Friday, March 19, 2010

When in Rome, Don't Do As the Romans

It just occurred to me that the ideas and values Paul was preaching would not have been all that shocking to the Jews (the whole messiah business notwithstanding), only to the gentiles. But that's sort of the point, in that it wasn't until 49 or 50 that Paul "received from the leaders of the new sect the authority to evangelize non-Jews" (Ruden).

And sect it was -- of Judaism. As Ruden reminds us, the members of this sect were not yet calling themselves "Christians." Indeed, the term actually "started as a taunt, perhaps best translated as 'the hyped-up fans/political mob of the Anointed One" (probably said with hushed sarcasm, the way Rush says the hhhh-Rrreverend-a--Jackssson-ahhh).

Yesterday Tigtog asked the question of whether or not Jesus was literate, which of course he was. He now wants to know if the disciples were literate, for which I suppose there is no direct evidence. But since they were Jewish, there is a good chance they were. Breiner, in his Slaughter of the Innocents: Child Abuse Through the Ages and Today, writes that in the ancient world, "teaching sons was incumbent on all Jews. Though the primary concern for education was for the son, it was considered a mitzvah (good deed) if daughters were educated as well."

Breiner maintains -- and I can't vouch for his scholarship, but he cites plenty of references -- that "By the second Diaspora every Jewish male could read and write and understand the law," so that the Hebrews were "the first people in the history of mankind whose male population was 100% literate."

But that's ultimately here nor there in the case of Jesus, since Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 that the resurrected Jesus was seen by some 500 brethren, so, who at the time would have thought that writing down what they had witnessed was better evidence than having witnessed it? In the same passage, Paul says that the witnesses are beginning to die off, and he himself would be dead within a decade.

Therefore, perhaps it is no coincidence that this is when some bright follower raised his hand and said, "er, maybe we ought to write this stuff down, before the Romans kill us all?" The situation was undoubtedly made more urgent by the persecutions that began in 64 AD, when Nero decided to blame Christians for that big ol' fire. That greatly thinned the herd of direct witnesses, so that is when it became necessary to get it all down in writing. Just a guess.

At any rate... Say, where were we? Oh yes, preaching to the gentiles. In the past, I have posted about the vast differences between the Jews vs. the other peoples of antiquity -- especially the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It was over three years ago, so perhaps we'd better review, since there's no need for me to reinvent this wheel of karma:

Breiner devotes a chapter to the striking differences between the ancient Hebrews and some of their contemporaries with regard to the treatment of women and children. I have no doubt that the treatment of women and children is the leading edge of psychohistorical evolution, and that a culture can only develop as far as its treatment of women and children will allow.

To put it another way, the more evolved the culture, the more women and children will be valued (as women and children, I might add, thus excluding radical feminism as a philosophy that particularly values either). This variable, more than anything else, explains why the Muslim world is at the bottom of the evolutionary heap, and conversely, why the Jews have thrived everywhere they have landed, despite the most adverse circumstances.

Just look at Israel, which is persecuted by virtually everyone except the U.S. [update -- now including the U.S.], vs. the Arab world, which is persecuted by no one except themselves -- and yet, fantasizes that 15 million Jews are somehow controlling and holding down a billion or so Muslims. Madness! But if you think madness is a deviation rather than the norm, I don't see how you can understand anything of history, which is absolutely littered with similarly insane mind parasites.

It is almost impossible for us to imagine the barbarity of the ancient world -- very similar to how contemporary liberals find it impossible to comprehend the evil savagery of the Islamists with whom we are in a mortal struggle, so they instead fill the moral vacuum by fantasizing that George Bush or Dick Cheney are evil (for if your moral compass is so broken that you cannot recognize evil, you will hate something that is not evil, which is why the left is at war with so much that is good, e.g., the Boy Scouts, the ROTC, "traditional" marriage [which is to say, marriage], racial equality, school vouchers, our healthcare system, etc.).

In all other ancient lands, the abuse of women and children, including infanticide, was common. Breiner notes, for example, that On, the King of the Swedes, sacrificed nine of his ten sons in the belief that it would prolong his life. Think about it. It was if the entire ancient world consisted of Palestinians who think that murdering children will lead to their own salvation.

Surely it is no coincidence, therefore, that the story of the Jews as a people begins with the motif of child sacrifice. The story of Abraham and Isaac allows us to assume that, up to that time, the ancient Hebrews were just as barbaric as any other ancient people. This biblical story preserves one of the truly shocking and unexpected “right turns” in human history -- when something caused us to empathize with the sacrificial victim and lay down the knife. Not that it wasn’t a struggle afterwards. The Bible chronicles many instances of backsliding and regression, which gives it even more of a ring of authenticity. The struggle against absuing children was (and is) very real.

But the benefits were obvious. For the first time in history, Jews were also able to intuit the one God. Not only that, but he was a just and loving God. Other primitive peoples lived in the psychological fragmentation of polytheism. In my opinion, they did not know God because they could not know God. Early childhood trauma leads to what is called “borderline personality structure,” in which the mind is subject to vertical splitting and the inability to maintain psychological unity and coherence. Therefore, primitive polytheism was actually an indirect measure of child abuse and the psychological fragmentation and projection that occur as a consequence.

Note as well that the gods of ancient Greece and Rome were arbitrary, selfish, and narcissistic, and even got a kick out of lording it over the little humans. They were suspiciously simlar to abusive and uncaring parents. It would never have occurred to anyone that they were either lovable or loving. A psychospiritual breakthrough was required in order for that to happen.

I see a direct relationship between the Hebrews' increased empathy toward children and the new sense of having an intimate relationship with a benevolent God who took a deep and abiding interest in them, instead of having to live in fear of a multitude of arbitrary and self-absorbed gods.

Again, we are not comparing the ancient Hebrews to modern peoples but to their own contemporaries in the ancient world, and by that standard, they were mohels ahead of the package. Marriage began to be viewed as a sacred institution composed of two individuals who were in the image and likeness of God.

Here again, this cannot be separated from issues of developmental psychology. One will not be capable of a stable and loving marriage so long as one lives with the psychological fragmentation produced by vertical splitting. It is no coincidence that the “one loving God” was discovered at roughly the same time that it became possible to conceive of a monogamous, loving, companionate marriage between two equals.

Breiner notes (and Ruden confirms this) that the women of ancient Greece were essentially slaves. A wife’s function was to “look after the household and produce children -- preferably boys.” While courtesans -- who were used for pleasure rather than procreation -- could be educated, wives were illiterate.

Similar to Islamic societies today, the ancient Greeks “viewed men as sane and stable while women were considered mad, hysterical, and possibly dangerous and destructive to men.” Furthermore, “a woman’s freedom was severely restricted” and she was without power. “A man could sell his daughter or sister into concubinage if he wished.” Children of concubines were simply “aborted, killed or sold into slavery.”

At the time of Pericles in the late 5th century BC, out of a population of 400,000, only 14,240 people had full civil rights. The rest were women, children, slaves of varying degrees. Unwanted and "imperfect" children were simply exposed on a mountainside to die. “In all the Greek cities except Thebes the father had the right to kill his child at birth without question. In all cities except Athens the father could sell his children to slave dealers.” Female infanticide was the norm. Like China today, very few families raised more than one daughter. Even then, girls were given inferior food and no education.

Breiner feels that the revulsion towards women was at the basis of Greek male homosexuality. Can you think of a better explanation? The fashionable modern idea -- a fine example of leftist anti-scientific magical thinking, by the way -- is that homosexuality is purely “genetic” and not subject to environmental influences. If so, how does one account for the prevalence of Ancient Greek homosexuality? “It was considered quite proper for the young men of Athens to engage sexually with older men, and most did.” “Merchants would import handsome boys to be sold to the highest bidder”; these boys would “be first used as concubines and later as slaves.” (Ruden goes into more detail of the true horror of male pederasty in the ancient world; it makes NAMBLA look humane.)

Breiner speculates that “homosexual pederasty was so universal in Greek society” because it was “a means of ‘rescuing’ the male child from the perceived dangers of women...” “Boy brothels flourished in every city and a child prostitute could be rented, even at the height of Athenian culture... A freeborn child might see his father having sexual relations with a child his own age who was a slave."

In this context, the evolution of so-called "homophobia" by the ancient Hebrews was clearly an advance, not a regression, as it particularly benefitted women and children. Here again, Ruden says much the same thing vis-a-vis Paul's condemnation of homosexuality. At the time, there was no such thing as a homosexuality that wasn't cruel, aggressive, sadistic, and exploitative. Love had nothing to do with it.

I don’t even have time to get into the pervasive human and animal sacrifice. “Human life was considered so short and cheap that there was little concern about killing. When a town was captured the men were automatically killed or sold into slavery and the women were taken as concubines or slaves.” Traits such as “gentleness, kindness, industry, honesty, and integrity were scorned as effeminate and inferior.”

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Obviously, human beings were desperately in need of a vertical intervention to save them from the hell on earth they had created. All of us continue to benefit everyday from that little sliver of light that miraculously opened up in a world of infrahuman darkness.

34 Comments:

Blogger Mizz E said...

" . . . the Muslim world is at the bottom of the evolutionary heap . . ."

Baron enters a “fact in evidence”.

3/19/2010 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Breiner feels that the revulsion towards women was at the basis of Greek male homosexuality. Can you think of a better explanation?"

My guess is that it was a result of that, a culture that came to value reason above all... what would there be found to value among those mostly shut in and kept from the light of learning? From what I've read of the time, from the time, I think the extent of their being shut in and abused is exaggerated, certainly by Plato's time it was at the very least beginning to be recognized how idiotic it was to assume women could not be intellectual as well, but I've no interest in sanitizing the issue, the overriding sentiment towards women was one of inferiority and near property.

"The fashionable modern idea -- a fine example of leftist anti-scientific magical thinking, by the way -- is that homosexuality is purely “genetic” and not subject to environmental influences. If so, how does one account for the prevalence of Ancient Greek homosexuality? “It was considered quite proper for the young men of Athens to engage sexually with older men, and most did.” “Merchants would import handsome boys to be sold to the highest bidder”; these boys would “be first used as concubines and later as slaves.” (Ruden goes into more detail of the true horror of male pederasty in the ancient world; it makes NAMBLA look humane.)"

Again... although the issue was definitely there, I think it's been exagerated as to the extent, and mostly by the people who want to promote it and make us more like that image of how they were. I think Victor Davis Hanson sums it up well,
"So be it — but is Stone's sense of the sex at least historically accurate? Yes and no. Among particular social and economic cadres of the ancient world, there was certainly nothing deemed wrong with homosexual liaisons under accepted protocols. On the other hand, for the vast majority of rural folk in the Mediterranean world, heterosexuality and marriage were, of course, the norms. The pre-Christian poor and agrarian classes considered homosexual acts deviant, not on religious grounds of sinfulness, but rather as proof of corruption and decadence that were the wages of too much money and too much time in town.

Yet among an urban sophisticated elite of both Greece and Rome, in the symposium and palaestra, older men's interest in feminine companionship and sexuality was not delineated by gender alone, but more along the lines of youth and appearance. In such a rarefied world of Plato's Symposium or Petronius' Satyricon, feminine-looking boys often were openly seen as desirable sex partners — as long as such idealized relationships reflected the pretense of imparting education and remained one-sided. Free older men did not properly engage in reciprocal acts in a passive manner that suggested a female role, much less shack up with those of the same age in permanent sexual unions. True, we hear sometimes of idealistic relationships of youths roughly the same age — Homer's Achilles and Patroclus, or the Thebans Pelopidas and Epaminondas — but never any concrete evidence that such rite-of-passage bonding entailed sexual intercourse.
"

Think of it this way... if future historians dig up only a few sitcoms from the last 20 yrs, and think of those as representative of you and me... and they happen to be "Will & Grace", etc... and a few episodes of TMZ and the San Francisco & New York gossip columns... what impression would they have of us?

3/19/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

""I could go on, but I think you get the point. Obviously, human beings were desperately in need of a vertical intervention to save them from the hell on earth they had created. All of us continue to benefit everyday from that little sliver of light that miraculously opened up in a world of infrahuman darkness. ""

Amen to that. I once heard someone who should have known better, say to an audience, that sight unseen, even with the benefits of modern medicine, etc, that they would much prefer to live in the golden age of Athens, than late 20th century America.

I think they would have been in for a huge surprise.

3/19/2010 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Kristy said...

"Breiner feels that the revulsion towards women was at the basis of Greek male homosexuality. Can you think of a better explanation?"

Don't you think the fact that they killed the vast majority of women in infancy might have had something to do with it too?

3/19/2010 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Dear Bob,

Thank you for another interesting and important article.

I agree that Jesus was certainly literate. In the Gospels, he is usually referred to as a"Rabbi" (explicitly in transliterated spelling at John 1:38) and as "didaskalos" or "teacher." I think he had received a thoroughgoing traditional education. Of course he lived before the recension of either the Mishnah or the Gemara (Talmud) but would have received from his teachers the Oral Tradition as well as being trained to read and interpret Holy Writ.

Your discussion of the barbarism of even the civilized Ancient World is of great importance, and reminds us that not only in our time, have societies comprised both exquisitely adumbrated artistic and intellectual achievements alongside horrific cruelty and vile barbarity. And I certainly agree that the ethical code which Paul taught to the Churches he founded throughout the Mediterranean world represented a profound change for the better.

It interests me that Paul is often seen as arguing that adherence to the Jewish Tradition is unnecessary and even harmful; I think that in some of the diatribes of St. John Chrysostom, one can find arguments of the sort.

And yet if Paul did not think that those who joined the Church needed to follow every detail of Jewish ritual observance, he certainly seems to have advocated an ethical and religious path of living that is wholly rooted in the Jewish Way, and as you note, quite in opposition to the Classical Way of the Greek and Roman world.

From my parochial point of view, almost all if not all of the practical daily ethical values which Paul and his fellows imparted to the Christian Churches are already present and vibrant in the Jewish Tradition. I see Jesus as wholly within the broad outlines of the Jewish Tradition, and the teachings of Paul as firmly rooted in it. (There is nothing in the Sermon on the Mount that a Jewish preeacher would find awkward to express to a Jewish audience, not surprising since it was of course preached by a Jewish preacher to a Jewish audience.)

As you note, it is "the whole messiah business" which was and is shocking to the Jews. The idea of the Incarnation seems entirely alien to us.

But even though we find that Christianity includes alien and disturbing elements, it has the saving Grace of adopting the Bible as its core text, and this distinguishes it from Islam. Although Islamist apologists like to refer to Islam as one of three "Abrahamic" religions, Islam rejects the authenticity of the Jewish (and Christian) scriptures, and thus divorces itself from the wellsprings of the ethical life-way with which Paul's teaching blessed the West.

3/19/2010 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Don't you think the fact that they killed the vast majority of women in infancy might have had something to do with it too?"

No, not at all, since the men who had wives did not value them, and young boys were their actual preference. The pederasty was not at all an act of desperation, but the ideal.

3/19/2010 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's the other way around: they killed the girls because of the hatred and devaluation of women. Your hypothesis reminds me of the kid who kills his parents and then pleas for mercy because he's an orphan: "Gee, we can't help buggering boys. All the women are dead!"

3/19/2010 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Well said, Gandalin, after all, Jesus said He came not to abolish the law to fulfill it. Paul emphasizes spirit over letter, but he never lets us off the hook.

3/19/2010 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Hmmm... yeah... I've been waffling whether or not to, but yeah, I'm gonna stick another toe in this one - it was after all the subject which prompted my first comment here several years ago.

Without taking anything away from the values brought to us by Judeo/Christian culture, the ancient world, or at least the only two worth talking about, Greece and Rome, were not the utter black holes they are often seen as. By our standards, yes they were barbaric, and particularly among the Greeks, the devaluing of women was significant, and casual destruction of children who were found wanting, but that is from our perspective - from the perspective of their time and place, they were perceived as being as loony-tunes permissive towards their women, and children, as we are today by the islambies.

There are many exceptions among the Greeks, Sapho, Pericles' wife Aspasia, and many more, and the devotion of Cleobis and Biton to their Mother was the stuff of legend, which should go towards some way towards puncturing what from our perspective, might otherwise seem full darkness.

Cicero's relationship with his daughter, and his utter despair when she died... even frickin' Julius Ceasar was deeply attached to his daughter - though... of course he did give her in marriage to Pompey... but then again it was both of their love for her that kept them at peace, and her death which brought about Caesar's Healthcontrol Bill (Oops... wrong century)... takeover of Rome.
And having the benefit of Christianity didn't bring the light of valuation to Henry VIII, his wives or daughters - or most of the practices of European Royalty.

There is a reason why we are a Greco/Roman-Judeo/Christian culture, and not a Persian or Hun-Judeo/Christian culture. Paul's message resonated among the Greeks and Romans, because there was something within the cultures of their people which was able to hear and recognize what he had to say.

While I do accept Gagdad's position, and no doubt that failing to hold the ideal of recognizing and valuing Mother & Child prevented the healthy development of the ancient world, I don't agree that the absence of the clear ideal meant that it wasn't operated on (in ignorance) all the same.

There's an excellent book, "Empires of Trust: How Rome Built--and America Is Building--a New World ", which gives a lot more attention to the common family unit of early Rome, and points out how it much more resembled that of early American pioneers, than it differed. Sure... the Father had final say over life and death... but their ideal was reverence for the Parents, and the Parents valuing of the child, and in that way and much more, they were far more familiar to us, than not.

Where the darkness and deviance was most pronounced and noted, was (surprise, surprise) among the elites, the intellectuals and ruling classes, where then as now, skepticism, cynicism and materialism ruled and advanced the night.

I'd just caution to keep in mind that just because a vital principle is undoubtedly in play, doesn't mean that there were not others also affecting the process - because they didn't have the same regard for Mother and Child as we, or the Jews did, doesn't mean that they didn't value you them. They were nearer to us today, than to the islambies and ilk of either period.

3/19/2010 02:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Van,

There is too little time before sunset to address your thoughtful comments on some of the positive aspects of Greek and Roman culture.

Let me just note that I see American civilization as Greco/Roman & Judeo/Christian, and also very importantly, with respect to our freedoms and legal heritage, Germano/British.

The heritage of traditional German tribal law is extremely important and precious.

3/19/2010 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gandalin "Let me just note that I see American civilization as Greco/Roman & Judeo/Christian, and also very importantly, with respect to our freedoms and legal heritage, Germano/British."

Thanks Gandalin. I can't resist quibbling on the German part of that though, particularly if you mean influence from Kant forward - that, IMHO, was all regressive - but with "German tribal" I assume you mean Anglo-Saxon?

I've looked at the argument for the German tribal culture as being particularly central... and I really haven't found that their culture brought any more contributions of freedom and independence mindedness to the table than that of the Celts (but then they are deeply related), but what developed in Britain as Anglo-Saxon culture (and which I agree is highly central to the development of our legal culture), was a synthesis of Celtic, Roman and the Germanic tribes and spiced with the Norman's influence as well.

But... that's probably being way to picky... even so, it is something I'm actively looking into at the moment, and I'd eagerly look at any differing opinion on the matter.

3/19/2010 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad re:

"I have no doubt that the treatment of women and children is the leading edge of psychohistorical evolution, and that a culture can only develop as far as its treatment of women and children will allow."

Women and especially children are our door to immortality. Love them up good while you can.

3/19/2010 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Evolution proves it.

3/19/2010 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad re: Epigenetics

"Lifestyle cannot alter heredity. Except now it turns out that it can . . ."

Thanks for the reference. I don't think the asiatic ancestor worshippers are going to have a problem with this concept. American liberals will certainly find it problematic and probably devise some government program to make life fair (i.e., NO CHILD LEFT UNDISTURBED).

Seriously, it clearly brings a new dimension to the responsibilities of parenting. Recognize the gifts you were given and pay them forward.

Maybe epigenetics explains why Europe is the way it is; you know post-modern. You certainly don't find this throughout Asia.

3/19/2010 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Absolutely. Of course, I like the theory because it confirms chapter three of my book...

3/19/2010 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad re epigenetics

Did the epigenetic experiments with the chickens continue through multiple generations and if so were the results for each generation more degenerative than the preceding one?

Do you think there is any connection with Attention Deficit Disorder?

3/19/2010 06:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Hmm. Hard to say. But I have no doubt that more pervasive personality and cultural pathology (individual and collective mind parasites) would be passed on in this manner.

(It's hard to say about ADD because much of what goes by that name is simply normal boy behavior.)

3/19/2010 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger pappy d said...

No women in the ancient world had it better than the Egyptians. They could not be forced to marry, were equal partners within marriage. They could come & go as they pleased. They could even be pharaoh if they wore a ceremonial beard.

Under Jewish law, a man owned all his wives just as he owned his concubines & slaves.

The Celts were comparatively enlightened, too. Women were full participants in politics. Wives were equal in marriage, & were free to divorce if her husband practiced homosexuality, was impotent or just got too fat!

Only Jewish men could divorce. You can be sure that the kids did their lessons because he could have them stoned to death for talking back, just as though he was a fag.

Regarding Abraham & Isaac, the law tells us that "whatsoever openeth the womb" is Yahweh's & is subject to sacrifice to Him.

3/19/2010 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Pappy said "No women in the ancient world had it better than the Egyptians. They could not be forced to marry, were equal partners within marriage. They could come & go as they pleased. They could even be pharaoh if they wore a ceremonial beard."

Yeah... but then they also likely as not married their brother, and not just royalty. They were a stagnant people, they reached a certain point and except for under one king, went no further.

I've always held the Celts a notch or two above the Germanic cultures, and in some ways above the Romans as well. Reportedly, the Celts more than any other, had nearer equality of the sexes, and their legends, such as of Cú Chulainn seems to bare that out, but we don't have clear tracking of that historically, other than the runes, they left no written record - but the historic Brian Boru gives credence to it as well.

The Brehon law in Ireland had a very sophisticated set of legal codes and laws, and reportedly they treated their children well also... but something was missing, it was legal calculations... restitution and balance, but not Justice as we (used to) know it - kill someone, even if you were 'royal', you had to pay a number of cows... functional... but... not quite there. They didn't seem to have a grasp of something like Natural Law, and I wonder how much the Gods plural, rather than a singular God plays into that (true the Greeks grasped it, but only down to a certain point - it never extended to the value of an individual human soul) they didn't have the connection with each person, with each family, that they, apart from the rituals of the Druid, could participate with God, that the Law mattered to a personal God and to their soul.

Whatever the Jews shortcomings, I don't know of anyone else that had that key, and I think that made all the difference.

3/19/2010 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger pappy d said...

Oops!

I meant to say, "as if they were fags." 'Sorry for any confusion.

3/19/2010 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Oops... Ogham, not runes. And again, for all the shortcomings of the Romans, their culture allowed something lasting to be created, a continuity beyond aristocrats and bureaucracy and to a greater extant than anyone else, united Natural Law, Reasoning and Law.

Neither the Celts, Germans or anyone else, managed that.

3/19/2010 10:03:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Whoa. In the Guardian, no less. The author and editors are oblivious to the fact that he has dealt a devastating blow to the conceptual foundations of the publication as well as Darwinism. Without a materialist faith upon which to lay their misguided heads, where would/will they be?

It's fun to watch him squirm to avoid the clear implications of his article for natural selection as a paradigm. If the inheritance of acquired characteristics is a reality, which clearly seems to be the case, then there could be no forward movement whatsoever, since the environment doesn't go anywhere itself. In fact, it sounds like cultural/scientific success of the type that would reduce food scarcity would, in the absence of some other major influence, have the undesirable effect of shortening the lifespans of subsequent generations.

The Midwife Toad lives after all.

3/20/2010 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, and he can't help lashing out and taking bitter swipes at the very people who have been right all along! Sweet.

3/20/2010 07:22:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Gagdad re: Epigenetics

Have been thinking about the impact of epigenetics regarding the behavior between generations. Read a book many years ago that posited that generational behavior is cyclical. I believe it was called "Generations" (not sure). With the idea that epigenetics providing a natural force between generations and a cause of the direction of history, a picture of cyclical growth in a fractal manner may be the big picture of man's (collective) horizontal progress (?) through time. The truth of the adage "sins of the Father will be visited upon the son" becomes evermore real.

A good example of this may be the difference between Plato and Aristotle. Plato, raised through war, famine and cultural destruction sought above all a steady state as the ideal. Aristotle, raised following this upheaval, saw a growing, learning state as the ideal. Ultimately, the successor generation to Plato and Aristotle was Alexander, who seems to have synthesized both. This all sounds very Hegelian, and it is, but the interesting point to consider is the repeatable pattern of genetic masking/unmasking going on. When we pull further out to view Alexander's succeeding generations you see a digestion of his gains (Egypt is doable but India is a bridge too far).

From a patterned form point of view, I am imagining something similar to the Mandlebroit Set, a proportional small change (Greek Civil War) resulting in a disproportional result (World Domination). This pattern is repeated with the Romans and later with Europeans (Renaissance).

3/21/2010 03:36:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Van,

Thanks for noticing my brief comment in approbabtion of Germanic tribal law. You note, in opposition, that you "can't resist quibbling on the German part of that though, particularly if you mean influence from Kant forward+ -- and that "Anglo-Saxon culture (and which I agree is highly central to the development of our legal culture), was a synthesis of Celtic, Roman and the Germanic tribes and spiced with the Norman's influence as well."

The deleterious influence of Kant came well after the golden age of German tribal law, of course, and I was in fact referring to the Anglo-Saxon legal heritage which you well characterize as a melange or synthesis of somewhat disparate elements.

It is also a matter of regret that all of the written recensions of German tribal law are already contaminated by Roman influences, and in fact were in the main recorded in Latin.

However, what I was trying to evoke was a recognition that the Anglo-American legal system, with its emphasis on the accumulated weight of casuistic precedent, and the formal character of a trial as a combat between equal champions, is a legacy of Germanic tribal culture. The assumption of innocence, the strenuous efforts made to equalize the playing field between plaintiff and defendant, or prosecutor and defendant, and the judgment by a jury of one's peers, are all quite in contrast to the way legal proceedings are organized on the Continent, or indeed anywhere in the world that their Britannick Majesties failed to establish even a temporary government.

The rights, privileges, and immunities of American citizenship, for which so many men and women gave their blood and their lives, and which are always under attack both at home and abroad, are decidedly the "rights of Englishmen" and were so understood by our founders. They are largely absent from the Ancient world, both in the heritage of Athens and Rome and in the heritage of Jerusalem.

The vital element we have learned from Jerusalem, is that although these rights, privileges, and immunities come down to us in a form that we owe to Germanic tribal law, they are in fact an endowment by a Divine Creator, and are not therefore subject to alteration or abrogation by any human legislation.

Identifying the sources for these rights in Holy Scripture is the sort of task to which the Talmudists devoted hundreds of years, and I will not attempt that now.

Incidentally, "pappy d" mis-states Jewish marriage law. The Jewish wife never belonged to her husband, nor did their children -- quite a contrast to the situation under Roman Law. Jewish women retained the full ownership and usufruct of property they brought into a marriage. It is a true that Jewish men were permitted multiple wives (until 1,000 years ago in Europe), and that a Jewish woman cannot obtain a divorce without her husband's agreement, but this latter issue is recognized as a problem by most if not all rabbinic decisors.

3/21/2010 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gandalin said "The rights, privileges, and immunities of American citizenship, for which so many men and women gave their blood and their lives, and which are always under attack both at home and abroad, are decidedly the "rights of Englishmen" and were so understood by our founders. They are largely absent from the Ancient world, both in the heritage of Athens and Rome and in the heritage of Jerusalem."

Yes I fully agree... and as I suspected, my quibble was pretty much over a technicality of reference, not substance. I do still quibble over using Germanic as the source, over Celtic, but I do recognize that it is a standard reference and the overwhelming historical opinion and reference is against me on that, and I've got little to go on other than obscure references and my personal suspicions based on poems, folklore & traditions (Irish, early Arthurian & so forth) to base it on.

I prefer Anglo/Saxon as the ref, and though both ref Germanic tribes, they were the result of that synthesis, and the chief source of English common law - the only land where the Rights of Individuals were legally recognized, as Scalia noted (though he's inconsistent in seeing its implications) the sentiment of "a man's home is his castle", goes back through Blackstone to Coke,

"The people’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure in their “houses” was drawn from the English common- law maxim, “A man’s home is his castle.” As far back as Semayne’s Case of 1604, the leading English case for that proposition (and a case cited by Coke in his discussion of the proposition that Magna Carta outlawed general warrants based on mere surmise, 4 E. Coke, Institutes 176–177 (1797)), the King’s Bench proclaimed that “the house of any one is not a castle or privilege but for himself, and shall not extend to protect any person who flies to his house.

, and beyond, the general sentiment can even be traced back to Cicero, though as you mentioned, it didn't gain the status of anything like Individual Rights in Rome, it took the development of British common law for that.

3/21/2010 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Van,

I've read differing accounts of the population genetics of modern Englishmen, some seem to suggest that the genetic inheritance of the British Isles is even today overwhelmingly British, i.e. Celtic, and others suggesting that it is in the main Anglo-Saxon, hence Germanic, at least in some sense originating from the lands of tribes that we tend to associate with Germania.

But I don;t want to commit to the genetic fallacy, and accept that this is a quibble.

The Anglo-Saxon milieu was indeed a unique cultural and political milieu, and those of us whom the Good Lord has seen fit to bring to life within its broad limits, should be ever and daily thankful of it.

3/21/2010 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gandalin said "I hadn't even mentioned the Muslim conquest of India, which Will & Ariel Durant characterized as the "bloodiest story in history.""

I'm almost beginning to suspect you have access to my library...

"I've read differing accounts of the population genetics of modern Englishmen, some seem to suggest that the genetic inheritance of the British Isles is even today overwhelmingly British, i.e. Celtic..."

I was actually hunting about for that very study, but couldn't remember enough details to dig it up... I'd bet that over the course of an evening we could manage to extract the full measure from a pitcher (or two) of brew!

3/21/2010 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger pappy d said...

@Gandalin

I didn't mean to convey the idea that women can't own property under Mosaic law. I was just comparing the law to coeval cultures, my point being that the root of the law is that God chose the Jews, not the other way around.

It is for God to command. It is for the people to obey.

3/22/2010 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger pappy d said...

As a practical matter, consider the problem of homosexual men in a polygamous society. In contrast to the Egyptians or Celts, who were normally monogamous, the women were monopolised by a few patriarchs. This meant placing a lot of horny young men in the path of temptation, (if that sort of thing tempts you) & they need extra deterrence.

3/22/2010 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mike O'Malley said...

Thank you for bringing up the Celts of Antiquity Pappy d.

I've been reading Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism by Paula Fredriksen who seems to portray the Pagan environment of the early Church as a "peaceable kingdom" where is the root cause of Pagan persecution of Christians was Paul's outreach to gentiles. Frederiksen seems to be arguing that intra-communal religious tolerance would have been the norm if only Paul and the Apostles had not engaged in out reach to Pagans! Somehow Fredriksen ignores a long history of deadly violent Pagan anti-Jewish riots and the reciprocating violence of the Kitos War. Neither does Fredriksen ever even site Rome's centuries long war of annihilation against the celtic Druids.

Sarah Ruden seems to paint a very different picture which may shed light on Paul's angry letter to the Galatians. The Galatians were of course Celts and so they had the foremost sexually egalitarian culture in the MiddleEast at that time. Was Paul angry about a prospective loss of some of his best students in the direction of a less sexually egalitarian ethos?

3/23/2010 04:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

pappy d,

Your notion that homosexual behavior is caused by the monopolization of available women by a few "patriarchs" is at least in so far as you would apply it to the Israelites, entirely unsupported by any evidence.

If we look at those whom the Jews typically refer to as their "patriarchs," Abraham had one wife and a number of concubines. Isaac had one wife. Jacob had 2 wives and 2 concubines. Joseph had one wife (an Egyptian woman, by the way). Moses had one, possibly two wives. Aaron had one wife. David had a number of wives, but he was of course an outlaw and later a king.

Other than the account of the imperial Solomon, I don't think there is much evidence in scripture for the existence of extensive hareems.

Breiner's account of Greek pederasty, as re-told by our genial host, has much more verisimilitude.

3/23/2010 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Cooncur. Pappy, I recommend that you read Dennis Prager's excellent paper, Judaism's Sexual Revolution: Why Judaism (and then Christianity) Rejected Homosexuality.

3/23/2010 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger pappy d said...

I never stated or implied that the Middle-Eastern custom of multiple wives caused homosexuality among either the Israelites or, as you seem to imply, other Semitic peoples. Maybe the epievolutionists can explain. It's homosexual acts that make one a sinner. It is one sin that it never once occurred to me to commit.

Perhaps I erred in insinuating a vulgar common-sense motive to the word of God, but I do stand by my simple arithmetic.

Thanks for the link to Dennis Praeger. He's a welcome counterbalance to Rev. Wright!

3/23/2010 01:54:00 PM  

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