Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Powers in Heaven

Alice C. Linsley


Rabbinical scholar Alan Segal is the author of Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism. In this work, he argues that the idea of two powers in heaven idea was not rejected by Jews by until the second century A.D. This is the time that Jewish thought hardened against what the apostles claimed concerning Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Segal finds antecedents for the two powers idea in the Hebrew Bible, but seems unaware of the difference between Persian dualism (which he correctly rejects as an antecedent) and the Afro-Asiatic binary worldview. Within this older binary view there is always the consideration of the Third also.  So we have the angelic Three appear to Abraham at the time of his visitation in Mamre.

Christians are interested in this idea of two powers because it points to the Father and the Son being one, as the New Testament writers indicate. The underlying anthropological principle is this:  ancient peoples believed that as in the heavens so on earth. Where do we find two powers referenced in Genesis?  The Sun and the Moon are spoken of in Genesis 1 as two powers:  the Sun is the greater power which rules the day and the Moon is the lesser power which rules the night. When the two appeared in the sky just before dawn or dusk it meant to the ancients that God was watching. The "two lights" in ancient Egyptian theology were interpreted as the eyes of Re.  These were also the eyes of Horus, whose left eye, the Moon, was weaker because it had been damaged in mortal combat with his brother Set. So Jesus Christ, who is one with the Father, was mortally wounded by his brethren, but rose before dawn.

Genesis reveals that Afro-Asiatic rulers maintained their 2 wives in separate households and flocks on a north-south axis.  Yet both households together constituted one kingdom. This practice emerged out of the Sudanese-Upper Nile veneration of the Sun as the emblem of the Creator. The Sun was associated with Osiris, the Father, and Horus, the Son.  The Father and the Son were conceived to be one and of the same kingdom.  Afro-Asiatic chiefs set their wives on a north-south axis so as not to affront God whose chariot the Sun journeyed daily from east to west. Only Lamech set himself up as an equal to God if we are to consider the names of his wives, Adah (dawn) and T-zillah (dusk).

At Karnak, the shrine from which Terah took is cousin wife (Abraham's mother), Osiris' victory over his enemies was celebrated the day of the full moon. On this day Horus, who was called "the Son of God", was awarded his heritage.

It is likely that Abraham, the Father of our Faith, held this cosmology as he and his people were devotees of Horus. This appears to be the origin of the two powers in Heaven idea.

2 comments:

Ron said...

Genesis reveals that Afro-Asiatic rulers maintained their 2 wives in separate households and flocks on a north-south axis.

Assuming John 10:16 ("And other sheep I have which are not of this fold") references this practice of flocks on a north-south axis, how would you interpret the verse? Which was the senior wife of the Afro-Asiatic ruler, she of the north or she of the south? Is Jerusalem the location of the northern or the southern flock?

Alice C. Linsley said...

The consistent pattern among rulers (only) was to have a half-sister wife (probably the first) and a patrilineal cousin wife (second). In Abraham's case Sarah was his sister bride and she lived in Hebron. Keturah was his cousin bride and she lived to the south in Beersheba. The wives' locations marked the northern and southern boundaries of Abraham's territory.

We can correlate this pattern with the Kingdom which the Father will deliver to the Son after He marries the Church. The first bride would be those who lived in expectation of Christ's appearing (Jesus' closest kin) and the second would be those who believe because of the testimony of those who saw the expectation fulfilled - the Church. These 2 flocks constitute the Ruler's territory/kingdom.

Jerusalem is north of Hebron, but I suspect that Abraham's Jebusite kin maintained the territory between Hebron north to Bethel. This would put both Jerusalem and Bethlehem at the sacred center. Remember that Jerusalem was a Jebusite city before David took it. Tomorrow I'll post an essay on the relationship of Abraham's Horite people to the Jebusites.