View Full Version : Comparative Religions

18th April 2009, 20:55
Comparative Religions

The Golden Rule -- “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” -- is a basic tenet of virtually every religion in the world. It is often overlooked in the rush to rules and laws for every occasion, but in general, the only real reason for religion is to define how we treat our divinities and our fellow beings. Accordingly, all religions are at their most fundamental level, the same. They are connected, forming an overall oneness.

Mythologies are a form of religion, even when they are not intended as such. Especially when they describe profound events in their history, events which shape their beliefs in the natural world, the divinities which may have influenced those events and how the believers have reacted to the events in terms of how they deal with the world thereafter.

Ancient Sumerian texts, for example, describe in great detail the events leading up to the Flood and Deluge of Biblical renown, and the histories of mankind down through the age of Abraham and his grandchild, Jacob. The Sumerian version has been found to corroborate the Book of Genesis at every turn, and in fact has provided a more detailed description of the biblical events. In many respects, the book of Genesis is an executive summary of the far more ancient Sumerian texts. Meanwhile, the Sumerian Enuma Elish describes the creation of our solar system in a scientifically consistent manner. And just as the Bible is referenced in various ways by numerous religions in their rituals, the same is true of the Sumerian Enuma Elish, which was recited verbatim on appropriate holy days.

Another example of the dual histories -- and whatever authority and/or credibility they lend to the religion -- is a comparison between the Sumerian Epic of Creation and that portion of Genesis which tells of the same events. For example, Laurence Gardner [1] has noted the common elements between the Enuma Elish and Genesis:

Enuma Elish

Divine spirit is coexistent and coeternal with cosmic matter. | Divine spirit creates cosmic matter and exists independently of it.
Primeval chaos, with darkness enveloping the salt waters. | A desolate waste, with darkness covering the deep.
Light emanates from the gods and the firmament is created above the Earth. | Light is created by God and the firmament is created above the Earth.
Dry land is created on Earth. | Dry land is created on Earth.
The luminaries (sun, moon and stars) are created. | The luminaries (sun, moon and stars) are created.
Man is created. | Man is created.
The gods celebrate | God rests.

The latter statements seem strangely illuminating.

It is worth mentioning that Genesis was written circa 600 B.C.E., and in a Babylonian location (while the Hebrews were in captivity). On the one hand, the writers had easy access to the libraries from which the Sumerian histories had briefly returned to life in those ancient times. On the other hand, there is the motivation on the part of the writers to somehow explain how the “chosen people” were being held in captivity far from home.

The comparative brevity of Genesis with respect to the Enuma Elish is probably indicative that it is far easier to edit out sections than creatively add new ones -- especially when there is a strong resistance to originality in writing the holy texts of a religion.

It should be noted that while the Sumerian texts, in describing the details of the ancient history of mankind had placed a strong emphasis on the fact that “gold belonged to the gods”, there is no such emphasis in Genesis. This may be explained in part by the fact of the rivalry between Enki and Enlil and that the Sumerian version was much more pro-Enki or at least even-handed, while Genesis was definitely pro-Enlil. Not being a fan of man, Enlil would likely have glossed over the real reason for his being on Earth, while Enki, who was more interested in mankind’s spiritual evolvement, would have made a point of mentioning gold and its relationship to the Orme or Star Fire.

Another comparative religion example might be to compare, as Gardner has done, the Amenemope version of Egyptian wisdom with that of the Book of Proverbs:

From the Wisdom of Amenemope
From the Proverbs of Solomon

Incline thine ears to hear my sayings, and apply thine heart to their comprehension, for it is a profitable thing to put them in thy heart. -- Amenemope 1:6 | Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge, for it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee. Proverbs 22:17-18
Remove not the landmark on the boundary of the fields... and trespass not on the boundary of the widow. 7:12-15 | Remove not the old landmark, and enter not into the fields of the fatherless. 23:10
They have made themselves wings like geese, and they have flown to heaven. Amenemope 10:5 | Riches certainly make themselves wings, they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. Proverbs 23:4-5
Better is poverty in the hand of God, than the riches in the storehouse. Better are loaves when the heart is joyous. Amenemope 9:5-8 | Better is little with fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is. Proverbs 15:16-17
Fraternize not with the hot-tempered man. And press not on him for conversation. Amenemope 11:13-14 | Make no friendship with an angry man. And with a furious man thou shalt not go. Proverbs 22:24

One final example is a comparison between the Bible’s book of Exodus describing the Hebrews leaving Egypt (i.e. the sudden loss of slave-power by the Egyptians), and the Egyptian version of the end of the Old Kingdom provided by the scribe Ipuwer. Ipuwer’s work was known as the Papyrus Ipuwer, which was originally a translation of the Leiden Papyrus by A. Gardiner. Immanuel Velikovsky [2] noted the similarities in the event description, and concluded that the Exodus did in fact occur at the time of the end of the Old Kingdom and not later as is often suggested.

Papyrus Ipuwer

Papyrus 2:5-6: Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere. | Exodus 7:21: ...there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
Papyrus 2:10: The river is blood. | Exodus 7:20: ...all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
Papyrus 2:10: Men shrink from tasting -- they thirst after water for they could not drink of the water of the river. | Exodus 7:24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink.
Papyrus 3:10-13: That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin! | Exodus 7:21: ...and the river stank.
Papyrus 4:14: Trees are destroyed. Papyrus 6:1: No fruit nor herbs are found. | Exodus 9:25: ...and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.
Papyrus 2:10: Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire. | Exodus 9:23-24: ...the fire ran along upon the ground. ...there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous.
Papyrus 10:3-6: Lower Egypt weeps... The entire palace is without its revenue. To it belong wheat, barley, geese and fish. | Exodus 7:21: And the fish that was in the river died.
Papyrus 6:3: Forsooth, grain has perished on every side. Papyrus 5:12: That has perished which yesterday was seen. The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax. | Exodus 10:15: ...there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the fields, though all the land of Egypt.
Papyrus 5:5: All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan... | Exodus 9:3: ...the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field... there shall be a very grievous murrain.
Papyrus 9:2-3: Behold, cattle are left to stray, and there is none to gather them together. Each man fetches for himself those that are branded with his name. | Exodus 9:19: ...gather thy cattle, and all that thou has in the field. Exodus 9:21: And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field.
Papyrus 9:11: The land is not light... | Exodus 10:22: ...and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt.
Papyrus 5:6: Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls. Papyrus 6:12: Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets. | Exodus 12:29: And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firs born of the captive that was in the dungeon.
Papyrus 2:13: He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere. | Exodus 12:30: ...there was not a house where there was not one dead.
Papyrus 3:14: It is groaning that is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations. | Exodus 12:30: ...there was a great cry in Egypt.
Papyrus 7:1: Behold, the fire has mounted up on high. Its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land. | Exodus 12:21: ...by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.

The commonality of religious teachings derives from many sources. One is the common experiences and (literally) world shaking events which have molded our consciousnesses. Whether it is the creation of the world itself, a Great Flood/Deluge, or an event which allows a massive exodus of a subjugated people from a powerful overlord, these are the paradigm shaking moments which must be accounted for in any religion.

A second reason for the commonality of religions is that the ancients did a lot of copying of others works. Bernstein [3], for example has written: “When Moses led the Israelites out of the land of bondage, he carried with him the mysteries of Egyptian knowledge acquired by Moses himself at the court of the Pharaoh.” The Hebrews also took much of the knowledge of creation from the Babylonians, who had in turn learned their lessons from the Sumerians. The Jewish Kaballah (aka Ha Qabala) is replicated in large part by the Christian Caballah, and the ecumenical Qaballah, and all may very well have originated from the Sumerians’ “Table of Destiny”.

As Mark Twain has observed: “The ancients have stolen all our really good, new ideas.”

Differences in Religion are purely in the details and the facades we place around our core beliefs in order to appear unique. On the one hand, religion’s exoteric doctrines (“for the many”) designed for the common man contains all manner of interesting and original notions of what’s important (i.e. “full of sound and fury and signifying nothing”). On the other hand, the esoteric doctrines (“for the few”) are where the real meat is, and is limited to those willing to make the effort to pursue the higher truths of life. And the esoteric portions are also the connecting links of commonality of all viable religions.

At the most fundamental level, all religions are pretty much the same. They are, after all, talking about the same Universal Creator, the same history of Earth (however much we argue about the sequence and dating of events), and the same humanoids, extraterrestrials, and interdimensional beings running amuck on the planet’s surface and surrounding space.

Everything is connected, everything is one. But everything is also disguised in order to make it interesting in finding out how everything is one and connected.

The Library of Halexandria (http://www.halexandria.org/)