's work, quoted by
> the Tolkien Society at
> namely, the line from the Crist of Cynewulf:
> Eálá Earendel engla beorhtast
> Ofer middangeard monnum sended
> Hail Earendel brightest of angels, over
> Middle Earth sent to men
> Thanks, Jan
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- On Thu, 13 Jun 2002 at 16:29:05 -0400
"Christine Howlett" <chowlett@...> wrote in part:
>There is a great deal about the Jewish mystic[snip]
>tradition that captures my imagination - in a very
>healthy way, I think - and the tikkun olam is
>certainly an aspect of that.
>Yes, I did say *Talmud*, but equally cannot handleI found a reference to the eternality of the
>the Torah as co-eternal, unless this is supposed
>to be a (limited? restricted?) manifestation of
>the Sophia of God. I don't quite like the thought
>of the third person of God as so much paper and
>ink, good and bad poetry, so much butchery, envy,
>malice mixed with so much love and
Torah. I was wrong. You don't need to delve in
Jewish mysticism or in the Talmud to encounter the
eternality of the Torah. The Torah's eternality
and its, therefore, coeternality with God, is the
ninth of Maimonides' 13 principles of the Jewish
faith, recorded as well in the ninth stanza of the
poem and song Yigdal, e.g.,
The hermeneutical argument
is captured at
It's interesting that some Islamic scholars
believe the Qur'an is coeternal with God, e.g.,
in the section about the Qur'an.
I want to make a clarification, one that may not
really be necessary, but important for the record.
In discussions like this, I think it's important
to keep separated the things which a tradition,
like Judaism, says are normative, tied up with its
point of view, and the things which scholars and
other students of these matters, present company
included, might know and believe from other
sources. The former are things like Maimonedes 13
principles of faith. The latter come from
science, other cultures and traditions, and
While I try to be familiar with what Jewish
tradition says and believes, I very much feel what
we call Torah or the Pentateuch was written by
scribes and others during the time of Josiah --
credited even in the tradition for "finding" the
book we call Devarim or Deuteronomy -- or at least
redacted from existing sources in such a major way
that it constitutes a different book with a
different outlook. That is, I agree with the
FinkelStein and Silberman view described at
This doesn't diminish the wonder of the book, or
its tradition, any more than embellishments in the
Illiad or the Odyssey detract from the grandeur of
those texts. The Torah is how Jews of all ages,
and Christians, in part, think of themselves. But
to take any part of the Pentateuch literally is a
huge mistake, at least in my opinion. Others may
feel it is self-contained, e.g., "the fact that
the seed of all future Torah interpretation lies
within the Torah itself", from
but, to me, this is a kind of unhealthy
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- In a message dated 6/14/02 8:45:12 AM Central Daylight Time,
> The Torah's eternalityOne might point out that Christians see Christ as "The Word of God, coeternal
> and its, therefore, coeternality with God
with the Father and the Spirit" (cf. Gospel of John, Ch. 1).
Like the Torah, Christ represents "what God has to tell us."
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